At the turn of the century, the labor movement took some harsh hits. Over one million jobs were lost in the United States to the North American Free Trade Agreement that granted free trade with Mexico and Canada. Our economy was on the rise, but we watched many middle-class jobs go overseas. In 2000, we saw a record-breaking trade deficit that went clearly over 400 billion, the largest in history. The Republican Party, with the help of President Clinton, set the bar for a new era of globalization – one in which the United States is clearly losing. Ten years after NAFTA was passed, President Bush followed suit, passing CAFTA and further pushed for a Free Trade Area of the Americas. In the first four years of President Bush’s term, three million manufacturing jobs have left. That may not affect us college students directly, but the loss of a middle class leaves fewer dollars for people to spend on whatever services we will provide. Furthermore, for those of you looking at architecture, paralegal, engineering and even some doctorial work, job opportunities will be overseas in India, China and the Philippines. Outsourcing is no longer just a blue-collar thing to fear.
As for investors, well, you are going to have less to invest in, and heavy foreign competition. After all, when we have a trade deficit of over 700 billion dollars, it has to be paid by letting the foreign countries to which we are in debt buy some of the United States. Foreign companies are gaining more of our country every day. After all, who needs to buy American? Foreign cars are the new craze, with General Motors and Ford going near bankrupt. Ninety-six percent of our clothing is foreign-made, and most of our toys and gadgets are produced overseas. Even our president’s helicopter is made with a European engine. After all, why should our government buy American?
On Dec. 7, 1941, the United States was attacked by Japan. We won the war by August 1945. By that time, our war machine produced 296,429 warplanes, 102,351 tanks, 372,431 artillery pieces, 2,455,964 trucks 8,762 warships and 5,425 cargo ships. When FDR met with Stalin, he toasted to American ingenuity. Do you think we could do that today? Do we have the manufacturing base that helped us win World War II? After all, Hitler had 3,034 warships, and look how his troops fared against us. We smothered them. We need a strong manufacturing base in order to protect our country, while at the same time we need global trade as an economic incentive for other countries not to wage war on us. We need to have a balance of trade, not a 200 billion dollar trade deficit with China in 2005 alone. But we also need to use our economic power to solve other problems in the world today. With labor abuses around the world that are basically slavery, and conditions that Americans would riot over if we saw them happening here, we need to re-examine our trade policy. We can use our economic hand to enforce labor rights and human rights across the globe. It’s simple: if other countries want to trade with us, then they must abide by labor laws set by the United Nations. Europe would need to join us. If we want to stop global warming, then we need to develop the technology to do so, distribute that technology to our companies as well as foreign companies, and force anyone that wants to have access to our markets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
We are the future of this country. Are we going to keep it, or sell it?
David Sforza is a first-year political science major.