Trade Agreements Suck

Land Of The Free And Home To A Lot Of Cheap Stuff
Land Of The Free And Home To A Lot Of Cheap Stuff

Ever wonder why the U.S. enters into so many trade agreements?   The short answer is to allow U.S. companies to exploit the natural and human resources of other countries.    In essence, most of these agreements have clauses that allow U.S. corporations to move their production activities to foreign countries, use their cheap labor and then bring their product back into the country without facing a tariff.

Why would U.S. corporations do this when they know it will cost American jobs?   The answer is simple.   They don’t care.  Cheap labor allows them to make more profit; that it also puts Americans out of work is ‘collateral damage’.   To our mind these ‘American’ companies are acting in an UN-American manner.  The Pro American Party protects our country from this abuse.  Take a look at tenets #2 and #4 to see how we address this.

Look at the results of the NAFTA agreement.  In the first 15 years following this trade agreement (1994 – 2010) we lost almost 700,000 jobs, mostly in manufacturing, and our trade deficit with Mexico has soared to just under 100 Billion dollars over those years.  These industries included motor vehicles, textiles, computers, and electrical appliances. (Source: Economic Policy Institute, “The High Cost of Free Trade,” May 3, 2011)

Ironically, many Americans are complaining about stagnant wages, when it is the inevitable result of bringing in products using cheap labor from foreign countries.   So why has this taken so long to become a big political issue?   The corporations pay big money in political donations to political candidates, and they don’t want it broadcast.   Although If I Had The Power does not endorse political candidates, it is interesting to note that both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, who don’t rely upon corporate money, are both talking about the problems of our terrible trade agreements.

According to researcher Jeff Faux, NAFTA strengthened the ability of U.S. employers to force workers to accept lower wages and benefits. As soon as NAFTA became law, corporate managers began telling their workers that their companies intended to move to Mexico unless the workers lowered the cost of their labor. In the midst of collective bargaining negotiations with unions, some companies would even start loading machinery into trucks that they said were bound for Mexico. The same threats were used to fight union organizing efforts. The message was: “If you vote in a union, we will move south of the border.” With NAFTA, corporations also could more easily blackmail local governments into giving them tax reductions and other subsidies

In a double tragedy, NAFTA also caused thousands of Mexican farmers to lose their jobs.  The Congress, in their wisdom, blessed U.S. agribusiness with HUGE subsidies, allowing them to steamroll over poor Mexican farmers who could not compete.  In case you don’t know, agribusiness is NOT your local farmer, instead they are large corporations that take advantage of several laws designed for small farmers and rake in millions in taxpayer money.  (The ProAmericanParty will correct this problem too!)   By the way, when Mexicans can’t find work in Mexico, where do you think they go?

One other factor of these trade agreements is that U.S. pollution standards do not apply in foreign countries.   However, Mother Nature does not recognize borders and Mexican pollution finds its way to the U.S. whenever the wind blows our way. Once again corporations don’t care about people, or the environment.   Their short term, profit-oriented outlook harms Americans and the world on a daily basis.

The bottom line is that trade agreements almost always hurt U.S. workers.   They cost jobs and hurt the hourly wages of those who manage to keep their jobs.   They hurt our environment.  Big business use these agreements to increase profit and access, at the expense of our national well-being.   The rich get richer and the little guy gets screwed. Trade agreements suck and both political parties allowed this to happen.

Utopia – The Pro American Party?


Utopia –  An ideally perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects.
Recently one of our readers suggested that we were trying to create a Utopia with the Pro American Party and its platform.   Flattering, but not really.
The PAP has simply designed a platform that looks at structural problems within our society and addresses them.
As mentioned in a previous post, the platform of the PAP creates a floor, not a ceiling.  The PAP attempts to recognize human needs that ALL of us have and design a political structure that addresses the most basic of these needs.   To be sure, the rich and super-rich will largely not like our platform.   Our platform requires more of them.   Our platform requires more from U.S. corporations.   This lies is stark contrast to an ideology of self-interest.

In his 1943 paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” Abraham Maslow outlined a hierarchy of human needs.  According to Maslow a person needs to fulfill his/her most basic needs before s/he can fulfill higher level needs.Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

When you look at the platform of the PAP you can see we only address the bottom two levels of human needs.   So Utopia – no.   But it is a start and gives people a chance to become the people they want to be.

How the PAP Reduces Crime

There are many factors that contribute to criminal activity.    Major influences are a lack of opportunity and a lack of resources.    A more complicated issue is environmental/cultural.  Yet another issue concerns Americans with criminal records.   The PAP addresses all of these issues.

There are three major social theories are address crime and are closely related to each other.   The first comes from social structure theory.   This theory recognizes that pathological conditions exist when people live within a socially disorganized community, and/or suffer from strain, usually financial in nature.  There is also a facet of this theory that addresses cultural conflict.   It maintains that some crime occurs because of a clash of values between cultures about what is acceptable.  Another facet is differential opportunity, which looks at the lack of opportunities available to certain segments of society.

The second of these major social theories has to do with social process theories.   These theories discuss how being surrounded by criminal activities and criminals, especially when young, influences our behavior.

A third social theory has to do with social conflict.  These are theories that discuss how wealth and power control law and policy and allow those with power to control those who do not have it.

When it comes to Americans with criminal records the data is clear.   Once someone has a criminal record, trying to lead a law-abiding life becomes even more difficult because getting a decent job is incredibly difficult.   As you might suspect, when you have mouths to feed and legitimate opportunity is not available, it is easy to turn to crime.

As stated in Tenet #2, the Pro American Party endorses the idea that having a working population is in the best interests of our country.   This tenet provides jobs for those who cannot find jobs in the private sector.   This means that we will no longer have any segments of our society that suffer from no opportunity.   It also means that over time, subcultures will naturally move towards the majority culture.   This tenet does not provide a ceiling, but it does provide a floor.  No American will have to go to a government agency and ask or beg for money or resources, because each person will be able to support themselves.   This is also true for Americans with criminal records.   They too will have a job, allowing them to become productive members of our society.    Felons that represent some type of threat will also have jobs, but depending on the type of threat they represent some jobs may not be available to them.

Tenet #2 supports equal opportunity, the development of positive social bonds and minimizes the effects of negative social labels.  It also supports gender equality and works to minimize tensions between the haves and the have nots.

All of these efforts will serve to reduce crime.    If I Had The Power believes this tenet will allow us to close many prisons and get rid of the vast majority of welfare programs currently active.  Perhaps most importantly, it will change the feeling of hopelessness that so many of our citizens feel.

A future post will deal with teenage crime and solutions for that problem.

Supreme Court Hypocricy by Congress

President Obama has just nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy of Antonin Scalia who died a little over a month ago.

Unfortunately for Garland, unless the Scalia family themselves were to interject themselves into the process and ask that Garland get a vote, it is almost certain that a vote will not occur.

Once again this shows how both Republicans and Democrats ignore their duty in the face of political ends.   We, the American citizenry, and our constitution are the ones that pay the price.

In this instance the Republicans are the bad guys.   However, they are simply following actions that the Democrats have made in years past.   If interested, please look at the following links.   These links show that both sides are hypocrites and have no values that can’t be thrown away for temporary political advantage.

Of note, it was the “Thurmond” rule in 2008 and now it is the “Biden” rule in 2016.

Here is yet another, more in depth explanation of the issues.

Here are the Democrats doing the same thing.

Social Stratification and Capitalism

Social stratification describes the social position of persons in society.    In our society we categorize people into rankings based on factors like wealth, income, social status, occupation and power. In the U.S.stratification, in its simplest form, refers to upper class, middle class, and lower class.

Although stratification is found in all developed countries, it has run amok in the United States.    We, as a society, have become so separated that we have forgotten that each of us has individual worth and contributes to the whole.   E pluribus unum, the motto of our country, seems to have been forgotten of late.   To me this is a serious issue and one that I address in the tenets to come.

Capitalism is Good???

Capitalism is a tested economic strategy with many advantages.   Our country has developed under the auspices of this economic model. We have become the world power, in part because of this system.  However we do need to recognize the tensions that exist with capitalism in a democratic society.   By definition, a democracy is designed to give everyone a voice, while capitalism only gives voice to the rich and powerful.   Because of this tension, strong government with democratic values is required to keep rein on the abuses capable in unchecked capitalism.

One of the biggest problems with capitalism is that it causes us to completely lose our values in favor of money.   This abuse has disrupted more traditional and meaningful human interaction and crushes diverse cultures under its weight.   Our worth is determined by our bank accounts, at a time when society would be better off if worth was determined by an individual’s contribution to society.

Capitalism encourages greed, over-consumption and rampant consumerism.  In my younger days I was a willing cog in the capitalism machine.   I moved my entire family, multiple times, in pursuit of a better job with more money, more prestige and a nicer car.  It is only in retrospect that I regret my actions and wish to at least warn others that this is a false pursuit and does not result in real happiness.

What problems does capitalism create?

(The following paragraph is from an unknown author, but I include it because it is on target and succinct.) Under capitalism, the profit motive is supreme. Mathematics replace morality in the sense that profitable activity thrives and all other activity is suppressed. Problems arise from activities which are financially productive but socially destructive. Love is fundamental to human welfare and yet, because it leads to activity such as sharing, caring and giving away, it runs counter to economic ‘progress’, so those activities which promote love are discouraged, while those which discourage it are promoted. The capitalist system rewards selfishness but punishes altruism.

In light of the problems discussed I have developed tenets for the Pro American Party that create a new value system, one that promotes unity in our country.   I would ask that you look at tenets #7 and 11 when they are published to see how I address these issues.

George Washington

George Washington, father of our country, made the following statement:

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Have you ever considered how the two major political parties in our country have put a strangle hold on power?   Do you think Republicans and Democrats have the answers to every problem?   I don’t.

One of the things that really upsets me is the coercive manner the parties use to ensure their members stay the party line.   Our elected representatives are not free to speak their minds…at least not without retribution.    Party leaders decide who gets into key committees.   They also decide whether certain members will get money from the party for reelection and how much, based on their adherence to the party platform.  God help the man or woman who sides with the other party on an issue of importance.   If you do, they will run a candidate against you in the next primary to highlight their displeasure.

Imagine if we did not have political parties and instead required each representative to create their own unique platform.  In such a case strategic alliances would hold sway only when there was a meeting of the minds.  Our country would be stronger for it.

Some of the nonsense within political parties is currently being highlighted mostly by the Republicans in the race for the presidency.   After spending an entire debate excoriating Donald Trump, complaining how incompetent he was, at the end of the debate each of the candidates then swore they would support him if be became the nominee.   Were they kidding?   No, unfortunately they were not.   In our current environment, their loyalty to their party is more important than their values.

How did we get to this point?   Wow.

Victor Hugo

Below are two of my favorite Victor Hugo quotes.  I have published them early because they give insight into my thinking process.

“Where there is darkness crimes will be committed. The guilty one is not merely he who commits the crime, but he who caused the darkness.”

This quote points out that if we set up a system that ensures that some of us will fail, those who set up the system are just as guilty as those who are trapped within it.

For example, there are several social theories that attempt to explain at least some aspects of crime.  Social Structure theories posit that crime is an acquired behavior because conditions within the environment are pathological.   Give the Hugo quote, we can say those who were responsible for creating the pathological environment are just as guilty as those who are forced to live in it.

We will discuss this more in the future.

The second quote I like is found below:

“Change your opinions, keep your principles.”

Too many of us (myself included) make a decision about something and then quit thinking about it.   This becomes a problem when new information emerges, but we refuse to look at it…we have made up our minds.

This quote reminds me to keep an open mind when new information presents itself and then reevaluate my stance on an issue with the new information at hand, but based on those enduring principles within us that guide our thinking and behavior.