New Year Offers Little Hope for a More Prosperous America

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Present Trends Will Guarantee More Joblessness, Poverty and a Collapsing Economy

With a new year just beginning, there are many lists that look back at what trends dominated 2012, and that make predictions about what 2013 will hold. As far as America’s trading situation goes, 2012 was a bad year, and 2013 looks to continue the trend. Unless America makes some radical changes in what it demands from its elected leaders, our manufacturing base will continue to be decimated by “free trade.”

Last year saw the enactment of three new free trade agreements, all of which are expected to negatively affect the United States. The new agreement with South Korea (KORUS) is expected to cost the United States at least 159,000 jobs according to the Economic Policy Institute. KORUS will also make it more difficult for the United States to regulate its banking and finance. We saw the effects of the disastrous agreement begin to accrue, with larger trade deficits and lower exports becoming apparent as early as the first month of the agreement.

The new agreement with Colombia is putting Americans in direct competition with workers in a country where those who attempt to organize for higher wages and benefits have often been rebuffed through violence. The free trade agreement enacted with Panama will not only add to our job losses, but has also made it easier for Americans to hide money offshore and avoid taxes, worsening our deficit problem.

As painful as the developments of 2012 were, 2013 is likely to be just as bad or worse. The effects of these damaging trade agreements (NAFTA, CAFTA, KORUS and the Colombia and Panama FTAs to name a few) will continue to devastate the U.S. economy. In addition, the Obama Administration is already negotiating the next major trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This new agreement would be even larger and more damaging than those passed last year, and would include many low-wage countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia as well as larger countries like Japan. It is currently being negotiated in secret by lobbyists and is likely to include all of the most damaging aspects of agreements like KORUS, but on a larger scale. If an enemy infiltrated our government to do us harm, these are the things they would do!

Something needs to change or 2013 will be a disaster for the United states. More factories will close, following the trend of an average of 15 factories closing per day over the past 10 years. With the addition of the new trade agreements, that number of factories lost per day could even increase. Without the tax base that comes with strong middle class jobs like those lost from these manufacturing facilities, the U.S. will likely continue to face a deficit crisis, keeping investors at bay and making the slow crawl out of recession impossible.

Unless Americans start demanding better of their elected officials, each new year will bring more economic difficulties. America no longer has the economic strength it did 50 years ago, and unless we change our trade policies we will continue to decline. Our productive capabilities will wither away, our jobs will evaporate and the unthinkable could easily happen – unbridled violence. We would inevitably slip into problems our present system is not capable of managing.

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