“Free” Trade Makes the Rich Even Richer


America’s failed trade policies and broken political system are inextricably linked. That much is proven by the fact that the vast majority of Americans oppose these policies, yet members of both major parties are forging ahead with more disastrous trade pacts. The average American has come to realize that North American Free Trade Agreement style trade pacts do nothing more than lead to the loss of millions of jobs and enrich a few multinational corporations in the process.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from 2011 found that 69 percent of Americans believe that free trade agreements have cost America jobs. Just 18 percent believe that those agreements have created jobs.

The majority of Americans believe that free trade has hurt the nation overall. That’s up from just 46 percent in 2007 and 30 percent in 1999. But in this case, those opinions don’t matter, because it is the moneyed interests that make the political world go ‘round.’

Gordon Lafer, a political science professor at Oregon University wrote in The Hill, “The minority that supports the NAFTA model, however, includes the country’s most powerful corporate lobbies. The strongest advocates of ‘free trade’ are the Chamber of Commerce and multinational corporations such as GE, which sent tens of thousands of jobs overseas.”

With an army of lobbyists, and millions to line the pockets of politicians, the average American does not stand much of a chance against those corporate giants. That has been the case for years. But because of a recent Supreme Court decision, things are getting even worse. Many of America’s campaign finance laws that prevented the richest Americans and corporations from completely dominating the political landscape with their money were stripped away in the fateful Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.

Lafer writes, “Like Republicans, the White House is eager to get these treaties done quickly, so that voters will have forgotten by the fall of 2012. To see the Obama administration and Republican leadership quietly collaborating to seal this deal in knowing violation of the voters’ will is among the most telling signs of corporate power in Washington, and among the most depressing stories in these tough times.”

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