Monday, May 3, 2010

Remember NAFTA?

Joseph Moriarty, writing on the op-ed page of Saturday's Star Tribune, has a different perspective on the Arizona immigration law: Immigration Problem? Blame NAFTA.

He writes:

By permitting heavily subsidized U.S. corn and other agri-business products to compete with small Mexican farmers, NAFTA literally drove more than 2 million Mexican farmers and their families off the land. Those former farmers, who previously made an adequate living, are among the thousands who cross our border simply to try to make a living and feed themselves and their families....

Before NAFTA, Mexico had a relatively large and thriving middle class and a viable farm economy. The country's towns and cities were home to many small and mid-sized factories and businesses that produced most of the country's consumer goods, providing countless jobs and supporting the country's economy. NAFTA's rules, however, allowed big firms like Wal-Mart to enter the Mexican market, where they began selling low-priced goods made in China with very cheap labor.

The result? More than 30,000 small and medium-sized Mexican businesses have closed their doors since NAFTA took effect. Tens of thousands of Mexicans who were laid off or forced off their land swarmed into newly opened "maquiladora" factories along the U.S.-Mexican border. The oversupply of workers, together with government-approved union busting, resulted in sweatshop pay often at a rate of just 60 cents to a dollar an hour. Rather than improving living standards, Mexican wages have plummeted since NAFTA was put in place.
Clearly, Arizona and its new law are treating a symptom -- with a blowtorch -- rather than working on a cure.

Here's a cartoon by Khalil Bendib that fits the situation perfectly:

Free Trade Weather News cartoon
Copyrights of Khalil Bendib, all rights reserved, used with permission.

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