Tuesday, May 2, 2017

NAFTA Sucks

The best thing that I got out of the Climate March in D.C. on Saturday was meeting someone with a similar background who is also a permaculturalist. Even if they fail to catch the attention of politicians, protest marches and rallies serve to build community and solidarity around ideas and solutions. More protests followed the next day and again the next with a focus on the rights of workers. Seems the honeymoon hasn't led to a very happy marriage.

The May Day protests included a large contingent of immigrant rights advocates who have their own particular difficulties under a hostile administration in addition to being able to earn a decent living. New entrants to the U.S. workforce, immigrant or not, have had to struggle with stagnant or declining wages since 2000. Yet, worker productivity has continued to climb year after year, although the rate of increase has halved to less than 1% per year over the past decade.

Old Blowhard thinks that people are hungry for jobs, but the economy is nearly at full employment. People aren't job hungry, they are hungry for a decent living, or just plain hungry. The anger Blowhard has stirred up over Mexico stealing American jobs is a diversion from the issue of reduced wages and worker rights, driven, in part, by much weaker labor laws in Mexico. NAFTA is a bad deal for U.S. workers, but not only because of the jobs it sends to Mexico. It has led to lower wages and impoverishment in both places.  Not that the U.S. follows high standards for labor, either. We are among the least subscribed to the International Labor Organization's conventions and standards among the organization's 185 members.

In view of U.S. establishment's arrogance with respect to the ILO, the Green Party platform on labor is not at all overreaching. But don't expect any improvement under Labor Secretary Acosta. All stick and no carrot is not working so well when you look the anemic U.S. productivity gains. Yet, when you consider how Mexico abuses its workforce while making great productivity gains, it shows that a corrupt and irresponsible government can effectively enslave its workers while enriching the elites.

I hope workers of all stripes forged more solidarity in their marches this past week. Perhaps in the near future, the many movements will converge and we will be able march the fascists out of government.
by Germ├ín Largo Urrea

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