April 22, 2005


Let’s stop the ‘Free Trade’ nutballs
by Jim Hightower

Where are all those "free-trade" ideologues now that their theories have turned out to be bunkum, devastating American working families?

"Trust us," they shouted, as they shoved NAFTA, the WTO and other globs of globaloney down our throats, promising us an economic paradise if only all quotas and tariffs were eliminated, letting the magic of the global free market create a bonanza of new export jobs for us. But their schemes turn out to be scams and America's chief export under their laissez-faire ideology turns out to be our middle-class jobs.

One of their brainflares was to eliminate all of the world's quotas on clothing, which took effect in January. This has been disastrous for folks in the real world, which the theorists apparently never visited. In only three months, their policy has resulted in the closing of 17 American textile and clothing factories and the loss of 17,000 American jobs.

This is because — duh — if you just throw open the doors to our market and say, "Y'all come," such retailers as Wal-Mart, Nike and Gap are going to get all of their stuff made in low-wage hell holes in China. Since January, imports of Chinese-made knit shirts, trousers and underwear (products that were still mostly being made in America) were up by as much as 2000 percent! Shouldn't America at least make its own undies?

The honcho of Warnaco, one of the biggest clothing makers in the world, bluntly says: "We will always go to the least expensive place. There will be a shift to China over time."

Experts expect that 70 percent of U.S. clothing will soon come from China and that the 665,000 remaining textile and clothing jobs in America will vanish in the next few years.

Yet the theorists want to feed us even more of their globaloney in the form of a new Central American trade scam called CAFTA. To start taking policy back from these ideological nutballs, call Global Trade Watch: 202-546-4996.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com.


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