The observations of a 50 something with lots of experience in politics, government, life and learning.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Yes, this is one of those weeks where I'm probably glad I'm NOT a Member of Congress.

I would have voted for CAFTA. And received the undying animosity of most of my party.

Get over it people. The world is flat. Shit happens. Life changes. We have to compete against everyone in the world. It's not just New England competing against the South for where the textile mills are going to go.

Easy for me to say. I have the kind of job that can't be exported. That is, unless people in India want to talk to elders and explain the Medicare D program to them.

But the reality of life is that unless you work in a service industry that demands that you be present ON SITE (the last time I checked "they" hadn't moved the Grand Canyon or the Empire State Building) then everything is up for grabs. Are you smarter? Do you work for lower wages? Do you need health insurance?

Am I saying I like this? No, not necessarily, although there is a whole philosophical question about whether people in the U.S. deserve to live at a much higher standard than people in developing countries. Do you wonder whether the British felt this way in the 19th century?

I was not an econ major, so I'm sure there are a lot of holes in my argument, but the bottom line is that the more we put money in the pockets of people in other nations, the more they will buy our goods, the less incentive they will have to immigrate and the more there will be some economic "balance of power" around the globe.


Lynne said...

You assume everyone is against CAFTA because it means the US is competing with lower wage workers...

I have to disagree. All the progressives I know are against it because it was created by corporations FOR corporations. It's not about helping people in the third world, and that's not an automatic side effect of these trade deals. Big business was able to get some pretty nasty stuff stuck into CAFTA.

So, it'd be great if free trade, the way it's been done via NAFTA and now CAFTA, would help lift everyone in those countries to our standards...but it hasn't panned out that way.

We'll be exporting jobs for pretty much nothing.

Margeware said...

I think we have to remember the words of the immortal Paul Tsongas, who said that "you can't love jobs and hate business."

I do not doubt there's nasty stuff. And the only way we can change that is running the grassroots campaign that Howard Dean has us embarked on so we pick off individual state and national legislative seats by waking people up. We have to compete on their turf, or change the turf through more campaign finance reform.

Abby said...

I support free trade,but that includes free movement of people. Right now we have only 2 of 3 prongs, i.e. free capital flows and movement of goods.

One of the problems with CAFTA was that it forced the South American countries to adopt our excessively restrictive intellectual property regime.

I heard Barney Frank talk about this. What do you do when the Vush administration says that we can't ratify Kyoto, because it will make us uncompetitive. Unless we want a race to the bottom, I say that we ratify Kyoto and put tariffs on countries that won't abide by it. I'm exaggerating a bit, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Margeware said...

Using Kyoto as a wedge is an interesting concept.

Now you and Lynne can learn the truth....when it comes to international stuff, and ESPECIALLY trade, but also defense policy and stuff like "how do we solve problems in the Middle East?" I don't know my butt from third base. My area of interest is domestic policy and more particularly health care. And I tend to be a big picture person, not a detail person, so even on health care, I'm not sure I can give anyone chapter and verse on the differences among the Travaligni bill, the Governor's proposal and the ACT (Moore/Blumer) campaign -- except to tell you I'm heavily involved in ACT and can talk about this and single payer!

Part of why I put up this post was because I'm wary of the Democratic party becoming a group of people who have to march in lockstep. I think to the extent that we have a laundry list of litmus tests, we encourage the notion that we are a marginalized party that doesn't speak to the center, or business, or people of faith, or pro-life or name your group.

I can be a bit of contrarian. If I ever run for higher office (I was a Selectman for nine years but that just required taking a tough stand about building a new town garage!) my fantasy is that I would be honest about where I disagreed with some voters and let the chips fall where they may. But I know that all the "advice" would be to downplay any differences of opinion and give people platitudes, so that I could get elected and THEN I could say what I thought...unless I wanted to be re-elected....And so it goes.

THANKS Lynne and Abby for reading this blog. I'm honored.