Nationally there was support [for CAFTA] from the pork, soybean and corn growers, as well as other commodity groups. It caused fear, however, in the sugar industry and had pockets of local resistance to overcome.
Local pockets of resistance, like the 33,000 sugar beet workers in the Red River Valley. Too bad none of them could be contacted for a reaction.
If the local sugar industry was against it, that means the beet farmers and Crystal Sugar. Which means Norm just pissed off a whole lot of his base up there. Here's hoping Al Franken exploits it come 08.
By 8:46 AM, at
I'm sure it's issue #1 in the Franken book, except that Franken is probably pro-free trade. That means it'll be tough to critize Coleman on this issue without looking a bit the hypocrite.
Here's one thing I never got about CAFTA...how are the good folks of Honduras going to enjoy our $4.50/pound pork? Yep, all those folks who earn less than $2/day will really eat up our pork, soybeans, and corn. I think I read that the combined economies of the CAFTA nations is equal to the economy of New Haven, CT.
Free trade away!!
By 9:57 AM, at
Why do you think the sugar beet farmers (who receive boatloads more welfare than the poor folks in north Minneapolis do) are against the deal? FT!!
Are all you people from East Grand Forks?
By 10:02 AM, at
TRR: I'm not sure I understand your point. Sugar beet producers oppose CAFTA because they can't compete with sugar grown from cane even with existing subsidies. The CAFTA deal includes promises of even more subsidies to help sugar beet growers, but the subsidies expire in 3 years. Sugar beet producers think CAFTA will put them out of business, and have said so.
That's why I think sugar beet farmers are against CAFTA. I'm against CAFTA because it doesn't contain appropriate labor and environmental safe guards. Specifically, CAFTA's only requirement is that countries have labor laws and enforce them. It doesn't matter what the labor laws actually say, so long as they exist.
Hey, I've already said many times before that we should stop those subsidies. Still, CAFTA doesn't do jack crap for us because they can't afford to buy our goods.
By 10:32 AM, at
I suspect that if all the CAFTA signatories spent their entire GDP on American-manufactured goods it would not make much of a dent in the US trade deficit.
I suspected wrong. In 2003, the trade deficit was almost $500 billion. The GDP of Honduras is $20 billion So it would make a dent if Honduras spent its entire GDP on US goods.
CAFTA will undoubtedly help our Central American trading partners sell more goods in the United States. I think we should be willing to help raise the standard of living in foreign countries, not that CAFTA was sold to the US as foreign aid. What troubles me is that the benefits of trade for Honduras will simply go to enrich the richest rather than to raise the standard of living of the poorest Hondurans.
As liberals go I am a pretty big supporter of free trade, must be that darn econ degree. But as with most things cooked up by the Bush administration CAFTA is more about paying off big donors (like the pharmaceutical industry that gets to force their intellectual property rules on the third world) than making markets work more efficiently or promoting economic development.
And being from (sort of) a rural state I do have a fair amount of sympathy for farmers but don't get me started on the sugar industry in this country. They are a very powerful and destructive lobby, especially in Florida where they have done untold amounts of environmental damage and are making it very hard to restore the Everglades. And of course there is that whole market distorting price fixing thing. I have not seen any direct evidence but I have no doubt that a significant part of our anti-Cuba policy is driven by Florida sugar grower's fear that Cuban sugar growers could wipe up the floor with them. (Well, that and a whole bunch of right wing anti-Castro nut-jobs.) And the economic side of my brain says "why the hell are we trying to grow sugar in Minnesota anyway?" People would think it was crazy to try to support a domestic banana industry when it is so much easier to buy them from Central and South America. Why should sugar be any different?
Call me isolationist if you will, but I'm not about raising anyone's boat except for ours. We Americans have the longest way to fall if free trade really works. How far of a fall? A BIG one.
In 2003, the median US income was $43K. In 2003, China's average income was 2,622 Yuan ($316).
The US population at the time was @ 290 million. China's population is 1.3 billion.
If you take the gross income of the US and add it to the gross income of China and then divide by population, we come out somewhere around $8000. This is just China.
Granted, things won't work out with this much balance and this is horribly over-simplified, but it does showcase how far we Americans have to fall if we decide that we want to raise everyones living standards based on little more than trade value. The only way it makes sense for folks in Honduras to buy American goods is if the American goods have less value attached to them. We don't want that to happen.
By 11:44 AM, at
Yes, CP, we've got a long way to fall. I think we can aid developing countries and protect our way of life. We need astute economists to demonstrate how to raise the standard of living for our trading partners. So far the unfettered capitalism and full privatization model the World Bank has been pushing is an abject failure.
Jambo: IIRC, the Iraqi transitional laws on copyrights and patents were drafted to be a Pfizer/Disney wet dream. Have you seen anything on that lately? The constitution might have a provision in there giving a perpetual copyright to the likeness of Mickey Mouse.
Instead, the Iraqis should do it the way we do it here: Every 25 years extend the mouse's copyright another 25 years.
I know...we should help others. After all, WWJD? I just like talking about unfettered capitalism in wildly isolationist and/or imperialist terms. after all, we just want them to make stuff for us on the cheap, not steal our DVD money.
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