CAFTA and What it Means...
President Bush signed the legislation that will create the Central American Free Trade Zone, or as I will call it, NAFTA Jr.
The principles behind such free trade agreements is fundamentally sound, provided that all parties are willing to play on a level playing field. Of course, American politicians should have figured out a long time ago that it will only be Americans who actually attempt to play fair. By that, I mean American citizens, not the corporate CEO's and definitely not the governments of the signatory countries.
Granted, the "other" side is not really in a position, very often, to return the favor. One only needs to look at the 11 million or so Mexicans who cross our border every year, despite NAFTA. If NAFTA was such a nifty idea, Mexicans would stay home. That was one of the ideas behind it's passage in the first place. Improve Mexico's economy, the theory went, and Mexicans would stay home.
In the end it didn't work. Primarily because even with an improved economy, the opportunities to be had in the United States (even at minimum wage) still outweighed the improvements in Mexico.
Now we can expect the floodgates to open even further as NAFTA Jr. is implemented in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Belize, etc, etc, etc.
The probelm is that even after you raise the standard of living of the typical third-worlder by astronomical amounts, they still cannot afford to live. Their economies are so far below the radar that merely pumping them up several hundered percent means they still can't afford the very products they produce or that we wish them to buy.
In the meantime, American manufacturers (the few that are left) will continue to take advantage of cheap skilled labor in Central America, which forces the unskilled labor north. Eventually, that unskilled labor, after the odysee that's involved in sneaking into the U.S., manages to make to more of a living than the relatives back home. Which sorta defeats the purpose of NAFTA Jr. in the first place.
You know, I've stood behind G.W. on a lot of things, but this one sticks in my craw.
We're creating a permanent underclass in this country (a second one, I mean, the blacks arrived there a long time ago) that's going to remain unassimilated, will not be encouraged to become assimilated, and which, in the end, will become a powerful voting bloc (i.e. "special interest group") that will realize it's potential to draw political bribery. Exactly what Alexis D'Tocqueville warned us against over 100 years ago (pretty prescient for a Frog, wasn't he?).
I have no problem with immigration into the country, since my own ancestors were immigrants. But we have to stop this nonsense that we're doing our bit to improve the hemisphere economically by implementing systems and treaties which do nothing but encourage unfettered illegal immigration. We're shooting ourselves in the foot.
It's a win-win situation for the countries of Central America: they get American investment, get special treatment vis-a-vis tarriffs for their goods and services, and then get to dump their undesirables on us, since they will be leaving in droves looking for jobs sweeping floors and busing tables. The undesriables then send American dollars back to their relatives, which gets deposited in foreign banks and scooped up by foreign governments.
Don't think so? Chew on this for a second: after petroleum, the largest contribution to the Mexican economy is cash remittances made by illegal aliens in the United States to their fellows back home. To the tune of $17 billion dollars, last I heard. That's more than tourism brings in.
In the meantime, the last reliable figure I had concerning what illegal immigration costs us, started with $25 billion, just for emergency medical care for illegals.
Sounds like a wonderful way to improve the American economy, doesn't it?