It’s time to put down the Free Trade Kool-Aid...

Free Trade, Free Trade, Free Trade. Congress passed three so-called Free Trade agreements last night – meaning transnational corporations now have new pools of cheap labor in Colombia, South Korea, and Panama. All three trade deals were passed with bipartisan support in both Chambers of Congress despite the face that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was against them – and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi expressed skepticism about the Colombia deal.

Over the last two decades – we’ve seen the effects of these so-called Free Trade deals on our economy. We’ve seen trade surpluses turn into massive trade deficits. We’ve seen millions of factories and manufacturing jobs shipped overseas. And we’ve seen the wealth and power of transnational corporations explode while small businesses collapse.

Yet – our lawmakers – continue to buy into this gimmick year after year. It’s time to put down the Free Trade Kool-Aid.


jrboehmfl's picture
jrboehmfl 11 years 32 weeks ago

Have you heard about wireless electricity meters being installed. I've heard after installed elect comp can invade all electronics in your home? HELP. what we can do? Get form print out put on electric meter, elect comp mot allowed to touch if paper work attached. So no more Meter Readers more jobs gone poof! I live in Fl this is going on now

Maxrot's picture
Maxrot 11 years 32 weeks ago

Our lawmakers are obviously not getting it, there are people in the streets everywhere in this country because of their economic policies. Yet here they go again, instead of considering putting on the brakes, they have instead decided to push the pedal to the floor as we go careening around sharp turns next to the cliff.

Once again Wall St is showing its influence in our government. Well they say its always darkest just before the dawn... I'm just wondering how much darker will it get?


Bandy Legged Marsupial Cave Rabbi's picture
Bandy Legged Ma... 11 years 32 weeks ago

Thom - you're about to have Ravi on - please press him on Peak Oil! I blogged about Ravi and Peak Oil a couple of months ago. You can read that here:

Jeff Golden's picture
Jeff Golden 11 years 32 weeks ago

Listening to your new summary today about NYC events, let me get this straight. Mayor Bloomberg is telling demonstrators they have to leave the park so that it can be cleaned, but then they can come back an continue, but the "property management company that takes care of the park" is pushing to ban sleeping bags, camping equipment, etc.

Hello? NYC has privatized maintnance/management of this public park? And this private contractor is going to have a lot of influence on the critical determination of wheter public demonstration can continue (maybe letting elected officials like Bloomberg off the hook, and eliminating accountability?). And this all just kinda whooshed by in your news summary without notice?

Do I have something wrong here?

Drew Peacock's picture
Drew Peacock 11 years 32 weeks ago

You forgot the part about Obama endorsing the legislation.

SillySister's picture
SillySister 11 years 32 weeks ago

"Used food" is the appelation I attach to time-dated products "reduced for immediate sale." Already eating "used food."

TarryFaster 11 years 32 weeks ago

Seems pretty obvious that when Cain, regarding food, tells us to "... buy second hand ..." he is simply telling us to -- eat shit!

Blue Mark's picture
Blue Mark 11 years 32 weeks ago

What are Herman Cain's intentions in his 9-9-9 plan which in the details includes abolishing Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security? What does Herman Cain mean when he says the poor should buy used food? He is telling the old, sick and poor to eat s@!t and die.

Drew Peacock's picture
Drew Peacock 11 years 32 weeks ago

I only listened to you interview yourself for the first hour today.

1. I gather you are against the death penalty. While you were bloviating on that subject, the good people of Connecticut saw fit and condem to death a man for invading a home, beating the family with a baseball bat, killing the mother, raping the 11 year old daughter while her 17 year old sister was tied up in a bed. After they had there fun, they set the house on fire killing three family members. God forbid that was your family. As far as the execution method, mine would be far more uncivil that a shot in the arm that paralyzes them and stops there heart. Off the bridge, or a .45 that I would happily handload for 15r¢ is just fine. Human garbage.

2. You spent a lot of time complaining about Herman Cains 9-9-9 plan. Yes, it does have flaws, but you made the statement that millionaires and billionaires tax rates would fall from 36% to 9% Then you went to Warren Buffett's tax rate of 17%. In the past, you stated that millionaires and billionaires "sit around the pool waiting to collect dividend checks" and pay from zero to 15% tax rate. Which is it?

3. On the Warren buffett tax return of 17% that Mr. Buffett feels is way to low, you forgot to mention that this overly generous individuals company, Birkshire Hathaway, owes the U.S.Government (you & me), about ONE BILLION DOLLARS IN BACK TAXES starting in 2002 that they forgot to pay.

God. One hour is enough.

redcale 11 years 32 weeks ago

Used Food:
I think you should find the song sung by Barbara Streisand: "second Hand Rose"'s timely!

leighmf's picture
leighmf 11 years 32 weeks ago

Colombia, South Korea, and Panama- Free trade also means making deals with bankers holding important ports which circulate the illegal drug trade, historically.

What does it matter when the illegal drug and pharmaceutical trades are both controlled by the Central Bank?

I truly believe we cannot extricate ourselves from this mess.

madbeats's picture
madbeats 11 years 32 weeks ago

You're confusing 'free trade' with these so called 'free trade agreements". If in fact we did have free trade we would not need an agreement between governments for private businesses to conduct their business.

I wish you were honest Thom.

PhilipHenderson's picture
PhilipHenderson 11 years 32 weeks ago

Whenever you hear FREE you know something is wrong. There is no such thing as a "free lunch." Anytime someone offers you something "free" grab your wallet. That person is trying to pry something from you. This is not free, someone will pay a price, likely American workers. Trade tarriffs are useful economic tools to keep Americans working or at least competing on a level playing field. I understand that their were certain foreign policy issues involved in this passage, nonetheless, it is another step down a road that leads to trouble. If these agreements were begun by the Republicans while George W "Asleep at the Wheel" Bush was President, that should be a warning.

I don't understand why the Republicans are so eager to send American jobs overseas. How does that fit with resolving the unemployment problem in the United States. They cheer when American jobs go overseas, they boo when American soldiers say they are gay, they cheer when they imagine a 30 year dying because he failed to purchase health insurance. These are a sick bunch of leaders.

DJ Pullstart 11 years 32 weeks ago

Insanity : "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".. Albert Einstein.

These "representatives" of ours are neither insane or stupid. They are merely doing the bidding of their corporate masters because their love of money and power is greater than their love of country.

stonesphear's picture
stonesphear 11 years 32 weeks ago

jrboehmfl Exclusion obstructs possibilitys.

stonesphear's picture
stonesphear 11 years 32 weeks ago

SillySister eats discounts just short of waste. Who put the lock on the dumpster ? Why do we need to put locks on dumpsters. A crash helmet doesn't do a hell of a lot of good if you are starving. Don't break any locks on garbage , it is against the law, is it not ? r

stonesphear's picture
stonesphear 11 years 32 weeks ago

leighmf "I truly believe we cannot extricate ourselves from this mess." That just goes to show that belief has limitations and limited value.

stonesphear's picture
stonesphear 11 years 32 weeks ago

PhilipHenderson rt . But waite there is more. A ?

stonesphear's picture
stonesphear 11 years 32 weeks ago

"Free" trade ?

Poverty here is no more benefit to the striken here than it is to the stricken there. Poverty can't be resolved through devices that impoverish. We can stick our math up our @$$ on that one.

what now toons's picture
what now toons 11 years 32 weeks ago

First I heard that the Jobs bill had this free trade atrocity in it, so I wasn't too bothered that the bill did not pass, until I saw tonight's Network news say that it passed, as they dished up some smiley faced propaganda about it! WHAT!!! This turkey passes and we still don't have a jobs bill?!!! ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!

Left of center political cartoons

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 32 weeks ago

Jrboehmfl: Just as POT (plain old telephone) copper lines can both carry voice and DSL (digital subscriber line--ie: the internet) at the same time because the carrier frequencies are different, the 60 cycle (or Hertz) frequency of your copper AC power line can carry other frequencies at the same time. They even make products that allow you to control lights or other devices...sensors...etc..that utilize this principle.

It is quite conceivable, and even probable, that even if you turn off and disconnect your DSL modem from your computer that what you do on your computer, can be monitored because the power line can be modulated with a frequency from your computer carrying information from your computer. I would imagine having an electric meter would help facilitate isolating the house wiring from the line in, making it easy for someone monitoring from the street...or even further...what you do on your computer or what you say inside your house and even your location inside your house...depending on the electronic devices they may plant in your house.

There are a couple of different kinds of computer keyboard kind and hardware kind. Of the hardware kind, installed on your keyboard or keyboard cable(who really pays attention to the cabling?), one type has to be picked up after a time to read, another type can actually broadcast (to the street?) what you type. They can get passwords and other everything you type. The other kind is software that is injected into your computer by a trojan.

"Regardless of which protection method is used, the following supplementary countermeasures should be added.

1. All electrical power lines should be filtered to prevent RF emissions from the equipment being transmitted along the lines that act as antennas. This is necessary even with Tempest equipment or a product like the SHIELD."

This is in reference to natural RF emission from the equipment, which could supply 'useful (to the spy)' data but it is also conceivable that a modulated signal can be purposefully gotten from your computer via the AC power line, isolated at the electric power meter, with filters, which then broadcasts the signal to those monitoring you from the street. Either someone would have to plant a modulator in your computer or the computer could be built with it already there, or maybe even software planted in your computer could act as the modulator.

Governments have been concerned about spies being able to monitor them for many years and the idea is not new. Even the RF radiation from computers and monitors are able to be monitored. I guess it is not inconceivable, especially now, that our government could being spying on us in ways we could not even imagine.

Governments can be paranoid...but we can't be? Besides, it not really paranoia if you have good reason to be right. The technology is here, and the government has shown us much reason to be suspecting of them.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 32 weeks ago

what now toons: I am not surprised at all. That's the way it works now. They'll say one thing to get us all at-least semi-supportive then they'll pull a fast one on us. It's bait and switch, smoke and mirrors. We cannot trust anything they is just to constantly feed us a smidgen of hope and then they'll dash our brains out on the rocks. Politics is corrupt and getting more corrupt. There is only one thing that will make real change and the people are beginning to take action that does not believe in, nor rely on, the corrupt ballot box kind of lying government.

They did the same thing with the bail-outs...they just handed the money over to the banks with no teeth to make the banks make the loans to the people and businesses in the US. Instead the bank officials gave themselves big bonuses and shot that money to risk it in overseas ventures.

They did the same thing when the government made a deal with tax-evaders who had their money stashed away in overseas accounts...bring the money back to the US and the IRS would tax them at a ridiculously low rate...providing they created jobs in the US. They didn't provide jobs in the US but more overseas and they got their tax cuts anyway...laughing all the way to their offshore banks. We got suckered again.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 32 weeks ago

Drew Peacock: Yes, that was bad and they deserve what they are going to get. But how much worse has been the raping, pillaging, torture, maiming, and murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children...families in the Middle East that didn't deserve to die any more than that one in Connecticut. Our government sponsored terrorism conducted by ruthless war criminals deserve far more punishment than those guys in Connecticut. Yet some feckless, jingoist, flag-waving useful idiots support this kind of behavior.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 32 weeks ago

Drew Peacock: At least Warren Buffet is willing to pay his fair share of taxes as long as other wealthy people do the same. You won't find many other wealthy people saying the kinds of things Warren Buffet says nor willing to pay their fare share. Most are content to let the country suffer and turn the nations workers into lowly peons and surfs not worthy to shine the overlord's shoes.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 32 weeks ago

Drew Peacock: I agree...Obama is the devil! But Cain is overtly SATAN.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 11 years 32 weeks ago

I wish you weren't swilling Pinot griglio.

Drew Peacock's picture
Drew Peacock 11 years 32 weeks ago

I could not agree more with your statement. We should get out and stay out. It is none of our business.

Drew Peacock's picture
Drew Peacock 11 years 32 weeks ago

That is incorrect. Buffett draws a minimum salary just to avoid paying taxes. Nothing prevents him from paying 36% on the $62 million he made last year. This guy is old and senile. He is trying to clear his conscience before he "assumes room temperature". Hopefully he will cough up the one billion he already owes the U.S. government on back taxes, and then write a check for another 25 million on last years earnings. Put your money where your mouth is Warren.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 32 weeks ago

Fact is that none of these rich people are going to automatically and beneficently hand over any of their ill-gotten gains without an honest and true representation of the majority of Americans by our government forces the rich to pay. Our government is corrupt and until it again enforces the rules and laws, that were meant to protect us from rapacious greed, we will not be able to turn things around for the better for most Americans.

dianhow 11 years 32 weeks ago

Free not fair Trade is ANTI US jobs NAFTA CAGTA GAT CHina gets away with cheating FIX IT Hammer them over and over untill they listen       do your part or do not gripe VOTE Now more than ever

dianhow 11 years 32 weeks ago

Senile ? No way Warren has given away billions to Bill Gates charites

dianhow 11 years 32 weeks ago

There you guys go again Anti Christ Hitler Fascist Hater of whites Not like us Muslim Kenyan Mao mao Socialist This says more about the far right Baggers -GOP than it does about Obama Thats why GOP lost me Lying devious Greedy stalling blocking 100's of filibusters on bills they used to support under Bush They never once said NO to Bush 's his 2 very long failed wars - huge corp cuts- lies about Iraq- debt...all unfunded Led to crash /depression / 700 billion TARP scam

jmanstro's picture
jmanstro 11 years 32 weeks ago

Comparative advantage is a pretty straightforward concept, focus on the thing you do best and use the production in excess of what you need inside your own country to trade for the products of other countries making what they do best. The key idea is being able to produce more than you could if you had to make everything yourself and trading your excess output with other trading partners.

I suspect that the place our free trade agreements are failing us is in the negotiation and enforcement of the agreements. The agreements need to limit our exposure to trade goods to those that equal our excess production. If we as consumers wish to obtain more than we produce, we can purchase them through ordinary methods, buying them from retail suppliers oversees and shipping them home for personal use. The overhead in those individual transactions, the shipping, the transaction costs and hassle, will naturally limit the advantage a low wage nation has over a high wage country.

We also need to make the details of our trade agreements more transparent, assuming that is not counter to our national interests. As always, transparency is a two edged sword. We like to know what our government is doing, but in finding out the details, we make them public for our competitors and those who would seek to do harm to our interests to know as well. It would be one thing if we felt we could trust our elected representatives to look out for the best interests of the nation, but as Thom so often reminds us, they are paid representatives of multi-national corporations, with precious few exceptions.

Trade can be a good thing for everyone involved if you make the right deals, and you negotiate on behalf of the American people.

Speaking of the American people. It's time we accepted the fact that the world has changed. We cannot expect to remain in a single profession with a single employer and retire comfortably at 65 years old, never learning a new set of skills or a new business. I thought I was diversified, working in Wisconsin for the state government in technology, and buying, fixing up and renting out homes that had fallen into disrepair. As you can imagine, my fortunes have changed considerably over the last 5 years. The message I have absorbed is that once you lose one of your diversified sources, you need to replace it as fast as you can.

And never underestimate the ignorance of a certain segment of the voting population. :)

Sprague 11 years 31 weeks ago

Plutocracy: Government by the wealthy.

I want my country back!!! I want my Government back! End Plutocracy!

The Wealthy "Govern" by hiring Lobbiests and by donating to support the (re)election of Legislators who pass laws that benefit them and by donating to OPPOSE the (re)election of Legislators who don't pass laws wanted by the Wealthy.

Republicans and many Democrats want to be reelected so badly that they have become Minions to the Wealthy.

I want my country back! I want my Government back!! End Plutocracy!


Joe Phillips LCSW's picture
Joe Phillips LCSW 11 years 31 weeks ago

Free trade only works in markets where we are free to NOT buy something. Markets involving necessities are more of a shake down where the law of supply and demand breaks down. The demand for health care doesn't rise and fall as a function of scarcity and price. Demand is contant even at super high prices because the buyer can't refuse to buy it. There needs to be an economic firewall between markets for necessities and everything else.

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