Archive for April, 2009

There are no sharks in the water and free trade is good for you!

Monday, April 20th, 2009

AMITY ISLAND–June, 1975. Police Chief Martin Brody, who had just recovered the mangled body of the victim of a horrific shark attack, was called to an emergency meeting of the town council. There is was shark problem, Amity Mayor Larry Vaughn informed Brody, no need to be alarmist. The tourist season was about to open and business needed to proceed as usual. Brody reluctantly deferred to the businessmen who ran the town. The disastrous results are cinema history (JAWS).

GRANITE CITY, Ill. — March, 2009. Jeff Rains, a retired steelworker from the Granite City steel mill made a disturbing discovery. While waiting for a slow freight train to pass by, he noticed that the flatcars were loaded with stacks of steel pipe — all clearly stenciled, “MADE IN INDIA” (For photos and story see http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/business/economy/16pipe.html?scp=1&sq=pipe%20from%20India&st=cse). This pipe was passing through his city where the local steel mill has been shut down since December — the first time in its 130 year history — and 2,000 workers (10 percent of the city’s work force) have been laid-off.

The final destination of the Indian tubing was the 1,600 mile Keystone Pipeline now being constructed to transport oil from the tar sand fields in Alberta, Canada to refineries in Oklahoma. A section of this pipeline will pass close to Granite City. Forty percent of the 560,000 tons of pipe purchased for the project was produced in India.

“I was very mad when I saw that they were imported; I wondered why this pipe had not been made in the United States,” the New York Times quoted Rains as saying.

After the train had passed, Rains headed to the local union hall to sound the alarm.

Rains’ alarm got lost in transmission. In defiance of logic and common sense, the United Steelworkers’ leaders continue to endorse the free trade policies that have stimulated the mass offshoring of US manufacturing jobs to the cheapest labor markets on earth. With convoluted reasoning union officials argue that the Indian and Chinese steel flooding the US market is not a result of free trade but “a violation of fair trade“! It is the generous subsidies of the Indian government, they contend, that allows for the dumping of steel in the US at below market value. Not a word was said about the US government underwriting the brutal exploitation of foreign labor abroad or ignoring the needs of displaced workers at home.

There are no sharks in the water, Mr. Rains, and free trade is good for you and your community!

US capitalism is utilizing all of the resources that it commands–the mass media, well-funded think tanks and lobbyists, extensive university connections, and class collaborators within the ranks of organized labor–to obscure the critical issue that is at the heart of the current national and global crisis–the fact that free trade labor is a zero-sum game for working people that they will continue to lose until they confront it openly (http://combatingglobalization.com/articles/free_trade_labor.html).

The sharks in the water in the present scenario are the free trade advocates who are working feverishly behind the scene for more free trade to solve the current crisis of capitalism. The last thing working people of the world need now is to continue swimming with the neoliberal sharks.