A Giant, Flushing Sound


Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/09/2016
Year Published:  2016  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21466

The editors discuss the anti-TPP rhetoric of Sanders, Trump, and Clinton, as well as the pro-TPP positions of both the Democratic and Republican parties.



Back in 1992 when maverick billionaire Ross Perot ran for president, he famously asserted that the then-pending North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would create "a giant sucking sound" of U.S. manufacturing and industrial jobs moving to Mexico. When NAFTA came into effect with the signature of President Bill Clinton in January 1994, it certainly accelerated the "de-industrialization" of America although it didn’t cause it (the domestic steel industry, for example, had virtually collapsed years earlier).

But NAFTA didn't only ship out U.S. jobs. It also forced open Mexican markets to the 800-pound gorilla of heavily subsidized U.S. agribusiness, wiping out huge chunks of Mexican domestic agriculture and hollowing out farming communities that couldn't possibly compete with U.S. imports.

This result was actually intentional, based on the neoliberal strategic notion that Mexico would become a food importer and its erstwhile farmers would become workers in the maquiladores, Mexican industrial zones where the jobs of former U.S. workers would be relocated. But the global spread of "free trade," represented by the World Trade Organization - a gold rush for capital to find the very cheapest possible labor - meant that many of those jobs now migrated further, to Haiti or Indonesia or, if Indonesian workers got uppity, to Vietnam.
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