I would like to thank Jake Blumberg and Ben Bleckley for bringing the issue of free trade to our campus. It was a nice change from the typical "I like/dislike Bush because…" breed of political debate.
What I found especially interesting was Blumberg's hypothetical scenario between the imaginary countries of the "United States" and "Mexico." While this hypothetical situation paints a bleak future for the country of "Mexico," the realities of free trade have been equally as harsh for the real country of Mexico. Why else would thousands of Mexican citizens choose to leave their families and risk their lives to come to the United States? Apparently those low wages they receive from working in maquilas (sweatshops) don't look like the "treasures" this model claimed they would.
We are now expanding free trade to six more impoverished nations. Also according to Blumberg, anyone who thinks these agreements "will hurt small farmers, worsen workers' rights and lead to environmental degradation" is wrong. Thank you for setting me straight. I will be sure to tell the Salvadoran farmers I met this summer that they just need to be patient. Sooner or later their government will come around and subsidize their farms.
If only this were the case. Until then, I will continue to ponder why the most powerful nation in the world seeks free trade with the third world. NAFTA and CAFTA have not made us the heroes of international trade. They have made us the bullies.
natural resource management major