'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Lou Dobbs' Tiresome Obsession 

Is anyone else getting tired with Lou Dobbs' bizarre fixation on illegal immigration from Mexico? I suppose this is a red meat issue for many CNN viewers which explains the incessant coverage, but it strikes me that Dobbs' daily focus on illegals is particularly pointless because his commentary is entirely superficial: he just blusters around evening after evening mentioning the issue and acting outraged.

Look, it's pretty simple -- if Dobbs and the jackasses in lawn chairs of the Minute Men Project and others view illegal immigration as such a vital concern, they should be calling for an end to the North American Free Trade Agreement and indeed all other economic policies that have caused, reinforced, and exacerbated the Third World economic status of Latin America for the past 200 years.

This isn't 1994 anymore: we don't have to speculate about what the effect of NAFTA might turn out to be we can examine what the effect has been. The following, for example, is from an Institute for Policy Studies release two years ago assessing NAFTA's record in Mexico:

o Disconnect between exports/investment/productivity and wages: Mexico did indeed attract a significant number of jobs in export processing factories. However, despite substantial productivity growth, real wages in manufacturing dropped 13.5 percent between 1994 and 2000, according to the International Monetary Fund.

o Failure on labor rights: Part of the explanation for falling Mexican wages is that NAFTA has failed to protect the rights of workers to fight for their fair share of economic benefits. The agency set up under the NAFTA labor side agreement has proved incapable of holding governments or corporations accountable for worker rights violations. More than 20 complaints have been filed regarding alleged violations in all three NAFTA countries, but in not a single case has the process yielded more than a bit of public exposure to the problem.

o New jobs disappearing: According to the Mexican government, from a high of about 1.3 million in 2000, the country lost more than 230,000 export assembly jobs by the end of 2003.[3] Analysts estimate that as much as 35 percent of these cuts were due to shifts in production to China, where workers make about 60 cents an hour, compared to Mexico’s average manufacturing wage of about $2. This job flight has raised fears that Mexico’s strategy of attracting investment by offering low wages is short-sighted.

I haven't read the book Dobbs is shilling so I can't comment on its content, but I certainly haven't heard him mention the acronym "NAFTA" on the air.

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