Red, the blood of angry men! Black, the dark of ages past!

Eat it, Yanquis

This is the top international news story on CBC’s News site (via The Broom):

Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama threatened to pull the United States out of the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico unless it’s renegotiated.

Clinton and Obama, who have both been critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement during their campaign, made the comments in a debate in Cleveland Tuesday. The deal is wildly unpopular with blue-collar workers in Ohio where manufacturing jobs have been lost.

…Clinton was asked if she would notify Canada and Mexico that the U.S. would pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement within six months of her presidency.

“No. I will say, we will opt out of NAFTA unless we renegotiate it,” Clinton said. “And we renegotiate it on terms that are favourable to all of America.”

…Obama said he agreed with Clinton’s criticisms of the deal but insisted he has been consistent on the issue.

“I will make sure that we renegotiate in the same way that Senator Clinton talked about, and I think actually Senator Clinton’s answer on this one is right. I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labour and environmental standards that are enforced.”

— CBC News staff, “Clinton, Obama threaten to withdraw from NAFTA“, February 27th, 2008.

les_miserables_barricadeApparently we’re sticking it to America right now.  Yes, you, sitting at your desk.  You too, on the assembly line.  You, hauling loads on the road.  You, hewers of wood and drawers of water.  Even you, slinging Big Macs (made from delicious Canadian beef).

Our hordes of child labour toiling away in the Third-World industrial sweatshops of Hamilton and Oshawa have been hollowing out the American economy for decades, and only now they start to notice?  Hyperpower my ass.  According to the Dynamic Democratic Duo, our lax labour and environmental laws give us a competitive advantage America can’t beat.  Well, shoot.  Harper & Co. better not negotiate that away.

We may have to shift our industrial base away from resource-based industries and focus on knowledge-based industries.  We might have to harmonise our minimum wages or something.  Which would suck, since ours are, on average, about 25 cents better than theirs (after adjusting for the exchange rate).  Hmm.  Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, McCain says jobs lost to globalisation “aren’t coming back”.  No, they are definitely not.  It doesn’t help when politicians pander to Rust Belt nostalgia and avoid telling the populace what they need to hear.  Like stay in school and get yourself a fargin’ trade or degree.

CBC, as usual, has left out all of the important context.  Clinton and Obama were pitching to Ohioans, who have been left out of the last couple knowledge-based economic booms.  Here’s Jim Tankersley of the Chicago Tribune adding a little socioeconomic background on the great state of Ohio:

Put another way, the demographics that make Ohio ripe for the sort of big March 4 win Clinton needs to revitalize her campaign — a high concentration of low-income voters who didn’t earn a college degree — also are hurting the state’s economic competitiveness. And by playing to steel-town nostalgia, some experts say, she and Obama could be perpetuating myths that hold the region back.

…Candidates — and voters — need to face a hard truth about a state where 70 percent of people 25 and older don’t have a college degree, said Dennis Jones, president of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, who has studied Ohio extensively.

“Until a few years ago, you could make a good living without a college education” in Ohio, he said. “That’s no longer true, but the culture is still there.”

Ohio has lost some 260,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000. Youngstown shed a third of its manufacturing jobs over the past decade. City residents now earn less than $30,000 a year on average, trailing the Midwest and the nation.

— Jim Tankersley, “Rust Belt clamors for fix, gets rhetoric“. Chicago Tribune, February 27th, 2008.

And it doesn’t look like the top two Democratic contenders have much in the way of better ideas, either.

I doubt very much if shutting down mythical Canadian child labour plants or vast, polluting Canadian industry will make a whole lot of difference for Ohio.  Get a fargin’ clue, Hillary and Obama.

UPDATE: Wouldn’t it be grand to have a royal-rumble cage-match trade war?  Two commodities enter!  ONE COMMODITY LEAVES!

Well, no, it wouldn’t be grand.  But maybe the smart play would have been to realise that this is just lowest-common-denominator pandering and vote-buying, and refrain from issuing passive-aggressive threats.

(Again via The Broom)

Category: Foreign Affairs, Industria  Tags:
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