Tie Trade Benefits, Safety, And Global Warming Together
As a follow-up to my earlier post about linking trade benefits, food and product safety, and global warming together, note that the foot-dragging Bush-appointed Consumer Products Safety Commission is coming out of its slumber to draft new regulations that would “mandate broader inspections of imports and stiffer penalties for ignoring safety rules.” Given the track record of this administration, nothing of consequence will come of this, but Democrats in Congress have an open playing field to make food and consumer safety a serious 2008 campaign issue, as well as globalization.
As I said the other day, major exporting nations like China and India cannot afford to be stigmatized as unaccountable rogue actors on environmental, product, and food safety and lose market share here in the largest importing economy on the planet. Yet under our trade agreements and the bipartisan delusion that free trade is a net gain for the world, these same countries benefit from favorable tariff treatment while they are allowed to flood our country with unsafe, un-inspected, and unregulated food and consumer products. And because the United States has no moral high ground to demand otherwise, these same countries are allowed to avoid being held accountable for their lack of adherence to any international emissions reduction covenants.
It’s bad enough that both parties have been bought and paid for by multinational money to allow these importing countries to replace outsourced American jobs with cheap labor, all financed with trade benefits for the exporting countries, tax incentives for the companies involved, while Congress looks the other way while our manufacturing base is destroyed and our planet is killed. It’s even worse that part of this deal is the GOP’s willingness to allow unsafe food and consumer products into America, and all of this is done in the name of free trade, where the means and ends never seem to be put to a societal cost and benefit test.
Why should any country continue to receive free trade benefits if it peddles unsafe food and products, and is unaccountable for killing the planet? Why should those trade agreements be immune from being reopened, even if it means taking the issue to the WTO and questioning its priorities? If America isn't willing to challenge our trading partners and the WTO over tainted food, products, and planet-killing, then its time for new leaders who are willing to place public health ahead of private gain. It's time for new leaders who will question what exactly are the benefits of free trade.
Why shouldn’t Democrats begin to talk about linking free trade benefits, food and consumer product safety, and environmental cooperation together? Obviously the GOP has been able up until now to convince voters that concerns over lost American jobs from globalization are secondary to your right to buy cheap shit at Wal-Mart. But if Democrats can build a narrative that lost American jobs, unsafe food and products, planet killing, and tax breaks for the perpetrators are all part of the same scam, who knows how well this will play next year? I suspect it will play very well.