Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Why Free Trade is...
. . . .

Why Free Trade is Anything but Free

Robert Downes - March 18th, 2004
Concern over the loss of millions of jobs due to unscrupulous “Free Trade“ practices has become one of the great issues of our time. All of the top Democratic presidential candidates, including John Kerry, John Edwards and Richard Gephardt, have blasted the loss of more than 3.2 million American jobs over the past few years to countries such as Mexico and China. Meanwhile, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has made appearances on national TV, decrying Free Trade practices which have led to the loss of 160,000 manufacturing jobs in our state.
An excellent series in the Detroit Free Press earlier this month noted that partly as a result of Free Trade practices, the Motor City is no longer a blue collar town. Detroit has lost so many manufacturing jobs that white collar workers in high tech industries now outnumber their blue collar counterparts in manufacturing. Unfortunately, even white collar jobs are being outsourced now. Why should an automotive company hire an American engineer fresh out of college when it can outsource the job to an engineer in India who will gladly accept a fraction of the pay, and of course, no benefits?
There certainly is a good side to Free Trade (I‘ve taken the liberty of capitalizing the term as a proper noun). Anyone might agree with its supporters that removing protectionist tariffs is a sensible idea and a good way for trading partners among many nations to prosper. Protectionism of industries and tariffs in the 20th century were factors that led to a global depression, an underlying cause of World War II.
So, chalk one up for Free Trade on that score.
Unfortunately, Free Trade as it‘s been practiced in the United States over the past decade has been anything but free or fair.
For starters, you have to understand that “Free Trade“ is an Orwellian term that means something radically different or even the opposite of what it suggests; just as the Bush Administration‘s “Clear Skies Act“ is a subterfuge for pumping more coal fumes into the atmosphere to benefit power companies.
Another example of Orwellian doublespeak is the No Child Left Behind program, which has a touchie-feelie sound, but is designed to deny federal funding to school districts that are already struggling. Or the Wildfire Act of 2003, a sensible-sounding ruse which handed our old-growth national forests over to the timber companies; the same loggers who created thousands of acres of brush piles that led to huge forest fires in the first place.
“Free Trade“ has the same doublespeak connotation. It sounds fair and sensible, but it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Its real aim is the wholesale transfer of American jobs to cheaper labor markets in other countries.
Kevin Phillips, author of the bestseller “American Dynasty“ about the Bush family, says that NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) of the early 1990s was mostly about gaining “access by U.S. corporations to low-cost labor within Mexico.”
In Mexico, Phillips notes, employees make an average of $1.50 per hour at the factories established by U.S. companies just across the border. The result has been a trade deficit of $1.7 billion in 1993 that rose to $31 billion in 2002... and of course the loss of jobs in Michigan, such as the Electrolux refrigerator plant in Greenville moving south of the border.
Phillips says the corporate dream of exporting jobs to cheaper countries dates back to the mid-1800s, when wealthy slave-owners in the South schemed to annex northern Mexico as well as Cuba and Nicaragua. “Once incorporated into the United States, these lands would become slave-owning societies managed by southerners,“ he writes.
This dream is still very much alive today under the Free Trade banner which has allowed U.S. companies to flee their obligation to our fellow citizens while enjoying all the benefits of a democracy, including military protection.
For the people presently in power in the White House, such practices make perfect sense. Texas was an independent country founded by slaveowners before it joined the U.S. It owes its cultural heritage more to the exploitive thinking of Spanish Mexico than it does to the traditions of Thomas Jefferson or James Madison. Today, Texas, the home state of George Bush, is one of the worst states in the country in terms of the gap between the rich and the poor. This “Texanomics” trend benefiting the rich at the expense of the poor and the destruction of the middle class is headed our way.
Job flight to Mexico and its trade deficit is only part of our Free Trade problem.
Consider this: Wal-Mart, now the biggest company on earth and by far the largest retailer, presently obtains 80% of the products it sells from the Republic of China, according to the Detroit Free Press. The average worker in China makes less than $2 a day.
Last year, our country had a trade deficit of $130 billion with China, whose Free Trade practices include rigging its currency so that its products are even cheaper than U.S. manufacturers can compete with.
Free Trade as we know it has created a vicious circle. This is a simplified view, but consider: American consumers buy cheap stuff from China down at Wal-Mart, making it impossible for our own manufacturers to compete. Soon, the companies disappear and the shoppers are out of a job themselves. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart destroys local businesses because it can cut costs on its products even further by paying its employees low wages and few, if any, benefits. Soon, the out-of-work consumer is begging -- begging -- even for a low wage job because it‘s brutally expensive to live in America.
Oh, and by the way, Free Trade advocates; no country’s economy in the history of the world has ever survived running a national trade deficit. There’s a tipping point at which even empires are goners. But, of course, that won’t matter to our corporate fat cats, who won’t have a clue behind their gated communities, secure in their Hummers with their bodied-armored security guards as they drive through the Third World wasteland of what’s left of America. If you think we’ve got militias in America now, wait until that day comes.
Where will this end? Hopefully, on election day, 2004.
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