What the Fuck Is NAFTA?
Since it was first introduced in 1994, NAFTA has been opposed by labor and student organizations in Mexico, the US, and Canada, the three signatories to this ‘agreement.’
Roughly, NAFTA is an economic law that deregulates capital movement through all three countries. It gives corporations the freedom to move entire operations untaxed, the ability to arbitrate as if they were citizens from those respective countries and, ultimately, the power to dictate the economy. For example, if Intel decides it is cheaper to manufacture processors in a facility in Guadalajara, NAFTA allows them to do so unopposed by the US government. It does not matter that this corporate freedom kills the Mexican IT sector, NAFTA is the law.
When Intel operates in Mexico, the Mexican government is forced to treat Intel as a Mexican corporation and affords them the same right to property as state enterprises. Intel is also not required to pay tariff dues as they used to be decades ago and, in fact, it receives subsidies from the Mexican government. This has effects the Mexican population through diminished tariff revenue for public services and infrastructure, a neoliberal trend present in all three countries.
NAFTA basically dictates that all three governments support corporate control of the economy.
The effects of NAFTA are also felt across economic sectors. For example, the movement of automobile manufacturing to Mexico, where labor laws are rarely enforced, has left large areas of the midwestern United States desolate; the area is referred to as the ‘rust-belt’ due to its abandoned manufacturing facilities.
Mexico’s maquiladoras, then, are obviously no good for Mexicans because they are economic production used to undercut the US worker. The way to undercut US workers is to neglect labor rights somewhere else. As a result, workers living on either side of the border are made more ‘competitive’ but competition within the NAFTA framework is narrowly defined as a demeanor and capacity to work for more time with less pay. NAFTA formally imposes a ‘race to the bottom’ as all workers are forced to participate in an economic competition they cannot possibly survive.
Through NAFTA, US corporations also manipulate the agricultural sector of Mexico. Remember, Mexico is still largely agrarian and many people survive through their own small scale farming operations. US corporations destroy this capacity by exporting lower quality products to Mexican firms and do so with the political protection and subsidies from the US government.
Monsanto, for instance, owns many acres of farm land and receives a federal subsidy for every bushel of corn planted regardless of quality. The subsidy is also given despite it being well known that Monsanto has near monopolistic control over corn and is consolidating control over publicly subsidized research in US universities as well. Monsanto’s federally subsidized corn is dumped into Mexico where Monsanto ‘fixes’ the price of maize - Monsanto and its Mexican subsidiaries raise the price of corn based products at will.
The effect is obvious: In Mexico, tortillas, corn and corn maize have all increased in price. Smaller farming operations are now unviable which displaces Mexican workers, forcing them to seek work in the United States.
Submitted by Ricardo Lezama
Marketing and selling metaphors now threaten to swamp public discourse. The market is hypostacized: it ‘thinks’ this, ‘does’ that, ‘feels’ the other, ‘gets panicky’, ‘loses confidence’, ‘believes’ … Every social relation can be bought and sold, has its ‘price’ and its ‘costs’. Everything can become a commodity. Nothing escapes the ‘discipline’ of the ‘bottom line’. Exchange value is value. Nobody just ‘shops’: every one ‘competes in the marketplace’. Exercising ‘consumer choice’ is the next best thing to freedom itself. A massive productive and financial corporate infrastructure across the world stokes up the hot house incubator of global fashion trends: but to be realized in the market, they have somehow to acquire the aura, and become the signifiers, of ‘personalized’ choice…
There is an exponential rise in the marketing of ‘technological desire’…News, information, views, opinions and commentaries have been, as they say, ‘democratized’— i.e. flattened out— by the internet, in the illusion that, since internet space is unregulated, the net is ‘free’; and one person’s view is as good as another’s in the marketplace of opinion. We know more about the trivial and banal daily round of life of other people than we do about climate change or sustainability. The most ‘sustainable’ subject par excellence is probably the figure of the self-sufficient urban traveller— mobile, gym-trim, cycling gear, helmet, water bottle and other survival kit at the ready, unencumbered by ‘commitments’, untethered, roaming free …The nest of people sheltering outside an office to beat the No-Smoking ban is not a ‘group’; they are an aggregate of individuals, facing outwards, each talking to another individual on their mobiles. There is an attenuation of the very idea of ‘the social’ …
Stuart Hall, The Neoliberal Revolution
holy shit you guys, THIS
The reality is that every department on every campus could be teeming with True Believer socialists committed to brainwashing their students and the level of indoctrination wouldn’t hold a candle to the average two course Macro/Micro sequence in Economics. This is not to say that Econ professors are especially conniving, ideological, or bad at teaching. The problem is simply that teaching Economics in the modern American educational system means teaching Neoliberalism. It’s basically Intro to Hayek and Friedman. Fukuyama may have overstated things by declaring the End of History, but we’ve certainly seen something close to it in Economics. There is nothing but Neoliberalism now. Everything else is quaint, referred to only as a historical curiosity, and worth knowing only inasmuch as it sets up the victorious tomahawk dunks of Neoliberalism.