Big business or fair pay?

By Jonathan Koepke

There are just some things that Canadians do really well. In a land so cold, it’s easy to see why the people excel in ice hockey, beer and … riots? Well, that’s right. The recent free trade zone meetings among 34 leaders of Western nations in Quebec City has led to a great deal of protesting from organizers, both from Canada and abroad.

So what’s the big deal about free trade? After all, free is a good word. It means that either we can do what we want to or we can take things without paying for them, right? Trade is good for everybody because each person involved gets something they want when you trade things, or do they? When you combine the words, it really seems like a good idea, but then again, Mir seemed like a good idea, too.

What the proposed agreement will form is an organization called the Free Trade Area of the Americas. The trade alliance will span from the Arctic Circle of Canada to the Pacific Coast of Chile. While this expansive zone of capitalist development and increased markets would have an obviously positive effect on stockholders, it is arguable that this would have negative effects on working class people in every nation involved.

As a result of the negative elements of the agreement, some of those wiley neighbors of the Great White North, as well as those who traveled far and wide, took it into their own hands and decided to turn the streets of Quebec City into an all out fracas directed toward the political leaders’ meetings.

At issue was a giant fence erected around the dignitaries’ hotel accommodations as well as the conference center.

Of course, the usual assortment of police in riot gear were there to fight back the violent protests, but the real issue here is the question of whether these kinds of free trade agreements are a good idea or not.

In order to break down the complex and complicated situation we first must examine the interests of those parties involved in the talks themselves. Most of the dignitaries in attendance were either presidents or prime ministers or economic leaders of the North, Central and South American nations they represent. In those nations those people represent not the entire population, but only a certain part of it. We must understand that leaders of “representative government” represent the interests of business and the upper class of that nation.

Actually, nowhere is that more prevalent than in the United States and Central and South America.

In developing nations, leaders have their own interest in bringing industrial development to their nation because they can directly see the profits from such expansion in the form of stock, business ventures and corrupt kick-backs from business leaders. This also goes along with the fact that because the increasing development occurred during their shift, they can take credit for it and maintain their power.

Concerning President Bush, he believes, according to an April 20 Reuters article, that “Trade not only helps spread prosperity, but trade helps spread freedom.” Let us examine this situation more closely to see how President Bush, or any president for that matter, would define “freedom”.

For historical perspective, take the similar North American Free Trade Agreement for an example. After NAFTA, U.S. corporations like Zenith were able to close down domestic production facilities and put their workers out of jobs in order to move the plant a few miles south of the border into Mexico. There they could pay Mexican workers a fraction of what they were paying union laborers. By doing so, they were able to cut their cost, keep their price the same and draw more profits from their exploitation of the NAFTA agreement and both American and Mexican laborers.

Any similar agreement coming from the summit in Quebec City would undoubtedly have a similar affect throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Already America has an economy based upon the circulation sphere of capitalist production. There are very few “blue collar” jobs left domestically, and many of those are filled by migrant workers.

What President Bush has done is blatantly come out in the corner of big business and corporate ownership. This, however, is no surprise since every president has done that for our entire history. After all, that is what the taxpayers give him his paycheck for.

I, for one, would rather see those protesters break down that fence and be arrested than see such injustice go on any further.

What is even more disgusting is the fact that this article is the only one you will see printed in opposition of the summit and support of the demonstrators, and that’s probably due to the fact that the majority of people have no idea what I just talked about for the last 20 inches.