Saturday, October 13, 2012

On Truth, and Americans' Responsibility to Defend It

He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.
-- Thos. Jefferson, letter to John Norvell, 1807

Both President Obama and his opponent Mitt Romney profess a great love of small business owners. I will suggest that they are both being dishonest with the American people on this subject. The argument will proceed like this: Obama and Romney support the so-called “free trade” deal with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama (also known as the Transpacific Partnership). They claim that this free trade deal will create American jobs and help small business. They know that this will not create American jobs and will not benefit small business.

It is difficult to argue with the formidable array of political leaders and economic experts who assure the American people that these trade deals are beneficial. Many Americans are, I think, reluctant to doubt the unanimous opinion of so many individuals who are clearly authorities on the arcane subject of trade policy. Therefore, it is important to rely upon the evidence of history.
In 1993, the American people were assured by a formidable array of political leaders and experts that small business owners would benefit from NAFTA. The head of General Electric assured Congress that the trade deal would give the company an incentive to hire more American workers. Instead, “only a small number of multinational companies have benefited from NAFTA, while many workers and small businesses in a broad swath of industries based in the United States, Mexico, and Canada have suffered extensive harm from this flawed agreement (source).” Indeed, The U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and Canada has increased by 378% or 63 billion dollars since 1993. A trade deficit means fewer jobs and a larger national debt.
The reader should take note of those words: “a small number of multinational companies.” General Electric is among this small handful of multinationals. In the current election cycle, General Electric has donated more money to Mitt Romney than to any other political candidate. His campaign has received $214,450. The second largest beneficiary of their largesse is Barack Obama, who has received $75,150. And it is worth noting that number 3 on this list of recipients is Democrat Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut, who sits on the powerful Financial Services Committee that is charged with maintaining oversight over companies such as General Electric (source). Political Action Committees such as General Electric and Goldman Sachs provided 35% of the money he received in his most recent campaign.
General Electric is pleased by the Transpacific Partnership. They earn 2 billion in revenue from the partner countries and anticipate strong revenue growth now that this partnership is in place (source). As was the case with NAFTA, spokespersons for General Electric assure the American people that this will mean more American jobs.  
According to U.S. News and World Report, the Transpacific Partnership “also gives American companies such as Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, FedEx, UPS and MetLife, increased access to South Korea's $580 billion services market (source).” Let’s put this in perspective:
Recipients Running for President (rank out of all recipients, dollars)
Mitt Romney (1, $418,263)
Barack Obama (2, $138,292)
Mitt Romney (1, $45,150)
Barack Obama (4, $23,742)
Goldman Sachs
Mitt Romney (1, $891,140)
Barack Obama (2, $137,974)
Mitt Romney (1, $171,450)
Barack Obama (2, $31,264)
Barack Obama (1, $26,238)
Mitt Romney (2, $17,500)

Democrat members of Congress have gone along meekly with the Transpacific Partnership, despite the fact that their traditional constituents have included union members who will suffer from the trade deal. Some members of Congress have expressed regret that Colombia has not done more to prevent the murder of union leaders in that country.
John Castellani, the head of PhRMA said of the Transpacific Partnership in 2010, “This agreement will contribute directly to increased U.S. exports and the expansion of highly skilled, well-paying jobs here. PhRMA looks forward to the ratification of the Agreement by Congress in the next year (source).” Barack Obama is the largest recipient of cash from pharmaceutical industry lobbyists, receiving $1,178,076 in the current election cycle, followed closely by Mitt Romney who has received $1,070,012. Unnoticed by many Americans, firms in South Korea are ramping up preparations to make that country a more hospitable location for foreign companies seeking to OUTSOURCE pharmaceutical production (source, source). 
I humbly suggest that it is the responsibility of American voters to deny both Obama and Romney our votes. There is a fine slate of alternative candidates for president this year, including Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson. As near as I can tell, PhRMA, Citigroup, General Electric and Goldman Sachs have shown little interest in supporting their campaigns.

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