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February 9, 2011

Is NAFTA Really In Danger?

We all know that politicians will say just about anything to get elected. Generally it is the ones that speak the truth that do not get into office. The recent suggestion that both of the potential Democratic candidates will alter NAFTA is very interesting. I don’t think that NAFTA has not taken jobs away from the citizens and residents of the countries involved in the treaty. Of course, this belief is very unpopular in towns, like my own where manufacturing jobs have dried up. However, I think that the loss of manufacturing jobs has more to do with the growth of technology. Why staff a factory with a bunch of people when you can have a computer do the job of several different employees?

The issues that President Bush and I agree on are extremely limited. I am even hesitant to say that I agree with him on this issue because I am sure that if I listen long enough, he will say something that is totally off the wall about it. However, I must say, his idea of international trading and working with other nations, opposed to isolationism is correct. While on the surface NAFTA may look like it has harmed the job prospects of Americans because of manufacturing job losses, the loss of some of these jobs has forced people to go back to school, pick up a trade and get a better paying job. There are a few states that even will pay for displaced workers to got to college to get those new skills. Now I know that college is not for everyone but I think that this is a good thing.

While I think that the idea of labor unions is good overall, I have seen first hand what some people do when they are in a union. Being located close to the “Motor City” I have come into contact with a plethora of people that worked manufacturing jobs that they barely attended, made buckets of money in and bragged about their laziness. I used to work at a restaurant that was just a few miles from an automotive plant. There were a group of employees that would come to the restaurant and get drunk on their lunch break. Lunch breaks that lasted as long as they wanted them to. In between my two, some times three job work schedule, I would wonder why these people could work as little or as much as they wanted to and get paid twice as much as I was making with multiple jobs.

I think it is ashamed that the candidates that are running for president, especially Hilary Clinton, whose husband worked to get NAFTA passed, are saying that they would make changes or walk away from the agreement. Why not deal with the issues that are ruining the economy? Terrible urban and rural school systems, overpaid CEO’s and a war that is sucking the life blood out of the country? There are plenty more issues to deal with than altering NAFTA. Just because saying that will win a few votes in towns built on the backs of factories does not make it right to promote that myth.

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