Trade Should Not Be an End in Itself by Jesse L. Jackson, Rainbow Coalition [Ed. Jesse Jackson was scheduled to speak at the May Day rally against NAFTA in St. Louis. Since Reverend Jackson had to go to So. Africa the day of the rally, Rainbow Coalition member Gene Bruskin read the following on his behalf. --From the June 1993 Gateway Greens' Compost-Dispatch (P.O. Box 8094, St. Louis, MO 63156).] "I wish to thank Don Fitz and Joe Middleton and the St. Louis Fair Trade Committee for inviting me to St. Louis. I am sorry that the death of a dear friend and comrade, Oliver Tambo of the African National Congress in South Africa has made it impossible for me to attend in person. "I am honored to have an opportunity to talk to those of you who have organized this rally for fair trade, for a healthy environment, for a sound economic future for this country. Your work, and the work of other grass roots coalitions around the country, is critical in these troubled times. Our nation faces enormous challenges today. No longer are we regarded as the premier economic power in the world. Germany's wages and productivity are higher. Japan has a reputation for better quality products. Many nations have surpassed us in their standard of living, and in crucial social measures such as infant mortality. We have been forced to rely on our military might, rather than our economic prowess, to maintain our superpower influence. Now we can no longer afford, nor do we need, our huge military industrial complex. Unemployment is up, wages down; homelessness up, housing down. Budget deficit up, social spending down. Health care prices up, health failing. Drugs, crime, poverty dominate our cities. The gap between the rich and the poor is large and growing. We need a plan. The President has a modest plan. He takes steps in the right direction. But it is no match for the crises that we face. And even that plan is being gutted by Congress. We need an economic plan. In Los Angeles, we saw the results of the fury and rage that builds up in people who can't get jobs or can't feed their families on the wages they get on the job. One year later, as LA awaited the second verdict, the authorities had a police plan, a national guard plan, a media plan--but no jobs plan. No remedies for the problems that plague LA, St. Louis, Chicago and other US cities. Reagan and Bush had a plan--and it failed. The plan included privatization of public services, deregulation of business at every level, cutting the safety net of the most vulnerable, crushing unions, abandoning the environment, pitting people against each other, demoralizing workers, and promoting the export of jobs by the Multinational Corporations that they were so friendly with. This plan was based on a strategy of low wages, high profits, and abandoning the poor. It was a plan to benefit the few at the expense of the many. NAFTA is the culmination of that plan. It is a deal that makes coporations and investors salivate. It is a dream they can create one enormous deregulated, government-free, free market from the Arctic Circle in the north to the southern tip of Chile. It is an aggressive assault on our standard of living disguised as "free trade." It is the ultimate international version of voodoo trickle-down economics. We have seen the disasterous effects of this plan, and we oppose it. It won't fool the Zenith workers in Springfield, Missouri who lost 3600 jobs to the maquiladora plants. It won't fool the Emerson Electric workers of St. Louis, who saw their jobs move to Ciudad Juarez. In fact, the American people were not fooled by the Bush- Reagan plan, and elected a new administration and many new Congressional representatives in the 1992 election. They voted for jobs, better wages, health care and an economic future. The Rainbow Coalition met with Mickey Kantor to discuss NAFTA. We told him that we are still facing the same monster that Bush created. We asked him to consider the proposition that it can't be fixed. In fact, the same negotiators who gave us NAFTA are now on the Clinton team in charge of side agreements. You weren't at the table. There were no machinists at the table. No environmentalists at the table. No autoworkers, no electronic workers, farmers. No poor people. Women and people of color were barely represented. We are still worshipping at the idol of "free" trade as sacred. The "free" market as sacred. But such freedom must be accompanied by corporate responsibility. All we have seen is corporate greed. We need look no further than our health care system to see the ravishes that the free market can create. Trade should not be an end in itself, but merely a means to improve the lives of working people. While the Clinton administration discusses their economic plan, businesses anticipating NAFTA are rushing to invest in Mexico. Spending by US corporations in Mexico is expected to grow three times faster than in the US between 1993 and 1995. This trend would result in the loss of half a million additional jobs. Yesterday, [April 30], businessmen from St. Louis met in Clayton to discuss the "Gateway to Business Opportunities in Mexico". They are preparing. We can compete with Mexican workers, but we cannot compete with 50 cent an hour wages. This is a treaty that will hurt the most vulnerable in all three countries. In Canada, the expectation of NAFTA is already threatening their single payer health care system. In addition, the Canadians have lost 500,000 jobs since the 1989 US-Canada Free Trade Agreement; many of them moved to the US because of lower wages and taxes. New laws have been passed forcing pharmaceutical prices up to US levels to avoid charges by US drug companies that the Canadian drugs get unfair trade subsidies. In Mexico, wages fell nearly 50% in the last 10 years, while maquiladoras expanded. Up to three million Mexican corn farmers will be driven out of business under NAFTA, because their small farms are no match for the massive US corporate agribusiness growing corn. We must be clear that it is not Mexican workers that are taking our jobs--it is US corporations. We must avoid the trap of anti-Mexican and anti-Latino sentiments that an agreement like NAFTA encourages. These were the products of the Bush-Reagan plan. It is time for a change. Twenty-five years after Martin Luther King, poverty abounds in our country, dispair reigns, workers still barely have the right to organize, children in our cities are afraid to go out to play. Inequality and discrimination are rampant. It's time for a change. We need a treaty that raises Mexican standards, not lowers ours. In the European community, where the gaps between Northern and Southern countries are small compared to that between US and Mexico, the richer European companies have made substantial investments in improving the infrastructure in Greece, Spain, and Portugal and requiring that wages and workers standards rise toward those of the Northern European countries. NAFTA includes no such plan for Mexico. It's time for a change We need a treaty that binds our hemisphere together on the crucial issue of jobs, trade, energy, the environment, and economic development. We need a treaty that cherishes the land, air and water that sustain our lives. We need a treaty that promotes cooperation with our brothers and sisters across the borders in finding common solutions to common problems. The broad coalition forming across this country to oppose NAFTA must be strengthened and expanded. We must be discussing NAFTA in our schools, our churches, our community centers. Women and people of color will be most severely injured if NAFTA were to come to pass, and so women and people of color must be well represented in our broad coalition. And we must look past NAFTA to all the problems facing our nation. We must turn pain into progress and partnerships. We must move from racial battleground to economic common ground to moral higher ground. It is time for a change. Those of us who do the work of our nation every day, must work to forge the future of our nation. It is our land. It is our economy. It is our national wealth. It is our government. It is our future and our children's future. We shall prevail. We shall prevail. Keep hope alive. Thank You."