Speech by Jess Jackson- May 1993
             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
   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
   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
   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
   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
   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
   Keep hope alive.  Thank You."