From NAFTA to Baltimore

Is there a connection, a causal relationship, between trade agreements such as NAFTA and urban unrest like that recently experienced by Baltimore?

Some feel there is.  For instance, the Chief Operating Officer of the Baltimore Orioles said:

My greater source of personal concern …  is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S.[and] plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation …

Data exists to support such claims.  For instance, one of the Huffington Post’s subsidiaries, together with the organization  Public Citizen, reported in early 2014 that NAFTA, in its first 20 years, had produced no benefits to our economy.  Rather, it resulted in:

  • a $181 billion U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and Canada
  • a corollary loss of 1 million net U.S. jobs
  • increasing income inequality
  • the doubling of immigration from Mexico
  • more than $360 million paid to corporations after rollbacks of domestic public interest policies

As the Public Citizen study cited above notes, efforts to “fast-track” the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership or TPP could very easily produce effects like those NAFTA gave us.  The study specifically predicts, among other things:

  • job losses
  • decreased wages
  • a flood of unsafe imports
  • further attacks on public interest laws

But there is something we can do.  A petition exists that asks the Obama administration to release the full text of the TPP agreement, so that it can be part of the public discourse and debate.  Take a look at that petition, and if you agree with what it says, add your voice to those of progressives like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Michele Petrovsky holds a Master's Degree in Computer Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. She spent over two decades teaching in colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and currently publishes two blogs: Thoughts4Change and I Owe It All to J Thaddeus Toad. Petrovsky resides in Glen Mills, PA.

Posted In: Union Matters