- The Dubai Ports World deal is waking
Americans up to a painful reality: So-called "conservatives"
and "flat world" globalists have bankrupted our nation for their
own bag of silver, and in the process are selling off America.
- Through a combination of the "Fast
Track" authority pushed for by Reagan and GHW Bush, sweetheart trade
deals involving "most favored nation status" for dictatorships
like China, and Clinton pushing us into NAFTA and the WTO (via GATT), we've
abandoned the principles of tariff-based trade that built American industry
and kept us strong for over 200 years.
- The old concept was that if there was
a dollar's worth of labor in a pair of shoes made in the USA, and somebody
wanted to import shoes from China where there may only be ten cents worth
of labor in those shoes, we'd level the playing field for labor by putting
a 90-cent import tariff on each pair of shoes. Companies could choose to
make their products here or overseas, but the ultimate cost of labor would
be the same.
- Then came the flat-worlders, led by misguided
true believers and promoted by multinational corporations. Do away with
those tariffs, they said, because they "restrain trade." Let
everything in, and tax nothing. The result has been an explosion of cheap
goods coming into our nation, and the loss of millions of good manufacturing
jobs and thousands of manufacturing companies. Entire industry sectors
have been wiped out.
- These policies have kneecapped the American
middle class. Our nation's largest employer has gone from being the unionized
General Motors to the poverty-wages Wal-Mart. Americans have gone from
having a net savings rate around 10 percent in the 1970s to a minus .5
percent in 2005 - meaning that they're going into debt or selling off their
assets just to maintain their lifestyle.
- At the same time, federal policy has
been to do the same thing at a national level. Because our so-called "free
trade" policies have left us with an over $700 billion annual trade
deficit, other countries are sitting on huge piles of the dollars we gave
them to buy their stuff (via Wal-Mart and other "low cost" retailers).
But we no longer manufacture anything they want to buy with those dollars.
- So instead of buying our manufactured
goods, they are doing what we used to do with Third World nations - they
are buying us, the USA, chunk by chunk. In particular, they want to buy
things in America that will continue to produce profits, and then to take
those profits overseas where they're invested to make other nations strong.
The "things" they're buying are, by and large, corporations,
utilities, and natural resources.
- Back in the pre-Reagan days, American
companies made profits that were distributed among Americans. They used
their profits to build more factories, or diversify into other businesses.
The profits stayed in America.
- Today, foreigners awash with our consumer
dollars are on a two-decades-long buying spree. The UK's BP bought Amoco
for $48 billion - now Amoco's profits go to England. Deutsche Telekom bought
VoiceStream Wireless, so their profits go to Germany, which is where most
of the profits from Random House, Allied Signal, Chrysler, Doubleday, Cyprus
Amax's US Coal Mining Operations, GTE/Sylvania, and Westinghouse's Power
Generation profits go as well. Ralston Purina's profits go to Switzerland,
along with Gerber's; TransAmerica's profits go to The Netherlands, while
John Hancock Insurance's profits go to Canada. Even American Bankers Insurance
Group is owned now by Fortis AG in Belgium.
- Foreign companies are buying up our water
systems, our power generating systems, our mines, and our few remaining
factories. All because "flat world" so-called "free trade"
policies have turned us from a nation of wealthy producers into a nation
of indebted consumers, leaving the world awash in dollars that are most
easily used to buy off big chunks of America. As www.economyincrisis.com
notes, US Government statistics indicate the following percentages of foreign
ownership of American industry:
- · Sound recording industries -
- · Commodity contracts dealing
and brokerage - 79%
- · Motion picture and sound recording
industries - 75%
- · Metal ore mining - 65%
- · Motion picture and video industries
- · Wineries and distilleries -
- · Database, directory, and other
publishers - 63%
- · Book publishers - 63%
- · Cement, concrete, lime, and
gypsum product - 62%
- · Engine, turbine and power transmission
equipment - 57%
- · Rubber product - 53%
- · Nonmetallic mineral product
manufacturing - 53%
- · Plastics and rubber products
manufacturing - 52%
- · Plastics product - 51%
- · Other insurance related activities
- · Boiler, tank, and shipping container
- · Glass and glass product - 48%
- · Coal mining - 48%
- · Sugar and confectionery product
- · Nonmetallic mineral mining and
quarrying - 47%
- · Advertising and related services
- · Pharmaceutical and medicine
- · Clay, refractory, and other
nonmetallic mineral products - 40%
- · Securities brokerage - 38%
- · Other general purpose machinery
- · Audio and video equipment mfg
and reproducing magnetic and optical media - 36%
- · Support activities for mining
- · Soap, cleaning compound, and
toilet preparation - 32%
- · Chemical manufacturing - 30%
- · Industrial machinery - 30%
- · Securities, commodity contracts,
and other financial investments and related activities - 30%
- · Other food - 29%
- · Motor vehicles and parts - 29%
- · Machinery manufacturing - 28%
- · Other electrical equipment and
component - 28%
- · Securities and commodity exchanges
and other financial investment activities - 27%
- · Architectural, engineering,
and related services - 26%
- · Credit card issuing and other
consumer credit - 26%
- · Petroleum refineries (including
integrated) - 25%
- · Navigational, measuring, electromedical,
and control instruments - 25%
- · Petroleum and coal products
manufacturing - 25%
- · Transportation equipment manufacturing
- · Commercial and service industry
machinery - 25%
- · Basic chemical - 24%
- · Investment banking and securities
dealing - 24%
- · Semiconductor and other electronic
component - 23%
- · Paint, coating, and adhesive
- · Printing and related support
activities - 21%
- · Chemical product and preparation
- · Iron, steel mills, and steel
products - 20%
- · Agriculture, construction, and
mining machinery - 20%
- · Publishing industries - 20%
- · Medical equipment and supplies
- Thus it shouldn't surprise us that the
cons have sold off our ports as well, and will defend it to the bitter
end. They truly believe that a "New World Order" with multinational
corporations in charge instead of sovereign governments will be the answer
to the problem of world instability. And therefore they must do away with
quaint things like unions, a healthy middle class, and, ultimately, democracy.
- The "security" implications
of turning our ports over to the UAE are just the latest nail in what the
cons hope will be the coffin of American democracy and the American middle
class. Today's conservatives believe in rule by inherited wealth and an
internationalist corporate elite, and things like a politically aroused
citizenry and a healthy democracy are pesky distractions.
- Everything today is driven by profits
for multinationals, supported by the lawmaking power of the WTO. Thus,
parts for our missiles are now made in China, a country that last year
threatened us with nuclear weapons. Our oil comes from a country that birthed
a Wahabist movement that ultimately led to 14 Saudi citizens flying jetliners
into the World Trade buildings and the Pentagon. Germans now own the Chrysler
auto assembly lines that turned out tanks to use against Germany in WWII.
And the price of labor in America is being held down by over ten million
illegal workers, a situation that was impossible twenty-five years ago
when unions were the first bulwark against dilution of the American labor
- When Thomas Jefferson wrote of King George
III in the Declaration of Independence, "He has combined with others
to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitutions and unacknowledged
by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation?"
he just as easily could have been writing of the World Trade Organization,
which now has the legal authority to force the United States to overturn
laws passed at both local, state, and federal levels with dictates devised
by tribunals made up of representatives of multinational corporations.
If Dubai loses in the American Congress, their next stop will almost certainly
be the WTO.
- As Simon Romero and Heather Timmons noted
in The New York Times on 24 February 2006, "the international shipping
business has evolved in recent years to include many more containers with
consumer goods, in addition to old-fashioned bulk commodities, and that
has helped lift profit margins to 30 percent, from the single digits. These
smartly managed foreign operators now manage about 80 percent of port terminals
in the United States."
- And those 30 percent profits from American
port operations now going to Great Britain will probably soon go to the
United Arab Emirates, a nation with tight interconnections to both the
Bush administration and the Bush family.
- Ultimately, it's not about security --
it's about money. In the multinational corporatocracy's "flat world,"
money trumps the national good, community concerns, labor interests, and
the environment. NAFTA, CAFTA, and WTO tribunals can - and regularly do
- strike down local and national laws. Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man"
are replaced by Antonin Scalia's "Rights of Corporate Persons."
- Profits even trump the desire for good
enough port security to avoid disasters that may lead to war. After all,
as Judith Miller wrote in The New York Times on January 30, 1991, quoting
a local in Saudi Arabia: "War is good for business."
- Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning
best-selling author of over a dozen books and the host of a nationally
syndicated noon-3pm ET daily progressive talk show syndicated by Air America
Radio. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "What Would
Jefferson Do?" and Ultimate Sacrifice.