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June 13, 2017


Donald Trump has generally denounced both NAFTA and WTO treaties and protocols with political lingo designed to get votes or inflame his base, or both. He says we are being taken to the cleaners and that NAFTA is the worst trade treaty we ever made, threatening during the campaign to end both of such pacts but since saying only that they must be re-negotiated on more suitable terms, probably due to pressure from Wall Street and businesses involved in the billions of dollars in trade daily under the aegis of these two pacts by people and corporations who are faring well and who are his supporters (since he has promised to lower their taxes and reduce regulations on their activities). It’s called heat, and according to Elizabeth Warren, such trade pacts are written by and for giant corporations, so it makes sense that Trump has softened his stance on withdrawing from such trade treaties.

However, he is (for a change) correct on at least one facet common to trade pacts we make – that we are losing our sovereignty not to some invading military force but rather by agreement. We have established boards and panels within the WTO trading family who (by agreement) can make rules that override the laws and ordinances made in this country and seek injunctive and money damages relief in rulings by unelected and unknown “trade” panelists upon complaint and proof by those who allege they lost money or even that their profits would have been higher but for the interference in, for instance, in Seattle, where they can complain and overturn laws and ordinances by everything from local zoning codes to state taxing authority and other such areas and are thus given powers that domestic American people and corporations in local markets do not have.

If my understanding of this arrangement is accurate or nearly so, then this in my view is wrong. If such foreign people and corporations have a business interest in this country and feel that they are being roughed up by the application of our laws and ordinances, they can file suit in American courts just as our American people and corporations do in order to assert their rights. Why should they be given preference and even decision-making on the merits by some shadowy panel created by a trade pact?  What ever happened to the Equal Protection of the Laws provision in the Constitution? How can American corporations compete given such advantages to their competitors?

Worse still, why should our sovereignty have ever been on the bargaining table in putting together trade pacts with the likes of China or anyone else, for that matter? Our sovereignty, or the supreme power to decide our fate, was purchased and maintained by the blood and treasure of American patriots, and I for one do not understand why or how some panel meeting in Shanghai can (by agreement) make an award enforceable in American courts for some transgression of supposed rights to profit or preferential treatment, or both.

There are clearly ancillary problems to be considered when dealing with some panel’s findings as well, including but not limited to proper evidentiary standards, right to trial by jury and other such American safeguards to grants or denials of appropriate relief. In all fairness, I think that our people and corporations should not be able to override the sovereign rights of other members via some panel whose judgment and whatever apparatus they have for appeal and enforceable in their courts either, and to the extent Trump may have recognized these mutual insults to the concept of national soverignty as intolerable he is right. We are told that in this country the people are sovereign. Really? I don’t remember ceding my country’s sovereignty to some panel meeting in Singapore or Berlin.

There seem to be many invasions of power-hungry levels of government one with another these days. Thus states have undercut the federal exercise of power under the New Deal’s Wagner and Fair Labor Standards Acts with their (badly misnamed) right to work statutes; states in turn have seen their clout diminished according to the spring 2017 edition of the United Steelworkers Union magazine where it is noted that in states such as Ohio and Kentucky “conservative politicians are looking at ways to pass anti-union legislation on the county level”. . . “so, literally, county councils and county commissioners may at the end of the day decide whether or not their counties are right-to-work.”

Then there is the usual battle between states and counties and municipalities who are seeking home rule treatment and states who are passing laws that tell such counties and municipalities what they can or cannot do (see immigration sanctuary, local tax caps etc.).

It seems that all these entities are in a battle to expand their respective clouts and, as it were, their mini-sovereignties in dealing with problems they argue are unique to their local state of affairs, but be that as it may, I see no reason to give our national sovereignty away to any other country under the cover of trade and commerce. Trade? Fine. Commerce? Fine. Giving away our supreme right to decide our fate (our sovereignty)? A thousand times no!

As my followers know, I am generally not in favor of any of Trump’s initiatives, but if he wants to isolate and abolish these invasions of our sovereignty in every trade pact to which we are signatory, I’m with him.     GERALD     E





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