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Ignoble Rumble: Of Goats and Elephants PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Thursday, 04 January 2007 10:53
Ignoble Rumble: Of Goats and Elephants

- Jack Random - There is nothing more certain in American politics than the running of the elephants: a stampede of righteous condemnation designed to inflame the passions of the electorate against a targeted minority even as it tramples fundamental rights and human dignity. The purpose of the election time ritual is to distract us from our most pressing problems by offering up a sacrificial lamb.


Elephant Rumble:
Immigration, Education & Fair Trade

Jack Random

The Jazzman Chronicles
January 4, 2007

Reliable elephants, like abortion rights and gay marriage, can be summoned for multiple appearances. They stampeded through two presidential elections and one congressional election with a modest assist from the Supreme Court and Diebold Election Systems, respectively.

Of course, even the greatest elephants grow old and weary ? especially when the electorate realizes that little if anything has changed. Another elephant must be summoned.

In the midterm election of 2006, the Republican Party played the immigration card but it stumbled for lack of conviction. As the former governor of Texas knows, immigration is a two-edged sword and there is a price to be paid for scapegoating the fastest growing segment of the population ? legal or illegal.

Come next election, as a minority party with little to lose, the Republicans will play the immigration card again ? this time with a great deal more conviction.

Meantime, there is a new elephant rumbling down the political highway. It will be blamed for America?s loss of economic dominance and stability. It will be blamed for the loss of decent jobs, the decline in wages and the failure of the nation to keep pace with international competitors in a global economy. It is an old favorite but one that has not been fully exploited in many years: Public Education.

It is a lie. It is as devious a lie as the immigration scare or imagined links of Iraq to Al Qaeda. It is obvious to anyone who has studied the question with any degree of serious interest: Both technology and education have already been globalized. The exportation of jobs from affluent nations to nations with exploited labor forces may have begun with low-level jobs but it has since climbed the ladder of job skills until it has reached every level of employment that is not dependent on personal contact ? i.e., service workers and, for the moment, educators.

Unfortunately, the perpetrators of this lie will not be strictly Republicans. A majority of both dominant parties have signed on to the ?free trade? mandate and all its adherents will be hard pressed to come up with an answer to the ?free trade? conundrum: How will the working people recover from the train wreck of declining wages, lost benefits and job exportation?

Eliminate fair trade policies and the only answers left are immigration and education.

The partisan divide will not come in the diagnosis but in the prescription. Republicans will advocate a continuation of the process initiated by No Child Left Behind. Under the banner of accountability, they will guide us down the path that leads inevitably to privatization of public education. Under the banner of free choice, they will turn public funds over to private schools while inexplicably failing to hold private schools to the same standards that pronounced public education a failure.

Democratic ?free trade? advocates will hold on to the education lobby by advocating increased funding for public education programs from preschool to college tuition. They will site strong evidence that test results are a function of per pupil spending. They will point out that a great many schools are dilapidated, over crowded and inadequately supplied, while teaching is the least compensated profession in America.

While the proposed investment will be inadequate, they will be right in every respect but one. Increased spending will produce better schools and improved test scores but it will have little to no effect on the problems of job exportation, declining wages, increased debt and a general depression in the living standards of the American worker.

Neither education nor immigration reform are intended to actually fix the problem. Rather, they are intended to push the issue down the road until ?free trade? globalization, as defined by the corporate powers that profit from it, becomes a fait accompli, a fact of life, as indelible as gravity.

If all goes as scripted, corporate globalization will take its place alongside feudalism and hereditary succession as the greatest lies ever told to contain and control the masses.

There is of course another way.

There is a growing movement that has grown weary of the usual scapegoating. It rejects ?free trade? in favor of fair trade. It demands a thorough reevaluation of all existent trade agreements. It demands renegotiation of all agreements to include minimal standards of labor, environment and human rights. Most critically, it requires all trading partners to uphold fundamental standards of living wages and humane working conditions. It demands an end to modern slavery.

The inherent beauty of the fair trade solution to the ?free trade? dilemma is that it is globally responsible. It lifts our own working class by elevating the working class of other nations. It recognizes that all nations and all peoples have a shared interest in protecting the planet and the well being of all its inhabitants.

According to Public Citizen?s Global Trade Watch, in the recent election, thirty-seven ?free trade? incumbents lost to fair trade challengers, including thirty representatives and seven senators. If the trend continues, as it should, it effectively breaks the bipartisan consensus that is the legacy of Bill Clinton.

It is a remarkable development because fair trade advocacy almost certainly severs the supply line of corporate contributions.

Perhaps that is why there is not a single mainstream candidate for the presidency in 2008 who has embraced the fair trade cause.

One would assume that a self-styled populist, an advocate of the working class, such as John Edwards would be a fair trade champion. Sadly, just as the former senator was two steps behind on the war, he is similarly behind on trade policy. He carefully omits the concept of living wages and shifts the discussion to (you guessed it) education and technology.

Senator Barrack Obama has not clearly defined himself on trade but all the others are fully committed to the ?free trade? inevitability myth.

A word of advise to all who would be president:

If the Iraq War is still raging a year from now, every candidate whose name is not John McCain will run on a promise to the end the war.

If the war is not the deciding issue, the Republicans will play the immigration card with all the pomposity of a big tent revival. Without fair trade, no Democrat or Independent will have a satisfactory answer to the immigration conundrum:

Give them living wages in their native lands and they will not have to invade our borders, risking their lives for a chance at a decent life in a land that no longer seems to welcome them.

Jazz. 1.4.07


Last Updated on Thursday, 04 January 2007 10:53

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