It's Sovereignty, Stupid!

On March 18, President Bill Clinton tested the waters on the foreign trade issue. These waters had been heated up by Republican contender Patrick Buchanan's attacks on "unfair trade deals," which had hurt Americans for the benefit of transnational corporations. Speaking in New Orleans, Clinton defended his "free trade" policies, quoting John F. Kennedy and citing the jobs created at the city's sprawling Nashville Avenue Wharf. What he did not mention was that in 1995, the United States suffered the largest merchandise trade deficit in its history, amounting to $175 billion—a sum larger than the federal budget deficit. He also did not note that many of the workers at the busy Gulf Coast port spent their time unloading products manufactured in foreign lands. These goods were then sent inland to throw other Americans out of their jobs, reducing the industrial capacity and national wealth of the United States.

Yet, as damaging as 20 years of trade deficits have been, they are only the result of a far more dangerous notion, one that strikes not just at the prosperity of America but at its very survival as an independent society. It is the loss of national sovereignty that prevents actions being taken to end the trade deficit and rebuild a high-wage economy: the surrender of the right of the American people, acting through their elected government, to control their destiny, which is being passed to supranational...

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