Sen. Bernie Sanders believes that our unfettered free trade policies have largely contributed to our shrinking middle class, job loss and the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor. If the United States is to remain a major industrial power, producing real products and creating good paying jobs, Sanders believes that we must develop trade policies with Mexico, China and other countries that protect not just the CEOs of large corporations, but the working people of our country.
“Nobody I know believes we should place a wall around this country. Trade is a good thing, but what we must begin doing is negotiating fair trade agreements that reflect the interests of working families in America, working families in other countries, and not just large multinational corporations and the CEOs who help write these trade agreements,” Sen. Sanders has said.
Free trade is very good for the large multinational corporations who can throw American workers out on the street, move abroad to China and other low-wage countries, hire people there for pennies an hour, and bring their products back into this country. For those people, for the CEOs of large corporations, unfettered free trade has been a very good thing, but for the middle-class and working families of this country, for working families and poor people in Mexico and in other low-wage countries, unfettered free trade has been an unmitigated disaster.
What happened after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement? In Mexico, the agricultural sector has been decimated by cheap exports from American agribusiness. Poverty has increased, the middle class has declined and people are literally dying in the desert trying to flee Mexico for the U.S. Working families in Mexico suffer, the rich have gotten richer and we now witness the obscenity of one of the world’s wealthiest people, Mexican Carlos Slim Helu, coming from a country in which millions of families struggle to feed their children. Sen. Sanders knows we can have trade policies that can do better, that must do better.
It is not only Mexico and other developing countries that have been hurt by these unfettered pro-corporate free-trade agreements. It's also the working families in the U.S. who are now engaged in a horrendous "race to the bottom." Despite an explosion of technology and a huge increase in worker productivity, poverty in America is increasing, the middle class is shrinking and the gap between the rich and the poor is growing wider. In the past six years, millions of good-paying jobs in the U.S. have been lost as companies continue to shut down here and move to China and other low-wage countries.