Mr. Salazar — Your readers may want to know that your assertions about NAFTA have counterpoint arguments and that most of the jobs lost in the last 20 years have been to China, not Mexico. Like other arguments in your article, this one suffers from too much acceptance of single-source points of view and lack of real evidence.
If your readers were to apply the same kind of scrutiny to other assertions in your writing, I believe they will find similar “holes” in your reasoning. I say this not to attack you personally or to assert that nothing you say is accurate or true. But I do think Senator Sanders has been adept at shouting (over and over) certain “moral truths” that don’t get tested by careful research and counter arguments. As a result, he’s gotten a pass on wild claims or insinuations about Sec. Clinton that wouldn’t meet the standards of a simple course in logic.
Here, I’ll focus on NAFTA and its actual impact on our labor market and trade. For example, Wharton School of Economics Professor Mauro Guillen suggests that without NAFTA, many jobs that were lost over this period would probably have gone to China or elsewhere. He says: “Perhaps NAFTA accelerated the process, but it did not make a huge difference. At the same time, a lot of jobs were created in the U.S. that wouldn’t be there without the Mexico trade. I’m not just talking about Texas or California or Arizona…. Many of the products made in Mexico are designed in the United States. So there are a lot of jobs created here.”
If NAFTA had not been signed, Guillen adds, “The U.S. had a trade deficit [in 2013] with Mexico of $54 billion , but with China, it was [a deficit of] $318 billion, so the [U.S.] deficit is five times bigger with China than with Mexico. In other words, you would calculate, maybe for every job we have lost in the U.S. to Mexico, five [jobs] were lost to China.” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/nafta-20-years-later-benefits-outweigh-costs/
Those job losses also require us to consider our own behavior as consumers, which strongly contribute to jobs moving overseas, where goods can be produced cheaply and thus be sold more cheaply to bargain-hungry consumers in the United States. Putting this movement entirely down to Walmart or to NAFTA is disingenuous because it absolves your readers from responsibility on the consumer side of trade.
Other research and observations that show your (and Senator Sanders’) assertions about the evils of trade don’t tell the real story are at these links:
A couple key benefits cited in this last article:
SERVICE EXPORTS: NAFTA boosted U.S. service exports to Canada and Mexico from $25 billion in 1993 to a peak of $106.8 billion in 2007. However, the recession hit financial services hard, so services haven’t quite recovered. By 2009, they had only risen to $63.5 billion. By 2012, service exports had improved to $88.6 billion. (Source: USTR, Quantification of NAFTA Benefits. NAFTA)
More than 40% of U.S. GDP is services, such as financial services and healthcare. These aren’t easily transported, so being able to export them to nearby countries is important. NAFTA eliminates trade barriers in nearly all service sectors, which are often highly regulated. NAFTA requires governments to publish all regulations, lowering hidden costs of doing business.
JOB CREATION (that’s right, creation): NAFTA exports created nearly 5 million new U.S. jobs. Most of those jobs went to 17 states, but all states saw some increases. U.S. manufacturers added more than 800,000 jobs between 1993 and 1997. That’s because manufacturers exported $487 billion in 2014, generating nearly $40,000 in export revenue for each factory worker. (Source: “NAFTA Triumphant: Assessing Two Decades of Gains,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce, October 27, 2015.)
Even imports from NAFTA partners created jobs. That’s because nearly 40% of U.S. imports from Mexico originated with American companies. They designed the products domestically, then outsourced some portion of the process in Mexico. Without NAFTA, they would have gone to China. They may not have been created at all. (Source: “NAFTA, 20 Years Later,” Knowledge@Wharton, February 19, 2014.)
A good, even-handed discussion of NAFTA’s pros and cons is at http://www.cfr.org/trade/naftas-economic-impact/p15790 .
This article includes claims (and resources) echoed in your article that the agreement resulted in large losses of U.S. jobs. Still, it concludes: “ But most economists say it is a stretch to blame these shifts on NAFTA. Manufacturing in the United States was under stress decades before the treaty, and job losses in that sector are viewed as part of a structural shift in the U.S. economy toward light manufacturing and high-end services. Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, says that broader economic trends affecting U.S. employment, such as China’s economic rise, wouldn’t be substantially altered by U.S. policy shifts toward NAFTA.”
Hundreds of other sources exist that offer a much more balanced account of trade pacts in general than one would hear from Senator Sanders’ repeated railings. More importantly, he hasn’t offered a single example of how he intends to make an isolationist trade policy work in an environment of increasing global interaction.
In my opinion, you’ll do your fellow Sanders supporters much more good if you start asking them to research his positions and form reasoned, well-supported arguments that will stand up against a Republican onslaught in the general election. Those arguments may even persuade some Hillary supporters to cross lines, as your headline purports to be your purpose.