Dem candidates battle it out over trade
Green jobs, soft bigotries, big opportunities

What our former colonial masters think of our democracy

From an interview with European trade commissioner Peter Mandelson - formerly of New LabOUr, "new" because it's lite on the labOUr - with the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Mandelson argues on a recent afternoon -- more so than any of the EU's 27 member states -- it is America that threatens the cause of free trade today.

"You can see it in the politics of the country," he says from his armchair in an EU office in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. "You can see it in the Congress, you can see it in the primaries, you can see it in the town-hall meetings, you can see it in the candidates who, in order to appeal to the public, articulate these arguments" of protectionism...

"The caveat is that we're in the primary season," Mr. Mandelson observes. "That's not necessarily a position she would take into the general election, and if she did it's not necessarily one she would take into the White House if she won. But you can't ignore it.

"I've known the Clintons for over a decade, and I've always seen them as free traders. But most of the Democrat free traders seem to have taken to the hills," he laments. "I wish there was more pushback within the Democrat Party, because they know this is right, they know this is responsible, and for a long time now you've seen politicians on both sides of the aisle using trade as a wedge issue. And it's a very dangerous wedge to play with, because it's short-term, it's counterproductive, it leads you nowhere."

If there's a reason for optimism, Mr. Mandelson says, it's that "amongst the Democrat candidates, the person who's been questioning free trade most loudly and showing support for protectionism has been forced out of the race -- John Edwards. And the Republican candidate who is most strongly in favor of free trade seems to be leading the field at the moment -- John McCain."

Wow, nothing like a lecture on democracy from an unelected trade bureaucrat whose home country still has a queen to make a fair trader feel on the same side as the Clintons. In response to a previous similar intervention in our sovereign election, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) schools Petey Pete on Democracy:

European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson’s attack on Senator Hillary Clinton for her position on trade is a graphic example of why he will not succeed in his efforts to conclude a new world-wide trade treaty this year.

Senator Clinton has voiced the views of many of us, including I believe a substantial majority of Democrats and a significant number of Republicans as well, that trade should not go forward without measures that deal with the impact it has on income distribution and employment within countries. Mr. Mandelson’s dismissal of these sorts of concerns as ‘protectionist’ reinforces the view of many that the most ardent advocates of free trade treaties that ignore social and economic consequences cannot be trusted to make decisions about this important subject. It is particularly disappointing to me that Mr. Mandelson, who comes politically from the British Labor Party, would show such a lack of concern for the negative impacts that past trade treaties have had on many working people.

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Józef J. Drozdowski

What's interesting is that the European Union, unlike the U.S.and its trading partners, actually considers the social dimension of trade policy as it develop its common market. The EU recognizes that nothing valuable can be acheived unless the growth and wealth which it generates is directed towards the well being of its people and unless the people participate fully in its creation. That concept was incorporated into the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers, which was adopted at a European Council meeting in December 1989. That instrument insures that the search for competitiveness and greater economic efficiency is simultaneously accompanied by equal advances in the social field. It's unfortunate that profit centered interests override a similar consideration in the U.S. It's high time for that to change.

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