Actions to Protect American Workers:
Trump also proposes seven “actions to protect American workers.” Hold on to your hijabs.
1. “FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under article 2205.”
NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement was a boon to American corporations to the detriment of small businesses and other countries involved in these deals. NAFTA opened trade borders, and allowed America to outsource manufacturing jobs and to purchase import goods at cutthroat prices and sell them here in America at incredible profit. One example: coffee. American corporations under NAFTA can purchase coffee for pennies from foreign growers and sell the same beans at hundreds of times over the purchase price.
Coffee growers in foreign countries suffer and starve, while we sip the fruits of their labor from disposable cups, not thinking of the hundreds of hours that went into that espresso. On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Fair trade” ensures that products like coffee are purchased at a fair price, which allows small coffee growers in other countries to stay afloat and even make profit.
Fundamentally, I agree wholeheartedly with withdrawing from NAFTA. However, Trump does not give a strategy for replacing NAFTA, for incentivizing American production and manufacturing, or for keeping and reforming the trade relationships built under NAFTA. The last two decades of American trade have been built by NAFTA, and simply withdrawing with no graceful exit or reform strategy is likely to pull the rug out from under our foreign trade partners and American businesses.
2. “SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
Again, I fundamentally agree with withdrawing from trade partnerships which benefit wealthy nations and multi-national corporations to the detriment of small businesses and foreign countries. But Trump gives no information on how he will positively counteract the negative aspects of this trade agreement, which is basically NAFTA 2.0.
3. “THIRD, I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator.”
Currency manipulation is a real thing, and affects world markets and global trade. However, in classic Trump fashion, this third directive is inflated and vague at the same time. While this is an attack on the Chinese government, this does not state how (or really if) the Chinese government is manipulating currency, or what Trump’s administration plans to do about it other than calling China names.
This also falls right into place in Trump’s overwhelmingly xenophobic narrative, as Trump doesn’t reference the Chinese government, Chinese trade organizations or partnerships, or certain Chinese corporations.
He references China. All of it. As though the people of China, and by extension Chinese people here in America, are to blame for our financial woes. While I personally am infuriated at the wave of recent hate crimes and incidences of hate speech against Asian-Americans, I am not shocked. Anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes are a result of Trump’s demonization of China and of people of color.
4. “FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.
Psssshhht. Trump is a tool under American and international law. A big tool. YUGE.
But seriously, this does not specify what “trade abuses” are, how they might impact American workers, and what he plans to do about it. This is a vague and angry threat to foreign trade partners, and gives no information to the American voter other than “foreign traders are abusing us.” This feeds once again into Trump’s vague, uneducated, irresponsible xenophobia.
5. “FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas, and clean coal.”
$50 trillion sounds great, producing jobs sounds great, but we will be creating greenhouse emissions and environmental refugees faster than we will be creating jobs if we let loose the dogs of dirty energy. Dirty. That is what shale, oil, “natural” gas and coal are. There is no such thing as “clean coal,” as the extraction process itself is dangerous to water and air pollution like nothing else in the world.
$50 trillion sounds great, producing jobs sounds great, but we will be creating greenhouse emissions and environmental refugees faster than we will be creating jobs if we let loose the dogs of dirty energy.
More deaths are attributed to coal production and use than to nuclear disasters overall. America can easily generate jobs and revenue while investing in green technology and clean energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric. However, as “global warming is a hoax created by China,” clean energy will not be on Trump’s agenda.
6. “SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward.”
A few things with this: the “roadblocks” are not imposed by Obama, and certainly not by Clinton, was never elected president and whose campaign received donations from employees of oil corporations including lobbyists for oil corporations.
These “roadblocks” are environmental legislative measures which are in place to protect the American populace, the American infrastructure, and the American landscape from pollution and the stranglehold of fossil fuel companies. Agencies like the EPA are fighting against the Keystone pipeline for good reason: the project would unleash greenhouse gasses and increase North America’s carbon footprint.
Welcome to Trump’s America. Say goodbye to clean water, blue skies, and investment in clean energy. And those Dakota Sioux and Standing Rock tribes? Trump is certainly going to continue and support the colonization and disenfranchisement of Native peoples and native owned land.
7. “SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to UN climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.”
(Oh for f***’s sake… did this idiot just say he’s going to “fix America’s environmental infrastructure” after he said he’s going to mess it up with more shale, coal, oil, and natural gas? Come on. Cheese and Rice. Jeebus Cripes. La Hawla Wa Quwita Illah B’Illah. Mishan Allah, ya haramiyeh.)
America owes the rest of the world a commitment to slowing climate change and reducing our consumption of resources and fossil fuels. We owe the world, as one of its largest polluters, a way out of climate change we helped create. We owe future generations, here and in other countries, a way to create a clean planet. Removing our involvement from UN climate change programs simply states to the whole planet that America no longer cares about stopping climate change and preserving life on this Earth.
I would love to see Flint, Michigan and other beleaguered cities receive better water and environmental infrastructure, but with no commitment to the health of the world, or to the health of the American people, I highly doubt Trump is going to use the “billions” (actually it’s more like $500 million under the Obama) to help the American people.
This first half of Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter” is a farce at best, and at worst, a Faustian contract with the Devil in which America prospers for the blink of an eye with increased production and consumption, and then reaps its bitter reward in the form of economic and environmental disaster.
Brace yourselves. Part two of Trump’s contract isn’t a basket of sunshine and rainbows either.