Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Free Trade, the Parlor Game

You may have lost your parlor, so my title may not be so funny to you right now. We have a wonderful sounding policy front called Free Trade that has been pushed by a lot of high officials, including, yes, even President Clinton. It sounds like a benefit, acts like a stab in the back.

In Texas, water agreements that have been in place since 1944 have been ignored by our partner, Mexico, during several years of drought. Many farmers north of the Rio Grande who depended on getting their share of the Rio Concho tributaries have lost millions, and some have had to give up agriculture altogether. The farm community has decided to seek justice against a NAFTA ruling against U.S. interests, a denial of water that OUR State Department was seeking.

Let's put that so you are sure to understand, the U.S. State Department sided with Mexico in denial of water to U.S. agriculture interests, water that U.S. farmers had rights to from longstanding agreement.

I'm not against Mexican farmers or industry. I am, however, a U.S. citizen who thinks our government was put in place to protect and defend us, not any other country. In its ongoing record of dysfunction, the U.S. executive branch avoided dealing with such difficult problems as working out fair distribution of scarce water between competing interests. Our government gave advantage, game point, to Mexico.

Stephan Becker, a Washington attorney who has represented Mexico in the dispute, said the Texans' case is fatally flawed; NAFTA doesn't allow parties to air complaints about violations of other treaties, he said.

"Mexico is opposing the judicial review, and we are confident that the request will be rejected," Mr. Becker said.

Three years ago, Mexico agreed to transfer more water to reservoirs to make up for its so-called water debt. But the Texas farmers and water districts insist they should be compensated for the period when not enough water was delivered.

Many farmers struggled through the long drought. Some are believed to have left the Valley. Others couldn't borrow money without being able to show they had water to grow crops.

Last week, Ms. Combs asked Texans in Congress to press the U.S. State Department to stay away from the dispute.

"I think Susan is going to find bipartisan support from the Texas delegation," said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo. "We have to have a system where the Mexicans stop rolling up these big water debts that hurt us in the Rio Grande Valley."

Even lawmakers whose districts have few ties to Mexico said they were distressed to learn about the government's position.
"The notion that water rights in Mexico, which are owed to an individual, derive from an international treaty obligation – that is cutting edge," said Mr. Grierson- Weiler, who represented the Canadians in the cattle case. "And I personally think it has a lot of merit."

Mr. Grierson-Weiler said he agrees with Ms. Marzulla that the three-member NAFTA tribunal, which included former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, went beyond its scope when it dismissed the claim, ruling that that Texans didn't have investments in Mexico.

The past year of record rain has avoided huge losses for both sides of our southern border, and the pressures have eased. This is not likely to persist.

The three years preceding 2007 showed 'exceptional' drought levels, like those that Atlanta recently experienced. The water wars between Georgia and Florida were at least familial. Georgia farmers and water utilizers of all varieties were not duking it out with foreign interests, and finding that the same government that relies on them for their funds was using those funds to fight against their interests.

The losses the entire country has suffered from the two terms of anti-American corporate shills is a loss to more than just investors, farmers, home buyers, wage-earners, the general public.

The same people who are incapable of serving the U.S. public are entrenched in offices throughout our departments. As ProfessorWombat often comments at Eschaton, it will take awhile to cull out the idiots who have been given powers they cannot handle, that we are paying them well to misuse against us.

335 days.


In another example of incompetence, the lack of regulations has led our financial institutions into a disaster that has spread worldwide.

In response to an article at WaPo on how investors are seeking more powers over corporate policy making that has been severely dysfunctional lately, I made these comments:

The basic underlying philosophy of supply side economics has been resoundingly disproved not only by the present meltdown, but also by the unmentioned backdating of stock options. The insistence that deregulation would 'allow' the corporate financial institutions to make huge profits for its investors has proved erroneous.

Directors have been allowed to falsify the records of their stock purchases by giving the wrong date for them, so that low prices could be paid in times of higher prices. This allows the directors to rob the investors.

Loans have been made on bases of 'irrational exuberance', and no curbs of simple basics like an ability to pay off the loan have been allowed, because no regulations were enforced even tho the Federal Reserve had the power to require stricter standards.

Investment turned into gambling, and the directors have awarded executives huge returns for the pay and benefits they received as directors.

Investors need to seize the reins at the board level, and at the voting booth. If regulations cannot be valued on grounds of returning simple honesty, then the present financial crisis should provide reason enough.

Capitalism doesn't work when thieves take control.

at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/18/AR2008021802084.html?hpid=moreheadlines

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