In 2006, the City of El Paso paid $100,000 to a dubious research firm to create the Glass Beach Study presumably to rebrand the future for El Paso. The study created much controversy in the El Paso community because it suggested that El Paso would be better off if it was de-Mexicanized. The study depicted Mexicans as “old, gritty, dirty, lazy” and who “speak Spanish”. It was an opening volley in the narrative that Mexicans and immigrants are bad for the country. There is much controversy over the provenance of the study, why it was created, how it was developed and why were taxpayer funds used to create it. Worse, the optics of the study were paid for by the taxpayers of one of the largest communities on the U.S.-México border. Unfortunately, the creation of documents to foster public agendas on dubious studies continues across the country. The Trump White House has its own Glass Beach study as well.
On October 17, 2017, the Washington Post published an internal White House document authored by Peter Navarro, an economist who serves in the Trump administration. Navarro is director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. What makes the report controversial is what the second page contains, according to the Washington Post. Reportedly, the second page argues that the “’Socioeconomic Costs’ of the decline of the country’s manufacturing industry, cause issues such as ‘Higher Divorce Rate,’ ‘Increased Drug/Opioid Use,’ ‘Rising Mortality Rate’ and ‘Higher Abortion Rate’”.
Navarro has been pushing for the United States to back out of NAFTA. On Wednesday, the fourth rounds of NAFTA negotiations concluded with Canada and México declining to accept the poisoned pills offered by the Trump administration.
The document does not have any basis on fact, but, nonetheless, it is being used as part of the debate over national policy on trade agreements, such as NAFTA. Whether trade agreements are economically bad for the country is open to debate. And, as national policy the merits of binational trade policies, multinational trade agreements or no trade agreements should be based on facts.
Navarro’s attempt to link divorce rates, opioid abuse and abortion rates to international trade exposes a public agenda based on personal whims and elitist social economic mindsets over what is best for the country. There can be no correlation established between divorce rates nor abortion rates and the manufacturing opportunities of the country. As such, such a report cannot be and should not be included as part of the national debate.
Yet, as a high government official, Peter Navarro has introduced falsehoods as facts that have no basis. His “facts” are now part of the national debate and it is dangerous for the country and the world. That Navarro’s assertions border on outright stupidity, should be obvious tall, but sadly it is not. It is this “stupidity” that is on the verge of creating a national public policy agenda that will hurt the American workers for generations to come.
Arguing the merits of trade policy must be based on facts because ultimately it affects the future of Americans. Basing the debate on the stupidity that abortions correlate to manufacturing jobs not only hurts the standing of the country on the world stage, but it hurts the future of all Americans.
I can’t figure out if you’re talking about NAFTA or El Paso branding ala Glass Beach in this edition. As I said earlier, NAFTA has no narrative that is attractive to a younger generation, probably on both sides of the border. No WIIFM. Without a story to tell, except dry economic statistics, NAFTA has lost its political appeal.
In the late 80s and early 90s, NAFTA did have a narrative that younger people could relate to – it was Miami that had become the the crossroad of Latin America, a sort of Caribbean Casablanca. Miami embodied the hot Latin culture of Cubanos and the Gloria Estafan music genre’, including its drug culture glamorized in the TV series, Miami Vice.
That Miami halo effect was very much used to promote NAFTA and the idea was that San Antonio (still a great town, IMO) was the next Miami and I-35 the NAFTA super highway. Now that is something a young person in San Antonio, or Dallas could look at and say, “I see a future for myself somewhere in there.”
It was the dour Ross Perot who first raised doubts by calling NAFTA a “giant sucking sound” for American jobs. If you want to protect NAFTA, you need a better story that voters can relate to, because Perot’s words linger and Trump got a lot of votes threatening to trash the treaty. He told a better story – “Make America Great Again.”
“Make NAFTA Great Again” doesn’t have the same appeal, whatever the industrial stats might say. And then there are the millions of illegal migrants and Mexican narco-violence that probably have nothing to do with NAFTA but everything to do with why voters are not enthusiastic about expanding relations with Mexico.
Martin, if you want to bemoan the fate of NAFTA, look no farther than Mexico for why it has no appeal to voters in the USA.
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