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The Great NAFTA Debate

Perot receives a public colonic; it's gonna stink for a while

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, November 10, 1993.

The great NAFTA debate between Perot and Gore last night was less enlightening than amusing. Most amusing was host Larry King withering under the squinty glare of Ross Perot. King, a shameless bootlicker, was apparently expected by Perot to be the genial host Perot counted on throughout his presidential campaign. King, who showed every indication of having no clear idea about the NAFTA bill at all, was obviously uneasy as Perot's glower said King would never be the recipient of his wisdom again unless he shaped up. We'll see.

Otherwise, Perot was again revealed to be a fear monger, pandering to the voting block of organized labor, which is afraid of their overstuffed organized laborers, who are afraid their overstuffed life might go away. It might and should. What is not said is that if Mexican manufacturing workers are generally underpaid, American workers are generally overpaid in the manufacturing. Fortunately, the vast majority of jobs are not unionized and, ironically, won't be affected by NAFTA anyway.

NAFTA will have a brief flurry of beneficial effects and then nothing for a few years. It is in the long run that NAFTA will prove an incredible plus. South America is every bit as potentially powerful as the US. It is also a lot more culturally homogenous than any other continent. Portuguese Brazil has more in common with its Hispanic neighbors than France has with Bosnia or Vietnam with China. I predict that South America is bound to be more powerful than the Orient or Europe. NAFTA is a toddling step towards acknowledging this, but it puts us Gringos on the right track.

What is most annoying about all this is that Canada, ole Waspy French/English Canada, has generally been a bigger pain as a trading partner than Mexico yet has played hardly any role in this debate. It’s hard to argue that Xenophobic prejudice has presented as race and focused on Mexico. Heading up as the new Father Coughlin - a bigoted yahoo of the 30's - Ross Perot continues to fan the flames of prejudice and fear. This is the guy who addresses blacks you people (as opposed, I guess, to us people) and has failed to express regret that his personal commandos killed dozens of innocents when his oil executives were rescued years back. He also had Richard Crenna play him in the movie about it. Crenna is about a foot taller.

This is not an unabashed plug for NAFTA. As a specific bill, it’s not that big a deal. As an indication of attitude, it’s the way to go.