I have enjoyed the opportunity to interview a wide variety of personalities on a broad spectrum of issues and topics. These have included Karl Malden, the recently late Desmond Lewellan ("Q" from the Bond flicks), Ambrose Evans Prichard, Arkansas trooper Larry Patterson, William F. Buckley and his son Chris, Dave Hackworth, Bo Gritz, Maj. Gen. Jack Singlaub, Russian defector Stan Lunev, and more politicians and authors (from heroes to goats) than I care to remember. However, to date my fondest memories remain of an interview/debate I had with Warren Christopher's special assistant for the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Eight years ago I was among the more vocal critics warning of potential dire consequences that could and would result from NAFTA (and later from the World Trade Organization). NAFTA was, and is, an interesting study, in that it collected strange bipartisan supporters and detractors.
I was fortunate to have been befriended by a man who was both a patriot and an economist. I know, it sounds like an oxymoron, but that was how I viewed, and still view, Dr. Pat Choate. Before the trade agreement had popped up on the political radar screen, I started researching NAFTA. In the course of that study I did something scant few (if any) of the legislators who voted for insidious treaty-that-isn't-really-a-treaty-but-is, had done. I read it. All 1,472 pages. I sat at my dining room table with a yellow highlighter and red pen and pored through every flipping line -- page after page after page after page.
My neophyte analysis suggested that NAFTA was r-e-a-l bad. Even before the bastard son GATT proposed the World Trade Organization, NAFTA was, and is, sleazy, disingenuous, duplicitous, and overflowing with potential negative consequences.
I confess, I kinda got obsessed. I spent far too much time trying to explain the evils of NAFTA to my radio audience. Most of them didn't care, and would have preferred my spending time on almost anything else -- preferably their pet topic. However, NAFTA was, and is, more dangerous than a double-edged razor. As P.J. O'Rourke once observed, "It's like giving alcohol and the car keys to a teenage boy."
Here's a quickie Readers Digest version of the key dangers of our "trade agreement":
Notwithstanding the implementation of NAFTA, eight years later, I'm still right. And notwithstanding the Ambassador's protestations to the contrary, the negative consequences of NAFTA and GATT continue to invade reality.
The Vancouver Methanex Corporation has filed a $970 million NAFTA lawsuit against California. Why? Because California finally got around to banning the gasoline additive MTBE that has been poisoning groundwater. A similar lawsuit last year that was filed by a U.S. company compelled Canada to overturn its ban on a similar additive. This should not be a surprise; it was an anticipated consequence of NAFTA and GATT. It happened with Argentine gasoline and dolphin-safe tuna.
Even California Democrat George Miller acknowledged, "Local legislation can be nullified because a secret trade tribunal says so. ... It doesn't matter whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, a conservative or liberal." And he is right!
In 1992, '93, and '94, I was called all the usual names including the classic "right-wing wacko" (although my criticisms were mirrored by Ralph Nader, Jerry Brown and Jesse Jackson).
I have always maintained, "It's not WHO is right or wrong, but WHAT is right or wrong." NAFTA and GATT were, are, and will always be wrong. For example, Daniel Seligman, director of trade policy for the Sierra Club (yeah, the Sierra Club), observed, "Trade has become a kind of de facto global government serving only one constituent -- transnational corporations. ... You end up with corporate property rights that go well beyond what is provided by 200 years of Supreme Court rulings.''
I could write more, but hey, when Geoff Metcalf quotes the Sierra Club, and they are right -- it's time to close.