In the last decade, White House initiatives and congressional legislation have impeded the advances made by American labor and civil rights for most of the 20th century. Our American way of life is succumbing to the economic cancer that most economists see as an advance and not a threat to our economic stability, namely "globalization."
Our American belief in the "greatest good for the greatest number" has been defiled on the international scene, enamored by outsourcing and off-shoring beyond control, fueled by corporate greed (excesses of capitalism pointedly identified by the late, great John Paul II).
In the past, blue-collar jobs had disappeared from the American scene, but that was rationalized as a need for labor to increase productivity to be competitive. But American industries such as steel, automobiles, appliances, electronics, footwear and garments declined in market share even with increased worker productivity. Today's job emigration has spread to the professional sector of our work force; accounting, claims adjusting, medical evaluations, technical instructions, engineering -- all are going "over there."
How could Congress confer "favored nation trading status" on a country such as China, when human rights abuses abound along with disregard for the intellectual property of others? U.S. patents and copyrights are violated and benefits they provided for their creators have been usurped. Inventions and innovations of our creative people are not protected by our nation or international law.
Unless the people we voted into office see this condition as a problem, no viable solutions will become evident. Even the president of the AFL-CIO doesn't see a fix on the horizon other than extolling Americans to be more creative and innovative and inventive so we can lead the world in new technology and manufacturing (to be robbed of our successes, as we are now by Third World nations not complying with international law while being financed by the World Bank, to which we are a major contributor.)
The World Trade Organization, which we partner, opposes tariffs, duties and subsidies affecting competition in world markets. It doesn't consider workers' rights an economic factor, nor does it consider environmental protection.
We must solve our national job drain and continual excessive balance of payment deficits. We must make demands of our unresponsive Congress. Congressional action is required and long overdue for redemptive legislation, such as:
The United States shall not consume or employ any goods, produce or services that have not been created under the same rules, regulations and restrictions that apply to all labor, production and services in the United States (with exclusions granted for items deemed imperative for our national welfare or security.)
The result will stop the aggressive dilution of all the workers' rights and human rights accomplished by people in the 20th century so that the world can look forward, with certainty, to all those historic rights initiated by Americans to be duplicated in the Third World as an altruistic prerogative for "globalization."
Stephen J. Gaca lives in Williamsville.