Just as in the 1990s, big business in the United States is lining up behind the Democratic Party ahead of next year’s presidential elections. The Republicans under Bush are now so discredited that the corporations are looking for another horse to back. They don’t have to worry. In fact, the Democrats are queuing up to take their money, according to someone who knows all about global corporations and their influence. William Greider wrote one of the first critiques of corporate-driven globalisation in 1998, called One World Ready or Not - the manic logic of global capitalism. His best-selling book demonstrated how corporations moved their production around, seeking out cheaper labour areas and new markets. Now Greider has condemned the Democrats for helping Bush to create a variation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), this time with Peru.
Last week, the Democrat speaker in Congress Speaker Nancy Pelosi got 109 Democrats to vote for the Peru trade bill, which was passed with Republican with 116 Democrats and a handful of Republicans voting against. Why did Pelosi push so hard that it divided her party and bringing fierce condemnation from the trade union movement and environmentalists?
Greider cites Steven R.Weisman of the New York Times, who concluded: "Democrats from the prosperous areas of the East and West Coast have become especially responsive, many Democrats say, to the desire of Wall Street and the high technology, health, pharmaceutical and entertainment industries to expand their sales overseas. These industries have also become major Democratic contributors." She did it for the money, is Greider’s conclusion. Writing for The Nation’s blog, he says: “Pelosi chose to stand with the money guys and dismiss the political backlash against globalisation building across the country.”
The “money guys” have never had a problem with the Democrats. NAFTA was established during Bill Clinton’s tenure of the White House, as was the World Trade Organisation. The WTO has become the global enforcer of the market economy to the detriment of workers in every country. NAFTA has created misery for millions of Mexicans working in border areas for US-based global corporations, while an estimated three million manufacturing jobs have disappeared from the United States. In factories largely hidden from view, and agricultural areas close to the US/Mexican border, workers labour in appalling conditions to make commodities and produce food for the American market. NAFTA tore up decades of labour laws established by Mexican workers and the same intensive exploitation is planned in Peru.
As economic and financial conditions deteriorate inside the United States in the wake of the sub-prime housing crisis, credit crunch and a dollar in freefall, the corporations are desperate for new opportunities. Peru is seen as the first step to expanding NAFTA through South and Central America. With the likelihood of another Clinton taking the presidency in 2008, big business is sitting pretty when it comes to tying up the political ends. The social backlash against the banks, mortgage companies - and the Democrats - is only just beginning, however.
AWTW communications editor