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JIM HIGHTOWER NAFTA Shams Here’s a trick question: What word actually becomes shorter if you add two letters to it? Give up? Short! Here’s another: What international trade deal makes America weaker if you add two side agreements to it? NAFTAthe North American Free Trade Agreement. The dirty trick in NAFTA was the environmental and job-loss problems that everyone knew would be caused by this corporate boondoggle. So to paper over the problems, labor and environmental “side agreements” were stuck onto the deal kind of like chrome on an old Buick. As we learned in October, these side deals were shams designed to make NAFTA look good enough for Congress to buy it, but be useless when it came time to deliver anything. In its first test case, the NAFTA side agreement on labor proved as effective as a Jello doorstop at stopping unfair labor practices. Being paid barely a dollar an hour, workers at both a GE and a Honeywell plant in Mexico tried to organize, only to be fired. They protested under NAFTA, but the corporations argued that the side agreement only applies to government action not to corporate practices .Washington agreed with this toothless interpretationgiving workers the SHAFTA. Meanwhile, on the pollution front, both U.S.and Mexican-owned factories in Mexico are creating a toxic nightmare all along our border. So where’s the NAFTA agency that was supposed to deal with this? Nowhere. It’s not even staffed, though U.S. and Mexico officials already have quietly agreed to rules severely restricting your and my participation in the agency’s pollution cases and allowing the agency to make its decisions behind closed doors. Having lied to us about NAFTA, Washington is now trying to trick us into taking another, even bigger trade scam called GATTwhich simply means “Gotcha Again.” When you hear their promises about GATT, remember their lies about NAFTA. Congressional Money Game Ever so rarely, one of the secret doors to the inner sanctums of Washington will inadvertently slip open just a crack, giving us peasants a peek at Congress’ whorish cozi Jim Hightower, a former Observer editor and Texas agriculture commissioner, does daily radio commentary and a weekend call-in talk show on the ABC Radio Network. ness with corporate power. We know that a corporation’s political action committee can legally put $10,000 into the pocket of a lawmaker, but that’s chump change to executives and politicians who really know how to play the game. Consider two top-ranking congressmen: Republican leader Newt “The Newt” Gingrich, and Democratic majority leader Dick Gephardt. Both have established what are called “leadership PACs,” to which corporations wanting favors from Congress are invited to contribute wheelbarrows full of cash. Sixteen of Newt’s givers, for example, are in for more than $100,000 each, with one topping half a million. *Gephardt has also hauled in millions, some from the same executives who give to Newtyou see, it’s all one big party in the inner sanctums; just leave your political registration, your scruplesand your cashat the door. Gephardt specializes in vacation retreats for his corporate givers. Last winter, for example, wealthy businessmen could buy into four days of skiing, gourmet meals, sleigh rides and up-close schmoozing at a Colorado resort with Dick. As a Seattle shipping executive put it, “It was a chance to get some quality time with the congressman.” And to get some favors too: a few weeks later, this executive’s bill to subsidize his shipping business steamed right through the Congress. Gephardt says his little vacation getaways are “a way to keep in touch. It’s kind of like a family gathering.” Yeah, Gephardt and Gingrich gather up the contributions, corporations put the touch on us taxpayersand your family and mine get stiffed. To find out who else is on the take, contact the Center for Responsive Politics on 202-857-0044. Roadkill on the Infobahn High-tech is threatening to overwhelm us. A lady gave a ballpoint pen to her six-year-old son. He examined it for about a minute, then said: “OK, I give up. How do you turn it on?” I’m doomed, old before my time. I’m electronically impaired, computer-challenged and digitally disabled. The “notebook” I use for writing is not a Powerbookit’s one made of paper, actual paper! Ooohhh, I’m going to be roadkill on the Information Superhighway. Well as Patrick Henry put it: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me…The Lead Pencil Club.” At last, a club for us cyberspace rejects. If you’re one, write them at P.O. Box 380, Long Island, New York 11975. You can join up for free, and you can even buy a Tshirt featuring a sharpened, No. 2 yellow pencil emblazoned with this excellent question: “What’s the hurry?” Everyone from Al Gore to your local cable TV owner is pushing to get us all on that interactive, intergalactic, fiber optic Information Superhighway from hell, rushing us pell-mell towell, to where? The multibillion-dollar mega-corporations driving this thing talk about connecting us to all sorts of razzle-dazzle, such as electronic town meetings, without going to town or meeting anyone; buying groceries or gold rings without ever rising from our La-ZBoys; and don’t go to the doctorjust tune in video diagnosis: “If you’re experiencing mild pain, touch one; severe pain, touch two; pants-wetting pain, touch three…” Notice that while all this razzle-dazzle connects us electronically, it disconnects us from each other, having us “interfacing” more with computers and TV screens than looking in the faces of our fellow human beings. Is this progress? It’s not that us Lead Pencil Clubbers are against high-tech, but that we’d like it to add to our quality of life, rather than subtract. 1Statement of Ownership. . Management end Circulation NORM IA Or 74 INN* The Texas Observer IA TVOLICATION NO No 0646 I11.1″1 5 19 ‘ . .”*”..” 25 ILIT 30.199k $32.00 A ANNNos, Mir Biweekly except for a three-week interval ‘ between lemma in January and Joiy A CALL0N. Aeitas 0 IONA, oven. PLY* caw, 7-..717..,.. 3……..o., . ONN AN ‘NAN. 307 07001917 St.; 0011till. Trevi, Texas 78701-2917 . CANN. MA, A..0 307 that 7th St., avoids, Traele, Texas 78701-2917 c Pm on….a omen.. IA., me.. d nano.. tem.,. tomme tee am cm w.f.”. tom NY.. 64. …f [….. MAI, AYALA Geoffrey Ripe, 307 feat 7th St., Auntie, Texaa 98701-2919 Pow 0. 4.4 04,44, 0.0.4..4….., Toole Dube., 307 West 7th St., 496u6, Texas 78701-2917 atm 0alor W …ay 1,…114, oar I ale mato *a r .4 dz. 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A.Nreorl 0 41,0114I MP 5.1505 7.510 ‘ “…1.0.,'””..”. “‘…..! “:’.”:”.=7 = 90 55 II 770111..ANNLA 0..4 Cr Os 5.595 7,565 A Cop0.011017011 I. VAN OM . INV. YONNWOd. MS.. OM 01…. 246 221 ,. .4.. 4*.4.1we Agiont 235 216 0. TOTAL 0…/1. /10.47-0.710..1 LA pm AN… A AI 6,126 8,660 it t artily Met dr namments mode .., tr. ate cone. and templets above ………….. r 7.= en, . Pt Mn 3521. nem, ten tocttemmn 12 NOVEMBER 11, 1994 4.0, brkh ,