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Three Ways to ewe With hivestments Domini Social Equity Rio? meets growth opportunities thtough a portfolio of stocks selected on:A/ides \(*versification we supporting homeowners and small business owners in struggkrig communities, Dor** Money Market Accoune offers safety arxi thmugh MC-insured deposits that help promote cominunity development Please obtain a current prospectus for more complete information including risks, fees, and expense% by calling 1-800-530-5321 or online at . Domini I] SOCIAL INVESTMENTS’ liw Way You Invest Mailer? Visit www.dominLcorn or Call us at 1-800-530-5321 lie OWN Sete feet fad el letti Me led fat et OW le mete KO sel of et hoist Y ne pea ow Tit Mid Seat led Furs steassily deteltent intemes sty le ante ad tan yeller eve ries en Ps M ger evaeamttlie lit Sue led Fat WPM* hes a ire waft 11 M weft Metwteeteted =am age pekes et fele ilarte MID eat waren me pee et MOM da, Watt soy lawe tke Fags retro le wee to; Mete it ewe ettree rem Blit MOW trees 121, lierlele \(NM 11/83 LAS AMERICAS Rough Trade BY GABRIELA BOCAGRANDE 1 n light of our recent and unfortunate adventure in Iraq, we, as U.S. citizens, may be learning a couple of important lessons: are often boring and far away, we should pay attention because our government lies to us about them, and administration is up to abroad, we will get ripped off so badly that we will not even be able to pay attention. Get it? While not nearly so exciting as watching our troops storfn Holy Cities or pile naked men into decorative human pyramids, international economic affairs are potentially just as damaging to our real national interest. And while we have agonized for the past year about the pros and cons of gay marriage and our current shade of alert, Robert Zoellick, has been busy cobbling together yet another mind-numbing international trade agreement for us, with five Central American countries, most of them among the poorest in the hemisphere. Fortunately for us, we have experts to review these agreements and tell us what they are about, so we don’t have to rely on our own faulty intelligence. Long ago when Gerald Ford, a truly brainy Republican President, was in charge, Congress established the trade negotiations advisory committee system. And when the Congress passed “Fast Track” to expedite the approval of trade agreements in 2002, it required the advisory committees to inform the Congress about whether the agreements, as negotiated, met Congressional objectives in the committees’ areas of expertise. There are now 32 advisory committees that review trade agreements, and, we’re told by Mr. Zoellick, they are a valuable part of his effort “to consult with and receive guidance from American trade stakeholders!’ This means us, doesn’t it? Well, no, apparently not. Although most of my wardrobe this season was manufactured in Bangladesh and Mauritius, I don’t recall ever having been consulted by these committees as a “trade stakeholder.” This is because the committees are really quite specialized. Among the committees consulting with Mr. Zoellick and the Congress are the Technical Advisory Committee for Tobacco, Cotton and Peanuts, the Committee for Animal and Animal Products, the Committee for Textiles and Apparel, for Trade and Processed Food, for Sweetener and Sweetener Products, and much, much more. Zzzzzzzz. At the end of the list, however, is the Advisory Committee for Labor, one for Small Business and one for Environmental Policy. When you stack them up, you can see that everyday Americans are badly outnumbered by experts on tobacco, processed food, and ball bearings or whatever. Since we’ve come this far, you may be asking, “Does this matter?” But you’re from Texas. You remember Ross Perot and his indignant charge that the . North American Free Trade Agreement sound” as U.S. industrial jobs drained away to Mexico, where wages were abysmally low. He was right. In 2000, the minimum wage in the United States was $5.15 an hour, but in Mexico it was about $4 a day. Reliable estimates 10 years post-NAFTA suggest that the U.S. lost upwards of 800,000 industrial jobs under the arrangement. Now, in 2004, we not only have NAFTA, but we are about to get its nasty little cousin CAFTA \(the Central American our free trade scope farther south, where wages are lower still. In Honduras, for example, the minimum wage is under $3.50 a day, so if you employ about 1,000 girls assembling flip-flops, this change of venue represents quite a savings for you. It’s not surprising to find, then, that the Labor Advisory Committee wrote a stiff critique of CAFTA when asked its opinion by the USTR. The Committee wrote, “This agreement repeats the same continued on page 31 16 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9/10/04