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mp5: By Carl F. Worden 4-1-7 Today is the day I tried to warn the "Free-Trade" enthusiasts about. When President Bill Clinton signed off on the North American Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Trade & Tariffs in 1993, otherwise known as NAFTA/GATT, he quite literally slashed the economic throat of the United States. We've been hemorrhaging jobs to foreign nations like Communist China ever since. Until 1993, the United States of America was the world's economic king, and our people enjoyed the highest standard of living in recorded history. But NAFTA/GATT changed all that by virtually removing all trade protections that ensured our general prosperity. Compared to the United States, labor costs in China, Indonesia and similar nations were substantially lower than what U.S. workers earned. NAFTA/GATT allowed our corporations and U.S. entrepreneurs to move their manufacturing technology overseas and take advantage of the reduced costs of doing business, while avoiding our former trade protections that made such a move prior to NAFTA/GATT unprofitable. For those enterprises that made the move overseas right away, there was nothing but exorbitant profits to be made. What could be better for a typical American manufacturer? You get to avoid all U.S. payroll taxes, worker's compensation costs and environmental regulations and hurdles. You no longer have to deal with unions and provide employee benefits like health insurance and retirement plans. You get to manufacture in China, Indonesia and similar foreign nations to your heart's content, and you still get to sell your products to the U.S. consumer at the same or nearly the same cost as before. Those who benefited are the stockholders of these firms and their top CEOs and CFOs. If you had money to invest before NAFTA/GATT, your returns on the investments spiked. But if you are just the typical middle-class American family with an average $9,000.00 per month credit card balance and little or no savings except what's in your 401k, you didn't have the chance to participate in that gold rush. You were blind-sided and left behind, and the immediate effect of NAFTA/GATT was for around five million people who had high-paying, family wage paying manufacturing jobs to lose them to low-wage workers overseas. The long-term effect of NAFTA/GATT just emerged in the form of Circuit City firing 3,400 of its highest paid employees for the publicly announced purpose of hiring replacements who will work for substantially less. One of the major points I tried to drive home was that the standard of living in the United States would be drawn down by NAFTA/GATT, while the nations that now host those manufacturing jobs will see a modest gain. Where China is concerned, everything is relative, and relative to the standard of living China had before NAFTA/GATT, the Chinese people are experiencing a surge on par with the typical American family of the 50s, with a modest home and one car, but it represents a vast improvement over what they had before.