The Enronization of Labor: Why NAFTA is a failure and illegal immigrants are an issueBy Marion Delgado at 4:06 AM
When power was seen as a quasi-service that the government should guarantee but which would benefit from having some market constraints on abuse, things hummed along quite smoothly. As most countries found out, that infrastructure of electrification was the basis for much of our productivity and innovation.
Once Enron, a company that did nothing but legalistic and predatory capitalism, never producing power directly but acting only as a speculator and middleman, was able to get California and Oregon to treat power as a commodity bought and sold in lots like sorghum molasses, and once they "cornered the market" (which had not previously been a market, but a utility service with the government negotiating with highly regulated businesses), they were able to "Enronize" electrical power. They did the same thing with water.
Enronization involves, among other things, bribery and corruption, cornering a market, ripping off your workers, and playing two transactors off against each other. Thanks to Pete Wilson, deceptive referendums and initiatives and shortsighted voters who supported them, and above all thanks to money spread around by Enron, that company was allowed to buy power in California, sell it to PG&E in Oregon among others, essentially an arm of Enron, at a profit, then sell it back to Enron at a profit again. This completely fraudulent Ponzi scheme repeated itself until, as Enron's own traders put it "we jammed that [power bill] up Grandma Millie's ass! We really did her! Ha ha ha ha ha!"
As a side note, liberal TV did not make up these people. They replaced a utility that served everyone with a paradigm capitalist enterprise, and it IMMEDIATELY destroyed as many people as possible to make as large a quarterly profit as possible, just as we have always maintained they would.
At any rate, to get to NAFTA. The American people noted without any interest at all, apparently, that NAFTA not only lost the United States a million jobs - it also cost the average Mexican *job income*. Now, that's amazing. BOTH SIDES LOST. Isn't that impossible? The money, the work, the orders, the resources, they had to go somewhere, right? How could both the US *and* Mexico be losers? It's so absurd, it's never been covered on TV news at all (only quietly in print).
But ask yourself this, Californians and Oregonians - where have you seen this before? Where have you seen something that was not just a market commodity commoditized? Workers ripped off? Money disappearing from both parties in a trade?
Indeed, the truth is that NAFTA has worked exactly like energy deregulation in California. Immediately, predatory capitalists leveraged Mexico against the United States, for starters, costing it a million jobs, depressing unions, lowering wages. Then it leveraged the American-owned, Mexican staffed maquiladoras against the suddenly captive, company town workers who were fooled into moving into the high-priced border hell-towns. They leveraged sophisticated currency speculative tricks against the peso, causing it to fail, causing Mexico to take a loan from the United States banks. At every step, cronies of the mostly American-based multinationals, manufacturers and financiers alike, were overseeing the dismantling of protection of the public. At every step, the crony capitalists made record profits.
And just as Pete Wilson not only avoided being hanged from a lamppost in the streets of a California city as he would have been in an earlier, more obstreporous era, but managed to turn the anger people felt over being cheated by him and his cronies against Gray Davis, guilty only of do-nothingism - the GOPites and their GOP-lite allies plan to turn this against progressives. Too much illegal immigration, the Right will say, and they're correct, narrowly. People are being racist against immigrants, some of the other Democrats will say, also correctly.
But don't take your eye off the ball: NAFTA was sold, first of all, as something that would be a bonanza to Mexico and prevent the need for so many Mexicans to work illegally in the US. It was a supply-side approach similar to our highly successful War on Drugs policy. The corollary to how we were sold NAFTA is, if NAFTA instead depressed Mexican wages - and it provably did - then logically NAFTA has produced an increased SUPPLY of potential illegals.
But NAFTA, by removing many constraints on businesses, especially with regards to outsourcing, labor law, environmental protection, consumer and worker safety, etc., also made it easy for bad businesses to squeeze good ones - therefore, the potential DEMAND for illegals will logically, if anything, go up. And so it has. And what we're left with is a lawless, deregulated situation (except, of course, for the super-rich's Sacred Property and Profit Rights, which are tightly bound with Draconian laws that only apply to the rest of us). A situation where they can outsource to maquiladoras or they can outsource to illegals. They can squeeze us, hard, because we have more juice to squeeze out. They can squeeze the Mexicans hard because (partly thanks to us, read Phil Agee's Inside the Company sometime) they don't have much ability to complain when squeezed.
Worse, unlike Enron, this is really big - too big to fail. Don't expect it to come crashing down anytime soon. Much more likely, both Mexicans and Americans will be bankrupted first.