Addressing the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles Sunday morning and then the Oregon AFL-CIO State Convention in Seaside on Sunday night, Ohio Congressman and Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich told upbeat audiences that the United States will not be able to resolve its economic and immigration issues until it resolves its trade policies.
He also renewed his promise that his first act once he is in the Oval Office will be to cancel the United States' participation in NAFTA and the WTO.
Kucinich, who has a deeply loyal if relatively small following, insists that NAFTA and the WTO were sold to the American people as a way to provide better wages and economy, but that just as he and critics had foreseen the pacts instead wound up destroying high-paying manufacturing jobs in the United States and seriously depressing the economy of Mexico, forcing millions of Mexicans to come to America in search of work where they have been harmfully exploited and woefully underpaid. He further insists that the contentious immigration issue is in many ways becoming a scapegoat for the problems being caused by trade issues.
He also continued his call for true single-payer, not-for-profit universal health care. Kucinich breaks from the Democratic Presidential candidate pack on this issue, with the rest of them touting subsidies and mandates that would keep the private insurance companies involved in health care.
And he reiterated that he would implement his plan for an immediate withdrawal of American troops-and private contractors-from Iraq.
"The dialogue in this country has gone from the Statue of Liberty reading 'give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses' to discussions of rounding up immigrants from mass deportations. We've moved from President Reagan saying 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall' to calls today to build a wall of our own...Somebody's running for President of the United States, and they're saying they can't take on the insurance companies? If you can't take on the insurance companies, who else can't you take on?" Kucinich declared to cheering, receptive crowds.
Critics contend that Kucinich is an extreme-Left enemy of capitalism and is going to even more extremes than his Democratic counterparts with efforts that would transform the United States into an unconstitutional socialist state-with dire consequences.
On the issue of the always controversial NAFTA, critics of stances like Kucinich's insist that the true criticism should be laid at the feat of its original proponents, who exaggerated its forthcoming positive benefits just as the critics are "paranoid" about its supposedly negative ones.
These point out that at the time of NAFTA's implementation, the United States' gross domestic was already nearly 20 times Mexico's, with U.S. tariffs against Mexican imports having been averaging out to a mere two percent. They further contend that what Mexico is experiencing is the growing pains like those experienced in the 1990s by Russia as it moves away from government-owned property and industry and moves, however clumsily and gradually, toward becoming far more prosperous and politically competitive-something they contend has been inspired by, rather than damaged by, NAFTA.
Going further, the critics contend that the workers arriving here have no excuses for not going through the proper channels to enter legally and become naturalized U.S. citizens if they choose to remain permanently. Far from being pitiful and exploited, they say, these workers come here simply because the money flows in America-not because it has been removed from Mexico but because it's been that way for over 150 years.
They maintain that the immigrants come out of desire, find niches to fill in industries that are demanding great amounts of workers, send their children to American schools which are greatly superior to those in Mexico, and sometimes find jobs that require high skill levels because many of the immigrants bring high skill levels with them and were unable to apply them for good pay in their native country.
Indeed, a recent study by the World Bank found that a A Mexican migrant to the U.S. is five times more productive than one who stays home. This is due to the fact that in America, a worker has access to $418,000 in what is called "intangible wealth", while back in Mexico she had access to just $34,000 worth of that.
"Intangible wealth" is estimated by analyzing factors such as the trust among people in a given society, an efficient judicial system, defined and honored property rights, and effective government. The more intangible wealth a society can provide, the greater the productivity of its workers.
Critics of Kucinich's position on an immediate Iraq withdrawal contend that whether or not the war was a good idea or a bad one, it would be a disaster to pull America's troops out without much more progress in training and arming the Iraqi military, quelling sectarian violence, reaching more political stability, making sure that nation is secured against strong and aggressive regional powers such as Iran, and making sure that the United States does not present an image of weakness or lack of resolve to hostile terrorist-harboring nations. They further contend that these objectives can be met and are gradually being met, and a pull-out would just mean that American soldiers died in vain.
Kucinich for President 2008 (PR Newswire), "Kucinich Links Economic, Immigration Problems to Trade Issues"