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Grass-roots efforts go a long way: in the fight against the so-called Free Trade Area of the Americas, grass-roots activists have scored a significant victory.



Cheers! Kudos! Slaps on the back! All are in order for the Utah members of the Stop the FTAA FTAA Free Trade Area of the Americas
FTAA Free Trade Agreement of the Americas
FTAA Florida Turkish American Association
FTAA Federated Tanners Association of Australia
FTAA Fixed Threshold Adaptation Algorithm
 Committees, a campaign sponsored by the local chapters of the John Birch Society John Birch Society, ultraconservative, anti-Communist organization in the United States. It was founded in Dec., 1958, by manufacturer Robert Welch and named after John Birch, an American intelligence officer killed by Communists in China (Aug., 1945). , because of their successful efforts to draw attention to all that's bad about the FTAA. (The Free Trade Area of the Americas The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) (Spanish: Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas (ALCA), French: Zone de libre-échange des Amériques (ZLÉA), Portuguese: Área de Livre Comércio das Américas  is a supersized version of NAFTA NAFTA
 in full North American Free Trade Agreement

Trade pact signed by Canada, the U.S., and Mexico in 1992, which took effect in 1994. Inspired by the success of the European Community in reducing trade barriers among its members, NAFTA created the world's
.)

The accomplishment of the Utah committees is twofold. First, they pushed to get a resolution passed in the Utah Senate to officially discourage U.S. participation in the FTAA. Second, they pushed an anti-FTAA resolution in Utah's House of Representatives. Both passed. The resolutions in the House and the Senate were separate legislative measures, H.R. 9 expressing the views of the House and S.R. 1 expressing the views of the Senate. But the language of the two resolutions is almost identical. Both resolutions provide the following rationale for discouraging participation in the FTAA:
   WHEREAS, the United States of
   America has always been the world
   leader in pushing for free trade,
   which is a hallmark of our capitalistic
   society;

      WHEREAS, free trade only thrives
   where there is a level playing field
   of government regulations between
   trading partners;

      WHEREAS, the 1993 North American
   Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
   was supposed to bring additional
   prosperity to the United States and
   level the playing field with Canada
   and Mexico, thus perpetuating free
   trade between our nations;

      WHEREAS, notwithstanding the
   good intentions of NAFTA, our nation
   has suffered the loss of almost
   900,000 jobs due to NAFTA, many
   of them coming in the manufacturing
   sector;

      WHEREAS, manufacturing jobs
   in the United States have plunged
   from 19.3 million in 1980 to only
   about 14.6 million today, in large
   part because of these types of trade
   issues;

      WHEREAS, the United States has
   gone from a trade surplus with Mexico
   prior to NAFTA to a substantial
   trade deficit;...

      WHEREAS, the United States
   is considering entering into a new
   34-member Free Trade Area of the
   Americas (FTAA) in 2005; and

      WHEREAS, based upon the experience
   that the United States has had
   with NAFTA and the WTO, United
   States membership in the planned
   FTAA would increase manufacturing
   flight in the state of Utah and
   throughout the United States ....


The Senate resolution passed on February 7 by a vote of 21 to 7, and the House resolution passed on February 18 by a vote of 61 to 8. The Utah House, in H.R. 9, "respectfully but firmly urges all members of the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  Congress to vote no on any agreement for the United States to enter into a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)." The Senate resolution is identical--except that the words "at this time" were added to the end of the sentence.

The House resolution (and the Senate resolution, in almost identical language) also urges the U.S. Congress "to not enter into the FTAA until the United States has had more experience with and a greater understanding of the impacts of NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO See World Trade Organization. )." This somewhat concessionary wording was included by the resolutions' sponsors to garner more support among some legislators who are still under the spurious spu·ri·ous
adj.
Similar in appearance or symptoms but unrelated in morphology or pathology; false.



spurious

simulated; not genuine; false.
 impression that the "concept" of NAFTA-like free trade agreements is good but that the improper implementation of NAFTA has merely fouled up a good idea.

Keys to Success

Northern Utah Stop the FTAA Committee chairwoman Ann Turner acknowledged to THE NEW AMERICAN that the Utah House and Senate resolutions are not perfect. But she also emphasized that the resolutions send "the entrenched en·trench   also in·trench
v. en·trenched, en·trench·ing, en·trench·es

v.tr.
1. To provide with a trench, especially for the purpose of fortifying or defending.

2.
 political establishment a powerful message that the grass roots grass roots
pl.n. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
1. People or society at a local level rather than at the center of major political activity. Often used with the.

2. The groundwork or source of something.
 wants no part of so-called free trade agreements that destroy our jobs and undermine our national independence. FTAA promoters now know that there is tremendous resistance to their plans. And this resistance can do nothing but grow as we continue and expand our educational efforts."

That "powerful message" has certainly gotten some attention. In an article entitled en·ti·tle  
tr.v. en·ti·tled, en·ti·tling, en·ti·tles
1. To give a name or title to.

2. To furnish with a right or claim to something:
 "States' Rights states' rights, in U.S. history, doctrine based on the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.  vs. Free Trade," the March 7, 2005 issue of Business Week magazine noted, "The statehouse state·house also state house  
n.
A building in which a state legislature holds sessions; a state capitol.


statehouse
Noun

NZ a rented house built by the government

Noun 1.
 uprising against trade deals comes at a bad time for President George W. Bush's trade policy. This summer, Congress will debate the Central American Central America

A region of southern North America extending from the southern border of Mexico to the northern border of Colombia. It separates the Caribbean Sea from the Pacific Ocean and is linked to South America by the Isthmus of Panama.
 Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA cafta

see catha edulis.
) between the U.S., the Dominican Republic Dominican Republic (dəmĭn`ĭkən), republic (2005 est. pop. 8,950,000), 18,700 sq mi (48,442 sq km), West Indies, on the eastern two thirds of the island of Hispaniola. The capital and largest city is Santo Domingo. , and five Central American nations Noun 1. Central American nation - any one of the countries occupying Central America; these countries (except for Belize and Costa Rica) are characterized by low per capita income and unstable governments
Central American country
. It will also consider whether to end U.S. membership in the WTO and extend Presidential authority to negotiate future deals." The weekly added, "Business groups worry that an outside-the-Beltway rebellion will overwhelm o·ver·whelm  
tr.v. o·ver·whelmed, o·ver·whelm·ing, o·ver·whelms
1. To surge over and submerge; engulf: waves overwhelming the rocky shoreline.

2.
a.
 Congress's razor-thin support for trade deals.... CAFTA is the most likely victim of this rising resistance."

Turner also told THE NEW AMERICAN that "our victory in Utah would not have been possible without the organized effort and hard work of many citizen activists who spent countless hours contacting their legislators and explaining to them the dangers of the FTAA." With greater pressure from committed grass-roots activists across the nation, the FTAA might well be added to the list of possible victims.

The Utah Senate and House will send copies of these resolutions to the "Majority Leader of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the members of Utah's congressional delegation, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)." Utah Stop the FTAA Committee members succeeded at getting both resolutions passed mainly by successfully educating the state's legislators about the negative consequences of joining the FTAA and eliciting public opposition to inclusion in the FTAA.

The process of making these resolutions a priority with legislators was accomplished through a coordinated effort by committee members. As part of the committee's efforts, they gave all 104 members of Utah's legislature a copy of the "Erasing America" (September 6, 2004) issue of THE NEW AMERICAN, which highlights the dangers of the FTAA, and the book America's Engineered Decline, which explains the disastrous long-term goals Long-term goals

Financial goals expected to be accomplished in five years or longer.
 of some of the political activists who wish to pass the FTAA. The two lead senators and all of the House members also received copies of the "Losing Our Independence" (February 7, 2005) issue of THE NEW AMERICAN, which rebuts the arguments of pro-FTAA activists.

In addition, committee members sent letters and mailers to legislators and solicited sponsors for the two resolutions. They even distributed thousands of pamphlets to delegates at the Utah Republican Convention. They coupled these activities with a steady flow of letters to the editors of their local newspapers--and a TV, radio, and magazine advertising campaign--to raise public awareness of the FTAA threat.

Though Senate resolution sponsor Senator David L. Thomas David Lloyd Thomas is a Republican member of the South Carolina Senate, representing the 8th District since 1984. External links
  • South Carolina Legislature - Senator David L. Thomas official SC Senate website
  • Project Vote Smart - Senator David L.
 and House sponsor Representative Glenn Donnelson are Republicans, Democrats played active roles in passing the legislation. In the Senate, the Democrat in the lead was influential Senator Ed Mayne, a co-sponsor of the resolution. As president of the AFL-CIO AFL-CIO: see American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.
AFL-CIO
 in full American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations

U.S.
 for Utah and a member of the Federal Reserve Board in San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden , Mayne's decision to co-sponsor the resolution was significant and led to many other Democrats supporting it. In a speech he gave in support of the resolution, Senator Mayne used his experience on the Federal Reserve Board to explain how NAFTA had negatively affected jobs and the economy. He also pointed out the cascading effect of losing manufacturing jobs: when manufacturing jobs are lost so are many jobs that are supported by the salaries of the laborers. In the House, the Democrat-lead was co-sponsor Representative Neil Hansen, who garnered many Democrat co-sponsors and votes.

Overcoming Obstacles

As in any other noteworthy endeavor, however, all was not smooth sailing. Pro-FTAA lobbyists tried to poison the vote. Most notable of these lobbyists was reported to be Thomas Bingham, president of the Utah Manufacturers Association (an organization that logically should have been onboard Refers to a chip or other hardware component that is directly attached to the printed circuit board (motherboard). Contrast with offboard. See inboard.  with the resolution). Bingham tried to get resolution sponsor Thomas to believe that NAFTA, the predecessor of FTAA, was not a cause of job loss in Utah and that, in fact, Utah hadn't lost jobs at all but had gained jobs. In response, Ann Turner sent Thomas an article from Utah Business magazine, which quoted Bingham as saying that Utah had lost over 12,000 manufacturing jobs in just the past two-and-a-half years.

In the Senate hearing on the resolution, Utah state Senator Noun 1. state senator - a member of a state senate
senator - a member of a senate
 Scott Jenkins also at tacked the resolution, mocking its very concepts, saying that it was foolish to give up a good thing. He said that NAFTA-type trade is good: "We are getting quality goods at an inexpensive price and improving our quality of life." He also claimed that a loss of manufacturing jobs was just a "necessary shift" in the types of jobs available in the U.S. and not a real loss of jobs because service jobs took the place of manufacturing jobs. Of course, he failed to mention that the long-term outlook for the U.S., if we keep these trade policies, is horrific; and he failed to mention that the service jobs that "replaced" the lost manufacturing jobs were low-paying jobs with little to no benefits.

Other senators who were against the resolution said that they did not know enough about these trade agreements to be able to judge them effectively, in essence saying that these decisions should be left to qualified people in the federal government. Senator Thomas countered this argument by reminding the hearing members that NAFTA has been around for 10 years without good results and by telling them that the very fact that people can't credibly point to the "benefits" of NAFTA ought to cause people to vote for the resolution.

In the end, most of the senators saw the logic of the resolution and voted for it. In the House, there was almost no opposition to passage of the resolution, and it passed handily hand·i·ly  
adv.
1. In an easy manner.

2. In a convenient manner.

Adv. 1. handily - in a convenient manner; "the switch was conveniently located"
conveniently

2.
, again showing what a great job that the Utah Stop the FTAA Committee members are doing.

Other Stop the FTAA Committees across the U.S. have also been having success in their anti-FTAA efforts--as is evidenced by increased state activity in opposition to the FTAA. In Indiana the Senate passed a resolution to have the U.S. stay out of all new trade agreements. Arizona, New Jersey, New Hampshire New Hampshire, one of the New England states of the NE United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts (S), Vermont, with the Connecticut R. forming the boundary (W), the Canadian province of Quebec (NW), and Maine and a short strip of the Atlantic Ocean (E). , and Montana are taking actions similar to those in Indiana and Utah; and in Wisconsin and Oregon, the state governors have drafted letters opposing the FTAA. Wisconsin's governor has stated that Wisconsin will not be "bound" by these trade agreements, and Oregon's governor has said that Oregon will not be "a voluntary participant" in the trade agreements.
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Title Annotation:FTAA
Author:Williamsen, Kurt
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 21, 2005
Words:1745
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