Fata Morgana (chimerically) wrote,
Fata Morgana

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degradation in the name of free trade

I finally had a chance to read the corporations article that I mentioned in my last post in its entirety. It's a good read. The first half is about the history of corporations and recent challenges to "corporations as persons" in the U.S.; the second half is about international free-trade regulations.

Often the U.S. manages to make itself exempt from the restrictions that the WTO, IMF, and others impose on less economically-powerful countries, such as devaluing currency to decrease imports and increase exports, and forbidding agricultural subsidies on the grounds of fair trade - see this article for more information. Imposing these restrictions on less economically-powerful countries is in the best interests of the U.S. and other economically-powerful countries, because for one it means that environmental degradation from clear-cutting, strip-mining, and industrial "dirty work" can all happen overseas where we don't have to see it (and where it is forced to happen, in some cases, under the pretense of "not obstructing free trade"). Meanwhile, our governments can preserve their national parks and open spaces and make the first-world environmentalists happy. However, sometimes the policies bite first-world countries in the bum. I've been hearing about this from my housemate and in the news (quoted from the article I mentioned above):
    Under NAFTA, which covers Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., a corporation can sue a government directly. The case would also be heard by a secret tribunal, such as when Vancouver-based Methanex sued the U.S. over California's ban on a cancer-causing gas additive, MTBE. The company, which manufactures the additive's key ingredient, claimed that the ban failed to consider its financial interests.

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