N Essay, Research Paper
Poly-Sci 1 Market values play a significant role in government policy and can have a dramatic affect on all citizens. Because the overall goal of capitalism is in conflict with that of democracy, historically we have had to struggle to maintain an acceptable social contract. I believe it has been through the relative balance between democratic goals, and capitalistic goals that the United States has been able to achieve the degree of social stability which has occurred. I further believe that an improvement of this balance with regard to free trade would result in an increased level of social satisfaction and stability for our great country. By definition of focus market forces and social forces (or democracy) can converge into a conflictive relationship. The focus of business is ultimately to earn profit. Conversely the ultimate goal of democratic forces are to bring about the best social contract for the majority of the population. The real conflicts arise when one attempts to make gains at the others expense. A current example of market forces lobbying government policy in their favor is in the recent North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA was clearly a triumph of business interests over the social contract. NAFTA enabled companies to reduce manufacturing costs and avoid trade barriers. By Manufacturing in Mexico business could access cheap labor, and avoid strict US environmental, health and safety laws. The real triumph is that they can do it all duty free. Cheap labor, loose environmental restrictions, reduced worker health and safety protections all reduce operating costs for businesses thus increasing profits. Unfortunately many of the market gains come at the expense of society. As a result of NAFTA, manufacturing and labor intensive production left America. The loss of primary manufacturers leads to a decline in suppliers, and other support industries, and ultimately negatively multiplies through the economy. But the losses do not stop with jobs. NAFTA also circumvents social legislation enacted to protect our people. For example recently ABC news ran a piece on the Internet which explained that vegetables containing illegal pesticides were being brought to market without any warning, and many other problems exist.
In the Maquiadora border towns Mexico NAFTA has also led to business profit at the expense of the social contract. Workers are mistreated, exposed to toxins, and discouraged from organizing. Furthermore environmental abuses by irresponsible operations are rampant. A fundamental problem with the NAFTA agreement is that by not including enforceable social, environmental, or economic protection it ultimately forces the US to drop down towards an equilibrium with Mexico. This Negative harmonization can undermine democratically enacted legislation specifically designed to protect our population from dangers and abuses. In doing so it weakens democracy. In Europe a similar trade revolution is taking place, but with a greater social emphasis. Fair trade policies are being implemented on an appropriate timeline and with a central governing body in place to solve problems as they arise. A balance between upward harmonization along with profit appear to be the goal in the new EC. Problems such as polluted air rivers, oceans, extinction of thousands species of plants and animals, global warming, toxic food and poverty, already plague much of our world and will only improve through responsible behavior. Arguably a historical precedence already exists to prove that government regulation is required to insure that people and business really do adhere to an acceptable behavior. Fortunately the world has not reached an apocalypse yet, and hopefully never will. In order to solve the current problems which have arisen from NAFTA, (and others to come) we need to recognize the need for balance between socially acceptable policy and business interests. To many this concept in itself is a naive or even utopian, but nonetheless I would argue that it is an imperative for a desirable future.