NAFTA threat to U.S. jobs, manufacturingThe North American...

the Forum

September 30, 1993

NAFTA threat to U.S. jobs, manufacturing

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) must be stopped. There are so many arguments against this agreement that it boggles the mind.

As an example, this trade agreement will allow foreign countries to set up plants in Mexico, which will then be exempt from U.S. quotas and duties.

Also, Mexico offers financing for these plants. In 1992, for instance, the Mexican government's import-export banks signed an agreement to sponsor Chinese investment in Mexico, to build textile and apparel mills.

Why does China, which has hundreds of millions of people, need to build plants in Mexico? The answer is simple: to flood the rich American market through the Mexican free trade window.

NAFTA will accelerate the loss of American jobs, especially manufacturing jobs, which pay higher wages and provide prosperity to our country.

Instead of approving NAFTA, Congress should restrict existing loopholes that allow trade concessions to our competitors.

NAFTA is a bad agreement, which will codify unfair trade practices now in existence and hurt our country beyond our worst dreams.

Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md., is certainly to be commended for being a long-time foe of NAFTA and other unfair trade concessions.

Michael J. Davis

Essex

Year-round school

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the proposal of year-round schools in Maryland. Though this proposal may on the surface have some economic advantages, the total impact, both financial and emotional, would be detrimental.

The family unit is already highly stressed. With the year-round school and short, three-week breaks throughout the year, the proposal conceivably could have each of our children on different cycles and my wife, who is a teacher, on a third.

What consideration would be given to students and teachers who participate in swim teams or scout camps, or to those that need the income from summer jobs?

What about the teachers who also use their summers to take additional college courses or attend workshops so that they can meet the additional demands of our educational system?

Governor William Donald Schaefer and other political hopefuls are moving far too quickly in their attempt to implement a program that could have a devastating affect on families and businesses in Maryland.

It's time to put politics aside and come up with a plan that does not erode the family unit or traditional values.

Gregory W. Hunter

Cockeysville

Failed drug policy

A few years ago Mayor Kurt Schmoke came up with a good idea when he acknowledged the obvious fact that the war against drugs is simply not working and that some form of decriminalization is in order.

Last spring he appointed a working group on drug policy to find ways to bring his theory to reality. Unfortunately, the working group reduced his theory almost to irrelevancy.

I say "almost" only because few knowledgeable people oppose needle exchange programs -- which have succeeded elsewhere in reducing HIV infection. Arresting and prosecuting drug "kingpins" is even popular.

Advocating treatment instead of jail makes sense -- even though most judges are already offering addicts the option when available. But most addicts are arrested for theft or other crimes.

It is always safe to advocate better training for health professionals -- but so what? Finally, the expansion of methadone program is a dull, double edged sword. While it naturally reduces the addict's addiction to heroin, methadone is even more addictive.

What do any of these do-good "solutions" have to do with the bloody turf wars which terrorize our inner city? Absolutely nothing. This commission was looking for answers that would sell politically, those solutions that could make a real difference.

So long as it is profitable, people will sell drugs. So long as alternative employment opportunities are unlikely, people will sell drugs. So long as the competition cannot be legally regulated, sellers will have turf wars, and the murder rate will continue to spiral upward.

There are only two ways to put a serious dent in the problem. In the short run we must take the profits out of drugs.

There are several ways to do this, but they all boil down to the fact that if we can set up methadone clinics we can also set up heroin clinics. It's really as simple as that. That would end the turf wars and eliminate the incentive of drug merchants to make addicts of what they hope will become future customers.

In the long run, to eliminate the desperate desire for reality-numbing drugs we must restructure our society through effective grass roots democratic control of the economy to provide a decent life for all of us.

When enough Baltimoreans are serious enough -- we will build such a movement.

A. Robert Kaufman

Baltimore

English should be spelled the way it sounds

Educators say that schools are going to put more emphasis on logical thinking. The new teaching buzz-word is "thinking skills," and it almost makes a lot of sense.

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