I have long admired your weekly and appreciate your endorsement in several of my races for Congress. You are, of course, entitled to disagree with my votes, but in “A Rich Defection” [August 2–8]John Seeley overlooks some pertinent history and misstates some facts.
My recent vote for Trade Promotion Authority was a tough one for me. Your article fails to state that TPA was strongly supported by former President Bill Clinton, whose administration urged its renewal when it expired in 1994. I voted for TPA in 1997, but opposed the House bill last December because the Bush administration refused to include generous trade-adjustment benefits for displaced workers. In contrast, the House-Senate agreement I supported on July 27 includes $1 billion per year in retraining, wage assistance and health care for an expanded group of workers displaced by trade — the largest-ever improvement in trade assistance, nearly tripling the current program.
Your article also fails to note that I opposed NAFTA when considered by Congress in 1993 in an up-or-down vote (TPA was then in effect). I felt then, and still do, that NAFTA was unfair to U.S. and Mexican workers, and I stood up to enormous pressure from my own party.
The article hints that my “defection” on TPA was intended to help Harman International, the firm my husband founded and still leads, in its effort to “move” jobs to Mexico. First, why would I have opposed NAFTA if I wanted to help move jobs to Mexico? Second, Harman International has acquired several companies in Mexico (in Juarez and Tijuana) in order to meet Mexican domestic-content requirements, but at the same time, has increased manufacturing and service jobs in the U.S.
Regarding environmental and labor standards, the article quotes an uninformed representative of Ralph Nader’s group. In fact, TPA fully adopts the standards in the U.S.-Jordan Trade Agreement, where both parties agreed not to degrade existing labor and environmental standards and to strive for the labor standards articulated by the International Labor Organization and for similar improvements in environmental protection. TPA makes it clear that Jordan is the model for every free-trade agreement that we negotiate — a big step forward.
Lastly, the article ignores the realities of the trade-dependent district I represent where LAX and the Port of Los Angeles are huge economic multipliers. The Port of Los Angeles and neighboring Port of Long Beach moved $175 billion worth of cargo last year and accounted for 500,000 trade-related jobs in the region, including many union jobs. The Los Angeles Customs District is the nation’s second largest, based on the value of two-way trade. In 2001, this totaled $212.5 billion, compared with $214.1 billion of the first place New York. Thus, I see firsthand in my district the thousands of good American jobs — including union jobs — made possible by access to foreign markets.
My goal is to help more Americans qualify for the jobs of the future — reclaiming sectors of manufacturing as a dominant American activity, while incorporating 21st-century technology to assure we are competitive. This can only happen if America participates in global trade rather than shuns it.
—Jane Harman U.S. Representative 36th District, California
A LOUDER SHADE OF GREEN
Micah L. Sifry’s piece on the Green Party’s failure to capitalize on the current state of corporate scandal [“Too Green for a Golden Opportunity,” July 26–August 1] is a bit unfair. The mainstream media simply don’t want to promote the fact that Nader’s campaign platform is being exposed as prophetic, or that the Green Party has emerged from 2000 as a stronger political force.
Sifry is right. Much more can be done, and I hope Peter Camejo took heed from the column. The Greens should be louder, prouder and bolder. A true grassroots party shouldn’t have to play by the corporate media’s rules to get noticed. However, that doesn’t mean that the mainstream press doesn’t have a responsibility to provide meaningful and objective coverage of the Green Party — and they happen to be failing miserably in their duty.
The article “A Platter of Prejudice” by Marc B. Haefele [August 2–8] basically says everyone has to agree with his dictums or else they’re evil racists. This is an example of the “Since when have you stopped beating your wife?” school of discussion. Meanwhile, a key fact about astronomer Ben Zuckerman gets â omitted. Ben Zuckerman just got elected to the Sierra Club board of directors, and got the largest number of votes in the election. And Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization (SUSPS), the Sierra Club faction that Ben Zuckerman belongs to, just got 46 percent of the votes in a club referendum they promoted, so it’s hardly a “rogue faction.” It’s hard to believe that 46 percent of the members of the Sierra Club are racists, and it’s unprofessional to make these kinds of charges.
The fact is that Los Angeles and California are crowded places as they are. Unlimited immigration means packing more cars onto freeways and surface streets, and driving up housing prices. Traffic will just get worse and worse if unlimited immigration continues. Unlimited immigration also means that many workers won’t be able to escape poverty, since employers can always bring in foreign labor to do their jobs cheaper. And it means that workers over 50 will be toast as corporations bring in younger foreign workers to replace them.