I’m an American citizen born and raised and I make my living driving a truck on interstate routes. And here I thought maybe I had the one job safe from outsourcing. Wrong. Very few jobs are.
Now before I go any further, I have not lost my job, but if things go as planned American truck drivers will lose jobs.
The reason is a little publicized, although not altogether unreported, part of the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA. It is a program to allow Mexican trucks into the U.S., and not just to let them deliver to spots on the border but well into the interior.
There had been a pilot program or programs previously, but then due to opposition within the United States it was shut down or at least postponed.
In retaliation, Mexico raised tariffs on various goods coming into that country.
But now it is reported the program is set to begin again.
But here is the deal, as far as I can see it:
Customers who pay for freight see this as a way to bring down freight rates and major over-the-road trucking companies would like to be able to recruit drivers right in Mexico. They would not even have to worry whether they are American citizens. Then they could pay substandard wages or at least reduce the pressure on themselves to keep wages in line with a decent standard of living under U.S. standards.
I read an editorial in the Dallas Morning News lauding the agreement. That editorial tried to make it sound as if the Mexican truck agreement would make things more efficient — goods would not have to transfer at the border and such. It also made it sound as if it was just organized labor against it.
Well I am not a Teamster and neither are most or all over-the-road truckers. But I do haul a lot of loads to and from the border. I like having my American job and do not want to give it up to those from without my country — I’m sure there are plenty of loads to haul in their own country.
Another laughable part of this whole arrangement, if it were not so serious, is that American trucks could go into Mexico. Oh sure, like I want to go into a completely lawless nation that not only has highway thieves, but corrupt law enforcement.
I talked to a Mexican truck driver once. He said that sometimes you drive down the highway in that country and the police pull you over and demand money (for no violation whatsoever). And we all know about the ongoing violence down there caused by the drug cartels — no one is safe.
Besides, I don’t want to even drive into peaceful Canada. I just want to stay right here in my own country and make a living.
Somehow I think there would still be the usual bureaucracy at the border for inspections and such. And while there may or may not be any increase in efficiency of hauling freight from a point in Mexico to within the U.S., any savings would be offset by the loss of American jobs.
There is nothing wrong with dropping trade barriers in and of itself, but when we start outsourcing American jobs, that is another thing.
In addition, I have seen Mexican trucks on the border. They are not often in the best of shape. While supposedly these trucks will be inspected this side of the border, I am not sure the politics that allowed them to come in in the first place will not get in the way of thorough inspections.
In addition, allowing Mexican trucks to cross the border and proceed into the interior offers another way for drug cartels to smuggle their contraband into the U.S.
Our nation’s trade policies have made it so most everything is no longer made here; it is made elsewhere and shipped back in. Millions have lost their jobs that way.
Now they even want to outsource the American transportation system that brings those goods to us.
There is plenty of blame to go around; The history of NAFTA began with Republican president George H.W. Bush, and then I believe was eventually signed by Democrat Bill Clinton, carried on by Republican George W. Bush, and now Democrat Barrack Obama.
Thanks for doing what you can to keep me employed I say to all of these gentlemen and all of the legislators who had a hand in NAFTA, but with friends like you I don‘t need enemies.
There is a current effort to delay and/or rescind the Mexican trucking program. I have contacted my congressman and U.S. senators to let them know my feelings.
But even if you are not a trucker, you can see how the powers that be care not whether you have a means to make a living or not.
And once Mexican trucks are allowed into the interior they won’t just haul loads from a point in Mexico to a point in the U.S. and straight back. The reality of this business is that they will crisscross the nation in search of loads, just as all or most interstate trucking does.
Free trade done right would enrich the economies of both nations, creating jobs for the respective workers in those nations. This is not the way to do it.
I have to admit that Canadian truckers have long run our roads. But Canada is more compatible with us due to its peaceful culture and rule of law and its stability, and we don’t need to add to the competition for American jobs now anyway.
P.s. P.s. P.s.
And I am not anti-Mexican. In fact I get along with Spanish speakers whom I deal with fine, especially the ones on the border. A lot of people have jobs now on both sides of the border thanks to our continued trade that pre-dated NAFTA. Why try to fix (or ruin) something that works for us in the U.S. (and Mexico).
And while I don’t think this story in the link I provide adequately covers things, it does give some points of view, not all of which I share: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/worldbusiness/first-mexican-truck-to-enter-us-in-coming-days-congressmen-say-program-puts-safety-at-risk/2011/10/19/gIQApnw3xL_story_1.html