Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

MAI: Free-Trade Issue to Divide Democrats

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

MAI: Free-Trade Issue to Divide Democrats

Article excerpt

I am puzzled by the article "Democrats' Values Moving to Suburbs" (Aug. 27). Why didn't your story alert the public to the issue that will really cause dissension in the party - President Clinton's plan to "fast track" the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) through Congress this September?

If successful, this un-democratic agreement will directly affect consumers all over the world. It will give corporations, especially trans-national corporations, the right to put the financial interests of shareholders ahead of consumer rights. MAI will allow them to sue governments directly for perceived infringements of their corporate right to seek the highest return on their investment. MAI has been nicknamed "NAFTA on steroids."

Surely, it's the media's responsibility to advise tax-paying consumers, who will be affected by this legislation before its too late.

Already, the European Commission has seen fit to initiate a suit against the Massachusetts Burma selective purchasing law under the provisions of the WTO agreement on Government Procurement. Under the law, the Commonwelath of Massachusetts has agreed to not purchase items made in Burma.

Isn't this incredible? A group of European bureaucrats using an obscure provision of a WTO treaty to dictate how a state legislature should spend its taxpayers' money! I fear that this kind of unfair and unwarranted attack on our democratic system would be only too common under MAI.

This sort of global greed lubricates a race to the bottom, political unrest, and environmental disaster.

Paul Brailsford

Ipswich, Mass.

Liberal press goes against the tide

The article "News Media Seek Credibility" (Aug. 27), on the continuing decline in American newspaper readership and the shrinking attention the public gives the news media, has a notable statement: It advises journalists to regain their "essential mission {of} giving the public the information it needs to navigate in a democratic society."

A factor in the declines has surely been that too many journalists think it is their mission to further a Democrat (capital D) society. …

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