Published on Monday, February 27, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
When Americans No Longer Own America
by Thom Hartmann

The Dubai Ports World deal is waking Americans up to a painful reality:
So-called "conservatives" and "flat world" globalists have bankrupted our
nation for their own bag of silver, and in the process are selling off America.

Through a combination of the "Fast Track" authority pushed for by Reagan
and GHW Bush, sweetheart trade deals involving "most favored nation
status" for dictatorships like China, and Clinton pushing us into NAFTA and
the WTO (via GATT), we've abandoned the principles of tariff-based trade
that built American industry and kept us strong for over 200 years.

The old concept was that if there was a dollar's worth of labor in a pair of
shoes made in the USA, and somebody wanted to import shoes from China
where there may only be ten cents worth of labor in those shoes, we'd level
the playing field for labor by putting a 90-cent import tariff on each pair of
shoes. Companies could choose to make their products here or overseas, but
the ultimate cost of labor would be the same.
Then came the flat-worlders, led by misguided true believers and promoted by multinational corporations. Do away with
those tariffs, they said, because they "restrain trade." Let everything in, and tax nothing. The result has been an explosion of
cheap goods coming into our nation, and the loss of millions of good manufacturing jobs and thousands of manufacturing
companies. Entire industry sectors have been wiped out.

These policies have kneecapped the American middle class. Our nation's
largest employer has gone from being the unionized General Motors to the
poverty-wages Wal-Mart. Americans have gone from having a net savings
rate around 10 percent in the 1970s to a minus .5 percent in 2005 - meaning
that they're going into debt or selling off their assets just to maintain their
lifestyle.

At the same time, federal policy has been to do the same thing at a national
level. Because our so-called "free trade" policies have left us with an over
$700 billion annual trade deficit, other countries are sitting on huge piles of
the dollars we gave them to buy their stuff (via Wal-Mart and other "low
cost" retailers). But we no longer manufacture anything they want to buy
with those dollars.

So instead of buying our manufactured goods, they are doing what we used
to do with Third World nations - they are buying us, the USA, chunk by
chunk. In particular, they want to buy things in America that will continue to
produce profits, and then to take those profits overseas where they're
invested to make other nations strong. The "things" they're buying are, by
and large, corporations, utilities, and natural resources.

Back in the pre-Reagan days, American companies made profits that were
distributed among Americans. They used their profits to build more
factories, or diversify into other businesses. The profits stayed in America.
Today, foreigners awash with our consumer dollars are on a
two-decades-long buying spree. The UK's BP bought Amoco for
$48 billion - now Amoco's profits go to England. Deutsche
Telekom bought VoiceStream Wireless, so their profits go to
Germany, which is where most of the profits from Random House,
Allied Signal, Chrysler, Doubleday, Cyprus Amax's US Coal
Mining Operations, GTE/Sylvania, and Westinghouse's Power
Generation profits go as well. Ralston Purina's profits go to
Switzerland, along with Gerber's; TransAmerica's profits go to The
Netherlands, while John Hancock Insurance's profits go to Canada.
Even American Bankers Insurance Group is owned now by Fortis
AG in Belgium.

Foreign companies are buying up our water systems, our power
generating systems, our mines, and our few remaining factories. All
because "flat world" so-called "free trade" policies have turned us
from a nation of wealthy producers into a nation of indebted
consumers, leaving the world awash in dollars that are most easily
used to buy off big chunks of America. As
http://www.economyincrisis.com/ notes, US Government statistics
indicate the following percentages of foreign ownership of American
industry:
· Sound recording
industries - 97%
· Commodity
contracts dealing
and brokerage -
79%
· Motion picture
and sound
recording
industries - 75%
· Metal
ore mining
- 65%
· Motion
picture and
video
industries -
64%
· Wineries
and
distilleries -
64%
· Database,
directory, and
other publishers -
63%
· Book
publishers -
63%
· Cement,
concrete, lime,
and gypsum
product - 62%
· Engine, turbine and
power transmission
equipment - 57%
· Rubber
product - 53%
· Nonmetallic
mineral product
manufacturing - 53%
· Plastics and rubber
products
manufacturing - 52%
· Plastics
product - 51%
· Other
insurance
related
activities - 51%
· Boiler, tank,
and shipping
container - 50%
· Glass and
glass
product -
48%
· Coal
mining -
48%
· Sugar and
confectionery
product - 48%
· Nonmetallic
mineral mining and
quarrying - 47%
· Advertising
and related
services -
41%
· Pharmaceutical and
medicine - 40%
· Clay,
refractory, and
other nonmetallic
mineral products
- 40%
· Securities
brokerage - 38%
· Other general
purpose
machinery - 37%
· Audio and video
equipment mfg and
reproducing
magnetic and
optical media - 36%
· Support
activities for
mining - 36%
· Soap, cleaning
compound, and
toilet preparation -
32%
· Chemical
manufacturing - 30%
· Industrial
machinery - 30%
· Securities,
commodity
contracts, and other
financial investments
and related activities
- 30%
· Other
food -
29%
· Motor
vehicles and
parts - 29%
· Machinery
manufacturing - 28%
· Other electrical
equipment and
component - 28%
· Securities and
commodity
exchanges and other
financial investment
activities - 27%
· Architectural,
engineering, and related
services - 26%
· Credit card
issuing and
other
consumer
credit - 26%
· Petroleum
refineries (including
integrated) - 25%
· Navigational,
measuring,
electromedical, and
control instruments -
25%
· Petroleum and coal
products
manufacturing - 25%
· Transportation
equipment
manufacturing - 25%
· Commercial
and service
industry
machinery - 25%
· Basic
chemical -
24%
· Investment
banking and
securities dealing
- 24%
· Semiconductor
and other electronic
component - 23%
· Paint,
coating, and
adhesive -
22%
· Printing and
related support
activities - 21%
· Chemical
product and
preparation -
20%
· Iron, steel
mills, and
steel
products -
20%
· Agriculture,
construction, and
mining machinery - 20%
· Publishing
industries - 20%
· Medical
equipment and
supplies - 20%
Thus it shouldn't surprise us that the
cons have sold off our ports as well,
and will defend it to the bitter end.
They truly believe that a "New
World Order" with multinational
corporations in charge instead of
sovereign governments will be the
answer to the problem of world
instability. And therefore they must
do away with quaint things like
unions, a healthy middle class, and,
ultimately, democracy.

The "security" implications of turning
our ports over to the UAE are just
the latest nail in what the cons hope
will be the coffin of American
democracy and the American
middle class. Today's conservatives
believe in rule by inherited wealth
and an internationalist corporate
elite, and things like a politically
aroused citizenry and a healthy
democracy are pesky distractions.
Everything today is driven by profits for multinationals, supported by the lawmaking power of the WTO. Thus, parts for our
missiles are now made in China, a country that last year threatened us with nuclear weapons. Our oil comes from a country
that birthed a Wahabist movement that ultimately led to 14 Saudi citizens flying jetliners into the World Trade buildings and
the Pentagon. Germans now own the Chrysler auto assembly lines that turned out tanks to use against Germany in WWII.
And the price of labor in America is being held down by over ten million illegal workers, a situation that was impossible
twenty-five years ago when unions were the first bulwark against dilution of the American labor force.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote of King George III in the Declaration of
Independence, "He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction
foreign to our constitutions and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his
assent to their acts of pretended legislation…" he just as easily could have
been writing of the World Trade Organization, which now has the legal
authority to force the United States to overturn laws passed at both local,
state, and federal levels with dictates devised by tribunals made up of
representatives of multinational corporations. If Dubai loses in the American
Congress, their next stop will almost certainly be the WTO.
As Simon Romero and Heather Timmons
noted in The New York Times on 24
February 2006, "the international shipping
business has evolved in recent years to
include many more containers with
consumer goods, in addition to
old-fashioned bulk commodities, and that
has helped lift profit margins to 30 percent,
from the single digits. These smartly
managed foreign operators now manage
about 80 percent of port terminals in the
United States."

And those 30 percent profits from
American port operations now going to
Great Britain will probably soon go to the
United Arab Emirates, a nation with tight
interconnections to both the Bush
administration and the Bush family.
Ultimately, it's not about security --
it's about money. In the
multinational corporatocracy's "flat
world," money trumps the national
good, community concerns, labor
interests, and the environment.
NAFTA, CAFTA, and WTO
tribunals can - and regularly do -
strike down local and national laws.
Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man"
are replaced by Antonin Scalia's
"Rights of Corporate Persons."

Profits even trump the desire for
good enough port security to avoid
disasters that may lead to war.
After all, as Judith Miller wrote in
The New York Times on January
30, 1991, quoting a local in Saudi
Arabia: "War is good for business."
Thom Hartmann is a Project
Censored Award-winning
best-selling author of over a dozen
books and the host of a nationally
syndicated noon-3pm ET daily
progressive talk show syndicated by
Air America Radio.
http://www.thomhartmann.com/ His
most recent books are "What Would
Jefferson Do?" and Ultimate Sacrifice.