Friday, July 1, 2005

Find comfort where we may

I went to the river today, as I often do, to bury my sorrows. I work just a block away from the Ohio River and it is a source of comfort for me to take respite along her banks when I can.

I was stirred to grief the first thing this morning because I read that CAFTA had passed in the Senate. It remains to be seen whether or not it will pass in the House, but it troubles me that it's made it this far.

For those familiar with Kentucky, it will go without saying that all of my “representatives” support CAFTA.

In case you're not familiar with it, CAFTA is the Central American Free Trade Agreement, a sister to NAFTA, which we made with Mexico and Canada thanks to an idiotic Clinton (equal opportunity criticism here).

While the notion of Free Trade might seem a good thing on the surface, in fact these free trade agreements have been written by and for corporations. So, inasmuch as you think “What's good for Ford is good for America,” FTAs are a good thing.

If, on the other hand, you think we ought to have protections for the environment, for workers, and for local and national sovreignty, FTAs are a source of great concern because they break down protections. Free Trade Agreements have induced what has been called a “race to the bottom.” That is, whichever country is willing and able to offer the lowest pay to workers with the fewest environmental protections get rewarded with industries.

But, I didn't sit down to vent about so-called free trade, I sat to write about the river. Although much abused by us, the Ohio has been rolling her way to the Mississippi and on to the ocean for a mighty long time.

There is something compelling in her presence when I'm there. Her lapping waters slowly bounce up against the shore near my feet and then carry on. The warmth of this new July day seems measured and mollified by the Ohio, here at her shore.

Needing to go on to work, I stood and tried to leave behind my concerns in her gentle rolling waters below. Before I left, I noticed a mallard flying across my path, swooping inches above the water, on and on and on down the river 'til she eventually laid her body down, embraced by the Ohio. I feel the embrace, as well, and it is good.

Take me to the River

That's my final prayer

Take me to the River

And lay my body there

I want to lie in the Ohi-O my

So take me to the river when I die.


Sky Niangua said...

Sharing your sadness over another bad decision for our country and her people.
The little river that runs alongside my house is a teardrop compared to the mighty Ohio *but* I love Her just the same. She is always here to listen and provide.

Big smiles to you :o)

Dan Trabue said...

Waters are magic. They are God's graceful reminder to us that life goes on. And to have one run alongside your home, ah, what cool delight that must bring!

lené said...

Thanks for the heads up on CAFTA. I haven't been keeping up with the news lately. Interesting. I'm glad there's a place for you to connect to something more real than policy.

Dr. Mike Kear said...

Great article, Dan. Thanks for posting it.



Eleutheros said...

NAFTA is an entirely and unmixed bad thing. Land ownership in Mexico isn't what it is here, although in its own way it has been good for the people. In the land reformation of decades ago, families hold farmland so long as it stays in production. NAFTA flooded Mexico with subsidized corn so cheap the local farmers couldn't compete. In order to run their farms at a loss and keep them in the family, family members must come here and work and send the money back to Mexico. (documentation on this for anyone who is interested) That's why we have so many Mexicans among us now. Even here in the backwater rural mountains of Tennessee we have so many Mexicans that we have Tiendas everywhere, a Spanish newspaper, and programs in Spanish on the local public radio station. I don't have a thing to say amiss about the lot of them. Fine decent folk as far as I can tell and I wish them all well, bienvenidos! But the circumstances that put them here are shameful. Can CAFTA be any better? No chance.

Dan Trabue said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Dan Trabue said...

Eleutheros, you are right on. I know that there are many US citizens opposed to NAFTA and now CAFTA because they fear we'll lose jobs. And rightly so. What many fail to realize that this is no boon for our trading partners as well.

These FTAs are designed to help corporations by people who believe that if corporations are doing well, then the people will do well, too. It ain't true.

Here's a nifty little tidbit about NAFTA. One of its articles - Chapter 11 - allows corporations to sue states and countries if the state's actions interferes with the corporations profits! This has already happened and the courts have sided with the corporations because NAFTA made it legal.

What this means is that if a city enacts ordinances to have cleaner air or streams, and that ordinance negatively affects a corporation's bottom line, they can sue and win.

For a chart of these cases: