A glorious feature of our world, poets and artists remind us, is the bountiful array of different shades, colors and hues of the human race. Our differences are truly worth celebrating. How dull and boring to all be of the same spirit.
“To such an extent does nature delight and abound in variety,” Leonardo da Vinci poetically acclaimed 500 years ago.
Alas, in our time, the great Renaissance master would be greatly dismayed to discover, it is giant corporations and uber-rich investors that abound and it is where varieties and differences among us are enjoyed only to the extent that they can be exploited.
This is vividly displayed in the Free Trade discussions now being choreographed in Washington by President Barack Obama.
Behind all the false rhetoric of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), there are substantial differences in our world that U.S. corporations are very eager to take advantage of – their greater access to capital, their more advanced technology, their vast marketing networks and their globally integrated distribution chains.
Very impressive differences, indeed, but what really whets the appetite of investors most are the wide variety of labor costs across borders.
This is very essence of underdevelopment, the haunting legacy of colonialism and imperialism, and where 2.2 billion people lived on less than US $2 a day in 2011.
And, it is they who have been targeted for even further exploitation. Free Trade is, in fact, the new colonialism.
Dreadful social conditions, exacerbated by grotesquely underpaid labor, provides fertile ground for industrialized countries to expand tenfold their other superior assets. It is, therefore, totally appropriate and commendable to add international labor standards to Free Trade agreements as many “Fair Trade” activists advocate.