Document Type


Publication Title

The Humanist


American Humanist Association and the American Ethical Union

Publication Date


Publisher location

Buffalo, NY

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Abstract/ Summary

The proposed North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico is the logical and perhaps inevitable extension of the 1989 Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Canada. Both agreements are controversial, and massive public opposition exists in all three countries—for good reasons, as we shall see. The citizens of these three nations have never been provided with a credible explanation of the need for NAFTA. Contrary to the proclamations of NAFTA's proponents, there are no guarantees that the supposed benefits ofthe free trade agreement will be realized, nor is it clear who will gain and who will lose. The potential long-term economic benefits are merely assumed to exceed the short-term adjustment costs, so that everybody will eventually gain (the so-called "win-win" scenario). How this will occur is a mystery, since there are no provisions in the agreement for the potential winners to compensate the potential losers. Once again, the dubious mechanism of "trickle-down" is expected to do the job. Beyond all this, it is debatable whether NAFTA will further free trade at all. In fact, a strict interpretation of the economic theory of free trade, classical or neoclassical, would indicate otherwise. NAFTA can be viewed as yet another official reaction to a deepening global economic crisis, as well as an integral part of the emerging "new world order." Despite widespread democratic opposition, strategies like NAFTA are put on the "fast track" and hurriedly implemented with support from numerous officially sanctioned (and subsidized) reports, but with no open discussion or debate and little time for scholarly analysis or critique. Official domination of information appears to be an essential part of the brave new world order that is unfolding.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Burke, M. (1993). Human Costs of NAFTA. The Humanist, Sept/Oct 53(5), 3-9.

Publisher Statement

© Copyright 1993 by American Humanist Association and the American Ethical Union