Hey have you heard that joke about Canadians? The one where they’re, like, the biggest wimps AND they have socialized medicine? Or maybe you heard that one where their government vowed to help the U.S. in the war on terror, pledged their biggest battle ship, 5000 ground troops, and 10 fighter jets…but after the exchange rate we ended up with four canoes, three Mounties, and two flying squirrels?
We Americans like to make jokes about our neighbors, and, honestly, many of these gags are mean-spirited with a nasty sense of superiority at their heart. But when you look at the reality of today’s world, we are looking more and more delusional with every joke we make.
In February, consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen released a study entitled NAFTA’s 20-Year Legacy and the Fate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership with some infuriating findings. Mostly that the 1994 trade agreement has exceeded the worst case scenarios supposed by NAFTA’s opponents at its signing. In 1994 the U.S. had a trade surplus with Mexico of $2.5 billion. Today our deficit is more than twice that. That doesn’t even count the combined $800 million annual U.S. agricultural trade deficit we share with both our northern and southern neighbors. And this deficit was racked up by the world’s breadbasket?
Real wages in the States haven’t risen since 1972 and are almost equal to what they were 20 years ago. And while the cost of some goods has gone down, that drop hasn’t been enough to offset the stagnant paychecks. And looking south doesn’t look much better: Wages have risen in Mexico, but skyrocketing consumer costs have meant lower real wages for them too. Their rural farmers were hit especially bad; the result being twice the number of Mexican immigrants heading north and over the border. So not only did Americans’ wages stay stagnant, but our tax dollars were dumped into decades of failed immigration policy quite arguably as a direct result of an agreement our government signed on our behalf by questionable means.
It’s a wash: We all got fucked.
Well, the Canadians made out all right. Kind of. Real wages of our gentle northern neighbors have increased slightly over the last decade. And the value of our currencies is basically at parity now.
But we all know who the true beneficiaries of almost all recent economic policy are. And it’s not anybody I actually know.
So, fellow Americans: While we were looking down our noses at an impoverished nation and its hopeful immigrants; and while we were sneering at the value of the Canadian Dollar and its government’s leftist tendencies, we were being plundered. Right along next to them.
Looks like the joke was on all of us.