Perot's NAFTA Prophecy Not So Crazy

I agree with the author of the Opinion page article "Perot's Disservice to NAFTA's Opponents," July 20, that "there are legitimate reasons to challenge the North American Free Trade Agreement." But I am disenchanted by his willingness to disregard the effect NAFTA would have on United States employment.

The author seems convinced by arguments that NAFTA will increase jobs. Yet in its recent report, "A Budgetary and Economic Analysis of NAFTA," the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the economic models widely used by NAFTA supporters "tend to be weak or inappropriate for analyzing macroeconomic issues such as unemployment and trade deficits." According to the CBO, even its own economic model of NAFTA gives "predictions of employment effects [that] are not particularly useful."

With little to learn from economic models, we must look to history for guidance. Under the US-Mexico Free Trade Zone, which is a kind of mini-NAFTA, hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs in the US have been lost to low-wage workers in Mexico. These lost jobs represent not only personal tragedies, but a fiscal and social burden on hundreds of communities across our nations. NAFTA would do nothing to stanch this flow, and would in all likelihood increase the rate at which we are losing precious jobs.

Yes, we must examine closely such issues as NAFTA's silence on Mexico's record of labor and environmental violations. But we cannot afford to concede the jobs debate to the shaky claims of NAFTA's supporters.

Two thousand corporate relocations to Mexico and hundreds of thousands of lost US jobs to date must not be ignored. American jobs must not be sacrificed on a promise. US Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) of Ohio Eighties era off the hook?

Regarding the Opinion page article "Getting It Right on the Deficit," July 2: The author states that the biggest jump in federal spending as a share of GDP was not during the Reagan administration. This may be true, but the statement is misleading.

During most of the Reagan years the economy was booming, so naturally federal spending would look minuscule as a percentage of GDP. Promising to balance the budget, President Reagan cut income taxes while spending billions on defense projects that generated unprecedented deficits.

It was after the economy cooled off in the late 1980s that federal spending (which must always grow somewhat regardless of the state of the economy) as a percentage of GDP looked enormous. During the Reagan administration, the national debt increased from $907 billion to $2.6 trillion - this in a time of economic expansion.

Bending the facts will not help our financial predicament. Much of the prosperity of the 1980s was nurtured by massive deficit spending, and the bill has now come due. Richard D. Soule, Vista, Calif. A violent and divided left

It is good to see that the Monitor has not forgotten that an important election is coming up in El Salvador. However, the front-page article "For Salvadoran Left, Peace Proves to Hold as Many Battles as War," July 12, gives the impression that divisions on the left are a new phenomenon in El Salvador - as if leftists had been unified during the war.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Salvadoran poet and guerrilla leader, Roque Dalton, was killed by a rival comandante in 1975. So was Salvador Cayetano Carpio, the so-called Ho Chi Minh of Central America, in 1983.

These are only the most prominent examples of internal bloodletting. Unity was always surface level, demanded by Fidel Castro in exchange for military aid. With the cold war over and the left now positioning for elections, it is hardly surprising that old divisions are still making unity elusive. Matthew Shugart, La Jolla, Calif. Professor, Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies University of California at San Diego

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