Downside to Beefing Up Argentina's Economy

"Argentina - Where the Wind Comes Sweepin' Down the Plain" (Nov. 26) seemed to overemphasize the positive effects of beef exports on Argentina's economy. While increasing exports does bring some money into the economy, it is funneled into the hands of already wealthy, elite cattle ranchers.

Examples of developing nations show us that when the affluent elite pocket all the profits from exports, it does not benefit their country because the money does not even stay there. It is stored in foreign savings accounts or used to purchase luxury items from abroad such as fancy cars, name-brand clothing, personal computers, or shopping trips to the US.

On the surface, encouraging beef exports sounds like an easy and wonderful opportunity to further develop the Argentine economy. Unfortunately, exporting luxury crops such as beef has a tendency to put profits into the hands of few, causing capital flight, not real growth.

Tara Boedeker

St. Peter, Minn.

Gustavus Adolphus College

The economic growth in Argentina is just another example of the US exploiting the natural resources of a nation. The Argentine people are being robbed of opportunities that could help empower them. According to Bread for the World, one in five people in the world goes hungry every day. This statistic is due to the over-consuming nature of the US and other Western nations who use 87 percent of the world's GNP.

The number of foreign investors in Argentina has increased substantially in the last couple of years, keeping local farmers from being able to expand their productivity because prices have become too high. This type of development does not help a nation, but rather impoverishes the people living there. If the US is trying to help lead the world into the 21st century, then the US needs to take a look at the implications of the development strategies it encourages.

Fredrik Palm

St. Peter, Minn.

Trade will survive without fast track

Regarding the opinion-page article "What the Administration Can Do To Make Up for the Loss of Fast Track" (Nov. 28): While the mainstream media has enthusiastically supported fast track, echoing the assertions of business leaders and the Clinton administration and marginalizing criticism, I expect better of my Monitor.

Opposition to renewing fast-track authority is not opposition to international trade. Opponents want fair trade agreements that will protect people as well as capital. Please present the whole story of fast track.

Robert W. Zimmerer

Sun City, Ariz.

Labor too easily labeled

Your editorial "Clinton's Big Traffic Jam" (Nov. 28) gleefully states that the "fund-raising scandal that may be spreading from the Teamsters Union to the AFL-CIO could undermine the militancy of Democratic congressional opposition" to fast-track trade authority, among other things.

When politicians are involved in fundraising improprieties, that's just politics. When corporations use their financial power in an illicit manner to influence legislation, well, that's just business.

But when a leader of one union that comprises about 10 percent of AFL-CIO membership is embroiled in a fund-raising scandal, all of organized labor is portrayed as corrupt. The mainstream press and its right-wing Republican cohorts aim for the jugular of the entire union movement.

Are those who support fast track and other neoliberal policies really that concnerned about "corruption" within the labor movement? Or do they simply recognize that portraying organized labor as "corrupt" is a convenient way to remove an obstacle to the policies that they wish to implement?

Justin Delacour


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