The Devil's Dictionary of Free-Trade

APEC: The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group, whose 1993 meeting in Seattle sparked the first major protests against a closed-door trade meeting.

conquest: The means by which wealthy, powerful nations formerly subjugated weak, impoverished nations; since replaced by debt.

culture: 1. A form of protectionism (as in "French culture"). 2. A form of trade (as in "popular culture").

debt: A form of subjugation, formerly achieved by conquest.

delinking: Disregarding human rights.

developing nation: Debtor.

Export-Import Bank: 1. The US agency that advances free trade by subsidizing US exporters. 2. The Boeing subsidy.

environment: A nebulous concept inimical and irrelevant to trade discussions.

fair trade: A soft-headed neo-socialist fancy.

free trade: Free for us. You pay.

G-7: Group of Seven; a device by which Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, and Canada are deceived into thinking they, and not just the United States, help run the world.

GATT: (fr. 19th-century Gatling, "multiple rounds indiscriminately targeted," also attrib. to Middle Bureaucratic General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs) Predecessor and progenitor of the WTO, which established the principle that trade trumps environment, labor, and human rights.

globalization: 1. The concentration of the world's wealth in select multinational hands. 2. The promotional use of attractive images of Planet Earth by those multinationals to induce feelings of well-being and security.

harmonization: The elimination of human-rights, environmental, and labor barriers to free trade. Syn. lowest common denominator.

human rights: 1. A distraction. 2. A subject for delinking.

International Monetary Fund: (IMF) The Third World's primary creditor and owner.

intellectual property: Biological traits, folk medicine, and other traditional knowledge to which multinational corporations claim exclusive rights.

level playing field: Conditions favoring our exporters.

Multinational Agreement on Investment (MAI): 1. A scheme to recompense multinational corporations for any governmental interference with their pillaging and polluting. 2. The rare trade measure beaten back by worldwide outrage.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): 1. GATT's hemispheric cousin. 2. Bill Clinton's proudest triumph and Ross Perot's most memorable target. See a giant sucking sound.

most favored nation status (MFN): Trade privileges that US Senator Henry Jackson denied the Soviet Union until it allowed Jewish emigration; delinked from human rights by President Bill Clinton and Senator Patty Murray. See delinking.

protectionism: Other nations' health, environment, and labor standards.

trade: 1. A cult. 2. A paranoid obsession, whose object seems to embody the sum total of war, pestilence, famine, and all other human evils. 3. The procedure by which wealthy nations lend poor nations money to enable them to cease producing goods useful to themselves and instead produce goods desired by the wealthy nations, which then provide the poor nations the goods they need at much higher prices. 4. Baseball, diplomacy: A compulsory transfer.

Uruguay Round: 1. The final round of GATT negotiations, which launched the WTO and the attack on human-rights, labor, and environmental laws as trade barriers. 2. For participants, a pre-Seattle state of blissful neglect, absent rabble-rousers and public exposure. Syn. the good old days.

World Bank: 1. An organization established to spend as much money as possible on large projects in Third World Nations with as little public benefit, as much environmental damage, and as much profit for local dictators and international corporations as possible. 2. Good cop to IMF's bad cop.

World Trade Organization (WTO): 1. The world trade court, deputed to both regulate and deregulate trade. 2. A Trilateral Commission for the rest of us.

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