Free Trade vs. Economic Human Rights: Why NAFTA and the WTO Don't Work for Working Americans
I was intrigued by the concept of economic human rights because of its departure from the traditional view of poverty as an unconquerable reality, and of the poor as patients whom charities and international bodies should save out of pity. The language of the ICESCR emphasizes the right of all people to provide life's essentials to themselves and their families, rather than having those essentials provided for them by an outside entity. Necessities of life such as adequate food, clothing, housing, health care, and a decent job should not be seen as luxury goods for which people should compete on the open market, but rather as essentials off life to which all people are entitled. I theme that I felt I needed to explore was the connections between the different components of the Global South. I spent the last year in Thailand studying development policy and its effects on poverty in the third world, and in conjunction with this project I became interested in the ways that the same development policies that impoverish poor countries also impoverish the poor in rich countries. A small global corporate and political elite is making the policy decisions that effect the entire world, and the vast majority of the world is getting poorer while the global elite amass nearly unimaginable wealth. I believe that the time has come for a reevaluation of those policies, and that economic human rights are a natural base for the reorganization of the global economy.