The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Return of the Gilded Age

I've been referring to this administration as being a throwback to the days of the robber baron for years now. Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff are pretty good examples, with their backroom deals in the Marianas islands-- forced laborers in sweat shops creating goods that say 'Made in America.' Then there's Cheney and Halliburton's war profiteering.

Now comes another attempt by the administration to put quick profits ahead of human rights. It's all too familiar.

The Labor Department worked for more than a year to maintain secrecy for studies that were critical of working conditions in Central America, the region the Bush administration wants in a new trade pact.

The contractor hired by the department in 2002 to conduct the studies has become a major opponent of the administration's proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA.

The government-paid studies concluded that countries proposed for free-trade status have poor working environments and fail to protect workers' rights. The department dismissed the conclusions as inaccurate and biased, according to government and contractor documents reviewed by The Associated Press. . . .

In a summary of its findings, the organization wrote, "In practice, labor laws on the books in Central America are not sufficient to deter employers from violations, as actual sanctions for violations of the law are weak or nonexistent."

The conclusions contrast with the administration's arguments that Central American countries have made enough progress on such issues to warrant the free-trade deal.

Just another case of the White House claiming that up is down to get more money for rich cronies.