- The Washington Times - Friday, May 13, 2005

Looking out for our best interests

Juan Carlos Pereira’s column (“CAFTA Cornucopia,” Commentary, Thursday), was most revealing. The claim that CAFTA will open new markets for American exports was his third and last argument, denoting its weakness. With a combined gross domestic product no greater than that of New Haven, Conn., the six CAFTA countries are too small and poor to be high-value consumers. Per capita GDP is only about one-seventh that of the United States.

Mr. Pereira devotes most of his column to the CAFTA countries as low-wage places to outsource work, “a ‘near South’ alternative to the Far East for labor-intensive manufacturing and services operations.” Its use will not even be confined to American firms. He cites “a Japanese-Mexican joint venture between Yazaki Corp. and Mexico’s Xignux group” making auto parts in Nicaragua for export to the United States. This is one of the loopholes in CAFTA that allows outside foreign firms free access to the U.S. market in direct competition with American companies.

His second main argument is about geopolitics. While it is refreshing to see something more realistic and practical than “free trade” used in debate, CAFTA is not the answer to the flood of Chinese goods that have burst forth since global textile quotas ended.

The World Bank concluded that CAFTA-like preferences will not be sufficient to replace the quota system, given that Chinese workers are both cheaper and more productive than Central American workers. To stop China will require that tariffs or quotas be levied directly on Chinese goods.

The real problem with CAFTA is that it is simply more of the same policy that gave us a $617 billion trade deficit last year and most likely a $720 billion deficit this year. It’s time to rethink U.S. trade strategy, not ratify another bad deal.

WILLIAM R. HAWKINS

Senior fellow

U.S. Business and Industry Council

Washington

Helle Dale’s column “Defending free trade” (Op-Ed, Wednesday) is nothing short of misleading. Mrs. Dale states that if the combined Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) is “defeated in Congress, anti-Americanism will certainly gain ground in Central America.” In fact, it would actually have the opposite effect.

While visiting Guatemala more than a month ago, I witnessed protests all over the country against this trade agreement. Many Guatemalans saw this as big American interests with the support of our government forcing our policies down their throats. Passage of this agreement here would only reinforce the idea already running rampant through out the Latin American world that the United States could care less about the negative impact policies have on other countries.

I find it ironic that the biggest anti-immigrant advocates also push for policies that will most likely lead to more unemployment and poverty in Latin American countries, which would directly lead to a bigger wave of immigration to the United States. Where is the logic in this?

Mrs. Dale also incorrectly states that Central America has “been transformed.” These countries still have the highest levels of illiteracy, unemployment, poverty and violence in Latin America.

JOSHUA LOPEZ

Washington

TSA’s continuing failures

Tuesday’s brief concerning almost 1,000 pieces of luggage being stolen from our three area airports (“Airport security guard admits stealing luggage,” Metropolitan) makes me have serious doubts about the Transportation Security Administration’s ability to secure our airports from terrorists despite the billions of our dollars that have been spent.

Although he was eventually apprehended, the thief operated for more than three years. Not only was he able to open and search luggage unobserved by a supervisor, but he also was able to hide the loot until the end of his shift and walk out with it unchallenged.

As bad as that may sound, the reverse is even scarier. Using the same path, an explosive device could be brought into the secure area and inserted into luggage destined for a specific flight.

The TSA continues to tout its accomplishments, but all I see is the elderly, the infirm and children being harassed with detailed searches, while young men of obvious Middle Eastern origin get waved through for fear of an accusation of racial profiling.

DICK BULOVA

Fairfax

The PTA and PC

George Archibald’s account of what and why specific content is selected as part of the National Parent-Teacher Association’s annual convention (“PTA conference disallows equal access for ex-gays,” Nation, Tuesday), was skewed and inappropriate.

What Mr. Archibald failed to recognize was that National PTA’s annual convention comprises workshops, exhibits and special events that support the priorities and issues identified by the volunteer PTA membership. School safety and bullying have been identified as top priorities among our members; therefore, National PTA is offering several relevant sessions as part of the 109th Annual National PTA Convention and Exhibition. National PTA does not promote or embrace any specific lifestyle.

Our members’ focus is making sure that children are healthy and safe. Statistics show that children hear epithets and witness threats of physical violence about 25 times daily. Reports say that this seriously harms students’ ability to learn at school.

PTA’s 6 million volunteer members absolutely support the rights of every child and work to ensure that tolerance and respect are provided to all children so that every child has the opportunity to attend a safe school.

LINDA HODGE

President

National PTA

Washington

The National Parent-Teacher Association has a lot of explaining to do (“PTA conference disallows equal access for ex-gays,” Nation, Tuesday). For the second year in a row, the organization has invited an activist, pro-homosexual group, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, to present a workshop and exhibit at its annual convention.

Meanwhile, it has soundly rejected requests to exhibit from an organization that does not believe homosexuality is genetic and unchangeable. Apparently, the PTA’s definition of diversity is to partner only with parents who hold its views.

Left out are the millions of parents who do not buy the myth that homosexuality is an innate and immutable trait. They reject that much-repeated fable for good reason. Change is a reality for hundreds of thousands of individuals, like myself, who embraced homosexual life but were conflicted, unhappy and empty. Through our faith and counseling, we found the strength to leave homosexuality. Our existence speaks truth to the lie perpetuated in the media every day.

As the largest Christian information and referral organization dealing with the issue of homosexuality in the world, we consistently hear from parents fed up with the PTA’s brand of prejudice toward their beliefs and views.

Homosexual activists simply don’t care. Ron Schlitter, executive director of PFLAG, arrogantly dismisses opponents’ arguments by declaring, “Our beliefs are superior.” So much for tolerance.

It is no wonder that parents such as those in Montgomery County respond as they do to such blatant one-sided advocacy. For the sake of free speech, authentic pluralism and their children’s future, they should.

ALAN CHAMBERS

President

Exodus International

Orlando

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