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Suddenly, Free Trade Isn't Such a Good Idea

Reported by Judy - June 22, 2005

When it comes to protecting American jobs, Fox News is always AWOL. Fox and its right-wing buddies preach free trade, globalization, out-sourcing, and union-busting as the keys to economic heaven. Unless, that is, the company trying to get American business is French.

John Gibson on "The Big Story" on Wednesday (June 22, 2005) used his "My Word" segment to attack a company called EADS {European Air Defense Systems) which plans to bid against Boeing on a Pentagon contract for building tankers for refueling planes in mid-air. The company has headquarters in Paris, and one of its owners manufactures the Airbus.

Gibson complained that "EADS is trying to get the Pentagon contract by playing like it is American. It hired an American president and it goes around the country setting up parts plants in districts of important congressmen.

"Now it's decided to name a city where it will build the plant to build the new air tanker. It may be a French plane, but American workers are going to bolt it together. And they're going to build this plant in Mobile, Alabama, as deep in the South as you can go.

"Now they think Americans are going to buy this."

Well, why not? Americans thought it was just fine when Japanese automakers did it. No one on Fox has shed any tears for the nation's automakers or autoworkers when unionized plants in the North closed after non-union shops run by foreign companies opened in the South.

In the case of the air refueling tankers, Gibson says the difference is that makers of the tanker could refuse to supply spare parts for the plane if the government of France decided the U.S. was going to use the planes in a war the French opposed.

"Can you imagine an American president having to make nice to the French so we can get engine parts for the planes we plan to go to war with?" asked Gibson. "This is so, so, so stupid."

Gibson, of course, overstated EADS' French connections make his point.
According to the EADS website, it is organized under Dutch law.
"More than 34 percent of its shares are widely distributed among different shareholders. DaimlerChrysler and the French holding company SOGEADE (Lagardčre, French state) each hold over 30 percent. The Spanish state holding company SEPI owns 5.5%," according to company information. DaimlerChrysler is the company that resulted from the merger of the German automaker and Chrysler Corporation.

With his fixation on the French, Gibson misses what is really stupid about the whole matter. That is that so little American capacity remains for manufacturing such articles. Boeing is the only American company left able to do it.

During World War II, the federal government turned to the automakers of Detroit, the arsenal of democracy, for the skilled workers who could build planes, jeeps, munitions, and everything else a military needed.

Many of the businesses that converted to military production are gone now. Tool and die shops throughout Michigan that once supplied auto parts have lost out to foreign competition that pay their workers dirt. Auto plants have been shut down in the face of a flood of imported vehicles. The auto industry is now dependent on supply chains stretching halfway around the world, supply chains that could be jeopardized in a serious war.

Why isn't Gibson one asking whether Hyundai or Toyota would be any more willing to convert to military production during wartime than EADS would be? Because that would upset Fox's agenda of free trade, cheap labor, and big corporate profits.

Something was lost when all that work was transferred overseas. It was not just good-paying jobs. It was America's ability to defend itself independent of foreign influence. Gibson wants to single out the French, but the problem is a whole lot deeper than that.

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