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Great sucking sound part 2: Singapore wormhole threatens to take more U.S. jobs

Columnist John Brandt warns that Singapore and Chile Free Trade Agreements could allow foreign workers to enter the U.S. and take away even more jobs.

Back in the early 1990's, then presidential candidate Ross Perot said that approving the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would create "a great sucking sound" as our jobs moved to Mexico and Canada. During the mid- and late 1990's, I read about the lack of the sucking sound because of NAFTA. Eventually Ross' prediction came to fruition, and now that sucking sound is now being heard all over the U.S.

We think these are "Our" jobs from "Our" companies being directed by "Our" American citizens. News flash: They aren't our jobs anymore. The people who direct these companies aren't beholden to the American public. They think and act in their own best interests. Not the stockholder. Not the community. And least of all not the thousands of employees that worked hard to create and build the "company."

We have lost literally hundreds of thousands of jobs because of industry and services moving operations to Mexico and Canada. Worried about H-1B and L-1 workers taking your jobs here or outsourcing moving your job to another country? Hold on -- it's going to get worse.


John Brandt

Now we have a new problem, dubbed a "Wormhole" by Rob Sanchez of Zazona.com, a clearing house for H1-B visa and related program information. It comes from Singapore and Chile Free Trade Agreements (or FTAs). In the FTAs there are caps for the number of workers allowed to enter the U.S. But are there really restrictions? I think not. We think these restrictions will protect our jobs. They won't.

Why are the Singapore and Chile FTAs such a bad idea? According to the reports given to President George W. Bush last February by the Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy, these FTAs don't protect workers in any of the countries involved, they will damage the labor market in the U.S., and they are likely to lead to the same deteriorating trade balances, lost jobs, trampled rights and inadequate economic development that NAFTA has created.

How would rights be trampled? Simple. A trade agreement is not subject to the U.S. Constitution, or so I've been told. In short, a worker will be shipped to the U.S. while being paid the same rate they would normally receive at home, he will be subject to the labor laws of their home country -- not the U.S. laws -- and he will have no right of grievance for violations of the agreement. The scary part is that we, as Americans, have no right of grievance.

What about the wormhole? Here is how it works: A worker from another country will enter Singapore, ostensibly to work for the company in Singapore using Singapore's FTAs with his home country. Once there, he is transferred to the U.S. using the U.S. FTA. When they get to the U.S., they simply declare themselves "treaty traders or investors" or "developers and directors" and are no longer subject to any numeric restrictions and cannot be sent home.

Singapore is currently negotiating with India, Japan, Canada and Australia for FTAs that would allow anyone from any of those countries to be easily moved to a company based in Singapore.

Can you hear that sucking sound now?

The problems that created this phenomenon are many, least of which is a massive export of jobs in outsourcing and imports through immigration that cannot be stopped, impeded or reversed. Who is to blame? Our elected officials have taken millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the corporations, Political Action Committees and individuals pushing this agenda. They even have an association to advance our relationship with India that has 251 members in Congress to vote specifically for issues relating to India. Call your legislators and tell them you are "mad as hell, and you aren't going to take it anymore."

But the real "gotcha" is the fact that under this agreement, the United States Postal Service could be "outsourced" to a Singapore company due to the competition restriction prohibitions in the FTA. UPS has filed a grievance against the Canadian Postal Service saying that it doesn't comply with NAFTA. Can you imagine sending that letter from the Oval office down to the Pentagon using "Singapore/Chile Mail Express?" Maybe we can get them to "outsource Congress."

Of course, I wouldn't really know. I'm just a flunky programmer.

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About the author: John Brandt is a site expert on Search400.com and vice president of technical services, iStudio400.com. He welcomes your comments and feedback; send them to editor@search400.com.

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  • U.S. workers going the way of the buggy whip?
    These days most companies face the task of having to cut costs. Invariably they look for ways to get more for less. But what happens when companies push it too far? Columnist John Brandt looks at one company's use of H1-B workers and the negative effects the H1-B visa program can have on U.S. workers.


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