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Free trade pact comes at a high price

Re “The protectionist party,” editorial, Aug. 3

I am disappointed and irritated by your doctrinaire support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement. It is true that California legislators supported NAFTA.

It is also true that NAFTA turned out not to be about free trade, but rather about protectionism for international corporations that are sucking the earning power out of the middle class and, in the long run, tending to replace democracy with fascism (or at least banana republicanism).

What is worrisome is not Democratic opposition to CAFTA. What is worrisome is the apparent inability of The Times editorial board to learn from experience.

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DEAN HISER

Orange

*

The Times’ criticism of opponents of CAFTA as being isolationist and calling supporters pro-free trade turns logic on its head.

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One of the main effects of CAFTA will be to impose U.S.-style copyright and patent protections on Central America. These relics of the feudal guild system are extremely costly forms of protectionism, raising prices of the affected products by several hundred percent above the competitive market price.

The Times apparently believes that because these forms of protectionism benefit its friends in the high-tech and entertainment industries, you get to call them “free trade.” Unfortunately, the people of Central America will pay for this protectionism in the form of higher drug prices and slower economic growth.

DEAN BAKER

Co-Director, Center

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for Economic and Policy

Research, Washington


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