In this he has good company, including pretty much the entire Democratic Party, which he purports to despise. Other allies include such worthies as Donald Trump, Pat Buchanan, and (sadly) many of my Tea Party friends.
I, on the other hand, support free trade because trade creates wealth, and restrictions on trade create poverty. It doesn't surprise me at all that Mr. Sheppard supports increased poverty, what with him being a socialist and all. There are, by my count, only two reason to oppose trade: rent-seeking and xenophobia. The Teamsters union is a good example of the former, while Misters Trump and Sheppard represent the xenophobic opposition, as I'll describe below.
Unlike Mr. Trump, who is at least an honest xenophobe, Mr. Sheppard hides behind myriad other rationalizations. He'll claim he is in favor of trade, but only under narrow circumstances--conditions so onerous and utopian as to be completely impossible. In this he is worse than Pat Buchanan, who at least supports trade between similar countries (i.e., the US can buy Canadian wheat as long as the Canadians buy American wheat).
Mr. Sheppard is most exercised because of what we American "imperialists" have allegedly done to Mexico. He accuses us of selling cheap corn to Mexico, putting semi-subsistence farmers out of business. Of course every other Mexican can buy corn for cheap--how is this a bad thing? (Mr. Sheppard claims that despite cheap corn, tortilla prices have risen. Somehow I doubt that's true, but even if it is I don't see how it's because of NAFTA.)
So we Americans have been selling corn for cheap--what have we gotten in return? Mr. Sheppard oddly doesn't mention it, but surely cheap auto parts is part of the answer. Tens of thousands of Mexicans got jobs in factories making it possible for Americans to buy better cars at cheaper prices. So that's a real trade: cars for corn. Much better than wheat for wheat, which doesn't accomplish much.
Still, Mr. Sheppard claims that Mexico has somehow gotten the short end of the stick. But the facts don't bear that out. The Council on Foreign Relations (a good, short summary of NAFTA's effects) points out that in 1993 the US ran a trade surplus with Mexico totaling $1.7 billion, morphing into a trade deficit of $61.4 billion in 2012. Further, in direct contradiction of what Mr. Sheppard claims, Mexican farm exports to the US have tripled since NAFTA's implementation.
But, wails Mr. Sheppard, "[b]etween 1995 and 2005, 1.1 million peasants lost their land, and another 1.4 million others dependent of the farm sector were driven out of work." Peasant is just a euphemism for a semi-subsistence farmer, scratching out a $1/day living on a piece of land too small to support mechanization. This is the lifestyle that Mr. Sheppard recommends to Mexicans? Rather odd coming from a man who shops in air-conditioned comfort at someplace like Whole Foods.
Of course we shouldn't be all that surprised. Mr. Sheppard did, after all, support the Khmer Rouge, who took the peasant fetish to completely irrational extremes, forcing all city dwellers into the countryside where they could enjoy the benefits of subsistence farming.
Mr. Sheppard blames us Americans for many imaginary evils, but he fails to ding us for our deserved faults. Among NAFTA's terms is the agreement that truck drivers can deliver goods in all three countries without hindrance. For example, Canadian truckers can carry goods from Canada to their destination in the US, and also from the US back to Canada. (They are not allowed, so I understand, to carry goods strictly within the US.) Judging from the number of Canadian trucks on the interstate near my house, this clause is widely exercised.
However because of the staunch opposition of the Teamster's Union and American trucking companies, such privileges have not yet been extended to Mexican truckers. They are only permitted to carry product a few miles into the US, after which it has to be reloaded onto an American truck. These continued regulations are a direct violation of NAFTA, and have resulted in compensatory tariffs being leveled against us by Mexico. They increase prices for American consumers and needlessly impoverish Mexican truckers.
The Teamsters and their corporate allies, refusing to admit to narrow selfishness, instead claim that Mexican truckers are unsafe. And presumably Mr. Sheppard agrees with them, given that he both opposes NAFTA and is pro-union. Apparently Mexicans are congenitally unsafe, because there is no other reason to make this claim.
So, like Donald Trump, the Teamsters' union, and some trucking companies, Mr. Sheppard thinks it is impossible for Mexicans to drive safe trucks safely in the USA. This is nothing but xenophobia, which brings me back to where we started.
About the TPP, Mr. Sheppard writes
The TPP will further the interests of the rich at the expense of workers and peasants. It will codify new regulations to facilitate more neoliberal changes to the economies of these countries. At the same time, it will further the interests of the imperialist countries involved--which include the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand--at the expense of the oppressed nations of Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Capitalists in these latter countries will benefit as junior partners with the imperialists at the expense of their workers and peasants.Leave aside the odd categorization--where New Zealand is "imperialist" while Singapore is not. The upshot of this is we don't want no Gooks selling crap in the USA. It's a sentiment that Donald Trump certainly agrees with--Mr. Sheppard should give him a call. Beyond this, the principal beneficiaries of free trade are not capitalists, but first consumers (who get cheaper prices), and then workers (who get jobs).
As for me, I'm not a xenophobe. I support free trade.
Down with Poverty!