I'm Sara Samson, a single mom busy raising two kids in Ohio. Given
what I earn -- just above minimum wage -- I like the lower prices and
sometimes better quality of goods that come from global trade.
As a cashier at WalMart, I earn about $13,800 a year before taxes, so
according to a US Department of Agriculture study of poverty in America,
I'm one of those 31 million Americans who worries about getting enough
food for the family every month .
The store manager tells me that the prices on toys, TV's, clothes,
shoes, energy, and food all reflect more things coming from overseas,
workers often get paid less, sometimes a lot less. I have an old TV that
from Korea, and I buy clothes made in a Caribbean country, and shoes made
in Indonesia. My little old Ford has a Japanese Mazda motor and was built
in Mexico, so globalization is okay with me because the lower prices help
my family survive. .
But I'm also aware that globalization may pose some problems. For
example, I wonder if some of the mergers that I read about will raise
BP/Amoco, British Petroleum, has bought out Amoco, an American oil
company where I usually buy my gas. I know OPEC has a lot to say about
setting oil prices, but I wonder if some of these so-called Transnational
Corporations (TNC's) in a given industry, say energy, sometimes get
together and also do some price fixing. I'm not accusing BP/Amoco, mind
you. I'm just curious. .
Sam, my 16 year old, is studying globalization at school. He says the
Trade Commission and other federal regulatory agencies are supposed to
protect us from monopolies, cartels and oligopolies fixing prices or limiting
supplies to drive up prices. .
Yeah, my social studies teacher said that the price of energy,
especially home heating oil, has gone up hugely this winter, and so has
gasoline. Energy prices affect everyone -- farmers, truckers, manufacturers,
even the cost of travel for school teams. They had serious protests all
Europe when oil prices made gasoline prices shoot up. .
Anyway, mom said the cost of living (CPI) was going up about 3% a year,
and she was hoping Congress would raise the minimum wage to help us keep
up. So I got a part-time job at the grocery. Otherwise we wouldn't have
enough money get by. .
In school I learned that when a cartel like OPEC sets oil prices from
overseas, there's not a lot our government can do about it, unless we
switch to some alternate form of energy. Even a country as powerful as
the US has rouble dealing effectively with cartels and (transnational
Corporations(TNC's), companies that operate out of many countries. .
At the store where I stock the deli section, the price of Roquefort cheese
recently went way up because of a trade dispute between the US and European
Union (EU) The newspaper says EU countries won't take our beef because
it has hormones in it, and that a French farmer named Bove' tore up a
McDonalds in protest against America's insistence on selling beef to the
EU. He actually went to jail for it. .
So when the French block our beef sales, and Americans can't get the
trade dispute settled, the US raises tariffs on a some things the French
the EU want to sell to us, like Roquefort cheese. The paper says that
Trade Organization (WTO) rules govern trade protests and disagreements.
But I don't understand how the WTO rules work, and how international
trade disputes get settled . .
Now I wonder if globalization affects the price of medicine, because
my brother Eric has been sick a lot. For Christmas I'm thinking of getting
mom a gift certificate at the pharmacy to help out with Eric's medicine.
Sara , Eric, Sam's brother, is 13. He's has been in and out of school
with an illness the doctors can't pin down. Two doctors think it has
something to do with the pesticides, what they call POPs (persistent organic
pollutants) either from our water or from what they spray on the crops
Other children in Eric's school have come up with similar symptoms, what
the doctors call endocrine problems. A lot of the parents are upset.
I'm going deeper into debt with Eric's health costs, but what else can
do? He has to have medical care. .
The pathologist at the hospital says he believes there was something wrong
either with our water table or maybe even the tomato crops that came n
from Mexico. We didn't know the tomatoes were from Mexico. If our water
or the way crops are sprayed are making people sick, we have a major problem.
Now the hospital has sent for a specialist from the Centers for Disease
control (CDC )in Atlanta, and he's up here checking out the cause. The
doctor says Mexico can use crop pesticides that have been outlawed in
. So I'm upset about Eric's health, and whatever link it may have to
international trade. I want to write my Congressional Representative about
the US making sure our own water is pure, and to make sure as well that
other countries can't use pesticides that will make American consumers
Sam says he learned at school that the World Trade Organization (WTO)
and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) agreements make
it impossible for the US to force other countries like Mexico to change
pesticide regulations. .
me out here, won't you? Please explain to me:
there problems with pesticides or POP's in the drinking
water in the US, and if so where and how seriously might
they affect someone's health?
trade isn't always so smooth, not if the French reject American
beef because of hormones in it, or crops from outside the
US can ruin people's health. Can countries spray anything
they want on the vegetables and fruit coming into the US,
and the US can't stop them because of international agreements?
an agricultural company pollutes the water or a crop, do
I have some protection from the US government to get back
what they cost me and my son in health care expenses? .
what ways is WalMart linked to globalization?