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Perot's NAFTA Prophecy Not So Crazy

I agree with the author of the Opinion page article "Perot's Disservice to NAFTA's Opponents," July 20, that "there are legitimate reasons to challenge the North American Free Trade Agreement." But I am disenchanted by his willingness to disregard the effect NAFTA would have on United States employment.

The author seems convinced by arguments that NAFTA will increase jobs. Yet in its recent report, "A Budgetary and Economic Analysis of NAFTA," the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the economic models widely used by NAFTA supporters "tend to be weak or inappropriate for analyzing macroeconomic issues such as unemployment and trade deficits." According to the CBO, even its own economic model of NAFTA gives "predictions of employment effects [that] are not particularly useful."

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With little to learn from economic models, we must look to history for guidance. Under the US-Mexico Free Trade Zone, which is a kind of mini-NAFTA, hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs in the US have been lost to low-wage workers in Mexico. These lost jobs represent not only personal tragedies, but a fiscal and social burden on hundreds of communities across our nations. NAFTA would do nothing to stanch this flow, and would in all likelihood increase the rate at which we are losing precious jobs.

Yes, we must examine closely such issues as NAFTA's silence on Mexico's record of labor and environmental violations. But we cannot afford to concede the jobs debate to the shaky claims of NAFTA's supporters.

Two thousand corporate relocations to Mexico and hundreds of thousands of lost US jobs to date must not be ignored. American jobs must not be sacrificed on a promise. US Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) of Ohio

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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