A Shameless Plug for Bill Moyer’s

Trading Democracy airing Tuesday February 5th at 10:00 on most PBS stations This program promises to show how “NAFTA’s secret tribunals have the power to put a price tag on environmental and health laws. And we pay the bill.”

Considering American businesses’ exploitation of the Third World, it seems truly ironic that the recent rise in concern over NAFTA, particularly Chapter 11, should be inspired by the Canadian company Methanex’s attempts to sue the State of California over the banning of MBTE as a gasoline additive, especially since Chapter 11 has been repeatedly used by American companies to fight environmental actions in Canada and Mexico.

As an avid environmentalists who’s equally worried about exploited Third World workers everywhere, I’m constantly bewildered by the complexities of world trade. Although I consider myself literate and fairly well educated, economics have been sadly neglected in my education.

NAFTA, has been particularly confusing to me because I have felt America has exploited Mexico so much in the past by relying on Mexican workers for cheap labor while neglecting to develop the Mexican economy itself. Thus, while I was worried about American and Canadian jobs being exported to Mexico, I saw NAFTA as a chance to help Mexico build their own economy.

At the same time, I have little trust of large business organizations, international or otherwise. I’m not blind to the environmental damage they have done to our environment. It’s frightening to imagine what they would do if the legal system was unfairly stacked on their side.

Moyer’s show Tuesday is definitely going to be must watch for me.

There's a number of good background sources on the web if you want to be more informed before watching the show:

IISD net offers a summary of Chapter 11's impacts on the environment.

Public Citizen offers background on a number of lawsuits filed on Chapter 11.

Melinda Steffen offers a legal opinion on the California lawsuit.

What do you think?