Fast-food fast tracker: La-Van Hawkins thrives by tweaking a formula

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La-Van Hawkins owns 14 Burger King franchises in some of the poorest sections of Detroit, MI; Washington, DC; and Baltimore, MD; with another planned for the South Side of Chicago, IL. Hawkins has been successful in tailoring his franchises to the African American population.

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La-Van Hawkins thrives by tweaking a formula:

WHEN IT COMES TO REAL ESTATE, the saying goes, everything is “location, location, location.” But LaVan Hawkins’s notion of an ideal location is a little unusual. A gritty vacant lot on Chicago’s down-and-out South Side is his version of the promised land–soon to be the site of his first Burger King franchise in this city. The competition is just down the block: McDonald’s. It’s a location Hawkins managed when it opened in 1988, after he rose through McDonald’s ranks–all the way from toilet scrubber. “Now I get to come back and whup theft ass,” Hawkins bellows, putting all of his considerable bulk (6 feet 2 inches and more than 825 pounds) into the challenge.

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Hawkins, 87, has more than size on his side. He’s also got soul, especially the streetsmart savvy sort that translates into big bucks. Over the past five years he’s made millions by giving fast food a cultural makeover, tailoring it to African-American, inner-city life. He got his start back in the early 1990s as a franchisee for the Checkers chain of eateries, for which he boosted profits by doing business as his fellow blacks would like it. When studies suggested, for instance, that African-American consumers prefer bright colors, he made his restaurants pop with cherry red and metallic silver accents, and poured on the neon.

With 14 Burger Kings today in the roughest comers of Detroit, Baltic more and Washington, D.C. (including five Detroit outlets he bought just last Friday), Hawkins is aiming for the big time. In partnership with Black Entertainment Television’s Robert Johnson, he aims to build an empire of some 478 Burger Kings by the millennium. Patrons will savor Hawkins’s inner-city take on Burger King: his outlets offer banana shakes and Cajun fries. Klieg lights and neon light up the restaurants as brightly as baseball stadiums; hip-hop and R&B pump from their sound systems. Uniformed Nation of Islam guards provide security. African-American flags fly. The familiar orange-and-red logo is there, but make no mistake: this isn’t your suburban Burger King.

Hawkins is more than a black Dave Thomas, the founder and ubiquitous pitchman of Wendy’s, His aim is to build neighborhoods and self-esteem, not just restaurants. At the comer of Mack and Connor avenues on Detroit’s East Side, between debris-strewn vacant lots and boarded up homes, Hawkins’s polychromatic restaurant stands as a symbol of hope. Hawkins offers employees stock options and paths to becoming owner-operators. “I’d like to go as high as I can in the company,” says one employee, Regina Harrison, a 29-year-old assistant manager in a Detroit outlet.

“Maybe I’ll own my own franchise some day.” Hawkins also makes half-million-dollar grants to church foundations and school programs in nearly every neighborhood where he sets up shop. He preached his personal gospel of black self-help from the speaker’s platform at last year’s Million Man March; he’s bankrolled the all-black circus dubbed Cirque du Soul. He even helped Louis Farrakhan broker a hip-hop detente after rapper Biggie Smalls was murdered last March.

Some among Burger King’s top brass were apprehensive about Hawkins’s tinkering with the company’s formula when he bought his first franchise early last year. Now they want to imitate him. Revenues at his restaurants are twice as high as at the average Burger King. “How can you argue with that?” says Burger King chief executive Dennis Malamatinas. That’s not to say that Hawkins doesn’t have his detractors. He angered at least some business people in Atlanta several years ago for allegedly employing nonminority builders. And competitors grumble that the inner-city market for fast food is nearly glutted. His expansion, they say, could make an already poor economic situation worse.

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Hawkins is now worth about $50 million, by his own reckoning. Not bad for a kid out of Chicago’s notorious Cabrini-Green housing project and a former gang member who kicked a $2,000-a-day cocaine habit. But his ambitions don’t end with Whoppers. When he’s not with his wife, Wendy, swimming at one of their homes in Baltimore, Atlanta or Boca Raton, Fla., Hawkins is scouting other potential business opportunities. Recently he bought a small California pizza chain to aim at the inner city. He and Russell Simmons are starting a chain of theme restaurants based on Simmons’s Del Jam properties. And then there are Hawkins’s political aspirations: sooner or later, he intends to parlay his growing empire into a bid for public office–more than likely as a big-city mayor. “He’s an evangelist for the inner city,” says Terrian Barnes, head of the International Franchise Association. “He makes you believe he’s going to save the schools, cut down crime and deliver a quality burger. He’s larger than life.” La-Van Hawkins is also living proof that while the future of black America may not be in flipping burgers, it’s not a bad place to start.

>>> Click here: Taxless in Seattle? Washington State votes on an income-tax referendum

Taxless in Seattle? Washington State votes on an income-tax referendum

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Byline: Ethan Epstein

Camas, Washington

Readers of Fortune magazine opened the September 6 issue to find a glossy eight-page insert advertising business opportunities in Washington state. In addition to the state’s proximity to Asia, its strength in the technology sector, and its inexpensive electricity, the ad stressed another factor that makes Washington an attractive place to do business: its lack of an income tax. Yet a referendum this Election Day could change all that.

Initiative 1098, as it’s known, would see Washington surrender its distinction as one of only seven states without an income tax. It would tax gross income above $200,000 for single earners, and $400,000 for joint filers, at a rate of 5 percent. Gross income above $500,000 for singles and $1 million for joint filers would be taxed at 9 percent. The state estimates that the initiative, which includes a modest reduction in property and business and operating taxes, would raise $11 billion over the next five years. Not coincidentally, Washington’s state government is projected to run a $3 billion deficit this year.

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In spite of the state government’s predilection for writing in red ink, Washington has fared relatively well in the great recession. Major corporations like Microsoft, Boeing, and Intel have a big presence here and drive job growth. The unemployment rate is 8.9 percent–hardly ideal, but below the national average (and far below the 12.3 percent in nearby California). Per capita income is ranked 13th in the country and is considerably higher than in the neighboring states of Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Democratic governor Chris Gregoire uses the state’s lack of an income tax as part of her pitch to businesses considering setting up shop here.

Washington state has traditionally been steadfast in its opposition to income taxes. A 1933 state supreme court ruling classified income as a form of property. Because the state constitution mandates that property be taxed uniformly, the legislature has been prevented from imposing a graduated income tax. (The state supreme court has nullified numerous income tax provisions since the thirties.) Furthermore, Washington voters have rejected constitutional changes to allow for an income tax eight times. In order to circumvent the state’s prohibition on income taxes, Initiative 1098 speaks of an “excise tax on income.” Should it pass, this slippery wording is sure to spark yet another court fight.

Initiative 1098 is being promoted as a tax on the “rich”–an income tax for “only the wealthiest 1.2 percent,” as the promoters’ television ad puts it. Yet opponents argue that 1098 is predicated on a false premise. They say it would harm far more than a narrow and extremely wealthy subset of the population.

Opponents argue that 1098 would do great damage to Washington businesses. Many small businesses report their revenue as income, which would be subject to the new tax. Mike Sotelo and Craig Dawson, leaders in the Washington business community, point out that “almost 70 percent of those earning $200,000–where the income tax first kicks in–are small business owners.”

Don Brunell, the head of the Association of Washington Business, whose 7,000 members range from Boeing and Microsoft to the corner cafe and muffler shop, is a leading voice against the initiative, for the same reason: “This is not a tax on wealthy people. It’s a tax on small business.” Brunell estimates that virtually every business with more than five employees would be negatively affected. People worry that towns like picturesque Camas on the Columbia River, which thrives on a mix of manufacturing, services, and retail, would be hit hard by the new tax.

Supporters of the measure rightly point out that Washington has a woefully regressive tax structure. A recent study from the Institute For Taxation and Economic Policy found that residents earning less than $20,000 a year lose a whopping 17.3 percent of their income to state taxes. Yet 1098 does nothing to alleviate Washington’s high sales tax, the main culprit in this regressive structure. While 1098 does include a modest reduction in state property tax rates, moreover, Brunell notes that, “because the lion’s share of property taxes are local, the average tax bill would only go down about 4 percent.”

Opponents also worry about “taxation creep.” The initiative’s supporters assure Washingtonians that should the measure pass, income tax rates would remain at 5 percent and 9 percent and affect only those with incomes over $200,000. Yet, two years after the new tax took effect, the legislature would be empowered to expand the income tax by a simple majority vote. People look to Connecticut, the most recent state to impose an income tax, and see cause for concern. As the Wall Street Journal reported last month, since the Nutmeg State introduced an income tax in 1991, the top rate has climbed from 4.5 percent to 6.5 percent. The same thing could happen in Washington.

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Some big names–with big bank accounts–are bankrolling the effort to impose the tax. Bill Gates Sr., the father of America’s richest man, is spearheading the initiative, and he’s already donated half a million dollars to the cause. The SEIU, with its deep pockets, is also backing the effort. But the other side has financial muscle as well: Seattle venture capitalists like Tom Alberg and Jon Runstad have written $25,000 checks to defeat the measure, and other business leaders are pledging “No On 1098” money as well.

The fight is already fierce. The most recent poll, taken in early August, found a dead heat, with both sides garnering 41 percent support. As money continues pouring into both camps, neither has an easy path to victory.

Ethan Epstein is a writer in Portland, Oregon.

The buzz on e-biz: If your enterprise still isn’t on-line, you’ve got problems, says a key task force

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A firm believer in customer service, Carson Stong doggedly delivered groceries by horse and buggy throughout Depression-era Vancouver. So Cori Bonina figures that her great-grandfather would be proud of her efforts to tap the Internet on behalf of her family’s landmark grocery store. Almost four years after Stong’s Markets Ltd. first ventured on- line, its Web site offers 14,000 products to the 500 regular Internet customers who rely on its deliveries. And although Stong’s e-commerce division is not yet a money-maker, it now accounts for almost three per cent of sales for the 71-year-old firm. To cut costs, president Bonina is simplifying the process: clerks wielding price-scanners will transfer the products directly from shelves into delivery boxes instead of passing them through check-out. And she predicts that e-patrons will triple and profits materialize before the end of the year. “It’s a way of expanding our store without expanding the bricks and mortar,” she says. “Time is a vital issue for people. Almost 95 per cent of our on- line customers are new ones. I can see this business exploding in the future.”

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To the visionaries like Bonina go the kudos. And the profits. All those gimmicky little dot-coms may have drowned in puddles of red ink. But the Internet is now an integral part of the economy. Major firms such as automakers purchase their supplies on-line, truck drivers crossing the continent with perishable or just-in-time shipments communicate through on-board computers, and grocery stores can take orders for everything from dairy goods to celery on-line. Or, as David Pecaut, chairman of the Canadian E-Business Opportunities Roundtable, says in a report to be delivered to Ottawa this week: “E-business matters more than ever because the new economy has become the whole economy. Technology is still driving much of the wealth creation in Canada.”

The report is the final output of a remarkable, voluntary task force of high-level business executives and federal officials who want Canada to be an e-commerce star. And while the document lacks the specific recommendations of its two predecessors, it is a pointed chronicle of how far Canada has come in the three years since the Roundtable’s inception — and how far it has to go. In particular, the report singles out three areas for attention:

Governments on-line: Provincial and federal jurisdictions have been slow to exploit the Net to deliver services remotely. On-line specialists, for instance, could guide rural family doctors as they perform surgery. And both levels of government must figure out how to export health-care and education services — such as university degrees obtained through on-line learning — in return for much-needed cash.

Help for start-ups: The good news is that venture capital spending dropped at a lesser rate in Canada than in the U.S. last year. But Canadian pension funds — which manage massive pools of money — have been reluctant to dabble in new enterprises, the report notes. Only 11 per cent of new Canadian venture capital came from pension funds in 2000 — compared with 40 per cent in the U.S.

That money can be vital. Three years ago, Toronto’s Paul Chen realized that companies could use e-mail to market themselves. He developed technology that allowed clients to go to his Web site and send out targeted promotions to their own customers. It worked. He sold Flo Network Inc. last year for US$51 million. But he couldn’t have got there without venture capital backing. “We had to grow as fast as possible because our competitor was growing very, very fast,” he says. “And we could not have done that without cash.”

Ottawa has been listening. John Eckert, managing partner of Toronto- based McLean Watson Capital Inc., praises successive budget measures that have lowered corporate and capital gains taxes, allowed individuals to roll over capital gains into new firms and changed the treatment of stock options to ensure that taxes are only paid when the shares are sold. Such measures, which previous Roundtable reports urged, sound like technical fiddles — but they could be critical over the next decade. “Canada will become a very popular place to invest,” says Eckert. “To me, this is a big green light that has to be communicated.”

Getting on the Net: Small and medium-sized firms are far slower to adopt e-commerce than their U.S. counterparts. In 2000, such firms in Canada made two per cent of their sales on-line — compared with 10 per cent for U.S. companies. “Somebody you compete with could decide they are going to expand their market through technology,” warns Michael Murphy, senior vice-president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which has been aggressively prodding small businesses into the on-line world. “They could easily take your market share.”

The six-page Roundtable report comes on the heels of Ottawa’s discussion paper last month on innovation, which aims to boost research spending, increase the skilled labour pool — and help universities and businesses forge partnerships to develop new technologies. That document was delayed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — and then plundered for ideas in the December budget. Its debut fell flat. So the Roundtable report injects life into the quest to ensure that Canada can compete in a rougher and tougher world. Over the next six months, Industry Minister Allan Rock will hone that campaign at regional summits with key economic players, concluding with a national summit in early November. “Governments cannot do this alone,” says Rock. “We want to know if our targets are aggressive enough. And frankly we want to know whether business, labour and academia are prepared to make the necessary commitments.”

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The Roundtable’s report is a final contribution from a group that laid out much of Ottawa’s e-commerce strategy. Pecaut hatched the idea when he realized that Canada had the ingredients, such as telecommunications and software expertise, to be an e-commerce star — but lacked plans for everything from tax changes to strategic investments. He approached then industry minister John Manley, who jumped on the idea. “This issue is close to my heart,” Manley, now deputy prime minister, told Maclean’s. “The Roundtable created momentum, making e-business an important issue for government. You do not have many memoranda to cabinet that are signed by a dozen ministers. But we were able to produce that common view.”

The Roundtable will leave a legacy. The chamber of commerce will issue reports on how well smaller firms are adopting e-business. The Canadian Venture Capital Association will ferret out tax policies that discourage investment. Roundtable member Peter Nicholson, chief strategy officer at BCE Inc., says the group caught a wave when it tackled the glamorous, high-profile issue of e-commerce. “The policy landscape had not solidified: we had the excitement of pioneers,” he recalls. “This group made a helluva lot of progress — and e-business is not the only beneficiary.” The future may belong to Rock’s initiative — but the Roundtable pointed the way.

Worth noting

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Higher water temperatures in 2016 led to the worst destruction of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef ever recorded. The ACT Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, published in November, reported that 67 percent of the corals in the reef’s northern section have died–90 percent off Lizard Island–mostly due to bleaching sustained from the increased water temperature resulting from carbon emissions. The Australian government has published a long-term sustainability plan for the reef, identifying the need to make it more resilient to climate change, promising to lower carbon emissions, and pledging financial support for research into coral bleaching.

The World Bank is making strides to develop initiatives to address and raise awareness of the social impact of violence against women in Central America. One such initiative was a “hackathon”–a software program competition to combat domestic violence. For forty-eight hours, young software programming competitors developed innovative digital solutions and smart phone applications to provide Central American women with the resources to report and gain protection from abuse.

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Ciudad Mujer is another successful initiative for empowering women. Established in 2011 by the Social Inclusion Secretariat of El Salvador to address that country’s soaring rate of domestic violence (one of the highest in the world), Woman’s City has grown to four centers that offer shelter, education, psychological and legal counseling, access to healthcare, and business opportunities to Salvadoran women escaping poverty, homelessness, and abusive environments.

A key component of the program is providing advice and loans to help women set up their own businesses in order to gain financial independence.

Scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have developed a sort of “brain wifi” that could bypass spinal cord injuries and enable paralyzed people to walk again. According to an article in the November 9 issue of Nature, a newly developed brain implant bypasses the spinal cord to send instructions directly from the brain to the nerves that control leg movement. Tests on Rhesus monkeys in China have enabled paralyzed monkeys to walk, and neuroscientist Gregoire Courtine of the institute has started a trial in Switzerland using a version of the technology on two people with spinal cord injuries.

A vaccination campaign begun November 8 by the Pan American Health Organization and the United Nations World Health Organization has immunized more than 729,000 people against cholera in the areas of Haiti devastated by Hurricane Matthew. Since the hurricane struck in October, more than 5,800 suspected cholera cases have been reported. WHO reports that more than 1.4 million people in Haiti are in need of humanitarian assistance, about 175,000 still remain in shelters, and humanitarian aid is desperately needed to rehabilitate health facilities and ensure access to chlorinated water. An increase in suspected malaria cases has also led to the initiation of a program for fumigation and destruction of mosquito breeding sites.

The Paris climate agreement became international law on November 4,2016, with the ratification of the 2015 agreement by the requisite number of nations (fifty-five) responsible for producing 55 percent of global emissions. The agreement became law prior to the start of the 2016 UN climate conference, which was dubbed COP 22 and held November 7-18 in Marrakech, Morocco. By the conclusion of the conference 111 countries had ratified the agreement, outlined their strategies for radically cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and established a viable plan to provide financial support to developing countries‘ efforts toward climate action.

The World Trade Organization has ordered the United States to end its special tax exemption for aerospace giant Boeing, after investigating a complaint lodged by the European Union. The WTO ruled that the tax cuts granted to Boeing by the state of Washington were illegal under international trade rules and gave the United States ninety days to end the subsidy. A similar WTO ruling against subsidies, initiated by Boeing, was handed down against rival Airbus in September.

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A Minnesota district court ruled in November that the state’s ban on providing transgender surgery to constituents on the state’s medical assistance program was unconstitutional. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, surgical treatments for gender dysphoria had been excluded from coverage in Minnesota since 2005–even though the same treatments were covered by the federal Medicare program and private insurance plans. The court ruling made clear that denying such procedures to transgender people violated their right to equal treatment under the law.

On November 1 the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit announced that all fifteen judges would review a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s Rowan County commissioners’ practice of opening their meetings with prayers that advance one specific religion and coerce public participation. This ruling vacates the court’s previous two-to-one panel decision in September that overturned a May 2015 federal district court judgment that the practice was unconstitutional and allowed the prayers to continue.

Karen Ann Gajewski is a contributing editor to the Humanist and a documentation project coordinator.

Fast track to unemployment

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Class warfare is raging on Capitol Hill-but not under that name. It’s called the debate over free trade with Mexico. President Bush is negotiating an agreement with Mexico that would remove existing trade barriers. The pact he is angling for would eliminate the few tariffs left on American imports, allow U.S. corporations full ownership of companies in Mexico and grant U.S. financial services greater access to Mexican markets. Lifting restrictions on foreign business ownership will open the floodgates for U.S. manufacturers who want to locate plants in Mexico.

Bush has been bargaining with Mexico under “fast track” authority, a power Congress delegates to the President to ease trade deliberations. It enables the President to negotiate a treaty that cannot be amended by the Senate. In 1988 Congress permitted Bush to ride the fast track for three years, but that was not enough time, so Bush has requested a two-year extension, which he will automatically receive unless either house of Congress denies it by June 1. Fast track has become the most contentious issue before Congress; no other legislative matter has generated as many hearings. Although some on Capitol Hill are alarmed by the prospect of Bush single-handedly shaping an accord that would affect so many industries and individuals, it appears that lawmakers will yield the fast lane to the President.

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Outside Congress, fast-track negotiations with Mexico have spawned pockets of opposition rather than a broad coalition. Labor unions, including the electricians, the garment workers, the autoworkers and the A.F.L.-C.I.O. itself, rightly worry about the loss of jobs through increased factory flight to the land of cheap labor. They also warn of increased exploitation of Mexican workers, particularly children. Labor is joined by some lawmakers from manufacturing states-including Jesse Helms, no friend of unions-who fear the loss of textile jobs.

Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club and the National Toxics Campaign fret that an expansion of factories in Mexico will create more pollution there, some of which will travel across the border. Environmentalists and consumer advocates-Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen among them-point out that free trade is sometimes used as a cover for deregulation. For example, Canada employed its free-trade agreement with the United States to challenge the U.S. asbestos control program. Tainted Canadian meat, including pork with pus-filled abscesses and potentially deadly bacteria, now enters the United States because Canadian exporters successfully claimed that U.S. meat inspection is a trade barrier. The United States, for its part, criticized Canadian acid rain pollution laws as an unfair trading practice. In the context of free-trade negotiations, Mexico has asked the Bush Administration to lift the embargo that limits the importation of tuna caught with methods that kill dolphins.

The vociferous objections of the unions, environmentalists and consumer groups have won much media attention. Less sensational but just as significant is the overall impact on the U.S. economy that will likely come from a Bush-negotiated trade pact.

Carla Hills, the U.S. Trade Representative, has been scurrying from one hearing to the next extolling the wonders of an agreement. Eliminating the remaining tariffs and restrictions, she says, will create a wealth of new business opportunities for U.S. exporters, service industries and investors. It will allow U.S. firms to sink their teeth into Mexican markets. No doubt this will be a good deal for the upper echelons of the manufacturing and financial services sectors. But the question remains, How good is the pact for the rest of the United States? A report by the U.S. International Trade Commission (I.T.C.) notes that the general benefits for the U.S. economy of a free-trade pact with Mexico would be small in the “near to medium term.” No problem, says Hills, the check’s in the mail. That is, the gains will come further down the road-after each American industry affected by the pact goes through its own transition period.

Hills has good reason to be so vague. The free-trade issue is really about winners and losers. And it’s not in the Administration’s interest to let everyone know the score. Under questioning from skeptical members of Congress, Hills has admitted that some jobs would be lost when corporations moved U.S.-based plants to Mexico, where the average wage is, according to conservative estimates, one-seventh the U.S. level. But this competition with Mexico, she contends, would “push our work force up the skill ladder.” How would that happen? She doesn’t say. Would workers who once welded automobile frames become car designers? Even if that is what she has in mind, such a transition would require extensive worker retraining. And the record of the Reagan and Bush administrations does not offer much hope that such programs will materialize. American workers who lost their jobs to foreign competition in the early 1980s typically remained unemployed or were shunted into lower-skilled jobs at lower pay. In this year’s budget the Bush Administration has slashed funds for dislocated workers.

Jeff Faux, president of the progressive Economic Policy Institute, who has been dogging Hills at Congressional hearings, presents a bleaker picture. The losers would not be limited to those employed by companies that shift assembly jobs to Mexico. According to the I.T.C’s own data, Faux discovered, the net effect of free trade would be a shift of income from the bottom three-fourths of the American work force to the wealthiest one-fourth.

The institute predicts that a treaty would mean fewer new plants built in the United States. Fewer jobs would be created, and increased competition for jobs would mean lower wages. Those hit hardest by this trend, Faux estimates, would be the roughly 75 percent of the U.S. work force who do not hold college degrees. White-collar Americans, however, would likely benefit from the lower prices resulting from the free-trade agreement. Major corporations would make higher profits from increased access to Mexico. New cars should cost less.

Such voices of corporate America as the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers contend that in order for U.S. industry to be globally competitive, it must cut production costs, which means it needs to secure greater access to low-paid campesinos. Business groups argue that an agreement with Mexico will at least keep production jobs in this hemisphere-instead of moving them to Asia-and will preserve a market for American products, even if the new buyers are poorly paid Mexicans.

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This is a poor route to competitiveness. Rather than taking the low road of cutting labor costs, which would erode the wages of American workers and do nothing to improve the quality of goods, American industry could try a high-road strategy of improving U.S. competitiveness through more efficient production of high-quality products. Such an approach, which stresses innovation and technology, would maintain decent standards of living for workers. A free-trade pact that encourages U.S. companies to take the easy path of exploiting Mexican wages (and the lax enforcement of environmental and labor regulations there) would drive U.S. living standards in the direction of Mexico’s. United States industrial policy should not depend on desperate foreign workers who accept 60 cents an hour but on home-grown innovation and a highly skilled and motivated work force-from the corporate suites to the shop floor.

With the emergence of a global economy, trade barriers have indeed become harder to maintain and justify. But the response should not be a policy of anything goes. A socially conscientious pact would include measures to protect the environment, wage levels and working conditions. It would also include worker retraining provisions, enhance consumer safety and take on the knotty issue of Mexico’s $95 billion debt, the real obstacle to that nation’s development. The problem is, such an accord could be negotiated only by an administration that has as much empathy for American workers as it does for corporate managers, and that has some notion of how to make the U.S. and global economies work effectively and fairly. And that is not a track Bush is on.

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