Bill To End Normal Trade Relations With Nations Restricting Labor and Religious Liberty. Your Thoughts?
If there were a nation that engaged in human slavery, would you support normal trade relations with that nation?
When the nation of South Africa engaged in racial apartheid, did you support normal trade relations with South Africa?
Yesterday, I made a critical jab at Rep. Thaddeus McCotter‘s legislation to make pet care expenses tax-deductible. I think it’s a pointless waste of time for Rep. McCotter to charge to the airwaves demanding Barack Obama apologize for calling a police officer “stupid.”
But I’m not a blanket critic of McCotter’s politics. Take H.R. 3347, the Freedom Trade Act. This bill would revoke normal trade relations status and invoke tariffs upon nations that:
1. revoke “the right of workers…
`(A) to establish and join organizations of workers of their own choosing without previous authorization, to write the constitutions and rules to govern those organizations, to elect or select the leadership of those organizations, and to determine the agendas and programs of those organizations;
`(B) to join confederations of organizations of workers, and affiliate with international organizations of workers; and
`(C) to be protected against dissolution or suspension of such organizations, confederations, or affiliations by any governmental authority”
2. are “engaging in violations of religious freedom, as defined in section 3 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6402),” which are:
“(A) arbitrary prohibitions on, restrictions of, or punishment for
(i) assembling for peaceful religious activities such
as worship, preaching, and prayer, including arbitrary
(ii) speaking freely about one’s religious beliefs;
(iii) changing one’s religious beliefs and affiliation;
(iv) possession and distribution of religious
literature, including Bibles; or
(v) raising one’s children in the religious teachings
and practices of one’s choice; or
(B) any of the following acts if committed on account of an
individual’s religious belief or practice: detention,
interrogation, imposition of an onerous financial penalty,
forced labor, forced mass resettlement, imprisonment, forced
religious conversion, beating, torture, mutilation, rape,
enslavement, murder, and execution.”
Although I’m open to criticisms of McCotter’s legislation, it seems to me that setting basic moral standards for favored nation trade status is wholly in line with previous efforts to divest from apartheid regimes and impose embargoes upon slave states. If I were in the Congress myself, I’d be inclined toward cosponsoring McCotter’s legislation.