“MAGA,” blusters Donald Trump. “Make America Great Again!” America’s ranching families, however, would like Trump to come off his high horse and get serious about a more modest goal, namely Make America COOL Again.
COOL stands for Country of Origin Labeling, a straightforward law simply requiring that the labels on packages of steak, pork chops, etc., tell us if the meat came from the USA, China, Brazil or Whereintheworldistan. That’s useful information, empowering consumers to decide where their families’ food dollars go. But multinational meatpacking giants like Tyson Foods, JBS, and Cargill don’t want you and me having this basic knowledge and power to decide for ourselves.
So, in 2012, the meat monopolists got the World Trade Organization to decree that our nation’s COOL law violated global trade rules — and our corporate-submissive Congress-critters meekly surrendered, repealing the law.
Then came Donald Trump, blustering furiously against world trade scams and launching his Made in America campaign, which included promising struggling ranchers that he’d make restoring the COOL label a centerpiece of his new NAFTA deal. Ranching families cheered Donald the Dealmaker because getting that “American Made” brand on their products would mean more sales and better prices.
Now, however, cheers have turned to jeers, for Trump has issued his new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, ballyhooing it as a “historic transaction.” But wait a minute … Where’s the beef? In his grandiose 1,809-page document, there is not one scrap about restoring COOL, not one word.
Worse than being left out, America’s hard-hit ranching families are actually slapped in the face by Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada deal, for it allows multinational meatpackers to keep shipping into the U.S. market foreign beef that does not meet our food safety standards! Aside from the “yuck” factor and health issues, this gives Tyson and other giants an incentive to abandon U.S. ranchers entirely.
What’s the matter with Donald and The Trumpateers? Why won’t they stand up for the American workers and business owners who make their products right here in the good ol’ US of A?
Oh, yeah, I know they talk a good game. Trump himself even issued a bold, star-spangled executive order in 2017 promoting the purchase of “American-made goods” produced by American labor. We consumers respond positively to that pitch, generally preferring to buy everything from mattresses to hockey pucks that are manufactured here at home. For example, take Patriot Puck. What’s not to like about this corporation, which literally wraps its hockey pucks in American flag packaging and proudly advertises that they are “the only American Made Hockey Puck”?
Well, sadly, one thing not to like is that the puck-seller’s pitch was a lie. Its product actually turned out to be made in China. It’s not just wrong to engage in such an unfair and deceptive sales scam. It’s a federal crime.
Saddest of all, though, is that when honest competitors and defrauded consumers protested the blatant firm’s deceit, Trump’s Federal Trade Commission appointees proved to be Made in America wimps. Far from standing up for U.S. workers, they coddled the job-stealing culprit. Trump’s Commission assessed no fines, required no admission of the obvious corporate crime, didn’t even make “Patriot” Puck notify customers of its false marketing scam and let it keep all the profits it pocketed from the fraud. Instead, Trump’s regulatory “toughies” insisted that the threat of future fines would keep such outlaws in check.
Seriously? The real crime here is not just that corporation after corporation is being given a pass for mocking our Made in America laws but that our nation’s president is mocking the plight of America’s manufacturing workers by making a spectacle of standing up for them. It’s a shameful political fraud.
One thing we can do to address the injustice of Trump & Company not enforcing Made in America laws and backing down from COOL is to stand with America’s farm and ranch families against their betrayal by Trump and the Big Food monopolists by contacting the National Farmers Union: NFU.org.
Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.