Monday, November 19, 2012

Petraeus scandal: Another reason 'free trade' is never free

We've long complained that so-called "trade deals" are nothing but giveaways to multinational corporations. Now, thanks to the Petraeus sex scandal, we find they're potential giveaways to social-climbing bimbos.

Jill Kelley, the party planner at the center of the Petraeus affair, was appointed an honorary consul to South Korea so she could promote "free trade." Then-CIA Director David Petraeus helped get her the post, according to the New York Daily News.

This is what happened next:
...she tried to turn the unpaid job into an $80 million bonanza, a New York businessman said. 
Adam Victor, the president of New York-based TransGas Development Systems, said he broke off talks with Kelley after she floated the figure in return for lobbying South Korea’s president about a $4 billion project.
Victor was trying to sell a coal gasification project to South Korea. He said he only talked to Kelley because of her link to Petraeus. The discussions only lasted a week.

ABC News reported,
He decided that while she was not making an inappropriate request on purpose, it showed she was inexperienced and unqualified for the job. He also began to wonder about Petraeus's judgment. 
"It became clear that it did not smell right," he said. "Gen. Petraeus should not have put an inexperienced person in charge of the Free Trade Agreement with such an important ally as South Korea..." 
Retired Army Col. Steve Boylan, a friend and former spokesperson for ex-CIA Director Petraeus, said it was "nonsense" that Petraeus had any part in Kelley's alleged Korean deal. "He knows nothing about it," insisted Boylan. "What other people do he can't control."

Here's the key, though: Victor said Goldman Sachs would have asked for a smaller cut than Kelley was asking. The story shows just who benefits from these so-called "free-trade deals" -- financial predators and people with connections.

The South Korea trade deal certainly hasn't helped America's middle class much. Since it took effect in April, South Korean imports -- all those Hyundais -- continued to exceed U.S. exports. By about $10 billion.

As @KagroX (David Waldman) tweeted: Jill Kelley story makes you wonder how much of the fabled "maker" class is just name-dropping, check-kiting and bullshit.

Or as Teamster General President Jim Hoffa likes to say: They got Nafta, they got Cafta, workers got the Shafta.