Cross-posted from Real Economics.
The TPP has brought the issue of "free trade agreements" to the fore again, so I think it is time we looked honestly at what has happened to the three North American countries in the grand-daddy FTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Let's look at the Big Picture of what has happened since NAFTA came into effect on January 1, 1994:
USA. In the 21 years since, the United States has devolved from a representative democratic republic with the most stable middle class and well paid working class in the world, into a plutocratic oligarchy, with the worst income inequality and the worst measures of social welfare of any western industrialized country, and a middle class that now lives a precarious existence, and a working class segments of which are now recording declines in life expectancies.
CANADA. Since NAFTA came into effect, Canada had regressed to a national economy dominated by an industry in resource extraction (oil and gas) - the traditional condition of colonial status. Certain circles in the USA now refer to Canada as "Texas of the north." Other reviews of the "success" of NAFTA in Canada have cited increased exports of beef, agricultural, wood and paper products, and mineral and mining products - all raw materials in which colonials typically specialize. The only advanced industrial sector to show growth has been automobile manufacturing - and this sector was already well established in Windsor, Ontario, immediately across the St. Clair River from Detroit.
MEXICO. Since the "blessing" of NAFTA, Mexico has fallen victim to the anarchy of ruthless, murderous illicit drug and criminal cartels. Ironically, one of the original arguments used by proponents of NAFTA was that increased trade would lead to more opportunities in the real economy for Mexican citizens, making it more difficult for drug cartels to operate in Mexico.