READ, LAUGH, LEARN
When Gonzo, a young and inexperienced Mexican businessman, comes up with a half-baked business plan to export Mexican tap water to the USA and sell it as a laxative, will democratically enacted U.S. regulations help avert disaster? Or will Gonzo, his lawyers and cronies manage to use the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to sidestep and stumble their way through the U.S. regulatory system? The Senate calls them all to testify at a congressional hearing to uncover the truth, resulting in a humorous romp through a serious subject.
James Weitz has worked on privatization and anti-corruption issues at the World Bank and the OAS. Drawing on his legal background, he has now written a satirical novel about NAFTA. The story humorously highlights problems with NAFTA, as well as other similar multi-lateral trade agreements which pose risks to national sovereignty by undermining environmental, health and safety standards in pursuit of corporate agendas.
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Satire attempts to reveal the existence of injustice or corruption in society, often by applying novel scenarios to existing real-life conditions, then letting them play out to absurd, comical or unjust conclusions. The American writer Harold Rosenberg described satire as “the oldest form of social study… Comic irony sets whole cultures side by side in a multiple exposure (e.g., Don Quixote, Ulysses), causing valuation to spring out of the recital of facts alone, in contrast to the hidden editorializing of tongue-in-cheek ideologists.”
While religious fundamentalism, corrupt corporations and venal government bureaucrats all continue to offer themselves up for satirical slaughter, the modern era has seen a new and unexpected candidate jockeying for position in the pantheon of parody: The equitists of academia. Some professors, students and administrators have formed a relatively new power elite that is attempting to monopolize certain areas of public discourse relating to cultural, race, gender and sexuality studies. Peter Boghossian now faces disciplinary action at Portland State University for brilliantly exposing their sloppy research and low academic standards (“Sokal Squared”). Those in power should always remember that satire can unmask the truth, and is protected free speech, even when the object of the satire doesn’t get it….