The North American Union
by Brian Dunning
Filed under Conspiracies, Urban Legends
June 15, 2010
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Today we're going to put on our cheap suits, stick earpieces in, and join the legions of multinational Secret Service agents flowing out among the populace of Canada, the United States, and Mexico; as the borders disappear and we round up a unified population into forced socialism under martial law in our gigantic new pancontinental police state. Some believers say this takeover is actually already underway; others reckon the plans are still being laid, but few believers doubt that it's in the works. The ultimate goal, according to the rumors, is for the few elite in the new government to enjoy unprecedented power, control, and profit over a new supermassive megastate, at the expense of half a billion workers forced into socialized labor. This new police megastate will be called the North American Union, or NAU.
One common theme in the conspiracy rumor is that anytime something bad happens for real, it's generally viewed by the believers as a deliberate attack by the American government upon its own people, as part of this active, ongoing process. 9/11 is the most obvious example; the conspiracy community believes nearly absolutely that 9/11 was perpetrated by the government, in part as an excuse to increase domestic control in preparation for the NAU takeover. When Hurricane Katrina killed over 1,800 people in 2005, some in the conspiracy community took it as an actual practice exercise by FEMA to round up thousands of young men and execute them in the swamp. Even the 2010 explosion of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon and subsequent oil spill was described by some as a deliberate attack, with the dual goals of damaging the local economies and reaping huge profits for the government insiders through stock manipulation.
One piece of evidence the believers claim proves that the NAU takeover is underway is a new monetary unit to replace the dollar, called the amero (obviously patterned after the euro used in the European Union). It should be stressed at this point that all known examples of actual amero bills or coins have been proven to be hoaxes; there is no such thing (so far as we know) as actual amero currency. But conspiracy theorists can be well excused for suspecting that an amero is in the works. After all, the euro certainly became a reality in Europe; therefore the amero might well happen here, so they reason.
However, comparisons between the amero and the euro, or the North American Union and the European Union, do not hold much water. The euro was first planned as a solution to a number of problems unique to Europe, where there were many small countries who necessarily had to do large amounts of business among one another; but with all their own separately fluctuating currencies, there were all sorts of problems. Foreign investment was unnecessarily complicated and troublesome, exchange was inefficient and costly, interest rates were unpredictable, and various inflation rates made every transaction a shot in the dark. When the euro was introduced, participating countries had to meet certain requirements of stability. Since its introduction, studies have found that it was tremendously successful in addressing the problems. As of 2006, the European Central Bank estimated that the euro increased trade among member nations by 5-10%, and later estimates show that this trend has only continued to improve.
North American countries, by contrast, do not have anywhere near the currency-related problems that Europe faced before the euro. We simply don't have an unmanageable number of international transactions suffering from fluctuating exchange rates and expensive conversions. Mexico suffered these problems historically, but when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed in 1994, it had a rocky start, but followed by a hugely stabilizing effect on Mexico's economy and ever since, their problems have been largely mitigated. Arguably, NAFTA has addressed many of the issues for North Americans that Europeans solved with the euro. We just had those problems on a far smaller scale, and so our fix was correspondingly less drastic.
But that doesn't mean nobody's ever proposed an amero. There's been talk of it for a long time, mainly from a small number of Canadian economists. Quebec is one faction in North America that would actually benefit from an amero, and Mexico is probably the other. But since the United States and the majority of Canada would not, the amero is unlikely to ever proceed beyond the ruminations of these few authors.
In the real world, the introduction of an amero would probably have real benefits for a few, but none for the majority. Historically, the amero's proponents have been Quebec and Mexico. Quebec's perspective is an interesting one. They have a certain degree of French-Canadian nationalism, and being part of Canada and tied to its currency rubs this nationalism the wrong way. If they shared an amero with everyone else in North America, it would make them less dependent on Canada economically and freer to trade directly with the United States. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox expressed his desire for an amero openly, on multiple occasions, as a natural followup to NAFTA. Such economic unions often confer more benefit upon those at the bottom of the food chain that those at the top. Mexico would benefit from increased stability, while Canada and the United States would lose control of their own inflation and interest rates.
Canadian professor of economics Herb Grubel wrote a 1999 paper for the Canadian think tank The Fraser Institute called The Case for the Amero, but in it he admitted that his arguments were probably less important to the governments of Canada and the United States than the need to maintain control over their own monetary independence. The other most significant proponent has been Dr. Robert Pastor, professor of political science and former national security advisor under President Jimmy Carter. In his 2001 book Toward a North American Community, he pointed out the benefits of an amero for Latin America, but failed to convince very many people that it had any benefits for the United States. He did admit in the book that an amero was unlikely to happen, and has said that he absolutely does not support a North American Union.
So with academic and economic expertise in agreement that neither a North American Union nor even an amero make much sense, what support remains? Well, unfortunately, it's really just of the conspiracy theory variety, drawing its evidence from misinterpretations and exaggerations of actual events.
One such actual event feeding the conspiracy theory is a group formed by businessmen and academics from Canada, the United States, and Mexico called the Independent Task Force on North America. It's sponsored by nonprofit think tanks from all three nations. Created in 2004 in a post-9/11, post-NAFTA world, it advocates closer economic and security cooperation among the three nations, generally all good ideas. They do not advocate either an amero or a North American Union, all of their reports are freely available, and there's no secrecy attached to anything they do. Nevertheless, some conspiracy theorists consider their existence to be proof that the North American Union is already happening.
A similar, but more official, group was called the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, formed in 2005 by Vicente Fox, George W. Bush, and Paul Martin, who met for dialog for essentially these same purposes, and was active through 2009. It included no treaties or agreements. The US web site for the SPP says in its "Myth vs. Fact" section:
...The SPP [seeks] to make the United States, Canada and Mexico open to legitimate trade and closed to terrorism and crime. It does not change our courts or legislative processes and respects the sovereignty of the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The SPP in no way, shape or form considers the creation of a European Union-like structure or a common currency.
But nevertheless, you can say this up and down and standing on your head; the diehard conspiracy theorists dismiss such a statement as just another part of the coverup. Notably, in June of 2006, CNN anchor Lou Dobbs described the SPP, on the air, as an agreement (which it wasn't) to actually form the North American Union without the consent of Congress (which it didn't).
...The Bush administration is pushing ahead with a plan to create a North American Union with Canada and Mexico. You haven't heard about that? Well, that's because Congress hasn't been consulted, nor the American people.
Dobbs is not the only one. Believers all across the Internet say "Hey, it happened in Europe; it can happen here in North America." The European Union is indeed a reality, so by that example, it's plausible that a North American Union could happen as well, right? The European Union is actually not a real-world precedent for what the North American Union is believed to be. The EU is primarily an economic union. All the member nations in the EU are still sovereign nations, holding their own independent elections and issuing their own passports, and no European citizens are being forced into labor camps or executed by the millions. Conversely, the claims about the North American Union have the United States, Canada, and Mexico merged into a single police state characterized by brutality and forced socialism.
The former Soviet Union would be a closer precedent, but still not a very good one. It was a police state characterized by brutality and forced socialism, but there are two very important points to heed. First, the Soviet Union was the result of a popular uprising by the people, the Russian Revolution; it was not a secret takeover by hidden Illuminati intent on deceiving the masses. The Bolsheviks were a majority party, and there was nothing secret about them. Second, the Soviet Union didn't last, and remains a dramatic example of why such a union is a bad idea for everyone; not just for the people, but for everyone hoping to benefit from it.
Like all conspiracy theories that claim to predict future events, the North American Union requires reliance on supposition and irrational dismissal of evidence. Anyone who thinks the United States is likely to give up its sovereignty has, shall I say politely, "lost a few tiles on re-entry." Ask healthy questions and maintain a healthy skepticism; but if you catch yourself departing a little too far afield, take it as a red flag and point your skeptical eye at yourself as well.
By Brian Dunning
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Cite this article:
Dunning, B. "The North American Union." Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media,
15 Jun 2010. Web.
30 Nov 2015. <http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4210>
References & Further Reading
Baldwin, R. "The Euro's Trade Effects." European Central Bank Working Paper Series. 1 Mar. 2006, Number 594: 48.
Chintrakarn, P. "Estimating the Euro Effects on Trade with Propensity Score Matching." Review of International Economics. 1 Feb. 2008, Volume 16, Issue 1: 186-198.
Dobbs, L. "Lou Dobbs Tonight (Transcript)." Cable News Network. Time Warner, 21 Jun. 2006. Web. 8 Jun. 2010. <http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0606/21/ldt.01.html>
Grubel, H. "The Case for the Amero." Fraser Institute Critical Issues Bulletin. 1 Jan. 1999, 1999 Edition.
Pastor, R. Toward a North American Community: Lessons from the Old World for the New. Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics, 2001.
SPP. "SPP Myths vs Facts." Security and Prosperity Partnership Of North America. US Department of Commerce, 21 Aug. 2006. Web. 9 Jun. 2010. <http://www.spp.gov/myths_vs_facts.asp>
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