Imagine how frustrating Santas job would be if he had to go through customs on Christmas Eve and pay tariffs. His bag of gifts wouldnt be quite so bigand our stockings wouldnt be quite so stuffed.

Thats worth bearing in mind as we approach January 1, 2008, when the final provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement are scheduled to take effect. All of the remaining tariffs and quotas between the United States, كندا, and Mexico will be wiped away.

لسوء الحظ, some of the presidential candidates have taken this opportunity to attack NAFTA as a gigantic blunder, rather than praise it as one of President Clintons finest achievements. Even Hillary Clinton is pandering to the protectionists. NAFTA was a mistake to the extent that it did not deliver on what we had hoped it would, she recently said. She has called for NAFTA to be adjusted, by which she presumably means the re-imposition of some tariffs.

Other Democrats have echoed her criticisms of free trade, and so have Republicans such as Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul.

They all deserve lumps of coal in their stockings because NAFTA and free trade have enriched our economy and improved our quality of life. اليوم, our continent is the worlds largest free-trade area, home to more than 440 million people whose combined gross domestic product is more than $15 trillion.

منذ 1994, when NAFTA became a reality, الامريكى. exports to Canada and Mexico have grown by 157 نسبه مئويه. Within NAFTA, Canadian and Mexican exports also have grown by 173 وفي المئة 392 percent respectively. It proves that economics arent a zero-sum gamethe pie has grown for everyone, which means that everyone has benefited.

Enjoying access to markets in Canada and Mexico, as well as in China, اليابان, and Korea, means that Americans are able to put more under the Christmas tree. Economists at the Peterson Institute recently determined that expanded trade boost income for the average U.S. household by $10,000 each year.

Thats a lot of Christmas presentstoo much, you might even say.

Isnt Christmas supposed to be about more than materialism? Its about faith and family, جدا, and the benefits of free trade also go to them. Free trade makes more money available for charitable donations. It helps families afford college tuition, add a bathroom or replace a worn-out minivan.

These are concrete benefits, but theyre often invisible. As Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Paul L. E. Grieco of the Peterson Institute explained in the Washington Post, Americans do not receive this money as a check marked payoff from globalization. Instead, the payoff is hidden within familiar channels: fatter paychecks, lower prices, and better product choices.

Our prosperity is such that the poorest Americans live with more compared to where they were a generation ago. According to the Heritage Foundation, the Census Bureau officially classifies 37 million Americans as poor–و 43 percent of them own their own homes, 80 percent possess air conditioning, 78 percent own DVD or video-cassette players, 62 percent have cable or satellite TV, و 89 percent own microwave ovens.

Many factors explain this, from technological innovations to the power of capitalism. Free trade plays an important role as well, with its ability to increase jobs through exports and decrease consumer prices through competition.

Two-thousand years ago, the Magi traveled great distances to bring their gifts to a family so poor that it was living, at least temporarily, in a stable.

This Christmas, lets honor their generosityand also remember that they had to cross borders to express it.

بيل حوران, a Board Member for Truth About Trade and Technology, grows corn, soybeans and grains in Northwest Iowa. This fourth generation family farm has been involved in specialty crop production and identity preservation for over twenty years.