Posted by Elaine Magliaro
Thank you. This does not happen by accident or luck. It happens because of national policy.
Most people are not unemployed because they are lazy or don’t mind living in the dole. They are unemployed and underemployed because of choices made by our elected leaders.
Things will get worse if Congress gives Obama fast track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Let’s listen to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders on the TPP.
Apparently, they are among the elite that have reading privileges for this agreement.
But they’re sworn to secrecy. “Now why is that?” as Andy Rooney used to ask.
Warren and Sanders are among the very few in Congress who I trust. Sadly, I no longer trust Obama. To paraphrase him: “TPP is a great deal for the people of this nation. But no, you can’t read it.”
The only possible reason for secrecy, is that the agreement contains things that won’t bear scrutiny.
Dean Baker over at CEPR has some interesting comments on TPP. I think the extra-judicial tribunals that presumably will have the power to thwart US legislation ought to trouble everyone. Where are those concerned with US sovereignty and foreign law in our courts now that there is a real issue of concern?
This article is well worth a read:
“But the key point here is that neither the TPP or TTIP is a traditional trade deal. The formal trade barriers between the parties to these deals are already low, which means there is not much room to lower them further. These deals are mostly about putting in place a business friendly structure of regulation. Some of this business friendly regulation involves increasing barriers in the form of stronger and longer patent and copyright protection. (Yes, that is “protection,” as in protectionism.)
It is entirely possible that the higher prices associated with this additional protectionism will more than offset any gains associated with the reduction in the other trade barriers in these pacts. Without having the details on the final agreements (which do not yet exist) there is no way of knowing. We do know that patent protection causes people to pursue patent rents (that is the point), which can often have serious negative consequences, like when drug companies conceal evidence about the dangers of their drugs.
People are also rightly concerned that these trade deals could jeopardize environmental regulation, consumer safety regulation, and financial regulation. The promise from politicians not to worry should be taken about as seriously as any other promise from politicians. And remember, it is not the intentions of the individuals negotiating the deal that will matter in the future. We will have a set of extra-judicial tribunals that will provide the enforcement mechanism for these deals. Can anyone promise us that we will never see an Antonin Scalia clone of one of these tribunals?”
Thanks! I like Dean Baker. What he has to say is always worth listening to/reading.
Free trade is a complicated subject and TPP is a complicated agreement of which we have very little actual knowledge.
Nevertheless, I think we are beginning to see outlines that should concern us and lead us to demand more information and an open discussion.
As a first, main point we know that free trade necessarily leads to winners and losers. A key question for any trade agreement ought to be who gains and how much, who looses and how much, and what should we do to aid the those who loose due to our policy decisions.
I also have to question whether the US should enter an agreement that seems to allow tribunals, deeply influenced by corporations, to over rule US legislation and US court decisions.
I have to wonder what data demonstrates the need to extend protection for intellectual property. Is there any reason, aside from corporate demand for increased profits, that justifies extending the length of patent and copyright protection?
Finally, the limitation of information and discussion on this important topic seems fundamentally anti democratic. If this trade agreement is so good for the US they why is it necessary to prevent any information leaking about it?
I found these two articles helpful in suggesting questions to cut through some of the nonsense used to justify TPP.
“Free trade creates winners and losers — and American workers have been among the losers. Free trade has been a major (but not the only) factor behind the erosion in wages and job security among American workers. It has created tremendous prosperity — but mostly for those at the top. …. Even free-trade advocates now admit that American wages have been reduced as a result of outsourcing, the erosion of manufacturing and an ever-increasing reliance on imports. Middle-income countries, meanwhile, have been blocked from adopting policies that might make them world-class competitors. Nations that have ignored the nostrums of the Washington Consensus — China, India and Brazil — have grown rapidly and raised their standards of living. Improvements in poverty and inequality occurred in Latin America only in the 2000s, after the I.M.F. and the World Bank reduced their grip on those nations.”
“Think about it. The immediate problem facing much of the world is inadequate demand and the threat of deflation. Would trade liberalization help on that front? No, not at all. True, to the extent that trade becomes easier, world exports would rise, which is a net plus for demand. But world imports would rise by exactly the same amount, which is a net minus. Or to put it a bit differently, trade liberalization would change the composition of world expenditure, with each country spending more on foreign goods and less on its own, but there’s no reason to think it would raise total spending; so this is not a short-term economic boost.
But maybe it’s about the supply side, about raising efficiency and productivity? Well, standard economic models do say that liberalization should have that effect in principle — but the effects are only large when you start from high levels of protectionism. Cutting average effective tariffs (including the effects of quantitative restrictions) from, say, 40 percent to 10 percent can be a fairly big deal. But cutting from effective protection of only a few percent, which is where most of the world is now, isn’t going to give you a boost that you’ll be able to tell from statistical noise. ”
Finally in todays NYT op-ed page Paul Krugman in “This is not a Trade Agreement” points out that Greg Mankiw’s defense of TPP doesn’t even discuss the issues of why we should or should not support TPP.
The day when policy makers and policy advisers can feed the public platitudes and non sequiturs is rapidly coming to an end. The only question is whether is whether the public will call Obama and supporters of TPP on their anti democratic nonsense before TPP: becomes an international agreement.
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