The ill effects of free trade have become abundantly obvious to most Americans. Our manufacturing base has dissipated as corporations raced overseas to find the most depraved hell holes where workers rights and environmental regulation only exist on paper, if even there. The free trade push betrayed centuries of American values and planning which built an industrial empire with protectionism as its cornerstone. The system of infant industry protection and public-private partnerships even had a name – the American system.
The American system was such a success it was adopted throughout the world by shrewd governments. While those that actually bought into free trade remained struggling and dependent on neo-colonial institutions like the World Bank and IMF. Countries like Japan and South Korea, that protected their industries, became economic power houses.
Free trade and “globalization” are simply code words for transnational corporations finding ways to bypass the progressive legislation of the past century and return to the days of the robber barons where reckless pollution and slave labor were acceptable business practices. Not surprisingly, free trade has created nothing but misery for 99% of the world and made a miniscule global elite the richest humans in history.
But is that even relevant to TPP? Because the more we learn about it, the less it even looks like a trade deal.
As Lori Wallach of Public Citizen points out, what was released by Wikileaks demonstrates that the TPP deal is not even about free trade.
LORI WALLACH: Well, free trade is a pretty theory, but as yesterday’s WikiLeaks showed, the TPP has very little to do with free trade. So, only five of the 29 chapters of the agreement even have to do with trade at all. What’s in that intellectual property chapter? What the Cato Institute would call rent seeking — governments being lobbied by special interests to set up special rules that give them monopolies to charge higher prices. What does that mean for you and me? In that agreement, we now can see the United States is pushing for longer monopoly patents for medicines that would increase the prices here. They’re looking for patenting things like surgical procedures, making even higher medical costs. They’re looking to patent life forms and seeds. And with respect to copyright, the U.S. positions are actually even undermining U.S. law. So, for Internet freedom, if you didn’t like SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, the domestic law that Congress and amazing citizen activism killed last year when it was attempted to be pushed here domestically, huge chunks of SOPA are pushed through the backdoor of this intellectual property chapter.
In terms of rent seeking, that’s nothing new in contemporary America. Since the Wall Street backed neoliberal takeover of the 1980s much of the US economy is based on rent seeking. Value creation happens overseas, here at home it’s all about the hustle – a bankster economy. TPP would just be a further expansion of mafia capitalism in that respect.
I was wondering when we would see SOPA again. Apparently since the people rose up to stop it in Congress, Hollywood and co-conspirators in the surveillance state are trying an end run around the Constitution. Until now it seemed the plan would work, especially with Aaron Swartz out of the way.
But opposition does seem to be mounting to TPP, the question remains as to whether it is enough to stop the deal. This is when activism matters the most.