Clyde Prestowitz on the Destructive Effects of TPP on American Workers

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

In last week’s State of the Union speech, Obama (again) pressed Congress to give him “fast track” negotiating authority (Trade Promotion Authority):

I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but are also fair. It’s the right thing to do.

And then my favorite part:

Look, I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype…

“But Honey! I’ve changed!” Anyhow, Telesur describes the state of play:

This week, officials from 12 countries across the Pacific Rim are meeting behind closed doors in a posh New York City hotel in an attempt to finish negotiations of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). If concluded, the TPP would set binding rules for nearly half of the global economy.

Meanwhile, the nations working on the deal, which in addition to the U.S. includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, are moving quickly to finalize the agreement before the public is aware of what they are doing.

After missing previous deadlines, President Barack Obama is now pushing for talks to wrap up in the next few months.

Although it is called a “free trade” agreement, the TPP is about more than just trade. It is impossible to know everything that is hiding in the text, since civil society and the press are locked out from the negotiating process, and texts are kept completely secret (though more than 500 so-called advisors the vast majority representing corporate interests, have access to the texts). However, what we do know based on leaks is that the agreement is being negotiated to benefit corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, and the environment.

Shocking, I know. As many of us have concluded, the so-called “trade deals” are in fact the wrong thing to do. Be that as it may, “fast track” will be needed to pass them, at least according to political scientists:

The results for both the TTIP and TPP are strikingly similar. If Obama were not granted fast-track authority, the mean probability of passage was 20 percent for each agreement. If the president were granted fast-track authority, the probability roughly doubles — to 40 percent for the TTIP and 48 percent for the TPP.

And at least some administration officials think that “fast track,” and the TPP, are do-able this year. Good reporting from FDL:

[Evan Medeiros, the Obama administration’s representative in Asia] was at the Brookings Institute for an event and was asked about President Barack Obama’s reference to the free trade agreement during his State of the Union address. Medeiros said the U.S. was “confident” the agreement can be completed this year:

The U.S. is, I think, in the end game of its negotiations with its TPP partners about what needs to be completed, both the market access component and the rules making component. The fact that the president has now requested [it] from Congress is a political statement that the goal is to get it completed in 2015

The only hang-up Medeiros said was getting Japan on board, although he thinks they would eventually join in spite of difficulties. He also said China may enter the agreement as it could cause positive “structural changes” to their economy.

Our man in Tokyo, Clive, is dubious about Japan. And it looks to me like Medeiros is cheerleading on China. Be that as it may, here’s what “fast track” looks like in practice from the Citizen’s Trade Campaign:

he Fast Track mechanism involves special procedures for the negotiation, consideration, and implementation of trade agreements. The U.S. Constitution gives Congress authority over setting the terms of international commerce, and the Executive branch jurisdiction over negotiations with foreign nations. Fast Track, however, delegates Congresses’ authority to the Executive branch so that the Administration is granted the power to negotiate trade agreements, draft implementing legislation to change U.S. law, and sign agreements into international law. Congress’s involvement is restricted to 20 hours of debate and an up or down vote on the final bill with no amendments allowed. Fast Track is an anomaly in terms of legislative procedure in which Congress generally goes through a multi-step process of writing, debating, and amending legislation.

Does that look like democracy in action to you? It shouldn’t, because it isn’t. What’s the hurry, anyhow?

Fortunately for us, and the country, bloggers and the NC commentariat aren’t the only ones catching on to the fact the TPP would be a very bad deal for almost every American. If you want a remarkable demonstration that The Overton Window can, in fact, be dragged left, read this from worthy pioneer Clyde Prestowitz (hat tip, Bob Hall), counselor to the secretary of Commerce in the Reagan administration:

The all-too-real costs of free trade to average Americans

[W]ashington keeps negotiating so-called free-trade agreements that seem to open the U.S. market while leaving others relatively closed. A major reason for this is the classic economists’ argument that the generally lower consumer prices that may arise from imports will exceed the more limited wage losses that may occur in a few specific industries, and therefore, on balance, free trade will always and everywhere be a win-win arrangement. In other words, despite the millions of jobs lost as a result of the rising U.S. trade imbalance, the overall U.S. economy is supposed to be better off today than 10 years ago because of lower prices for consumers. The argument is that the wage losses occur only in a limited number of industries, while the lower prices are available to the entire population.

This simplistic analysis is incomplete and wrong. Its key assumption is that the economy is at full employment. In such a situation, workers who lost jobs in a few industries would lose wages only for a limited period until they found new jobs at the same wages as the old jobs. Thus there would be no overall downward pressure on wages and only limited and temporary wage losses for a relatively small part of the labor force, while the whole population would be benefiting from lower consumer prices.

Well, it is clear now, after a long and deep recession, that the economy is not always at full employment and that even if workers find new jobs, the pay is often lower than at their old jobs. Indeed, most of the jobs created in the last year have been in low-wage industries such as retailing and food service.

This means that there is overall downward pressure on wages from the loss of jobs to imports, and that the losses might well outweigh the gains for consumers. Indeed, the average American has not seen much in the way of real income gains over the last 40 years as the trade deficit has mounted.

Moreover, it’s clear that those gains that have been achieved have gone overwhelmingly to the very tiny, richest percent of the population. Statistically, it may look as if the GDP has risen. But the country is not really better off if all the gains have gone only to the top half of 1% of the citizens.

As former IBM chief scientist and former Sloan Foundation President Ralph Gomory and former American Economics Assn. President William Baumol noted in their groundbreaking book, “Global Trade and Conflicting National Interests,” free trade is not always a win-win proposition. It can be win-win under some circumstances, but it can also be a losing proposition under other circumstances. For the United States, the latter has too often been the case.

Not only does Prestowitz’s argument have the great merit of being true, it might give enough Republicans cover so that a hideous, unnatural, soul-sucking, Cthulhu-like marriage of convenience between Republicans and Blue Dogs doesn’t get fast track passed, as Obama “defies” his own party. After all, “When your enemy’s drowning, throw ’em an anvil!” Those political scientists above put the best possible odds of getting fast track at a little under 50/50, so if we’re lucking, Prestowitz lowered those odds. (Personally, I’ve thought that a “strange bedfellows” alliance between left and right on the issue of surrenduring ational soveriegnty in the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism was the way to go, so I find Prestowitz’s populist stance more than a little disorienting!)

Dollying back from the downward pressure on the wages of American workers, Eyes on Trade has a fine analysis of the words vs. the reality of Obama’s State of the Union speech in tabular form (no, they didn’t color code it):

Here’s a side-by-side analysis of how Obama’s push to Fast Track the TPP contradicts his own State of the Union agenda:

Obama’s Agenda

The TPP’s Counter-Agenda

Income Inequality: “Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?”

An “economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well” is actually the projected outcome of the TPP. A recent study finds that the TPP would spell a pay cut for all but the richest 10 percent of U.S. workers by exacerbating U.S. income inequality, just as past trade deals have done.

Manufacturing revival: “More than half of manufacturing executives have said they’re actively looking at bringing jobs back from China. Let’s give them one more reason to get it done.”

The TPP would give manufacturing firms a reason to offshore jobs to Vietnam, not bring them back from China. The TPP would expand NAFTA’s special protections for firms that offshore American manufacturing, including to Vietnam, where minimum wages are a fraction of those paid in China. Since NAFTA, we have endured a net loss of more than 57,000 U.S. manufacturing facilities and nearly 5 million manufacturing jobs.

American jobs: “So no one knows for certain which industries will generate the jobs of the future. But we do know we want them here in America.”

TPP rules would gut the popular Buy American preferences that require government-purchased goods to be made here in America, preventing us from recycling our tax dollars back into our economy to create U.S. jobs.

Exports: “Today, our businesses export more than ever, and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages.”

Those who wish for more exports should wish for a different trade agenda. U.S. exports to countries that are part of TPP-like deals have actually grown slower than exports to the rest of the world, according to government data. Under the Korea deal that literally served as the template for the TPP, U.S. exports have actually fallen.

This is a small part of the table; there’s much more. There’s just no good reason to pass this turkey. No wonder the people writing it don’t want you to read it, and want to pass it, in haste.

* * *

So, the battle on the “fast track,” and trade deals generally, is not lost; when a powerful Republican Washington insider like Prestowitz comes out against them, that sends a powerful signal. We need to keep amplifying that signal, and sending our own messages, in the forums available to us, by communicating our views to our elected representatives, by writing letters to the editor, and in general making our views publicly known.

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This entry was posted in Free markets and their discontents, Guest Post, Macroeconomic policy, The destruction of the middle class, TPP on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Esteban The Magnificent

    Although the U.S. economy experiences tremendous losses with every trade deal “we” make, the plan is to make it up in volume.

  2. flora

    Called my Rep’s. office to request he vote ‘no’ on fast track authority.
    Thanks for this post.

  3. C

    There are two points that bear on this that I would love to hear Clive and other knowledgeable readers comment on but first a side comment. I’m not sure that I woudl characterize thew overton windo as being dragged left. I would say away from neoliberalism. One of the things that has seriously harmed the TPP’s chances is the rising tide of conservative opposition who see these agreements as eroding our own national power. Conservatives who fear loss of wealth to Asia are right to ask why we would need more “free trade” since that is what caused it. And since this is being pushed by a Kenyan Muslim Socialiust, why should we trust it?

    As to the two points: First, does anyone have a sense of why China would want to join this? So far as I can tell that sounds like undue fantasy. China is pushing its own trade union, and seems to be succeeding, I see no benefit either to the “Communists” or to the people for this to happen.

    Second, how much of a factor is Fuku? While it may seem a side issue Fukushima just irradiated a large swath of Japan’s agricultural area and the government is currenty planning to deliberately dump radioactive water into the ocean. This is not counting the radioactive water that has been “seeping” in despite their claims to the contrary. As I see it this has already affected the willingness of other governments to trust them. China is, as I understand it particularly pissed off but Korea, Vietnam, and the Phillipenes can’t be happy. But it also puts them in a compromised position economically since they now have a huge, albeit undeclared, cost to deal with and are busy: wiping out their agricultural production, reducing the reliability of their other agricultural produce by association, irradiating their fishing industry as well as everyone else’s, and making their population sick. That is not good. The question is, does it make Abe more desperate for the TPP or less?

    1. jrs

      I hardly care if the thing fails because of right wing concern over sovereignty (and it’s a legitimate argument, sovereignty should matter). The point is it needs to fail.

      “with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but are also fair”

      not just free but fair, eh? Do words have meaning? “Fair” applied to trade has an established and existing meaning which is fair trade certified. Would it meet the basic standards needed to fair trade certify?

      For example fair trade certification for hired employees:
      Your company must not directly or indirectly engage in, support or tolerate forced labour, including bonded or involuntary prison labour.

      Your company must not punish, threaten, intimidate, harass or bribe union members or representatives, nor discriminate against workers for their past or present union membership or activities, and must not base their hiring on not joining or giving up their union membership

      If remuneration (wages and benefits) is below living wage benchmarks as established by Fairtrade International, your company must ensure that real wages are increased annually to continuously close the gap with living wage.


      If it wouldn’t meet fair trade certification standards and there is little doubt that it wouldn’t, then calling it fair is lying to the point of insulting our intelligence.

    2. Mel

      Have another look. China isn’t in on this. One of the points was to take China down a peg by getting everybody else to gang up.
      The provision that isn’t talked about is the setting up of new international courts wherein businesses can sue governments for any claimed loss of profits brought on by government policy or legislation. (This is from reported leaks. Can I prove there’s such a provision? No. Of course not. The documents are secret.) This amounts to abdication of sovereignty, and the only government I can imagine approving is a government that thinks it can get its judges onto the panel. As an investor, I could imagine linking to Fukushima by buying shares in TEPCO and then suing if the Japanese government tried to save the coastline by preventing dumping.
      I can only think that losing sovereignty would be a deal killer for everybody. I can’t imagine what they’re still doing in there. In his latest blog entry on the topic, Paul Krugman did his usual Don’t know why the world can’t see it has enough free trade already but at the end tiptoed up to maybe there’s something in the fine print. Hmm.

      1. jrs

        Krugman’s cover-up is as bad as Obama’s.

        Obama cover up: it’s the trade agreement that dare not speak it’s name (doesn’t mention TPP or Trans Pacific Parntership in his state of the union about these very trade agreements). Like he’s afraid someone might put them in a search engine or something, if they only had names.

        Krugman cover-up: “my immediate take is that when the US Chamber of Commerce makes a huge priority out of complicated deals, and offers an obviously false rationale, you should strongly suspect that there’s bad stuff hidden in the fine print” WHY NOT TALK ABOUT WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS? You know those actually on the left (maybe the right too, I don’t know), which is the alleged investor state dispute? No it’s the “bad stuff hidden in the fine print” that dare not speak it’s name.

      2. C

        Oh I know that they are not now. I was reacting to the fact that at least one Administration official is now claiming that “they will want to join” once it is active. I was asking the basic question of why we were supposed to believe that.

        1. Mel

          !! I did not know that. Are they changing the game now? Or are administration people just trying things on? Or ?

  4. Larry Headlund

    The U.S. Constitution gives Congress authority over setting the terms of international commerce, and the Executive branch jurisdiction over negotiations with foreign nations. Fast Track, however, delegates Congresses’ authority to the Executive branch so that the Administration is granted the power to negotiate trade agreements, draft implementing legislation to change U.S. law, and sign agreements into international law. Congress’s involvement is restricted to 20 hours of debate and an up or down vote on the final bill with no amendments allowed. Fast Track is an anomaly in terms of legislative procedure in which Congress generally goes through a multi-step process of writing, debating, and amending legislation.Does that look like democracy in action to you? It shouldn’t, because it isn’t. What’s the hurry, anyhow?

    As you know, the point of Fast Track is not the speed but without this kind of arrangement multilateral trade agreements won’t get done at all. If Congress amends the agreement, then its back to the negotiating table. Wash, rinse, repeat. The limitation on debate is to prevent filibusterer. Now, I am fine with no TPP. You present excellent reasons to oppose it. That one line “What’s the hurry, anyhow?” makes it seems like your trying to misled and hence weakens your argument.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Seems like fast track is unconstitutional in and of itself. I wonder how and when fast track became law? Has it ever been challenged in the courts?

  5. TG

    Agreed the TPP is utterly vile and should be regarded as a direct assault on any American who does not possess a net worth great than, say, 50 million USD (give or take). Call your representatives… And don’t vote for anyone who supports it, no matter how much hope and change they’re peddling.

    A few other reminders of the obvious:
    1. None of these agreements have anything to do with ‘free’ trade. I mean, we already make it illegal for non-wealthy Americans to import legal prescription medicines because that would interfere with the ‘freedom’ of multinational corporations to make more money by restricting trade. It’s like the neoliberal chant that people should be free to choose to profit from slave labor…

    2. All of the presidents carved on Mt. Rushmore were unashamed, unapologetic protectionists. They took America from a backwards agricultural colony to the greatest and most prosperous industrial power the world had ever seen. Protectionism works. It’s the American way.

    1. Gordon Kralovetz

      I always find myself grinding my teeth when a benefit of offshoring is lower prices to the consumer. How often does that really happen? If that was the case, why aren’t the Air Jordan’s selling for twenty bucks instead of the $100+ price tag they now have?

      It sure looks like what happens is, they pay far less for labor, nothing for environmental or safety and keep the retail price unchanged, taking a larger share as profit and getting a tax write down for their old factory here. There is no benefit to the consumer, just a lost wage or two.

      1. Carla

        I get your point, Gordon. But who the heck really cares? Haven’t we seen YET the cost, the environmental cost, and the human cost, of maintaining a nation of consumers? You know, however many things you or the “average” American (let alone the wealthy) can afford to buy is not the measure of anything worth measuring.

        If we demanded to be citizens, rather than consumers, we would be measuring how much education, how much nutritious food, how much decent housing, how much clean air and water, how much excellent healthcare we can, together, provide for each other. And if we could be that generous to ourselves, perhaps Americans could even look beyond our noses to the rest of the world.

        I can dream.

  6. Thomas M. McGovern

    Re: “Clyde Prestowitz on the Destructive Effects of TPP on American Workers.”
    The headline, as written, suggests that the TPP is having destructive effects now, but the TPP is still being negotiated and is a long way from being presented to Congress for ratification. It is, therefore, a false and misleading headline. Does that matter? Or is the fact that the headline is politically-correct all that matters? An honest headline would be, “Clyde Prestowitz on the Destructive Effects the TPP Might Have on American Workers.” Does honesty matter when political-correctness is being pushed?

    1. Yves Smith

      I gather you have not been following this story. Wikileaks has leaked draft text of important chapters of the deal, and they are stunningly bad, as we have discussed at length in previous posts. Moreover, does it not occur to you that Prestowitz, as a former member of the USTR, and a highly regarded one at that, has not been consulted by Congressmen who do have access to the text? The odds are high that he has better intel than most.

      And regarding your attempt to attack on the integrity of the site, the headline is well within journalistic norms. Cheap shots like that earn you troll points. And now that I look at your past comments, you’ve done that sort of thing regularly.

    2. flora

      My own barometer for gauging the importance/accuracy of a TPP/TTIP post is how many attack comments pop up and the nature of the attacks. By this purely subjective metric I’d say this post hits too close to home for the TPP cheerleaders.

  7. KenG

    See, Lambert, here is an example of a bigger mistake than ACA. Since ACA is already done, you should focus more effort on stopping this disaster and assault on the Constitution and rights of citizens to govern their communities, than on complaining about a mistake made five years ago.

    1. Vatch

      I suggest a revision of your proposal: Do both: oppose TPP and fix the ACA (ObamaCare). Also oppose the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) also known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). And fix NAFTA. Surely we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We know that Obama can chew gum.

      1. KenG

        How would you fix the ACA with the current Congress? The party in charge only wants to repeal it. Their health insurance solution is to not have the government involved.

        I don’t know who you mean by “we”, but Congress cannot deal with more than one big issue at a time, they still need to allocate enough time to keep their contributors/lobbyists happy.

        1. Vatch

          By “we” I mean the public. We can let our representatives and senators know about our dissatisfaction with various laws, bills, and proposed bills.

    2. Yves Smith

      First, we don’t take well to the effort to thought police our content.

      Second, if politicians do not pay a political price for passing bad, industry serving legislation, you have no leverage over them in terms of getting them not to pass bad, industry serving future legislation. Showing what is wrong with the ACA is an important exercise of not letting the government promoters of private sector looting of the public purse get away scot free.

      1. KenG

        I’m not suggesting thought control, just a more valuable use of your thinking. The battle for a good health care system is over and was lost, and in the near term, there won’t be any way to fix it. Your allies in opposition to it are those who want to dismantle it.

        There are plenty of issues in the present (like TPP) that warrant attention, and also present an opportunity to pass your message to politicians. Devoting web pages and the time of thoughtful individuals deprives those issues of the attention they will need to avoid a repeat of ACA.

        1. flora

          Sorry. The whole “look forward, not back” bit is Obama’s dodge for avoiding course correction and accountability. I don’t buy it.

          1. KenG

            You’re wasting your time, then. The Republicans won’t correct course and are certainly not accountable. And I don’t know anyone who can change the past.

            1. Vatch

              The Democrats won’t change course and aren’t accountable, either, unless we hold their feet to the fire.

              1. KenG

                But it’s not up to them at this point. There will be no bills passed for the next two years that are introduced, or even supported by a majority of Democrats in either house. They are irrelevant at this point, unless Reid can get united for a few filibusters.

                If you keep railing on about how bad ACA is, the world is going to think you’re a bunch of angry old codgers. And worse, you might miss your chance to stop TPP. Which was my original point. Keep complaining about ACA and you won’t get 40 Democrats in the Senate willing to filibuster TPP.

                1. jrs

                  I hear you, it’s a major issue to focus on now. When I encounter people who would rather focus on what went wrong in the crash of 2008 instead etc. I just wonder (and I don’t mean this blog because a financial blog will focus on major financial events, I mean more activist types). It might be needed to build the revolution a decade or so out, but meanwhile the clock ticks against us now.

                2. Lambert Strether Post author

                  Correct, except for a copy edit problem.

                  “Keep complaining about ACA and you won’t get 40 Democrats in the Senate willing to filibuster TPP.”

                  Fixed it for ya:

                  “Keep complaining about ACA and you won’t you might get 40 Democrats in the Senate willing to filibuster TPP.”

                  Democrats who screw up need to get whacked; it’s the only possible way to get their attention, absent a big fat check. That’s “altruistic punishment” once again.

                  UPDATE “Complaining” and “railing” are pretty tendentious, too. Ya know, if I had to pick a litmus test for “complaining” and “railing,” emitting a prolix stream of unevidenced assertions would be high on my list of candidates. Just saying.

                  NOTE Elegant use of paralipsis with “the world is going to think you’re a bunch of angry old codgers.” Other examples: “I won’t speak of the allegations that my opponent is narrow between the eyes”….

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      First, we at NC don’t accept assignments. #YouMustBeNewHere.

      Second, while I understand why you (and Obama) would prefer to “look forward rather than back,” your idea that “ACA is done” (it isn’t, if you follow the news at all) ignores the idea of altruistic punishment; that is, the people who perpetrated the rotten policy and worse implementation that is ObamaCare should have that dead, stinking albatross hung round their necks whenever they try to make new health care policy (as they are, with HMOs ACOs for Medicare), or policy in general (the career “progressives” who suppressed discussion of single payer).

      Third, choice of topics is down to editorial judgment (to restate the initial point). It’s a judgment call whether to focus on policy choices that are causing loss of life now (like ObamaCare), as opposed to policy choices like trade, where the causality for loss of life is at the least more diffuse. I mean, these people are dying right now, as opposed to “five years ago.” I don’t feel comfortable throwing them under the bus, even if — and by “if” I mean “though” — you, as a Democratic loyalist, do.

      Finally, there weren’t very people who made the call that the ObamaCare website was heading toward being a debacle; NC did, because it didn’t take Democratic pom pom-waving at face value. So it’s another judgement call whether I should focus in areas where I’ve got some expertise and a track record, as opposed to singing in whichever particular chorus you wish me to sing in.

      Shorter KenG: STFU.

      Shorter lambert: Kidding, right?

      1. Demeter

        NC must be getting some Obama-bot leakage. Perhaps from democraticunderground? That site has been practically destroyed as a site for political debate by trolls, paid or not. Unfortunately, the site owners are pleased with their income and see no reason to send away people who pay for “star” membership. It took years for one particular troll to be “tombstoned”.

        If the trolls are arriving because of my efforts to educate the DU masses by sending them here, I do apologize.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Nah, don’t worry (within reason, that is). It’s useful (within reason, again) for the NC readership to see the talking points in action. It’s remarkable to see the continuity between 2008-2009 and today.

      2. KenG

        Didn’t realize I had stumbled into a monoculture here. Oops, my bad. Great way to limit your audience.

        I rarely read comments or speeches by politicians, as it’s mostly spin. I certainly don’t listen to talk shows, nor watch political discussions or commentary on TV. I don’t read many opinion blogs. Anyone (like Demeter below) who thinks I’m a troll doesn’t understand what that word means. My comments about not wasting time on bad decisions are not a result of repeating Obama-talk, but are a reflection of reality. If my opinion has some overlap with his, it might actually mean that I arrived at it through my own analysis, but apparently you think anyone who differs from your view is incapable of independent thought,

        If you think Boehner is going to ignore the TP and bring votes up to modify (not repeal) ACA, go ahead, and keep posting on it. He barely has the balls to not shut down the government, there’s no way he will attempt to follow your guidance and fix ACA (and if he miraculously does, and Obama goes along with it, it would be evidence of Obama’s political genius. Not that I think it will happen). So go ahead and keep writing about it, and I won’t waste any more of your or my time responding to it.

        If I was to use the debating (and I use that word loosely) style employed throughout this thread, I would equate your comment amount more people dying from ACA to be re-hashing the death panels talking points of the anti-health care plan republicans. But I won’t do that, other than to point out what nonsense that is. I’m not going to argue with anecdotes.

        And TPP is not just about trade, and you know it. Some of the proposals I have read about include giving foreign companies the right to sue states to overturn laws that impact their sales in the U.S., or eliminating the right for manufacturers to state the country of origin on products. This act goes way beyond trade, and could impact states and local governments rights to pas their own laws.

        I didn’t suggest that you write about TPP, you did it on your own. I only said that this is a better use of resources than going off on mistakes that were made six years ago (if that was of value, Bush would have lost in 2004).

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          “I didn’t suggest that you write about TPP, you did it on your own. I only said that this is a better use of resources.”

          Translation: “I didn’t say do A, I just said you were stupid to do B instead of A.” Oh, OK.

          My garden isn’t a monoculture, but I still weed it. The door to Kos is that way.

  8. Oregoncharles

    Prestowitz is only half right; the fault in “free trade” is deeper than that. In modern conditions, it’s virtually NEVER “win-win.”

    The reason is that Pareto’s argument for “relative advantage” depends crucially on two assumptions: that capital and labor don’t move freely from country to country. That was mostly true in his day; it’s very obviously not true today. In fact, free-trade economists are so fundamentally (and I suspect consciously) dishonest that they use Pareto to support FREE movement of capital – it’s a central feature of these agreements, often the main one.

    The whole idea is fundamentally invalid under modern conditions, according to fundamental economic theory – the same theory used to justify it!

    Yet another proof of just how corrupt most modern economists (we know of a few stellar exceptions) really are.

    1. H. Alexander Ivey

      Sorry to be a stickler here, but it was Ricardo, not Pareto, who come up with the idea of “comparative advantage”. It was not then, or now, based on any observed phenomena. It was then, and now, a theory, not a fact. And the theory, as you say, is based on two defective assumptions.
      Since we are playing for keeps now – the economic elites refusing to admit their errors yet we continue to live with their consequences – Ricardo almost certainly knew his “comparative advantage” theory was a good cover for rent extraction as an excellent rationalisation of exploitation by the English upper class over the natives in the colonies run by England.

  9. susan the other

    Japan does not like the TPP conditions. They have gone out, like China, to make their own bilateral trade deals – the details of which are also hidden. Japan most recently, in an ostensible attempt to save their journalists from being beheaded, has gone into the lions den – Israel, cutting deals which are not clear. But we do know clearly that Japan does not like us anymore. They think the TPP isn’t even worth discussing. They want the US military out, out, out. They have done deals with other countries; surely they have done big deals with China. Just as China has done big deals all around the Pacific. Even with us. The big bone our “government” claims seems to be that other countries have government owned enterprises (socialized industries) that compete unfairly with US corporations. It is always implied that US corporations do not have the advantages of being subsidized by the state. Give me a tiny break. Our corporations are the biggest babies on the planet. It’s all socialized losses for us whether from our own corporations or China’s. I’ve gotta conclude that trade is the problem. If every country has to play down and dirty with subsidies – why trade at all? Huh?

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