What ever happened to Democracy?
We the People of America, in Order to form a more “perfect” economy, establish corporate tyranny, insure domestic labor discontent, liberate ourselves from our democratic rights, to promote the corporate Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Money for not our, but our leaders’ Posterity, do ordain and establish this Secret Trans-pacific Trade Partnership through the hands of the ‘Wicked Witch of Washington’.
In current US trade news, there is hardly a page to be read that does not at the very least hint to the negotiations and impact the Trans Pacific Partnership [TPP] will have on the domestic and international economy. Intending to improve trade, investment, and economic growth between 12 countries in the Pacific region*, which account for a total of over 40% of world GDP currently, the TPP has been subject to much controversy and criticism in respect to negotiation secrecy, intellectual property rights, job/wage security and environmental externalities, from peoples’ rights activists, political representatives, labor unions, and environmental groups respectively. Much of this controversy has been amplified by the publication and revelation of the intellectual property rights section of the TTP agreement by WikiLeaks. But where is the American Public Voice?
Besides the varying lobbies that have worked tirelessly on all ends to promote and inhibit the passing of Fast-Track trade legislation and the approval of the TPP by the US, the reader’s attention must be drawn to a part of this debate that focuses less on the outcomes and impact of the TPP but rather more on the human political matter behind passing trade legislation. Trade agreements such as NAFTA and countless contracts before, display precisely how little democratic influence and power the people of the United States of America, have retained since the overthrow of the British Colonial Empire in 1776.
Sure, you can say what you want on the internet (“Freedom” of Speech), you may carry a gun to your dinner table at the local restaurant (Right to be[ar] a[rms] Cowboy), where you are now allowed to enjoy supper with a African American friend (Thank you Lincoln) as long as he is heterosexual however (AZ please wake up…). BUT, you as the average American worker have no opportunity to voice your opinion on your countries foreign trade negotiations, that is, unless you happen to pocket millions of dollars in bonuses as the CEO of “Government Motors”. These negotiations, if not directly on you, very likely will have an economic impact on somebody you love in your local community.
That being said, we can neither neglect the argument that many citizens are tragically un-, under-, and misinformed about the majority of political movements in their country, and are unlikely to make a decision that accurately reflects their needs and is in the best interest of society as a whole. Returning to the secrecy and corporate undertone of the TPP, it is to a certain degree necessary to keep the public out of negotiations and streamline the process at the hands of ‘market’ professionals for a greater good.
However, what we really strive for, not just since the world financial crisis, is ever more becoming an economic Utopia: Lowering trade barriers to grow the economy while protecting the domestic industry, job creating and raising wages for all Americans while outsourcing cheaper labor regardless of skill to garner greater profits, eradicating diseases in the un/underdeveloped world while property rights are strictly enforced and children in Detroit go to school without breakfast. The paradox is clear and has been hidden for far too long. Opening trade barriers, converges prices for laborers raising the wages for workers in less developed countries while causing the opposite effect for workers in the developed countries. However price baskets never decrease in price as much as wages have comparatively. Capital abundant industries and countries live for this exact labor cost cutting and profit maximizing.
The economic pushes and pulls the TPP will have on the American Economy can hardly be discussed in a PhD Thesis, never mind this blog post. Before we close however I would like to leave the reader with a few last thoughts and economic facts:
The United States, the country with the world’s largest GDP, and a GDP per capita PPP of $51,700, over $17,000 more than the European Union average, according to the CIA in 2011, reported a Gini coefficient of 0.45. This income inequality is equivalent to measurements of a majority of third world and developing countries, while the EU boasts a 0.3 Gini Coefficient in comparison.
Is it not about time that we clear our front yard before we tackle the jungle?
“The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government” (FDR).