The trade deal crusaders: Can they never learn?
Since trade barriers are already low, the TPP and other “trade” deals are not really about free trade, they are about setting up a business friendly structure of regulation. While a few representatives of labor unions and consumer groups got to sit on the working groups that provide input on drafts of the TPP, according to a Washington Post analysis, 85 percent of the members came from business groups.
The TPP and other next generation trade deals are also about putting in place stronger and longer patent and copyright protections (yes, that is “protections” as in “protectionism,” the opposite of free trade). The proponents of these trade deals continue to argue, almost as a holy cause, that we have to move forward with their agenda or something bad will happen.
If the issue is just that we need ever more trade deals, we can come up with directions that will increase the flows of goods and services between countries. How about a trade pact that reduces the barriers for the most highly paid professionals? Doctors are prohibited from practicing medicine in the United States unless they complete a U.S. residency program. Dentists have to graduate from a U.S. dental school (Canadian dental school graduates have been allowed in recent years.)
These and other barriers are classic protectionist measures. Yet, our “free traders” invariably look dumbfounded when asked how come these barriers persist in spite of their massive efforts at liberalizing trade over the last three decades.
Apparently, protectionism is only a problem when it might benefit less-educated workers. The protectionism that benefits the friends and family members of the people who negotiate trade deals is just fine. (And for those concerned about brain drain from developing countries, we know how to compensate them for the loss of highly trained workers so that they can train two or three professionals for everyone that comes to the United States.)Populist Prole likes thisYou've heard of the Good Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the West, right? I'm the Morally Ambiguous Witch of the Northwest.
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