…’free’ trade, ‘full’ employment…only wapo…Posted: 2014-01-12
…the perils of tardiness – the ever vigilant and acerbic Dean Baker has just done his bit…
Really, now. We would think that with all the analysis done on the thing and voluminous comments, with the leak from WikiLeaks on couple chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we would think prudence, that caution would prevail before even daring putting ink to the paper, digits to the keyboard. But no. That thing about ‘fools rush in’. And that, even after the NYT editorial on the TPP that even the casually attentive econ. 101 would have said, ‘Ehn?’. Yes, WaPo is at it again.
This time WaPo uses the very recent dismal US economic news on unemployment as its launchpad into lunacy or to bamboozle a totally disengaged readership – support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Most on the planet who are informed by other than US cable news and its other corporate MSM would have long known that things were already not so hot, since they would have read Dean Baker, Joe Stiglitz and Yves Smith among many other luminaries – not that lesser luminaries had not weighed in, but that thing about ‘commanding presence’, ‘authority’. So where do we begin?
Let’s see that Nafta thing with its cornucopia of nice things for labour, north and south of the border – after 20 years of Nafta more than enough evidence was in, as affected labour would attest. Back to WaPo and its editorial, A free-trade bill that could help bolster the U.S. economy. Yes, that’s the title. And the two classic beginning paragraphs.
THE DEVASTATING impact of the Great Recession lingers on, as the unexpectedly poor Labor Department report on December job growth showed. The unemployment rate shrank three-tenths of a percent, to 6.7 percent, but mostly because 347,000 working-age people left the labor force altogether, while a mere 74,000 got hired. It doesn’t help matters that a disproportionate number of the jobless are long-term unemployed — and that Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment benefits for them on Capitol Hill.
Fortunately, though, a bipartisan group in Congress is pressing ahead with at least one measure that could help the U.S. economy grow and create employment: legislation to strengthen President Obama’s hand in negotiations for expanded free trade with Europe and the Pacific Rim.
And that bipartisan lot is certainly the group to ensure that such ‘partnerships’ are, as have been described, in the case of the TPP, ‘Nafta on steroids’. And we cite Yves Smith who had been on Moyers & Co with Dean Baker sometime back, and on the same theme, Obama Lame Duck Watch: House Democrats Stymieing Trade Deal “Fast Track;” Silicon Valley Surveillance Payoff Language Published. And, as she observes, an excerpt,
So Boehner has said he can’t deliver the votes himself, yet the Administration can’t even get a sponsor or much (any?) shift in Democratic votes even after whipping.
It probably didn’t help that close readers found payoff-to-Silicon-Valley language on page 18 of the recently-abandoned Senate fast track language (Glenn Greenwald was one; I was alerted separately by a DC insider):
C) to ensure that governments refrain from implementing trade related measures that impede digital trade in goods and services, re-strict cross-border data flows, or require local storage or processing of data;
So this, for instance, this provision would prohibit the imposition of a data tax proposed by France as a way to deal with “base erosion,” which is bureaucrat-speak for the tricks tech firms like Google, Apple, and Twitter play to avoid paying European taxes. European Commission president José Manuel Barroso has voiced strong support for the idea.
But the Senate language thus doesn’t just help preserve the profits of major US technology players and data brokers; just as important, it allows the NSA to continue to use them as vehicles for spying. This provision would also task the Administration to use the trade deal to bar a proposed EU proposal to fine firms that violate privacy laws by giving information to the NSA and the GHCQ. From the Telegraph last October:
Britain will clash with France on Thursday over European Union data protection laws that will cost British businesses £360m every year as Europe tries to wrest control of the internet away from America…
So what are the other goodies for the unwashed gullible, aside the ephemeral promise of employment and higher wages? Well, imposition of Intellectual Property ‘rights’ for the corporations, and a reward for and protection of ICT firms for their complicity with the US government in conducting economic and other espionage on other countries, their citizens, governments and businesses. Yves Smith nails it.
And to tie things into a neat bundle we have this bit of information on the corporate aspects of the US legislature (and government) that should come as no surprise, It’s Official, Congress Is Run By Millionaires. As DS Wright put it over at fdl,
Next time you wonder why Congress is so out of touch with the average American – don’t. According to financial disclosures, for the first time in history Congress is now majority millionaire. The 1% don’t just own the government, they operate it.
The pattern is the same in other branches, pervasive – opensecrets.org is one site for information on how ‘the bread is spread’. Of course, the greater rewards reaped for ensuring passage of special legislation can be bestowed on the very facilitators upon leaving office. So, now, what’s this thing about these ‘free’ trade agreements that generate employment and, if so, more than ‘living’ wages?
Thus, given the option of reputable blogs and the very corporate WaPo, where should the discriminating reader look? 2014 will be the year of The Great Leap from disinformation and misinformation. What follows that leap is another question…