Trans-Pacific Partnership

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Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Radaghast on Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:31 pm

This has been a matter of controversy lately and all indications are that it is a very bad thing. The TPP has been negotiated in secret and it's only because it was leaked that people know anything about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Partnership

I was wondering if anyone else here had any thoughts on the subject.


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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:33 pm

I hadnt heard of this before- on the surface it seems not unlike the EU trade agreement within its borders. But I shall have to find out more.

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Radaghast on Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:36 pm

It appears that the UK is not listed as a potential member. Interesting.

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:42 pm

I dont think any EU member state is, and I suspect if that is the case then it is because they are in the EU that they are not on the list.

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Eldorion on Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:52 pm

Neoliberals gonna neoliberal.
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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Radaghast on Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:18 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:I dont think any EU member state is, and I suspect if that is the case then it is because they are in the EU that they are not on the list.
That's an interesting point as well.

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by halfwise on Wed Jan 15, 2014 7:17 pm

Of EU is not on the list, they're not on the Pacific.

Any of these controversies are extremely wonky - I'm not sure I'd say negotiations were done in secret so much as they didn't bother to broadcast it, because, how many people would really care?  Don't see why it should cause a fuss except for those directly affected by patent and copyright laws.

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Eldorion on Wed Jan 15, 2014 7:27 pm

Most of the controversies of the TPP seem like they apply more or less equally to other free-trade agreements, such as NAFTA. Naturally this is going to attract support and condemnation from the usual suspects on both sides of the debate over globalization.
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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Radaghast on Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:20 pm

halfwise wrote:Of EU is not on the list, they're not on the Pacific.
D'oh! :facepalm: Embarassed

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by bungobaggins on Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:31 pm


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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Radaghast on Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:33 pm

halfwise wrote:Any of these controversies are extremely wonky - I'm not sure I'd say negotiations were done in secret so much as they didn't bother to broadcast it, because, how many people would really care?  Don't see why it should cause a fuss except for those directly affected by patent and copyright laws.
I don't think it's supposed to work like that; that you can choose not to disclose specifics of a trade agreement to the public. The fact that any info had to be leaked says a lot.

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Radaghast on Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:48 pm


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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Eldorion on Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:11 pm

Radaghast wrote:I don't think it's supposed to work like that; that you can choose not to disclose specifics of a trade agreement to the public. The fact that any info had to be leaked says a lot.

They're not going to be signing a secret treaty that institutes a bunch of laws that no one knows.  They're simply keeping the negotiations private rather than announcing stuff before it's been decided on by the diplomatic/economic folks.  Then it will be up for ratification in each country and everyone will be able to read the document.  You can criticize the lack of transparency in the drafting process, but there isn't some shadowy cabal writing this thing.

Expose the TPP wrote:The Trans-Pacific Partnership n. 1. A "free trade" agreement that would set rules on non-trade matters such as food safety, internet freedom, medicine costs, financial regulation, and the environment.

Those are all trade-related issues.  I don't know what else to say ... free trade agreements tend to cover subjects such as these.

Expose the TPP wrote:2. A binding international governance system that would require the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and any other country that signs on to conform their domestic policies to its rules.

Well yes, that's how international treaties work.  And it's largely government parties that are pushing for this agreement in the first place.  Some will argue that smaller countries will be bullied into this agreement by larger ones, but I'm skeptical of such claims since free trade agreements often bring benefits to elites.  Whether it brings benefits to average citizens in either developed or developing nations are two separate questions.

Look, I get why this bothers people.  I'm not a big fan of free trade agreements in general; I guess I have mixed feelings about them.  But calling it a step towards corporate hegemony or whatever just isn't accurate.  It's an idea born of neoliberal economics a la Milton Friedman, so it's pro-business, pro-capitalism, anti-regulation, and anti-protectionism.  One can certainly argue that negative effects will result from this, and I would be inclined to agree.  But it's closest analog, NAFTA, just passed its 20th anniversary and democracy has not fallen yet.  (Before someone says that American democracy is hopelessly corrupted by business, the influence of private economic interests has been going since long before NAFTA or the modern era of free trade, and was probably worse in the 19th century than it is today.)

I do understand that people trying to rally public support for or against a cause like this need to make it simple and easy to understand for laymen, but I get touchy about oversimplification sometimes. Razz
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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by bungobaggins on Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:18 pm

So, is this the new thing that people are getting mad about that they'll forget in a couple weeks? I think the last one was the NSA.

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Radaghast on Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:39 pm

Eldorion wrote:
Radaghast wrote:I don't think it's supposed to work like that; that you can choose not to disclose specifics of a trade agreement to the public. The fact that any info had to be leaked says a lot.
They're not going to be signing a secret treaty that institutes a bunch of laws that no one knows.  They're simply keeping the negotiations private rather than announcing stuff before it's been decided on by the diplomatic/economic folks.  Then it will be up for ratification in each country and everyone will be able to read the document.  You can criticize the lack of transparency in the drafting process, but there isn't some shadowy cabal writing this thing.
Well, again, they have not disclosed any details to the public. Everyone will, of course, know the details once the agreement has been put into the effect, but the public has not been allowed a place at the negotiating table.
Eldorion wrote:
Expose the TPP wrote:The Trans-Pacific Partnership n. 1. A "free trade" agreement that would set rules on non-trade matters such as food safety, internet freedom, medicine costs, financial regulation, and the environment.

Those are all trade-related issues.  I don't know what else to say ... free trade agreements tend to cover subjects such as these.
Yes, but it's the nature of the rules that are concerning.

Expose the TPP wrote:2. A binding international governance system that would require the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and any other country that signs on to conform their domestic policies to its rules.
Well yes, that's how international treaties work.  And it's largely government parties that are pushing for this agreement in the first place.  Some will argue that smaller countries will be bullied into this agreement by larger ones, but I'm skeptical of such claims since free trade agreements often bring benefits to elites.  Whether it brings benefits to average citizens in either developed or developing nations are two separate questions.
Yes, governments are pushing for it. They're the ones who have the authority to. The ones who benefit (corporations) can't be seen to be pushing for it.

Anyway, even if fears prove ultimately groundless isn't it worth looking at it in more detail? There are a lot of things being said about this that merit further review.

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Radaghast on Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:41 pm

bungobaggins wrote:So, is this the new thing that people are getting mad about that they'll forget in a couple weeks? I think the last one was the NSA.
The NSA is still a matter of controversy and concern, I think. They are still authorized to look at phone records and emails.

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Eldorion on Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:46 pm

Radaghast wrote:Well, again, they have not disclosed any details to the public. Everyone will, of course, know the details once the agreement has been put into the effect, but the public has not been allowed a place at the negotiating table.

The agreement won't come into affect until/unless it has been ratified by the various states involved, and the terms of the treaty will naturally be made public during the ratification process.  There aren't going to be any laws that no one knows about until they're already in effect.  EDIT: I will say that I find the whole "fast track" option for ratification to be deeply distasteful and at odds with the separation of powers, though obviously the expansion of executive power has been going on for centuries.

Yes, but it's the nature of the rules that are concerning.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this.

Yes, governments are pushing for it. They're the ones who have the authority to. The ones who benefit (corporations) can't be seen to be pushing for it.

I could be misinterpreting your posts, but it sounds like you're implying the governments are simply doing the bidding of their secretive corporate masters.  To be clear, I think that the revolving door between government and business is a problem, but I don't think the government is being secretly controlled by businesses.  The problem is simply how many people have feet in both camps.  Then again, there are plenty of people who genuinely believe in neoliberal economics and free trade even if they won't see a big payday as a result.

Anyway, even if fears prove ultimately groundless isn't it worth looking at it in more detail? There are a lot of things being said about this that merit further review.

I'm not cheering for this to be adopted -- I think free-trade agreements come with downsides for many people -- and I'm all for increased transparency in the drafting process.  I think it'd be great if labor, environmental, and the Internet advocacy groups were given representation at the negotiating table the same as business interests.  But I don't think this is an unprecedented new step or anything, and I'm uncomfortable with some of the fearmongering (not talking about you here, just a general comment from reading/hearing a variety of reactions to this).


Last edited by Eldorion on Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by bungobaggins on Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:05 pm

Radaghast wrote:
bungobaggins wrote:So, is this the new thing that people are getting mad about that they'll forget in a couple weeks? I think the last one was the NSA.
The NSA is still a matter of controversy and concern, I think. They are still authorized to look at phone records and emails.

I agree, but that doesn't mean that anyone is going to take any action to try to fix it.

I think it goes something like this:

1. Person learns of problem/agenda that has been hidden from them.
2. Person gets mad.
3. Person sees others on the internet who are enraged. A momentary sense of solidarity is reached. An internet petition is usually drafted somewhere in here.
4. Person realizes that they can't really do anything about it.
5. Person learns of the next hidden problem/agenda etc.
6. Cycle repeats.

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Radaghast on Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:38 pm

Eldorion wrote:The agreement won't come into affect until/unless it has been ratified by the various states involved, and the terms of the treaty will naturally be made public during the ratification process.  There aren't going to be any laws that no one knows about until they're already in effect.  EDIT: I will say that I find the whole "fast track" option for ratification to be deeply distasteful and at odds with the separation of powers, though obviously the expansion of executive power has been going on for centuries.
I can only hope you're right.

Yes, but it's the nature of the rules that are concerning.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this.
I'm referring to what the opponents of this agreement are saying the agreement proposes to do.

Yes, governments are pushing for it. They're the ones who have the authority to. The ones who benefit (corporations) can't be seen to be pushing for it.

I could be misinterpreting your posts, but it sounds like you're implying the governments are simply doing the bidding of their secretive corporate masters.  To be clear, I think that the revolving door between government and business is a problem, but I don't think the government is being secretly controlled by businesses.  The problem is simply how many people have feet in both camps.  Then again, there are plenty of people who genuinely believe in neoliberal economics and free trade even if they won't see a big payday as a result.
I do believe government is influenced (to put it lightly) by big money, yes; mainstream media as well.

Anyway, even if fears prove ultimately groundless isn't it worth looking at it in more detail? There are a lot of things being said about this that merit further review.

I'm not cheering for this to be adopted -- I think free-trade agreements come with downsides for many people -- and I'm all for increased transparency in the drafting process.  I think it'd be great if labor, environmental, and the Internet advocacy groups were given representation at the negotiating table the same as business interests.  But I don't think this is an unprecedented new step or anything, and I'm uncomfortable with some of the fearmongering (not talking about you here, just a general comment from reading/hearing a variety of reactions to this).
True, some of it may be fear come off as fear mongering. I think this is unavoidable in some cases when trying to raise awareness of certain issues.

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Radaghast on Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:39 pm

bungobaggins wrote:
Radaghast wrote:
bungobaggins wrote:So, is this the new thing that people are getting mad about that they'll forget in a couple weeks? I think the last one was the NSA.
The NSA is still a matter of controversy and concern, I think. They are still authorized to look at phone records and emails.
I agree, but that doesn't mean that anyone is going to take any action to try to fix it.

I think it goes something like this:

1. Person learns of problem/agenda that has been hidden from them.
2. Person gets mad.
3. Person sees others on the internet who are enraged. A momentary sense of solidarity is reached. An internet petition is usually drafted somewhere in here.
4. Person realizes that they can't really do anything about it.
5. Person learns of the next hidden problem/agenda etc.
6. Cycle repeats.
This unfortunately does appear to be the pattern. But I'd still rather some attention is paid to certain issues than none.

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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by David H on Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:07 pm

Eldorion wrote:I could be misinterpreting your posts, but it sounds like you're implying the governments are simply doing the bidding of their secretive corporate masters. To be clear, I think that the revolving door between government and business is a problem, but I don't think the government is being secretly controlled by businesses. The problem is simply how many people have feet in both camps. Then again, there are plenty of people who genuinely believe in neoliberal economics and free trade even if they won't see a big payday as a result.

Certainly there are plenty of genuine neoliberals in the wild, but it looks to me like they're disproportionately represented in the DC zoo.

I know you've studied this, Eldo. What do you think about the theory that the changing campaign finance and lobbying rules, not to mention gerrimandering, have given corporate neolibs an increasingly strong voice in Congress?
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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by David H on Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:13 pm

halfwise wrote:  Don't see why it should cause a fuss except for those directly affected by patent and copyright laws.

Perhaps, but if you consider biomedical patents, I think almost everybody will be significantly affected indirectly.
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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Eldorion on Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:39 pm

David H wrote:Certainly there are plenty of genuine neoliberals in the wild, but it looks to me like they're disproportionately represented in the DC zoo.

Undoubtedly.  However, I've run into enough honest-to-god neoliberals (curious, this happened despite me going to a state university Very Happy) that I'm wary of over-generalizing that side of the debate as nothing but greedy businessmen or corrupt lobbyists.  Not saying that's what anyone in this thread is doing, but I try to remind myself that plenty of people genuinely hold views that I might find baffling or opposed to ones own interests, and that I should avoid being overly judgmental.

I know you've studied this, Eldo. What do you think about the theory that the changing campaign finance and lobbying rules, not to mention gerrimandering, have given corporate neolibs an increasingly strong voice in Congress?

I'm unhappy about making it even easier for money to influence politics, but I'm hesitant to call it anything new.  That doesn't excuse it, obviously, but I think it's a better situation than it was back in the 19th century.  However, that's not to say that we should just sit by and allow measures to be rolled back (I'm being a little bit of a hypocrite here since I'm hardly on the front lines of political activism myself).  However, I think part of the reason for these changes is that we've seen a general swing to the right on economic matters since the late 1970s or early 1980s.  Thatcher and Reagan are the most prominent early examples of this, but as much as I disagree with their policies, I try to keep things in context.  The 1970s was a pretty shitty decade in a lot of ways and big-government policies that had been in place since the end of World War II were not working especially well at that time, so the movement to the right was a natural response to that.  Of course, the collapse of the Soviet Union a decade later did a lot to discredit the left in general, even those who didn't outright embrace Soviet communism, and did more to validate the neoliberal approach.  You can see the effect of such changes on supposedly left of center politicians in the 1990s like Clinton and Blair, who had to drag their parties significantly to the right in order to win.

However, I've read a number of interesting articles about the possibility of this changing.  For one, the economic crisis of c. 2008 has shaped a lot of young people's minds.  It remains to be seen if the effects of this will come close to matching the legacy of the 1970s' downturns, but it's made many people more accepting towards government intervention than they had been for a generation.  Even in America, the bastion of small-government conservatism that it is, people were fine with borderline nationalization in the financial and automotive industries, fine enough that the re-elected the President who was widely credited/blamed with those decisions (although a lot of wheels had started turning in the final months of the Bush administration), and re-elected him with a comfortable margin.  It will be very interesting to see how the generational divide between Clinton-era democrats, which includes Obama, and younger Elizabeth Warren supporter types plays out in the run-up to 2016.  On a more global scale, several countries have responded to the economic crisis with government intervention, and I think austerity may become discredited as its failed to solve the crisis.  The new President of France, Hollande, was opposed to austerity, though he seems to be changing his mind about that.  It's also worth noting that the Washington Consensus of laissez-faire capitalism is being challenged from the other side of the political spectrum, as plenty of developing countries are noticing that Russia and China are doing quite well for themselves following a pattern best described as state capitalism.

As for gerrymandering, I definitely think it's an issue.  I often hear it blamed for the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, since the Senate (which, for non-Americans, is elected by entire states rather than smaller electoral districts) has a Democrat majority.  I guess I have a different perspective than some since I live in an overwhelmingly Democratic state and so see how gerrymandering is used to marginalize Maryland Republicans and effectively rob them of their fair voice in elections.  I know the same thing happens in majority-Republican states, but I don't know if it's enough to tip the balance in the House.  The House is more likely than the Senate to have a greater percentage of Republicans since it has plenty of rural districts, whereas nearly all states have sizable urban pockets which lean more Democratic.  Regardless, I am all for removing the re-districting process, both state and federal, from legislatures and putting it all under the control of independent non-partisan bodies with strict guidelines about shapes and distribution.

Edit: sorry for the length, this post got a little bit out of hand! Razz
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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by David H on Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:49 pm

Eldorion wrote:I'm unhappy about making it even easier for money to influence politics, but I'm hesitant to call it anything new.  That doesn't excuse it, obviously, but I think it's a better situation than it was back in the 19th century.

I'm not sure that's a fair comparison though.

The USA was a very young country then, with less than 10% of the population and an infinitesimal part of the current GDP, and as  problems became apparent there were a series of regulations that aimed to correct them,( though admittedly some were better than others.)  Most of these are now obsolete, weakened, or have disappeared altogether. Add to the at the vastly greater wealth involved today, and the multinational nature of much of that wealth, and I think we have a potential problem that was undreamed of in the 19th century.

A better analogy might be 18th century and the international charter companies such as British East India Company. (And remember how that went! Wink )

There's a growing problem of the interests of the major corporations not really being aligned with the interests of the nation or its citizens that I just don't see in the 19th century. That's the concern I have with allowing corporate lobbyists such access to international trade regulations as this Trans-Pacific deal.
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Re: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Post by Eldorion on Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:55 pm

I don't know about national interest, since you can define that in many different ways, but I don't think the interests of large corporations in the 19th century were particularly aligned with the majority of citizens in their countries then either. That could be my inner Marxist speaking, though.

I don't have a problem with allowing business interests a seat at the negotiating table, but I think that if they are invited then other groups such as labor and environmental organizations should have the same access.
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