Monday, May 18, 2015

Unanswered questions about the TransPacific Partnership

Scriber thinks the most important questions about the TPP are the ones not answered by the current debate. From Sunday's

[PRO: It's good for business.] ... Trade-promotion authority for the president is one of the most economically significant issues of this president's tenure. Reasonable federal estimates of its overall impact project at least $77 billion per year in real income benefits for U.S. workers, gleaned from an annual addition of $305 billion in U.S. exports to the 12 countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

[CON: It's bad for the American worker.] But, as The Arizona Republic's Rebekah Sanders reported last week, Sinema in particular has come under intense pressure from labor unions, which are the partnership's most vocal opponents. Kirkpatrick reportedly has signaled privately her opposition to the deal to her union supporters.

Both lawmakers need to keep in mind that the broader interests of their constituents beyond the union halls are at stake here.

Exactly! What are those "broader interests"? What is the big picture? What is the broad vision of the future? What is the place of the American worker in that future?

These are questions not answered, or rarely (never?) asked, in the debate over TPP. For example, The Republic urges Congresswomen Kirkpatrick ad Sinema to vote for it because of the projections of the cash flow from projected trade balances. But that reasoning is short term and dismisses the concerns of those (unions) concerned with loss of jobs here at home. It does not take into account the secrecy shrouding the document and its development. It does not address the likely law suits brought against governments by corporations because of supposed loss of projected profits.

So I think there must be some grand vision of the future in the minds of those supporters of TPP (including President Obama). Why not share it? Tell us how the American worker fits into that vision. Is the employment of low-wage workers in Asia worth disruption in the work force at home?

I am an empirical scientist. I value fact-based decision making. I value articulation of policies (theories in science) that guide admission of facts to our discussions. Please, someone, give me a grand theory that answers my questions about TPP and the future of the planet. Until that happens, I am inclined to think the worst of the secrecy and prohibition on public debate. As a result, I remain deeply suspicious of the promised benefits of TPP.

UPDATE: This editorial from Bloomberg View reprinted in this morning's Daily Star does not come anywhere close to providing the grand world view. Basically the point is something like "you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs." What is the end point of the globalization fostered by TPP? What does a completely globalized world look like? And where does the American work force fit in to that world?

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