A broad, sweeping, global treaty which will/may fundamentally shift how trade is done in the world and in the USA is still secret and thanks to Senate Republicans is halfway to getting “fast track” status. That is the treaty will be voted on for final approval by Congress with a simple “yes” or “no” vote, without debate or amendments. That doesn’t seem right to me.
Now I am all for free trade. I think goods and services should flow without friction across borders. I say make it easier for this to happen. This creates opportunity and better goods at better prices for nearly everyone.
When I was a kid I used to get Sears brand sneakers with my mom. (Fashion was not a priority for my parents when it came to the kids.) Every 6 months or so I’d get a new pair. The cost was $35-$40.
Fast forward to now. At Target kid sneakers of much higher quality than my Sears kicks can be purchased at about the same price or even lower. And this isn’t even in inflation adjusted terms. Adjusting for inflation, these higher quality sneakers are probably HALF the price of my old sneakers, or even less.
This is an example of free trade raising the quality of life generally.
The same can be said for t-shirts, technology, any number of things. Our lives are for the most part much better because of relatively free trade.
Of course there are losers in this equation. The people who used to make my Sears brand sneakers no longer have a job making Sears brand sneakers. That’s true. But generally life is better in America for all those Chinese made goods which are made for us at lower cost and with higher quality (often) than products made in the States.
But it concerns me that the Trans Pacific Partnership, a supposedly “free trade” agreement, is being handled with such secrecy. This giant agreement has been negotiated and is being voted on (at least fast track authority) by the Congress, without any public review at all. Is this how we do business in the USA now? Are our leaders so afraid that the people will rise up in opposition that government must now be done in the shadows?
Cartels rarely survive very long without the backing of the government. The big trusts over the years have only continued on over the long term if they had the protection of the state. In a free market with free prices monopolists are constantly undermined by new firms, with newer equipment and better methods. There is no better trust buster than the market.
If however the companies in power at a particular time can buy into the government and create a regulatory moat around their firms the old, less innovative guard can remain in place. A key part of crony capitalism.
Below the master Murray Rothbard discusses this phenomenon in a short excerpt.
There are more groups like Crossroads out there these days. More dogs. But more important than that is that Rove and American Crossroads are associated with George Bush and an era of big government “conservatism”. George Bush and Karl Rove blew up the modern (Reaganish) conservative movement. Many have not forgotten this. That Rove has explicitly targeted the libertarian/conservative coalition hasn’t earned him any friends either in a rapidly changing party.
Of course many people besides Congressman Hensarling are behind the effort to kill the Export-Import Bank of the United States, often called “Boeing’s Bank.” But he is leading the charge on the Hill.
It consists of fees from speeches which were originally reported as “revenue” and not “donations.”
Eternal vigilance as they say. We need to keep our eyes open and trained on Washington. An important victory for free speech and the American people.
Some of our older readers might not like this one. Thing is, it’s true.
Because people who typically go into government are power hungry control freaks who have something to prove to their dads, the elementary school bullies they grew up with or both. That’s my theory.
This is a huge piece of legislation. The administration (and many others) want a simple up or down vote on the treaty and no debate (or amendments) in Congress. Obama would prefer the TPP pass before we get to see what’s in it. Some in Congress are saying that they don’t want to do that again.
Some of our more statist readers (and we love you) are prone to saying, “But, but, Scandinavia…etc., etc.” whenever we talk about the ills of socialism and big government generally.
Sorry folks but it ain’t no paradise.
Below is just a small, but scary example of Nordic statism gone nuts for you to consider.
OK, Boeing has every right to go wherever it chooses as far as I’m concerned but this sort of posturing should be kept in mind when it comes time to award defense contracts. Basically the company is holding a gun on some members of congress and demanding money from the taxpayers—or else. This kind of behavior should not be rewarded.
Technology and open sourced methods of organization—of people, money, and information—represent a real threat to the crony capitalist system.
Cronies are like mushrooms, they grow best in the dark. For too long Washington has been a dank cave of insider dealing and general corruption*. Money is made (legally stolen?) in the shadows.
Time for some sunshine.
The Chamber of Commerce is supposed to champion “the spirit of enterprise.” Guess just not “free” enterprise.
It’s a simple concept but one which is lost on many modern economists and lay people alike.
In the event of an economic downturn get government out of the way. Let markets clear. Then like a forest after a forest fire the economy will come back with real growth.
Of course no one likes this idea—the one that actually works—because when things go bad everyone wants leaders “to do something, anything!” This action from planners and pols then in turn extends recessions/depressions as was the case during the Great Depression and the most recent depression.
But this was not the case during the acute, but short, 1920-1921 depression. Lack of government action allowed the system to correct and thereby lessened the long term pain.
The unions don’t like it. Many libertarians and free market types don’t like it. But Obama and the Chamber of Commerce are keen. Something smells here.
Something else to keep in mind. Just because something is called free trade doesn’t mean it actually is free trade. My bet, and the author alludes to this, is that the agreement will be full of crony nooks and crannies. Nooks and crannies some would prefer the public not learn about.
Until it’s too late.