Trade policy is so f*cked.

I posted the entirety of Joe Biden’s op-ed in the Financial Times on my tumblr. This violates FT’s copyrights but I honestly couldn’t care less. The VP’s pandering to the global business community needs be in the public domain. Also if they send a take down, that would be hilarious. Anyway, here were my thoughts after reading that op-ed.

The actual topic of this piece (which is alluded to but isn’t uttered once) is the issue that BRICs countries—particularly China—will start laying down the rules for the global economy and become ever more geopolitically influential. It’s too complicated to say whether that’s a good or a bad thing here. What I know for sure is that that is a despicable justification for the US to rush into setting new international regulatory standards that they think will benefit the economy. Sadly, our public representatives seem to believe that means expanding the rights and profits of corporations.

There’s no doubt there are those in office who do this for the explicit benefit of the “1%”, because they identify as such or are being influenced by them to do their bidding. But I think it also stems from a fear and an overall sense of uncertainty about how to create stability. It’s convenient to point to reports about jobs, markets, and GDP, and associate these cold measurements to economic security, then go on to make the assumption that whatever entities must be fueling these growth factors is what should be protected. It’s much harder to get popular support for policies that may in fact give people more economic independence and more autonomy over their livelihood.

As I already said, there are clearly people in public office who are extending corporate interests in trade and domestic policies because they’re actually that depraved…I think for the others, it just seems safer to prop up and give in to the demands of the industries that already exist, that already employ 10,000’s of people, and already have factories and infrastructure built up—whether or not those companies truly care or pay enough to its employees to live off of doesn’t seem to be part of the equation. Maybe Obama, Biden, members of the Office of the US Trade Representative, and everyone else who unequivocally support these secret trade agreements are just corporate cronies. It could also be that some of them only know how to recognize stability by certain measures and aren’t able to look beyond them to see other policies that ensure more widespread and equalized opportunities. I’m willing to give some benefit of the doubt.

Anyway. It just comes down to the fact that these policies need to be made out in the open so the public can have these discussions about what policies are beneficial or harmful to us. Based upon previous policies and what we’ve already seen from these existing deals, we have no reason to trust the administration’s claims that these trade agreements are going to benefit our shared common interests.

That was me when I had the patience on Thursday to be more thoughtful. I have one more late night nugget of rage:

In the op-ed, Biden says, “We have an opportunity to shape the path of global commerce to spread our values and benefit our people, and we should seize it.”

What values is he referring to here exactly? Does he mean democracy, transparency, and the adherence to a system of government where the people have the right to know and influence our state’s policies? That’s funny…cuz the very opportunity we apparently need to “seize” is one major example of how the U.S. is taking a steaming hot shit on those values. He must be fucking kidding us. Do they honestly think that passing secret policies to criminalize culture, hack away at users’ rights, empower corporations to sue countries, make lifesaving drugs too expensive for millions in poverty, is a means to “spread our values and benefit our people”?

This other article in the Financial Times this week is even more drenched in neoliberal crazysauce. In a nutshell, the FT’s World Trade Editor is arguing that Paul Krugman’s article questioning the overall premise of recent not-actually-about-trade trade agreements, is missing the point…because it’s actually about NATIONAL SECURITY. Securing our trading relationships with these countries, apparently, is one way to make sure we don’t go to eventually invade them…………………or as this guy flippantly says, to make sure we export cars, not tanks. Get it? Cuz they’re both vehicles but they represent different kinds of foreign policy. Gawd so clever…!!!

Seriously though there’s so much wrong with this premise I don’t even know where to start and it’s too late for me to even try. But this makes me hope even more for a similar kind of rule, like Godwin’s Law, that for any given state policy that does not fulfill an actual need or productive purpose other than to empower corporations or the state, the probability that its supporters will invoke “national security” grows ever more likely as they work to legitimize it.

This article from Umair Haque made me feel a lot better this weekend. I am totally bought into the idea that our generation is gonna be the ones to start fixing this goddamn mess of a world so reading it felt affirming.


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