Thursday, June 18, 2015


Political Mayhem Thursday: Trade Policy!

So, it looks like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has been derailed, largely by Democrats. I'm a little confused about it, but IPLawGuy sent me some good clarification:

I think Charles Lane’s (not a right wing nut) column explains TPP well:
[The]  four high-wage nations — Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand — accounted for 56 percent of all goods traded with the United States in the TPP area during 2014, according to U.S. International Trade Commission data.

Lower-wage Mexico, Peru and Chile account for roughly 36 percent of TPP-area goods traded — yet the United States already has free-trade agreements with them, so they represent zero new low-wage competition for U.S. workers. The United States has trade surpluses with Peru and Chile, by the way.

TPP candidate Singapore has no minimum wage; so what? It’s a city-state of 5.5 million people, with a per capita income of more than $55,000 per year , and with which the United States already has free trade — and a $14 billion 2014 trade surplus.

A mere 5 percent of TPP-area trade in goods involves Vietnam and Malaysia — where wages are, indeed, substantially lower than in the United States, and with which the United States does not already have free trade. The United States has trade deficits with both.

--So if Lane is right, the only problematic nations are Vietnam and Malaysia.   But if we’re concerned about our influence in the Far East (vis a vis China), we need to do deals with them.

Like you I remain ambivalent (somewhat confused) about these free-trade deals. I generally fall on the side of free trade because the people I respect the most who know the most about it generally come down on free trade and many of the people I view as demagogic yahoos (on both sides of the aisle) inveigh against it with such conspiratorial vitriol.

I think everybody agrees that the free trade era has raised the standard of living for poor people across the globe (generally a bigger boost for the people of the world than American citizens). Free trade is clearly good for a lot of Americans, and no one has proven to my satisfaction that free trade has actually hurt the American economy or American workers (no actual recorded evidence of that "big sucking sound").

I bemoan the obvious reality that the American economy and the American working person have plenty to complain about--and generally no one is listening to or acting on their valid concerns. On the whole, I see free trade as a peripheral positive not a negative--but mostly outside of the scope of our real problems and solutions.

I would vote with the President.
Hmmm... I suspect that job loss is not uniform. People in some sectors really got hurt by NAFTA.

Obviously, the racial terrorism in Charleston happened after I posted this. We will deal with that tomorrow in lieu of haiku Friday.
Did some sectors really get hurt by NAFTA, or was it inevitable anyway? How much manufacturing moved from the U.S. to Mexico (or Canada) that wasn't going to leave for someplace else anyway. Manufacturing started to leave the U.S. in the 60's and 70's. The steel industry was dead by the late 70's, the car companies took FOREVER to deal with Japanese and German imports and so on and so on.

I think the "wealth gap" and the shrinking (by percentage) middle class is a truly scary problem in this country. Part of that problem is the disappearance of good blue collar jobs that a family could live on. But was it really NAFTA, or more likely automation and cheap off shore labor? Those jobs were disappearing, NAFTA or no.

Amen, IPLG.
IPLG, did you go to the Nats game last night?
In no way do I mean that as a comment on your opinion of free trade. Your just the only Nats fan I (sort of) know.
Wait until The Donald becomes president and all jobs will come back to the US!!
Poncho guy is my hero! My seats are sensibly located about three steps from an overhang. I was standing there with my beer and scorecard when Poncho guy began his dance under the spotlight for his requisite 15 minutes of fame.
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