The most important new trade agreement is also the most secret.
June 9, 2015 10:49 PM   Subscribe

Wikileaks unveils the Trade In Services Agreement, covering 50 countries and with potential to affect up to 80% of the US economy. Under the agreement, governments may not be able to regulate staff to patient ratios in hospitals, or ban fracking, or tighten safety controls on airlines, or refuse accreditation to schools and universities. US regulation of Wall Street could be invalidated much the same way that public health policies against tobacco in Africa and Asia were struck down under currently existing international trade treaties. The text was to remain classified for five years AFTER being signed, and the White House is refusing to comment on "leaked negotiating documents."
posted by blankdawn (91 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 


Allowable regulations could not be “more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the service,” according to TiSA’s domestic regulation annex.

[sarcasm]The horror! [/sarcasm]

Seriously, it's hard to get outraged about something that's still in the process of being written, especially when the aims - more trade and development in largely free, non-Chinese countries - are so good.

And secondly: complex legal rules pertaining to economic regulation are technical and difficult to understand for laymen like me (and you). The context in which a rule says something about regulation, and the existing mechanisms for regulation, have to be understood. For example, EEA states already have to have arbitration systems and prevent discrimination with other EEA states, which limits the regulatory freedom of these states (and even more so the EU, and then there is NAFTA). International cooperation on regulation and trade is not a bad thing.

Expect lots of emotional campaigns from special interest groups over the next few years.
posted by alasdair at 11:27 PM on June 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


alasdair: "International cooperation on regulation and trade is not a bad thing. "

Nobody is saying that it is.
posted by rhizome at 11:33 PM on June 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


The more I read about TPP, it becomes more depressing how my state's Senators (Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell) have rallied behind this bad and secretive policy. I hope that Mrs. Clinton drops her support for this, but I'm not going to hold my breath.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:38 PM on June 9, 2015


If sensible cooperation on harmonizing international regulations is actually what is going on, there would be no need for the levels of secrecy and obfuscation that we are seeing across all of these negotiations. This is a bait and switch in the making
posted by Jakey at 11:58 PM on June 9, 2015 [71 favorites]


The more I read about TPP, it becomes more depressing how my state's Senators (Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell) have rallied behind this bad and secretive policy.

because of boeing -- cantwell got mcconnell to renew exim "a bank that supplies loans to many American companies, including Boeing, which is in Ms. Cantwell's district" -- like my dad was speculating wyden got behind TPP for nike...
posted by kliuless at 12:04 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


but I'm not going to hold my breath.
posted by a lungful of dragon


Eponysterical!
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:05 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Is this like when the ISPs banned municipal providers so they could create their own monopolies, but on a global scale? Remember, "competition is good for everyone!"
posted by JauntyFedora at 12:10 AM on June 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


Allowable regulations could not be “more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the service,” according to TiSA’s domestic regulation annex. [sarcasm]The horror! [/sarcasm]

Sans sarcasm tags, I agree. This establishes one more opportunity for forum-shopping industry legal teams to countermand the democratic process. We the People might want to decrease the amount of cadmium in the paint used on child toys; but the Philip Morris veterans will be great at finding a way to argue that's "more burdensome than necessary".

In my lifetime I've personally experienced what “more trade and development” does to water rights (less) and electric prices (more) and wetland protections (less) and about a zillion other things. The idea that it's a value-neutral goal with no external consequences is to me an amoral abomination: human rights demands the authority to pass laws regulating trade when it protects the general welfare.

The idea that it's acceptable to pass worker safety laws in response to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, but not acceptable to interfere with buying clothes from countries without such laws because mumble fumble "free trade", is the greatest subversion of democracy the modern world has ever seen.
posted by traveler_ at 12:12 AM on June 10, 2015 [115 favorites]


" the aims - more trade and development in largely free, non-Chinese countries - are so good. "
If the USofA is the World's Greatest and Most Free Country on the Face of the Earth, wouldn't any trade agreement with countries that are less so (even if they're "largely free") make us less so? NAFTA certainly went farther toward making the U.S. more like Mexico than making Mexico more like the U.S.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:15 AM on June 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Seriously, it's hard to get outraged about something that's still in the process of being written, especially when the aims - more trade and development in largely free, non-Chinese countries - are so good.

And secondly: complex legal rules pertaining to economic regulation are technical and difficult to understand for laymen like me (and you).


Speak for yourself, please. The main intended effect of this agreement, like the TPP, is to make it very difficult for nation-states to regulate the activities of multinationals by allowing corporations to challenge any national law that they don't like through investor/state dispute resolution. (The other intended effect is to increase economic integration amongst the parties, so that they end up forming a highly integrated economic bloc against China). I/S dispute resolution makes TISA very different from previous multilateral treaties.

The context in which a rule says something about regulation, and the existing mechanisms for regulation, have to be understood. For example, EEA states already have to have arbitration systems and prevent discrimination with other EEA states, which limits the regulatory freedom of these states (and even more so the EU, and then there is NAFTA).

State/state arbitration and investor/state arbitration are very different things.

International cooperation on regulation and trade is not a bad thing.

It certainly can be, if the effect is to eliminate democratic control of national economies.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 12:18 AM on June 10, 2015 [60 favorites]


Expect lots of emotional campaigns from special interest groups over the next few years.

Like the ones with huge piles of money spent to tell my extremely poorly-educated “conservative” relatives that anybody that criticizes this is a stinky, stinky hippie traitor communist-socialist-librul-facist-whatever.
posted by D.C. at 12:26 AM on June 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


The text was to remain classified for five years AFTER being signed

how can that even be a thing
posted by Sebmojo at 12:48 AM on June 10, 2015 [42 favorites]


I'd love to see some informed speculation about why Obama is pushing these bills so hard that doesn't boil down to him being a crypto-fascist. The most reasonable I've heard so far is that the vacuum of a failed trade deal would probably be filled by a China-backed treaty that is significantly more regressive on labor and the environment.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:00 AM on June 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


The dirty secret of globalization is that eventually the sort of "structural adjustment" done to the developing world must be made universal.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:19 AM on June 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


Also that political democracy can't survive without economic democracy, so we're not going to get either.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:21 AM on June 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'd love to see some informed speculation about why Obama is pushing these bills so hard that doesn't boil down to him being a crypto-fascist. The most reasonable I've heard so far is that the vacuum of a failed trade deal would probably be filled by a China-backed treaty that is significantly more regressive on labor and the environment.

Indeed. Particularly with TPP, it seems to have gotten the left's conspiracy juices flowing, the way the so called NAFTA Superhighway got conservatives all frothy in the past few years. At this stage, the TPP is much more an agreement to come to an agreement on the topic of trade. It'll be a fair while before any of this stuff really starts to get ironed out.

For all the free market ideals America likes to paint itself with, the US has always had a fairly strong protectionist streak, the very thing a free trade agreement would theoretically be designed to negate. And again, it's this protectionist streak that seems to be one of the sticking points for the TPP. The left (and populist right) is often broadly protectionist as a matter of prinicple, so they'll generally be agin' it no matter what. But more specifically, some corporate/moneyed interests are offering their own stumbling blocks in the form of resistance to giving up favorable tariffs and insisting on relatively tough IP policy, which is thought to be advantageous to some powerful American entities. Things which rising economies across the Pacific Rim reasonably feel will put them at a disadvantage.

I tend to think Obama (rightfully IMO) feels the TPP will do little hurt the US economy, keep the US on the forefront of hammering out international policy in a way that doesn't involve war, and will keep giants like China and Japan from dominating the talks to the detriment of smaller economies like Vientnam.

NAFTA certainly went farther toward making the U.S. more like Mexico than making Mexico more like the U.S.

An assertion like this needs some serious backing. Mexico has experienced a good deal of prosperity in the time since NAFTA, and US economic woes look to be a large part self inflicted and unrelated to NAFTA.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:04 AM on June 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


These things tend not to be bad for the US economy since the US is obviously the most powerful economic beast going into them and negotiates from this dominant position to ensure it gets the better deal. This is not to say that they don't help the other partner economies (for example Mexico in NAFTA) but that the dominant partner gets more economic benefits (or at least neo-liberal economic benefits - impacts on labour rights, environmental rights may mean not everyone comes out ahead).
posted by biffa at 2:17 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can anyone explain the potential value of such extended secrecy clauses? The areas being covered by the agreement in themselves seem fairly logical, but none of the defenses I have seen for TPP address the secrecy agreements.
posted by frumiousb at 2:32 AM on June 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Let's look at intellectual property from a theoretical level. In theory there is a certain length and extent of copyright/patent terms that is the optimum. If terms are less than that, the problem is that inventors/creators don't have enough incentive to invent and create stuff. (What stuff does get created and invented is very cheap though, as it can be quickly copied by anyone in the market). If terms are more than that, stuff is unnecessarily expensive because the rights-holders don't have competition. (There may or may not be enough stuff created, patent gridlock might actually mean less stuff gets created).

Most economists who've studied this, from Alex Tabarrok to Boldrin and Levine, think at the moment the terms are far, far over the optimum. This means consumers are getting stiffed, but the media companies are making lots of money unfairly.

These companies donate and lobby politicians. On some level, they've probably convinced Obama that very long intellectual property terms are necessary for business. On another level, he wants their donations. On another level, he fears the consequences if those donations go to right-wing idealogues instead.

The interests of big business are not necessarily the interests of the economy, but they're what get reflected in these deals.

As an aside, I'm currently reading this book which has a lot of detail on the secret treaties agreed during the First World War, including the notorious Sykes–Picot Agreement which is still having terrible consequences today.

When powerful people negotiate secret treaties to keep those oh-so-emotional, oh-so-irrational masses from interfering with the wisdom of the elites, quite often the wisdom of the elites turns out to be a long-term disaster...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:04 AM on June 10, 2015 [25 favorites]


The context in which a rule says something about regulation, and the existing mechanisms for regulation, have to be understood. For example, EEA states already have to have arbitration systems and prevent discrimination with other EEA states, which limits the regulatory freedom of these states (and even more so the EU, and then there is NAFTA). International cooperation on regulation and trade is not a bad thing.

Then why does it have to be negotiated in secret? Why does it have to remain secret after being signed? No law with a provision saying that can be good. Maybe I'm just a hick without the experienced eye to adjudicate matters of nuance in international trade agreements hyuck, but who is going to provide the commentary necessary to understand this deal if we can't even know about it until five years after signing?? John Oliver's staff can't research it if it's going to be so dang secret.

The main intended effect of this agreement, like the TPP, is to make it very difficult for nation-states to regulate the activities of multinationals by allowing corporations to challenge any national law that they don't like through investor/state dispute resolution.

Speaking of Last Week Tonight, recently they did a great piece on things like this when they covered the epidemic of tobacco smoking world-wide, which has The Company Formerly Known As Phillip-Morris suing nations that had the audacity to regulate how they could advertise and sell their product. YouTube 18m. It takes a bit to get to the place where the company's legal shenanigans is revealed, but stick with it. Right now, the TPP sounds like something that could take this strategy and open it up for lots of companies, removing a whole lot of barriers to money getting its way.
posted by JHarris at 3:29 AM on June 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


(I'm going to dial back saying it was former-Phillip-Morris who filed the suits, it's been a while since I saw the piece and am going by memory. The suits were filed though, I think by other companies.)
posted by JHarris at 3:33 AM on June 10, 2015


(Watching more of the video to remind myself, one of the companies is "Phillip Morris Asia," so I'm dialing back the dialing back.)
posted by JHarris at 3:37 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why does it have to remain secret after being signed?

So just to be clear, I think it's the DRAFTS that have to remain secret after signing. The agreement itself will have to be public when it comes time to ratify it.

The idea is that exposing the various drafts in the near future would expose the wrangling and trading: constituencies would refuse to endorse or ratify the agreement just because they're mad about a particular provision that got traded away.

Secret negotiations kind of make sense to me, for that reason: that's how you deal with principal-agent problems.

That's not a defense of the TPP itself: I really don't know what to think yet, and in some sense no one can know if it's good or bad until it's done, that's why the negotiations are secret, etc.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:40 AM on June 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


(Watching more of the video to remind myself, one of the companies is "Phillip Morris Asia," so I'm dialing back the dialing back.)

Yep, here's an article about Philip Morris Asia's case against Australia under some ill-advised I/S provisions of a treaty between Australia and Hong Kong. TPP/TISA will absolutely open the floodgates for this kind of thing.

Warning: the article contains images of Australian cigarette packets, which are kind of gruesome.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:42 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


When governments are negotiating on my behalf, I have a right to know what they are signing me up for. Thanks Wikileaks, you did good on this one.
posted by harriet vane at 3:43 AM on June 10, 2015 [21 favorites]


images of Australian cigarette packets, which are kind of gruesome.

Just the way I likes 'em.
/obvious ex-smoker

posted by Wolof at 4:04 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


constituencies would refuse to endorse or ratify the agreement just because they're mad about a particular provision that got traded away.

The current format lends itself to abuse in the opposite direction, though. I think we could all fairly easily envisage a situation where our representatives will claim that they advocated a particular provision and had to concede, and then we find out years after the fact that the opposite is true. The fix will be in, the bad actors gone and the opportunity for recourse and repair limited.

Given the current degree of regulatory and political capture, I think it we should be very concerned about risks of this type and we should not accept the degree of secrecy being imposed on these negotiations.
posted by Jakey at 4:11 AM on June 10, 2015 [7 favorites]




Telling how somehow a key international agreement that's supposed to remain super-top-secret all through the negotiation process and then for five years after signing is always explained by its supporters with a nice little pat on the head and the words "It's not for laymen like me and you to understand, but it's all about the Global Economy and opening borders and making trade barriers go away -- just swallow that it's all good and be on your merry little way. Bye now!"
posted by blucevalo at 4:42 AM on June 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


So where are the parallel efforts to create and empower a global regulatory regime with democratic oversight? Or the ones to create and empower global taxation standards?

Reducing barriers to trade has some very positive effects. But all corporations depend on implicit barriers to trade - cost of entry, legal protection of IP and so on. They are predisposed to reducing (what they perceive as) risk, which means closing down options available to competition. These manifest as pressures towards monopoly and cartel.

It is iniquitous to allow undue influence on creating the trade environment to organisations that are wired to respond to these pressures. It's not that international trade agreements are bad, its that they are framed as a conversation between executive branches and traders, with explicit isolation of democratic forces. These things take longer to gestate than most politicians can expect to be in power; they're effective the formation of a global civil service by business with no equivalent global political force to control them.

The basic structure of democracy is that people elect politicians who oversee and modify the civil service that actually runs the state. That's broken here, and the results will be predictable.
posted by Devonian at 4:56 AM on June 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


It's also worth noting that one constituency i.e. big business, is permitted a level of access not open to the rest of us or even to our elected representatives. I'm no big-shot international lawyer, but this may be indicative of which constituency the results are intended to satisfy.
posted by Jakey at 4:57 AM on June 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


I hope the attempt at secrecy backfires and this gets out twice as much as it would have if it was just a sketchy corporatist rough draft without the subterfuge.
posted by subdee at 4:59 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


may not be able to regulate staff to patient ratios in hospitals, or ban fracking, or tighten safety controls on airlines, or refuse accreditation to schools and universities.

They keyword here is "may". It is like saying activating the Large Halderon Colider may destroy the universe.
posted by humanfont at 5:02 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


When 600 industry lobbyists are allowed to see the agreement, but congress members can only see it in secrecy and aren't allowed to take notes or talk about it to their constituents, and the public is verboten to read it at all, and the secrecy extends well beyond ratification...then, someone is hiding something big. Remember how Obama promises open government? This ain't it, folks.
posted by dejah420 at 5:12 AM on June 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


It's more like saying activating the Large Hadron Collider may give us some un-planned for results. Fairly likely to happen, good in the case of science and bad in the case of giving more power to corporations.
posted by asok at 5:13 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


In this case 'may' seems more likely to mean that the treaty isn't finalised, not that there's some tiny possibility of them happening.
posted by biffa at 5:14 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


It is like saying activating the Large Halderon Colider may destroy the universe.

If the Large Hadron Collider was being built in secret by a consortium of European defense contractors, I might give those theories more credence. Maybe it's a doomsday device à la Dr. Strangelove.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:28 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


And secondly: complex legal rules pertaining to economic regulation are technical and difficult to understand for laymen like me (and you).

What makes you think that people here are all laymen, or indeed laypeople? It's MeFi. I've studied international trade law at a high level, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
posted by jaduncan at 5:55 AM on June 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Hahaha, between this and that Kansas disaster-in-the-making the U.S. is in for a fun ride.
posted by aramaic at 6:20 AM on June 10, 2015


The keyword here is "may".

That's small comfort here in Canada, where this kind of agreement allows foreign corporations to sue because of regulatory restrictions they find onerous. According to this HuffPo article, we're now the most-sued country by corporations using this mechanism:
In 1997, the Ethyl Corporation, a U.S. chemical company, used [NAFTA] chapter 11 to challenge a Canadian ban on the import of MMT, a gasoline additive that is a suspected neurotoxin and which automakers have said interferes with cars’ diagnostic systems. The company won damages of $15 million and the government was forced to remove the policy.

...

Canada is embarking on a new generation of multinational treaties such as the European Union free trade deal and the Trans Pacific Partnership, both of which contain investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) systems. While governments can be sued under ISDS, there is no similar recourse for states to hold foreign investors, often wealthy corporations, accountable for their actions.

This is Neoliberalism in action: democratic governments, even when ineffective, are responsible to the people. This kind of corporate collaboration seeks to design a system where business interests have "natural" advantages over government and the polity they represent. Philip Mirowski talks about how Neoliberal strategists design agreements to confer rights on corporations and interest groups; rights that once established are difficult or impossible to remove. (Scroll down for [8] THOU SHALT KEEP THY CRONYISM COSMOPOLITAN.)

complex legal rules pertaining to economic regulation are technical and difficult to understand for laymen like me (and you).

Yes, there may be homework involved. So what? We should just leave this to the "experts" while they carry on building secret agreements that are too complicated for the layman to understand?
posted by sneebler at 6:25 AM on June 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


The current format lends itself to abuse in the opposite direction, though.

That's certainly possible, right? But think of it like this: say that they're negotiating some provision of the TTIP where the EU has strong regulations and the U.S. has weak ones (GMOs for instance.) The two parties come to a compromise: something halfway in between the two regimes that will lead to slightly fewer regulations in the EU but slightly more regulations in the U.S.

Now there's a natural alliance between the pro-regulation constituencies in the EU and the anti-regulation constituencies in the U.S. They could torpedo the bill! Meanwhile there's also a potential alliance between the opposite parties. But a lot of the potential pro-regulation people in the U.S. are mad about a different provision: say financial regulations. So that pro-treaty alliance doesn't form, and the whole thing gets scuttled.

That's why you want to be able to think about the whole bill, even though the agents have to negotiate it one piece at a time.

If the concern is that a secret negotiation will allow big business to capture the process, just think how much worse a public process would be. They'll mostly capture it by preventing any deal at all unless they get extremely good deals, that is, by requiring a free ride. As it is, the negotiators can trade industries against each other, privileging media and IP over agriculture or vice versa.

Now: at the end of this, if the result is not a good one in aggregate, we should vote against it. But we should go in knowing that some parts of the deal are good for us and some bad for us. That's what I'd expect from any negotiation, and really it's what we should want: a deal that makes us better off in every particular is one that is bad in every particular for the other side!

Or at least that's how it seems to me. I'm interested to understand the other side of this, because I don't hear many critics demonstrating that they can even get behind the idea of a secret negotiation at all. I mean you can see the value of secret negotiations for hiring and salary, right? Or secret negotiations for a union contract? (Imagine: Union negotiates a 10% salary increase in exchange for a 2% health insurance premium increase. But the deal is scuttled because of the premium.)

I get the impression that people think that the states will negotiate away all the regulations, so that the aggregate regulations are simply lower for everyone: the compromise isn't half way but lower than both. I just don't think there's good evidence for that in the aggregate. With tariffs, sure: in cases where that's the goal, like free trade agreements that lower tariffs on both sides, you get lower tariffs on both sides. But that seems to help poorer countries a lot more than it hurts rich countries (and it probably helps rich countries, again in aggregate.)

Anyway, I'm interested to hear more about how trade agreements should work from people who propose publicity, specifically when there are collective action issues like the ones I described. (That is, what if publicity leads to fewer, worse deals? Isn't that likely?How are we preventing that?)
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:26 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


[…] complex legal rules pertaining to economic regulation are technical and difficult to understand for laymen like me (and you).

What about to Robert Reich? Can he see it? Maybe then he could explain it, or if not, tell me if it's good. I sort of trust his opinion. He seems to know what he's talking about.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:28 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I find it interesting that the cliche "if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide" gets trotted out whenever there is an NSA thread, but doesn't get a mention in a TPP conversation.

Irrespective of expertise, would a layman argue that requiring a democratic government to sign a treaty without allowing that treaty to be publicly available and debated is democratic? That this is/was a stated requirement for the TPP shows what flavor of democracy they are.

Anyway, does anyone want to argue that the published draft is benign? I'm willing to briefly pretend the secrecy is due to my living in a benevolent autocracy.
posted by bigZLiLk at 6:29 AM on June 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Expect lots of emotional campaigns from special interest groups over the next few years.

This carries with it a rather strong tone of preemptive dismissal of anyone who may disagree with the treaty for any reason in the future.

How about this:

Expect significant distrust and suspicion of any group involved that either supports or opposes this, including the creators of the treaty.

Expect emotional campaigns from all sides making the ability to discuss the real long and short term effects in a fairly impartial, reasoned, evidence-based manner difficult at best or impossible at worst.
posted by chambers at 6:47 AM on June 10, 2015


You know, secret negotiations would not be so bad if there were a protracted national debate and some kind of meaningful public vote over the result, such that lay people who were interested in the treaty would have a chance to find out about it, appropriate resources for understanding it....and a chance to vote the damn thing up or down. As it is, we have a virtually entirely unaccountable government negotiating in secrecy, only high information voters who have an interest in this kind of thing will hear about it before it's law, and even people who have information and at least some tools for understanding it can't do anything except, like, stage a die-in on the White House steps or - hold the phone! - write a letter to their senators.

My union doesn't do secret negotiations, actually. We've had an endless series of meetings to find out what the membership wants, followed by another endless series of meetings showing what the union proposes to negotiate on; we'll have contract negotiation updates every week or so and then every day, and then we'll have a vote on the contract. In the US, I think this is pretty standard, and while it would not be okay for the CFO to walk on in to the union meeting to listen, there isn't any real secrecy on the union's side. Both sides have secret strategies in terms of what to offer when, but that's not what is under discussion.

It's never secret to anyone that a contract is being negotiated; it's never secret to anyone what the basic concerns are. And of course, in both contract negotiation and hiring/salary negotiations, the process does NOT map neatly onto talking about trade agreements - our contract negotiation is miles simpler than a trade agreement and it is much easier for any individual to participate on a democratic basis. I could be on the negotiating committee if I wanted, for instance - of course, I'm a crap negotiator so that's right out.

Secret negotiation of a trade agreement that will affect basically everyone in the world - that's ridiculous. Why should a handful of elites get to announce this thing and keep its provisions secret? Even GATT and NAFTA were publicly debated at great length, and I remember because those were basically the first political campaigns I worked on.

And when we're talking NAFTA, let's not forget how disasterous NAFTA was for Mexico and how it increased income inequality and regional inequality here in the US.

Now: at the end of this, if the result is not a good one in aggregate, we should vote against it. But we should go in knowing that some parts of the deal are good for us and some bad for us. That's what I'd expect from any negotiation, and really it's what we should want: a deal that makes us better off in every particular is one that is bad in every particular for the other side!

A trade agreement with benefits that affect already-well-off parts of the US and drawbacks that fuck people who are already poor isn't a good trade agreement, and that's how these things have been going. "Our side" isn't unified. "Our side" is working people in a diversity of occupations and elites in a diversity of occupations, and it's perfectly possible to have a trade agreement which benefits elites in both countries (good for both sides, right!) while fucking over regular people in both countries (necessary drawbacks!).
posted by Frowner at 6:53 AM on June 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


Ponder on this one: why would government reps promote and endorse laws that allow the government to be sued more easily? The simplest answer seems to be that government as an agent of the people really doesn't exist. We need to be on the streets, NOW.
posted by sylvanshine at 7:00 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


If the concern is that a secret negotiation will allow big business to capture the process, just think how much worse a public process would be. They'll mostly capture it by preventing any deal at all unless they get extremely good deals, that is, by requiring a free ride. As it is, the negotiators can trade industries against each other, privileging media and IP over agriculture or vice versa.

Big business (especially US big business) is already heavily involved in the process, via their armies of lobbyists. It's no accident that the patent provisions favour US pharmaceutical companies, the copyright provisions favour the US copyright industry, the anti-data sovereignty provisions favour US internet companies etc. It's only everyone else who's being kept out of the loop.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:01 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


"You're afraid corporations will use this agreement to degrade US regulations to the levels they are in China, but hey, what if they use them to make China better? Did you think of that, huh, didya?" is not a credible argument. Throw up all the dust you want, but I'm not buying it.

Labor and the 99% have no seat at this table. You know what they say; if you don't have a seat, that means you're on the menu.

Instead of deriding liberals for having "conspiracy theories" (a ludicrous assertion, given the extremely well-documented abuses worldwide of human rights and the environment by the multinationals involved) perhaps it's better to realize that the burden of proof that this is, in fact, a good thing lies with those who want it to happen. Which is going to require transparency. Which we are not getting.
posted by emjaybee at 7:02 AM on June 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


The BBC has had a couple of good radio programmes on this recently, if you don't mind a non-US focus. Company vs Country (look for the "download mp3" link) introduces the basic ideas of investor-state dispute resolution, giving examples of how they've worked out in the past and talking to politicians and lawyers who've been involved in the arbitration proceeedings. Ttip: The world's biggest trade deal is more specifically about TTIP, and has some great discussion from highly qualified people on different sides of the argument. Both are well worth listening to.
posted by metaBugs at 7:11 AM on June 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Or at least that's how it seems to me. I'm interested to understand the other side of this, because I don't hear many critics demonstrating that they can even get behind the idea of a secret negotiation at all.

I actually don't have an issue with the idea of secret negotiations at all (though the TPP seems to be operating at a level beyond what I would consider okay), but this has been handled in total in a way I find unacceptable.

Need to have some degree of privacy in negotiations? Okay. But the degree here has been insane. Kept under lock and key such that Senators wanting to view the draft not only can't take notes but can't take in staff. How many of them are practitioners of international trade law? Locking out their consultants in nuts.

Stack on top of that this huge push to commit to a simple yes or no after the fact and I think you add up to unacceptable. You want to make the sausage without prying eyes, okay, but refusing to let anyone with expertise look and then wanting to refuse any post-hoc discussion is just too much.
posted by phearlez at 7:26 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Senators wanting to view the draft not only can't take notes but can't take in staff.

I'd think things like this would trigger at least attempts at legislation to require openness at least for senators and congressmen.
posted by sammyo at 7:31 AM on June 10, 2015


My problem is Obama is running around cheerleading this thing. He says it's great. Well, great, let me read it and decide. If not me perhaps experts in the field with acceptable credentials. If not them then allow my elected representative to read it. Still no? Then don't tell me it's all fucking shiny. You'll have to forgive me if I see Obama's credibility as a bit shot at this point. Don't get me wrong, I still like the guy, but I'm past taking his word on anything. Trust but verify.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:47 AM on June 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure one of the companies that is pushing hard for this is Monsanto. They've faced a lot of opponents on this side, and this trade agreement could well be a backdoor to push their practices on all EU without opposition.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:55 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I actually don't have an issue with the idea of secret negotiations at all

Sure, there are lots of reasons why secret negotiations might be a great idea and make all kinds of processes more efficient. Democracy certainly can be messy. But when the international business community has all the cards and the public is not even allowed to know what deck is being used, there's dirty work afoot.

If you don't have a seat, that means you're on the menu.

QFT.
posted by sneebler at 8:00 AM on June 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Instead of deriding liberals for having "conspiracy theories" (a ludicrous assertion, given the extremely well-documented abuses worldwide of human rights and the environment by the multinationals involved)

It sure is odd that when a government gets a group of people and large corporations together to talk to other countries' selected groups and large corporations to organize an intricate, multifaceted plan where the actual contents and possible ramifications of it are kept secret from the general population, they can just just label those that have a problem with this as having 'conspiracy theories' and dismissed as just another one of those tinfoil hat loonies.

They are conspiring by definition - the term itself (outside its legal meaning) does not require its goal to be necessarily criminal, just that the planning and agreements are done in secret.

anotherpanacea brought up some good points about why it should be secret before it is a finished proposal, but I have not heard or seen one good reason why it should remain secret at the point where it would need to be reviewed by its citizens and approved by their representatives, not to mention why it needs to remain secret for years after it had been approved and signed.

They only reasons I've heard given so far over the last few months pretty much boil down to "because we can, we have the money, and you can't stop us" followed quickly by a smug "Trust us."
posted by chambers at 8:14 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wikileaks: the draft has been classified to keep it secret not just during the negotiations but for five years after the TISA enters into force.

The draft. Not the version that congress accepts. The draft. Not the law.
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:58 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


why would government reps promote and endorse laws that allow the government to be sued more easily?

It's easy to see why ours (U.S.) would: we've never lost an ISDS case because we generally 1) don't discriminate against foreigners; 2) don't engage in eminent domain w/o a public purpose and fair compensation; and 3) have basic due process that satisfies the requirements of minimum standards of fair treatment. Those are the three things you can't do under ISDS, and it's not something that's much of a concern for us.

So there's not a lot of downside for us.
posted by jpe at 9:04 AM on June 10, 2015


> The draft. Not the version that congress accepts. The draft. Not the law.

Draft or not, the point has already been made that people would like to see transparency in the form of what's being negotiated into the final agreement. It doesn't help that special interest lobbyists get to work unfettered while citizens can't even see the thing, much less have a say about it before it's too late.

Given the track record, it's hard to be so optimistic and trusting of a machine whose favorite and only weapon seems to be exploitation in some form or another.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 9:12 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The draft. Not the version that congress accepts. The draft. Not the law.

[citizens would have ] much less have a say about it before it's too late.

I have no idea whether or not this thing is good or bad. It's the process that makes me wary. The draft's secrecy (while understandable to a certain extent in a draft stage) when combined with the possible passing of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that would 'fast track' things brings up a couple concerns.

Suppose you had a congressman who vocally opposed the secret draft of the treaty. They could be invited in to see it for themselves, but then are bound by its secrecy agreements. If they still don't like what they see, it kind of makes it difficult to talk about elsewhere, other than "I don't like it."

While there are efficiency benefits to the TPA by making it an all-or-nothing decision, it makes getting a few key bad/exploitable/unfair things through along with a bunch of potentially good things easier. With all points getting argued at once, opponents are between a rock and a hard place. Voting against it would have stronger consequences - even if it passes, those big companies involved will remember that, and when their up for re-election next, support might very well go to their opponents, as well as a 'this person voted against jobs' accusation, and being ostracized by those who were for it (committee memberships, general wheeling and dealing, etc). That's the way of things, though, but I guess now its about making that more "efficient."

Maybe the agreement is fine. Maybe it isn't. I don't see how it will be prevented from being approved in either case, especially when the parties involved all are either very good at influencing the system, or a part of it themselves.
posted by chambers at 9:55 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Great comments. A few clarifications...

* The article refers to the TISA, which is different than the TPP (although they are being negotiated under the same ideology and often by the same people). The TTIP, a 3rd agreement Wikileaks is also looking to expose, is similar to the TPP but for the US and Europe instead of the Pacific Rim. Because TISA focuses on services rather than trade of goods it will set in stone new restrictions on democratic regulation making that, while foreshadowed by previous WTO pushes, go beyond anything we've seen yet. (And the article explains that some negotiators hope it will be the template for a new WTO.)

* The fact that it's "just the draft" that's being kept so secret should not be comforting. The public can "know what's in it" AFTER it becomes binding law (of course the majority won't even then)... no thanks. Now is the time for transparency.

* The comment that the potential pitfalls from companies suing states are theoretical and won't happen is factually wrong in the sense that that has happened many times under previous trade agreements. But more importantly it's wrong on principle... governments (especially local or in poor countries) can't afford to take on costly legal battles with giant multi-nationals, so the damage is not just in taking on existing regulations but in preventing new ones from being created in the first place. A "chilling effect" that resembles how government surveillance doesn't just "catch" radical views but prevents their expression in the first place.

* The conspiracy smear rears it's ugly head again, so let me explain what should be obvious... the fact that there are unrealistic and emotionally based conspiracy theories swirling around an issue, whether 9/11 or free trade theories or whatever, does not mean there aren't other rational, evidence-based conspiracies that are taking place that we should expose and oppose.

* Finally issues around climate change and resource crises are the elephants in the room... whatever the effect on existing laws it's clear that what's needed to prevent mass human suffering from degradation of the environment is the kind of robust and universally coordinated regulations and restrictions on resource use, plus subsidies for sustainable tech and practices, that violate the letter of the law on this agreement on many levels.

If we want to prevent climate and resource catastrophes we can't preemptively chain the hands of any future public response because some lobbyist thinks it's going to add a few percentage points growth to some group of shareholders in the short term.
posted by blankdawn at 10:07 AM on June 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


Congress does have four months to vote on it. And if a congressperson really wants to sound the alarm, she can say anything about it on the floor of Congress where she has full congressional inmunity.
posted by jpe at 10:07 AM on June 10, 2015


it's clear that what's needed to prevent mass human suffering from degradation of the environment is the kind of robust and universally coordinated regulations and restrictions on resource use, plus subsidies for sustainable tech and practices, that violate the letter of the law on this agreement on many levels.

We are entirely able to impose environmental regulations, provided it isn't a fig leaf to discriminate against foreigners.
posted by jpe at 10:10 AM on June 10, 2015


I find the asymmetry between industry access (as "cleared advisors") and citizen access troubling. But the groups with privileged access do include the AFL-CIO, Public Citizen, and NRDC.

I'm not saying that's good enough, and those groups are certainly outnumbered by industry groups. But if Public Citizen and NRDC and AFL-CIO and the textiles people are all on board, I think I'll likely be satisfied with the result. That's labor, the environment, and good governance.

If they reject the eventual deal (which they get to see during negotiations too) then it's probably not a good one. If they're split, I think I'd probably credit NRDC and Public Citizen over AFL-CIO.

Also, while I'd normally hate to see Trade Promotion Authority passed in this instance, recognizing that we have a Republican House and Senate makes me less uncomfortable with it than I normally would be: Congressional tinkering is not likely to be progressive in this case.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:12 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The public can "know what's in it" AFTER it becomes binding law (of course the majority won't even then)... no thanks.

That's not true. The public will know what's in it when it is completed and before it is ratified. So it will not be binding law unless we read it and like it (modulo representative democracy.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:17 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ethyl Corp vs Canada -- common misconceptions.

To sum up: a poorly written law targeting one company's product gets legal challenge under NAFTA and in Canadian Courts. NAFTA came in because as written the law allowed mmt to be sold in Canada if it was made in each province where it was sold. Ultimately the case ended when canadian courts, not NAFTA arbiters threw out the law.
posted by humanfont at 11:36 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


We shouldn't want just the final version to become public though. All the drafts need to be public too so we can see what individual members of the business community lobbied for and, if we don't like certain things they added, raise public awareness of their actions and promote boycotts and so on against those businesses. They shouldn't be allowed to screw the public and then hide it.
posted by downtohisturtles at 12:26 PM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Or we could just read it and see what we like and don't like.
posted by jpe at 12:36 PM on June 10, 2015


[source:]
Medicare means many things to many people. To seniors, it’s a program providing good, low-cost healthcare at a stage in life when it’s most needed.

To Congress, it’s beginning to look more like a piggy bank to be raided.

That’s the only conclusion one can draw from a provision slipped into a measure to extend and increase the government’s Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which provides assistance to workers who lose their jobs because of trade deals. The measure, introduced by Rep. David Reichert (R-Wash.), proposes covering some of the $2.7-billion cost of the extension by slicing $700 million out of doctor and hospital reimbursements for Medicare.
So they basically admit that the TTP trade deal is so bad they need a special program to compensate the people who lose their jobs over it, and to finance that they gut medicare.  Guys, how about not doing the trade deal in the first place?
posted by DreamerFi at 12:40 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


By the way, I agree that NAFTA has likely been pretty bad for Mexico. There are mitigating factors, like the fact that Mexico was basically undercut by China because it couldn't do the currency peg thing. (So some of China's gains were at Mexico's expense, and China needed those gains more.) Also, of course, the downfall of the PRI and the rise of the drug cartels exposed some massive governance problems and created the conditions for what is basically a civil war. Still, figuring out if and how NAFTA went wrong has to be a key feature of any argument around trade.

I guess I wonder whether we're worried about that happening in the TTIP. I don't think that Europe is quite as vulnerable as Mexico, so I don't think of a trade deal with them as taking advantage in the same way.

By the way, if you want to look at what more public negotiations would look like, it's a bit like the European Parliament, which fielded 200 amendments to the EU's negotiating position and ultimately had to shut down the deliberations. Suffice it to say, 200 conflicting positions does not make for a strong negotiating position.

Demanding public negotiations is tantamount to saying that perhaps we should just skip trade deals. Which is a legitimate position, but I hate to see people argue for one thing with the goal of achieving another. If someone would just say, "Here's how to do a public trade deal, first you do X, then Y, then Z." I'd be a lot happier. By the way, I said above that I'd likely follow Public Citizen's view of the TTIP, since they can see the negotiations. They hate it, and so does NRDC and the AFL-CIO. So I'm against it, too: not because of the transparency issues, but just because it looks like a bad deal.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:48 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or we could just read it and see what we like and don't like.

I tried to do this with the ACA. i think I made it in about 35 pages before I conceded defeat. That document was publicly available though.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:48 PM on June 10, 2015


Yeah, but the ACA was a gazillion pages. The relevant sections of the TPP should be a hundred pages or so, probably less.
posted by jpe at 12:50 PM on June 10, 2015


@anotherpanacea

"The public will know what's in it when it is completed and before it is ratified. So it will not be binding law unless we read it and like it."

Would love to live in that world. However at that point the agreement will be written and it will be a yes / no vote with most members of both parties likely following party leadership to vote yes.

"We" will not get any say. Even if "we knew" what was in it and didn't like it, "we" also get no direct say in the yes / no aspect. Remember when congress under both bush and obama passed the hugely unpopular bailouts?

If popular will on these important but abstract and superficially boring economic policies is going to be marshaled it takes time to educate people to both understand and care. If the text is secret while it's being negotiated you can be sure people will not be able to understand or comment to representatives let alone affect the yes / no vote (let alone have a say in how the agreement turns out).

ps - Public Citizen is not on board.
posted by blankdawn at 1:15 PM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is just a way of transferring money out of the economy of things that generate real value and into the economy of things that don't. It's another in a series of increasingly desperate measures to prevent the numbers that give rich people power from being re-evaluated. In the real economy, money is a way of moving risk around. A little bit of money mitigates the risk of starvation. A bit more ets you buy the kind of assets that let you mitigate your risks more effectively. For most people money is either survival or security. But if you're rich enough, money is the power to make other people pay for the risks you take.

Why do we regulate industries and markets? Because without regulation, rewards are easily counted and are claimed by the few. And, if they can get away with it, the less easily accounted risks are shared by the many. Properly apportioned risks are an incentive to behave responsibly. Without a solid link between risk and reward, moral hazard sets in and the behaviours of those involved become pathological. When irresponsibility is the winning strategy, it out-competes diligence.

There's two ways to win in an economy. You can be better at evaluating risk and reward - this is a good thing, because good decisions tend to be good for everyone. Or you can be better at claiming more of the rewards while slipping out of your due share of risk. This is exactly what has happened. Risk is lost to the balance sheet by being distributed across large numbers of people who gain little or none of the rewards. When industries pollute but don't pay for the damage, everyone else ends up paying, in healthcare costs, lost earnings, environmental clean-up initiatives, and a hundred other ways. The balance sheet shows the value of the factory, but the cost of cleaning up after it is buried in the personal accounts of everyone who has to live with it, This reduces the real value that people create, but this loss is all but invisible. Money is a measure of expected future value. These practices quietly reduce the value-generating activities that fund the future, while providing money and the power it brings to the rich, increasing their ability to make other people pay.

It should be obvious that there is no good outcome to this in the long term, but in the short term, the rich benefit hugely. Making those numbers match reality becomes increasingly difficult and liable to cause widespread economic damage. To avoid that damage and maintain the system that provides the rich with their riches, increasing amounts of value have to be consumed, which further damages the ability of our economies to support real value-generating activity. The effects start at the periphery, in countries that can be easily exploited. But as the process goes on, ever more must be sacrificed in order to maintain the illusion. It becomes the primary, indeed, the only goal that matters.

These 'trade agreements' are simply an extension of a policy going back decades. This is how the system begins to consume itself, like a starvation victim burning their own muscle tissue...
posted by xchmp at 1:21 PM on June 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


@figleaf

"We are entirely able to impose environmental regulations, provided it isn't a fig leaf to discriminate against foreigners."

First of all, not to be pedantic but "we" don't get to do anything, unless you happen to be a high-ranking bureaucrat, in which case I would love to talk in more detail. It's an important distinction because the "we" implies there is some unified "national interest" that our government pursues in a coherent way.

On to the main point: While there are frightening precedents of environmental laws being challenged under trade law, "free trade" agreements pose much more serious threats to progressive environmental policy.

"Public options" always discriminate against foreigners. Removing barriers to entry for foreign firms includes prohibitions on many subsidies or legal preferences for public enterprises accountable to public welfare and democracy more than pure profit-making

ALSO, forcing economic decision making to rely on pure "price signals" encourages a race to the bottom, whereby countries with less environmental (and labor and consumer) protection can gain dominance through the small cost savings of non-compliance.

The rise of the coal powered Chinese industrial juggernaut, one of the major threats to preventing climate disaster, was not through the inevitable forces of nature but comes directly from international trade policy shaped and installed by US negotiators in the 1990s.

While it's true we don't know the full consequences of the agreement (which in any case is far from finalized) those of us who have been looking at the results of past "free" trade agreements have realistic reasons to be very concerned.
posted by blankdawn at 1:29 PM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


First of all, not to be pedantic but "we" don't get to do anything

I'll up your pedantry and note that this was a royal we, commonly used to explain government policy.

Removing barriers to entry for foreign firms includes prohibitions on many subsidies or legal preferences for public enterprises

We don't have many public enterprises, and those that do exist will have carve-outs (viz, the post office). In the context of environmental regulation, I don't see how public enterprises play much of a role at all. Utilities? But they'll be carved out.
posted by jpe at 1:45 PM on June 10, 2015


Are the trade agreements the cause of all the woes ascribed to them. Since NAFTA was first conceived and passed the world's population has gone from 5 to 7 billion people. China has become the second largest, perhaps the largest economy in the world. Technology has radically transformed manufacturing and every other sector of the economy.
posted by humanfont at 4:02 PM on June 10, 2015


@jpe

I understand the "we" is common. I am commenting that it's a form of newspeak.

I understand the US doesn't have much in the way of public enterprises. Most of the countries involved in TISA do however, especially the poorer ones where telecommunications, medicine, transportation, mining etc are often largely in public hands.

used to live in Costa Rica where nearly all power is renewable and internet is cheap and accessible even in rural places. main reason? power and telecom were public monopolies. just one example.
posted by blankdawn at 5:37 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's easy to see why ours (U.S.) would: we've never lost an ISDS case because we generally 1) don't discriminate against foreigners;

wat. Off the top of my head:

Softwood lumber (not an ISDS, but certainly discrimination against foreigners)
Country-of-origin labelling (not ISDS, but discrimination against foreigners)
It's also worth noting that poorly-written ISDS mechanisms have a...fun interaction with federal States. In that their repayment mechanism is from the State. The federal sub-unit (provinces here in Canada, states in the US, etc) doesn't have any requirement to indemnify the State. So....win-win!*

*ok in that case it was lose-lose because Abitibi didn't have to pay for cleanup on the expropriated land in advance of other creditors, but the theory is sound
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:18 PM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Congress does have four months to vote on it.

wyden fought for that at least :P i still like the guy!

-Ron Wyden’s case
-how he tried to frame it
-How Ron Wyden became the left's scourge on trade
-What’s Really in the New Trade Promotion Authority Bill?
This time, Trade Promotion Authority does much more than before. We have long questioned why, if somebody believes in trade and wants more of it, they would insist on keeping agreements secret. This time, TPA will require information about U.S. positions on future treaties to be publicized as they are made. There is more to be done, but we’re finally bringing sunlight into the trade process...

For the treaty currently under negotiation, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as all future agreements, TPA will require that the entire text be made public for 60 days before the president signs it. That means a deal will be public for at least four months before Congress votes on whether to approve it.
also btw, if you're going to 'level the playing field' and offer freer ability to conduct business across borders here's another radical idea: Cross-border labor mobility!*
posted by kliuless at 6:41 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, open the borders. Down with the Westphalian system!
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:21 PM on June 10, 2015


treaty.txt
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:07 PM on June 10, 2015


Watching these treaties and the EU's recent dealings with Greece has really made it clear to me how the power elites have come up with a pretty effective general strategy for countering the dangers of progressive democracy. First they spent decades laying the foundation of value-free economic theory, where essentially an entire discipline -- by far the most powerful of the social sciences -- agreed that pareto optimality and the like were not just good, but in fact transcended political values and were objectively desirable. Then they began to enact a series of merely "economic" agreements that depend upon the work of academic economics to argue (with as little argument as possible) that they are value-neutral agreements that improve the lot of everyone, and thus need not be debated or voted upon in the same way as actual politics. Finally, these agreements become institutionalized, via the EU or an extended history of precential treaties, simultaneously leveraging the anti-democratic nature of the treaty, while downplaying the importance of these democracy-superceding institutions by emphasizing the a-politicality of the economic realm. At that point, it's just a game of increments: like the right slowing rolling back the abortion cutoff age, the goal is just to chip away at democratic autonomy, one agreement at a time, and transfer all the serious decision-making to the economic "technocrats" -- who are, of course, fundamentally both deeply political, and deeply conservative.

Although before you nod along too much with that narrative, I should admit that this is very similar to my account of the judiciary's constriction of the democratic since Marbury v Madison. Letting the people decide important stuff scares quite a lot of those same people.
posted by chortly at 8:47 PM on June 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


@lemurrhea: That's a weird way to concede the point, but whatever.
posted by jpe at 4:29 AM on June 11, 2015


Ha! We've never lost an ISDS case! Yes we have! Here are some examples of things that aren't ISDS losses! QED!

Still, jpe, I wonder if you have an account of how this is actually going to promote growth. It seems like it might be too much about establishing various kinds of rents, especially for intellectual property.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:07 AM on June 11, 2015


“Food Stuffs: We Are What They Eat,” Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Politics Blog, 11 June 2015
You combine domestic lobbying juggernauts with the authority of international trade institutions and this is what you get.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:07 PM on June 11, 2015


It's more the "you frequently discriminate against foreigners" aspect that got my back up.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:00 AM on June 12, 2015


That and the distinction between being sued by an investor in an ISDS and being sued by a country on behalf of an entire industry is...not a huge one. More of a procedural question about how to handle associational standing issues.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:02 AM on June 12, 2015




Lead headline on Drudge:

PELOSI SAYS NO TO OBAMATRADE; TAKES BRAVE STAND FOR AMERICA

Complete with a smiling Pelosi surrounded by an adoring crowd.

Is this real life?
posted by Rhaomi at 11:09 AM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Alex Pareene at Gawker: Did Something Just Happen With "Fast-Track" or Whatever?
House Democrats derailed “fast-track” today, putting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President’s Obama’s pet trade free-trade agreement, in jeopardy. You may have some questions about what that all means. Questions like:

What’s TPP? And “fast-track,” what is that? Why is Barack Obama yelling at Democrats and calling that nice Elizabeth Warren a liar? What should I, a cool liberal internet person who doesn’t actually pay close attention to horrifically boring political news, think about this? What is the Correct and Smart Position?

To which I am tempted to say: Fuck off, I’m not your mom and I’m not Vox dot fucking com. If you want to understand the goddamn news you have to actually read widely from a variety of sources, you can’t look at one fucking chart and pretend you know what you’re fucking talking about.

But that would be unproductive. So let’s “explainer the news.”
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:20 PM on June 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


« Older HoTT Coq   |   Walter Molino's Worst Case Scenerios Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments