^ on the issue of international trade, it’s his yes versus her no. We’re with Yes.
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Last week we argued that the President should, on balance, be granted what he calls “fast track” authority to negotiate an Asian trade partnership Pact (TPP). Since that time we’ve heard, or read, all the primary arguments pro and con. We come away even more certain than we were : the President should — must — be granted full authority to conclude the TPP.
Trade is the lifeblood of civilisations. Commerce makes us freer than we would be otherwise, and more prosperous. Commerce promotes tolerance, cultural diversity, lifetsyle multiplicity.
Commerce is not tio be trifled with. Yet ever since the embargo used by President Jefferson , in 1812, as a kind of war by other means, Americans have from time to time thought it useful to disconnect our trade from the world’s. It almost never is wise. The 1812 embargo bankrupted coastal New England. President Carters’s boycott of the Moscow Olnypics, on an issue of human rights, saved no people from rights abuse but did bring us scorn and irrelevance. Moves to have universities divest holdings in companies doing business with Isarel disfigure those who make such moves. The same is true of those who would have universities divest from the energy industry. All that such moves do is to put thousands of well-paid jobs at risk and make an investor’s task harder.
Yet embargo and divest are the siblings of the courses being bruited by those who oppose the TPP. We can’t have it, they say, because our prospective trade partners might not obey our ideas about child labor, unions, smoky skies, or currency. We can’t have trade agreements because some of our trade partners abuse human rights. (Hmmm, so do we.) Or, say some of the objectors, we can’t have TPP because the Obama administration isn’t enforcing provisos written into trade treaties already enacted.
Our own senator, Elizabeth Warren, has made a huge magillah along these lines. Those who think no further than the sound emoted from her lips applaud her profusely.
The “fast track”: proposal was held up, briefly, because some Senators want to attach provisos to it barring currency manipulation by the Chinese and insisting on protections for workers, including a ban on child labor. Worthy goals all. I do ot see how not having a TPP treaty at all advances them.
We find the objectors’ refusals a mere, modern version of embargo. Do things our way or we’ll take our marbles and go home.
Forget, I guess, that, as President Obama points out, the nations with whom we wish to do TPP represent 95 percent of the world’s consumers. Forget, evidently, that if we don’t partner with these nations, our economic competitors will be glad to step in. Forget, too, I guess, the huge economic benefits of TPP : the trade surpluses — which strengthen our dollar and support our Federal bonds; the enormous revenue opportunities; the innovation that will be required in order to dominate this huge economic zone, which just happens to feature most of the world’s best education systems, best skilled students, and most efficient manufacturers.
Lastly, there’s the big private industry labor unions. they too don’t want to see the President have “fast tarck.’ Heck, they don’t want any trade treaty at all. to them, trade treaty means lost American jobs.
About that, they’re probably right,. a trade treaty does probably mean lost American jobs. But it also, just a likely, means new American jobs, of a different order in different economic environs. Are these new jobs nothing ? To the unionists they probably are nothing, because it’s very likely they won’t be union jobs. Skilled technology jobs in small enterprises aren’t very conducive to the union method — a very worthy method, as it is, for the settings in which it works.
The new types of jobs that the TPP is likely to create will be higher paid, perhaps ot very secure, highly mobile; but they will be jobs. Better them than no jobs at all. The jobs that the anti-TPP union leaders seek to preserve will not be around much longer no matter how much political formaldehyde they’re washed in.
No one can say if the TPP will create a brave new world of workers’ rights, currencies not manipulated, environments shiny and new. But I don’t see how not ennacting TPP will bring any of those to pass either. Give the President full, authority to het a TPP treaty doe.
—- Mike Freederg / Here and Sphere