Free Trade — not so transparent
This week on Facebook I intended to post some links on the age of transparency. This interest in transparency was prompted by a comment on a previous post, perhaps itself prompted by the recent revelations of the Panama Papers. Papers which raised great cries of indignation around the world and which will inevitably lead to less transparency in regard to their revelations. My web research for articles on transparency led me to conclude that we are living in an age of pseudo transparency, in which administrations, whatever their political hue, will constantly seek greater control over the pseudo transparency they permit. Articles on transparency are not easy to find, in fact the opposite is the case, there is a concerted effort to counteract and, where possible, suppress articles in the social media that could lead to any opposition an administration’s viewpoint.
I decided to start on the subject of transparency by looking at free trade, something that is also being covered by the media, particularly in relation to the recent TPP agreement. Like transparency clearly does not mean transparency in everything for everyone, free trade does not mean the freedom to trade on an equitable basis everywhere for everyone, instead free trade agreements are entered into that seek to manipulate the law of comparative advantage.
Monday: The Trans-Pacific Free-Trade Charade — Stiglitz and Hersch contend that this trade agreement is not in the consumer’s interest but that it advances the global advantage of larger industries, particularly those in the USA and that it is clearly not about free trade.
Tuesday: Why China could never sign on to the Trans-PacificPartnership — Perhaps given Wednesdays’s post this one could have run with the title: China Can Ignore The TPP Agreement!
Wednesday: China just started unloading its biggest problem on the rest of the world, and the world is already freaking out — A butterfly is flapping its wings in China, or is that a dragon? Economic growth doesn’t come without problems.
Thursday: International Trade: The new Free Trade Agreements (TPP, TTIP AND TISA), are not a solution: they are another problem — These Free trade Agreements are called siren songs and power should be put put into the hands of the workers. Well we all know how that turned out, but next time it will be a different Utopia.
Friday: Who’s in Charge, Capitalists or Consumers? — Is there a consumer sovereignty where the consumers actually decide whose perceptions of profit opportunities are correct? If so, then what is an unhampered market? Do consumers really decide who earns what incomes? Are consumers responsible economic growth? Who decides where this economic growth should come from?
The article A Progressive Logic of Trade opines that, Many working families have been devastated by the impact of low-cost imports from China and elsewhere. And the big winners have been the financiers and skilled professionals who can take advantage of expanded markets. Of course the ability to export and a corresponding ability to import both require economic growth in a global economy where the name of the game is consumerism.
The article Free Trade Is Essential for a Free Society takes a different view and asks a lot of questions. Beginning with, Do you wish to have government superintend every change in the way that consumers spend their money? Or do you believe that consumers should be free to spend their money in whatever peaceful ways they choose, without having to solicit the approval of government or to pay a penalty if they spend their money in ways the government finds objectionable? The caveat in all of these questions is that of a consumer with a discretionary income earned from a contribution to economic growth.
So what has any of this got to do with transparency? Perhaps the lack of transparency in these FTAs means very little if we assume the continuation of any discretionary income we may have, our ability to spend it where we will and its value of exchange is to our advantage.
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