23 October 2015

TPP is big govt propping up big business

The Blog


Right-wing libertarians at the magazine Reason have a chauvinist, statist interpretation of what "free trade" means. They recognize it only in the expansion of US corporate hegemony and the enslavement of poor people.


Kevin Carson, writing at the antistatist think tank Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS), offered that characterization of so-called "free trade" as it was articulated in a recent op-ed found at Reason. The op-ed had praised the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as an accomplishment in free trade, and this was refuted in Carson's responding post at C4SS.

It is Orwellian to call the TPP "free trade", Carson argued. In actual fact, the TPP supports intellectual property (IP) which suppresses legitimate competition and innovation in order to privilege CEOs who ultimately needed no intellect in order to gain possession of such property:

"The draconian IP provisions of contemporary "free trade" treaties serve the interests of global corporations the same way high industrial tariffs served American corporations a century ago."


IP enables corporations to suppress commercial competition in poverty-stricken countries, where the poorest of the poor in the world are contracted to work as sweatshop laborers. Also in the retort to the Reason op-ed, Carson wrote that IP is:

"a form of protectionism that still gives them [corporate stakeholders] a monopoly over selling a particular product in a particular market - but operates at corporate boundaries rather than national ones"


The TPP, and the "free trade" it represents, are effectively then a shift from one (national corporate) protectionism to another (global corporate) protectionism.

Carson sums up his criticism of the TPP and other so-called free trade deals by pointing out the contradiction in the supposed anti-statism of right-wing libertarians. What they are arguing for is necessarily heavier state intervention in the economy. State subsidizing and protecting big business from competition is the object of all IP law, and such intervention has become the basis of most global corporate profit.

Corporations are leeching on the US state, only for right-wing libertarians at publications and bodies like Reason to portray their success as an example of free markets with zero state intervention. As such, Carson mocks, someone who thinks "free trade" agreements reduce the intervention of the state in the economy might as well believe in Santa Claus.


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