In light of today's column in the Financial Times by well-respected, establishment economist Martin Wolf, titled “Capitalism and democracy: the strain is showing,” I wrote my senators AGAIN to ask them to reconsider their ongoing, relentless support of TPP (Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership).
Here is a copy of my letter:
I'm writing to request you reconsider your support of the TPP, particularly in light of today’s column by Martin Wolf in the Financial Times. (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e46e8c00-6b72-11e6-ae5b-a7cc5dd5a28c.html)
As he is a well-respected, establishment economist, I won't even try to summarize or elaborate the financial end of things. The concerns expressed about the current economic trajectory are legitimate, the likely outcome real.
I would, though, like to make mention of the historical validity of the argument being made: when money—de facto power–gets concentrated in the hands of too few, civilizations decay.
Throughout history, governments and entire civilizations have reached towering heights–culturally, economically, militarily–then fallen when the vast benefits of that ‘greatness' became reserved to an elite few. The fall is always directly or indirectly engineered from within, like a dying cell. Time and time again, the death happens as corruption breeds among the elite, as more and more money is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer—and not just because they have the money, but because THEY THEN HAVE THE POLITICAL POWER. They control the political process, and engineer it to benefit themselves.
Then in equal, reverse direction (although not usually in tandem; it usually takes the disenfranchised populace a while to catch up) unrest builds within the majority who are being cut out of the benefits & losing political agency. We are seeing that right now.
The USA has always been an experiment. For awhile, it was a great one. Now, we’re spiraling down a well-trodden path to the devolution of a political structure & a culture. To be great, we must become an experiment again, change our trajectory. We’ve done it before, for instance the New Deal. We must do something different, if we want to end up different.
That means stopping the current trajectory of greater wealth and power being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.
Historically, it doesn't need to be rebellion or revolt that brings down the establishment–although it certainly has been. Often, it is a decay, disempowerment and, importantly, a loss of civic INVESTMENT of the very thing that made the nation great in the first place: its citizens. The culture rots from its core.
People stop caring. They stop believing the government is actually a valid solution for their problems; indeed, they start thinking the government IS the problem. They start getting scared. And extreme. And violent. They make poorer, more reactive, more extreme choices in the hopes SOMETHING will shake things up.
And the ones who don’t get more extreme, go the other direction; they become apathetic. Willfully ignorant. Disengaged. Which is great for continuing whatever the current trajectory is, but is not good for making a civilization great. If you disenfranchise enough people, the core of the civilization, it’s like a rotting tree; a strong breeze can blow it over.
The fall will LOOK as though it was caused by the wind. People will talk about the wind, get outraged about it, point at it, talk about how dangerous it is, how it must be stopped….but in reality, it was our own rotting core.
Whether by disruption from within or winds from without, a government that willfully disenfranchises its citizenry DOES fall. And it usually becomes some far more sinister, at least for awhile.
That is the process and reality Martin Wolf discusses on in his article, and it impinges directly on trade agreements like TPP.
A cell dies when its ceases to carry out its functions. The function of government in a democracy is, by definition, to benefit the majority. Of note, that benefit is to accrue to ITS OWN citizens, not the citizens of, say, Indonesia. While a laudable goal, and one I fully support, it should not be the aim of US gov’t policy.
Despite there being some benefits of these sorts of trade agreements–no one is saying there are not—there are far too many downsides, that affect so many, who have so little to lose to begin with.
Trade agreements like TPP—however much better it may be than previous trade agreements—do not give most of their benefit to the many. In the main, over and over again, the benefits accrue to the few. The SAME few. And ‘trickle-down economics,’ by whatever name, NEVER HAPPEN. (As an aside, I do not understand why the citizenry was deemed worthy of receiving only ‘trickles’ in the first place.)
Yes, of course, some medium- and small-sized businesses benefit, in small ways. No one is saying they won’t. But the vast, overwhelming majority of goodness goes to corporations. And this ‘goodness’ is both economic and political. And these agreements, for all that they are called TRADE agreements, go far beyond trade in the form of the ISDS, special trade courts that can—and do—override US policy AND LAW.
That, Senator, is governance without representation, and it is unconstitutional.
Please, please, please reconsider your support of TPP.