TTP and National Security

Dean Baker, who is codirector of the Center for Economic Policy and Research, contributes the following op-Ed to Truth-Out:

While I am inclined to agree with the general thrust of Baker’s piece, it leaves me wondering why any private enterprise would care one way or the other about national security. As a subscriber to WSJ I am interested in learning how political and social events might shape the value of my investments or assets, but why on purely economic grounds would I care one wit about the national security of this or that political entity?

If we can appreciate the gravity of this question, then we might better understand why the TTP assumed the shape it did. This was not a trade deal designed to help nations, much less the citizens of nations. It was designed to help investors. Of course, it is assumed that what is good for private investors is also, by definition, good for the public. It is this assumption, however, that needs to be questioned.

From the 1860s to the present, it has been firmly established that public values and institutions distort private markets and that private enterprises will only support public values and institutions where and when a policy is held to improve their bottom line. It is this short-sightedness that, in turn, has led private entities to promote public policies that habitually endanger publics. In the alternative, wherever international agreements actually promise to protect public interests of trading partners, such agreements are uniformly opposed by private interests.

TTP endangers national security? Of course it does. By definition. To be sure, gains from trade are real. But not if they harm the very publics which (at least in the advertisements) they aim to help.

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