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The TPP And Free Trade: Time To Retake The English Language

The TPP And Free Trade: Time To Retake The English Language

Dean Baker

The proponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are planning to do a full court press in the lame duck session of Congress following the election. We will be bombarded with speeches and columns from President Obama and other illustrious figures telling us how it is important to approve the TPP for a variety of reasons.

We can be certain that one of the reasons will be the inherent virtues of free trade. They will not be telling the truth.

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Write on Dean Baker. Tell it like it is! Three cheers for you and your clear thinking!


Spot on article, Dean, except its in the future tense when it should be in the past and present tenses. Every time I have read a daily newspaper or listened to the radio (I have no TV) during the past several months there are articles and speeches promoting TPP, always characterizing it as a “trade agreement”, not the regulatory capture it really is, and characterizing opponents as naive or worse.


Personally, I do not feel that Patents and Copyrights must be present in a society to allow for the development of new technologies.

An open source OS in the computer industry works just as well as one that claims its source code an industry secret.

Jonas Salk developed the Polio vaccine without having as incentive the desire to line his pockets with money.

Much of the raw research used by the Drug Industry and even the technology industry is done by Government institutions the world over and that researched used free by those same industries.

I would also argue that the current system can stifle initiative rather than promote it given , premised on greed, treating an illness with a drug needed into perpetuity is more profitable than curing it.

Removing the “money incentive” from everything that we can do can help to evolve our society to a much better place then making it all about the money.


Hello SuspiraDeProfundos,

You are not alone objecting to patents and copyrights, though it seems to me relatively poor writers should have some standing against wealthy plagiarists.

Benjamin Franklin argued long and eloquently against patents. when he lost, he said “okay.” Then patented wood stoves, paper money and everything else he was involved in. Although I’m not too sure about that list, I do know that old Ben gave away a few inventions under his several aliases, Silence DoGood was one of the aliases. I don’t remember who he had give away the lightening rod after he invented it.

Oh I am sure another system can be arrived at to reward those poor writers and songwriters. After all books were written and music made long before there copyright laws.

What we have now is people bein sued for posting a video of their child dancing to a tune playing in the background because they did not get permission to use said music in their “production”.

The society I envision would not have poor writers and wealthy plagiarists in any case as it would not be one where one group rewarded with tremendous wealth as another remains in penury.

A society that has an economic system that rewards greed becomes a greedy society.


If Obama promotes it, it IS unequivocally good for Wall Street and global capital, despite whatever populist platitudes Obama tosses to the poor and middle class.

When TPP-enabled corporate tribunals end Canadian single payer medical insurance and negotiated drug prices. Canadians will be far more adversely affected by TPP than their Yankee neighbors who have already been beaten down for many years.

luv from Murka


In 1965 the minimum wage in US was $1.50 / hr/ An hours work could buy 30 Hershey Bars or 10 subway tokens or two first rum movie tickets or 2 LPs or 6 gallons of gas. A new VW would take 800 hrs. A years’ student fees at Cal 40 hours a two bedroom apartment in Berkeley 55 hours. Today to buy the equivalent, the minimum wage would have to be from $25/hr to, in the case of a Berkeley education, $300/hr. All those jobs that Americans won’t do they would if the wages were $25-$30/hr.

When the discussion concerns “Free Trade” I usually ask for a definition. The discussion usually ends with the statement that it doesn’t exist and never did and that there is more evidence for the existence of The Tooth Fairy or some such. To even have a discussion on “Free Trade” is to fall into a bottomless pit.

Pointing out that the overall effect of these “trade” agreements is actually protectionism is a wonderful way to frame the conversation. It’s something that Obama and the rest of the pushers need to answer for.

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A major example of how patents can stifle innovation is Windows. When Gates set up Microsoft, he had a monopoly on operating systems and he used that monopoly to de facto require people who used it to also use his other software, much of which wasn’t nearly as good as competitors who were not allowed access to Windows so they couldn’t sell their wares. Thanks to his market manipulation, we aren’t anywhere near what we could be.


You guess? Interestingly, it is actually possible to look up historical minimum wage rates, and it turns out you’re both wrong. The minimum wage at the beginning of 1965 was 1.15, and it went up to 1.25 in September of that year (US DOL chart).

I don’t know what basis you have for saying “it wasn’t adhered with [sic].” Maybe I’m romanticizing the past - and after all I was just a kid in those days - but it seems to me that businesses were generally more law-abiding in the 60s.

You’re right in rejecting the term “free trade treaty”, but let’s also say what these treaties really do. I call them “business supremacy treaties” because that is their real purpose.

See stallman.org/business-supremacy-treaties.html for more explanation.

In Canada the minimum wage set at the provincial level.

in the USA it set at the Federal level meaning while a State could go OVER the wage mandated by the Federal Government, they could not under.

So no the “minimum wage” did not vary state to state.

As to your other point, that being it was just ignored, that is immaterial. People are pointing out what they could buy for mandated minimum wage which does not change if some business ignored the law and did not pay it. If a person worked one hour at minimum wage and could buy 20 candy bars, then one hours work at minimum wage could buy 20 candy bars.

Just because a business might have not paid the minimum wage it does not change the fact that working an hour at minimum wage could get you 20 candy bars. People may have shoplifted candy bars as well, it hardly means that candy bars were free.

Well said Suspira.
But that last point - that rewarding greed creates a greedy society - is hardly new. That was an argument used by Plato, and picked up by Thomas More in his book ‘Utopia’, 500 years ago.

Oh yes. we as a species have known it a long time but apparently it has to be repeated many times over.

By law in the USA the Mimnimum wage set at the federal level applies to all States. Under Federal law in the USA a State can set its own minimum wage but if it lower then the Federal rate then the Federal rate applies. This is not a matter of a State deciding it will just ignore that law because they can not. A State can have a higher minimum wage if they wish.

In Canada the Provinces set their own minimum wages. We have a different system of Governence in Canada.

This lists all States Minimum wages. Note American Samoa is not Considered a State, nor is Puerto Rico and different laws apply. Wyoming is the only state with a wage set lower than the Federal level but this wage is deemed obselete and by law the Federal level is paid.

Whether apples are growing on trees has nothing to do with what the minimum wage is.