April 01, 2016

Lies about #freetrade and #TPP from the #MSM

Or rather, lies about "free" trade.

I like Chris Tomlinson. Never met him personally, but his book Tomlinson Hill" was quite good, and in general, his business column stuff for the Chron is decent, and with some degree of call-outs for the need for business ethics.

But, he's an in-the-tank free trader (and some sort of in-the-tank neolib in general), and his latest column is Example No. 1 of this.

He talks about "cowardly politicians" slow-walking the TPP. First, he claims a lot of them are unprincipled, but doesn't even mention Bernie Sanders among presidential candidates, who opposes TPP for principled reasons.

Second, he claims opponents are against it wrongly, in trying to save manufacturing jobs that will never return.

Well, Chris knows damn well, as do many of us, that the TPP is about intellectual property, environmental regulations and many other things besides manufacturing laws. When I cited, on Twitter, multinational corporations using trade deals to override national laws, he Tweeted back to "keep spinning."

I Tweeted back to HIM to keep spinning himself, while providing one link (of many available) about how in NAFTA, Chapter 11 of the deal has been used exactly as I described.

Let's look at the second link:
The investor-state dispute settlement mechanism contained in NAFTA’s chapter 11 grants investors the right to sue foreign governments without first pursuing legal action in the country’s court systems, in order to protect foreign investors from discrimination. Drafters of the 1994 treaty included the provision to protect U.S. and Canadian investors against corruption in Mexican courts.  
Critics argue that the mechanism limits governments from enacting policies on legitimate public concerns such as the environment and labour or human rights, and that negotiations are often carried out in secret.
Exactly, and it was probably always eyed as having that as a backup benefit. The story goes on to note Canada's been sued more than the US or Mexico.

On the specifics of the first and third links? Give that Chris works for the Houston Chronicle, at Ground Zero of oil and gas interests in America, I'm pretty sure he knows full well exactly who the Ethyl Corporation is, exactly what MMT and MTBE are, etc.

And, he chose not to include that in his column.

I've busted his chops on the Export-Import Bank before, too, pointing out how it's been used to promote fracking in other countries, with even lower fracking safety and environmental protections than here in the US — and ours aren't great.

So, who's more cowardly — some politicians, or a columnist not telling the full story about trade deals?

And, yes, I know the header's a bit harsh, Chris. But, that's my opinion. The links out there show that multinational corporations do leverage free-trade language against national governments and will continue to do in the future. They also show that free-trade deals are, more and more, about more than manufacturing jobs. They're about copyright, "creative class" work, finances and services businesses and more.

It behooves nobody to pretend otherwise.

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