Monday, January 23, 2017

Credit where it's due

Just for the record, I think Trump got it right on the TPP.  I'm generally a fan of free trade, but the TPP gave way too much power to corporations, and the way it was negotiated in secret left a really bad taste in my mouth.  Trump was right to reject it.

Of course, then he eliminated federal funding for Planned Parenthood, snuffing out the little spark of hope that maybe he would not end up being a complete disaster.  Oh well.


Don Geddis said...

You're giving Trump entirely too much credit. You may be right, that part of the TPP gave corporations too much power. You may be right that it was negotiated in secret. But none of that is why Trump rejected it.

He rejected it, because he doesn't believe in free trade. He wants to "renegotiate" trade deals, to get a "better deal for Americans". Trump has bought into the commonsense but long-discredited false economic theory of mercantilism. He seems to see the world as zero-sum, that if Americans do better, others must do worse. It appears he can't even conceive of the actual win-win economic theory of international trade, where both countries can be better off, as trade expands.

A stopped clock might be right twice a day. Maybe the TPP wasn't a good agreement. But the fact that Trump rejected it doesn't make him "right". He did it for the worst possible reasons, and his reasoning bodes ill for our economic future.

Ron said...

Arguing over whether or not Trump was "right" is just quibbling over terminology. I prefer when people do good things for bad reasons than the other way around. (Of course, I'd much prefer to have people doing good things for good reasons, but with Trump that does not seem to be one of the available options, and I'm trying hard not to sink into the pit of despair.)

Ron said...

OMG! When I mentioned the "pit of despair" in my previous comment I was aiming for dark humor, an allusion to this scene in The Princess Bride:

But it turns out that the pit of despair is actually a real thing:

WARNING: The description is deeply disturbing. It involves scientific experiments on animals. Don't follow that link lightly; you won't be able to unsee it.

Publius said...

Unfree Trade

NAFTA, and the TPP, aren't free trade agreements, they are managed trade agreements. They are full of special provisions for certain industries and busineses.

NAFTA is 2,000 pages, of which 900 pages are tariff rates.

Don Geddis said...

@Publius: "aren't free trade agreements, they are managed trade agreements"

Don't make the mistake of having the perfect be the enemy of the good. The important question is not whether the agreements result in perfectly free trade. Instead, the important question is whether the trade after the agreements is significantly freer than it was before. Are the agreements heading international trade in a direction of more free trade? If yes, then that's really the most you can ask for in a real-world political environment. Especially with populist demagogues promoting false mercantilist theories.