By Paul Street for Truthdig. Two things are clear going forward. First, progressives hoping to defeat Trump and Trumpism will need to drive a class wedge between the new administration’s big basket of deplorable, super-wealthy plutocrats and the president’s conservative WWC base. Second, Trump is going to provide a lot of ammunition for that wedge-building task with policies that mock his posture as some kind of great white working-class hero. It is distressing that candidate Trump got away with taking that populist pose in the first place. Born to significant real estate wealth, Trump owed his rise to hyper-opulence “to his relentless manipulation of the corporate-controlled media market … to increase the market value of his name, which he then licensed to be sold. … The result,” author Mike Lofgren notes, “was Trump resorts, Trump steaks, even Trump dietary supplements retailed through multilevel marketing, the polite biz school euphemism for a pyramid scheme. As for Trump University, the principal lesson it imparted … was how to avoid being victimized by such scams in the future. … Such is Donald Trump, friend of the working class.”
By Jeff Ferry for The Hill – In the past few weeks, those of us who believe in balanced trade and believe that America’s dismal record of trade deficits are the cause of many of our economic problems have won so many intellectual victories that it’s just stunning. Now you do have to read the free traders’ utterances carefully. But when you do, you can see that the light is beginning to dawn—and growing brighter by the day. The forces of the “free trade” religion are in retreat. Read on. The most hopeful sign this past week was the comment by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble to a German newspaper that “The euro exchange rate is, strictly speaking, too low for the German economy’s competitive position.” Schauble was responding to comments by President Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro that the low euro was benefiting German industry at the expense of U.S. industry.
By Stan Sorscher for The Huffington Post – The 2016 elections threw a bucket of cold water into the face of free-trade orthodoxy. It’s no surprise that voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere are deeply discouraged by decades of failed promises of boon from establishment leaders. The real surprise is, what took us so long? We need a new approach to globalization that does as much for workers and the environment as it does for global investors. Everyone I know wants trade and globalization. However, we have managed globalization badly. Our failed “neoliberal” approach has been to manage globalization through trade deals, written by and for the interests of global companies.
By Dean Baker for Truthout – 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.
By Dean Baker for Truthout – The prospects for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are not looking very good right now. Both parties’ presidential candidates have come out against the deal. Donald Trump has placed it at the top of his list of bad trade deals that he wants to stop or reverse. Hillary Clinton had been a supporter as secretary of state, but has since joined the opposition in response to overwhelming pressure from the Democratic base. As a concession to President Obama, the Democratic platform does not explicitly oppose the TPP.
By Staff of Fight for the Future – The show also featured speakers from a wide range of organizations opposing the TPP, including Food and Water Watch, Public Citizen, Padres y Jovenes Unidos, the Sierra Club, the Association of Flight Attendants, Conservation Colorado, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Standing Up for Racial Justice, United Steelworkers, Denver-based technology startup SecureSet, Communications Workers of America, Student Labor Action Project, and more. Of course, there were also crushing guitar solos.
By Alex Lazar for Open Secrets – As pressure increases for 2016 presidential contender Hillary Clinton to say where she stands on the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP) trade deal, her ties to avid TPP supporters won’t escape notice. One glaring example: A linked trifecta consisting of the TPP, the mega-investment firm Morgan Stanley, and the Clinton family that involves campaign contributions, former members of Bill Clinton’s administration and large donations to the Clintons’ foundation.
By Blake Smith for Aeon. For nearly four centuries, the Atlantic slave trade brought millions of people into bondage. Scholars estimate that around 1.5 million people perished in the brutal middle passage across the Atlantic. The slave trade linked Africa, Europe and the Americas in a horrific enterprise of death and torture and profit. Yet, in the middle of the 18th century, as the slave trade boomed like never before, some notable European observers saw it as a model of free enterprise and indeed of ‘liberty’ itself. They were not slave traders or slave-ship captains but economic thinkers, and very influential ones. They were a pioneering group of economic thinkers committed to the principle oflaissez-faire: a term they themselves coined. United around the French official Vincent de Gournay (1712-1759), they were among the first European intellectuals to argue for limitations on government intervention in the economy. They organised campaigns for the deregulation of domestic and international trade, and they made the slave trade a key piece of evidence in their arguments.
By Dave Johnson for Campaign for America’s Future – A Canadian corporation is suing the us because we wouldn’t let them build a pipeline across our country (seizing people’s property along the way) so they could sell oil to China. They can do this because we signed a trade agreement that places corporate rights above our democracy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would increase by an order of magnitude the companies that can sue us for hurting their profits by protecting the environment, consumers, public health and small businesses.
By John McCormick and Terrence Dopp for Bloomberg – Opposition to free trade is a unifying concept even in a deeply divided electorate, with almost two-thirds of Americans favoring more restrictions on imported goods instead of fewer. The latest Bloomberg Politics national poll shows the issue unites the country like few others, across lines of politics, race, gender, education, and income. A stunning rejection of what was a postwar cornerstone of American economic and foreign policies reverberates again and again in the answers to the poll’s questions.
By Eleanor Goldfield for Occupy.com – This week, it’s about time we hear about climate change – but really hear it. Does freedom mean the right to refuse to serve people because of race or other aspects of someone you don’t like? Is that what freedom means? Music can turn abstract numbers of climate change into something we can feel and hear. Here’s how a group of musicians turns the last 130 years of climate data into climate music. Victoria Fernandez from 350.org dishes on the political and public effects of divestment – uninvesting money invested in carbon fuels – surprising, but money matters. Bravo to those who shut down the San Francisco financial district over climate change investments. Then starting October 10, we’ve got a week long, international push for people and planet and against the corporatocracy. Action required immediately: Time to stop those trade deals. Sweden deserves a shout out for plans to go carbon free and move to renewable energy. And finally, scream for me — join the Rooftop Revolutionaries montage of screams. But first, we reserve your rights.
By Deidre Fulton in Common Dreams – While public opposition to the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—the massive proposed “trade” deal between the European Union and the United States—has grown steadily since negotiations started two years ago, new signs suggest that official government backing is also faltering across Europe. In an interview with French regional newspaper Sud Ouest published Monday, Junior Trade Minister Matthias Fekl said TTIP negotiations were favoring American interests and “either weren’t advancing or were progressing in the wrong direction.” “If nothing changes, it will show that there isn’t the will to achieve mutually beneficial negotiations,” he said, before adding: “France is considering all options including an outright termination of negotiations.”
By Glyn Moody in Tech Dirt – Techdirt first mentioned the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) last year, when “The Really Good Friends of Services” — the self-chosen name for about 20 members of the World Trade Organization — could no longer keep their plans locked behind closed doors, and word started to spread. Essentially, TISA completes the unholy trinity of global trade agreements that also includes TPP and TAFTA/TTIP. Between the three of them, they sew up just about every aspect of trade in both goods and services — the latter being TISA’s particular focus. They share a common desire to liberalize trade as much as possible, and to prevent national governments from imposing constraints on corporate activity around the world. One particularly blatant reflection of this desire is the inclusion of something called the “ratchet clause.”
By Ralph Nader – Welcome to the world of extreme dependency by the U.S., the world’s biggest economy, on the instabilities of small and large nations overseas. This dependency is exactly what the giant corporations further by pushing globalization, often to misname it “free trade” in order to boost Congressional and White House support for the “global economy”. Although big business won’t go so far as to advocate U.S. dependence-inducing globalized markets for oil, they are pushing for trade agreements that make the U.S. more dependent even on essentials like food and medicines. For example, 80 percent of our seafood is now imported, often through dubiously treated fish farms from China. Eighty percent of the ingredients in the medicines you take come from China and India where there are very few inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration, assuming they can gain entry visas.
By Benjamin Clement in Economy In Crisis – “Free trade” has essentially led to the most massive wealth transfer in the history of the world. The United States has not witnessed a trade surplus since 1975, and since then trillions of dollars have been lost through trade deficits caused by “free trade” on our end and protectionism on the other. The most significant flaw with all of our “free trade” agreements is that they are impossible to enforce, and because of this competition is impossible. “Free trade” depends on the premise that all countries will play by the same rules. However, in the real world, assuring that this occurs is incredibly expensive, time-consuming and inefficient to contest. We have simply been unable to create a universally free market. Like communism before it, true “free trade” works only in theory, on a large scale and when utilized by all.