Declarations of Dependence: A New e-Book on the Nation-Subjugating “Trade Deals”

The trade agreements currently being negotiated by the Obama Administration are potentially enormously important in their possible impact on the United States. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being negotiated by 12 Asian-Pacific nations, and, if agreed to by Congress could be expanded in membership later on under the President’s sole authority. The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will encompass 29 nations, including the United States. And the third agreement, the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), perhaps the most dangerous of the three, will likely encompass 52 nations, if agreed to by all.

These agreements would bind the United States to multilateral terms with much of the world with some notable exceptions, such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Uruguay, and Indonesia. In other words, their scope is unprecedented and their provisions are not yet public. Based on leaks of drafts of the agreements, the book discusses many possible implications of the likely content of these agreements.

By far the most important are the potential effects of the agreements on the consent of the governed, the sovereignty, the monetary sovereignty, the separation of powers, the Federalism, if any, and the democracies, of the participating states. In short, the agreements provide for the governments of the participating states to be subject to external private authorities beholden to multinational corporations, which, in Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) proceedings, can subject nations to fines in unlimited amounts in response to complaints from corporations at the discretion of three-judge tribunals having no accountability to the parties to the agreements. The agreements are, in effect, declarations of dependence!

Most disturbing about the potential effects of the agreements, is the likely constraint on the policy space of participating nations, including the United States, they would produce in relation to legislation and regulations affecting the profits or expectations of profits of multinational corporations. It is the policies of all levels of government: national, state, and local that make it possible for societies to adapt to changes when they meet new challenges. With severely constrained policy spaces they cannot try new policy innovations, nor even use old policy expedients that have been effective at other times in the past to meet particular problems.

It is folly to disarm the governments of nations, and with it their political systems, so they cannot do their jobs in helping peoples and societies to adjust to such changes. That way lies repression, chaos, human suffering, violence, bloodshed, extreme conflict, and loss of life. Ossified and paralyzed political systems have spawned all of the major bloody political and social revolutions we have seen in the history of man. And we are asking for all of that if we stop or hinder national governments from following adaptive policies that solve various problems of change, and that produce social and economic justice. Yet these three trade agreements are likely to do exactly that.

In this new Kindle e-book, entitled Declarations of Dependence: Trade Tyranny, Sovereignty, and Democracy, I discuss a range of issues and use a critical approach to consideration of the trade agreements, and especially the recently passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), and the TPP. I come back again and again to the likely governmental impacts of the agreements. What I also do in this book is to review the fast-track legislative process and politics, up to the present, consider the question of how to get around “fast-track” legislation, which I consider a ruse and a fraud, and also consider a variety of justifications for the TPP and other trade deals, while challenging the very fundamentals of their “free trade”-based justifications, with a more comprehensive perspective on trade agreements as instruments of public purpose. Finally, I place the trade deals in the broader context of the multi-decade conflict between democracy and neoliberalism, and locate the trade agreements as part of this struggle and the continuing efforts of neoliberalism to master and rule over political democracy.

The result is a book intended to fuel popular resistance efforts to defeat the trade deals in the coming months and years, if necessary. Of course, whether it does that or not depends on how the book is received and used by you, my readers.

Mike Norman, Matt Franko, and myself had a conversation about the book and related matters on Mike’s Talkshoe podcast today, July 24. The podcast is also below.

7 responses to “Declarations of Dependence: A New e-Book on the Nation-Subjugating “Trade Deals”

  1. Jerry Hamrick

    I read somewhere in the last couple of days that the TPP could bring as much as $77 billion into the American economy each year. If I did my math correctly that would amount to about $250 per American citizen per year. But of course, little of that money will actually trickle down to people down where I live in Texas. Most of it will go into corporate profits which will then be sent to offshore accounts to avoid taxes.

    • Joe Firestone

      I think that number applies to 2025. Also, you’re right that distribution of gains is a big question. Also, another issue is what percent of GDP is that. Estimates on that range from gains of lose to zero to close to 0.5% by 2025. By comparison, deficit spending on a living wage Job Guarantee program would, off the tip of my head add between 10 and 15% to GDP every year, assuming present policies, no crashes, and continued low labor force participation and 5% – 6% unemployment.

      Bottom line forget about these agreements. Pass a Federal Job Guarantee program, and watch the economy take off!

    • madame de farge

      And did that talk about the jobs/income that will be lost offshoring to the 17 cents per hour slave children…

  2. Aren’t we giving a little too much credit to political systems when we say that they will be inhibited from “helping people out” once the mother of all evil trade legislation passes? The US political system assures that people are tossed out of their houses, displaced out of work and remain unemployed as casually as the seasons change – plenty of opportunity to get in debt or in jail as we descend the usual social arrangements.

    We still have massive resistance, and media denial about cities that have erupted in violence and how this connects to so called benevolent investing. Forget about defining what work is, just claim that a jobs guarantee will launch growth. It’s hard to avoid being a bitter curmudgeon but the bill of goods on sale sounds like it isn’t well thought out. I think there are some serious threats to established wealth from the TPP/TiSA, we’d like to know what those are. Those wayward folks who deem the status quo and economic growth as violent or thoughtlessly insane from time to time have inquiring minds, usually discounted as cynical by the money makin’ plebians

    • Joe Firestone

      I think you’re missing the point. Any positives the TPP may accomplish are dwarfed by its setting an external authority above the United States Government and Court system. I explain how the TPP and the other trade agreements do that in the e-book. Read it!

  3. Trading R. Futr

    Dear Mr. and Mrs. _ _ _ _

    Thank you for writing to share your thoughts on trade legislation that Congress recently considered. The Senate recently debated the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, more commonly known as TPA, and the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, which includes a long-term extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

    As your United States Senator, one of my highest priorities is fighting for policies that create jobs and economic growth in Washington state. I believe the federal government should be working to grow the economy from the middle out, not the top down, which is why I have been fighting to raise the minimum wage, expand access to paid sick leave to all workers, and make sure women earn equal pay for equal work.

    As you may know, Washington is the most trade dependent state in the nation. 40 percent of all jobs in Washington state are tied to international trade. I believe it is critical for our economy that trade agreements move us in the right direction when it comes to leveling the international playing field for our businesses, protecting our workers and the economy, and holding other countries accountable for environmental protections and fair labor standards.

    I voted in favor of TPA to give President Obama the authority to negotiate trade agreements that are good for Washington state, create jobs, and help Washington state businesses sell their goods overseas. I also voted to help support workers who have been adversely impacted by trade-related transactions. Both TPA and TAA passed the Senate on June 24, 2015, and were signed into law on June 29, 2015. I also voted in support of a companion bill, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, which includes customs and enforcement provisions that will allow the U.S. government to ensure that other countries are holding up their end of the bargain when it comes to international trade. I believe that it is important to work with our trading partners to ensure that they comply with internationally accepted norms with regard to labor, environment, human rights, and intellectual property standards.

    The bills that passed through the Senate with bipartisan support lay out a framework for future trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is currently under negotiation. TPA simply empowers President Obama to fight for a good deal. It is now up to him and his negotiators to get that done, and then it will be up to Congress to determine if it is good enough.

    The provisions of TPA will help the United States negotiate trade agreements that encourage innovation, protect the environment, and support economic growth. For the first time, trade agreements must be made public for 60 days prior to Presidential signature to ensure Americans have an opportunity to review the deal, and when trade agreements come back to Congress for review, I will evaluate them based on the impact they would have on jobs and economic growth in Washington state and across the country.
    Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

    Patty Murray
    United States Senator

    • Joe Firestone

      Yes, read my book for criticism of Sen. Murray’s activities. This boiler plate is thoroughly refuted in the book even though I never directly address it. She must think all of us in opposition to the TPP are gullible morons. We know she made a deal to try to get Ex-Im legislation renewed because Boeing needed that. So, she sold out the sovereignty of the United States so Boeing could have what it wanted.