Timothy B Lee over at Vox yesterday, wrote a very neutral discussion of TPP, The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Great for Elites. Is It Good for Anyone Else? And it is still a blood bath. The answer is: no. It is not good for anyone else. Let’s just discuss the one positive section in Lee’s article, “Trade Liberalization Has Modest but Real Benefits.” According to an estimate by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, in a decade, the TPP will add a half a percent to our GDP. Now that is down there in the noise — literally so if you look at the variation of GDP after subtracting the trend line.
But we don’t even need to think about the size of this. After all, a half percent of GDP would come out to roughly $77 billion in 2025. That’s still a lot of money. That would represent decent paying jobs for a million American workers. The problem is that the $77 billion is not going to go to workers. We’ll be lucky to get a hundred thousand minimum wage jobs out of this. In fact, let’s take a nice little statistic from our friend Bernie Sanders:
That first statistic is stunning. It comes from a Brookings Institution speech back in February, “In fact, the latest information that we have shows that in recent years, over 99 percent of all new income generated in the economy has gone to the top 1 percent.” The fact-checker at The Washington Post had a bit of a problem with it, but it was mostly along the usual lines where liberals have to be found wanting, so the complaint is that not everyone agrees with the study cited. Check out the whole article — most especially including Sanders’ response.
Let’s assume that the $77 billion will be similarly partitioned. That means, the top 1% will get $76.23 billion and the bottom 99% will get $77 million. Now we know that isn’t reasonable. Most likely, the top 10% will get it all and then some, while the bottom 90% actually fall further behind. But let’s just suppose that the $77 million will go to minimum wage workers. The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Assuming a 2% inflation rate, the minimum wage would be $8.83 in 2025. This too is a joke, of course; the minimum wage is worth a dollar less than it was in 1956. But I’m being generous. Let’s assume $8.83. That’s a full time salary of $17,675 per year. That’s a big ol’ 4,356 new minimum wage jobs — or approximately 200 more McDonald’s franchises.
I’ve written about this subject before, No Trade Deals Until Our Economy Is Fixed. The fact is that I don’t care if the TPP is going to add $77 trillion to our economy. Until our economy is set up to share the fruits of our labors and our resources, it doesn’t matter. I’m not buying.
But as Lee’s article points out again and again, the TPP is not even about trade. It is about allowing the power elite to take an even bigger slice out of the economic pie. It’s about increasing the prices that we all pay for drugs and entertainment. And that extra cost will not go to employing more researchers and comedy writers. It will go to corporations to better exploit their rents. And the sad thing is that I don’t see much in the way of Democratic resistance to this. A nuclear deal with Iran — well them’s fightin’ words for Congressional Democrats. But funneling even more money to the rich? That’s just the American way! Am I right, Chuck?!