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RIP TPP

Written By: - Date published: 8:39 am, January 24th, 2017 - 70 comments
Categories: capitalism, Globalisation, International, trade, us politics - Tags: , ,

The TPPA appears to be no more.  And the cause of death is an unusual one.  Who would have thought that a Republican self declared multi billionaire with a history of labour abuse and not paying his contractors would pull out of the agreement on the basis that it was bad for American workers. Although the calculation may have involved a cynical attempt to reach out to supporters of Bernie Sanders who was the first candidate to talk about the flaws of the treaty the result at least is pleasing.

From Radio New Zealand:

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP).

The trade pact – which was a linchpin of former President Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia – was signed by 12 nations, including New Zealand, and covered 40 percent of the world’s economy.

The directive was part of a series of executive orders planned for Monday to begin reshaping US trade policies.

Mr Trump had vowed to quit the TPP during his presidential campaign.

He has criticised the trade agreement as a “potential disaster for our country”, arguing it harmed the US manufacturing sector.

Although US manufacturers may not be too upset as Trump has promised them preferential treatment by way of tax cuts and border controls:

Earlier on Monday, Mr Trump pledged to “massively” cut regulations and taxes on companies that keep jobs in the US.

This followed a meeting with executives from companies including defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin, apparel maker Under Armour, appliance manufacturer Whirlpool, electric-carmaker Tesla and pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson.

After meeting business leaders, Mr Trump also warned them he would impose a “very major border tax” on companies that move manufacturing out of the US.

“We’re going to be cutting regulation massively”, but the rules will be “just as protective of the people”, he told reporters after the morning meeting in the White House’s Roosevelt Room.

He pledged to lower corporate taxes to 15 percent or 20 percent from the current 35 percent and lift regulations by up to 75 percent.

This particular decision is great but there is a worrying anti internationalism trend developing in Washington.  House Republicans have introduced a bill that if passed would see the United States withdraw from the United Nations.

If America goes through with this it will fundamentally change the international order. Israel would surely follow. International Law would take a battering and the UN would be severely weakened.

We live in very interesting times …

70 comments on “RIP TPP ”

  1. Jenny Kirk 1

    This might be the one good thing coming out of the Trump administration !

    • McFlock 1.1

      I’m sure we might see one other good thing.

      Um.

      Nothing really springs to mind though lol

      • Nic the NZer 1.1.1

        Running Neoconservatives out of the Republican party?
        Avoiding Super Power conflict with Russia over Syria?

        Say Obama had promised to close down a military detention and torture centre in Cuba, how long would he have taken to do this? And would he have put it off while point scoring in order to paint his political opponents as intransigent (when he could just as well have done it directly)?

        • McFlock 1.1.1.1

          Running Neoconservatives out of the Republican party?

          And replacing them with what – klansmen and witch-burners? How is that a good thing?

          Avoiding Super Power conflict with Russia over Syria?

          Great, so Putin gets solid ground in the Eastern med, Assad stays in power, and the next confrontation is in the western med. How is this a good thing? Just business as usual, but with an extra dictator in the mix.

          Say Obama had promised to close down a military detention and torture centre in Cuba, how long would he have taken to do this? And would he have put it off while point scoring in order to paint his political opponents as intransigent (when he could just as well have done it directly)?

          Oh for fuck’s sake. He missed the opportunity to do it immediately because he underestimated how dickish the republicans were going to be. By the time this was obvious, they’d taken it out of his control. At least he tried to close it, Trump promised to expand it. Even if he doesn’t follow through, that’s the sort of people he empowered.

          • joe90 1.1.1.1.1

            Obama’s January 2017 letter to the Congressional leadership on Guantanamo.

            https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C2jpCk5WgAExcwV.jpg

            https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C2jpCk8XgAAHjwe.jpg

            • Conal 1.1.1.1.1.1

              I love where Obama says “there remains bipartisan support for closing Guantanamo…”, when clearly there doesn’t remain bipartisan support, or it would have been closed.

              • joe90

                when clearly there doesn’t remain bipartisan support

                Despite all the will in the world and support from both sides of the house, Obama failed on more than one occasion to gain the majority vote required to close Guantanamo.

                Federal law prohibits spending any federal money to close the controversial military prison. The National Defense Reauthorization Act also prohibits federal officials from transferring Guantánamo detainees to prisons in the United States.

                An amendment offered by U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., would have removed those two provisions from this year’s reauthorization act.

                Sanford and two other Republicans voted for Nadler’s amendment. The amendment failed by 259-163.

                http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/congress/article78481887.html#storylink=cpy

          • Nic the NZer 1.1.1.1.2

            “He missed the opportunity to do it immediately because he underestimated how dickish the republicans were going to be.”

            Enough said. Obamas political strategy of putting Republican intransigence on display is clearly endearing to some.

            I will leave the rhetorical questions for you to ‘answer’ for yourself.

            • McFlock 1.1.1.1.2.1

              Ok, the answers to the two questions I asked were “yes.” and “it’s not, it’s worse”. They weren’t rhetorical.

              You might think Obama chose to put republican intransigence on display. That requires him knowing its full extent before he was even inaugurated.

              Maybe his mistake was merely believing that most of them had at least some shred of rationality left.

            • Conal 1.1.1.1.2.2

              Absolutely!

              Obama the centrist chose to initiate a bipartisan talk-fest to discuss how to go about considering the issues involved in moving forward on setting up a framework for addressing the question of a possible shutdown of Guantanamo. Whereas it was one of his main campaign promises! And he could have kicked it off on day 1 with an Executive Order (as he himself later said he regretted not doing). At best, he showed himself to be a naive centrist; at worst, a cynical hack using the GTMO issue as a way to make the Republicans look bad (as if that’s a hard thing to do!)

              But leaving that aside, what gets to me is that the issue is always addressed (or not addressed) in terms of US domestic politics and domestic law, and the USA’s obligations under international law never seem to come into it.

              The annexation and continuing occupation of Guantanamo Bay, and its use as a prison, and the use of torture are all crimes (i.e. there are four breaches of international law right there).

              Nothing gives the US the right to run a prison on the territory of another country against that country’s will; nothing except their force of arms.

    • Bill 1.2

      One of two good things that I’m aware of. (Rapprochement with Russia being the other)

      So what’s he thinking the US should do now?

      I’ve nothing against sensible protectionism, but the way this shit has always worked in the past is that the more powerful nation (it used to be Britain before the US) uses it’s trading advantage or military might to it to see to it that everyone but themselves drops protections.

      Maybe it’s time to read some stuff about what was happening as Britain waned and the US waxed. Because I get the feeling that history might be about to repeat, but this time the roles will be filled by the US and China.

      Culturally wise, I’m aware that Britain used to run around denigrating the US in various ways. And now if we look at the language used and the accusations that fly when China is spoken about…

      Hmm. Throw in a dose of emotionally charged ‘Yellow Peril’ stuff (still quite potent after all this time) on top of the tangerine numpty’s nonsense and maybe it’s not looking pretty.

      I guess the only good thing is, that like rapprochement, there’s a huge institutional tradition pointing in an opposite direction to the way Trump wants to go. So he won’t be simply rolling out his preferences .

      Maybe NZ should throw its lot in with China about now and be done with it.

      • Nic the NZer 1.2.1

        If you read Ha Joon Chang on the history of free trade you will observe a quite different picture. Protectionism is used to protect and develop indiginous industry. Larger economies and nations who have already passed the stage where their industries need protection, have historically pushed for ‘free trade’ with yet to develop economies. Its called pulling up the ladder.

        Though treaties like the TPPA have not much to do with trade, and more to do with investor rights.

        • Bill 1.2.1.1

          What’s the difference between what I wrote in my comment and what you’ve written in yours?

          I wrote that stronger nations seek to ensure everyone else drops protections and you wrote that stronger nations pull up the ladder. It’s the same thing, no?

          • Nic the NZer 1.2.1.1.1

            Yes, the same as I read your comment now. I either read it shallowly, or there was an edit.

      • McFlock 1.2.2

        Rapprochement with Russia is not a good thing.

        At best it is a neutral thing. It simply substitutes one geoconflict with another. US vs Russia with Russia vs Europe, while US waits to be dragged into the inevitable conflict.

        • Bill 1.2.2.1

          I disagree. I don’t think it will be easy. Plenty people enough within US government circles and what not who won’t want to see it. But it would be a good thing.

          And Europe isn’t against Russia. Some sections of the elites are, but not European people.

          Trump’s bullshit on China on the other hand is fucking nuts.

          • McFlock 1.2.2.1.1

            Even if the comment about the European people were true and that the same couldn’t really be said about the US people and Russia, the point is that we’re talking about the states run by elites.

            Putin is expansionist. That is why he is operating in the Eastern Med and building ties to Turkey.

            A dramatic US withdrawal from Europe will leave a vacuum. That will either be filled by a largely German-dominated post-brexit EU or by Russia expanding its “client” states westward.

            Trump is coming close to Wilhelm II’s foreign policy pivots from 1890 onwards, but with even more fantasy and less impulse control and insecurity. History does not bode well.

            • Bill 1.2.2.1.1.1

              I don’t have any insight on the general US citizen’s feelings towards Russia. But I could guess that after a 100 years of ceaseless propaganda, it won’t be that flash.

              Russia’s expansionist? I disagree. They’ve been reactive.

              Anyway. Why would a US withdrawal from Europe leave a vacuum? Europe’s fair bursting at the seams with military hardware and bases (sadly). And if the US left, well, every country there has military capacities anyway and every country there has systems of government.

              There is no Russian Bear banging at the borders and Germany already dominates Europe economically.

              • McFlock

                The baltic regions seem to disagree with your assessment, there.

                heck, if the Eastern European and Scandanavian states agreed with your assessment, they wouldn’t keep inviting US military units over for training exercises.

                Yes, Germany dominates economically. That means that they will also dominate militarily, especially if the hard brexit is so hard that it shuts off future cooperative developments like the Typhoon II aircraft. But the US currently has 100k personnel in Europe deploying some state of the art weapons systems on the eastern borders (as CV, our on-again banned-again putinesca likes to point out). Take those out, either Europe steps up its defenses or poland and the baltics and the czechs get worried. The russians have only been out for not even 30 years.

                Either way, the change in the regional balance provides instability.

                • Bill

                  The USSR doesn’t exist any more McFlock. Russia was colonised by western capital when the USSR collapsed. It’s over.

                  As for Baltic regions/states or Scandinavian states, I’m aware (as you are) that governments do not articulate the will of peoples – that they run agendas (foreign policy etc) on criteria that ordinary people often don’t give a hoot about.

                  I’d have to look this up. But I’m aware that Finland used to have national service because “Russian Bear” back in the days of the USSR….now if there was a lapse in that, or if it no longer even exists, then the lie is given to this idea of Russia as an omnipresent threat.

                  Probably best for our elites to hang on to that Russian boogeyman though….it serves many a useful purpose 😉

                  But me. Personally. I can’t be arsed with that crap. There is no boogeyman lurking beyond the eastern fringes….

                  • McFlock

                    Nobody said “omnipresent”.

                    But it is a recurring historical threat, now, as the Soviet Union was, and as Tzarist Russia was before then. Those who remember Soviet occupation might not be as sanguine about a relabelled Russia as you are.

                    The fact that Russia is militarily active in a variety of nations in the region adds credence to that threat, both at a state and at a personal level. Not because “russia = bad” any more than “US = bad” (I tend to err towards the nation that at least pays lipservice to constitutionality, but both are pretty bad).

                    the problem is “Russia the state = powerful and flexes that power in Eastern Europe”. If the US changes its stance away from “USA the state = powerful and flexes that power in Eastern Europe” then that leaves a vacuum that will be filled.

                    It’s a law of nation-state geopolitics as certain as capitalism exploits workers. Russia will push out and Western Europe will push back. And just like a pressure cavity, if it forms suddenly it’ll close with a thunderclap.

                    • Bill

                      Did I misuse the term omnipresent? Perceived as a constant threat by some from the time of Czarist Russia through the period of the USSR and on to the present. And in the scheme of things, it’s all been crap.

                      Here’s a nice rendition of the Russia nonsense from 1877 – worth the swatch.

                      Has Russia been flexing west? No. Will it? No. All it’s been doing is reacting to NATO flexing east that even went so far as to promote fascist (term not used lightly) elements in the Ukraine.

                      It’s kind of like someone (NATO/US et al) is repeatedly punching another (Russia) in the face and accusing them of aggression on account of their bruised knuckles.

                    • McFlock

                      Not “perceived”. Actual occupier. And not “constant”. Pretty mild in the 1990s for example.

                      As for the rest, “reacting” my arse. Putin isn’t a passive responder, he’s a geopolitical actor as well. That’s why he’s maintaining a port in the med, invading his neighbours and so on. He’s not a victim, he’s just as much a perpetrator as Obama.

              • Anyway. Why would a US withdrawal from Europe leave a vacuum? Europe’s fair bursting at the seams with military hardware and bases (sadly). And if the US left, well, every country there has military capacities anyway and every country there has systems of government.

                Putin is up front about wanting a sphere of influence. He’s less up-front about intending that sphere of influence to include various current EU members, but fortunately the members involved are familiar enough with Russia not to need him to be up front about it. That’s it for “fortunately” though – “unfortunately,” the combined military capability of the EU is trivial compared with that of the Russian Federation, hence the interest in having the US military on-site. None of that is going to change anytime soon from a European perspective, so it’s hardly surprising they aren’t keen on Trump.

    • Mike Steinberg 1.3

      Aside from killing off the TPP, today Trump met with Union leaders, he is challenging the neo-liberal consensus. He’s not beholden to neo-con ideology. That seems like a refreshing change at least.

      “The union meeting also included several local union officials and follows a gathering of 12 chief executives of large companies at the White House to discuss revitalizing the U.S. manufacturing economy.”

      http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-labor-idUSKBN157290?il=0

  2. Paul 2

    These are the reasons we opposed the TPP.

      • Paul 2.1.1

        [Paul. Stop with the reams of vid dumps. it’s not a facebook page, aye?] – Bill

        [yes, and I gave Paul a warning about vid links with no explanation the other day. Paul I’d like to see you now acknowledge that you have seen this request from Bill and myself as moderators, thanks – weka]

  3. Paul 3

    RNZ shows its neoliberal establishment colours as it wheels out a dodgy ‘expert’ to spin for the TPP.
    Notice how they show their approval of his point of view.
    No quote marks used around either his opinion or his title.

    Collapse of TPP would hurt NZ – trade expert

    Not mentioned by the establishment mouthpiece.
    Wikleaks have outed him.

    I’m no spy says Kiwi named as top US contact

    • red-blooded 3.1

      Paul, RNZ ran a pretty balanced set of interviews and reports this morning. Choosing one and putting it up without context is pretty dodgy (to borrow your word).

      And Charles Finny might not fit with your political viewpoint, but that doesn’t make him “dodgy”: “Charles Finny is a partner at the Wellington Government Relations consultancy Saunders Unsworth.

      He was formerly CEO of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce (five and a half years). Prior to that, he had 22 years’ experience in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Prime Minister’s Department. He has worked in Singapore, Beijing and Taipei.

      Charles is the Chair of the Education New Zealand Board and on the Boards of the New Zealand Film Commission and Kawarau Estate Limited and the Wellington Employers Chamber of Commerce.

      He is also on the Council of Victoria University of Wellington.” https://www.nzte.govt.nz/en/about-us/our-people/board-members/charles-finny/

      It’s also worth pointing out (as RNZ did) that Trump’s Executive order was basically a piece of theatre. The TPP didn’t need to be “killed” – it hadn’t been ratified in the States and wasn’t going to be. Not only were BOTH of the main presidential candidates opposed to it, but so are both the House and the Senate.

      Of course, the fact that the States has opted out doesn’t actually “kill” the TPP. There were a lot of other countries involved, even before the US got interested. Some of the worst clauses were included to protect US companies, so perhaps a deal without them might not be so pernicious. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  4. Glenn 4

    I guess in the next few years NZ will have the pressure put on us (probably by our neighbor Oz) to support Trumps USA in its campaign against China. No doubt China will also put the pressure on us as well. Our trade could be affected badly if used as a bargaining chip by either side.

    Hopefully we will keep our heads down and stay out of what could turn out quite tragic for all involved.

    • Phil 4.1

      I guess in the next few years NZ will have the pressure put on us (probably by our neighbor Oz) to support Trumps USA in its campaign against China.

      Given that the fortunes of Australia and its export industries are just as closely tied to China as New Zealand’s are, I’m pretty certain you’re talking nonsense.

  5. lprent 5

    I suspect that the TPP will refuse to die. There are a lot of nations involved and there are some advantages to many of them to sign trade deals with each other as a group.

    Dropping the US out of it will allow them to drop some of the legalistic crap that came with them.

    The question is if there is a will to do it. But I suspect that separate trade agreements with the Americas of Canada and central and South America states are a likely to progress using the TPP as a base. Not so sure about those in various areas of Asia.

    • Andre 5.1

      Given how much of the TPP was about further entrenching corporate power and how little was about trade, seems to me that using the TPP as a basis for a new agreement would be a bad idea. Far better to start from square zero. Any new agreement that included anything like the ISDS provisions of the TPP should be a total non-starter.

    • Enough is Enough 5.2

      I agree.

      My feeling is the remaining signatories to the deal will get back together and push on without the US.

      I do not think it is dead at all.

      • Andre 5.2.1

        The Chump’s noises about renegotiating NAFTA may make Canada and Mexico more enthusiastic about having a separate negotiation going on with other trading partners at the same time.

    • McGrath 5.3

      I can see China taking the place of the States. There is a certain irony where Communist China is more free trade than Capitalist America.

      • Anno1701 5.3.1

        “communist” China ?

        yeah nah,

        maybe “state capitalism” China would be a litlle more appropriate

    • Ad 5.4

      We’ll know the balance of global power is really shifting if China is now enabled to join a TPPA2 talks. China would shred those intellectual property clauses, and I bet would have absolutely no truck with being bound to international law enforced investor-state dispute resolution clauses.

      It’ll feel pretty cold down here at the bottom of the Pacific if we don’t keep reintegrating into the east Asian trade flows.

  6. Nick 6

    A bizarre back door win for us anti TPP people…… But we’ll take it.

    • bwaghorn 6.1

      proves the theory that every cloud (trump) has a silver lining

      • Mike Steinberg 6.1.1

        It’s been pretty clear from Trump’s message going back to the 1980’s that he’s not a fan of unrestrained free-trade or neo-liberalism.

        • bwaghorn 6.1.1.1

          A lot of what he says around trade killing off the working class rings true with me, but that’s it re trump ,his cons far outweigh his pros

  7. Paul 7

    The TPP ‘explained’ by the Herald.
    If there ever was an article that demonstrated the underlying bias in our corporate MSM puppet media.
    This one could be used by media studies classes to teach how agendas are pushed.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11787565

    • red-blooded 7.1

      Do you actually READ the articles you link to, Paul? This one explores both sides of the issue: “…Why would we want it?

      The Government and supporters claim the TPP would give New Zealand better access to globally significant markets, diversify New Zealand’s trade and investment relationships, and provide a platform to build on the $28 billion of New Zealand goods and services exported to TPP countries in 2014. In general, the trade deal is expected to increase the wealth of New Zealand by boosting exports into powerful economies. Many see that the deal would create opportunities for Kiwi businesses to sell their products to markets in the Pacific rim countries without paying tariffs.”

      Note the wording – “claim”, “is expected”, “many see” – no absolute statements.

      “What do the opponents say?

      Opposition to the deal has been widespread, with fears the agreement would diminish New Zealand’s sovereignty and challenge its democracy. There are concerns around the opportunity the TPP would give corporations to sue the New Zealand Government if they feel the deal isn’t being upheld. University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey previously said that more than 1600 US companies, the most litigious in the world, would gain new rights they could enforce through private offshore tribunals should regulation damages their value or profits. She said the agreement guarantees foreign states and corporations a right of input into regulatory decisions, which Maori, trade unions, small businesses and local government would not have.”

      OK – that hasn’t covered all the issues (PHARMAC being an obvious concern) – but it’s a short summary piece – it doesn’t cover all the arguments for the TPP, either.

      Paranoia about the media can be taken too far, Paul. Stop fighting shadows.

  8. Zorr 8

    With one hand he gives…

    And with the other he taketh away…
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-press-conference-dakota-access-pipline-sean-spicer-white-house-a7542481.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/donald-trump-global-gag-rule_us_58822355e4b070d8cad1f774

    That the TPP is no longer being pursued by the US is such a small victory compared to the wave of shit coming through…

  9. Andre 9

    So the Chump’s strategy looks like it will be to individually bully the other TPP nations in one-on-one deals.

    From his memo to the US Trade Representative:
    “It is the policy of my Administration to represent the American people and their financial well-being in all negotiations, particularly the American worker, and to create fair and economically beneficial trade deals that serve their interests.

    Additionally, in order to ensure these outcomes, it is the intentions of my Administration to deal directly with individual countries on a one-on-one (or bilateral) basis in negotiating future trade deals.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11787610

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    House Republicans have introduced a bill that if passed would see the United States withdraw from the United Nations.

    Now that could be interesting. Wonder if they’re be majority support for doing so in the Republicans – enough to pass. I don’t think that there’ll be any in the Democrats but then many Democrats have voted for Republican policy before.

    As for what it could do:

    It would certainly be a break in the present world order (not that I think that the present world order is a Good Idea). One that could sideline the US. If the US leaves the UN but the UN stays in place then the US could find themselves on the receiving end of UNSC resolutions and sanctions. The US invasion of Iraq was illegal but the UN couldn’t do anything as the US could veto the resolution. If they leave they won’t be able to do that and the UN will be able to move against them when they do similar immoral and illegal stuff.

    That’s if the UN stays together. If it falls apart, which is a possibility if many nations that support the US also leave, then we’re going to get a general free-for-all as restraints on actions that countries can do are removed. If this happens then that $20 billion of defence spending will most definitely not be enough and we will be building a military-industrial complex here in NZ – we’ll have to.

    • red-blooded 10.1

      Wow – these people are DREADFUL! Apparently they’ve been trying to pass various versions of this bill for quite a while, arguing that the US gives more than it gets from the UN so they should pull the plug and kick them out of the country. America First, eh? https://www.rt.com/usa/374754-us-leave-united-nations-bill/

      I would be very concerned about the short-term instability that this could cause. The UN feeds a lot of people and does a lot of aid work in extreme circumstances. I’d want to think a bit harder about any possible long-term benefits. Any revamped version of the UN might provide opportunities to reform the Security Council structure and powers, but of course there’s no guarantee that anything better would be agreed and the risk of increased conflict and carnage is real.

    • Alnz 10.2

      Draco spotted the peripheral yet massive possible threat.

      At least three formal groups have a stake in the US being out of the UN .
      The gun / arms lobby, the Oil industry and the Pro Israeli for starters.
      You could add the anti PC crowd, anti globalists and the frugal (smaller
      government crew). This then starts to look like something DT and his swamp
      could get behind.
      I have not been happy with the UN over much the time I have watched it
      especially its non equality and non democratic “Security council” with veto powers.
      Its total blindness toward some issues, Or the way globalists and NWO have userpt it for their agendas. But it needs superseding not abandonment.
      There are true collective global interests and cooperation’s that need representing.

      Cant watch , cant look away.

  11. Siobhan 11

    So. The thing is “we” (Labour and National) are still committed to Free Trade Deals.
    Free Trade…which is always “expected to increase the wealth of New Zealand”.
    And probably does.
    But as long as that wealth mysteriously disappears into the pockets of “The New Zealand Economy’…and not, you know, New Zealanders…what exactly is the point??

    So many facts and figures about increased trade……and yet look at wages, home ownership, job security, We can’t afford true Free Education, we can’t afford payments to the Cullen fund, we can’t afford adequate payment to foster parents…….

    The majority of home owning baby boomers might be loving their cheap chinese garden furniture…..but there is a wave of people coming through who are buying those 10 jeans, wondering why they need 2 jobs just to pay the rent.

    • red-blooded 11.1

      Soibhan, we CAN afford these things, if we make them priorities. It’s hard to imagine affording them if the NZ economy slumps, though. It was when the economy slumped in the GFC that English and Key stopped payments to the Cullen Fund. They’ve chosen not to restart them – that’s a choice, not a can’t afford”. Similarly, Labour is promising 3 years of free tertiary education, and state schools are (sort of) free – they can’t require people to pay fees (although they can’t really survive without them). They could be fully, adequately funded if the government decided it was a priority.

      If you want wealth to stop disappearing into the pockets of the already-wealthy, then vote for a party that believes in a fair tax system, that supports unions and collective bargaining, that will create fairer employment laws, that is prepared to invest in social housing (including loans and tax breaks for first-time buyers)… We’re probably not going to be able to create a social utopia – we might be an island state but we are also part of a larger world and whether you like it or not the world operates according to capitalist drivers and NZ isn’t going to be able to simply divorce itself from that world; we do actually need imports, we can’t make everything here and we don’t invent everything ourselves – but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make things better and raise people up.

      • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1

        not the world operates according to capitalist drivers and NZ isn’t going to be able to simply divorce itself from that world

        It wouldn’t be simple but we could do it.

        we do actually need imports, we can’t make everything here and we don’t invent everything ourselves

        Well, actually, we don’t need imports – we’re quite capable of providing everything that we need from our own resources.

        Anything that is produced can be produced in NZ from our own resources. IMO, we could actually do that and reduce the working week at the same time.

        Interestingly enough, invention is a matter of numbers. Not money, but people supported in developing their ideas and we’re particularly bad at it. This seems to be because we leave it to rich people to control access to the resources necessary for that invention to take place.

        • red-blooded 11.1.1.1

          Sorry, Draco, but I must respectfully disagree. NZ is a small country and we have some natural resources, but we don’t have all the resources that underpin modern life. Do all the metals and elements used in machinery and medicines exist in NZ? I don’t think so. Similarly, with 4 million people, we simply don’t have the human resources to produce specialists and researchers/inventors in all areas. If you really think we can independently develop and produce all the medicines, technology, machines, building materials, books, films, music, foodstuffs…etc that we need/want now and into the future, without importing any component parts or ingredients, then I think you’re dreaming.

          I challenge you to show me one country that’s following this path successfully. Let’s take Cuba as an example; isolated because of sanctions, not from choice. We all know about the rusting old cars and lack of technology there. Internet access and cell phones are still very rare (actually, home internet access is illegal – partly an issue of ideology and partly, one suspects, of scarcity and rationing). If “anything that can be produced can be produced in NZ” then why can’t the same be said about Cuba? Similarly, South Africa in the apartheid era: while a shameful number of countries and companies continued to trade with them, the economic boycotts were a big part of what pulled them out of apartheid. Why didn’t they just say, “Anything that can be produced can be produced in South Africa”?

          Now, I guess you might argue that we don’t “need” this stuff, but I don’t think that’s realistic in the modern world.

          • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1.1.1

            Do all the metals and elements used in machinery and medicines exist in NZ?

            Yes, they do. As I’ve linked to all of the sources for that assertion before on this site I’m not going to do it again. Go out and get yourself educated.

            Similarly, with 4 million people, we simply don’t have the human resources to produce specialists and researchers/inventors in all areas.

            Yes we do. As an example if we dropped farming down to just feeding ourselves we’d free up about 150,000 people that could then be used to produce those needed specialists.

            How many researchers are needed to develop all the drugs that we need? 10000 enough ya reckon?

            If you really think we can independently develop and produce all the medicines, technology, machines, building materials, books, films, music, foodstuffs…etc that we need/want now and into the future, without importing any component parts or ingredients, then I think you’re dreaming.

            And I think you have NFI as to what reality is. You don’t use people to produce integrated circuits – you use automated machines. Same goes for everything else really.

            Build the automated processes and we could easily produce everything we need here in NZ from our own resources.

            Let’s take Cuba as an example; isolated because of sanctions, not from choice. We all know about the rusting old cars and lack of technology there.

            Don’t forget their somewhat better than US healthcare system that uses their locally produced drugs.

            If “anything that can be produced can be produced in NZ” then why can’t the same be said about Cuba?

            That is a very good question and I suspect that it has to do with trade. Prior to the collapse of the USSR Cuba traded hugely with them meaning that they didn’t need to develop the local capability. With the collapse of the USSR their dependent economy collapsed radically and they’re now having to develop a more diverse economy which they’re actually doing but it’s slow going.

            Similarly, South Africa in the apartheid era: while a shameful number of countries and companies continued to trade with them, the economic boycotts were a big part of what pulled them out of apartheid. Why didn’t they just say, “Anything that can be produced can be produced in South Africa”?

            South Africa’s problems in the apartheid era were due to the fact that they ignore 90% of the population. Kept them poor and unable to develop anything. By doing so they became dependent upon, you guessed it, trade. Once that trade dried up they were at a major loss in the face of massive internal agitation.

            • red-blooded 11.1.1.1.1.1

              Just picking a few of the many argument points here, Bill, as i have other things to do today:
              1) Cuba – medicines. Cuba does not produce all its own drugs. While they have a great doctor/patient ratio and do well in plenty of health care measures (although their life expectancy is not at the level of NZ’s), there are frequent drug shortages.
              “Criticism[edit]
              The preceding study also pointed to problems within Cuba’s health system, including:

              Low pay of doctors.
              Poor facilities—buildings in poor state of repair and mostly outdated.
              Poor provision of equipment.
              Frequent absence of essential drugs.
              Concern regarding freedom of choice both for patient and doctor.[79]
              Katherine Hirschfeld, an anthropology professor at the University of Oklahoma, did her Ph.D. thesis on the Cuban health system, spending nine months conducting ethnographic work in Cuba in the late 1990s. According to Hirschfeld, “public criticism of the government is a crime in Cuba”, which means that “formally eliciting critical narratives about health care would be viewed as a criminal act both for me as a researcher, and for people who spoke openly with me”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Cuba#Medical_research

              “By the time I moved to Cuba in 1997, there were serious shortages of medicine – from simple aspirin to more badly needed drugs.

              Ironically, many medicines that cannot be found at a pharmacy are easily bought on the black market. Some doctors, nurses and cleaning staff smuggle the medicine out of the hospitals in a bid to make extra cash.”
              http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/06/201265115527622647.html

              2) No, 10000 researchers are NOT enough to develop all the drugs and medical devices needed into the future. Medical research is very specialised, has to be replicated and tested on human populations as well as animals, and is hugely expensive.

              Do you live with a medical condition that needs to be managed with drugs, Bill? I do – and one set of drugs doesn’t do the job for ever. My condition changes – it finds its way through the weaknesses in the drug programmes and the cracks open up further and further until I have to change drugs. I (and plenty of other NZers) NEED our country to stay plugged-in to the international trade in medicines (and that includes relying on medical research from elsewhere and on ingredients that are not found here).

              3) You say, “That is a very good question and I suspect that it has to do with trade. Prior to the collapse of the USSR Cuba traded hugely with them meaning that they didn’t need to develop the local capability. With the collapse of the USSR their dependent economy collapsed radically and they’re now having to develop a more diverse economy which they’re actually doing but it’s slow going.” Golly – they needed trade, did they? Who would have guessed? What a pity that the “more diverse economy” that looked – briefly – like it might include trade with the US again will probably be hit by Trump as he reverses yet another reasonably forward-looking (if somewhat late) decision by Obama.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Cuba’s Pharmaceutical Advantage

                An additional key to Cuba’s success has been the coexistence of export orientation, domestic distribution, and international cooperation. The Cuban approach to research and development relies on collaboration among institutes rather than competition, and works under the auspices of the Ministry of Health to determine development priorities. Cuban biotech capacity meets 80% to 90% of domestic demand, minimizing Cuba’s dependency on pharmaceutical imports and helping to maintain the country’s health standards during periods of economic crisis.

                Bold mine

                I also find it amazing that people in the West often complain that doctors in some countries aren’t paid enough while also complaining that doctors in their country are paid too much. Such an interesting contradiction.

                Golly – they needed trade, did they?

                No they didn’t. They had trade and that trade prevented them from developing their economy which then hurt them when the USSR collapsed. It even implies that in the article you linked to.

                But full marks for trying to twist what I said to suit your own agenda.

                • red-blooded

                  “An additional key to Cuba’s success has been the coexistence of EXPORT ORIENTATION domestic distribution, and INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION”. Sounds like international trade is a factor – who’d have thought? And 80-90%, eh? Where does the other 10-20% come from, and how specialised/important are those drugs?

                  Plus, even if I buy your argument re Cuba and drugs (and I don’t know enough about this to keep going to and fro about it), I would point out that Cuba has a population of 11 million+. NZ does not have the breadth of people to be self-sufficient in research and development in all the specialist areas of science and technology (let alone art, music, literature etc – all of which rely on trade). We know that Cuba doesn’t either – hence the rusting old cars and refrigerators.

      • One Two 11.1.2

        FIAT, digital numerical values, and accounting methods are not wealth

  12. The Chairman 12

    It gets Labour out of an awkward position.

  13. Hehehee… well , Prof Jane Kelsey may beg to differ that Trump had anything to do with TPPA being a dead duck , but it certainly DOES seem like Trump had a BIG part in helping to squash that one – bringing up the American quarter as he has… and following through on that promise.

    Trump also seems to have agreement going with his people over pulling out of the United Nations …. why ? …. because when he campaigned about ‘draining the swamp’ … he wasn’t just talking about domestic ‘swamps’ either…

    The U . N is a direct descendant of the equally impotent League of Nations – and that was equally as useless. Anyone remember the Bosnian war and the complaints about how useless they were there? – and other country’s? – particularly the African continent ?

    And why are they useless?… because they are an instrument set up by the international global banking elite for their New World Order – just like they had hoped the League of Nations would be.

    These are some of these powerful self interest groups that Trump has set him self against. And increment by increment – hes going to upset a whole lot more. Hes already read the riot act to any industry’s who set up offshore in third world country’s to use cheap labour and then import back to the USA – costing American jobs in the process. And given a lolly to industry’s who don’t do that by staying in the USA in the form of tax cuts.

  14. Leftie 14

    What of the TPP enabling legislation that John Key has already rammed through?

    Caretaker Bill seems intent on forging ahead with a modified version of the TPP, “that New Zealand and other countries might proceed with Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement without the US”

    Bill English’s Plan B for TPPA a political ‘own goal’ in election year – Professor Jane Kelsey

    <a href="http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2017/01/24/bill-englishs-plan-b-for-tppa-a-political-own-goal-in-election-year-professor-jane-kelsey/

  15. Andrea 15

    NOW can we see all the hairy-scary secret stuff that was Too Sensitive to see before?

    Will some special little snowflake of a politician actual let us eyeball for as long as we need those dread and awesome words?

    Or are we still waiting in the pens with the rest of the wool-blind?

    How’s about we ask the Aussies?

    I’m sure that nice Mr Turnbull who admires our previous figurehead would do that under the terms of CER and our close association….
    (Mwahahaha!)

  16. Paul 16

    Jane Kelsey nails it.

    Yes, I am happy the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is dead. But let me spell out in one syllable words – Trump – did – not – kill – the – TPPA. It was already dead. Obama could not get it through the Congress before the election. If he could have, he would have. As I have said before, it became such an election issue because of Bernie Sanders, then both Hilary Clinton and Trump jumped on the bandwagon. Blaming TPPAs collapse on a xenophobic megalomaniac allows the media to continue to ignore the real dynamics behind Trump’s victory, Brexit, the rejection of TTIP and resistance to CETA in the EU. The model is broken.

    We need alternatives.

    Read the whole article here….

    Trump did NOT kill TPPA – WE the people did!

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