Thursday, February 27, 2014

Krugman Finally Yawns Out a TPP Column

Due to popular demand and thanks to its waning popularity in the world of rationalism, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has made it official: he considers the now-iffy TransPacific Partnership agreement to be "No Big Deal."

Let's face it. If Krugman told the truth and announced that the TPP is a fascist coup in the making, he would no longer be invited to pose as the token liberal on the cable shows sponsored by the same entities who stand to vastly increase their already bloated wealth once this deal goes through. He might not even get his Times contract renewed, or be allowed to blog-post at will in the valuable cyberspace of Times World.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the good professor chose this week to finally sigh out his TPP column so he wouldn't have to write about the equally corrupt Federal Reserve characters whose pre-meltdown chat has just been published to wide disdain. Except, of course, at the New York 
Times, which greeted it with bemused acclaim. The grossly inept, and probably criminal malpractice of Ben Bernanke and Timmy Geithner in both orchestrating and covering up the worst financial catastrophe in modern history is treated by the Gray Lady as just one of those things that nobody could ever possibly have foreseen. Mike Whitney has a great takedown of the media-political complex mendacity at CounterPunch. Read it and you'll laugh hilariously, right through your tears of rage.

Meanwhile, back over at the TPP Apologists' Convention, Krugman can't resist taking a subtle dig at his hordes of usually fawning readers who'd been begging him for months, to no avail, to address the TPP in a column:
There’s a lot of hype about T.P.P., from both supporters and opponents. Supporters like to talk about the fact that the countries at the negotiating table comprise around 40 percent of the world economy, which they imply means that the agreement would be hugely significant. But trade among these players is already fairly free, so the T.P.P. wouldn’t make that much difference.
Meanwhile, opponents portray the T.P.P. as a huge plot, suggesting that it would destroy national sovereignty and transfer all the power to corporations. This, too, is hugely overblown. Corporate interests would get somewhat more ability to seek legal recourse against government actions, but, no, the Obama administration isn’t secretly bargaining away democracy.
My response:
 Why is Obama pushing the TPP? Follow the money.
As Lee Fang of "The Nation" reveals, the administration's trade negotiators have been rewarded handsomely by their erstwhile employers. Stefan Selig, appointed undersecretary of international trade, got a friendly $9 million on his way out of Bank of America's revolving door. Michael Froman, late of Citigroup, received a $4 million bonus as he "quit" in order to become chief TPP negotiator.
The banks and other interested plutocratic parties are all allowed to see what's in the proposal. But Congress is not. The American people are not. Therefore, it would be irrational of us not to suspect that a nefarious plot is afoot.
If it's done under cover of darkness, it's not democratic. And last I heard, we were still (barely) a democracy.
Our suspicions are not "overblown." Thanks to Wikileaks, we now know that the TPP would seriously de-fang already pathetic financial regulations. It would allow Big Tobacco to sue countries trying to regulate its product, thus contributing to untold misery and death in third world countries. And then there's the insatiable greed of Big Pharma, striving to keep its life-saving drugs patented into perpetuity and kept out of the reach of the sickest people of the poorest countries needing them the most.
And when they tell you TPP is dead, don't believe it. Gridlock has this weird tendency to resolve itself in back rooms, once the prevaricating pols have postured and won back their precious seats.
As of this writing, there were only five other reader comments posted. So stay tuned. Meanwhile, I especially liked this one from Cheryl Lans of "Anywhere" (I think she is from Canada):
Professor Krugman demonstrates the behaviour that pushes moderates to become activists. Scientists say no big deal about how they treat lab animals so activists become extremists. Economists say no big deal about employers bringing in low wage, exploitable workers to undermine union workers so conservatives join far right parties. Now the Green Party says that the TPP allows foreign investors and corporations to sue nations if any level of government passes laws that reduce their profits or adversely affect their businesses - this would include environmental or health protection laws. Most people would consider this a big deal but Professor Krugman looks at the patent implications instead. I think that any government negotiating such a deal, in secret because they know the public won't like it is not a democratic government and is treating the public and the environment with contempt. Rule by corporations has a name, and that name is not democracy.


Cirze said...


Thanks, Karen.

Terrific explication.

And I'm usually a Krugfan.

May I quote you?

Zee said...

"Economics" purports to be a branch of science, though I often have my doubts about that...

But my humble opinion aside, the most important character trait that a scientist must be recognized for by his/her peers—in order to have any credibility amongst them—is integrity.

And once a scientist is shown to be dishonest, it's pretty much the end of her/his career in that field.

It seems clear to me that Progressives—and others—are coming to the conclusion that Paul Krugman is dishonestly “shilling” for the Obama administration on the topics of ObamaCare and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with Karen's personal speculation being that:

“ If Krugman told the truth [ i.e., wasn't lying] and announced that the TPP is a fascist coup in the making, he would no longer be invited to pose as the token liberal on the cable shows sponsored by the same entities who stand to vastly increase their already bloated wealth once this deal goes through. He might not even get his Times contract renewed, or be allowed to blog-post at will in the valuable cyberspace of Times World.”

I might further speculate that he also doesn't want to lose his coveted “A-List” standing for invitations to New York and Washington “Chardonnay and baked brie” parties where the influential and powerful meet to bask in the mutual glow of their “importance.”

But if even Krugman's once-blindly-devoted disciples are now convinced that Krugman is lying about certain topics, why are they not asking themselves What else is—or has—he been lying about, as well?

That's certainly the question that I and other scientists would be asking if a colleague with a long list past, influential publications was caught “faking data” for his/her most recent journal article.

Just a thought.

Pearl said...

Karen: On this issue in Krugman's column, maybe, just maybe, you can't fool
all the people all the time. This is the first time I have read many
criticisms of Krugman's lackadaisical explanation of TPP which may lead to
further questions about his view on other issues, such as intense support
for Obamacare. There were also criticisms of Obama and the real purpose of
such secret arrangements which sounded like it came from disillusioned democrats.

Congratulations on your great lead in the recommendations race for your outstanding comment. It should be in the NYTimes picks unless they are afraid of offending Krugman.

My comment to Krugman:

" If the big trade deal comes to nothing, as seems likely, it will be, well,no big deal."

And if it does come to something will it indeed be a big deal? Please keep us up to date Prof. Krugman.

Zee said...


I like the way you think!

Pearl said...

QUESTION: What is the truest definition of Globalization?

Princess Diana's Death.

Question: How come?

Answer An English princess With an Egyptian boyfriend
Crashes In a French tunnel,
Riding in a German Car With a Dutch engine,

Driven By a Belgian Who was Drunk On Scottish whisky,

(check the bottle before you
Change the spelling),

Followed Closely by

Italian Paparazzi, On Japanese motorcycles,

Treated By an American doctor,
Using Brazilian Medicines.
This is Sent to you by A Canadian,

Using American Bill Gates' technology,
Developed in Israel And You're probably reading

This on your computer, That Uses Taiwanese chips, And A Korean Monitor,

Assembled By Bangladeshi Workers In a Singapore plant,

Transported by Indian

Truck drivers,

Hijacked by Indonesians,

Unloaded by
Sicilian longshoremen, And Trucked to you by Mexican illegals.....

That, my friends,Is Globalization! !