Do you recall that yesterday I mentioned that the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, far from being a free trade agreement, was a negotiation over who would be winners and and who would be losers? Economist Joseph Stiglitz identifies some of the winners and some of the losers. Winners—big pharmaceutical companies. Losers—pharmaceutical consumers:
A secretive group met behind closed doors in New York this week. What they decided may lead to higher drug prices for you and hundreds of millions around the world.
Representatives from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries convened to decide the future of their trade relations in the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.). Powerful companies appear to have been given influence over the proceedings, even as full access is withheld from many government officials from the partnership countries.
Among the topics negotiators have considered are some of the most contentious T.P.P. provisions — those relating to intellectual property rights. And we’re not talking just about music downloads and pirated DVDs. These rules could help big pharmaceutical companies maintain or increase their monopoly profits on brand-name drugs.
The secrecy of the T.P.P. negotiations makes them maddeningly opaque and hard to discuss. But we can get a pretty good idea of what’s happening, based on documents obtained by WikiLeaks from past meetings (they began in 2010), what we know of American influence in other trade agreements, and what others and myself have gleaned from talking to negotiators.
U. S. intellectual property laws are some of the most restrictive in the world. If anything, our intellectual property laws should be weakened since they no longer serve their constitutional purpose. And here our negotiators are acting to strengthen them. It’s remarkable how these things work out.
Hardly surprising, as the big pharmaceutical companies have a seat at the table, and the consumers do not. But you know, all this free trade is good for us little guys.
I don’t know why it’s remarkable. Powerful monied interests are having their way with the government, just as they do with pretty much everything else this government does. At this stage of the game its only remarkable when those interests aren’t served. And even then, it’s usually because there’s a squabble amongst the powerful about how the spoils will be divided.
To the degree that everybody is screwed by the same Intellectual Property laws and they are enforced equally, I would prefer it to US companies getting screwed, but I do not like US IP laws.
One solution to the manufacturing leaving the US would be to allow the manufacturing sites to be declared sovereign territory of their host country. They would be subject to that country’s laws, but they would employ local workers. These workers could be the illegal aliens under some visa program.
There would be the secondary businesses that would develop to serve the plants, and the healthcare system would make money from any injured workers. If the host country allowed slavery, the slaves would need to be housed on-site, but they would probably be treated better than in the host country.
With the reduced transportation and bribery costs, the goods at the local Walmart would be even cheaper. Thee US could encourage the host countries to institute slavery to lower the cost of goods even more. This concept could be expanded to agriculture and services such as telemarketing and customer service.
Eventually, the concept could be expanded into temporary zones. A housing development could be another country while it was being built, but it would return to the US upon completion.
The concept could even be further expanded into a dimensional one. Anything above the ground could still be US territory, and this would allow the workers to be taxed. The slaves would be taxed at the rate that they would be making if they were working the same job in the US. If freed, they would still be a slave to the US government.
Conceptually, there is no difference where the actual land for the manufacturing plant is located. If losing jobs to China is beneficial, bringing China to the US should be more beneficial.