The Trans Pacific Partnership
by EhindsVCS on December 11, 2015 - 10:40am
Neoliberalist free trade policies are a net negative for the environment, as the mass transportation of goods over extended distances not only uses up an extensive amount of resources while also spreading diseases and limiting genetic diversity among products as mass production tactics continue to limit the genetic material of goods, such as corn. Free trade is getting less harmful to the environment though, as trade agreements such as the TPP in coordination with worldwide environmental groups attempt to set standards for environmental impact of production. Neoliberalism and free trade have less of a clear cut good or bad impact on humans. Free trade agreements and policies can be very good for some people, whether they are wealthy investors or corporation owners. However, the problem with free trade is just that, only the wealthy few truly benefit. Sure, free trade produces cheap goods which helps lower class consumers, but with the tradeoff of low wages and an overall lower standard of living. This is not just an issue for the United States, in fact the low wages workers receive in the US are far more than the wages workers receive in more mass production based companies, specifically in Asia and South America. Worldwide free trade may drive prices down, and promote competition, but in the current state of the world those two benefits cannot outweigh the egregious violations of human rights and the poor conditions much of the working class lives in across the globe. The way in which the free trade economy is going is neither positive nor is it sustainable, and soon we will start to see the negative effects it will have on the consuming middle class, the lower working class, and eventually even the upper class. If I had the power to shape the TPP, I’d first and foremost restructure it to not reduce tariffs to the extent it does, as though reduced tariffs will further damage US corporations. As a US citizen, whose lifestyle could be drastically altered by how I would change the TPP, my main priority would be raising the minimum wage in the United States while also using tax policy to encourage growth within the US rather than overseas. My main motives for restructuring the TPP would be to protect US workers from the living standards and wages seen overseas in other economies, while also encouraging the rebound of the US economy to reduce imports and increase exports. However, the TPP does have some other major flaws beyond the United States’ wellbeing. The TPP does not do nearly enough to impose environmental protection policies in mass production countries, specifically China. Although China is not currently signed onto the TPP, we can assume they are interested in joining the agreement, and putting these environmental regulations into the agreement before China signs on would go a long way to encouraging a more stable and healthy world for generations to come. Finally, the TPP needs to promote better standards for workers in developing nations in Asia. This would hurt the US economy slightly, as cheap imports would be less available. However, because of the higher wages I am attempting to impose in America, those more expensive goods would still be affordable for the lower class. Workers in developing nations, again specifically in Southeast Asia and South America, are suffering in sweatshops where they are not paid a livable wage and work extensive hours. The TPP is the best opportunity to combat this, as the TPP includes countries in Southeast Asia and South America as members of the agreement. The TPP should involve US inspectors in the supervision of working conditions in TPP agreement countries, rather than having government officials with clear bias towards their home country inspect working conditions. Also, the TPP should work in coordination with the UNHRC to attempt to create a more universal solution to the global issue of working conditions, which would hopefully eventually become a worldwide policy, not just a TPP policy. With some improvements to the TPP’s policies, and a general shift away from true market liberalism, we could benefit ourselves in America and the whole world for years to come.