David Brooks is very upset at the Democrats for torpedoing President Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership. The Democrats’ move threatens to impoverish the world’s poor, damage the American economy and stifle innovation. It even imperils world peace, in a mini-version of the Senate’s rejection of the League of Nations at the end of World War I. As evidence for the calamitous consequences of a rejection of TPP, Brooks spends half his column citing the ostensible benefits for the world’s poor, for the American economy, etc. of previous trade agreements. Such are the wonders of free trade. But then, a little past halfway down his column, Brooks makes a surprising admission:
The [TPP] treaty is not mostly about reducing tariffs on goods. That work has mostly been done. It’s mostly about establishing rules for a post-industrial global economy, rules having to do with intellectual property, investment, antitrust and environmental protection.
So, the TPP is not mostly about free trade. But, uh, in that case, all Brooks’ preceding arguments in favor of the TPP, based on the benefits of free trade agreements, are irrelevant, are they not? Evidently, a self-contradiction within the space of a few column inches doesn’t bother Brooks. But, I should be grateful to Brooks for confirming what I have been saying all along: the TPP is not mainly a “free trade agreement”; it is a business protection agreement, designed to shield multinational corporations from the presumed excesses of government regulation. And of course, if you are a conservative like Brooks, you know that government regulation is always excessive.