Dear Senator Klobuchar:
In considering whether or not to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, I hope you will look beyond the positions of main stream economists who believe in more globalization of economic activity and seek out those economists who think more deeply and comprehensively about economic and social realities and believe in the need for less globalization and more focus on local and regional economies.
We need to listen to economists who objectively evaluate the results of previous trade agreements and look beyond the celebrated measure of increased GDP per capita in poor countries and include the probable reduction in non-market sectors such as household, subsistence food, informal exchanges, and volunteer activities, which are substantial.
We need to listen to economists who carefully consider the externalized costs of more global trade, particularly in estimating the environmental impact of more cargo shipping and how it will affect our ability to reduce carbon emissions to meet climate change goals.
We need to listen to economists who can evaluate the cost of social upheaval that comes with the dismantling of local economies, whether they are jobs leaving Midwestern American communities or the social disruption of poorer countries as their rural population base moves to overcrowded cities.
We need to listen to economists who understand the need to diversify American agriculture so it can be more profitable, less risky, and serve domestic and local markets more fully, rather than desperately chasing more global sales of low-margin ag commodities.
We need to listen to economists who understand that a traumatized workforce and labor’s declining share of total income will never create the purchasing power to buy all of the goods produced, even if we scour the world for more opportunities to invade local markets and convert self-reliant people into consumers.
The economists who have dominated the policy arena for the last several decades are really business promoters who use the elegant trade theories of David Ricardo, the dashing “creative destruction” doctrine of Joseph Schumpter, and the free market theories of the Austrian economists as their intellectual platforms as they try to convince (successfully I’m afraid) our political leaders that there is no other way to pursue economic progress. These economists have been mostly wrong about the macro economic issues of our time and we need to move beyond them.
We need economists and other analysts who think more broadly, include social realities, an think pragmatically- and less ideologically – about our future and the role of global trade and local development.
The works of Herman Daly, Karl Polanyi, E.F. Schumacher, Naomi Klein, Kevin Phillips and Riane Eisler would be good resources to consult before committing to another global agreement — especially one that has been dominated by industry and secretly negotiated.