While trade between countries is a vital part of the global economy, and the eradication of human rights abuses must continue to be diligently pursued and enforced, the TPP trade agreement's greatest significance could be its impact on capitalism itself.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, along with past trade agreements, has allowed capitalism to participate in economic systems outside of capitalism. We take advantage of other countries' cheap labor and/or currency, while foreign companies and workers get to work another day thanks to our alliance.
But, a report issued by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) details decades of failed trade agreement enforcement in regard to worker labor standards by past presidents including current President Obama. Is allowing workers to continue to work for poverty, or worse wages and conditions viable to the long-term sustainability of the global economy as a whole?
If we truly are irrevocably globally interconnected, lower wages overseas translates to lower wages in this country. Capitalism is struggling enough on its own.
The Federal Reserve's bond buying program, also known as quantitative easing (QE), which began after the 2008 global economic meltdown, was a 3.5 trillion dollar intervention; the biggest emergency economic boost in history; the equivalent of Germany's economy.
QE was not just to attempt to revitalize the U.S. economy to create more jobs and shake loose capital that had been battened down to weather the storm, QE literally kept capitalism from collapsing. This is because capitalism is only viable as long as there is growth. No growth means capital must be pumped into the economy in some form or game over.
Capitalism's ongoing struggle coupled with the watering down of capitalism via collaboration with lesser economic models is now quantifiable as outlined in a research bulletin issued by the Southern Education Foundation. Analyzing 2013 federal economic data, over half of U.S. public school children live at or below poverty level.
Capitalism is also hampered by its own inherent limitations as an economic system rooted in competition. Competition creates losers for winners; the true trickle-down effect that decades of data is now beginning to validate. Competition divides--always.
Cooperation, on the other hand, not only double downs the possibility of mutual benefit, but proliferates wellness on multiple levels, even exponentially. This is so because the more winners produced, the more the winners can then collaborate to produce other winners. See how this works? We can finally generate a trickle-up economy.
We might think that cooperation between nations is the solution to a still-flailing global economy where income disparity is one of our greatest economic threats as it destabilizes the very foundation capitalism was built upon.
Cooperation is the solution, but not by participating in agreements that do not enforce human rights and offer the hope of economic security, not only for everyone involved, but for the very economic system we believe to be the best in the world.
Leading by example, we must uphold the standard the rest of the world follows. This begins by allowing the TPP to be publicly inspected. We can then ascertain who truly benefits from the trade agreement and identify potential negative impact to allow for proper mitigation and/or install protective safety nets. This is the ethical and responsible way to conduct business--and how we keep capitalism healthy.
It is no longer acceptable for government and business to collude under a cloud of opaqueness. We must evolve. Let a new era of global transparency and accountability, social and ecological responsibility emerge. The good generated will extend outward and ultimately upward. Leave no one behind takes on a whole new meaning.