Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Rob Long Is Wrong

 

I am flattered and humbled that my last post was discussed on the last flagship podcast, but I am sorry to say that I think Rob Long is wrong about TPP.

When Rob says that, “somethings are true even if Barack Obama says they are true and TPP is good for this country.” I am going to get into more of the substance of TPP in a few moments, but I’d like to begin by saying that Obama advocating for anything is a red flag. Why should I trust Obama when he says this is free trade or that this is good for America? Why would I trust anyone in government after the last 8 years? Did the Affordable Care Act make healthcare more affordable? Did Dodd-Frank protect consumers or did it just end up hurting small community banks while protecting big banks and big law firms? I should trust Obama on TPP after he said there wasn’t a smidgen of corruption at the IRS? I should trust Obama after he said he found out about Hillary’s server on the news even though the FBI documents showed that he emailed her on that very same server? I’m sorry, but Barack Obama is not to be trusted.

The same goes for members of congress because I do not believe a single member of congress read the 6,700 page TPP bill. If they didn’t read the 2,700-page Affordable Care Act, then they most definitely didn’t read the TPP bill. The federal government is not worthy of our trust and they have forfeited their right to pass massive comprehensive bills of any kind.

I have not read the entire bill myself, but I have looked into one area that should be of particular interest to all voters. The TPP will be terrible for average people because it will limit the availability of generic drugs and will stifle innovation in large drug companies.

Before I can continue to explain this, I have to explain how drugs are patented, protected, and approved by the FDA. When a drug company develops a new drug it has to go through a tremendous amount of red tape and testing before it can be approved for human use. The process is so extensive that it can actually bankrupt companies, which is why they are protected by patents. A drug patent lasts for 20 years. I personally think that 20 years is too long, but I’ll take them at their word. After 20 years a competing company can market a generic version of the drug, right? Wrong. Before another company can market the generic drug they have to re-perform all of the costly proof of efficacy trials. The generic company has to redo the trials because the original developer can withhold the initial research proving the drug is effective for an additional 5 years. The drug patent of 20 years is more like 25 years. Things become even more complicated when new benefits of existing drugs are found. I could spend an entire post arguing about the inefficiencies of the FDA drug approval process. The basic point is that it’s absurd that generic drug companies have to prove the efficacy of a drug that has already been proven to be effective; it’s not good for competition or innovation.

The TPP will only make the aforementioned drug approval process worse because it takes it international. The 5-year extension for data acquired during initial drug testing could be extended from 10 to 12 years in the signatory nations. Things continue to get even more complicated when new uses of existing drugs are found. We would be turning over an increasingly bureaucratic and inefficient drug approval system to a supra-national organization. I doubt things will become more efficient, but I can almost guarantee innovation and competition will continue to be stifled.

A final thought on free trade in general. I support free trade in theory because I view it as an extension of capitalism. The goal is to create an environment where I can prosper and that same prosperity can be spread across the world, which will hopefully improve the lives of everyone. My concern is with how free trade or what is called free trade is actually practiced today. I find myself wondering if free trade is actually possible? How can we compete against countries that are unscrupulous and have little thought for individual citizens? Is my iPhone worth the terrible conditions at the Foxconn factory? Would American companies figure out how to make their devices in the US, if they didn’t have the option of cheap foreign labor? What are the negative effects of large American companies thinking of themselves as international companies rather than American companies that happen to make some products overseas? If we can’t actually compete does that make it free trade? What about the social consequences of industries leaving? Are cheaper clothes at Walmart worth the erosion of the community and social fabric? I don’t know these answers, but I agree with Richard Feynman when he said, “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered, than answers that can’t be questioned.” 

I do know that if TPP is passed the generic drug market will suffer, innovation will suffer, competition will suffer, and Americans will suffer. The more removed the governors are from the governed, the worse it will be for the people. The average citizen can barely get their congressmen to care about them, how will we be able to influence the new TPP bureaucracy? We won’t.

There are 115 comments.

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  1. DocJay Inactive

    Anything Obama wants, including his next breath, should be viewed as bad for America. Nice article.

    • #1
    • October 3, 2016, at 1:52 PM PDT
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  2. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    @jamesofengland

    • #2
    • October 3, 2016, at 2:05 PM PDT
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  3. Hoyacon Member

    If we’re going to continue this “the friends of my enemies are my enemies” line of thought, we should probably consider that The Nation, The New York Times editorial pageBig Labor and the Sierra Club oppose TPP.

    • #3
    • October 3, 2016, at 2:10 PM PDT
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  4. I Walton Member

    I would hit the barricades against protectionism, but there is very little reason to trust this administration on TPP or any other agreement we do not have the time to read ponder and solicit expert advice on. I haven’t, I’m very retired and increasingly lazy, but our government in general is inept and corrupt, and this administration is also dangerous, ideological and dishonest. So I oppose protectionism in all its’ forms and support liberalization in all of its forms, but think this one should not go forward (if at all) until approved by an administration that actually believes in free trade, markets and the rule of law. In general trade agreements are not liberalization tools rather they are packages of special interest appeals that must be balanced by some opportunities granted to us by foreign special interests. That’s ok, nothing new there. The difficulty is that tariffs are no longer the major problem and that makes this stuff really complex in ways we aren’t good at. Trading tariff cuts was easy. Now we have to focus on ourselves on what we can do to make ourselves more competitive. Things we can control, not things foreigners can manipulate far beyond our comprehension. Trying to design and enforce trade deals is like trying to manage our economy through our opaque corrupt regulatory regimes. Or nation building. It can’t be done.

    • #4
    • October 3, 2016, at 2:19 PM PDT
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  5. Songwriter Member
    Songwriter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If Obama announced that 2+2=4, I would at least consider the possibility that every mathematician in the history of mankind got it wrong.

    • #5
    • October 3, 2016, at 2:21 PM PDT
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  6. Goldgeller Member

    Good post. I didn’t know that about the drug approval rules. What you say about the TPP with respect to prescription drugs troubles me about the process. I have long had issues with the FDA process, since there is a lot of regulatory capture going on in there.

    It is hard for me to think about the issue because I’ve been so busy with other things. CATO scored it and said it was on balance trade liberalizing. But perhaps some areas may carry outsized influence? In any case, TPP has become so tribal, so I think that also makes it complicated. I am more skeptical about government passing all this legislation given Obamacare, but some of my professors have suggested that they like TPP and think it would be beneficial overall.

    Some of the politics around TPP seems to be “support/oppose Obama.” But some of it is that this is probably legislation that it more complicated than removing tariffs and ensuring free trade, and so there may be a mix of things to like and dislike. (My long way of saying “I don’t know.”)

    • #6
    • October 3, 2016, at 2:27 PM PDT
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  7. Steve C. Member

    A free trade treaty would be two sentences long.

    There shall be no tariffs on goods imported into country A from country B. There shall be no tariffs on goods imported into country B from country A.

    QED

    • #7
    • October 3, 2016, at 2:30 PM PDT
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  8. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    Don’t your problems here stem more from the FDA than TPP?

    • #8
    • October 3, 2016, at 2:36 PM PDT
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  9. Hercules Rockefeller Inactive
    Hercules Rockefeller

    Jamie Lockett:Don’t your problems here stem more from the FDA than TPP

    The real problem comes from byzantine bureaucracies that inhibit growth and innovation. As well as, the large corporations that prop up the bureaucracies at the expense of smaller companies. The FDA drug rules and the worsening of those same problems in TPP make the TPP a bad piece of legislation.

    • #9
    • October 3, 2016, at 2:42 PM PDT
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  10. Hercules Rockefeller Inactive
    Hercules Rockefeller

    Hercules Rockefeller:

    Jamie Lockett:Don’t your problems here stem more from the FDA than TPP

    The real problem comes from byzantine bureaucracies that inhibit growth and innovation. As well as, the large corporations that prop up the bureaucracies at the expense of smaller companies. The FDA drug rules and the worsening of those same problems in TPP make the TPP a bad piece of legislation.

    By expanding the problems from the FDA to an even larger and more complicated system makes it even more improbable that the initial problem will be fixed. We have enough problems reforming the FDA as it is currently constituted, it will be almost impossible to rectify with 39 other nations involved.

    • #10
    • October 3, 2016, at 2:46 PM PDT
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  11. Hoyacon Member

    I think there are 12 signatories.

    • #11
    • October 3, 2016, at 2:50 PM PDT
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  12. A-Squared Coolidge

    Hercules Rockefeller: When Rob says that, “somethings are true even if Barack Obama says they are true and TPP is good for this country.” I am going to get into more of the substance of TPP in a few moments, but I’d like to begin by saying that Obama advocating for anything is a red flag. Why should I trust Obama when he says this is free trade or that this is good for America? Why would I trust anyone in government after the last 8 years? Did the Affordable Care Act make healthcare more affordable? Did Dodd-Frank protect consumers or did it just end up hurting small community banks while protecting big banks and big law firms? I should trust Obama on TPP after he said there wasn’t a smidgen of corruption at the IRS? I should trust Obama after he said he found out about Hillary’s server on the news even though the FBI documents showed that he emailed her on that very same server? I’m sorry, but Barack Obama is not to be trusted.

    I haven’t finished the podcast, so I haven’t heard the bit in question (or I missed it), but I think you missed Rob’s point. When he says “somethings are true even if Barack Obama says they are true…” it implies that Obama is typically 180 degrees apart from the truth.

    • #12
    • October 3, 2016, at 2:52 PM PDT
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  13. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    Hercules Rockefeller:

    Jamie Lockett:Don’t your problems here stem more from the FDA than TPP

    The real problem comes from byzantine bureaucracies that inhibit growth and innovation. As well as, the large corporations that prop up the bureaucracies at the expense of smaller companies. The FDA drug rules and the worsening of those same problems in TPP make the TPP a bad piece of legislation.

    My reading of that section of TPP is that it expands American Rules to foreign countries while expanding markets for US drugs. A little good, a little bad. It doesn’t change much for US markets and their relationship to the FDA.

    • #13
    • October 3, 2016, at 2:53 PM PDT
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  14. Hercules Rockefeller Inactive
    Hercules Rockefeller

    Hoyacon:I think there are 12 signatories.

    You are right. My fault, I had the 40% of GDP from the TPP preamble stuck in my head.

    • #14
    • October 3, 2016, at 2:54 PM PDT
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  15. Hercules Rockefeller Inactive
    Hercules Rockefeller

    A-Squared:

    I haven’t finished the podcast, so I haven’t heard the bit in question (or I missed it), but I think you missed Rob’s point. When he says “somethings are true even if Barack Obama says they are true…” it implies that Obama is typically 180 degrees apart from the truth.

    Rob was arguing that TPP is good for America and that it was so obvious that even Obama had to admit it was good. I think he’s wrong on the merits of TPP being good for America. I think Obama is pushing it not because it’s so obviously good for America, but because it conforms with his world view. The world view that has brought some objectively bad things to America in the last 8 years. Rob seems to see this as Obama arguing some objective truth like the sky is blue. I see the Obama selling us TPP as the same Obama that sold us Obamacare.

    • #15
    • October 3, 2016, at 3:02 PM PDT
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  16. A-Squared Coolidge

    Hercules Rockefeller: Rob was arguing that TPP is good for America and that it was so obvious that even Obama had to admit it was good.

    I think he is arguing that it is good even if Obama is for it, but reasonable people can differ.

    • #16
    • October 3, 2016, at 3:07 PM PDT
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  17. Hercules Rockefeller Inactive
    Hercules Rockefeller

    Jamie Lockett:

    Hercules Rockefeller:

    Jamie Lockett:Don’t your problems here stem more from the FDA than TPP

    The real problem comes from byzantine bureaucracies that inhibit growth and innovation. As well as, the large corporations that prop up the bureaucracies at the expense of smaller companies. The FDA drug rules and the worsening of those same problems in TPP make the TPP a bad piece of legislation.

    My reading of that section of TPP is that it expands American Rules to foreign countries while expanding markets for US drugs. A little good, a little bad. It doesn’t change much for US markets and their relationship to the FDA.

    By expanding and strengthening the patent rules, the agreement will ensure an essential monopoly among the largest companies. The generic drug market will weaken and there will not be an incentive to take risks on developing new drugs. Large companies will become complacent and continue to evergreen more of their drugs to increase profits and minimize risk. The result will be higher prices for everyone and no innovation.

    • #17
    • October 3, 2016, at 3:08 PM PDT
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  18. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The OP should not imply that Rob likes TPP because he trusts Obama. He doesn’t trust Obama. Argue TPP on the merits.

    • #18
    • October 3, 2016, at 3:16 PM PDT
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  19. Hercules Rockefeller Inactive
    Hercules Rockefeller

    Gary McVey:The OP should not imply that Rob likes TPP because he trusts Obama. He doesn’t trust Obama. Argue TPP on the merits.

    I never argued that Rob likes TPP because of Obama. Rob is clear that he thinks TPP is so strong on the merits that even Obama wants to pass it. I argue that Rob should be skeptical of TPP because Obama likes it, but even if Obama’s presence on the side of TPP doesn’t discourage him, the merits should discourage him.

    • #19
    • October 3, 2016, at 3:22 PM PDT
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  20. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Well, Herk, when you write “I should trust Obama..?”, followed by “I should trust Obama…?”, followed by “Obama is not to be trusted”, it does strongly imply that people who agree with TPP are people who trust Obama. Maybe they’re just FiCons.

    • #20
    • October 3, 2016, at 3:40 PM PDT
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  21. The Reticulator Member

    What does the Freedom Caucus think of it? I don’t trust Obama any more than the GOPe, but I would value the opinion of the Freedom Caucus.

    • #21
    • October 3, 2016, at 3:44 PM PDT
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  22. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    Rather than everyone relying on what other people think as bellweathers why don’t they just read it themselves:

    https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/trans-pacific-partnership/tpp-full-text

    The full text has been available for quite some time. I’ll give @herculesrockefeller credit – he actually read parts of it (I’ve read some of it too), and formed his opinion that way. He and I came to different conclusions but good people often do. The only person I know who has actually read it in its entirety is @jamesofengland and he is very much in favor of the agreement. Most people seem too lazy to actually read the thing and seem to rely on innuendo and Obama’s support as reasons to dislike it.

    • #22
    • October 3, 2016, at 3:50 PM PDT
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  23. TKC1101 Inactive

    Jamie Lockett: Don’t your problems here stem more from the FDA than TPP?

    No, they stem from the fact that other countries buy nationally and have cartel like purchasing power , coupled with the ability to void patents.

    Free trade. Hah.

    Drug research is funded for the world by US consumers. We pay for the twenty drugs that do not get to market for the one that does, and the rest of the world buys at discount prices while our Free Trade Government allows patent threats to go un noticed. However, one entity does not negotiate on price, because the pharma companies are big donors. That entity is Medicare. So the US consumers tax money pays full retail and pays prices that cover research costs while the rest of the world pays full discount after research. Now what free trade genius set this one up?

    But economic warfare does not exist. Patent hostage taking is just fine with free traders. Purchasing cartels are just fine also.

    I find it amazing that people who hate big government trust big government to negotiate trade deals.

    • #23
    • October 3, 2016, at 5:06 PM PDT
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  24. Steve C. Member

    I’ll repeat my original point, A free trade deal that is 6,000 pages long is not a free trade deal.

    • #24
    • October 3, 2016, at 5:52 PM PDT
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  25. The Reticulator Member

    Jamie Lockett: Rather than everyone relying on what other people think as bellweathers why don’t they just read it themselves:

    Which doesn’t mean someone can’t do both. I read one section of it a few months back, but I would rely on the Freedom Caucus people to detect bad things that the GOPe sneakweasels might put in there, whose significance might be missed by others of us.

    • #25
    • October 3, 2016, at 6:05 PM PDT
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  26. Housebroken Thatcher

    Jamie Lockett:Rather than everyone relying on what other people think as bellweathers why don’t they just read it themselves:

    https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/trans-pacific-partnership/tpp-full-text

    The full text has been available for quite some time. I’ll give @herculesrockefeller credit – he actually read parts of it (I’ve read some of it too), and formed his opinion that way.

    Only because my county Republican chairman asked me to, I did read it. I believe it would take a person well knowledgeable in tariffs, duties and trade law to make an informed judgment on whether or not it’s a net benefit to international trade, what with the myriad tariff reduction schedules, the favored treatment given some countries for varying periods of time, the protections given particular industries in particular countries, the commitments to give away technology leads for short term gains to particular industries. But I do not believe the diminution of our national sovereignty by transference of authority to another international bureaucracy is difficult to identify. Not that it makes one iota of difference what I think: Our elected leaders gave Obama fast track authority, final approval will be given in lame duck session. It will require sixty votes to shut it down, and that just ain’t gonna happen.

    • #26
    • October 3, 2016, at 7:02 PM PDT
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  27. Housebroken Thatcher

    Steve C.:A free trade treaty would be two sentences long.

    There shall be no tariffs on goods imported into country A from country B. There shall be no tariffs on goods imported into country B from country A.

    QED

    Correct. In fact, TPP is not a “free trade” treaty, it is a “managed trade” treaty.

    • #27
    • October 3, 2016, at 8:15 PM PDT
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  28. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    Chuckles:

    Steve C.:A free trade treaty would be two sentences long.

    There shall be no tariffs on goods imported into country A from country B. There shall be no tariffs on goods imported into country B from country A.

    QED

    Correct. In fact, TPP is not a “free trade” treaty, it is a “managed trade” treaty.

    That a treaty isn’t perfect does not mean it isn’t better than the status quo.

    • #28
    • October 3, 2016, at 8:29 PM PDT
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  29. Hoyacon Member

    Steve C.:I’ll repeat my original point, A free trade deal that is 6,000 pages long is not a free trade deal.

    Well sure. And I’ll repeat my earlier post. Is there a reason to be on the same side as The Nation, Big Labor, and the NY Times.

    I’ll admit that, if one is sufficiently opposed to free markets to be in opposition to Cato, then there’s probably grounds to side with the unions and oppose this.

    • #29
    • October 3, 2016, at 8:49 PM PDT
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  30. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It’s great when we have a no-brainer of an argument, and for decades, since the Eighties, free trade has seemed like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it has turned out to be a brainer, even if you feel, as I do, that increased trade has generally made things more affordable for most people.

    An analogy: I believe people should be vaccinated (another whole argument). I do this even knowing that some fraction of people are going to be harmed by the vaccine, because 999 to 1 or 9999 to 1 are good odds to me. Suppose the vaccine helped 65% of us and harmed 35%; my attitude would be different.

    George Friedman has a point when he says that the uniformity and free access of the market has left us a forest with no fire breaks; a major problem with consumption or finance anywhere in the world means problems everywhere in the world.

    • #30
    • October 3, 2016, at 8:58 PM PDT
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