Re: Guest Post - Meanwhile, at the Grown-Ups' Table

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Alex's description of the US government as "The Project for a Post-American Century" rings true ...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:12 AM
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After the left-wing people I read have been opposed to this sort of deal as a tool of corporate imperialism for my whole adult life, I was surprised to see a lot of assessments that this one was actually good because it was at least 40% a tool of diplomacy rather than corporate imperialism. Maybe this was just because Trump became opposed to it so left-wing people had to be in favor of it.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:19 AM
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2: Yes, the TPP was so toxic, that during 2016 it seemed like Obama was the only democrat left that would support it.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:23 AM
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Wow, they dropped the parts of the TPP that made me hate it. I may actually be in favor of it now.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:34 AM
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Well this toxic deal had also forced Vietnam to grant the right to form unions, but absent the US that provision has apparently been indefinitely delayed.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:37 AM
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I am now 100% on board.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 9:54 AM
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You're a Vietnamese capitalist running dog?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 10:05 AM
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Those capitalists, always pushing for unions and better labor representation.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 11:10 AM
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Thanks for this, Heebie. I'd read in many places both that (a) the TPP was critically important for cementing an American economic order in the Pacific basin, and (b) [esp via Dean Baker] it was larded with goodies for the rich and corps.

It really incensed me that the rich & corps do this over-and-over: take important policy initiatives hostage to their desire for even more money, even more power. So I was happy to see that b/c the US withdrew, the TPP became more reasonable. Maybe the next Dem Prez (hasten the day) will bring the US back in, and the other signatories will stand firm on not letting the ISDS/IP insanity back in.


Posted by: Chet Murthy | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 5:34 PM
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People are going to roast me for this, but the following are my sincere beliefs.

I agree that both an extension of the copyright term and the ISDS are fairly characterized as "corporate giveaways" to powerful American companies. In a better policy world, they wouldn't have been in the trade deal (albeit, these are corporate giveaways that would on net benefit the United States at the expense of other nations-- never understood why that meant that we were supposed to be rooting against the TPP, at least from a nationalistic perspective).

However, they are also "corporate giveaways" that are vastly overrated in importance. ISDS seems ridiculous, but similar provisions have been part of trade deals (bilateral and multilateral) for at least 60 years, and they just aren't that important. I believe the area where they've been most aggressively used is by US corporations against actions of the Canadian government that supposedly violate NAFTA -- but as far as I know the ISDS litigation in Canada has resulted in no significant policy change and something on the order of $200 million in payouts, i.e., on a big governmental scale, basically peanuts. The international arbitration system is a little ridiculous, but the idea that ISDS is a truly big problem or represents the end of national regulatory sovereignty or anything is nuts.

Similarly, the copyright term extension. I believe in the US we should have a shorter copyright term than we do. But the longer term, while indeed profitable for Disney, just is a massively overrated issue, especially when we're talking about the difference between the US regime (life of author + 70, also I think the law in Australia) and in Malaysia (life of author + 50). In any plausible regime most valuable work is going to be locked up under copyright because the most valuable work is recent -- with very rare exceptions for artistic work the long-tail valuations just aren't that valuable EITHER for rights-holders or as part of the public domain. And the new terms would apply prospectively. In short, I know this is a super hot-button issue, and yes Disney did get a big free corporate giveaway in 1998, but length-of-term in the real world just isn't that big a deal, particularly at the magnitudes we're discussing (it's not nothing, of course, especially for archivists, but it's not a massive deal either).

In short, from my perspective it's stunning that people would have wanted -- on net -- to get rid of a deal that effectively gave freebies to the US, integrated a ton of Asia and South America into the US sphere, and bulwarked the inclusion of all of those countries into a liberal world order at the expense of China, just because of these two (admittedly not great but also not that big a deal) provisions. Just sheer dumbfuckery for us to have gotten out of the TPP and a classic failure of governance. Also a reminder of how messed up the political world was in 2016 that literally no one in the US except Obama would defend it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 6:15 PM
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10 last was roughly my understanding too.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 6:37 PM
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The extension of the copyright terms is not a simple "corporate giveaway," rather it was a move to spread the evil and corrosive US intellectual property system to other countries and have it become entrenched as the global system. There's no way in hell I can condone that, I don't care how rich it makes American companies.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 7:36 PM
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US IP law being a lesser evil than than the PRC is of course not even theoretically possible.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 7:47 PM
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13 is true. Also, the "US intellectual property regime" is pretty misleading here, if we're talking copyright. In terms of copyright term, it's a difference, if at all, between life plus 50 versus life plus 70 years in all the relevant countries, so you are talking about relatively small-scale tinkering with a broader copyright regime. Or maybe it's the hegemonic Mexicans with hoping to impose their corporate-dominated life-plus-100 year copyright term on everyone else.

Patent law is different of course; the world does have a generalized patent system but that was where the action was, if any, in IP stuff in the TPP.

But the bottom line is that none of that was even remotely significant compared to the geopolitics of the deal.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 7:57 PM
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Also, internationally, the minimum life-plus-50 rule was put into the Berne convention in 1928, at a time when the US wasn't a party (and had weaker laws). We didn't join the Berne Convention until 1988. So hard to see life-plus-50 as a tool of US corporate hegemony.

God, I swore I would never talk about copyright on this blog ever again.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:02 PM
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Patent law is different of course

Because it's really shiny.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:03 PM
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Yes. Also, that was supposed to be "the world does not have a generalized." But I'll rely on the fact that no one reads or cares about that comment.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:05 PM
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I was involved (as a participant) in a project where they were trying to see how they could improve people's ability (in the aggregate) to predict the outcomes of real world events. I didn't renew my participation entirely because they kept trying to ask what I thought about TPP and I just couldn't.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:15 PM
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No one cares about the trade unions in Vietnam? That part got worse after the U.S. walked out.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:35 PM
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God, I swore I would never talk about copyright on this blog ever again.

Halford, I apologize. While I did want to register an objection to your description of copyright exemption as NBD, I honestly do not wish to be trolling you into a discussion of copyright. It is a conversation that would piss both of us off and change neither of our minds.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:43 PM
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20 twas me.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:43 PM
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I just want to know when I can publish my Minnie Mouse/Wolverine fan fic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:45 PM
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I don't remember seeing one at the time, but does anyone have a link where the Obama admin discusses "we pushed for provisions A & B because of reasons X & Y"? I mainly remember reading some articles about how important it was to have a deal without China.


Posted by: BA | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:51 PM
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Even despite the loss to Vietnamese unions, it may well be for the best that the US is out of it.

Given America's current internal political situation, we are in no condition to be any kind of global leader right now. If Japan is stepping up to take the leadership role in the TPP group, maybe that's as it should be.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 8:54 PM
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20 - thanks, but you were totally good and reasonable. I shouldn't have mentioned it at all.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 9:11 PM
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I don't think 24 makes sense. Had the US signed, it and its special interest groups would have been more tightly bound to international rules, and its rogue behavior therefore more constrained.
More important, the non-China-centric TPP would have been far more valuable to its members, and prospective members, even if the US were only a passive participant.
While I'm glad the remaining countries have been able to act without US leadership, this is still a deeply suboptimal situation.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 9:13 PM
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25: I'm glad you did mention it. Knowledge is worth more than harmony.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 9:15 PM
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24 - Honestly, I feel like the US needs to go into a quiet corner alone for 20 years until it can figure out how to govern itself. I just worry that in the meantime without the US/liberal order the world gets very bad very fast in a big way.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 9:15 PM
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I have similar thoughts. Especially since Germany seems to be having issues now and Japan has no population growth if you don't count Pikachu.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 9:18 PM
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And yes, 26 is right. The quiet corner doesn't really exist.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 9:18 PM
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If the liberal order is predicated on the US enforcing the liberal order, its not really that liberal an order, is it?

It looks like we are going into an era of multi-polarity, and if that's going to work, its going to depend on other countries taking on roles that were once those of the United States.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 9:25 PM
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Yes. The institutions were "liberal", but the structure for them was pure hegemony. And while it may have been good to find a way to establish an actual liberal structure, I'm guessing that "letting pissed-off racists and various oligarchs swing a hammer around" isn't going to be an improvement regardless of what other countries do.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 9:30 PM
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I mean, the United States couldn't have been the "United States" if there was somebody acting like Trump is now who had the largest military and economy in the world.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 9:31 PM
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As near as I can tell from that one book club where I actually read at least part of the book, that basically happened and the result was WWII.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 9:39 PM
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31.2 is true, but it doesn't follow from that that US absence is a net good, as you suggest in 24.
31.1: I think your "enforcement" is conflating at least three different things.
(a) Enforcement of rules, such as WTO rules, within the order. AFAIK those processes generally are in fact multilateral and rule-bound. The US always has the loudest voice in deliberations, but I don't think that's illiberal in any straightforward way. Assigning all sovereigns equal voting power would be ludicrous, as demonstrated for instance in the US Senate.
(b) Provision of civilian public goods. I know little, but for instance many countries rely on FDA standards because they can't afford their own regulators. This is unobjectionable.
(c) Provision of military public goods, especially defence of the US-led order against outside powers. The defence in itself is again unobjectionable. Too many countries have become too dependent on the US, but this has not been the result of US policy; in fact the US has almost always wanted more military spending from its allies, and been disappointed.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 9:55 PM
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it doesn't follow from that that US absence is a net good, as you suggest in 24.

Don't get me wrong, I think US absence, in general, is bad. But US absence, right now, may well be for the best.

We can't lead the world if we don't have our shit together, and, at present we most assuredly do not have our shit together.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 10:09 PM
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Well, if the end to linking our dominant military power to a mesh of intertwined civilian international institutions and alliances that create (relative) international order and (relative) peace means that the world goes down, at least Norway will go down too. So we have that to look forward to.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 10:10 PM
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Whereas the Swiss, smug bastards, will be better off than ever.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 02-15-18 10:15 PM
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"If the liberal order is predicated on the US enforcing the liberal order, its not really that liberal an order, is it?"

Liberal does not mean undefended.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-16-18 12:46 AM
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length-of-term in the real world just isn't that big a deal, particularly at the magnitudes we're discussing (it's not nothing, of course, especially for archivists, but it's not a massive deal either).

This is wrong but I can't really get into it here. An issue that didn't come up before but does now is both a work and the software you need to access it could be in copyright for a long time.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-16-18 1:01 AM
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If anyone wants to have the absolute living shit scared out of them, I can recommend a trip to Nürnberg. The museum at the site of the rallies takes you step by step through the process that led them into the abyss.

We all know the general outlines, but the 1933-1934-1935 stuff is more than a little harrowing to a 2018 American.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-16-18 1:04 AM
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(The other scary thing about this city is my niece's 16 month old twins. A couple of energizer bunnies, those two, and just feeding them dinner -- while sleep deprived -- could be an Olympic event.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-16-18 1:11 AM
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28: It's an international system with Chinese characteristics, to slightly re-phrase Deng.

(Also, the catch-phrase at 1 is usually me, but by all means propagate.)

41: The Republicans are a little bit less likely to use murderous private violence to achieve their ends than the NSDAP of that era; otherwise, yes. (And even that is in part because they have captured lower levels of the state already and use less-than-murderous violence to achieve their ends. But still.)


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 02-16-18 6:44 AM
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The role of Wagner will have to be played by Kid Rock, so be afraid if he switches from songs about substance abuse to pagan gods.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-16-18 6:55 AM
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The cure, apparently, is watching the women's downhill, in French, in Genève.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-16-18 9:04 PM
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Robert Smith is a great fan.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-16-18 9:06 PM
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Super G, I guess. Whatever: those gals can cook.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-16-18 9:08 PM
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I was going to say that all was right with the world, but they've switched to curling, and I have to catch a cab to the airport. Be home in only 25 hours!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-16-18 9:17 PM
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Ok, I'm in my correct time zone. Still several hours to go.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-17-18 3:01 PM
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That's one long trip.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 02-17-18 7:09 PM
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