Mark Meets World: Trans-Pacific-please-don’t-do-this

Mark Meets World

Mark Feuerborn

Take a moment to think back to when Martin Shkreli, the infamous pharmaceutical CEO, spiked the price of Daraprim, a cancer and HIV drug, from $13 to $750. Take a moment to recall the amount of backlash Shkreli received, where the American people demonized him and marked him as one of the most hated men in the country.

Shkreli had a morally despicable idea with a great gross margin, morals aside since his are severely lacking. He wanted to monopolize the market for his product and force medical patients to either pay $750 dollars per pill and go bankrupt or die. The remedy for this situation was when a competing pharmaceutical company announced it would manufacture and sell a generic version of the drug for a fraction of Shkreli’s cost.

Now, thanks to policies introduced by the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, this literal life-saving act will not be allowed to happen. Did I mention said deal was just signed Wednesday right under all of America’s noses, with little to no media attention for a reason?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a term many political candidates are throwing around as something they are either for or against without the public understanding what exactly they’re talking about. In its current form, it’s the world’s largest free-trade agreement, made between the United States and 11 other countries. The agreement excludes China for the purpose of fighting East Asia’s current trade dominance in manufacturing much of our consumer goods.

I will admit, I don’t think the Trans-Pacific Partnership was made with bad intentions. The deal aims to boost U.S. exports of machinery by $123.5 billion. The agreement also details that it will add $223 billion per year to incomes of workers from all countries, and a tantalizing $77 billion is planned to go toward U.S. workers.

Here’s the catch: The deal aims to place more protection on patents and copyrights, and so owners of said copyright and patents will in turn gain much of that added income. These owners also already make much more than the standard worker, so the gains will go to workers making $88,000 per year, essentially defeating any remedy to income inequality currently possible. According to Kimberly Amadeo, economic analyst, the current tax policies the United States has in place will nullify any chance for the Trans-Pacific Partnership to remedy income inequality with its attempt to fight the outsourcing of jobs from the United States. Couple that with the removal of trade tariffs in the deal, and I think the tax policies we have in place won’t be going anywhere.

Think objectively about this for a moment. We have Bernie Sanders, a presidential candidate whose entire platform banks on his supporters’ drive to fight income inequality, and we have a trade agreement about to pass that according to the Peterson Institute for Economics could result in pay cuts for 90 percent of the U.S. working population, simply because it’s so boring that no one wants to hear about it. Side-note: Sanders is also against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

As I mentioned before, the deal also brings pharmaceuticals into the tangle, placing emphasis on an unnecessarily heavy protection of copyright for them. Production of cheaper generic versions of drugs will be impossible, as pharmaceutical companies will now be permitted to keep their drug formulas confidential for five to seven years after initial production, allowing them to monopolize their drug’s market just as Shkreli did. If we have another soulless CEO seize this opportunity, we can say hello to even huger price spikes, and there won’t be a Good Samaritan pharmaceutical company that can legally save us this time.

Additionally, foreign companies will both be damaged and given power over domestic companies in the deal. These companies will no longer have to abide by United States’ environmental protection policies, so if China does join in on the deal – a country with cities where it is no longer safe to go outside thanks to pollution – their companies will have no obligations whatsoever to stop adding to this pollution. The United States also made a trade-off: what foreign companies have gained is more rights to sue the federal government than even our domestic companies in return for domestic and international tobacco trade restrictions.

For lack of a better word, this deal is asinine, and it’s already been signed. The agreement must now be reviewed by U.S. Congress before it can go into effect. I beg of America, don’t let this deal go undetected. Educate yourselves on the deal, sign petitions and contact your local congressman. We must save ourselves.