Sleeping Monster: The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and Its Expansive Definition of “Services”

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

In this post, I continue what is starting to feel to me like a Lewis and Clark expedition through the unexplored territory of “trade” “deals”[1], having engaged New Zealand activist Jane Kelsey, who authored the new report TiSA: Foul Play () as my guide. Because I’m feeling my way into this topic, rather than bringing (entirely) fixed views to it, you might consider reading the preceding post, where I introduce the idea that we might need to stop focusing on the deal (“We defeated TPP!”), and start focusing on the deal-makers (in this case, “The Trade Blob”[2], the “Really Good Friends of Services,” and Team TiSA).

Deals come and go. Deal-makers do not (and in fact the incorporate the texts of past deals into new deals, as if the past deals were organ donors). I’d also like to introduce the perspective that TiSA enacts a neoliberal utopia[3]: The text of TiSA () expresses, in the driest possible bureaucratic prose, a vision or dream of the future world in which the globalist elites would like us to live.[4] So, even if TiSA as a deal is defeated, the dealmakers who drive it will not give up their dream; the dream will simply return, revised, and repackaged, in a new guise, until the sleepers wake. TiSA-as-utopian-dream also provides an account of something that was been a mystery to me: Why, after a 2016 election that turned on trade, and an administration that deep-sixed TPP on day three, and a , has commercial real estate continued to intensify its investment in warehousing, have ports continued to expand, has Amazon gone into the airfreight business, has Silicon Valley gone gaga for robots that deliver stuff, and on and on and on? You would think that if globalization has jumped the shark (Martin Wolf: ), that investment in these areas would flatten or go down. The answer, or an answer, is that the elites who make those investment decisions are still enthralled by the dream.

And so, to today’s post. I’m guessing that one reason that TiSA has been able to slip beneath the radar, unlike TPP, is that people say: “Oh, it’s just about services!” But as it turns out, the scope of “services” is very broad, another reason for TiSA’s wildly ambitious, globally utopian scale. From Foul Play (page 26):

Defining trade in services

The reach of these agreements is incredibly broad. The rules apply to any measures a government adopts, which range from laws to administrative decisions, at central, regional or local government level or by bodies that exercise a delegated authority. Moreover, the measures only need to ‘affect’ the supply of a particular service; they don’t even need to directly target the service (so they could include new labour laws, especially if they negative [sic] affect a particular service). The service is traded when it is supplied by a foreign firm or individual from another TiSA country to a user of another TiSA country through one of four ways or modes of supply: across the border (eg buying a book from Amazon), using the service in another country (an offshore bank account), a commercial presence inside the country (a foreign-owned telco) or personnel coming to the country temporarily to deliver the service (an IT specialist).

(Basically, as we saw yesterday, every link within a supply chain can be covered with these four modes.) And from (2015, after Wikileaks published the text):

[TiSA] would liberalize global trade of services, an expansive definition that encompasses air and maritime transport, package delivery, e-commerce, telecommunications, accountancy, engineering, consulting, health care, private education, financial services and more, covering close to 80 percent of the U.S. economy. Though member parties insist that the agreement would simply stop discrimination against foreign service providers, the text shows that TiSA would restrict how governments can manage their public laws through an effective regulatory cap. It could also dismantle and privatize state-owned enterprises, and turn those services over to the private sector. You begin to sound like the guy hanging out in front of the local food co-op passing around leaflets about One World Government when you talk about TiSA, but it really would clear the way for further corporate domination over sovereign countries and their citizens.

Indeed! (And on “guy hanging out,” see from Links today.) Anyhow, 80% of the economy wherever the supply chain goes seems rather expansive in scope.

Being a suspicious sort, however, I sought a definition of “service.” After all, TiSA stands for “Trade in Services Agreement.” However, the Glossary in Foul Play () does not provide one (pp. 6-7). If TiSA has a glossary that defines “service,” I can’t find it using the Wikileaks search tool (). GATS (General Agreement on Trade and Tarriffs), which may be grandfathered into (“docked” with) TiSA, is maintained by the WTO (World Trade Organization), which does not provide a definition I can find, ; and the “General Agreement on Trade in Services” Annex to GATS .

I realize that I’m in the position, as I tend to be more often than I would like, of the New Yorker writer who successfully pitched a story about going to find a putatively extinct bird in the woods, never to find the bird! Perhaps “services” is just one of those terms that is so obvious nobody needs to define it? Turning to :

Trade in Services refers to the sale and delivery of an intangible product, called a service, between a producer and consumer. Trade in services takes place between a producer and consumer that are, in legal terms, based in different countries, or economies, this is called International Trade in Services.

(Of course, Wikipedia doesn’t link to its definition of service, though it does link to “intangible product,” which interestingly goes to a page on Intangible Assets.) The government of Switzerland, , seems to agree:

What is a service?

The services sector covers a wide range of activities, in particular professional services (medical doctors, lawyers and other legal services, engineering services, architectural services), business services such as marketing, advertising or consulting services, postal services, telecommunications services, distribution and trading services, financial services (banking services, insurance services, stock exchanges, securities services), tourism (hotels, restaurants, tourist guides), transport, audiovisual and cultural services, health services, education services, construction, energy, and environmental services, and in fact any activity except the production or transformation of industrial or agricultural goods or mining.

So, an operational definition of “services” would be “everything but manufacturing, farming, and mining,” or abstracting further, “anything that transforms stuff” (as opposed to transporting it, transferring its ownership, transmitting information about it, etc). Concluding:

It is thus difficult to encapsulate the notion of “service” in one definition.

In other words, the definition of “services” is a mess (but then you knew that). And you’d think that if there were an authoritative definition, the Swiss would have cited to it.

But let’s take the Swiss operational definition (anything that isn’t manufacturing, mining, or farming) as read, along with its theoretical distinction between the intangible and the tangible. There are some problems with it:

First, for stuff that is traded, where does its value come from? Is the value of a very tangible tomato, for example, to be sought in the tomato as stuff? Or in the very intangible knowledge, and the very intangible time that the farmer invested in growing it? If the latter, then suddenly farming is in the scope of TiSA.

Second, for stuff that is traded, how does it become stuff? Suppose I buy a metal hinge for my old house from a 3D printing shop at my UPS store. The 3D printing machine is entirely driven by software (under whatever intellectual property arrangements that UPS has made). Assuming software to be intangible (why?), is that not a trade in service? How is a deliverable that appeals to my sense of touch (like a hinge) essentially different from a deliverable that appeals to my sense of hearing (telecom) or my sense of sight (a movie)? If there is no difference, then suddenly manufacturing is within the scope of TiSA too.

Finally, consider social relations within the TiSA udystopia ():

The company store was an institution rooted in the industrial revolution. It involved a town that formed around a remote industrial facility, such as a mine or a factory. And because one individual might own that facility, with most of the townsfolk working for him, that owner was wealthy enough to buy up any new businesses attempting to establish in the area and subsequently operate them under the tent of his main enterprise. The result was a monopolistic, corporate consortium combining his primary business with a sort of “general store,” which would stock all the provisions his employees might need. Because the store was part of his larger company, it became known as the, “company store.”

And because it was a closed system, with minimal need for the townsfolk to interact with the greater economy, the owner paid few wages out of real money. Instead, he paid using credits, redeemable by employees at the company store. The store provided the townsfolk all they needed to get by each day, subsisting on the credits the owner paid them to work in his mine or factory. Because they received few wages beyond meager store credits, company employees became trapped, rarely possessing currency marketable to an outside world, or with which to save or invest toward retirement, or to provide a decent place to live, the factory/mine/store owner also owning the shacks his employees would be forced by circumstances to rent.

When an employee would be unable to work, no problem. The owner would lend him enough store credits to subsist while overcoming illness. Because wages were barely enough to survive, an employee would rarely earn enough to pay back the loaned credits, which explains the last line of our song’s refrain, “I owe my soul to the company store.”

Globalists desire to create a sort of worldwide company store, a monopolistic, corporate consortium that provides employment for the people of the world, subsistence, a place to live, and die, one that operates in a privately owned world economy, one from which escape is virtually impossible.

Consider, then, a mine operating under TiSA in a company town: Every action, with the single exception of the (tangible) axe hitting the (tangible) coalface, is mediated by an (intangible) service, provided, for profit, by the owners of the mine. But how are such social relations any different from those in a law firm, where the production of an (intangible) work product involves the (tangible) xeroxing of (tangible) printed documents? Why is a coalface different from a xerox machine? If it is not, then mining, too (at least when performed in a company town) is also within the scope of TiSA.

It seems to me that the scope of “service” is quite elastic, and the conceptual distinction between intangible (service) and tangible (not a service) is, to say the least, slippery. And if anybody considers these examples mere logic-chopping, that is exactly the, er, service that trade lawyers are hired by the members of Team TiSA to provide in the ISDS tribunals.

Conclusion

If the terms of an agreement are not clear, then the potential scope for the application of the agreement is infinite (as indeed the dealmakers whose dreams are driving TiSA would like it to be). TiSA’s utopia, then, is totalizing. In the next post, I’ll look at “ratchets” and “scheduling” (which are not nearly as dry as you might think, when you consider the human effects).

NOTES

[1] Unexplored at least by me, as opposed to the aboriginals of “The Trade Blob.” As before, I’m not at all happy with the “trade” framing; some rectification of names is called for. Ditto anti-globalization, etc.

[2] Tony Wikrent and others have rightly remarked that I’m not defining “The Blob” rigorously. All I can say is that I’m working on it. One reason I like “blob,” as a concept/metaphor, is that blobs have soft, flexible edges, and tend to engulf things. That seems to me to be the right way to think about class, and I mean class both in the mathematical sense (a thingie with a set membership function), the political sense (the “working class,” “the political class,” and so on), and the intersectional sense (how do those set membership functions really work, anyhow). So for now, “The Blob,” and “The Trade Blob.”

[3] And the left had better display adaptability with a better competing vision if they want to survive.

[4] I mean, besides the jackpot. I’m not happy with “globalist elites” framing either.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

33 comments

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Is Team TiSA a Global ALEC???

      Not in the sense that they draft model legislation, and the “Friends” are working with Team TiSA, so the number and type of players is not the same as with ALEC. And international agreements are insanely complex, making state legislation look childishly simple.

      But in terms of overall scope of ambition and, well, pure evil, I’d agree.

      1. Ox

        Lambert,

        A service is defined here

        “”For the purposes of this Agreement…
        (b) ‘services’ includes any service in any sector except services supplied in the exercise of
        governmental authority;

        (c) ‘a service supplied in the exercise of governmental authority’ means any service which is supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers.””

        Proof that this definition is the one thats being used is here:
        “DRAFT
        DIRECTIVES FOR THE NEGOTIATION OF A PLURILATERAL AGREEMENT ON
        TRADE IN SERVICES
        A.
        N ATURE AND S COPE OF THE AGREEMENT

        On substance, the agreement should achieve essentially the same objectives as set out in the Council
        Conclusions of October 1999 (12092/99 WTO 131), i.e. the agreement should be comprehensive,
        ambitious, should aim at reducing existing (wage and wealth – between the rich in poor countries and rich in rich countries) imbalances and be fully consistent with World Trade
        Organisation (WTO) rights and obligations, notably with regard to the WTO General Agreement on
        Trade in Services (GATS).

        The negotiations should be conducted and concluded with due regard to rights and obligations under the WTO, taking into account the elements for political guidance of the
        8 th WTO Ministerial Conference by respecting the principles of transparency and inclusiveness.

        __In detail, the agreement should seek to bind, in general, the autonomous level of liberalisation__** of the
        parties and provide for opportunities through negotiations for improved market access. (job trading, outsourcing)

        The
        agreement should also be comprehensive and comply with the requirements of GATS Article V in
        terms of sectoral and mode of supply coverage. New and enhanced regulatory disciplines based on
        proposals by the parties should be developed during the negotiations.
        The agreement should take account of the fact that not all WTO-members are participating in the
        negotiations. To prevent an automatic and unconditional multilateralisation of the agreement based
        on the effect of the most-favoured-nation principle laid down in GATS Article II:1, the plurilateral
        services agreement needs to fulfil the conditions of an Economic Integration Agreement pursuant to
        GATS Article V, i.e. have a substantial sectoral coverage and provide for the elimination of existing
        discriminatory measures and/or the prohibition of new or more discriminatory measures. The
        agreement shall be built on the GATS to ensure a smooth future incorporation of the plurilateral
        services agreement into the GATS and it shall incorporate GATS core articles. The agreement shall
        provide for market access (GATS Article XVI) for services sectors in the same way as
        commitments are undertaken, under GATS. It could go beyond GATS by providing for a horizontal
        discipline for national treatment (GATS Article XVII) that would be applied in principle to all sectors and modes of supply, subject to exemptions. In line with the Council Conclusions of 1999,
        by applying this horizontal formula subject to exemptions, the negotiations would be more efficient
        and would maximise the results. The agreement should have an overall architecture conducive to its
        future multilateralisation and set out the mechanisms and conditions of accession and future
        multilateralisation. To ensure that the parties observe mutually agreed rules and commitments, the
        agreement shall include an effective dispute settlement mechanism. Due regard shall be given to the
        dispute settlement mechanism provided for in the WTO Agreement. The European Union will
        ensure that the Union and its Member States maintain the possibility to preserve and develop their
        capacity to define and implement cultural and audiovisual policies for the purposes of preserving
        their cultural diversity. The high quality of the EU’s public utilities should be preserved in
        accordance with the TFEU and in particular Protocol N° 26 on Services of General Interest, and
        taking into account the EU’s commitments in this area, including the GATS.
        B. P ROPOSED CONTENT OF THE A GREEMENT
        1. The agreement should confirm the common objective of progressively liberalising trade in
        services as a means of promoting economic growth and increasing participation of
        developing and least developed countries in world trade. (The corrupt assisting the other corrupt to stay in power)
        2.
        In line with GATS Article V, the agreement should cover substantially all sectors and
        modes of supply
        and provide for the absence or elimination of existing discriminatory
        measures and/or the prohibition of new or more discriminatory measures
        . (FREEZE, STANDSTILL, ON NEW PUBLIC SERVICES NOMATTER HOW MUCH THEY ARE NEEDED IN THE US.)

        This should be
        without prejudice to the possible exclusion of a limited number of services sectors from the
        liberalisation commitments. As in the GATS, the EU shall not take commitments on
        audiovisual. The Agreement shall not cover services supplied in the exercise of
        governmental authority.
        (See – re- the “exclusion” is SO narrow it almost never applies)
        3.
        The agreement shall confirm the right of the EU and its Member States to regulate and to
        introduce new regulations on the supply of services within their territories in order to meet
        public policy objectives. (and are consistent with the GATS)

        …..

        There are newer TiSA leaks on bilaterals.org Recommended you read them.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Several trillion dollars and armies of lawyers spanning the globe are tough to fight! And as you note, they are playing the long game. That is, it won’t all come tumbling down in one fell swoop. Lining the national mall with guillotines only means the rats jump this ship and flee (in a swarm of Gulfstream IIIs, IVs, and Vs) to another. Whack-a-mole.

      I do, however, enjoy the thought of chasing Mr. Cummerbund Bankster across the moor, brandishing a spoon with which I intend to, as my brother used to threaten, “scoop out his eyes”. Just a thought, though, that’s all, when I’ve had some wine and need to smile.

  1. David

    I’m very interested in this topic.

    Until we see how the crazypants-in-chief plans his “great” NAFTA deal, it’s hard to see how the current TISA moves forward with the US.

    Have you been following the ? They appear to be reconsidering the current investor protection system.

    The EU and Japan seemed to have scrapped the classic BIT/investor protection architecture as a model, and instead designed a set of disciplines that focuses not on giving guarantees or privileges to firms but rather the elimination of discriminatory barriers to investment.
    […]
    The MFN provision in the text signals a clear intent to avoid the kind of treaty shopping that has occurred under investor-state arbitration, where MFN provisions in BITs have been used by investors to argue that they are entitled to better treatment offered in a different agreement between the host state and a third country.
    […]
    But as developing countries denounce BITs, or move to fundamentally different treaty structures (India’s new model BIT for example), or reconstitute government/foreign firm relations as a matter of domestic law (South Africa) the more secure they may be in engaging in negotiations about investment liberalization that do not carry the taint and baggage of the ancien regime.

    Sorry if that’s not the response you were looking for.

  2. Wisdom Seeker

    Lambert, thanks for actually lifting the veil a bit, instead of just quoting press releases or critiquing articles quoting those press releases.

    Clearly “services” is the latest word which used to have a simple, commonsense meaning that will now get abused beyond recognition in the name of enhanced corporate profitability…

    Until the trade systems are made so simple that anyone can understand them, one must assume that any further complexification, proposed by insiders, is not designed to benefit everyone else. Regardless of how it’s marketed.

    P.S. I have not found time to try to read it, but I’d bet TISA doesn’t do a damn thing to loosen trade barriers or increase competition in the delivery of medical services…

    1. Skip Intro

      Exactly. Both ‘Trade’ and ‘Services’ are deceptive, and in need of replacement. As Lambert noted in part one, anti-trade and anti-globalisation framing of opposition to these anti-democratic corporate power grabs needs to go. Corporate Rights sounds better, but rights are things we generally want to broaden, and TISA will undermine human rights to democratic self-determination and privacy. I think discussing the struggle of Corporate Power against National Sovereignty may be a better way to go.

    2. Ox

      The US is wedded to ISDS and “negative list” (everything on by default to keep it out of the news and give legislators plausible deniability, should they ever be called upon to account for the biggest sellout in hu7man history.. cough… wealth transfer.. (former WTO DG Michael Moore’s words, not mine)

      basically, the rich in poor countries are being bought off so they wont attempt to break out of the rut they are in and compete with us. To get them to go away, they must be paid off, in jobs. Lots of jobs. Jobs currently occupied by “overpaid” “protectionists” in the developed countries.. Basically, their middle class. Especially the US, which is insanely promoting this WITHOUT A SAFETY NET, in fact, the highly marginal safety net we have is being done away with to magnify the wage lowering effects.

  3. B1whois

    Thank you for doing this work… I think it’s hard to get past the noise of brexit. I’ve noticed in the comments are sometimes dominated by Yakety Yak about brexit, macron, Etc. Personally, I think we need more talk about Uruguay! Just kidding. But I do appreciate everything written about South America.
    Tisa is very important, but all this crap is exhausting and I feel hopeless when it comes to fighting this cabal of global Elite actors.

    I hope your eye is doing well and the parrots aren’t stealing any of your gold!! Parrots go with eye patches right?

      1. Ox

        This all began with the Uruguay Round Authorizations Act.. (URAA) one of the biggest changes in world history, the end of the nation state and the beginning of the corporate superstate.. On January 1, 1995

        Thats history. What, you dont remember it?

    1. HotFlash

      Parrots go with eye patches right?

      Why, yes, of course. B/c the parrots pluck out eyes.

  4. Ned

    Debt: The new global company store.
    Doesn’t matter where you are, what you buy, what you produce, the inexorable interest rate will end up owning everything real and raising the rent while it offers you more credit.

  5. m. sam

    Personally I’m glad somebody is wading into these dark and foreboding waters. It is an interesting phenomena that people don’t seem to want to jump into the nitty gritty of this topic (in terms of commenting, as Lambert said above). I found that to be true of TPP too back when it was percolating under the surface, why the no-talking about it? Especially since it has all the elements of a penultimately important topic. You have market regulations being placed out of reach of mere mortals (such as local and national governments), multinational corporations driving the process for their own narrow interests, and an all-pervading secrecy. And all for “the necessity for capital to accumulate, and for capitalism to expand, destroying all barriers which stand in its way, and incorporating all extant social forms into its own reproduction or else wiping them out.” What’s not to talk about?

    What will “kill with fire” this drive, what Lambert describes (I think accurately) as a utopian dream (of the global billionaire class)? Will it ultimately take real fire? Are they so convinced in the righteousness of their cause that nothing will lead them to temper their dream? Because so far it looks like nothing is working to make them listen, much less act in the interests of the public good.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      As soon as I conceptualized TiSA as the dream of the global elites, I felt like a psychologist who has tapped into his client’s innermost and unconscious motivations and feelings… TiSA really is a dream, a phantasmagoria. The very vagueness and slipperiness of “services” makes the concept dreamlike, a shape-shifter that appears in many guises; “In my dream it looked like ____ but even in my dream it was really ____.”

      1. Ox

        The most commonly used definition is: “Everything you cannot drop on your foot.”

        In other words, GATS and TISA are NAFTA for the OTHER 80% of our jobs. The desk jobs and office jobs and IT jobs and professional jobs.

        Healthcare too. Plus, they want to replace domestic healthcare with medical tourism.

  6. flora

    It is thus difficult to encapsulate the notion of “service” in one definition.

    Surely that is the reason the word “service/s” was selected. It sounds benign and reasonable on first glance, offered with a “don’t worry” handwave, but is ready to encompass anything the promoters desire.

    Is manufacturing a service?
    As Bill Clinton would say, “That depends on what the meaning of “is” is.”

    Who would make the final ruling? A secret court funded by and for the corporations, and beholden only to them.

    Instead of a generic, ill-defined, elastic term like “services”, let the negotiators make a list of all things specifically excluded from from their TiSA deal. I want it in writing. I assume if it isn’t explicitly excluded then it is implicitly included by the inexact definition of “services”. (That depends on what the meaning of “is” is.)

    Shorter TiSA (from what I read): corporations get to define the words and the terms, corporations get to make the rules, corporations get to arbitrate both the terms and rules, democracy is not allowed. Even if the corporations twist the meaning of words far beyond the “reasonable man” test they priviledge themselves to arbitrate whether or not the meanings they assign are correct and usual. Democracy is not allowed.

    Thanks for this post.

    1. flora

      adding:
      If the negotiators did list all the things specifically excluded by the deal but leave the secret court in place, there is nothing, nothing to prevent the corporations from renegotiating the deal in secret and only among themselves. The initial passage would shut out governments and the democratic process going forward. It is that, more than anything else, that is heart of this monster.

      1. flora

        adding: Large corporations always and everywhere want laissez-faire. They want trickle-down economics.* That’s who they are. That is the economic environment they have been able to buy for the past 35 years. The politicians signed off on this form of economics. Now corporations and economists bemoan the slowing profits and productivity, and want a wider scope with even fewer or no restrictions.

        I don’t blame corporations for being what they are. I blame any politician who signs off on these “give the multi-nationals carte blanche” deals. “The Hamptons are not a defensible position”, someone on this website wrote.

        *Trickle-down was always about wealth trickling-up from the majority to the few. At some point the many have too little for much keep to trickling-up. Then big corporations demand wider laissez-faire to “restart the engines of growth”, even when laissez-faire has played itself out economically.

        1. Synoia

          There are no limits to greed.

          The self-defeating problem is that you need employees to buy stuff.

          If you have no employees, then one cannot complain about poor sales.

          1. flora

            So true. That does not stop the multi-nationals from saying to themselves, “Rents and price-fixing will do as well as sales to bump up our stock price and enrich us.”

            1. Ox

              “Progressive liberalisation” means nothing is permanently excluded, because every two years the WTO (TiSA is basically going to become part of the WTO regime in the future) meet again and again to force countries to make more expansive offers, by privatizing more essential services.. The death of a thousand cuts.

              That is progressive liberalisation. (irreversible privatization)

              And once privatized, every bit of policy space must be BOUGHT back by paying its expected lost profits to the injured parties, countries or corporations. get the picture?

  7. Epistrophy

    Globalists desire to create a sort of worldwide company store, a monopolistic, corporate consortium that provides employment for the people of the world, subsistence, a place to live, and die, one that operates in a privately owned world economy, one from which escape is virtually impossible.

    Isn’t this an apt description of our reality today? You either plug into the matrix – or you die. It’s the matter of degree now, not the system, that we are fighting over. How tightly the screws are tightened. The Overton window has moved far beyond a consideration of systems.

    1. Ox

      Who said anything about providing employment? Corporations arent welfare agencies. Countries might provide market access but there will be a race to automate everything in countries like the US in order to keep the money here. Otherwise, some Indian firm or African firm, with their cheap labor will get the contracts.. Our only hope is to automate it faster and better than they ever could.

      Its not hard because the countries that are so focused on services and the ultra low cost of their labor are not the best and the brightest by any means. Their people are products of caste systems that think that washing their own dishes or doing their own laundry is beneath them. They excel in mediocrity. thats why they are looking to us as their savior, so they wont have to deal with their pressing social problems.. Its similar to whats happening here, a triumph of corruption and state capture.

  8. Ignacio

    Dean Baker has talked about this issue several times if I remember correctly. He likes to use the example of health services. Physicians that would suddenly face a brave new world of “free” health care trade.
    I believe that health care would be the part to find more resistance in TiSA (or TiSA-like treaties) implementation.

    I believe the most important aspect of this treaty deals with IP rigths.

    I like very much your analysis Lambert. Please go on whenever you can!

    1. Ox

      Dean baker is a huge fan of this liberalisation epidemic, it seems to me.

      People dont realize, you dont fix problems by enabling the problem causers (In ths case inequality, the leaders of the most rapidly growing inequalities in the world) to create more problems. They should have their revolutions. If we give people visas, let them only go to Dalits. No more Brahmins. And they should be required to pay their engineers and doctors at least US prevailing wages.. They really hate that because it makes it no more profitable than US temping. That would make the US job obsessed “Indian techie” happy but their bosses would go nuts. But its the only just thing to do. Make them stand on their own two feet and develop their own jobs and non-parasitic industry..

      industrial base. Stop basing their whole business model on stealing other peoples jobs by exploiting truly evil loopholes in laws – and then sneaking around, trying to make them permanent with trade deals.

    2. Ox

      “Free” and below market cost health care was made FTA illegal almost 20 years ago when the US signed the Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services.

      They just haven’t told us yet.

      Instead, phony political candidates pretend this never happened while 150 people die each day from being denied healthcare they would get in civilized countries. That will turn into 1500, when the whole country is sold down the river. Some kinds of betrayals make people really sick pretty consistently.

  9. Steely Glint

    Great work Lambert. It links in with an article in Links 7/20 A despot in disguise James McGill Buchanan. These people have a great deal of patience, and seem to never let go. The distinction between tangible and intangible seems to be getting a lot of attention lately. I listened to an interview with David Cay Johnston about what he called our out-dated tax system. which he says is based on taxing tangible assets, instead of the new economy of intangible assets. You maximized that idea with looking at 80% of the economy as intangible.

  10. HotFlash

    (and in fact the incorporate the texts of past deals into new deals, as if the past deals were organ donors)

    Gorgeous imagery, Lambert. Now to read the post…

  11. Rhondda

    In many states, tax on services is a legally wiggly area – and that may pertain to TiSA, et al. Tax on goods is clear and settled in state law. Services, not so much.

  12. Ox

    Lambert, to me, this is NOT getting the point across adequately that these deals (there are multiple deals are a nuclear class war against all of us.

    Theyre aimed at us, the worst one is already signed, 20 years ago) will make NAFTA look like nothing. This will have the effect of a war, it wil block affordable health care and education, unless people go overseas for it, it will privatize practically all public jobs, send millions of desk jobs overseas and insource millions more. via Mode Four, It will cut wages to a third of what they are today just as millions of jobs are being automated- but more often than not people will lose jobs and wont be able to get a new one. It will destroy a lot of small businesses. It will put a lot of teachers and researchers and doctors and nurses and IT people out of work. The jobs it targets first are the core jobs that make up the middle class.

    It will cause huge problems, immigrants, legal immigrants, everybody who came here and worked their way up will suffer, all the people who self taught themselves some tech skill, basically the people who do the real work will all suffer because- according to neoliberal mantra, only supply and demand determines wages, and supply will go way up and demand will go way down.

    That will cause a huge crash of every businesses’ value because people will stop buying, and everybody will be trying to sell their homes at the same time, before the value tanks still more.

    It will enable the privatization of Social Security and we’ll lose its defined benefit. (See the Annex on Financial Services for why)

    This is what happens when really really dishonest people run both your country and your media.

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