ObamaTrade: The Death Star of Regulation.


Obama is driving a final stake through the heart of his 2008 image as a glimmering beacon of hope and change. You can take that old “HOPE” poster you have in the closet and throw it in the trash; you won’t be needing it anymore. Better yet: roll it, pack it with tobacco, and toke up on that sucker. You might as well get some use out of it.

Did you think Obama was supposed to be a freedom fighter against the machinations of Big Business? Think again. ObamaTrade, officially called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is the final death knell to his old image. It is a 5,000+ page document filled with nothing but bureaucratic jargon and boondoggle designed to provide advantages to multinational corporations over smaller competition. The whole thing is a love letter from Obama to his golf buddies in the corporate world.

I’ll make this simple: ObamaTrade is specifically designed to empower and entrench large multinational corporations against competition. The large, blundering dinosaurs of the corporate world want ObamaTrade to protect them from small businesses and hungry start-ups. The regulations afford specific advantages to businesses which politicians and bureaucrats favor, and also makes competing against the current gamut of large corporations difficult. Obama is a company man, through and through.

It is being pushed as a “free trade agreement” along the lines of NAFTA. But NAFTA is not a free trade agreement. Neither is ObamaTrade. When discussing free trade, the only agreement that needs to be made is this: “We’ll cut down our regulations and taxes on trade, and you’ll cut down yours. Deal?” That’s it. That’s all that’s necessary.

NAFTA and ObamaTrade are managed trade agreements. They are complex arrangements of laws and boondoggles overseen and administered by international bureaucrats. Here’s a qualifier: if an trade agreement needs bureaucratic oversight, it’s not a free trade agreement. Bureaucrats manage and enforce rules; that’s what they do. They are antithetical to freedom. How can anything requiring bureaucratic oversight be considered “free”?

It is true that NAFTA and ObamaTrade lower certain trade barriers. The main sticking points of NAFTA and ObamaTrade are lower tariffs, meaning lower taxes on imported goods from other countries. This translates to lower prices for consumers. Lower tariffs are good. I always support cutting taxes, anytime – anywhere – for anyone.  But it doesn’t take 5,000+ pages of bureaucratic regulations just to lower tariffs. Of course, ObamaTrade is about far more than just tariffs.

ObamaTrade is really about surrendering national authority – voter authority – to an international bureaucracy run by multinational corporations. 5,000+ pages with over 100,000 new regulations will be used to impose whatever trade conditions or restrictions that the TPP bureaucrats see fit. Don’t like it? Don’t bother complaining to your congressman; there’s nothing he can do, even if he wants to. The TPP places regulatory power in the hands of international bureaucrats outside of the U.S. government.

To a true progressive in the vein of Woodrow Wilson, this is a great thing. The grand dream of Left-Progressivism is a governmental system completely separated from voter authority, where tenured bureaucrats have carte blanche to push people around on a whim and guide society purely by the light of their magnificent genius. I suspect this is why so many college professors tend to be leftist progressives: the thought of guiding society by the light of their genius titillates their egos. ObamaTrade is right up their alley.

Not all is lost. It’s true that I have a bad attitude about ObamaTrade. I have a bad attitude about a lot of things related to the government. In fact, let’s not beat around the bush: I have a bad attitude about all things government from start to finish. But not all is lost. Where ObamaTrade is concerned, all is certainly not lost.

The good thing about ObamaTrade (for us regular people, anyway) is this: it is simply too damn big. The regulations are over 5,000 pages of discombobulated bureaucratic jargon. Do you think any single person on earth has read the entire thing word for word and page for page? I really doubt it. Does any single bureaucrat know all of the contained regulations, bullet point for bullet point? No way. It’s impossible. Remember Obamacare? We had to pass it to know what was in it. From a bureaucratic standpoint, those were some good times.

Think of a WWII-era battleship. Battleships are enormous and complicated. No one man can run the whole thing, or even understand everything that needs to be done to keep the whole ship running and in good order. It takes a crew of hundreds of sailors to do that. And individual sailors know only their own job very well; no one sailor understands everything. Not even the Captain. He may oversee everyone, but he only understands most jobs superficially, and almost none of them comprehensively.

So it is with ObamaTrade, but even worse. ObamaTrade is the regulatory equivalent of the Death Star. “That’s no moon… that’s ObamaTrade.” It is unimaginably huge and complicated. Hundreds of bureaucrats are needed to administer even only one segment; thousands are needed to effectively run the whole thing. Ain’t anybody who can even begin to understand the whole thing, inside and out.

ObamaTrade may look scary, but it’s simply too complicated to be efficiently enforced. Former Senator Eugene McCarthy put it well: “The only thing that protects us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency.” This perfectly describes ObamaTrade: Too large and convoluted to ever be efficiently enforced. It will be enforced piecemeal, by individual bureaucrats. But there is no coherent plan. There is no unified effort under which ObamaTrade will impose across the board.

It gets worse. Bureaucracy attracts lazy idiots looking for easy and/or secure employment. Not all bureaucrats are lazy idiots; but all it takes are a few in an organization to gum up the works. If ObamaTrade relies on a unified bureaucratic effort to consistently enforce the rules, than you can be sure of this: it’ll be mostly as irrelevant as the United Nations. There will be too many lazy idiots to make it consistently effective. “Protected by its inefficiency”, indeed. There will be too many lazy, idiotic bureaucrats more concerned with embezzling money and cheating on their wives with secretaries to make ObamaTrade effective.

If it were up to me, these people would all get fired. They’d spend the rest of their days shining hubcaps for nickels on city street corners. But if I can’t have that, then I suppose sticking them in the belly of a regulatory monster they can never understand is the next best thing as long as it keeps them out of our way.

My point is this: Do not expect ObamaTrade to significantly damage the economy or wreck your life. Chances are that you will barely, if at all, notice any changes in your life due to ObamaTrade. You will be fine, in this respect. I am more concerned about the political implications of ObamaTrade: surrendering authority to unaccountable internationalist bureaucrats. ObamaTrade may lower tariffs, which I support; but I feel far more strongly about not surrendering any modicum of voting authority to international bureaucrats. I’ll take higher tariffs if it means keeping authority centered nationally, rather than internationally.

Even in this regard, there is still hope: Big changes are on the way. For starters, I have frequently discussed the bankruptcy of the Federal Government. I firmly believe this is unavoidable. There ain’t no more “We can save Program X if we act now.” It’s too late. Social Security will fail. Medicare will fail. Many, perhaps most, government programs are going to either go belly-up or be severely curtailed. This includes the military. At that time, I think a lot of voters are going to wake up to reality: the bureaucrats had no idea what they were doing. That will be a strong opportunity to push for positive change toward liberty.

In addition, big technological changes are coming. 3D printing is becoming cheaper and more versatile by the year. Within the next two decades, it is conceivable that a 3D printer could become as commonplace in a home as a computer. People will be able to print consumer goods out of their own basement. The thought of this terrifies the entrenched multinational corporations. All you’ll need are the printer, the materials, and the digital blueprints. It is predictable that the Feds will try to crack down on the digital blueprints; they will try enforcing restrictions against ownership and transferal of certain blueprints. But what is the record of government control over the flow of digital information? Last time I checked, the Pirate Bay was still alive and kicking. The government will be powerless against the sharing of digital blueprints.

ObamaTrade may protect large corporations against small business competitors; but what happens when every other American has the equivalent of a small business in their basement? ObamaTrade will be as powerless against this as the Death Star was against a contingent of X-Wing pilots. And instead of only a few X-Wings firing at one small weak point the size of a womp rat, we’re talking thousands of X-Wings firing at thousands of different weak points on a single Death Star. The monstrosity doesn’t stand a chance.

Conclusion: ObamaTrade is a crappy piece of work that should be opposed. It is Obama’s gift to multinational corporations and unaccountable bureaucrats. But it’s hardly a step toward the progressive grand dream of a society dominated by bureaucrats. That dream is already dead. It died on December 26th, 1991: the day the Soviet Union committed suicide.

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