(Shout-out to my friend Steve King, who wrote the protest song Ive nicked the post title from.)
So last week, our beloved leaders signed up to the TPPA (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement). They were always going to, of course. Since this National Government was first elected in 2008 there have been three clear, consistent patterns to their behaviour. One is dismissing objections to their decisions, as with child poverty, charter school outcomes, river pollution from intensive dairy farming, and the revelations that the GCSB has spied on New Zealanders. Another is favouring business in any way they can, as in asset sales, tax cuts, 90-day trial period no-fault firings, and the various formerly protected parcels of land and seabed now opened to mining. And the third is undermining democracy, as with Environment Canterbury, students associations, tertiary education governing bodies, and the number of times theyve used Parliamentary urgency i.e. skipping the pesky public submission part of the legislative process for controversial but non-urgent Bills.
All three of these patterns are perfectly embodied in the TPPA. Dismissing objections: the text of the TPPA has been kept strictly secret, which means nobody can object to anything specific (but Trade Minister Tim Groser gets to call us all ignorant and fools for not knowing what we have been expressly prevented from knowing). Favouring business: what we do know about the TPPA is that its about removing tariffs and price controls imposed by governments, while extending intellectual property rights. Undermining democracy: the TPPA will allow corporations to sue governments for imposing laws or regulations that hurt their profits.
It turns out that, despite all Grosers prior reassurances, New Zealand actually gets a pretty crap deal out of the TPPA. The best we get is a small tariff reduction on dairy dairy being the one great super-product that two successive governments have bet New Zealands future on, the thing were destroying our rivers and lying to the world about it for. All the rest is what Idiot/Savant over at No Right Turn calls margin of error stuff. Danyl McLauchlan at The DimPost notes that the TPP will deliver the equivalent of a couple of months of growth in ten years time. And yet we went ahead and signed it anyway, because its better than not being in a secretive trade partnership that could sue the crap out of us, right guys? Right, guys? What this tells me is that the cynical view of Nationals motives is wrong. Theyre not amoral manipulators just out to score cash for their CEO cronies; if they were, they would have turned this down. Its much worse than that. Theyre true believers with an ideology. No matter the evidence, no matter what actually happens, the way forward is always to boost business and remove impediments to it. No other option is on the table.