Raybon Kan: TPP - what could go wrong?

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Free study far easier to boast about than secretive trade deal that prioritises multinationals.
Our leaders will boast about the TPP - until the US pulls out.  Photo / Mark Mitchell
Our leaders will boast about the TPP - until the US pulls out. Photo / Mark Mitchell

When I went to university, we were paid. It was a long time ago in an economy far, far away. We weren't paid much - $100 or $200 a year?

But in those days, there was nothing to spend money on. Cellphones didn't exist, expensive coffee hadn't been invented, and you had to be at least third-year to blow money on alcohol.

We weren't preyed upon by the pushy seduction techniques of overseas pickup artists like Noel Leeming, Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi. Nobody monitored their every step with a Fitbit. People walked in order to arrive places, not for the obsessive thrill of a graph.

So, should we have free tertiary education? Well, yes. Because a country with free tertiary education is a country you'd want to brag about. And besides, loans don't get repaid. They're just a downer.

Nobody wants to pay for university after they've done it. That's like paying for a play or a concert after you've seen it. There's a reason movie theatres make you pay beforehand rather than passing a hat around after.

Also, student loans have the appearance of free money. And nobody, especially teenagers, will make a good decision when the product appears free.

So with student loans, before you enrol, you should be shown a brochure, produced by the Consumers' Institute, which illustrates what else you could buy with that money.

("A three-year degree is this many crates of beer.") Universities should even give you the option of borrowing more student money to buy an apartment at the time you begin. However, upon graduation, you are obliged to sell, and the capital gain is taxed. Win-win.

Which is not quite the motto of the TPP. The TPP is more like, "Well at least we got invited." Multinational pharmaceutical companies will love it. Even underprivileged multinational pharmaceutical companies will love it.

The TPP is like sponsoring a child, except what we're sponsoring is pharmaceutical companies who want longer patents, or oil companies who want to drill and pollute and not clean up.

Oil comes from the ground, so that's natural, and if it gets in the ocean or the Arctic, why that's just nature moving into another part of nature, like a bird soaring in the sky. And who are we to limit the dreams of a bird?

It's like cows in freshwater lakes. New Zealand is a clean green country, so our cows are clean and green too, and their clean green/brown manure only increases the nutrient value of our otherwise protein-free lakes, improving them from a boring source of wet, to more of an energy drink.

Is the TPP a free trade agreement? Well it is if you think quotas and tariffs to sell dairy products in America is free trade.

Negotiated in secret, so as not to worry our pretty little heads, released last week just in time for a signing ceremony at the sacred national casino - the Gallipoli of gambling - far too long to read, the TPP is like the terms and conditions you auto-click online, on the basis that if everyone else has clicked it, well, it must be fine. Surely these 11 other countries have read it.

What are the chances that it's a scam? Why would multinational corporations possibly do something that benefits them and not the countries they trade in? That would be like thinking Apple and Google shop around for the best country to pay tax in.

That would be like thinking professional cyclists don't hide motors in their bikes. That would be like thinking the banks who produced the GFC need to be regulated: the GFC hurt their feelings, and that was punishment enough.

Let's allow banks to stay too big to fail, and then their ethics and pride will prevent them ever requiring bail-outs from sovereign nations.

I'm not going to pretend I've read the TPP. I tried to read the Law Foundation website, which questions it, but got as far as this sentence: "Withdrawal is a technical possibility but a political, diplomatic and economic unreality."

So there we are. It's gonna happen. So does it even matter how we feel about it? That's like having a strong objection to the weather. (Although in this case, the TPP doesn't address climate change, so it will probably cause the weather.)

If the TPP is a marriage between nations, we should be about as thrilled as Jerry Hall marrying the estate of Rupert Murdoch, except in this case, we don't get rich.

The funny thing is, our leaders are going to cheerlead about what a great deal they've struck. Then when America pulls out after their next election, we'll be told the deal was never good anyway.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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