If we learn nothing else from the TPP debacle, it is that Neoliberalism is nasty. And its proponents are hypocrites.
One of the main sticking points in TPP negotiations now is the protection period, that’s right, protection period, on the use of clinical data behind the approval of new biological drugs. One would assume the TPP would be arguing for little or no protection period. After all, it is about removing barriers to trade; we are told so, repeatedly. But no, the proposed 12 year protection period is at least double what most of the signatory countries now have. The TPP is surely not about free trade.
Drug companies argue that “a longer period is needed to create an incentive for developing treatments for diseases such as cancer and arthritis.” And this extraordinary statement goes unchallenged.
Neoliberals assume that no one will do anything unless they can make extortionate amounts of money by doing it. The idea that anyone would want to discover better treatments for common illnesses to alleviate suffering or for the common good does not occur to them. This is a tragedy. It is also untrue and an insult to academics and researchers everywhere.
Throughout the world many scientists on mediocre salaries in publicly funded universities and research institutes are doing vital research because they are interested in the pursuit of knowledge, and have a desire to do their bit to make the world a better place.
Unfortunately, neoliberalism has underfunded public education and research, so their discoveries are often sold off by the facilities to the greedy corporates to make money out of, rather than made open source so everyone can benefit.
Neoliberalism is hypocritical. Its proponents manipulate governments in whatever way enables corporates to make the most money. Governments must impose restrictions that suppress market forces when it suits the corporates, such as in patent law and copyright, and remove them when it doesn’t, such as labour laws, environmental restrictions, and tariffs that protect small producers.
Neoliberalism is nasty. Making money for the few is the only thing that matters. Increasing the protection period on the use of data from new biologicals will mean that many people will miss out on getting treatment, even die, because they or their governments can’t afford the drugs. Neoliberals don’t care. But the rest of us should.
There is another way; it promotes fair trade and a living wage for all, protecting small producers, protecting workers conditions and wages, protecting the environment, free education, free healthcare, decent housing, publicly funded open source research on issues that affect the common good.
The Alliance Party has always stood for this way. Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in the US stand for it too. May there be many more of us… soon. Neoliberalism is nasty and must not go unchallenged any longer.