The Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission recently held a public hearing at the University of Southern Maine in Portland to review a contracted draft assessment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s effects upon Maine and to gather public testimony about TPP impacts.

The 2016 Trade Policy Assessment contained a passing reference to and discounted a Tufts University Global Development and Environmental Institute study that concluded that “the TPP will likely lead to losses in employment and increases in inequality.”

When pressed as to why the assessment excluded the work, Philip Trostel, a lead author of the assessment, responded that one of the authors of the Tufts study, Jeronim Capaldo, is a Marxist.

Trostel said he would “bet his house” that Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz (who is on record as saying that Capaldo was probably right) had not even read Capaldo’s paper. Trostel also bet his house that if Stiglitz were to read Capaldo’s study, he would consider it bogus.

I was surprised to hear these assertions, and view them as revealing and unprofessional.

Trostel freely acknowledged that he and many “mainstream” economists recognize that market failures exist, so I would ask him: Does examining those failures constitute Marxism? Under what conditions would examining those market failures not result in the examiner being labeled a Marxist?

Further, is this the level of academic discourse that the Citizen Trade Policy Commission was seeking when it contracted with Trostel for this assessment? Does it consider ad hominem attacks to be a good use of public funds? Has the CTPC sought an apology from this economist?

Charlotte M. Otto

Freeport