Most of us have good reasons for being upset with the American government, particularly as we move into the third week of a collective congressional temper tantrum. We might disagree on exactly what’s wrong with this country, but something sure as hell is. Overall, this is a positive development. A healthy hostility toward those in power is essential in any democracy, even an oligarchic facsimile of democracy like ours. Here’s the thing, though: most of us are only angry about the things we see on the news or read about in the paper. There are other things happening in the world that don’t make it onto the 24-hour news networks, because if they did, we would be much, much angrier. One of these things is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
TPP is an international free trade agreement that is currently under negotiation between 12 countries (that we know of). Secretary of State John Kerry recently took a trip to Indonesia as part of this process. Effectively, it would create a massive international trade zone in which the rights of corporations to make a profit would supersede the rights of a sovereign nation.
Under the deal, any government that has signed on to TPP would be stripped of the ability to pass laws regulating business; food safety laws that increase inspections, for example, or environment protection laws that limits the amount of poisonous gasses that can be pumped into the air. If a government passes such a law, and a corporate entity thinks the law would get in the way of maximum profits, the corporation can sue the government. The trial would take place before a three-judge tribunal. The judges would be corporate lawyers who oscillate between judging these cases and representing their corporate clients. The tribunal would not be bound by former precedent, there would be no appeals process, and when the government loses, it would have to pay an unspecified amount of money in fines to the winning corporation. That would be your tax dollars.
What this means is that legally, all corporate entities, foreign or domestic, would have equal or greater standing than nations. No power on Earth could legally restrict a corporation’s profits, or even the profits it expects to make in the future. The ramifications of this are staggering. From an economic standpoint, it encourages more companies to move jobs overseas and eliminates any regulations on Wall Street and the irresponsible banking practices that led us to the brink of financial ruin. From a human standpoint, it opens the floodgates for unsafe food, expensive healthcare, rampant environmental destruction, the end of internet freedom and the fatal crippling of government services, all perfectly legal and without consequence.
So you think there’s nothing better than free trade or that private industry can do everything better than the government? That the people behind TPP have our best interests at heart? If that’s true, why doesn’t President Barack Obama want anybody to know about it? It took several pages being leaked to the media and a series of angry demands from Congress before Obama even let our representatives see some parts of TPP, and even then, they weren’t allowed to discuss it afterward. What the public knows, we know because of the leaked documents.
Obama wants TPP passed by the end of the year. He plans to sign it into law before Congress can vote on it, severely restricting the process of legislative review. This is not a magical ticket to free market paradise — if it were, “the most transparent administration in history” wouldn’t be so scared of people learning the truth. This is legalized corporate government. TPP represents a brave new world of dominance by our rich and powerful overlords; a world in which the life of a child is deemed less important than the bonus pay of a CEO, and your rights as a human being take a backseat to the quarterly calculations of an accountant. We’re all starting to realize how our politicians have failed us. It’s time to realize that they are also selling us out, sacrificing us at the blood-stained altar of the free market and, slowly but surely, poisoning the future of the human race.
Originally published in The Lumberjack (http://jackcentral.com/opinion/2013/10/opinion-trans-pacific-partnership-would-create-new-world-order-of-corporatism/)