It seems that the Republicans want to make peace with Obama – at least to those of us who believe that their conflict was not staged to begin with. However, this friendly bent seems to be hinged on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). If you have been paying attention, the implementation of the TPP would be disastrous.
You see, the TPP is the largest trade deal in history, stretching from the US to Japan. It represents some 792 million people and accounts for 40% of the world’s economy. The kicker is that most of these 792 million people have no idea exactly what it is about, and yet they seem fine with that. Lobbyists from America’s biggest corporations and banks are very interested in this deal, which represents greater profits and bigger paychecks for their CEOs. To keep the entire deal secret from the rest of us seems to be a fair gauge that they believe that we might react rather poorly to its contents. Thanks to certain leaked documents, we do know a little about what they have in store for us.
Before we proceed, here’s a short summary of the history of trade agreements: While the aforementioned American companies and banks had stood to gain from free trade, America championed it and these players grew tremendously. Even at the expense of the American people (not to mention the rest of the world) as American jobs were eventually shipped overseas, particularly in recent times.
Now that free trade is not working out so well for them, what with companies coming out of developing countries that are capable of competing with them and profits being not so spectacular because they had already squeezed much of the stuffing out of middle America, they and the banks that had caused our last financial crisis have decided that the TPP and greater levels of protectionism are the best ways forward.
What they want is thus not so much a Free Trade Agreement, but ironically a means of increasing protection for corporations and banks. From whom, you might ask? From everyone. Corporations want more international protection for their Intellectual Property and other assets. At the same time, they want to reduce the amount of protection enjoyed by their consumers, their workers and their small share-holders. Basically, they want to become “too big to fail” while making sure that everyone “too small to matter” stays powerless and mute. In order to achieve these lofty ambitions, they wish to enact trade rules that secure and extend their trademarks, patents and copyrights while enacting trade rules that allow them to override consumer protections.
What has been leaked so far reveals that this deal, written by the corporate and banking lobbyists, gives the pharmaceutical industry stronger patent protections. Be prepared to wait A LOT longer for generic drugs. While developing countries, whose inhabitants cannot afford these drugs, will suffer even more than they do now.
Multinational corporations also get their very own international tribunal that works outside of any country’s legal system. These will allow them to order compensation for any “unjust expropriation” of foreign assets, as well as any lost profits due to a country’s regulations.
Philip Morris is already using a similar provision against Uruguay (the provision appears in a bilateral trade treaty between Uruguay and Switzerland), claiming that Uruguay’s strong anti-smoking regulations unfairly diminish the company’s profits. That’s right kids, I guess we should bring back those ads claiming that smoking is good for you!
As it stands, US companies can already easily challenge any US government regulation that they believe to unfairly diminish their profit. For example, a regulation protecting American consumers from unsafe products or unhealthy foods, investors from fraudulent securities or predatory lending, workers from unsafe work conditions, taxpayers from another bailout of Wall Street, or the environment from toxic emissions. Having a tribunal that exists outside of any country’s legal system would increase their bargaining power by a far larger margin, particularly if the big corporations and big banks team up with big private militaries. Surely they’d never…!
The Obama administration claims that the deal will boost exports into the Pacific basin where the US faces stiff competition from China. All that reduction of consumer protections and enhancement of corporate protections will somehow force us all to become that much more competitive against China….. Assuming of course that slavery becomes legalized, we might have some chance of winning that battle against 1.36 billion people. People whose standard of living is on the rise I might add, while our governments seem intent on eroding our own so that we stay “competitive”.
Finally, I would point out that corporations are taking in record profits while the median wage is the lowest it’s been since the 70s. Certainly, there is no reasonable basis for this.
The TPP gives the corporations and banks the ability to formally and openly dictate our laws and regulations, allowing them to step out of the shadows where they had been quietly funding the election campaigns of every candidate that supports them. The cycle of “declining citizen power” has gone from illegal bribery, to legalized bribery (campaign “donations”), to legalized “how-dare-you-criticize-our-benevolent-corporate-lords?” It’s not looking good.