TPP: The Most Sinister Corporate Power Grab Yet

TPPImagine. While some of us are working to curtail fracking, assure GMO labeling, promote various green and buy-local initiatives, protect Internet freedom,  bolster  labor rights, enforce banking regulations, behind our backs our president, Barack Obama,  is working to make all those efforts moot.

I am not making this up, even if you haven’t heard of it yet.

It is the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact, only the TPP isn’t just a trade agreement.  It slays safety regulations and labor protections, curtails communication freedoms, and re-writes domestic laws of the participating countries.  It’s been called a mass assault on democracy and the biggest, most sinister corporate power grab yet.

The reason you haven’t heard of it is two-fold.  All the negotiations, since 2008, have been going on behind thick closed doors and the major media outlets have apparently found it too hard to get a whiff and a sniff.  Or, they’re in on it.

Why the secrecy? At least one Congressman, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., who did manage to get a peek at a draft, as long as he promised not to reveal its contents, said it must be kept secret or the people would never stand for it.

But representatives of 600 major corporations, who are in on the negotiations, love it. That’s because, according to Kevin Reese, co-director of popularresistance.org, it gives major corporations  unprecedented power.

Now, according to our U.S. Constitution, Congress has the authority to regulate trade, so why worry? Because, there’s a way to get around that and Obama is trying to use it.

Just this month (Sept.), the President pressured Congress to grant him extra-constitutional authority, known as “Fast Track,” to complete the TPP without congressional scrutiny.

“Fast Track” would have Congress voting up or down on the massive document without any power to discuss or amend any of it.  This is an arcane procedure devised by Richard Nixon, according to Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach, “but that was when trade negotiations covered only real trade stuff.”

Wallach describes Fast Track as a “legislative luge run.” There have been trade agreements that underwent and survived congressional scrutiny, she said. “You only need Fast Track to shove something through Congress, something that is bad for the country.” She suggests all of us contact our Congressmen and Senators and urge them not to abrogate their authority over trade.  So does the Green Shadow Cabinet.

People must do their own research on this because the major media outlets aren’t taking it on. There are sporadic articles, but where’s that New York Times or Washington Post thoroughness gone? TPP is a profoundly important matter, but those who want it — think any old sweat shop proprietor up to an including Monsanto — have succeeded in keeping it quiet. A Google alert on the topic for the past three or four months has shown most reports are coming from the foreign press and obscure websites, with some exceptions.

Last week TPP protestors dropped a banner from the Trade Building in Washington to protest the pact and its secret negotiations. The Post covered that – but didn’t really get into the issues.

So here’s a bit of what they’re neglecting to say:

ANYTHING THAT INTERFERES WITH PROFITS WILL BE FORBIDDEN

TPP will vaporize any law that interferes with making money.   You might want to label the country of origin of a food item, for instance.  Some Canadian beef got mad cow?  No matter. They won’t label it Canadian. That would cut into the exporter’s profits.   GMO? That would be discrimination. You prefer not to have your medicine from a Chinese factory. You won’t be able to know.  Food and medicine that would formerly be blocked for not meeting our standards will have a red carpet.

Obama originally wanted to exempt tobacco regulations.  Keep the warning labels. That has mostly gone by the wayside.  Nations can now argue about tobacco regulations that hamper sales.

Doctors Without Borders has heard of TPP. Its members are doing the best they can to protest the plan. It promises to keep patents on medicines longer, which would make it harder to provide affordable drugs for impoverished countries and peoples.

One Michigan Congressman is working for a “Buy Local” law.  It won’t be enforceable. That would be discrimination against the far off producer under the TPP.  Who knows? Farmers Markets themselves might become illegal.

Zeese says the TPP is not about free trade, “it’s rigged trade.”  As he explains in this video, TPP is designed to allow major corporations to dominate business, which will hurt smaller countries most.  And, he said, countries with laudable health care plans, like Japan, Australia and New Zealand, will be hard pressed to protect those plans. The TPP will ensure health care as a commodity.

Some labor leaders have heard of it.  They say TPP will devastate an already devastated job market in the U.S.  Wallach pointed out that, in the latest round of negotiations, pressure is mounting for easy visas for workers to come to the U.S.   This will further deflate wages for American workers.  Jobs won’t have to be sent abroad for cheap labor —  the cheap labor will come to the jobs.

Zeese cites studies that show the TPP will deliver merely a 0.13 increase in GDP, while furthering the race to the bottom in wages.

I am sitting in Michigan where many of the flagship businesses and single proprietor stores I used to know are all boarded up.  Shopping centers are ghost towns.  Most of the middle class is gone. People struggle on ever lower wages and part time status, sans benefits.  A foreign employer could come in and make it even worse and under the TPP we would be helpless to protest.

Grayson said,

“I can’t tell you what’s in the agreement because the U.S. Trade Representative calls it classified. But I can tell you two things about it:

1) There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret.

2) This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.

3) What they can’t afford to tell the American public is that [the rest of this sentence is classified].

I will be fighting this agreement with everything I’ve got. And I know you’ll be there every step of the way. For now, I’ve set up an e-mail address where you can ask me questions on this topic or other topics: askalan@graysonforcongress.com”

It is hard to believe any thinking citizen without major corporate stock could see merit to the TPP.   We must have effective environmental laws, health and food safety laws, fight tobacco pushers, and the rest.  And, oh, I didn’t yet explain what TPP would do to Internet freedom, which is, after all, part and parcel of our essential Freedom of Speech.

In the US and Canada, elsewhere, too, probably, laws would have to change about copyright infringement. Currently we have laws that differentiate between private and for-profit use.  These would have to go.

Here’s the analysis of Global Trade Watch:

“Under this proposal, Internet Service Providers could be required to “police” user activity (i.e.police YOU), take down Internet content, and cut people off from Internet access for common user-generated content. Violations could be as simple as the creation of a YouTube video with clips from other videos, even if for personal or educational purposes. Mandatory fines could be imposed for individuals’ noncommercial copies of copyrighted material. So downloading some music could be treated the same as large scale for profit copyright violations. Innovation would be stifled as the creation and sharing of user generated content would face new barriers and as monopoly copyrights would be extended. The TPP proposes to impose copyright protections for a minimum of 20 years for corporate-created content. Breaking digital locks for legit purposes, such as using Linux, could subject users to mandatory fines. Blind and deaf people also would be harmed by the overreach, as digital locks can block access to audio supported content and closed captioning.”

Remember SOPA?  How the public outcry stopped this legislation that would have done similar?  Lets hope the same people are listening.

DISPUTES WILL EVADE LEGITIMATE COURTS

Disputes under this pact won’t go to court.  TPP people have got that rigged, too. The TPP creates an international tribunal. Its judges will be the lawyers and CEOS who wrote the TPP.  Everyone gets screwed– except the corporations and those people working for them. (And there will be disputes. Remember when, under NAFTA, the American firm Lone Pine Resources was set to sue Quebec for $250 million over the province’s fracking moratorium?) There’s more folks. If you want to look.  But one thing sums it up: The TPP is an assault on democracy. If unelected trade reps and corporate bullies can re-write our laws and make new ones impossible, what’s next?  World government by multi-national corporations?  You might say we’re already there and we just don’t know it.  I don’t think we should give up without a fight.  “Never Surrender” as Winston Churchill once said.   If we do, no longer will we have the right to insist what’s right trump what’s profitable.

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  • Anarchy Pony

    Why do you communists hate freedom? This will surely create more illusory freedom and more short lived prosperity for the elite.

  • http://pneumerology.com/ pneumerology

    Some call it the next step in the New World Order, meaning the corporate takeover of the world. I think that is true, but also an understanding that misses the deeper and simpler significance.

    The power of corporations has been growing for a long time. The East India Company was granted a monopoly charter by the British Crown in the year 1600. The Hudson’s Bay Company got their charter in 1670. Those companies and others like them ruled their domains as de facto governments. Karl Marx studied the history of the EIC extensively and it was part of his argument against capitalism.

    The EIC not only took over India, it got government support, including military forces, to assist it in ravaging that nation for its own profit. What we see playing out in the TPP is more of the same.

    All that makes corporations look like the bad guys, but my perspective is that there are always bad guys, and corporations are just the form they have taken in the modern world. Corporations do not have to be evil. Capitalism does not have to be evil. Communism does not have to be evil. Etc.

    The institutions of human society become evil because they are taken over by evil men and (less frequently) by evil women… evil being defined as: sociopathic behavior.

    Our struggle in the world today is the same as it has always been — we (the reasonably decent but easily manipulated majority) are under attack by sociopathic individuals who do not give a flying fuck about others. Some of them are drug lords, others are politicians, banksters, CEOs… anywhere there is a functioning institution, there will be sociopaths attempting to take control of it. And they all use the same methods: intimidation, violence, secrecy, coercion, propaganda, lies, empty promises and ideological arguments that they don’ believe in or practice themselves… and so on… kill for jesus, kill for democracy, follow us and you’ll get rich, be safe, or some other BS that sounds appealing but will never fucking happen, unless you are a successful sociopath yourself.

    The struggle against the sociopaths is a large part of human history. In the long run, it looks to me like we are winning… but we don’t win by default. We win by resisting.

    • sgtdoom

      Actually, given the honest history of capitalism, the best definition is that indeed, capitalism is violence.

      Many confuse capitalism with free enterprise, quite the difference as free enterprise is really about economic democracy, something that has never truly existed, just as the real purpose of economics is to artificially describe why a few own everything and the majority own nothing!

      Historically, the City of London Corporation is the oldest continuously existing corporation in the Western Hemisphere!

      The history behind that corporation, which is also The City, the global speculation capital, is no coincidence.

      Would suggest you give a thought to reading Michael Perelman’s, The Invetion of Capitalism, along with Derber and Magrass’s The Surplus American.

      Excellent comments, otherwise……

      • http://pneumerology.com/ pneumerology

        “Actually, given the honest history of capitalism, the best definition is that indeed, capitalism is violence.”

        I certainly won’t argue with that, but as you say, capitalism is pitched to us as free market and economic democracy — it never was and isn’t now — but, like democracy, maybe we should try a free market some time and see if it works.

        Thanks for the book tips.

      • Anarchy Pony

        I usually describe capitalism as extortion. Which is a more specific kind of violence.

  • Lord Darcia

    can we get some references?

  • Simon Valentine

    and on the 6th day Obama created [large generic carbon protein animal]; the cannibals followed and were pleased – shouting “illegitimate!” as they tussled and bled and sacrificed over scraps of [mystery meat]; Obama was not harmed during the making of the scripture nor of the meat, and on the 7th day cannibals began admitting their own ignorance in addition to that of the Lord

    on the 9th day the servants of the Lord rejoiced, praising of the ingenuity of the Lord and of the God, of the Sheep and of the Troll, of their weaknesses and their offering to the Lord and the God

    on the 10th day the image of the Lord was removed, because it was time to put up christmas stuff; everyone rejoiced in their inadequacy and that the Lord’s days were numbered according to scripture; those who remained hateful and thoughtful became the Sith, and the Lord’s Armies became their weapon

    • kowalityjesus

      I imagine there is some kind of critique in there but the metaphors rely too heavily on blasphemy and not enough on literary consistency or correlation to reality.

      • Simon Valentine

        “thanks for the vector, we shall locate you accordingly” said no government ever. wait, what?

        and if you hadn’t tried, you can actually find no blasphemy in it, but i’ve not met very many people who use the word blasphemy who are capable of honest opinions, so i’ll have to hope you’re one. i know, i know, it’s not meant to be antag, but it’s true. critical thinking skills are quite low in the “cannon” “i have a predisposition that i never investigate” department.

        anyway, usual aside, it’s the case that whatever the mystery meat is, both extreme and semi-extreme alignments as regards “opinion”, “vote”, “foragainst”, are all in all as interdependent/using/profiting from the “plan”, the “mystery meat”, the “power grab” as any other (again, despite ‘allegiance’) …. so … a pack of hyenas. really though that’s how simple it is.

        speaking of simple … i realize now that the word blasphemy was never intended to be anything other than what it is and the way it functions. “due to predisposition and that i had not considered neither the contrary nor innocence, blasphemy and guilt i had entwined as weasel word, and so as though i had commanded a brother or sister to blood, thus blood is on my hands” … there’s the apology … blaspheming users of the word blasphemy can sign it.

        • kowalityjesus

          .

      • Calypso_1

        If this was a sacred space, managed by and maintained exclusively for the practice & benefit of a particular brand of religious belief, perhaps you might have some quarrel.

        You can certainly express offense but ‘blasphemy’ carries little weight or provision of tolerance for your credo.

        You might fail to realize, even in this forum, how often others temper and conceal their personal belief systems.

        Your intellect, broad-mindedness & aesthetic awareness have been more than worthy of acceptance where many others of overt declaration of faith have been sorely offensive & wholly incompatible w/ any degree of companionship.

        As much as it may horrify you, for some ‘blasphemy’ is synonymous with ‘glory’. Oddly enough you might also find in certain cases that such individuals share more in common w/ the essential teachings of your religion than many who profess its sanctity.

        • Simon Valentine

          as it seems appropriate to say: i have a baphomet statue.

          • Calypso_1

            Damn You!

          • Simon Valentine

            yeah that’s what this rotten conscience is for lol

        • John Juster

          Lying causes dishonest people to concentrate much more on their speech patterns, using a wider and less offensive range of speech. A sly man won’t swear. Just saying.

          • Calypso_1

            What of honest people who lie and truths told by the dishonest?

          • Simon Valentine

            yeah where there is one tool of the inquisitions there shall be another. in the case that lying is hiding [or etc.] or [directly] that maintaining a non-reveal pattern causes c-c-constipation, (you know, energy conservation, walk and talk or any one of a number of silly “you can’t do this and this at the same time” tricks) it’s little more than a source of ‘pride’ for you, i suspect, this insufficient ‘ability to find a liar’. if it’s something that’s in employ, it’s certainly not meeting legal standard. oh wait, that’s already been said.

  • http://www.postlinearity.com gregorylent

    and people mock the idea of a cabal, or of a secret government …

  • joybuzzard

    So this is what change through the ballot box looks like. People who see this happening and want to stop it can’t just ‘spread awareness’ and hope that helps, since that strategy has failed for the last 50 years, we actually have to take physical action to stop the economy in it’s tracks.

    • atlanticus

      No one wants to give up 1.) Internet access, 2.) Cheap and easy food…maybe 3 and 4 can be Relative Ease of Travel and Temperature Controlled Environments…

      What it would take to actually stop this thing is a complete rejection of the system, en masse, beyond anything those “prepper” types can even conceive of…even of people who should know better, I don’t know a single person who isn’t guilty of contributing in some way.

      Oh, by the way, everyone does know that slavery is still a thing, right? Not like, just sweatshops and sex slaves…I mean like, good ole’ fashioned slavery. That never actually stopped and it’s happening more and more every day. If you buy things from corporations, it’s almost impossible to not contribute in some way to actual slavery. Like, the real kind. For real.

  • JaceD

    If anyone here is truly concerned about the TPP, please sign this petition: http://www.itsnotright.org.nz/

  • everettt herbert

    If your source “can’t tell you what’s in it”, how do you know whats in it? Curious minds want to know. Without evidence how are we to know that you are not just another nut-bag crying in the wilderness?

  • Cowicide
  • Rob Lai

    The bad guys win. The bad guys always win. This isn’t news. This is just life. If you think its ever been different or that you can stop it, then you need an apology from your history teachers.

    • Jeremy Hodder

      i hate to say it but seems that way, seems like life has been nothing but one big lie teaching us that the good guys always win in media, history etc. but it’s all lies or reconstructions. it gives us hope and keeps us working towards the sociopaths goal. the truth is the bad guys are still in charge and still winning.

  • atlanticus

    “Remember SOPA? How the public outcry stopped this legislation that would have done similar? Lets hope the same people are listening.”

    I’m guessing you never heard about what happened to Aaron Swartz…

  • http://www.theMadBagLady.wordpress.com/ Ms. M.

    Is it possible to find out who specifically wrote the TPP? Would be interesting to know. The CEOs of Monsanto and Lockheed perhaps? Seems it’s very mysterious and no one knows exactly who wrote it and all of what is in it.

    I suppose it’s a bit encouraging to know that someone powerful must care about the rest of us because he/she leaked the info we have on the TPP (which they’ve been trying so hard to keep top secret.) But honestly, are these people going to succeed in taking over the entire world? It seems that’s their plan.

    It wd be nice, though, if other countries would stand against this and just say “no” to the TPP and US domination in general. Otherwise, it looks like we’re heading toward a one-world govt run by and for big corporations. I don’t think their greed and selfishness agenda is sustainable. Eventually, it will collapse. But when and at what cost? How many of us will have to suffer and for how long before it all falls apart in their ugly faces?

  • David Warwick

    its another increment closer to total global monopoly .Australians are too comfortably ignorant to worry about conspiracies like the new world order

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