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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

15 Jun

UPDATED below.

UPDATE 2 below.

UPDATE 3 below.

On the campaign trail, President Obama vowed to run the most transparent government ever seen.  His administration is instead run with secrecy, behind closed doors.  On matters traditionally and constitutionally handled by Congress, he has broken new ground on the power of the executive theory.  He has signed a long-term treaty with Afghanistan, one not written or approved by Congress.  He has imposed sanctions of various degrees of severity on several nations via executive orders; some take the sanctions voted on by Congress and strengthen them, some are of his own invention entirely.  Completely ignoring any wording in any law regarding war, he has decided on his own to engage in overt acts of war on at least seven nations and volunteer our services in an ostensibly NATO-run invasion on one, with another one or two currently being planned.  Obama claims the right to kill any human he wants anywhere in the world.  He claims the right to decide if someone will be picked up and incarcerated forever at his whim.  His healthcare plan was brokered between him and the pharmaceutical and insurance industries and the finished product presented to Congress to vote on, with Congress allowed to merely tweak a few details.

Now he is working on a trade agreement that will override the laws of any nation to benefit corporations as an integral part of its basic plan.  I have mentioned this trade agreement, the TPP or Trans-Pacific Partnership, a couple of times in recent weeks.  Several pages of the agreement have leaked out; it is worse than anyone suspected.

Now, before anyone says that Obama is doing things in our best interest, or that he simply doesn’t quite understand the terms of this agreement and will “fix” them as soon as he does, or that this is not important in the long scheme of things, let me tell you a few things.  Bill Clinton, when he occupied the White House, signed the NAFTA deal.  After it went into effect and was seen to cost American jobs and to be, overall, a pretty shitty deal, pundits lined up in rows to sing the little ditty, “He didn’t mean it – he didn’t know what it would do.”   How it becomes a reasonable defense for really bad decisions to point out that the president of the United States is a dumb-ass is beyond me.  Although it does explain the continued, albeit lesser, popularity of George W. Bush.  Clinton was the same guy who agreed to dismantle the Glass-Steagall Act, thereby creating the conditions which would eventually lead to the financial debacle of ’08 and pave the way for the financial oligarchy to fuck up everyone’s savings and jobs and loot nearly every country on the planet.  I think he had a fairly good idea what he was doing.  If you doubt that, take note that Clinton is now saying that the Bush tax cuts must stay in effect in perpetuity.  Do you still wonder who he serves, even out of office?  Likewise, Obama knows what he is doing.  He signed three trade agreements as one of his first acts in office – Americans, by and large, did not want any of the three, based on the little information they were permitted to know about them, but he quickly signed them and then talked them up as “job making deals”, knowing full well they were American off-shoring bills.  He knows from trade agreements, to use the vernacular.  He knows what he is doing.  His choices on everything from the use of drones to trade agreements are made with malice aforethought.  The TPP is to geared to set up corporations as more powerful than any government.  There is simply no way in hell Obama does not understand this.  He is working on this agreement “in secret” for now, planning to whip it out as a done deal later, like his healthcare program.  The fact that some of the agreement has been leaked may be better seen as a trial balloon, rather than an actual failure of secrecy.  Like Obama’s “secret” drones and “secret” elite forces, which hunt and kill their prey world-wide and are not a secret from anyone, the TPP leaks are meant to see how much can be gotten away with.  Will people object and protest, or will this be one more thing that the masses choose to overlook because it comes from the Peace Prize laureate?  The oligarchs are telling us what the plans are; why do we refuse to believe them?

The TPP appears to be a leap forward in fulfilling the conspiracy theory of a planned One World Government, but I take issue with the use of the word “government” here.  It’s not that I think there are not plans for a few major players to dominate every aspect of human life on the planet, as I have no doubt that there are powerful, wealthy people who desire and are working toward exactly such an end.  However, I object to the use of the word ‘government’ because there is no intention to use a ‘government’ as we understand that term.  Rather, the ruling class would better be called a corporatocracy, the rule of a few large corporations over the masses of people, with their will imposed through the use of mercenary elite forces. (The flying monkeys serving the wicked witch.)  So let’s call this the One World Board of Directors.

Excerpt from an article about the TPP:

The release today of a confidential document from ongoing US trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations — known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — reveals that provisions included in the trade agreement would drastically undermine Obama’s proposed domestic agenda and give unprecented political authority to multinational corporations.

The TPP negotiations have gone on for two years between the Obama administration and several Pacific nations under conditions of ‘extreme secrecy’ without press, public or policymaker oversight, says Public Citizen who posted the leaked document on their website today.

The top U.S. trade official effectively has said that the administration must keep TPP secret because otherwise it won’t be able to shove this deal past the public and Congress,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

The leaked document, according to the Huffington Post, reveals ‘extreme provisions’ that have been agreed upon in secret negotiations that “bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations” in global trade and contradict key promises made to the US public about such deals.

According to Public Citizen, the leaked text now confirms that the terms of the TPP would:

•    Limit how U.S. federal and state officials could regulate foreign firms operating within U.S. boundaries, with requirements to provide them greater rights than domestic firms;

•    Extend the incentives for U.S. firms to offshore investment and jobs to lower-wage countries;

•    Establish a two-track legal system that gives foreign firms new rights to skirt U.S. courts and laws, directly sue the U.S. government before foreign tribunals and demand compensation for financial, health, environmental, land use and other laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges; and

•    Allow foreign firms to demand compensation for the costs of complying with U.S. financial or environmental regulations that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms.

“The airing of this one TPP chapter,” said Wallach, “which greatly favors foreign corporations over domestic businesses and the public interest and exposes us to significant financial liabilities, shows that the whole draft text must be released immediately so it can be reviewed and debated. Absent that, these negotiations must be ended now.”[…]

“Via closed-door negotiations, U.S. officials are rewriting swaths of U.S. law that have nothing to do with trade and in a move that will infuriate left and right alike have agreed to submit the U.S. government to the jurisdiction of foreign tribunals that can order unlimited payments of our tax dollars to foreign corporations that don’t want to comply with the same laws our domestic firms do.” […]

While 600 official U.S. corporate advisers have access to TPP texts and have a special role in advising U.S. negotiators, for the public, press and policymakers, this leak provides the first access to one of the prospective TPP’s most controversial chapters. In May, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness – the committee with jurisdiction over the TPP – filed legislation to open the process after he and his staff were denied access even to the U.S. proposals for the TPP negotiations.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/06/13-5

Portions of transcript from an Amy Goodman (Democracy Now) interview with Lori Wallach:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to a controversial trade pact between the United States and eight Pacific nations that until now has remained largely secret. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. A chapter from the draft agreement leaked Wednesday outlines how it would allow foreign corporations operating in the United States to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its rulings.
The agreement is being negotiated by the U.S. trade representative, Ron Kirk, appointed by President Obama. But the newly revealed terms contradict promises Obama made while running for president in 2008. One campaign document read in part, quote, “We will not negotiate bilateral trade agreements that stop the government from protecting the environment, food safety, or the health of its citizens; [or] give greater rights to foreign investors than to U.S. investors.”

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier leaks from the draft Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement exposed how it included rules that could increase the cost of medication and make participating countries adopt restrictive copyright measures.
No one from the U.S. trade representative’s office was able to join us, but in a statement to Democracy Now!, they said, quote, “Nothing in our TPP investment proposal could impair our government’s ability to pursue legitimate, non-discriminatory public interest regulation.”

For more, we’re joined by Lori Wallach, director of the fair trade group Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. The leaked documents were posted on her organization’s website early Wednesday morning.

Lori, welcome to Democracy Now! Explain what the documents show and what this agreement is about.

LORI WALLACH: Well, it’s been branded as a trade agreement, but really it is enforceable corporate global governance. The agreement requires that every signatory country conform all of its laws, regulations and administrative procedures to what are 26 chapters of very comprehensive rules, only two of which have anything to do with trade. The other 24 chapters set a whole array of corporate new privileges and rights and handcuff governments, limit regulation. So the chapter that leaked—and it’s actually on the website of Citizens Trade Campaign, it’s a national coalition for fair trade—that chapter is the chapter that sets up new rights and privileges for foreign investors, including their right to privately enforce this public treaty by suing our government, raiding our Treasury, over costs of complying with the same policies that all U.S. companies have to comply with. It’s really outrageous.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Lori, there’s been a quite a bit of complaint, even in Congress, about the secretive nature of these continuing negotiations. About 600 or so corporate advisers have access to information that even members of Congress don’t? Could you talk about how that has come about?

LORI WALLACH: Well, this is how you get a text and in a potential agreement that is this outrageous. I mean, this isn’t just a bad trade agreement, this is a one-percenter power tool that could rip up our basic needs and rights. How that happens is the negotiations have been done in total secrecy. So, for two-and-a-half years, until this leak emerged, people have suspected what’s going on, because, as you said, under U.S. law there are 600 official advisers, they have security clearance to see the text, they advise the U.S. position. Meanwhile, the senator, Ron Wyden, who is the chairman of the trade committee in the Senate, the committee with jurisdiction over the TPP, has been denied access to the text, as has his staff, who has security clearance, to a point where this man who has supported agreements like this in the past has filed legislation demanding he have the right to see the agreement that he’s supposed to be having oversight with. He’s on the Intelligence Committee, and he has security clearance, so he can see our nuclear secrets. He just can’t see this corporate bill of rights that is trying to be slipped into effect in the name of being a trade agreement. It’s a very elegant Trojan horse strategy. You brand it one thing, and then you put an agenda that could not survive sunshine into this agreement.

We have been able also to get some of the texts on patents, expanding patents for Big Pharma, jacking up medicine prices. And we have analysis on our website, tradewatch.org, as well as information about how to get involved, because these agreements are a little bit like Dracula. You drag them in the sunshine, and they do not fare well. But all of us, and also across all of the countries involved, there are citizen movements that are basically saying, “This is not in our name. We don’t need global enforceable corporate rights. We need more democracy. We need more accountability.”

AMY GOODMAN: Lori Wallach—

LORI WALLACH: And this agreement is the antithesis.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to read part of the comment we got from the U.S. trade representative’s office when we invited them on today’s show. They wrote, quote, “The Obama Administration has infused unprecedented transparency into the TPP negotiations. We have worked with Members of Congress … [and] invited stakeholders to every round of negotiations where they have given presentations and met with individual negotiating teams. … We are always looking for ways to enhance provisions on transparency and public participation.” Lori Wallach, your comment?

LORI WALLACH: Well, to start with, the idea of transparency of the current negotiators is a one-way mirror. We can basically talk to them and do presentations. But as this leak shows, nothing that the public interest organizations—and it’s a huge array of organizations, from faith groups to consumer groups, environmental, labor—nothing that we have said is now reflected in the U.S. position in this negotiation, which I’m sad to say is the most extreme. I mean, the U.S. is even opposing proposals in this agreement to try and make sure countries have the ability to use financial regulation to ensure financial stability. The U.S. positions don’t reflect what we’ve been saying, but we can talk at them.[…]

Here we are, three years into this negotiation with eight countries, and they will not publish a sentence. In fact, it finally leaked that they had signed a special agreement not to release any draft text for four years after negotiations are done—a secrecy agreement on top of the normal secrecy. […]

So what we’re talking about with this leaked chapter is literally a parallel system of justice. People have domestic laws and courts, trying to defend our rights and get our needs met. Corporations would have a parallel system of private attorneys, three of them, no conflict-of-interest laws. The U.S. and the other countries would submit themselves to the jurisdiction of this corporate kangaroo court, and these three random attorneys would have the right to order the U.S. government to pay unlimited amounts of our tax dollars to corporations and investors who, A, claim regulatory costs need to be refunded, or, B, are saying they’re not being treated well enough, regardless if the policies they dislike are the exact same ones that apply to all of us. Even under NAFTA’s system, which has some of this, $350 million have already been paid out to corporations by governments, over toxics bans, zoning laws, timber rules. This is a sneaky outrage. And if people actually put a spotlight on it, we can stop it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So, Lori, I wanted to ask you—you mentioned the eight nations that are involved in the negotiations. Which nations are they? And also, the issue of the way this is being negotiated, the number could expand dramatically in the future. Can you talk about that?

LORI WALLACH: Well, the reason why it is so incredibly important that this agreement be exposed is this could well be the last agreement that’s negotiated. So, many of your listeners and viewers have been involved in the sneaky way trade agreements have been used by corporations to limit regulation and to foster a race to the bottom since NAFTA. And each of these agreements has gotten bolder, more expansive in its limits on government regulation and in its granting of corporate powers. This one could be the end, because what they intend to do is leave it open, once it’s done, for any other country to join. So, this is an agreement that ultimately could have the whole world in it as a set of binding corporate guarantees of new rights and privileges, enforced with cash sanctions and trade sanctions. It is not an exaggeration to say that the TPP threatens to become a regime of binding global governance, right at the time that the Occupy movement and movements around the world are demanding more power and control. This is the fightback. This is locking in the bad old way plus. And in addition, the way that the agreement is being negotiated, these rules would require that you not only change all of your existing laws—so good progressive laws would have to be gotten rid of—but that, in the future, you don’t create new laws.

Now, the agreement now includes Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Peru and Vietnam, as well as the U.S., plus Malaysia has now joined. And the agreement includes all of the NAFTA-style privileges that promote offshoring. But more drastically, it has all sorts of new corporate privileges, so the right to extend medicine and seed monopolies to jack up medicine prices, even the right to challenge formularies, medicine prescription group buying plans. For instance, what the Obama administration has put in their health reform bill, they are at the negotiating table behind closed doors trying to kill the right to use for other countries. Or the financial rules would have just a limit. Countries aren’t allowed to ban risky financial products or services, at the same time that we’re trying to issue regulations under financial reform. And the agreement even meddles with how we spend our local tax dollars. For folks around the country who are doing sweat-free campaigns, who are doing living wage campaigns, green buying campaigns, this agreement says, A, you can’t have local preferences, so no “buy New York” state preference to recycle money back in your state, your tax dollars, no “buy American,” but also conditions like a product has to have recycled content or that that uniform has to be sweat-free. Those kind of conditions can be challenged. It is an incredible corporate power tool. It’s only gotten this far because it’s been secret. And people in the other countries don’t want it either. But our country is the one that’s largely pushing the most radical provisions, which is why it was so important for this text, which everyone can see an analysis of at tradewatch.org, to be made public, to make people aware of what’s really going on.[…]

AMY GOODMAN: The next round of negotiations on TPP are scheduled over the July 4th holiday weekend. Lori Wallach, can you comment on this? And also, what I assume would be President Obama’s response, if talking behind the scenes, like perhaps tonight when he’s going to be at Sarah Jessica Parker house with—with raising a lot of money—the financial sector is donating $37 million to Mitt Romney so far, the Obama administration’s haul, $4.8 million—that even his own Wall Street supporters are going over to Romney right now, so he would say he is doing better than Romney would in trying to take on these guys.

LORI WALLACH: I think that, for President Obama, there are two scenarios. One is, he has not been on top of what these negotiators are doing. This really has been under the radar. It’s so important that the text finally came out, because it sends a warning to Congress, to the public, etc., and that basically he’s got negotiators on the loose. They are many of the same people who during the Clinton administration got us into NAFTA, that recycled back into the trade negotiating team. The other alternative explanation is just the money one, which is, it is the case that this is an agreement the 1 percent loves. This is sort of one-percenter fantasy. It’s not just that on the margins and in national governments you have to keep fighting with all your money and lobbying to try and get what you want; this would lock it in for the future, indefinitely.

AMY GOODMAN: Lori Wallach, we want to thank you very much for being with us, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. And we will continue to watch this.

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/6/14/breaking_08_pledge_

leaked_trade_doc#transcript

I, for one, would assume that the explanation that Obama is performing his duties for the one per cent is the accurate explanation.  The “he didn’t mean it – he didn’t know what it would do” ditty is worn out and obvious bullshit at this point.

UPDATE: Sun., 17 June

I have brought this trade agreement up several times since I first heard about it.  Other people, much smarter than I, are sounding a warning as well.  I believe this agreement, if it goes through as planned, will essentially do away with not only our sovereignty, but with the need for our Constitution, as it gives overriding authority to a couple of attorneys acting in the interest of only the largest multi-national corporations.  Note also in the above excerpts that any country may sign on to the agreement later, so it is not limited to the original eight, and that furthermore, the entire document would not be released to the public until 4 years after signing.  (Still think they intend to let us have elections in 2016?)

I wanted to post excerpts from two other sources as a follow-up:

From Yves Smith on nakedcapitalism:

Obama Plans to Put Foreign Companies Above the Law
Posted By Yves Smith On June 13, 2012

Zach Carter has a must-read new article up at Huffington Post on leaked documents from trade negotiations that have been posted at the website Public Citizen. You should read his entire article, pronto, but here is the money quote:

The newly leaked document is one of the most controversial of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. It addresses a broad sweep of regulations governing international investment and reveals the Obama administration’s advocacy for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.

Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings.

This is an active effort to undermine US laws and make certain US laws subordinate to non-US tribunal that sits outside any democratic process. President Obama took an oath to uphold the land. I’d like to throw this out to readers. As much as trade agreements (which were approved by Congress) have sometimes run into friction with existing laws, this move by Obama looks to be a far more radical effort to increase the power of multinational companies. And US companies would argue for, and likely eventually get, similar breaks, assuring a legal/regulatory race to the bottom (if you think what we have is bad now, do not underestimate how much worse it could get).

Let’s set aside the fact that no current Congress will stand in the way of a pro-business measure. I’d like readers to tell me whether they think this initiative is an impeachable offense. Does this sort of effort to gut US laws rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors“?

Update: The use of the “I’ word [impeach] has led some readers to argue (basically) “What are you talking about? This is just a negotiation.” True, but it is also revealing how little we expect of Congress and how much its standing has fallen. This idea should be so far outside the pale that both the substance as well as the process would, in another era, have elicited a serious pushback from Congress. But of course, in that other era, a cagey politician like Obama would never have gone this far either.

We seem to be living the Frederick Douglass quote:  Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com

In the article below, I disagree with the suggestion that all regulations should be stripped to the lowest common denominator; the quotes are from a libertarian source (which itself uses some quotes from a conservative source).  The main points of the article are well taken, however, and I include these quotes as they provide proof that both ends of the political spectrum are alarmed by this maneuver.

[…] This poses an even wider problem, though. Obama is negotiating a trade pact that would constitute a judicial authority higher than even the U.S. Supreme Court that could overrule federal court rulings applying U.S. law to foreign companies. That is unconstitutional. The U.S. cannot be allowed to enter a treaty that would abrogate our Constitution.

It is telling that the only apparent way these Pacific nations will enter a free trade agreement with the U.S. is if they are exempt from our onerous environmental and financial regulations that make it cost-ineffective to do business here. Instead of making these foreign firms exempt from these burdensome rules, they should just repeal the regulations and make it cheaper to do business here.

This tribunal needs to be removed from this agreement, and no foreign company doing business on our soil should have a competitive advantage, created by some dumb agreement, over American companies. What is Obama thinking? He is placing international organizations above the interests of our own country. [Emphases in original.]

In an interview with The New American, ALG President Bill Wilson further explained what Americans have to fear should the United States enter the TPP and why the negotiations have been conducted in secret:

“These trade pacts starting with NAFTA and before [GATT], strike at the heart of national sovereignty, ours and that of the other member nations,” Wilson warned. “At their core they diminish the prerogatives and powers of a specific country and surrender them to international bodies or corporations.”

“As for the secrecy, if folks on the ground find out what’s going on ahead of time, they might get upset. We tend to think of populations of the Asian nations as being more compliant, but they are not. If they thought for a minute that American corporations could ignore their local laws and customs, they’d be angry, so the multinational corporations that are pushing this thing have to do so in secret,” he continued.

Wilson also recognizes another problem for the internationalists in the provenance of the leaked document. The information revealed in the portion of the proposed agreement leaked on Wednesday was posted by Public Citizen, a Texas-based consumer rights advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader — hardly a member of the right-wing conspiracy. Wilson sees this as instructive.

“There is a great coming together of the minds here,” Wilson said. “The Left doesn’t want an international tribunal coming in and doing away with their environmental regulations and we conservatives don’t want anything destroying our sovereignty and independence. That is a powerful confluence of interests and that’s why they [the international corporations] want to keep it secret.”

Wilson’s identification of large corporate interests as being the engine that is driving this vehicle for the eradication of American sovereignty is borne out by the experience of some of our own elected officials who have tried to pierce the veil of secrecy protecting the TPP negotiations.[…]

“I would point out how insulting it is for them to argue that members of Congress are to personally go over to USTR to view the trade documents,” Hoelzer said. “An advisor at Halliburton or the MPAA is given a password that allows him or her to go on the USTR website and view the TPP agreement anytime he or she wants.”

That’s right. A duly elected Senator of the United States has to beg and plead and threaten legislation in order to see the TPP trade agreement negotiations, but corporate interests are given by a password by the USTR that grants them a priori access to those same documents.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) issued a statement criticizing the Obama administration for the lack of oversight into an agreement with devastating potential.

“After more than a decade of broken promises from NAFTA, CAFTA, and normalized trade relations with China, we can now add a credibility deficit to the trade deficits we’ve seen. The leaked documents surfacing today only underscore the secrecy surrounding TPP negotiations and confirm worst suspicions about the direction trade negotiations are heading. It’s telling that it is easier for the CEO of a major corporation to access information about the negotiations than the American people’s elected representatives. The negotiations must involve more transparency and bring more voices to the table.”

ALG’s Bill Wilson perceives real harm in the USTR’s grant of such a powerful corporate prerogative.

We are elevating private businesses up to the level of sovereign governments,” Wilson said. “Under NAFTA we gave companies the power to sue governments and the TPP does this as well. In this trade pact, we agree that our government can be sued by these foreign corporations who will be treated as sovereign nations. This is submerging the idea of sovereignty into a sea of regulatory bodies and international agencies and our freedom is drowning it it.”

“It is self-evident that the erosion of the right of citizens to control their own lives is progressing at a rate that we are little more than wage slaves to an oppressive government and its cadre of corporate backers that consider our lives and our liberties of little or no consequence,” he stated.

When it comes to TPP and its surreptitious assault on freedom, Bill Wilson hit the nail squarely on the head. Unfortunately, if the American people do not rise up in firm opposition to TPP and other globalist ventures, it may be the final nail in the coffin containing the remains of our sovereignty.

http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/11736-tpp-secret-trade-agreement-puts-international-tribunal-above-us-law

UPDATE 2: Friday, 22 June:

Public Citizen, the watchdog organization that first revealed the (few) details that have been published about the TPP, announced yesterday in an email,

“This week, the Obama administration announced that Mexico and Canada are now joining Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ‘free trade agreement’ negotiations.”

As the director of Public Citizen pointed out in the Democracy Now interview excerpted in the main article above said, “And each of these [trade] agreements has gotten bolder, more expansive in its limits on government regulation and in its granting of corporate powers. This one [the TPP] could be the end, because what they intend to do is leave it open, once it’s done, for any other country to join. So, this is an agreement that ultimately could have the whole world in it as a set of binding corporate guarantees of new rights and privileges, enforced with cash sanctions and trade sanctions. It is not an exaggeration to say that the TPP threatens to become a regime of binding global governance[…]”

We can see already that governments of other countries are eager to join in the agreement and give up the sovereign rights of their nations before the next round of negotiations, which is scheduled for the July 4th week-end.  Need to sign up before the information on this agreement spreads to the people in their countries, now that some of it has been “leaked”.

UPDATE 3: Tues, 26 June:

Common Dreams now has an article out about the TPP.  I realize I am beginning to sound shrill at this point.  I don’t care.  Every bit of information coming out on this trade agreement is worse than the last – and what I knew about it a month ago was extraordinarily bad.  By the way, add China and Japan as two more countries anticipated to sign the agreement.

To reiterate the final sentence of this article – Go to http://www.citizen.org/tpp, learn more and get involved.  If you pass around one link about the TPP, let this be the one.

From the Common Dreams article:

This maybe one of the most important stories ever ignored by the “lame stream, liberal” media. It’s unlikely you’re losing sleep over US trade negotiations, but the unfolding business agreement between the US and eight Pacific nations –the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — should cause every US citizen, from the Sierra Club to the Tea Party to get their pitch forks and torches out of the closet and prepare to “storm the Bastille.” […]

If you thought that with Citizens United we had hit rock bottom in surrendering our democracy to the power of money, this TPP “trade agreement” would throw our democracy into free fall.

Residents of the West should be particularly alarmed.  TPP would allow plunder of our natural resources  by foreign corporations allowed to bypass US law.  Disputes over Western land contracts for mining and timber for example would be settled by international tribunals.  Even If you are oblivious to environmental concerns you should be outraged at the total circumvention of national sovereignty.  Foreign investors could bypass our legal framework, take any dispute to an international tribunal and pursue compensation for being denied access to our resources at fire sale prices–and much of the West on fire as we speak.

It gets worse.  Those tribunals would be staffed by private sector lawyers that rotate between acting as ‘judges’ and as advocates for the corporations suing the governments.   American  taxpayers could be forced to pay those corporations virtually unlimited compensation for trying protect our air, land and water from much looser standards than current US law allows.

This agreement could directly affect efforts in my [the commondream author’s] home state of Utah to hold the international mining giant,  Rio Tinto, accountable to the Clean Air Act.  A consortium of public health and environmental groups including WildEarth Guardians, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, Utah Moms for Clean Air and the Sierra Club have filed suit against Rio Tinto for mining more–and polluting more–than the amount allowed by the EPA via provisions in the Clean Air Act.  This agreement would allow disputes about their pollution to be settled by foreign ‘judges’ who don’t live in Utah,  aren’t personally affected by the outcome, aren’t even US citizens, and could be attorneys for mining companies.[…]

TPP is much worse than NAFTA, that eviscerated middle class jobs and wealth in the US.  And this sell out to foreign corporations is not just a rogue brain cramp of President Obama.  Mitt Romney demanded this agreement be signed months ago, and the notorious “climate change denying” US Chamber of Commerce can’t get it signed fast enough.[…]

If you thought that with Citizens United we had hit rock bottom in surrendering our democracy to the power of money, this TPP “trade agreement” would throw our democracy into free fall.   Foreign corporations will be allowed to feast upon America’s natural resources, trash our environment and public health, violate our rights as American citizens and make us pay them if we try to protect ourselves.  Could this really happen?  Go to http://www.citizen.org/tpp, learn more and get involved.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/06/25-0

 

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8 Comments

Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Congress, corporatocracy, economy, trade agreements

 

8 responses to “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

  1. morning's minion

    June 17, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    About 600 or so corporate advisers have access to information that even members of Congress don’t? Could you talk about how that has come about?

    If we ever were in doubt that we are being run, not by a government per se, but by an oligarchy of corporations, this TPP should clarify where we stand.

    Teri, I like how you work back to show how other presidents have set in place the mechanisms that have brought us here. Increasingly, it seems that the Presidency is just the front office for the cartel of uber wealthy who truly call the shots.

    I had not heard about this agreement and will be looking for more coverage. Thanks so much for bringing it to our attention.

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    • Teri

      June 18, 2012 at 4:47 am

      Morning’s Minion,
      The TPP is being negotiated this way for one simple reason: Obama set it up this way. He appointed Ron Kirk as the US trade representative and turned him loose. Kirk wants the negotiations secret and handled entirely by the corporate bigwigs; if Obama objected to that, he could have changed the outrageous procedure in a nanosecond. It is the Obama administration directly that is refusing to let Congress look at the negotiations as they take place and the Obama administration which allows Kirk to run the thing as he wishes.

      Kirk is a Dallas lawyer and was mayor of Dallas for awhile. He ran for the Senate as a Democrat, but when his bid failed, he became a lobbyist for a Texas energy company. When Obama nominated him to be the Trade Representative, it came out that Kirk owed back taxes (what is it with Obama and tax cheats?), but he was confirmed nonetheless in ’09.

      Kirk supports the NAFTA. He is working on the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), also being negotiated in secret, which he convinced S. Korea to adopt, resulting in tens of thousands of S. Koreans having their websites taken down due to “copyright infringement”. The ACTA is one of those things we never hear about, but it is a big deal for those who value privacy and internet freedom. You can read about it here:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Counterfeiting_Trade_Agreement
      We hear a lot about SOPA and CISPA – the ACTA is much further in its reach though, being international.

      This article discusses both the TPP and ACTA:
      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120307/13454918027/obama-administration-acta-is-binding-dont-worry-your-pretty-little-heads-about-tpp.shtml

      In one of the articles I quote from in this post, someone mentions the GATT. This is actually the World Trade Organization; for some reason, the WTO names its meetings. (The most well-known meeting that occurred under Bush was called the “Doha Round”.) The WTO has actually been in existence since the late 1940’s and has increased in strength over all these decades. It is because of the WTO agreements that a big chunk of the stimulus money Obama spent went to foreign countries – under the WTO, we are obligated to support the businesses of other nations and a certain portion of business investment funds (i.e., US taxpayer money) has to go to foreign companies as part of our “fair trade” and the idea that we won’t show favoritism to US companies.

      The TPP is just the latest iteration of big business over people/environment, but this one goes way beyond the earlier agreements. It may not be the final move of the corporations, but it sure is a leap toward global control by them.

      People need to wake up. Vote Obama or Romney? Not on your life.

      -Teri

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  2. Kitt

    June 22, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Thanks once again, Teri, for doing such deep and badly needed research and then writing it in a way that we can all learn from. I posted a link to this post in comments at Glenn’s. I hope that the link garners more attention from there to your post.

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    • Teri

      June 22, 2012 at 7:13 pm

      Thank you, Kitt. I think this is an extremely important issue; I can’t stress that enough. This may be one of those moves that is viewed by history as a game-changer – although it will be too late for us by then. Trying to undo it later will be next to impossible.

      I posted a sample Occucard in an earlier post…I don’t know if you saw that:

      http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/05/circling-the-drain/

      Thank you for bringing the Occucard work to my attention!

      Best, Teri

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  3. morning's minion

    June 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I can’t get past this one:

    The TPP negotiations have gone on for two years between the Obama administration and several Pacific nations under conditions of ‘extreme secrecy’ without press, public or policymaker oversight, says Public Citizen who posted the leaked document on their website today.

    “The top U.S. trade official effectively has said that the administration must keep TPP secret because otherwise it won’t be able to shove this deal past the public and Congress,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

    When are we going to blow the whistle on “extreme secrecy”? Is there anyone out there who believes that it is in anyone’s best interests to build a nation of secrets? The old adage that if you can’t tell someone about it you shouldn’t have done it. They’re called truisms for a reason.

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  4. morning's minion

    June 22, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Sorry, it should have read, “The old adage that if you can’t tell someone about it you shouldn’t have done it comes to mind.

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  5. Kitt

    June 23, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Teri: No, I didn’t know that you had posted about Occucards. I had been offline for a few weeks so I missed that. Thanks for informing me. I read the post and it is sensationally informative…as usual from you. You do miraculous work. I can’t really express how much I appreciate your research and your posts.

    Like

     

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