American businesses have never been afraid to compete amongst each other within reason. Competition is what has driven our economy to produce higher quality products at better prices. But now that competitiveness is being threatened by an international pact from hell called The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will severely tie our hands when trying to compete with certain foreign corporations.
For instance, let’s say the president or Congress said businesses all across America had to eliminate such local programs as Buy Local, Buy American, Buy Green, etc., to pave the way for foreign corporations to have the right to make the sale on any products purchased with our tax dollars? This trampling on our people’s right to direct expenditures leads to the horror stories of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is more like a coup than partnering.
TPP is a super box-store-sized NAFTA, the 1994 trade scam rammed through the Senate by the corporate establishment and signed by then President Bill Clinton. NAFTA promised globalization and prosperity across America. Unfortunately, big corporations got the profits. We got the tab. Thousands of factories closed, and millions of middle-class jobs went south, and the prosperity of hundreds of towns and cities was shattered. Another side effect of the jobs loss is that payroll contributions to Social Security and Medicare were diminished.
This said, two decades later, the gang that gave us NAFTA turns up like a bad penny with TPP, a “trade deal” that for the most part does not deal with trade. Of the 29 chapters in this document, only five cover traditional trade matters! The other chapters amount to a sucker’s “partnership” for corporate protectionism. Here are more examples . . .
● Food safety. Any of our government’s food safety regulations (on pesticide levels, bacterial contamination, fecal exposure, toxic additives, including food labelling laws, organic, country-of-origin, animal-welfare approved, GMO-free, etc.) in fact, any protections that are stricter than international “standards” could be ruled as “illegal trade barriers.” Our government would then have to revise our consumer protections to comply with weaker standards and compromise the health of Americans.
● Fracking. Our Department of Energy would lose its authority to regulate exports of natural gas to any TPP nation. Can you believe that? This would create an explosion of the destructive fracking process across our land, for both foreign and U.S. corporations, just so these outsiders could export fracked gas from America to member nations without any DOE (Dept of Energy) review of the environmental and economic impacts on local communities or on our national interests. This is more than giving away the store. It’s tearing apart the store.
● Jobs. US corporations would get special foreign-investor protections to limit the cost and risk of relocating their factories to low-wage nations that sign onto this agreement. In plain English, an American corporation thinking about moving a factory would know it’s a guaranteed a sweetheart deal if it moves operations to a TPP nation like Vietnam. This would be an incentive for corporate chieftains to export more of our middle-class jobs: just what we don’t need after losing millions of jobs and Social Security/Medicare taxes over the past two decades.
● Drug prices. This one is literally a killer. Big Pharma would be given more years of monopoly pricing on each of their patents and be empowered to block distribution of cheaper generic drugs. Apart from keeping everyone’s prices artificially high, this would be a death sentence to many people suffering from cancer, HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis and other treatable diseases in impoverished lands. It violates any rules of common decency for profit.
● Banksters. Wall Street and the financial giants in other TPP countries would make out like bandits. The deal explicitly prohibits needed transaction taxes (such as the proposed Robin Hood Tax here) that would shut down speculators who have repeatedly triggered financial crises and economic crashes around the world. It also restricts “firewall” reforms that separate consumer banking from risky investment banking. It could roll back reforms that governments adopted to fix the extreme bank deregulation regimen that caused Wall Street’s 2008 crash. And it provides an escape from national rules that would limit the size of “too-big-to-fail” behemoths.
● Internet freedom. Corporations hoping to lock up and monopolize the Internet failed in Congress last year to pass their repressive “Stop Online Piracy Act.” However, they’ve slipped SOPA’s nastiest provisions into TPP. The deal would also transform Internet service providers into a private, Big Brother police force, with the power to monitor our “user activity” and arbitrarily take down our content and cut off our access to the Internet. To top that off, consumers could be assessed mandatory fines for something as innocent as sending your mom a recipe you got off of a paid site.
● Public services. What’s more, TPP rules would limit how governments regulate such public services as utilities, transportation and education, including restricting policies meant to ensure broad or universal access to those essential needs. One insidious rule says that member countries must open their service sectors to private competitors, which would allow the corporate provider to cherry-pick the profitable customers and forget about the public service. This, in fact, defies the notion of public service.
Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch, correctly calls the Trans-Pacific Partnership “a corporate coup d’etat.” If that’s not bad enough, nations that join the pact have to conform their laws and rules to TPP’s strictures, slavishly supplanting U.S. sovereignty and tossing away our people’s right to be self-governing. Worse, it creates virtually permanent corporate rule over us. And make us TTP’s coolies.
Is it impossible to stop? It’s not, fortunately. There is also a broad, well organized and politically experienced coalition of grassroots groups, which has stopped other deals and will do it again. We the people can protect our democratic rights from this threat of corporate usurpation. But we have to keep our eye on the ball as this “deal with the devil” proceeds. And if we don’t agree, we have to make ourselves heard. And stop this corrupt act. Fortunately, this is your S.O.S.!
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of New York City. An EBook version of his book of poems “State Of Shock,” on 9/11 and its after effects is now available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He has also written hundreds of articles on politics and government as Associate Editor of Intrepid Report (formerly Online Journal). Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.