FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The TPP and the Chamber of Secrets

by LYNN HOLLAND

If you asked the average person on the street to tell you about the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP, chances are you’d get a blank stare.  Yet the end result of this massive international trade agreement now in the works will be far reaching.  As in the story of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, there’s a hushed attitude among those on the inside, a sense of foreboding among the skeptics, and fears that while the privileged will gain, “non-magical” ordinary people will be left to suffer the consequences.

We have to wonder, after all, about the high level of secrecy surrounding the TPP, an agreement of unprecedented scope.  Over the years, key decisions have been made as far away as Peru, Brunei, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.  While these and other countries have fashioned the deal with a little help from hundreds of corporate advisers in attendance, there has been precious little news coverage reaching the average person.  According to the Office of the US Trade Representative, this is because the various parties to the TPP have signed a confidentiality agreement preventing them from sharing information about the proposals with anyone except government officials and their “advisors.”

So what should we expect if the TPP passes?  From what we know, it will open the chamber door to billions of new dollars in trade and finance, boding well for foreign investors coming here and US investors going abroad.  In line with NAFTA, but on a much grander scale, the TPP will also create new tax havens while lowering wages and reducing workplace and environmental regulations.

In light of this, we need to be asking the hard questions about what will happen to blue collar workers, small farmers, and the quality of the air, land and water.  Will the bulk of the benefits accrue to those who are already doing well, while the poor and middle classes lose out?  Will jobs disappear along with the tax base weakening state and city services?  Will more cities become hollowed out and dangerous the way Detroit, St. Louis, and Flint, Michigan, already have?  Will rural residents turn to cooking and selling drugs, the way they have in the Midwest?

Maybe not.  Maybe, instead, the rising tide of trade will lift all boats as we often hear.  Perhaps the poor and the middle classes will be blessed with new and better job opportunities and solid environmental standards.  If so, and the real goals of the TPP are actually good news for the “muggles,” there should be no need to keep any of it a secret from them.

The proposed method for TPP’s passage – “trade promotion authority” or “fast track” legislation – is also a source of distress.  Through Fast Track, Congress essentially turns over authority for debating and amending the TPP to the presidential branch while retaining a mere yes-or-no vote on the treaty once it’s fully negotiated.  This move greatly speeds up the political process while leaving the public in the dust.

Activists concerned with worker rights, international law, the environment, and Internet privacy are now the young wizards seeking to disclose the deadly secrets of the Chamber.  In their quest, they will need all the help they can get from the most intrepid media reporting.  We can only hope to have the information we need before it’s too late.

Lynn Holland teaches International Political Economy at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

Lynn Holland is a Senior Research Fellow at the Council On Hemispheric Affairs.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail