FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The TPP and the Chamber of Secrets

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.

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail