FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Just Say No to Corporate Rule

In May 2014, Senator Elizabeth Warren talked about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)  agreement. “From what I hear, Wall Street, pharmaceuticals, telecom, big polluters and outsourcers are all salivating at the chance to rig the deal in the upcoming trade talks. So the question is: Why are the trade talks secret? You’ll love this answer. Boy, the things you learn on Capitol Hill. I actually have had supporters of the deal say to me, ‘They have to be secret, because if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.'”

In May 2012, Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness, said: “Yet, the majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations—like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America—are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement.”

A May 2012 letter to the US Trade Representative from 30 law professors in a few of the countries that are involved with the TPP negotiations also pointed out that: “There is no representation on this committee for consumers, libraries, students, health advocacy or patient groups, or others users of intellectual property, and minimal representation of other affected businesses, such as generic drug manufacturers or internet service providers. We would never create US law or regulation through such a biased and closed process.”

If you aren’t already concerned about a deal being negotiated on behalf of giant corporations at the public’s expense, consider the following. One chapter in the deal, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system, threatens democracy and the sovereignty of governments.

For example, Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist at the World Bank and recipient of the ‘Nobel Prize for Economics’ in 2001, addressed this issue regarding NAFTA in January 2004. He said: “But hidden in NAFTA was a new set of rights — for business — that potentially weakened democracy throughout North America. Under NAFTA, if foreign investors believe they are being harmed by regulations (no matter how well justified), they may sue for damages in special tribunals without the transparency afforded by normal judicial proceedings. If successful, they receive direct compensation from the federal government….

In an October 2015 article, Stiglitz and Adam Hersh added: “Imagine what would have happened if these provisions had been in place when the lethal effects of asbestos were discovered. Rather than shutting down manufacturers and forcing them to compensate those who had been harmed, under ISDS, governments would have had to pay the manufacturers not to kill their citizens. Taxpayers would have been hit twice — first to pay for the health damage caused by asbestos, and then to compensate manufacturers for their lost profits when the government stepped in to regulate a dangerous product.”

According to Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, the TPP ISDS “tribunals are staffed by private lawyers who are not accountable to any electorate, system of legal precedent or meaningful conflict of interest rules. Their rulings cannot be appealed on the merits. Many ISDS lawyers rotate between roles – serving both as “judges” and suing governments for corporations, creating an inherent conflict of interest.”

Allowing trade lawyers to have the final say on cases that threaten our health and well being as well as the health of the ecosystem and its ability to support all life forms is insane! This disastrous settlement process tramples democracy and sovereignty and prioritizes profit over our health and well being as well as our ecosystem and its ability to support life. An old Cree prophecy seems relevant:

Only after the last river has been poisoned,

Only after the last fish has been caught,

Only then will you find money cannot be eaten.

If this corporate-designed settlement process doesn’t convince you to oppose the TPP, consider its rules for financial services. According to Public Citizen, these rules were written under the advisement of giant banks and work to undercut legislation meant to re-regulate Wall Street. Thus the TPP would expand the reach of failed policies that played a major role in creating the disastrous 2008 financial crisis. The TPP rules would also prevent nations from protecting their currencies in time of crisis. It’s as if the 2008 crisis didn’t happen.

Paul Krugman, another ‘Nobel Prize winner in Economics’ and a supporter of NAFTA, said it well in his March 9th column. “But it’s also true that much of the elite defense of globalization is basically dishonest: false claims of inevitability, scare tactics (protectionism causes depressions!), vastly exaggerated claims for the benefits of trade liberalization and the costs of protection, hand-waving away the large distributional effects that are what standard models actually predict.”

Krugman concluded: “So the elite case for ever-freer trade is largely a scam, which voters probably sense even if they don’t know exactly what form it’s taking.”

The TPP and other deals such as the currently being negotiated Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will, if enacted, transfer more wealth to the top from the rest of us while further threatening our ecosystem. These deals must be stopped — our lives and the lives of future generations depend on us stopping it now!

More articles by:

Ron Forthofer is a retired professor of biostatistics and former Green candidate for Congress and for Governor of Colorado.

August 20, 2018
Carl Boggs
The Road to Disaster?
James Munson
“Not With a Bomb, But a Whimper” … Then More Bombs.
Jonathan Cook
Corbyn’s Labour Party is Being Made to Fail –By Design
Robert Fisk
A US Trade War With Turkey Over a Pastor? Don’t Believe It
Howard Lisnoff
The Mass Media’s Outrage at Trump: Why the Surprise?
Faisal Khan
A British Muslim’s Perspective on the Burkha Debate
Andrew Kahn
Inhumanity Above the Clouds
Dan Glazebrook
Trump’s New Financial War on the Global South
George Wuerthner
Why the Gallatin Range Deserves Protection
Ted Rall
Is Trump a Brand-New Weird Existential Threat? No.
Sheldon Richman
For the Love of Reason
Susie Day
Why Pundits Scare Me
Dean Baker
Does France’s Economy Need to Be Renewed?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Mighty Voice for Peace Has Gone Silent: Uri Avnery, 1923-2018
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail