What You Need to Know About a Worldwide Corporate Power Grab…


From LAUREL SUTHERLIN
Rainforest Action Network

The corporate cabal behind a new trade agreement including Cargill, Pfizer, Nike and WalMart, has done an exceptional job of maintaining an almost total lack of transparency as they literally design the future we will all inhabit.

As international trade negotiators gathered this week at a posh golf resort in rural Virginia to hammer out details of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), they sought to project an image of inclusion and receptivity to public input. In reality, this high-stakes global corporate pact, now in its 14thround of discussions, is heavily guarded by paramilitary teams with machine guns and helicopters as it is developed behind closed doors under a dangerous and unprecedented veil of secrecy.

What the hell is the TPP, you may ask? While it is among the largest and potentially most important ‘free trade’ agreements the world has ever seen, one can hardly be blamed for not being familiar with it yet. The corporate cabal behind it, including names like Cargill, Pfizer, Nike and WalMart, has done an exceptional job of maintaining an almost total lack of transparency as they literally design the future we will all inhabit.

While 600 corporate lobbyists have been granted access and input on the draft texts from the beginning, even high-ranking members of Congress have been denied access to the most basic content of what US negotiators are proposing in our names.

Demand transparency now! Write to US trade representative Ron Kirk and lead Cargil trade lobbyist Devry Boughner to demand they make the text public.

Thankfully, draft texts of the proposal have appeared on Wikileaks and the website of Citizen’s Trade Campaign. It is difficult to overstate the potential implications on the lives of people around the world if anything like the agreement in these leaked documents were to be implemented with the force of law.

The TPP is called a ‘trade agreement,’ but in actuality it is a long-dreamed-of template for implementing a binding system of global corporate governance as bold as anything the world’s wealthiest elite has attempted before. Of the 26 chapters under negotiation, only a few have to do directly with trade. The other chapters enshrine new rights and privileges for major corporations while weakening the power of nation states to oppose them. The TPP essentially proposes to establish a parallel system of justice where companies can sue countries in a tribunal of judges composed of unaccountable international trade lawyers with little to no process for appeal.

This wild bastardization of the concept of justice endangers everything from affordable medicines, internet freedoms and intellectual property rights to democratically enacted labor laws and environmental protections. And that’s not to mention the massive outsourcing of middle class jobs from the US to countries like Vietnam and Brunei.

This isn’t just a bad trade agreement, it’s a wish list of the 1%—a worldwide corporate power grab of enormous proportions.

This week, in an empty warehouse on the outskirts of downtown Baltimore, a group of activists from around the US gathered to plan a spirited week of resistance to the TPP. Finally, after three years of secret negotiations, the momentum of an opposition movement is building. On Sunday, a diverse and raucous crowd of a couple hundred people descended on this exclusive golf resort to demand their voices be heard, chanting after each speaker: “Flush the TPP!”

NAFTA was the last straw that sent the Zapatistas into armed rebellion. The WTO negotiations spawned a robust and global anti-globalization movement the likes of which the world had never seen. Even after 9/11, the FTAA elicited a pushback of people power that even a fully militarized Miami police force could not completely suppress.

But near as I can tell, even though the TPP is bigger, bolder and badder than any trade agreement before it, the small group gathered this week on a grassy hillside in rural Virginia is the backbone of resistance to the TPP today.

The elements are there: a diverse coalition of wonky NGOs, social justice and trade policy experts, urban anarchists, Occupiers and suburban activists painting banners and scheming pranks—labor leaders, environmental groups and representatives from Mexico, Peru and beyond, but the scale is so far totally out of proportion to the threat we’re facing.

But this is beginning to change. Speakers at Sunday’s rally included key labor leaders from the Teamsters, and the Communications Workers of America joined with the leaders of environmental groups from the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Rainforest Action Network.

The TPP was conceived under the second Bush administration, but it has been embraced and nurtured into maturity under Obama’s watch. The widespread belief among people here opposing it is that the current Administration is in a race to finish much of the negotiations while they can bank on the fact that labor leaders and environmental and human rights advocates will shy away from challenging a democratic president in an election year. Free trade agreements are particularly unpopular in the key swing states Obama needs to win this election—making right now a crucial moment of opportunity to pull the TPP out of the shadows and leverage our combined political power to kill it before it takes root any deeper.

Stay tuned, one way or another history will be made in the coming months and the outcome will forever influence how our communities and countries relate to each other in an ever-shrinking world.

Flush the TPP!

For more background and details on the TPP negotiations and content, click here.
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9 Comments

Sorry to always play the same song, but while you are wringing your hands about this next great corporate grab, you might remember what will happen if Obama is not re-elected. At least one, maybe two of the “liberal” judges on the Supreme Court will be replaced during the next term. If Romney replaces them, the Citizens United decision is locked in for a generation. If Obama gets to name their replacements, and the replacements for Thomas, Scalia, and maybe Kennedy, the absurdity of Citizens United can be corrected. Who wins in November will likely determine the future of Corporate takeover of this country. Which side are you on?

“The TPP was conceived under the second Bush administration, but it has been embraced and nurtured into maturity under Obama’s watch.”

And what will happen if Obama is re-elected? A return to the peace and prosperity that was only relative and imagined anyway? The “lesser of two evils” may slow the inevitable, but probably not for long. I’m for the third side, nascent though it may be.

    I agree izzy, the two options here suck. Progressives still see Obama as some kind of saviour, but appointed Michael Taylor from Monsanto to be America’s food safety Czar. Is there anything more important that what we eat every day? Oh yes, and Obama recently approved the use of up to 30,000 drones in U.S. skies by 2015. Wake up people, go for the third option!

OK Izzy, but then my kids and grandkids will have you to blame for stacked Supreme Court for the next 20 years. Can’t you “progressives” get your heads around what replacing Justice Ginsburg with some Fascist Toad in a Romney administration will do to justice in this country? No, re-electing Obama will not be a return to some imagined Peace and Prosperity, but it will mean:
1. Fewer wars, fewer deaths
2. A better shake for the lower middle class, who are slipping into poverty.
3. Someone to protect Soc Sec, Medicare and Medicade
4. Continuing US support for Family Planning and women’s health efforts world wide
5. Continuing support for development of alternative energy

I’m sorry, but only crazy people compare politicians to saints, there ain’t no perfect people, no perfect politicians. The best you can hope for is intelligent, sane honest people who do their best under almost impossible circumstances.

Historically certain conservative Supreme Court Judges appointed by Republicans have matured into liberal judges. So the hell with electing a Democrat just because he (Obama) will put liberals on the Court. I am for a third party becoming a reality in this country. I have voted for the lesser of two evils for 50 years and what have we got? One screwed up country, wars, poverty, and social injustice.

You mean like Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts? Add a couple more of that ilk, and see what you’ve got. Reality is hard, every damn part of it is hard, but those who took your line in 2000 and supported Ralph F…ing Nader gave us George W Bush, and a few hundred thousand dead people in Iraq, in a blatant attempt to simply grad their oil reserves. Just exactly what are you talking about that Obama has done that is “evil” on 1/100th of that scale? All a President can do is try to do a little good under impossible circumstances, Obama has. Or you can let a clown like Ritt Nomney back into the office, and turn if over to the corporations and military-industrial-petroleum complex, and the Koch brothers. If you think Iraq was fun, wait till you see the war they would like to fight in Iran — or as the neo-cons like to say, “anyone can go to Baghdad, real men go to Tehran.” But go ahead, vote for some F…ing Green candidate that talks a good line, and doesn’t have to ability to run a small fish market. The left in this country doesn’t have the brains to come in out of the rain, which is precisely why the right is slowly getting a strangle hold on this country.

Never ceases to amaze. Folks arguing about who is the best slave master. The chattering of peaceful slaves is comforting to the master.

ybera

    Just as is the chattering of the slaves arguing about who has the best plan to overturn the whole world. If you think there would have been no difference between a Bush and Gore Presidency, I’m sorry but you are either really really stupid, or you just weren’t paying attention. Idiological purity is one of the tightest sets of chains — the world that exists in your head, has no relation to the real world. Trying to deal with the real world is indeed very very messy, but it is the price sensible people have to pay in the face of a slide into the madness of Fascism. Have you read any history of the 1920’s in Germany? How did that turn out?

      Oh ouch! Actually I have come to wish I was stupid, so maybe that is the same thing. Yes I have read the history. I voted for Nader, so in your mind at least, that certifies that I am stupid and therefore ignorable. Go ahead. Be my guest. I am after all the person I know who I would most like to be shown to be wrong. Just listened to Catherine Fitts on the Guns and Butter radio show hosted by KPFA (and archived there) and heard her make risky predictions. A lot of people think she is smart, including me, though we are not in agreement totally. She states that collapse is a propaganda campaign, and she is right in the sense that every meme develops an encrustation of lies if it is strong. The current fact is that a majority of the worlds population is experiencing devastating collapse. Who wants to be a child in Somalia? Or know much about her. The unjust fate of someone you ignore becomes your fate in time.

      History is what happened, sometimes over and over again, and the future is what we did not expect. We improve our chances by confronting our ignorance. Even now there are places, even here in the US, where a much higher standard of justice for common people exists. Even in banking as evidenced in North Dakota. Partisan politics is crazy at this time and shows no promise of moving us to a more just system. Quite the opposite. We stop our crazinesses and become open to learning from those people’s success or we continue spinning out of control. I would like to be wrong, but what I see is increasing spinning out of control. Ergo, collapse.

      Sorry to upset you.

      yberba

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