Saturday, February 14, 2015

TPP - Trans Pacific Partnership

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP for short) has been on my mind these past few days and weeks.  It is a “free-trade” agreement that President Obama wants to be part of his legacy.  The reason that I have not written about it before now is that it may be a tempest in a teapot, no big deal.  The immediate problem is that the terms of the agreement are still shrouded in secrecy.  Which may make sense as all its details have not been hammered out yet.  Perhaps it makes no sense to see what an agreement says while it is still being debated and written.  Which means, I guess, that I am not rationally concerned with its secrecy.  That is, as long as what it says is not yet writ in stone.  The U.S. Constitution was a secret until it was ready to be published and ratified.

Nonetheless, the TPP is a real political issue.  Partly because it is secret so far (see above), partly because what has been leaked (and all leaks are “unofficial” and often unreliable) is really really bad, and partly because we DO know that the President wants to “fast track” it when it is ready to be considered by Congress and voted on.  Fast track seems to mean Congress has 90 days in which to debate the agreement and no permission to introduce any amendments.  The no amendment part sounds conspiratorial and downright evil.  But imagine the chaos if Congress amended it: it would have to go back to the trade negotiators who would alter it again and then back to Congress, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.  When the U.S. Constitution was being considered for ratification by the states, no amendments were allowed for the same reason: it would go back and forth between all the states and the Constitutional Convention forever.  In addition, a Yes to ratification did not mean the written Constitution was perfect, but it DID mean that none of it, not one small piece, was a real problem.  Similarly, a Yes to pass TPP will mean that there is nothing in it that does not pass muster.  As to limiting debate to 90 days, that seems long enough to me to debate a bill that won't be bothered by amendments.   So, I guess I have no serious reservations about Fast Track, as 90 days seems slow enough to me.

With one caveat; that for that 90 day period, the entire TPP agreement is available to the people and to the press.  No amount of time to consider a bill is sufficient if the people don't have access.  While our 535 representatives represent us, they need our feedback.  So, from day 1 that Congress considers the TPP, it must be available to all media and to all the people.

But here is what DOES concern me: the leaks that have leaked seem to suggest that member corporations will be empowered to sue nations (and their treasuries, AKA the people’s tax dollars) whose laws limit their potential profits (Investor-State Dispute Settlement, or ISDS).  This would seem to grant national sovereignty to corporations rather than to the governments of the participating nation-states.  Some free-market capitalists would like to have corporations in charge but I am not one of them.  Neither the free-market nor corporations are answerable to the people; at least democratic governments are supposed to be answerable to the people.  Corporate dominance over a democratically elected government is the very definition of tyranny and oligarchy and fascism.  Should it turn out that the agreement does indeed allow corporations to dictate the rules for how an economy is to work, the rules of the road so to speak, then I will begin to beat a drum that the President, all the trade negotiators, and every other elected official who backs the TPP, be charged with treason (yeah, the only crime worse than murder).

I’ll stop here as I am sure that this cannot possibly be true; they can’t be THAT stupid or that malignant!  I am probably just plain wrong.  Tell me if you know where I went wrong.  Please!

For Is TPP trade deal a massive giveaway to major corporations? An exchange between Obama and Sherrod Brown

Addendum: Friday, 06/05/2015
The negotiating teams of the countries represented by the TPP agreement are all members of the "Business Class."  The "business class" is not the class of all people who work for businesses; the business class is the class of all people who are significant owner/managers of big businesses.  The number of Americans who work in what is loosely called "business" is numbered in the tens of millions; the number of Americans who are members of the "business class" is numbered in the thousands.  They are representing their own class.  Our nation's own representatives may, in some strange way, represent our nation, but they still only represent themselves.  They do not represent middle managers, white collar workers, blue-collar workers, Union members, teachers, police, fire fighters, military, government workers, etc.  They represent THEMSELVES.  When this agreement becomes public, ask not whether it is fair to the United States, ask whether it is fair to the economic group that YOU belong to, for chances are it is NOT.  If you can see that the main beneficiaries of the agreement are the 1%, it is up to you and to me to resist it with all our might.  Until it dies....
Kill the TPP!

Addendum: Thursday, 11/05/2015
The text of the just released TPP.

And again.  Take your pick.

Stay tuned for a neutral synopsis.

Addendum: Sunday, 06/12/2016