We are in the midst of a massive, unprecedented, corporate coup d’etat. The US Senate has passed the fast track for the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) and TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement). Now it will go to the President’s desk where he is guaranteed to sign it. Lawmakers have been given some access to its terms, but they can be criminally prosecuted for revealing any of these to the press. The only way the public knows about this is through WikiLeaks. We have been told that these agreements are “a matter of grave national security,” yet, by all accounts, there is nothing in them that deals directly with military intelligence or strategies.
This agreement will undoubtedly grant corporations even more power than they already have. According to Conor J. Lynch of Open Democracy the TPP “gives foreign corporations the ability to sue governments if a new law or regulation has effects on their profit rate; a blatantly pro-investor mechanism.”
The Economist explained further what the TPP would be allowed to do:
“If you wanted to convince the public that international trade agreements are a way to let multinational companies get rich at the expense of ordinary people, this is what you would do: give foreign firms a special right to apply to a secretive tribunal of highly paid corporate lawyers for compensation whenever a government passes a law to, say, discourage smoking, protect the environment or prevent a nuclear catastrophe. Yet that is precisely what thousands of trade and investment treaties over the past half century have done, through a process known as “investor-state dispute settlement”, or ISDS..”
And, according to Ellen Brown of Alternet: “arbitrators are paid $600-700 an hour, giving them little incentive to dismiss cases. The secretive nature of the arbitration process and the lack of any requirement to consider precedent give wide scope for creative judgments – the sort of arbitrary edicts satirized by Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
The TPP will enable multinational corporations that operate in countries that have human rights violations, like human trafficking, and lax environmental regulations, to proceed in selling their products to US consumers without them being able to object, even when slave wage labor or ecological destruction is involved. It will also drive up the cost of medicine, as Lynch also points out:
“Provisions within the deal would expand patent rights for big pharmaceutical companies, which would keep important medicines overpriced around the world. One of these provisions, “patent term extensions,” would allow companies to extend their patents beyond the original twenty years, preventing other companies from bringing the medicine onto the generic market, which generally lowers costs by 30-80 percent. Other provisions would allow companies to re-patent drugs after twenty years for developing “new uses” or slightly altering the chemical..”
President Obama has pulled a Bill Clinton maneuver (see NAFTA) on the American people, proving once again that he is in league with the wealthy elite, and does their bidding. Few have questioned why a majority of Republicans have given their wholehearted support to the President (the same one they supposedly oppose on everything) for this obvious corporate coup; but the votes do not lie. Obama is skillful at creating a facade of populism; but if we add this one to a litany of malfeasance, from warrant-less wiretapping, to the enormous expansion of the drone program, to opening up vast areas for off shore drilling, to an unprecedented assault on whistle blowers, the mask quickly drops away.
How the “lesser of two evils” apologists will explain this latest one away is beyond me.
Kenn Orphan 2015