Can’t See the Forest For the Trees: The TransPacific Partnership Is Out to Steal Your Rights as Citizens

Though Libertarians of the TeaParty sort and passionate elements on the Left tend to be at odds with each other most times, both sides do share a common concern that often gets lost in the details of extremism.  

blindvoter

The far right is bellicose in its assertion that our “freedoms” are being subverted by government but as a Progressive I choose to refer to this more as a loss of our legal rights.  We still have the whimsical notion of freedom of choice from a commercial/consumer stand point.   We still have the freedom to practice our religious beliefs as we choose despite any claims to the contrary.  We still have the freedom to vote for the candidate of our choice, though one could reasonably argue that the choices we have are already preordained by “a higher authority” and no, this is not a reference to some spiritual higher power.

Some of our rights are indeed being slowly eroded in this country and many other nations as well, but I would surmise that any loss of freedom, though enforced by government entities, will actually be driven by the special interests of plutocrats, not governments per se.  People who have more power than the elected officials we put in office by virtue of their financial means to influence choices our representatives make.

Local, state and national legislative bodies are not totally corrupt.   There still are a few good men and women who work to defend the interests of all of those who elected them and are willing to oppose powerful, wealthy special interests when they appear to threaten the economic and health status of citizens.

But proving to be too much of an obstacle to commercial special interests could cost them their positions in the next election. What tends to happen however with those who are able to survive political pressure from the opposition is where time will diminish the fervor that first brought many of these good people to office.  This opens the door to corruption as the associations they come to experience routinely with corporate lobbyists begins to take its effect on the basic human element of greed.

thinkoutsideboxThis is obviously not a new concept so I won’t belabor it.  But within this concept is the conundrum that seems to divide  many on the Right and Left, thus the title of this post.  All conservatives are not staunch free-markets zealots and all liberals are not anti-capitalist socialists.  Both tend to focus on the other’s ideological philosophy and disparage what they see as flawed in those ideologies.

For example, when Bush/Cheney and the GOP controlled Washington many on the Left were demeaning the conservative philosophy that promotes small government.  Now that Obama and the Democrats essentially have the upper hand in Washington the libertarian or right-wing extremes in the GOP are attacking the liberal views of government oversight and the need to tax the wealthy.

This attack on each other’s political preferences is keeping them at odds and unfocused on the rightful party that hurts both sides.  Rather than joining forces, finding common ground and aiming their angst towards the common denominator that merits their greatest attention, both have allowed the small plutocratic contingent in this country to slowly abscond our rights as citizens as they slowly convert democratic traditions to ones that benefit a corporatocracy.

Perhaps the best case example of this that I can use is the current attempt by conspiring parties to form a loosely termed “trade” agreement called the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that will wound up robbing citizens of their right to reject business efforts that can pose a threat to our health and economic well-being.  If not actually being able to prevent the establishment of such businesses then by essentially allowing them to rob the public treasury for any alleged loss of POTENTIAL future profits these foreign and domestic investors will make claims to.

wallstreetbumsPolitical and business leaders of several Pacific rim countries along with the U.S. and Canada are working behind closed-door to fashion a bargain that claims to expand free trade while a closer look reveals more self-serving outcomes that protect corporate profits and minimize their risks to the detriment of working class people.  Businesses are creating a legal shield for themselves by making it extremely difficult for representative governments to inhibit corporate acts that pollute the environment or deprive us in essential ways of some privacy and free speech rights.

The most egregious aspect of the TPP treaty will allow multinational businesses operating in  the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam and later Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea to sue the government of these countries if restricted in any way where profits suffer, real or imagined.  Note I said “real or imagined”

They are basically acting as if their profit in a particular market was guaranteed absent government action. And no one else enjoys these rights. Consider highly paid workers in nuclear plants. Will they get payments commensurate with the premium they’ve lost over the balance of their working lives from the phaseout of nuclear power? Will cigarette vendors in Australia get compensated for the decline in their sales? Commerce involves risk, which means exposure to loss, yet foreign investors want, and seem able to get, “heads I win, tails you lose” deals via these trade agreements.  SOURCE

Even though the public has not been allowed to see all of the details of the TPP trade agreement the mere fact that it lacks any transparency indicates that it will follow the path of previous trade agreements and “strengthen and extend investor rights, which means [to] give them easier access to the courts” says the watch dog group Public Citizen. 

Nations who sign on to this agreement will be expected to conform to its rules and policies even if they come into conflict with existing laws.  Any disputes will be determined outside the locales where the violations occurred in “foreign tribunals” that are not sensitive to the conditions of the community where the said violations occurred.  These tribunals will also take place in secret, out of view from public scrutiny.  The rules and policies cannot be altered either unless all signatory countries agree.  A condition that ignores unforeseen and emerging problems.  These are only a few of the conditions that the TPP brings with it favoring the plutocratic contingent that has put this agreement together.

This is not a scare tactic folks  These types of power moves by multinational corporations will deprive citizens of their basic rights to establish laws to protect them and their families.  Here are just a few real life examples of how this will be played out if the TPP becomes law.

Eli Lilly is suing the Canadian government for $500 million because it claims Canada is violating its obligations to foreign investors under the North American Free Trade Agreement by allowing its courts to invalidate patents for two of its drugs.

– Vattenfal, a Swedish company, is suing the German government for an expected one billion Euro loss due to Germany’s program to phase out nuclear power.

– Phillip Morris threatened suit against Australia for its plain cigarette packing rules and is suing Uraguay for anti-smoking regulations.

Consider the fact too how efforts are being made to circumvent problems with indigenous people in smaller countries that have resources useful for Big Pharma and Biotechnology conglomerates like Monsanto and Archer-Daniels-Midland.

“Australia, NZ the US and Canada were the four countries that voted against the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which recognises indigenous rights in relation to genetic resources and biodiversity.”  SOURCE 

freemarketsolutionThis is government of, for and by a wealthy oligarchy to deprive citizens of the basic protections inherent in citizenship and that exploits the indigenous resources for private gain.  Both the political left and the right need to focus less on what separates them and more on what should unite them.  It is not the one government headed by conservatives or liberals that threaten any freedoms long established, it is the wealthy special interests that work hand in hand with those they have helped get elected that pose the greater threat to sending us back to feudal times.

The partisan snipping that goes on between ideological foes benefits only the plutocracy who want to remain hidden from the public’s eye.  This lack of transparency is enabled by the partisanship between liberal and conservative extremists whose bitter attacks on each other often get more attention from the media today than it should.  It doesn’t help either that the plutocracy has invested heavily in media ownership, thus controlling the message that they want they public to have.  “It is the function of the corporate media.” Gore Vidal once wrote, “to keep information from the public.”

If only there was a way both sides could lay their differences aside for an election cycle or two and highlight the damage the wealthy oligarchs have incurred in our representative form of government, we could perhaps work together constructively in the future once we have removed the threat and allow this country to regain the status once envied around the world.

RECOMMENDED READING:

The Fall of the Modern State by David Kaiser

Dark Affinities: Liberal and Neoliberal

What’s So Bad About the Trans Pacific Partnership Anyway?   a little radical in its speech but it hits the key points

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15 responses to “Can’t See the Forest For the Trees: The TransPacific Partnership Is Out to Steal Your Rights as Citizens

  1. Good post, Larry. I am starting to seriopus doubt that we can recover. The states do not like Fed laws so they make new ones to get what they want…..kinda like back in the days of the Art of Confed where every state has its own set of laws….a country cannot long exist with this ‘checks and balances’ (a future post) in place…….chuq

  2. Many years ago I had a High School teacher who told us that our political and social views are not stretched along a line, right to left, but are in fact nearly circular; the farther you go from the center point, the close the two ends become.
    It makes more and more sense to me, as I realize how many views I share with my ultra Conservative relatives.
    I am also beginning to think that that US “supremacy” has run its course.

    • I have always had this sneaking suspicion momshieb that the plan all along by a well-organized plutocracy is to pit the two extremes against each other to create the distraction we mostly have today.

      • I absolutely agree; as long as we are busy arguing about abortion and who can get married, we aren’t focused on those who have all the power and control.
        I miss the Occupy Movement….

  3. Corporations being able to bring suits against countries is beyond worrisome. Where, though, would these cases be heard? The US is not a member of the World Court, and I doubt the WTO would want a bar of it.

  4. I’ve been plowing through 750 pages of “The Bully Pulpit” mostly dealing with the way Roosevelt managed to get the press and the public behind him against the plutocrats and the reforms he managed in restraining the trusts and monopolies. It’s hard to imagine something like that in this day of the media being owned by the moneyed class.
    Great writing, but sadly preaching to the choir I’m afraid.

      • I wrote that last sentence with some ambiguity… I meant that I really like your summation of our current situation, though Doris Kearns Goodwin undoubtedly does an excellent job of researching and writing, too!

  5. I wish it were possible for them to put aside their differences for one or two political cycles, but I fear this is an action modern politicians won’t take. This was a great post LB!

    • Thanks Donna. Getting out of the D.C./K Street revolving door is less likely to happen with many politicians than changing the the minds of climate deniers that man-made global warming is real would be. 😦

  6. While Left & Right are intentionally distracted with scandal based “news” cycles and meaningless Surface State point-scoring battles, the Powers That Be (the Military-Industrial-Spy-Complex, the corporations and the 1 percent-ers hiding behind them) just keep gaining momentum.They operate largely out of sight and completely out of range of the citizenry.

    And is it any coincidence that the treaties creating cascades of lawsuits are voted upon by legislatures made up primarily of lawyers???

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