TPP: The Dirtiest Deal You've Never Heard Of
by Chris Campbell
It’s being called “the dirtiest deal you’ve never heard of”...
Today we’re going to talk about the mysterious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) -- a massive “free-trade” agreement involving twelve countries in the Pacific Rim.
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Vox reports, “is a trade agreement being negotiated among countries bordering the Pacific Ocean, including the United States, Japan, Vietnam, Australia, and Chile.
“This map from the Congressional Research Service shows the countries that are expected to join the TPP and the volume of US trade with each of them.”
The officially reported goal of the TPP is “to enhance trade investment among the TPP partner countries, to promote innovation, economic growth and development, and to support the creation and retention of jobs.” Sounds harmless. Even good, right? The TPP promotes free trade. Free trade is what the world needs. Ergo, so goes the logic, the world needs the TPP.
It has all the right buzzwords too…
“President Obama’s trade agenda,” the U.S. Trade Representative’s website reads, “is dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses. That’s why we are negotiating the [TPP], a 21st century trade agreement that will boost U.S. economic growth, support American jobs, and grow Made-in-America exports to some of the most dynamic and fastest growing countries in the world.”
That’s precisely what, you might recall, the NAFTA deal promised. Clinton claimed that the deal would create 200,000 jobs in its first two years and a million jobs in five years. Instead, between the years of 1997 and 2014, one in four manufacturing jobs were lost to offshoring. That’s more than 5 million jobs.
TPP, we note, includes Vietnam… rapidly becoming a new favorite for offshoring due to wages being even lower than China’s. (An additional sidenote: one “key feature” of the TPP is that it will be a “living document.” Meaning, additional nations could be added without congressional approval. And once passed, the president would have full authorization to shape it “as appropriate.”)
But the TPP is much more than just another trade deal that has the potential to further erode middle class America.
The TPP, says Vox, “will do a lot of other things, too. The agreement could require countries to adopt stricter labor and environmental rules provide stronger legal protections to drug companies, lengthen the term of copyright protection, give foreign investors a new way to challenge countries’ laws and regulations, and much more.
“In short, modern trade deals like the TPP are about a lot more than just trade. They’ve become one of the major ways the world hashes out the rules of the global economy. And that’s a big reason the deal has become controversial. For example, digital rights groups and global health advocates who are not normally focused on trade issues have warned that the deal could negatively impact digital innovation and the global effort to combat AIDS, among other things.”
That’s the “safe” and surface explanation. But it gets deeper…
We’ll dig deeper into what TPP means for you in a moment. First, let’s expand upon the broad view of what the TPP really is.
Under the guise of just another trade deal, the TPP is a secretive, enormous trade agreement that will impact many aspects of your day to day life. And it will affect over 40% of the world’s economy. So it’s a big, big deal.
It consists of 29 chapters, “dealing with everything from financial services to telecommunications to sanitary standards for food,” says the Washington Post, the vast majority of which is completely hidden from the public eye. And “the most transparent administration” is receiving no shortage of flak because of its clandestinity. Obama, in typical dictatorial fashion, doesn’t like the criticism.
“The one thing that gets on my nerves the most,” Obama said in a recent press conference, “is the notion that this is a ‘secret deal.’ Every single one of the critics who I hear saying, ‘this is a secret deal,’ or send out emails to their fundraising base saying they’re working to prevent this secret deal, can walk over today and read the text of the agreement. There’s nothing secret about it.”
Clearly, in Obama’s mind, the “serfs” of America simply don’t matter. Because not one person in the general public, for the past six years this deal has been on the table, has laid eyes on it. Critics and non-critics alike. His words are pretty indicative of his mindset on the whole thing: the public opinion isn’t important.
But the peasants aren’t the only ones getting pushed out. Even senators are running into serious barriers when it comes to understanding what the TPP is really all about. Here’s what one recent NPR piece said about the deal:
“For any senator who wants to study the draft TPP language, it has been made available in the basement of the Capitol, inside a secure, soundproof room. There, lawmakers surrender their cellphones and other mobile devices. Any notes taken inside the room must be left in the room. Only aides with high-level security clearances can accompany lawmakers.
“Members of Congress can’t ask outside industry experts or lawyers to analyze the language. They can’t talk to the public about what they read… You just consult the USTR official.”
Meanwhile, representatives of the 605 private corporations who are tasked to weigh in on this agreement (ahem… campaign contributors), have been given a password for access to digital copies of the agreement. They are free to access it at any time, from anywhere in the world they want. Here’s a list of the insiders.
What are the three issues within the TPP that you should know about? The effects it will have on Big Agriculture, Big Pharma, and the Internet.
We are only aware of these issues thanks to leaks released by Wikileaks. It’s only a sliver of light, but it’s enough to see what we’re probably up against in the rest of the text.
Before we dive into those issues, here’s the broad view:
The treaty, as far as we understand, will give multinational corporations much more power, while, at the same time, undermining the sovereignty of states.
Some liberty-minded folks, for this reason, think the TPP sounds great. More power for business, less power for government. But that’s not what TPP is about. In reality, it’s about more power for the politically connected mega-corporations and the politicos who prop them up.
It’s crony capitalism at its most fascist.
Of course, we don’t know because much of the TPP is hiding in the dark. That’s the biggest problem.
But here’s what we do know…
One largely unspoken tidbit of many trade deals takes place under a provision called “Investor-State Dispute Settlement,” or ISDS. ISDS allows foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws. And, if they win, they receive enormous sums of money from you -- the taxpayer.
But, you might be thinking, corporate interests could already sue under domestic law. And you’re right. But under the ISDS, they won’t even have to step foot in an American courtroom to do so. Global corporations have the power to sue governments in tribunals organized by the World Bank or the UN.
And these tribunals won’t employ independent judges. Highly paid corporate lawyers will exchange hats, representing corporations one day, while judging them the next. Hardly impartial.
Here’s our biggest qualm: It’s taking more power away from the states and communities and individuals and further centralizing it in global institutions.
“International law imposed by an army of unelected bureaucrats is not freedom,” says Dr. Harold Pease in the Liberty Under Fire blog. “The Trans Pacific Partnership siphons decision-making power from the elected to the non-elected in a foreign land and will affect every American.”
Consider it a high-five for all those campaign contributions. Keep ‘em comin’ boys!
“This sets a horrible precedent,” Tom Pain writes on the Roads to Liberty blog, “letting the whims of crony capitalists take precedence over the national sovereignty of independent nations.”
It will also… to the surprise of no one… benefit tremendously Big Ag and Big Pharma. More on that, though, in a moment. Right after this short break…
Big-Ag and Big Pharma stand to be a couple of the biggest benefactors of the TPP, while crushing the consumer and the small farmers…
Per Wikileaks: “…there are significant industry-favoring additions within the areas of pharmaceuticals and patents. These additions are likely to affect access to important medicines such as cancer drugs and will also weaken the requirements needed to patent genes in plants, which will impact small farmers and boost the dominance of large agricultural corporations like Monsanto.”
First, let’s talk about agriculture…
Henry Kissinger said it best: “Control oil and you control the nation. Control food and you control the people.”
The worst fear is that the TPP is a power grab for Big Ag to allow the Big Three -- Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta -- an even bigger monopoly. (It’s worth noting: the chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. is former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique.)
One organization, called Nation of Change, wrote this recently about the TPP and its potential effects on agriculture:
“Legacies of other trade agreements that serve as a warning about the TPP have a history of displacing small farmers and destroying local food economies. Ten years following the passage of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) 1.5 million Mexican farmers became bankrupt because they could not compete with the highly subsidized U.S. corn entering the Mexican market.
“In the same 10 years Mexico went from a country virtually producing all of its own corn to a country that now imports at least half of this food staple. Mexican consumers are now paying higher prices for Monsanto’s GMO corn. With little or no competition for large corporations Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta now control 57 percent of the commercial food market.
“While the TPP is in many ways like NAFTA and other existing trade agreements, it appears that the corporations have learned from previous experience. They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.”
Some of the things we can expect to see if TPP is passed, says Nation of Change, include:
- More large scale farming and more monocultures
- Destruction of local economies
- No input into how our food is grown or what we will be eating
- More deforestation
- Increased use of herbicides and pesticides
- Increased patenting of life forms
- More GMO plants and foods
- And no labeling of GMOs allowed, even by companies who refuse GMOs…
Yikes. But that’s not all!
And TPP, if passed, according to a leak provided by Wikileaks, could severely restrict your freedom to roam on the Internet.
And it will restrict access to life-saving medicines by stifling innovation and halting competition and the production of generics.
TPP, as far as we know, is a way for corporations to gain corporate sovereignty that extends beyond the boundaries of states…Meanwhile, individuals’ rights are being stripped away by the paragraph. All under the guise of “free trade.” But here’s the thing…
“Free trade agreements,” by nature, do not promote free trade. They are really created to manage trade. Why, we ask, do we need an official agreement for free trade? The only barrier to free trade is government itself. If Big Government really wanted free trade, they would step out of the way and allow the market to take care of it.
It’s equivalent to the government passing a law stating the tax rate will be 0%. That’s unnecessary. All that’s needed is a housecleaning of regulations. You don’t need a law for zero taxes. You need only an absence of tax laws. But that’s far from what’s happening here. Instead, the TPP is a threat to what’s left of the free market, free expression, privacy, and access to online information.
© 2015 Laissez Faire Books, LLC. [You would think that congress would have screamed bloody murder when the following came to light.
Over 600 people can get access to the digital file that describes TPP - but your congressman can't except under the most stringent of controls - and neither can you. - WADE]