Tell the Truth, International Parasites! Totalitarian Take-Over In Progress
On Sunday, April 24, President Obama stood next to Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany and proclaimed that free trade deals like the TPP and the TTIP (which he was pushing) have been an “indisputable” good for our country. Amazingly, he did not then fall forward from the sudden weight increase of his Pinocchio nose.
First, for clarity: TTIP stands for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and is essentially the same thing as TPP, except that it’s between the U.S. and the European Union (E.U.), while TPP is between the U.S. and 11 other countries with Pacific frontage.
While Obama and Merkel pushed for completion and ratification of the TTIP, tens of thousands had protested against it in the same city the previous day, and hundreds of thousands across Europe have marched against it.
It’s a striking thing, isn’t it? The official leaders of 12 TPP countries, including Obama, and of most of the EU countries, all stand united in extolling the virtues of these deals, while they are opposed by majorities of the people in every country, and currently by all the major contenders for the U.S. presidency from both major parties (at least the major contenders claim to be against these treaties). They were also opposed by Obama in 2008 when he was campaigning in 2008.
Remember when someone from the Canadian trade office claimed that the Obama team had privately assured them that he didn’t really want to renegotiate NAFTA, that rhetoric was just for campaign purposes—and Obama’s team angrily denied it? In retrospect, it’s pretty clear who was lying. And this gives us a pretty good insight that some of the presidential contenders may well be lying now.
What does this tell us, when the elected heads of the world’s top democracies uniformly support treaties negotiated in secret, while their people uniformly oppose them…partly based on their experience with previous free trade deals? The current plan is to push for a vote on TPP during the lame duck session right after the election in November. Why? Because they can’t get the votes for it now, when members of congress are worried about losing their seats to a challenger. But after the election, some who were reelected can count on voters forgetting by the next election, while those who have been defeated can vote for any unpopular thing they like, and very likely will be rewarded by some Chamber of Commerce corporation with a highly-paid job to transition to after their “public service.”
In other words, to be blunt: “our” representatives don’t represent us, they represent the entities who paid for their elections—mostly big corporations, along with a few rich individuals. Obama and Merkel and the rest push “free trade” treaties that are harmful to the vast majority of their people and the environment, because their corporate backers demand it, and they are not free to say no.
Past evidence makes it clear, as do a few independent studies, including one done by Tufts University, and referenced here, that TPP and TTIP will not enhance the economy or jobs, with the possible exception of jobs moved to very low-wage countries like Vietnam. Citizens of the E.U. are riled up over TTIP because they expect it to force their environmental and health standards to be lowered to the U.S. norm, a reasonable fear as a good many of their laws are more strongly protective than ours, and free trade “harmonizes” to the weakest standards.
The TTIP, by the way, explicitly states that if the E.U. wants to import fracked gas from the U.S., we must approve LNG export facilities.
So Obama’s statement that free trade treaties are an “indisputable” good only holds if
- Only the wealthy count, and
- Only their pocketbooks matter.
Since the Paris Accord on climate change is all voluntary, and the trade agreements are binding, passage of these accords will exacerbate climate change and other environmental harms, affecting even those not party to them.
If this is not the agenda you want to see, what can you do? Make noise about it; make it more impossible for elected officials, or candidates, to support these corporate Bills of Rights. Two periods are especially critical for this: the second week of May when the U.S. Trade Office is expected to release a report on the economics of TPP, no doubt bolstered by cherry-picked studies claiming it’ll create thousands of U.S. jobs, improve everyone’s wages, and pave the streets with gold. The second time is immediately after the election, when the lame duck session may start. We need to be ready to shout from the rooftops—ideally, from the rooftops of Washington, D.C.—against it. They will likely try to rush it through as quickly and quietly as possible, maybe on a weekend or perhaps on Christmas eve, or in the shadow of some major news event.
So indeed we need to “remember in November”—not only to punish the members of our own state legislature who passed or pushed so many awful bills this past session, but also on the national stage. We need to stop this Constitution-trumping trade agreement, TPP, from being voted into law (TTIP is expected to be pushed later).
I’ll post more blogs as action items come up, so check back. Remember, letters-to-the editor are a great way to make noise, so please write.