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Trans-Pacific Parternship
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 5:14 pm    Post subject: Trans-Pacific Parternship Reply with quote

It appears that SecState Kerry is on his way to Indonesia to discuss the TPP, a massive expansion of trade treaties in the style of NAFTA that would directly affect 40% of the current global economy. More importantly, any country that adopts the treaty would probably have to rewrite some of its internal laws in order to bring itself into compliance with the TPP.

You haven't heard of TPP, you say? That's okay--neither has Congress, despite the fact that this is a piece of trade legislation. Congress was allowed to see a small part of it last June, though. That's okay, too--over 600 corporate consultants from businesses like Halliburton and Monsanto have seen it and helped to draft it and since we all know that corporations are more trustworthy than politicians the legislation must have our best interests at heart.

Don't worry, though. The Obama Administration, the most transparent administration in the history of the United States, is backing this legislation as noted by Democracy Now! so it must be a good thing, right?

Did I mention that SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, which thankfully failed in Congress, has been rolled up in to TPP?

More information about TPP is given by Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.


Quote:
LORI WALLACH: Well, one of the most important things to understand is it’s not really mainly about trade. I guess the way to think about it is as a corporate Trojan horse. The agreement has 29 chapters, and only five of them have to do with trade. The other 24 chapters either handcuff our domestic governments, limiting food safety, environmental standards, financial regulation, energy and climate policy, or establishing new powers for corporations.

For instance, there are the same investor privileges that promote job offshoring to lower-wage countries. There is a ban on Buy Local procurement, so that corporations have a right to do sourcing, basically taking our tax dollars, and instead of investing them in our local economy, sending them offshore. There are new rights to, for instance, have freedom to enter other countries and take natural resources, a right for mining, a right for oil, gas, without approval.

And then there’s a whole set of very worrisome issues relating to Internet freedom. Through sort of the backdoor of the copyright chapter of TPP is a whole chunk of SOPA, the Stop Online Privacy Act, that activism around the country successfully derailed a year ago. Think about all the things that would be really hard to get into effect as a corporation in public, a lot of them rejected here and in the other 11 countries, and that is what’s bundled in to the TPP. And every country would be required to change its laws domestically to meet these rules. The binding provision is, each country shall ensure the conformity of domestic laws, regulations and procedures.

Now, the only reason I know that level of detail is because a few texts have leaked, and I have been following the negotiations and grilling negotiators from other countries to try and find between the lines what the hell is going on; otherwise, totally secret.


The very secrecy surrounding TPP should be reason enough to oppose it.

Quote:
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Lori, about that secrecy, even members of Congress have been severely limited in what they can learn, and that’s only after the revelations about the total secrecy that this whole process began with. Could you talk about what members of Congress are allowed to know and how?

LORI WALLACH: Well, what’s really important for people to know—and this gets to what you started out with about Fast Track. Congress has exclusive constitutional authority over trade. It’s kind of like the Boston Tea Party hangover. After having a king just impose tariffs, in that case on tea, the founders said, "We need to put all things about trade, international commerce, in the hands of Congress, the most diffuse part of the elected representation, not the executive, the king." So Congress has all this authority. They’re supposed to be exclusively in control. But until this June, they were not even allowed to see the draft text.

And it was only after a big, great fuss was kicked up by a lot of members—150 of them wrote last year—that finally members of Congress, upon request for the particular chapter, can have a government administration official bring them a chapter. Their staff is thrown out of the room. They can’t take detailed notes. They’re not supposed to talk about what they saw. And they can, without staff to help them figure out what the technical language is, look at a chapter. This is in contrast to, say, even what the Bush administration did. The last time we had one of these mega-NAFTA expansion attempts was the Free Trade Area of the Americas. And in that instance, in 2001, that whole draft text was released to the public by the U.S. government on the official government websites. So, this is extraordinary secrecy, and members of Congress aren’t supposed to tell anyone what they’ve read. So, for instance, you know, Alan Grayson, who was one of the guys who helped to get the text released, Alan Grayson said, "I can tell you it’s very bad for the future of America. I just can’t tell you why." That’s obscene.

This would rewrite wide swaths of our laws. And again, it’s mainly not about trade. So, if we have this agreement in effect, for instance, it would be a big push for fracking. Now you would say, "Why fracking?" Because it doesn’t allow us to have bans on liquid natural gas exports. Or, if this were in effect, we couldn’t ensure the safety of the food we feed our families. We have to import, for instance, fish and shrimp that we know, from the limited inspection that’s done, is extremely dangerous from certain kinds of growing ponds that are contaminated, etc., in some of the TPP countries. Or, for instance, some of the financial reforms where the banksters were finally regulated would be rolled back. All of this, and it would be privately enforceable by certain foreign corporations.


So...Members of Congress are forbidden from talking about what they read, even when they were graciously allowed to read a minor portion of the proposal?

That isn't even the fun part yet. Here is the really fun part:


Quote:
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Lori, what’s been the Obama administration’s position on these negotiations in terms of tobacco? Could you talk about that specifically?

LORI WALLACH: Well, the whole approach of the Obama administration has really been, I don’t know, some combination of heartbreaking and infuriating, because when he was a candidate, President Obama promised he would replace the NAFTA model, and instead they’ve doubled down.

So the tobacco issue is one of those that’s the most gruesome. So, the TPP includes the very controversial investor-state system, which empowers individual corporations to directly sue governments—not in our courts, but in extrajudicial tribunals where three corporate attorneys act as "judges," and these guys rotate between being the judge and being the guys suing the government for the corporation. They’re empowered to give unlimited cash damages from us, the taxpayers, to these corporations for any government action—a regulatory issue, environment, health, safety—that undermines the investor’s expected future profits. Under that system, big tobacco companies have been attacking health regulations. And famously—infamously—these kinds of investor-state cases have extracted billions of dollars and undermined important laws. So, Philip Morris has used this to attack Australia, one of the TPP country’s plain-packaging-of-cigarette laws. So, a lot of the TPP countries are very worried that they would be basically handcuffed from being able to regulate for health around tobacco. So, the U.S. originally was going to offer an exception. Big tobacco came in and basically won the day. The U.S. pulled away what was a medium exception, put in something that’s really worse than nothing, and then Malaysia came in and actually offered a real exception, which the U.S. is opposing—just like the U.S. is opposing an exception to maintain financial regulations for prudential reasons, just like the U.S. is opposing a real exception to those investor tribunals with respect to health and the environment. It’s incredibly depressing.


Yes, you read that correctly--if a government dares to enact something that causes corporate profits or investor dividends to drop the corporation can sue that government in a tribunal overseen by three corporate-appointed judges and be awarded damages that that government has to pay.

So, in essence the TPP is nothing more than the transition to corporatocracy, government by big business. I have said many times before that corporations are not necessarily worse than governments--corporations want only your money while a government wants your obedience--but that doesn't mean that I trust corporations any more than I do governments. Government wants you to be a good little citizen--sit down, shut up, and obey--while a corporation wants you to be a good little consumer--sit down, shut up, and buy our product.

I can't see that the TPP has any real chance of passing, but given the fact that Citizens United allowed unlimited corporate money to buy politicians it probably will.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:59 am    Post subject: Re: Trans-Pacific Parternship Reply with quote

Hashi Lebwohl wrote:
IThat's okay, too--over 600 corporate consultants from businesses like Halliburton and Monsanto have seen it and helped to draft it and since we all know that corporations are more trustworthy than politicians the legislation must have our best interests at heart...


Uh, typical bullying from both corporate and administrative US...want to eke some benefit for yourself from what we're doing for our own benefit? Change your laws so that what we're doing is legal here. Lock up everybody who uses the drugs that we decided should be illegal (but buy expired medication from us at lowish prices), and promise never to prosecute one of us for war crimes or we won't give you anything.

And don't think I except the governments who fall over themselves to take a handout either. They're just as bad.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It has been almost a year and TPP is finally [url=america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/9/29/history-largest-tradeagreements.html]back in the news[/url]. Nothing much has changed--all the negotiations are still being held in secret and even though some documents have leaked the essence is still the same, that the TPP is nothing more than the ultimate power-grab by Big Corporations that will grant them more power than national governments.

I especially liked this part:


Quote:
Much of the debate about ongoing negotiations focuses on the 566 members of the U.S. Trade Advisory Committee. Members of private industry and trade groups make up 85 percent of the committee, far outweighing labor and NGO representatives, academics, government officials and others who make up the rest of the committee.

“The handful of representatives that will represent labor and environmental organizations are basically ghettoized,” said Melinda St. Louis, the international campaigns director at the nonprofit Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “They talk amongst themselves. It’s only common sense to think that those who are actually at the table would have undue influence over what the rules are.”

Proponents of the agreements dismiss such criticism. “All the controversial issues, whether it's intellectual property or investor-state — it’s all been leaked anyway,” said Claude Barfield, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “Plus, to its credit, the Obama administration has held multiple meetings with NGOs, with members of Congress, with business groups, with any interested party. I mean, this is a left-wing administration.”


What a lame defense! The phrase "left-wing" doesn't mean anything any more, especially when a "left-wing administration" is considering giving Big Corporations this much power. I thought "left wingers" fought for the little guy? heh. Apparently they haven't done that since the big labor disputes in the 1930s. When they saw how much money they could make by siding with the corporations in the 1950s they changed sides.

Once TPP is enacted, the only way any nation will be able to get out of it is by bringing enough guns to the bargaining table. The nation that wants out had better hope that it brings more guns than the TPP supporters do....

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finally--the TPP is back in the news again. Not nearly enough light has been shed on this trade deal.

Quote:
Republican and Democratic lawmakers have reached a deal to give President Obama fast-track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. Senate Finance Committee leaders Republican Orrin Hatch and Democrat Ron Wyden reached the deal along with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan. It will allow Obama to negotiate the 12-nation pact in secret, then present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, with no amendments allowed. In a statement, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen said the bill introduced Thursday would "delegate away Congress’ constitutional trade authority and give blank-check powers to whomever may be president during the next three to six years for any agreements he or she may pursue." Wallach has described the deal as a "corporate Trojan horse" which would serve multinational firms while undermining health and environmental regulations.


So Congress, who has recently voiced their opinion that Mr. Obama should not be negotiating with Iran all by himself (not literally, of course, but figuratively) now thinks that it would be perfectly acceptable for Mr. Obama to negotiate the TPP all by himself? Really?

I would ask you to peruse the text of the TPP for yourself so you may decide whether or not it is a worthwhile piece of legislation...but you can't. The text of the treaty has not been made public. In fact, even when Members of Congress are allowed to look at parts of the deal they are required to take no notes of it or discuss it in public. This fact alone should be the only red flag necessary to show that this thing should not pass.

The United States is still not subject to the ICC. Do you know why? The answer is simple--no one wants our political or military leaders subject to the jurisdiction of a third-party court where they may be put on trial for their activities in various locations for charges up to, and including, war crimes or crimes against humanity. Contrast this, now, with the TPP, which will subject our government to subservience to a third-party "court" presided over by adjudicators appointed by the corporations who set up the court. As an analogy, sit down to play poker with me and I'll tell you "don't worry--I already shuffled the deck and since I am honest I can attest that it is randomly shuffled, now place your bet". What are the odds that you win?

Here is the interview Democracy Now hosts Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh had yesterday about the TPP.


Quote:
Senate Finance Committee leaders Republican Orrin Hatch and Democrat Ron Wyden are expected to introduce a "fast-track" trade promotion authority bill as early as this week that would give the president authority to negotiate the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and then present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, with no amendments allowed. On Wednesday, more than 1,000 labor union members rallied on Capitol Hill to call on Democrats to oppose "fast-track" authority. We speak with two people closely following the proposed legislation: Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, and Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to the pending vote in Congress on the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade deal currently being negotiated between the United States and 11 Latin American and Asian countries. Senate Finance Committee leaders Republican Orrin Hatch and Democrat Ron Wyden are expected to introduce a fast-track trade promotion authority bill as early as this week that would give the president authority to negotiate the TPP trade deal and then present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, with no amendments allowed. The bill would need 60 votes to pass the full Senate. Republicans control 54 votes, and almost all are expected to vote for the measure.

On Wednesday, more than a thousand labor union members rallied outside the U.S. Capitol to call on Democrats to oppose fast-track authority. They were joined by several members of Congress. This is Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: What this is about is not just trade. It is about whether this United States Congress begins to work for the middle class and working families of this country or whether it is totally owned by billionaires and their lobbyists.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Independent Senator Bernie Sanders. We’ll let you know if he actually officially announces that he’s running for president.

For more on the brewing battle in Congress over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and fast-track authority in Congress, we’re joined by two guests. Lori Wallach is with us, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. And Congressmember Alan Grayson is with us, a Democrat from Florida.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Lori Wallach, let’s just begin with you. We have been following the whole issue of both fast track and TPP, but for those who are not familiar with it—perhaps that’s why bills like this go the way they go—explain briefly why the Trans-Pacific Partnership is so significant.

LORI WALLACH: The Trans-Pacific Partnership would make it easier for corporations to offshore our jobs. It’s based on the NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the Korea Free Trade Agreement. It has the same provisions that give companies who offshore, who relocate their investments, special privileges and protections that make it cheaper and safer to move our jobs to low-wage countries. And TPP includes a lot of low-wage countries, which means our wages will get pushed down, when Americans are made to compete, for instance, with workers in Vietnam who are making less than 60 cents an hour.

In addition, TPP would open to 9,000 more corporations the right to drag the U.S. government into investor-state corporate tribunals. Those are the extrajudicial tribunals where panels of three corporate attorneys would be empowered to rule on a claim brought directly against the U.S. government by a foreign corporation claiming they should get compensation from our tax dollars for any domestic law they think violates their rights under the agreement, and they should get paid for their lost future profits for having to meet our laws.

In addition, provisions of the TPP—because most of it’s not about trade; 29 chapters, only five about trade—chapters would undermine Internet freedom. The copyright chapter has pieces of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, in it. The patent chapter would increase medicine prices. It gives big pharmaceutical companies extra monopolies. The financial services chapter would roll back financial regulation. The procurement chapter would undermine "Buy America," "Buy Local" preferences. Basically—the services chapter would undermine energy regulation and undermine the policies that we need to combat the climate crisis. Basically, the entire agenda that is necessary for a decent life and livelihood and health of America, and the people in the 11 other countries, is being rolled back in the name of a trade agreement that really is just a corporate Trojan horse tool negotiated for six years in secrecy.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Congressman Alan Grayson, could you explain your opposition to fast-track authority and what you’re calling on your colleagues in Congress to do?

REP. ALAN GRAYSON: Well, I agree with everything that Lori just said, but I think there’s also a bigger picture to consider. Our free trade, our so-called free trade, policies have been a disaster for the United States since NAFTA was enacted. Before NAFTA was enacted and went into effect 20 years ago, we never had any year in our history when we had a trade deficit of $135 billion or more. Every single year since then, for 20 years in a row, our trade deficit has been over $135 billion. Our last 14 trade deficits have been the 14 largest trade deficits not only in our history, but in the history of the entire world. And the result of that is that we’ve gone from $2 trillion in surplus with our trade to $11 trillion in debt. And we’ve lost five million manufacturing jobs and roughly 15 million other jobs in the last 20 years. So we’ve lost twice: We’ve lost the jobs, and we’ve also gone deeper and deeper into debt. So what’s happening is not that we’re buying goods and services from foreigners and they’re buying an equal amount of goods and services from us—that’s the way free trade is supposed to work. What’s actually happening is that we’re buying our goods and services from foreigners, and they are taking the money that we give to them for that and buying our assets.

That has all sorts of consequences for our economy. First we lose those jobs. Secondly, it makes American income and wealth more and more unequal. The reason why we have the fourth most unequal distribution of wealth in the world is because of fake trade. The reason why we have a bizarre, at this point unprecedented, quantitative easing policy, where the government uses the cash in our pockets to buy up assets and drive those asset prices up further and further, is because of fake trade. The reason why we have a federal deficit is because we have a trade deficit. And what happens is, the TPP, fast track, the Transatlantic version of TPP, these dramatically increase the amount of countries with whom we have this relationship—they quadruple them—and they put us on a fast track to hell, where America is nothing but cheap labor and debt slavery.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to President Obama speaking in February after he began the major push for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is bipartisan legislation that would protect American workers and promote American businesses, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but are fair. It would level the playing field for American workers. It would hold all countries to the same high labor and environmental standards to which we hold ourselves.

Now, I’m the first to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype. And that’s why we’ve successfully gone after countries that break the rules at our workers’ expense. But that doesn’t mean we should close ourselves off from new opportunities and sit on the sidelines while other countries write our future for us.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s President Obama speaking in February. President Obama is, obviously, president of the United States, leading Democrat. Congressman Grayson, he represents your party, as well. Why the difference? Who are the blocs now that are united? We’re not just talking it’s Democrats here and Republicans here. What set of Republicans and Democrats agree on this?

REP. ALAN GRAYSON: Well, it’s a mystery to me. You know, I was in the room when the president gave that statement and made that speech. He gave a 45-minute speech. On those three sentences, that was the only time during that entire speech when the Republicans rose up and applauded him and the Democrats did not. And I think that’s very revealing. There are very, very few Democratic votes in the House of Representatives, because we represent ordinary working people. The groups that are lobbying the hardest for this are the multinational corporations and their K Street lobbyists. They’re the ones who desperately want to see this passed, for the reasons that Lori Wallach just mentioned and enumerated. Ordinary Democrats represent constituencies who have been hurt hard, really hurt very hard, by the loss of those five million manufacturing jobs and 15 million other jobs. Go to any Democratic district in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. And the fact is that there is very little support, if any significant support, within the Democratic House Caucus for fast track or for TPP. We do have a few corporate Democrats. Frankly, we do have a couple of sell-out Democrats, who have sold out to the corporate lobbyists. But the bulk of the Democratic Party well understands, along with the labor movement and ordinary people, that these policies have been disastrous for us. And it is a lie to say that they will improve the economy. In fact, they will continue the downward trend of the economy, until foreigners own everything.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Lori Wallach, I want to ask you about a comment that you made about President Obama’s shift on this, since he voted in 2005 against the Central American Free Trade Agreement and subsequently explained his decision in the Chicago Tribune, what you referred to—his op-ed, that is—as his "Hamlet essay." Could you say why you called it that and what you think accounts for this transition of his on free trade?

LORI WALLACH: Well, I called it his Hamlet essay because it was on the one hand, on the other hand, to be or not to be. And he basically voted against the Central American NAFTA expansion, CAFTA, Central America Free Trade Agreement, probably mainly for political reasons. He would have been one of the very few Democrats who was for it. But the op-ed that he wrote in the Chicago Tribune basically laid out how much he wanted to be for the agreement. And I’m not sure it’s so much a transition as he went from not feeling very strongly about these issues, but being surrounded by a lot of advisers who thought it was a great idea—NAFTA, CAFTA—the sort of few last unrequited NAFTA lovers in the Democratic Party. And unfortunately, those are precisely the people he brought in, as president, to be his international economic advisers. So, the Larry Summers, Mike Froman, who is the current trade ambassador, these guys, some of them, like Froman, a Wall Street revolving-door guy, some of them authors of NAFTA, so maybe a little cognitive dissonance about what it did—those guys have marinated him in NAFTA juice, and it’s come, basically, to seep into his pores. And he now has become a guy who basically, but for maybe the Democratic Congress saving him—the Democrats in Congress—would basically ruin his own legacy by passing a trade agreement that would undermine everything he’s achieved and everything he says he stands for. The good news, as Congressman Grayson said, is that there are only a handful of Democrats who are left who are either undecided or prepared to support fast track.

And so, for folks across the country, this is a vote that could happen by the end of April. We’re talking quick. Every day that this debate gets aired, more and more people come out against. So, every person should find out where their member in the House of Representatives stands on fast track, and just ask them directly. Call the office over the weekend, your member of Congress’s home. Look in the blue pages. Get the local address. Just stop by. A lot of them have office hours. And just ask, "Will you commit to me, your constituent, that you’re going to hold onto your constitutional trade powers, not vote for fast track, which throws that away—it’s a process that literally is a delegation of Congress’s authority to stand up for us—and make sure we don’t see more jobs offshored with trade agreements?" That is what we all have to do, and we have to do it now.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Lori, can you talk about the investment chapter of TPP, that was leaked by WikiLeaks, which highlights the intent of U.S.-led negotiators to create a tribunal where corporations can sue governments if their laws interfere with a company’s claimed future profits?

LORI WALLACH: So, this is the chapter that both creates the incentives that basically promote countries to offshore. Ironically, the Cato Institute is against this chapter because, from their perspective, it’s an unfair market distortion giving a subsidy in favor of offshoring. They have no problem with offshoring; they just think the market should decide, we shouldn’t use our trade agreements to promote job offshoring. So, the flipside of that is, and one of the special privileges the corporations would get is, they get elevated literally to nationhood. They get the same status as a nation state to privately enforce the terms of a public treaty. It’s called investor-state dispute resolution. And if you want to learn a lot about it, go to www.isdscorporateattacks.org, isdscorporateattacks.org. It’s a new website that has all of these cases where corporations are empowered to drag a sovereign government to a tribunal of three private-sector trade attorneys, who rotate between being the attorneys for the corporations suing the governments and being the "judges." No conflict-of-interest rules. And these three private corporate attorneys can order a government to pay our tax dollars, in unlimited amounts, to a foreign corporation because they think that our domestic environmental, land-use, zoning, health, labor laws violate their new corporate rights in an agreement like TPP.

And the thing is, we’ve got a passel of those kind of agreements already. Folks remember, under NAFTA, we’ve had some horrible cases. Four hundred million dollars has already been paid out to corporations, even under NAFTA, where the system is narrower than what’s proposed for TPP. But there are very few companies from the countries we’ve had the past agreements with, because it’s mainly been developing countries. So there are 9,000 existing companies in all 50 agreements we have with this system. Just with TPP alone, we have another 9,000, mainly companies from Japan, so countries with—companies with sophistication and wherewithal. Plus, if we did the European agreement, we’d quadruple our liability, so that it’s only a matter of time before our laws get sacked. Warning to everyone: Go look at the Sierra Club website. Recent case like this under NAFTA called the Bilcon case, Sierra Club has a great exposé on it. The actual one of the tribunalists, one of the corporate lawyers, steps back and says, "If we keep doing things like this—I have to break with the rest of you. If we keep doing this, this investor-state system is going to chill all our environmental laws." That’s what one of the tribunalists said.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Grayson, do you have to rely on WikiLeaks to get information about what’s actually in the TPP agreement?

REP. ALAN GRAYSON: Well, one of the sad and disturbing elements of this whole process has been the artificial secrecy that’s been imposed by the administration and by the trade representative on these dealings. I can’t think of any other occasion, when I’ve served in Congress, when I’ve seen the element of deception loom so large here. The public is better informed of Iraqi attacks on ISIS, which you’d think would be classified, than it is informed on a trade deal that’s going to determine our economic future for the next 20 years. What’s happened is that, right at the beginning, the trade representative took the absurd position that everything that was being negotiated was classified, even though it was directly in the hands of the foreign governments with whom he was negotiating. Remember, normally, we have a classified system to keep information away from our enemies, or at least other governments. In this case, it was the other governments that had the information, and it was Congress and the American people who were being denied the information. And they took that position for five years, even though 100 members of Congress wrote a letter to the trade representative saying, "Cut this out."

Now, I’m the first member of Congress to actually see any part of the TPP, even though 600 corporate lobbyists are, quote, "advisers" to the trade representative and they get to see everything. And I insisted they take that information to my office, and in return they told me I couldn’t take it with me, I couldn’t take it home, I couldn’t make notes on it, I couldn’t have my staff present. And here’s the kicker: They didn’t want me to discuss it with the media, the public or even other members of Congress. So it’s a farce. And it’s meant specifically to keep the information away from the American people, because if the American people knew what was going on, they’d recognize that it’s a punch to the face of the middle class in America.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 2:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hashi, well done on keeping this topical. This "deal" has the all the traits necessary to create a "Big Brother" that we have no control over even at the ballot box. This is a sell out to corporate business who's ability to make profits becomes enshrined to the extent that it can essentially levy fines for what it (ie, its own tribunal and corporate lawyers) decides has an effect on its potential profit. This is at its core surrendering the sovereignty of the nations taking part to a new sovereignty cooked up by corporate America

The best example so far is tobacco. These companies could (and tried to in Australia) sue the government for cigarette packaging laws, laws designed to try to discourage an activity directly akin to pushing harmful drugs at young people. Governments legislating cigarette packaging laws are enacting laws to help their citizens enjoy a better and healthier life, which is basically part of their mandate. This deal may (and in all likelihood will, given the events that have already taken place on this issue alone), trump that mandate. In the US there will surely be legal challenges and avenues that explore this in light of its constitutionality and conflict with Bill of Rights etc., however will that in practice be an option for the rest of the deal participants?

The next step in this is of course the corporations needing to "monitor" and ensure that no "deal-breaking" is occurring, naturally the tribunal backed by its own legal interpreters, will argue that if a government stops it from monitoring the marketplace, ie us, it will be liable for recompensing the potential profits lost which I'm sure some formula will be drawn up to calculate. The corporate nation will have carte blanche to do all the things we are currently protected from and each time they are challenged will have the heaviest hand in court with the biggest budget and will have a government that in all likelihood will have some complicity in the surveillance and ongoing monitoring of its citizens.

Yeah it sound like Orwell or Sci-Fi screenwriters on a bad day, but think about what has already happened in our lifetimes and even just in the last decade. Governments have approved widespread surveillance through meta-data (do we really know what this entails?), we have seen approved uses of militarised policing, limits on the ability to use civil protest and governments using their weight and the weight of the corporate media to drive agendas they were never elected to pursue. We have also seen Corporations pollute, cheat, steal, lie bare faced to the courts about the uses and safety of their products services and/or endeavours, resist any attempts to increase the safety of their products or to be accountable for any harm derived from their use.

This is not a few examples, this is widespread and endemic to the special status already afforded corporations which can double dip and switch bait as having rights and benefits as both businesses and individuals. Lobbied and bought government administrations and big business has demonstrated repeatedly that it has no scruples and is both willing to harm, as well as being highly resistant to measures to stop it harming ordinary people so as to make higher profits. If ever people needed protection from a predatory force assailing society this would be it.

With politicians we get a rum lot, pretty much the world over, but we can remove them and they are, even with a tame 4th estate, subject to the axe of public opinion and public outrage. This means that they can't go too far and if they do, they have to double back or they'll get the chop. However, the tribunals, lawyers and corporates are not elected and their only sanction is not screwing as much as can be screwed out of any given commercial situation. They are also faceless and as such direct and individual accountability is all but non existent; if they go right over the top, they will back off with weasly mitigations and build a park or something whilst regrouping to try to achieve the same objective by a different means.

This really is the Governments of the deals participants, going to the bank to mortgage the farm.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not surprisingly, most of the articles I find mentioning the TPP come from Democracy Now or Al Jazeera America. This makes even ALEC look tame by comparison because at least their shopped legislation can be altered; the brokers for the TPP have made it quite clear that if--when--the legislation comes before Congress that no alterations may be made. How, I wonder, do they intend to enforce that? You can't forbid Congress from altering legislation with addenda....unless you have bought enough politicians to get your way.

I am not surprised that politicians want it--they are already wealthy and stand to increase their wealth with this sort of deal, especially once they leave office and become lobbyists for their corporate master(s). I like money and I like capitalism but any philosophy, no matter how good or beneficial, ends up a force for destruction if carried to its logical extreme. The TPP is capitalism taken to its logical extreme.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

...... and so are sown the seeds of anarchy and revolution.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is one difference b/w this and the Iran thing, here Congress would at least give the Pres the power, whereas w/Iran, Obama claims it for himself.

And I disagree w/Grayson about the trade deficit and it being a problem. Throwing around numbers like trillions in "deficit" is scary, and does sway a lot of people, but trade deficit just means other people make things for us. In the last 20 years, are we worse off due to trade deficit?

And as we've noted before, the jobs that would be lost aren't worth keeping around, and automation going to replace them soon anyway. We need to figure out how to handle that issue.

But still seems like this is a terrible thing. Wouldn't it be funny if the dems blasted the reps for giving Obama power that they don't want to give him in other areas? But notice the lack of such an easy attack? Usually when we have bi-partisan bills, you know we're in trouble. My dad's voting philosophy is to try to balance both parties, to reduce harm inflicted on us.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If all the jobs which are going to be off-shored are jobs we wouldn't want, anyway, then what jobs will we be left with? Will we be a nation full of people employed by financial institutions and people working retail stores to satisfy the wants and needs of people employed by financial institutions? What will an economy look like which has little to no manufacturing base?

In its defense, I will note that the TPP will make it so that other nations will ultimately have to wind up bringing their environmental laws closer to the level of the ones we have in the United States, which are arguably some of the best in the world (a fact which some environmental activists seem to ignore), but the downside of allowing corporations to sue the United States and win judgements that average taxpayers will have to pay is so much worse that the entire deal needs to be avoided. Again, I have to iterate that the most significant red flags are that Members of Congress are not allowed to see all the details, much less take notes or discuss it publicly, and that they will not be allowed to change the details of the legislation. Are the drafters of the TPP also going to forbid the Supreme Court from hearing cases which may strike down sections of the TPP if they find them to be unconstitutional? I'd like to see them try that. The sad fact is this: they must might try it.

Incidentally, the TPP has sister legislation called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, which is essentially the same sort of deal. Same deal, different ocean--the adjudication process would be overseen by industry-appointed lawyers for "courts" in which corporations would be allowed to sue European governments for legislation which negatively impact profits or which threaten to negatively impact future profits which have not yet been realized. That's absolutely crazy--suing a government because of a loss in projected profits which aren't even real yet? That would be like suing someone who promised you $10,000 but now they can promise only $7,000--you didn't lose $3,000 because you didn't actually receive any money yet no loss has occurred....but these corporations will view this is as a loss. Many people in [url=america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/4/18/thousands-in-germany-protest-against-europe-us-trade-deal.html]Germany, specifically, dislike the TTIP[/url]. One protester in particular had this to say:


Quote:
Helmut Edelhauesser, a 52-year-old from Brandenburg, said he would prefer a free trade deal with Russa.

"The U.S. push for world domination is unacceptable," he told Reuters. "Obama sends out drones to kill people and wins the Nobel Peace Prize. This has to stop."


Mr. Edelhauesser, the United States is not doing this. Rather, the TTIP, like the TPP, is something that is being forced upon us, as well, and our lawmakers are just as eager to sell out this country as your lawmakers are eager to sell out yours.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No Hashi, IT IS the United States doing this, the fact that it also has a domestic effect is irrelevant, in truth that can also be said of those in Asia and Europe who sign on. But the initiative and impetus is American and the world's major corporations are American, they will make up the majority of the TTP/TTIP courts and lawyers and they will be looking after primarily their own interest which are American interests.

We already have a situation whereby America uses the International courts to try its enemies (when it cannot assassinate them), but will not be subject to those courts; standing above the law in its arrogance. How likely is it that a court of European lawyers will be able to sue the US government? Even if they could, whose law is going to be used..... French, British, America???

I know you are not arguing otherwise Hashi, but this is international subjugation and Mr. Edelhauesser is right. Fines levied on Governments or its people is basically a "tribute to Rome" and it defies any vestige of democracy left in the west (or any emerging in the east), when the people of a sovereign nation have to check with the fucking yanks to see if its OK to enact laws in their own country!
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cybrweez wrote:
We need to figure out how to handle that issue.


Except we're not. We're ignoring it until we can't any more. Government always seems to assume things will just stay the same, until they don't any more.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

finn wrote:
No Hashi, IT IS the United States doing this, the fact that it also has a domestic effect is irrelevant, in truth that can also be said of those in Asia and Europe who sign on. But the initiative and impetus is American and the world's major corporations are American, they will make up the majority of the TTP/TTIP courts and lawyers and they will be looking after primarily their own interest which are American interests.

We already have a situation whereby America uses the International courts to try its enemies (when it cannot assassinate them), but will not be subject to those courts; standing above the law in its arrogance. How likely is it that a court of European lawyers will be able to sue the US government? Even if they could, whose law is going to be used..... French, British, America???

I know you are not arguing otherwise Hashi, but this is international subjugation and Mr. Edelhauesser is right. Fines levied on Governments or its people is basically a "tribute to Rome" and it defies any vestige of democracy left in the west (or any emerging in the east), when the people of a sovereign nation have to check with the fucking yanks to see if its OK to enact laws in their own country!


I would agree with you except for one small detail: these trade deals will negatively impact the United States along with every other country who signs onto them. Whom will the corporations sue first, countries like Portugal who are cash-strapped or the United States, which has mountains of cash available? They'll go after the one who can pay, of course.

If the United States were actually behind these deals, then why would they be constructed to have a negative impact on us? Wouldn't the deals essentially say "what we say goes"? Yes, the corporations behind it are mostly based here but as soon as they can leave they will leave then reincorporate elsewhere where the corporate tax rate is lower.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

finn wrote:
But the initiative and impetus is American and the world's major corporations are American, they will make up the majority of the TTP/TTIP courts and lawyers and they will be looking after primarily their own interest which are American interests.


I don't disagree with much of what you said.
But any gain for America is really just a side effect and a labeling.
The problem is, from what I've seen, and what I think Hashi is pointing at mostly, is the Trans-[or even non- or anti-] national nature. Because there is a disconnect and ever-widening gap between a [theoretically] American Corporation and American interests.

There seems to be a fully intentional possibility that both the Gov'ts and citizens of any given nation are subservient to the Corp.

I say "seems" because there isn't enough info to even know anything for sure...there is just enough info to be very, very, worried.
For instance---it's possible, given what it known and because of what ISN't known to have a reasonable fear something like:

A Corp that wants recompense for the expense of building cars that comply with U.S. emissions standards for U.S. markets.
Actually, they might be able to sue every signatory that has any rules stricter than the absolute lowest standards.
That's bad, and there are tons of somewhat similar issues that could get pushed.

Plus, seriously---
courts ALWAYS get jammed up with irrelevant/pipe-dream/frivolous-political/all manner of bullshit suits.

AND tons of terrible decisions happen, sometimes even accidentally by smart people [more often not accidentally, but benefit of the doubt.]

AND massive money gets made [and terrible deeds never get punished] by parties submitting to blackmail...oh, I mean "settling out of court" with the usual "non-disclosure" and "no admission" crap.]]

OTOH---there is a possible interpretation/implication that Corps and slacker nations [in the case above] would be forced to RAISE standards [say, some polluted wasteland has to pay GM or Honda the price difference between the high-efficiency/low emission vehicles it makes to be competitive in the local market, with local smog-mobiles.]

Yea...the second is so absurdly unlikely...but it's POSSIBLE
[[heh...and would probably be a better version. There are probably at least a billion people within the applicable area of this thing that would dance in the fucking streets if they suddenly had jobs paying U.S. minimum wage in buildings with U.S. labor/safety/compensation/environment standards.]]

Edited to add---Hashi replied while I was typing...at least it doesn't look like I was wrong about things he was/would think. Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:

Edited to add---Hashi replied while I was typing...at least it doesn't look like I was wrong about things he was/would think. Smile


Yes, you distilled my position succinctly.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's well presented Vraith and is plausible, however the TPP/TTIP is at the instigation of the US and the nations being included are as far as I can see (and yes we don't know that much given the closed doors) are being drawn in by future opportunities (bribes) and greater access to markets (lies). If this is good only for the corporations (mainly US corporations) then why is the US Government involved? It must be on some sort of political kickback that it can spin as beneficial to America.

Another issue is law: whose law is used? If (as has happened with Philip Morris) the Australian Government is sued by a tobacco company for legislating that its accepted (legally accepted) harmful product should have packaging that does not promote a brand (brands being designed to suggest smoking as sexy or outdoor or cool and sophisticated, etc.), what law is used by the corporate tribunal; presumably there is law otherwise why the need for lawyers? Will we see the roll out of US law and then see US law being incorporated into Australian and Thai and German corporate law?

This is the thin edge of a fat wedge ..... politicians can be voted out, but corporations cannot ............ there lie the seeds of anarchy and revolution.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2015 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

finn wrote:
That's well presented Vraith and is plausible, however the TPP/TTIP is at the instigation of the US


But that isn't so. The U.S. didn't start it. And it wasn't so much about transnational corps.
When we did join, it was mostly about financial movement. It was [as far as I can tell] after the bump of countries joining, and Canada's interest, that things started going sideways on the particular sections that seem the biggest threats. [[issues of copyright/intellectual property, and the Corps telling countries what to do that we've been talking about].

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2015 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are right and I stand corrected. However the initial agreement was a broad and open trade agreement on tariffs and terms of trade between Chile, New Zealand and Singapore later joined by Brunei. It was essentially small fry until on 14 December 2009, new US Trade Representative Ron Kirk notified Congress that President Obama planned to enter TPP negotiations "with the objective of shaping a high-standard, broad-based regional pact": in essence the small scale model was going to be done big time. At that point the other nations came on board.

The US did not start this but it did not really start until the US endorsed it and basically took over the propagation of it.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2015 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is because most of the really big corporations are based here and they are naturally all for trade deal like these--they have nothing to lose but much to gain.

Meanwhile, President Obama is defending the TPP against critics from inside his own party.


Quote:


President Obama has criticized fellow Democrats who oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, or TPP. The 12-nation pact would encompass 40 percent of the global economy and is being negotiated in secret. In an interview on MSNBC, Obama responded to criticism from Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who says the TPP would undermine U.S. sovereignty and help the rich get richer.

President Obama: "I love Elizabeth. We’re allies on a whole host of issues. But she’s wrong on this. ... Everything I do has been focused on how do we make sure the middle class is getting a fair deal. Now, I would not be doing this trade deal if I did not think it was good for the middle class. And when you hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is, when you dig into the facts, they are wrong."

The Senate is expected to vote today on a bill that would grant Obama so-called fast-track authority to negotiate the TPP, then present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, with no amendments allowed. The measure has received a growing chorus of protest, including from Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who said his stance on fast track is "hell no." Public Citizen and the libertarian Cato Institute recently joined together to write an op-ed criticizing a component of the TPP that would allow corporations to sue countries in front of a tribunal of private attorneys if a law interferes with their claimed future profits. "Analysts with the Cato Institute and Public Citizen usually stand on opposing sides of trade policy issues, but we find common ground in opposing this system of special privileges for foreign firms," they wrote.


If the TPP is such a great deal for the middle class then why not make the text of the proposal public so we can all read it for ourselves? Why is being set up so that Congress must vote "yes or no" and cannot make any changes to it?
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2015 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hashi Lebwohl wrote:


If the TPP is such a great deal for the middle class then why not make the text of the proposal public so we can all read it for ourselves? Why is being set up so that Congress must vote "yes or no" and cannot make any changes to it?


It's not even negotiated yet. Secrecy does not necessarily mean nefarious, by having an environment where negotiators can discuss wants of the various parties and potential compromises, you have an environment of frank and potentially profitable discussion. Imagine, being able to work on something without having to worry to step gingerly around whatever ignorant-but-hysterical group that wants to express its opinion!

Essentially, you remove politics from the building phase and maybe you end up with something comprehensible without various contradictory clauses sprinkled throughout by opposing parties!

The check in power comes with the Congressional vote. They get to see the finished product and vote yea or nay. And they don't get the chance to add pork to it? Sounds like a win to me! This means that it can not be killed, or passed, based on stupid provisions a Representative or Senator may add or demand for whatever reason. It also means that the finished deal has to appeal to a broader spectrum if it has any hope of passing, particularly with the current hysterical environment.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orlion wrote:

It's not even negotiated yet. Secrecy does not necessarily mean nefarious, by having an environment where negotiators can discuss wants of the various parties and potential compromises, you have an environment of frank and potentially profitable discussion. Imagine, being able to work on something without having to worry to step gingerly around whatever ignorant-but-hysterical group that wants to express its opinion!

Essentially, you remove politics from the building phase and maybe you end up with something comprehensible without various contradictory clauses sprinkled throughout by opposing parties!

The check in power comes with the Congressional vote. They get to see the finished product and vote yea or nay. And they don't get the chance to add pork to it? Sounds like a win to me! This means that it can not be killed, or passed, based on stupid provisions a Representative or Senator may add or demand for whatever reason. It also means that the finished deal has to appeal to a broader spectrum if it has any hope of passing, particularly with the current hysterical environment.


That is the best defense of its secrecy that I have heard to date. That being said, I still don't like it. We can go to Project Vote Smart and the websites for the House of Representatives or Senate to view the current text of proposed legislation but why can't we view this? What makes this proposed legislation different than any other, aside from the facts a) it isn't being proposed by any Member of Congress but will, rather, be given to them for them to vote on it without any debate or amendment possible and b) it sets up tribunals which will allow corporations to sue the United States government (or any other government) of potential future losses, not actual losses, and the governments must pay?

The 5th anniversary of the BP explosion in the Gulf recently passed. Under normal circumstances, things would happen as they happened--the company would wind up being forced to pay for cleanup, violating various environmental regulations, etc. but under these trade deals the penalties for violating environmental regulations and the costs of cleaning up the spill, not to mention any negative press the company receives, could all be viewed as negatively impacting future profits. With those facts in hand, BP could go to the tribunal, make its case, and the tribunal could force the national government in question to pay for all the cleanup on their own as well as being forced to pay reparations for damages to the corporation's public image and profitability. How is that even remotely logical, except to various corporate Boards of Directors?

_________________
No matter how thinly you slice it, it's still bologna.

What is the secret of Zen? Burn all your Zen books.

If you can't handle losing then you don't deserve to win.

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Hashi, if you thought you were wrong at times, evidently you were mistaken.


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