The news is abuzz again with talk of the TPP. The latest is that Canada’s International Trade Minister is signing the agreement in New Zealand. But what are the provisions in this secretive–and destructive–trade agreement, you ask? And–if it’s so destructive–why are Obama and so many of our senators supporting it? Easy answer: money. Multinational corporations have it, and our politicians need it.
Judy Frankel blogged about the worst provisions of this trade agreement, and I’ll summarize them here:
1.) Food Safety – According to the TPP, transnational companies can sue our states or federal government if our food safety laws stand in the way of expected future profits. Instead, lax international food standards will apply. Currently, our laws mandate evaluating such things as pesticide levels, bacterial contamination, fecal exposure, toxic additives, and non-edible fillers. A company that proves our safety regulations to be a barrier to profits can sue our government, then only the international corporation-appointed tribunal has to decide between keeping our food safe or allowing the multinational company to sell tainted food.
2.) Jobs – If the TPP passes, member corporations can enjoy the benefits of suing governments to allow for less stringent worker practices. The TPP would incentivize offshoring of good-paying jobs by offering special benefits to firms that relocate to low-wage nations.
3.) Environmental Protection – The TPP allows companies to sue our government if our environmental laws stand in the way of their making a profit. Under the TPP, Monsanto could sue the United States or the State of California if our laws ban such things as GMOs, pesticide, or other cancer-causing contaminants such as MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether), a gasoline additive.
Corporations have already been suing governments for such things. Chapter 11 of NAFTA allows multinationals to make claims against governments, leaving taxpayers on the hook for paying out damages or loss of revenue, even if the corporation made drinking water unsafe or polluted the natives’ land.
4.) Banking – The U.S. Business Coalition for the TPP includes banking firms such as Citi, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs. Their objective through the TPP is to prevent any regulations that would hamper the continued unregulated practices of the banking industry. The new law would:
(A.) Prohibit any “Robin Hood” taxes that would discourage super-rich speculators, the kind that caused the crash of 2008.
(B.) Roll back reforms that member governments adopted to fix the extreme banking deregulations that caused the 2007-2008 Wall Street crash.
(C.) Provide a safeguard against laws that would limit the size of “too-big-to-fail” companies.
5.) Can’t “Buy American” – The TPP empowers corporations “to launch [their] own litigatory (sic) attack on our domestic laws in global trade courts – potentially costing municipalities millions of dollars.” Instead of boosting our local economy by buying American or supporting businesses in the community, the new trade law would require local companies to bid against multinational companies who are TPP members.
6.) Drug Prices – The TPP extends patents on medications to 20 years, and if pharmaceutical companies tweak the formulation of a drug, they can extend that patent another 20 years, delaying cost-saving generics from entering the market to save lives.
7.) Internet Freedom – The TPP imposes similar restrictions to SOPA (The Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act). Currently, if you download a recipe from a website and print it, it’s free. But if the TPP passes, then you may be assessed a fine of up to $10,000 for violating copyright laws. The TPP opens the door to set up policies that:
(A.) Ban you from Internet use if you violate copyright, which will be set at 120 years by the TPP.
(B.) Require you to have your blogs or content filtered by an Internet intermediary for possible copyright infringement.
(C.) Block websites if they might be infringing on copyright.
(D.) Force Internet Service Providers to hand over your identity should you infringe on someone’s copyright.
Let me ask again: why the hell are our president and senators supporting this crazy trade agreement when it doesn’t benefit the average citizen? Mansur Gidfar of Represent.Us says it best:
“How can we expect politicians who routinely receive campaign money, lucrative job offers, and lavish gifts from special interests to make impartial decisions that directly affect those same special interests? As long as this kind of transparently corrupt behavior remains legal, we won’t have a government that truly represents the people.”
Now that you know the evil lurking in the this document that will affect 40% of the world’s GDP, here’s a good place to get more involved. And (not to bring everything back to my favorite potential nominee, but how could I resist?) here is a good piece on Bernie’s and Hillary’s stances on the TPP. Guess which one is adamantly opposed to it and which one is kind-of-but-I’ll-sway-depending-on-the-day opposed to it.