The TPP – What You’re Not Being Told

| Educate!

There’s a reason this is being hidden from the public.

People gather at Peace Arch Park in 2012 to oppose the U.S.-led Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). (Photo: Caelie_Frampton/flickr/cc)

What is the TPP? The average person has never heard of it, and most of those who have couldn’t tell you what it is. That’s no accident.

The TPP, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is a trade deal that has been negotiated in secret for years now. The deal encompasses the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. A lot of people are going to be affected by this, but for some reason the public is not allowed to see what’s in it. In fact many of the lawmakers which are about to vote on this deal haven’t even read it themselves. Those who have, are forbidden to expose what it contains. If that strikes you as fishy, you’re not alone.

We the people don’t get a word to say about the TPP, but multinational corporations do. There are 600 corporate representatives participating in these closed door negotiations. Obviously these representatives are looking after their employers’ interests, not ours.

Though the public doesn’t have access to the full text of this agreement, the contents of leaked drafts make it pretty obvious why this is being pushed through in such a sneaky way.

Now you might have heard some people focus on the probability that the TPP will cause the U.S. economy to lose jobs, much like NAFTA did, only worse. Though this concern may be valid, it’s hardly the most dangerous part of the agreement.

The real danger lies in the way that this agreement subverts the sovereignty of nations. The TPP would create a system of shadowy trade tribunals which would allow companies to to override and nullify laws in any member country.

These tribunals are extrajudicial. Their authority is outside above national justice systems. The arbitrators are unelected, and completely unaccountable to the people.

The laws which will be subject to this new agreement include (but are not limited to) intellectual property rights, food and product safety, environmental standards, and just about any regulation that may affect the way companies do business.

Under the TPP, if a country passes a law to protect its citizens or reduce pollution in a particular sector, a multinational corporation which is affected by that law can take that country to a tribunal. The ruling will be legally binding. It doesn’t matter what people voted for.

An example of what this will look can be found in Uruguay, which has been sued by the Philip Morris tobacco company. You see, Uruguay passed a law requiring particularly aggressive warning labels on cigarettes. These warning labels have been very effective. Smoking in Uruguay has declined by about 4 percent annually. Obviously that’s bad for business.

The fact that intellectual property rights are covered by the TPP has grave implications for the future of the internet. Under this agreement companies claiming to be harmed by lenient copyright enforcement would have a backdoor means to push new draconian regulations on every participating country. This would bypass normal legislative processes completely.

Remember SOPA? Under the TPP they wouldn’t even have to pass a new law. Unpopular measures like this could be imposed through a ruling. Politicians wouldn’t have to risk anything.

Don’t live in one of the countries implicated in the TPP? Have no fear, chances are they’re cooking something up for you as well. The TPP is only one of several alphabet soup trade agreements currently in the works. The TTIP (aka the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) would extend this system of extrajudicial trade tribunals to the entire European Union.

If they get away with phase one of this power grab you can rest assured that there will be more to come.

This isn’t about trade. This isn’t about jobs. This is about power, power that is being covertly shifted farther and farther away from the people.

Isn’t it beautiful, this rare show of Bipartisanship we’re seeing. It’s enough to give you the warm and fuzzies. Who would have guessed that the same Republicans who shut down the government over Obamacare would rally so enthusiastically to ram Obamatrade down our throats? It appears that those who line their pockets are in agreement on this one

It isn’t enough for the corporate ruling class to have the politicians in their pocket. Now they want the ability to bypass elections and constitutions completely. How does that make you feel?

Well, don’t waste your time telling me. The politicians who are pushing this bill have names and addresses. Look them up. Give them a ring. Rattle their cages. There is a time and a place for politeness. This isn’t one of them.

If you’re a resident of any of the countries involved in the TTP or TTIP now is the time to put pressure on the walking haircuts presiding over your particular region. Let them know that you know what they are up to. Make it clear that you will hold them personally responsible if they don’t back out.

These trade agreements are just the beginning. They’ll take this as far as you let them.