New Information - January 21, 2014 (Pdf document) about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and “Fast Track” for a 3-page section in the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation’s February-March 2014 newsletter
Here is much information about the latest “free trade” schemes and how we can stop them.
This also appears on four pages of the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation’s newsletter for December 2013 / January 2014.
Use your computer to watch Olympia FOR’s TV program on this topic: Watch our November 2013 TV program through our website’s TV Programs page, www.olympiafor.org/tv_programs.htm The November 2013 TV program link also offers a thorough .pdf description of that program.
Bi-partisan: For decades now, presidents and Congresses of both big political parties have been pushing for “free trade” schemes that promise jobs and prosperity, but have produced the opposite. For example, Democrat Bill Clinton pushed NAFTA and the expansion of the WTO. George W. Bush negotiated “free trade” deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, and in 2009 Barack Obama picked up right where Bush left off and pushed Bush’s deals ahead to completion. Bush also had started pushing for a “free trade” scheme that would include many Pacific Rim nations (the Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP), and Obama is pushing vigorously for that. The U.S.’s “two-party” system and the businesses that fund their campaigns allow both of the big political parties to promote virtually identical economic policies at the macro level. However, more and more members of the U.S. House of Representatives (now 151 Democrats and 22 Republicans) recently sent letters to President Obama telling him they will not give him “Fast-Track” authority to pass TPP without a proper debate.
Economic injustice leads to violence: Mainstream politicians and mainstream news media assume that these “free trade” schemes are good, and fail to adequately consider the other side. In recent decades the gap between extremely rich people and everyone else has been widening terribly. This has caused gross injustices and horrible suffering. Injustice and suffering lead to violence and war. The world cannot achieve peace while such economic injustices exist.
Olympia FOR’s values contradict the “free trade” mania: The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation supports human rights, economic justice, a healthy environment, and profound democracy, but global capitalism’s agenda is very different!
We need fair trade instead: Instead of “free trade,” we need fair trade – trade that is fair for everyone. Instead of a few extremely rich elites running the economy, we need broad participation from everyone – a real democracy – to shape an economy that will work for everyone. Fairness throughout our economy – as well as fairness throughout other parts of our society – would be necessary in order to achieve peace and social justice.
How the TPP could hurt all of us: The TPP is much more than a “free trade” deal. In fact, only 5 of the TPP’s 29 chapters deal with trade. Everything else gives new powers to giant corporations. The TPP has been described as a coup in which giant corporations overthrow democracy in the US and other countries. The TPP will undermine our democracy and turn our sovereignty over to multinational. It will allow corporations to directly sue a national government for the amount of claimed lost profits because of regulations that protect labor, public health and safety, the environment and more. According to the Alliance for Democracy (www.alliancefordemocracy.org) and other respected non-profit organizations, here are just a few things that the TPP could do:
TPP and Free Trade info -- Early 2016 ( pdf ) ( Word )
Mark Weisbrot: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty is the Complete Opposite of “Free Trade” -- See this November 19, 2013, article for fresh insights debunking the “Free Trade” propaganda: www.commondreams.org/view/2013/11/19-5
An especially dangerous aspect of the TPP: Giant global corporations would operate secret courts to resolve disputes about environment, workers, etc., without due process. http://tinyurl.com/nluyddf
The TPP is often described as “NAFTA on Steroids.” Let’s understand TPP in the context of Global Neoliberalism: On August 19, 2012, Truthout (www.truthout.org) published this article byCliff DuRand: https://tinyurl.com/ov65y2f
Powerful article, “Death by Corporation: America's Corporate Deathstar,” criticizes TPP: This article by Dr Brian Moench was published by www.truthout.org, on August 12, 2013. This article says the TPP would “allow corporations ‘virtually unchecked control of our food supply, our land, air, water, wallets and our future.’” The article refers to “Death by Corporation,” “ ruthless, psychopathic behavior of our largest corporations spanning most major industries.” Behind the scenes corporations and government officials are “rapidly assembling the corporate ‘Death Star’ to be unleashed upon citizens throughout the world, allowing them virtually unchecked control of our food supply, our land, air, water, wallets and our future.” Both of the US’s big political parties promote the TPP as a way to radically de-regulate our nation and the global economy in order to allow giant corporations to do pretty much whatever they want. The article says TPP “would subordinate domestic law and policy to a binding international governance system. Specifically, TPP would (1) severely limit regulation of foreign corporations operating within US boundaries, giving them greater rights than domestic firms, (2) extend incentives for US firms to move investments and jobs to lower-wage countries, (3) establish an alternative legal system, creating ‘investor states’ that give foreign corporations and investors new rights to circumvent US courts and laws, allowing them to sue the US government before foreign tribunals and demand compensation for lost revenue due to US laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges or their investment ‘expectations.’” Read the article at http://preview.tinyurl.com/mt3vgs7 You could search for it there instead of typing in the long URL, http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/18115-mankind-death-by-corporation-part-iii-the-tpp-as-corporate-deathstar.
New evidence about “free trade” negotiations are worrying some people that Obama might be preparing to approve Keystone XL: One of the good organizations working on oil-related issues, Oil Change International (www.priceofoil.org), announced in late September that Michael Froman, Obama’s U.S. Trade Representative who is in charge of negotiating several secretive “free trade” agreements is siding with Big Oil in demanding that Europe weaken its climate laws. His reasoning seems to be that unless Europe weakens its climate laws, US diesel exports, which will contain tar sands, will be less competitive. The tar sands that Keystone XL would pump to the Gulf Coast for export are notoriously dirty. With Europe’s stronger environmental protections, the U.S.’s dirty tar sands would be non-competitive, so – in the logic of “free trade” – Europe must weaken its environmental standards in order to be able to import dirty diesel oil from the U.S.
Is TPP really aimed to give the US and other Pacific nations an advantage over China? I can’t vouch for this article’s information and conclusions, but it is interesting. http://preview.tinyurl.com/oc5ddkt
Why “Fast Track” is especially bad: Fast Track is the process by which the president sends an already-negotiated trade agreement to Congress. Discussion by Congress is then strictly limited to no more than 90 days, including discussion in any specific committees. No amendments are allowed. Once the bill is on the House and Senate floors for a vote, each body has only 20 hours or less for debate. Only a simple majority is needed to pass. Fast Track (officially called “Trade Promotion Authority”), was created by President Nixon in 1974. Congress must vote to grant this authority to the president, thereby ceding their Constitutional obligation to “...regulate trade with Foreign Nations...” Fast Track was in effect until 1994, when President Clinton used it to pass NAFTA, and from 2002 to 2007, when President Bush used it to pass the Central American Free Trade Agreement. If we prevent Fast Track now, we have the chance for an open, democratic debate in Congress on the TPP and free vs. fair trade.
Information about the TPP and Fast Track appeared on the Nov 14, 2013 Democracy Now! broadcast: Watch or read it here: www.democracynow.org/2013/11/14/tpp_exposed_wikileaks_publishes_secret_trade
The Trans-Atlantic “free trade” scheme is bad too: While environmentalists and progressives have focuses on the devastating effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a similar Trans-Atlantic “free trade” scheme (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – the TTIP) is horrible also. The TTIP would reduce food safety standards and threaten sustainable agriculture. It would continue the “race to the bottom” mentality for labor rights, human rights, environmental protection, etc. See information at www.commondreams.org/view/2013/10/25-1
Trans-Atlantic “free trade” scheme threatens food safety and sustainability: While environmentalists and progressives have focuses on the devastating effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a similar Trans-Atlantic “free trade” scheme (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – the TTIP) is horrible also. The TTIP would reduce food safety standards and threaten sustainable agriculture. It would continue the “race to the bottom” mentality for labor rights, human rights, environmental protection, etc. Read an informative article at www.commondreams.org/view/2013/10/25-1
Transparency could stop the TPP: For the past three years, President Obama has negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) behind the backs of the American people and Congress. The President’s US Trade Representative and 600 corporate “advisors” (see the list at www.flushthetpp.org/tpp-corporate-insiders/) are pledged to secrecy on the contents of the deal, because according to Ron Kirk, former US Trade Representative, making the text public would raise such opposition as to make it impossible to get the TPP passed by Congress and signed by the President. (“Obama’s Covert Trade Deal,” The New York Times, June 2, 2013). In her letter to the US Trade Representative, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote: “if transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States.” Resistance to the TPP isn’t limited to the U.S. alone. Citizens in other negotiation nations, including Japan and Malaysia, have organized significant public demonstrations, while the lead negotiator from Chile, Rodrigo Contreras, resigned earlier this year citing concerns that the treaty would restrict Chile’s ability to shape public policies, control financial institutions and address issues of health, education, and development.
Backbone Campaign sheds light on the TPP on the Capitol Center Building between 4th Ave SW and 5th Ave SW in downtown Olympia. Thanks to Rod Tharp for the technical work and Ryan Harris for taking this photo.: