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TPP v. Democracy

If there is any negative image of what Democracy looks like, any way to define a thing by its opposite, it is the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Last week, legislation to fast track a vote on the Trans Pacific Partnership was introduced in Congress.

President Obama, who, along with advisors from several hundred corporations, has built the TPP in secret, away from the prying eyes of Congress or the public, desperately wants this fast track authority. The grant of that authority is, according to prevailing wisdom and the pro-neoliberal agenda Forbes magazine contributor Dan Ikenson describes as something being “widely considered necessary to complete and ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement between the United States and 11 other Pacific-bordering nations, as well as other prospective trade agreements.”

Why is Fast track so important?

Because President Obama, and the corporate advisors he so willingly serves, knows full well that if there were a public debate on the TPP, not only would it never pass, but people would take to the streets in a 1999 Battle in Seattle WTO protests kind of way.

The TPP is a Trojan horse that seeks to usher in a backroom secret sweetheart deal for the global elite. Fast track avoids public debate- and would ask for an up or down yes vote from members of congress who have not yet read the agreement.

Neither have you. Some of you have read sections of the TPP, as published by WikiLeaks as we reported on this program last November:

“Today, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire Trans-Pacific Partnership Intellectual Property rights chapter. According to the WikiLeaks press release:

“The WikiLeaks release of the text comes ahead of the decisive TPP Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013. The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents.”

This is a major leak because this top-secret trade deal that is, in fact, much more than a trade deal. Remember NATFTA? Remember the concept of Corporate Personhood from the Citizens United case? The TPP combines all of the worst elements of NAFTA and Citizens United, shoots them up with steroids, sprinkles in a speedball and codifies these principles into a trade agreement that is in fact much more than a trade agreement.

We will have more on that in a moment, but first to sum up what we do know already, based on previous leaks of the working text about how the TPP would eclipse the concept of corporate personhood, I’ll quote David Swanson of Roots Action, who writes that the TPP would make popular the phrase Corporate Nationhood:

“Many of us have heard of corporate personhood. Corporations have been given the Constitutional rights of persons by U.S. courts over the past 40 years, including the right to spend money on elections. By corporate nationhood I mean the bestowing of the rights of nations on corporations (…) Treaties, according to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, are — together with the Constitution itself — the supreme law of the land. So U.S. laws would have to be made to comply with the TPP’s rules.”

How would U.S. laws be made to comply? Because, As Kevin Zeese and Margret Flowers write: “In addition to requiring that laws conform to provisions within the TPP, corporations would be allowed to sue governments in the trade tribunal if laws interfere with their profits. Governments could not represent their interests before the tribunal or appeal adverse decisions. This would be a tremendous loss of sovereignty.”

And who is on this tribunal? Three judges, appointed by the corporations.

So, if you think the concept of a Representative form of government of the people by the people and for the people is a farce in the age of corporate personhood and the wealth divide that has hijacked the principles of big D Democracy upon which this country is supposed to operate is a farce now, imagine a world where food safety, the environment, workers rights, and access to health care are further hijacked by corporate power. That world is one in which a total corporate coup ushered in by President Obama- in service to the 600 corporations who have advisors with access to drafts of the TPP puts the neoliberal boot to the neck of you, me and just about everyone we know. As Noam Chomsky describes the neoliberal monster, it is built “to maximize profit and domination, and to set the working people in the world in competition with one another so as to lower wages to increase insecurity.”

You have all heard the demand, belted out in unison by those who yearn to be heard, to “Show me what Democracy looks like”!

If there is any negative image of what Democracy looks like, any way to define a thing by its opposite, it is the Trans Pacific Partnership.

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