The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP as it’s more commonly known, is a public health disaster waiting to happen.
According to leaked documents, the proposed trade deal, which I like to call the Southern Hemisphere Asian Free Trade Agreement – SHAFTA – would extend patent protections for drugs made by Big Pharma to prevent rival companies from making generic version of those same drugs.
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This a huge deal.
For hundreds of millions of people all over the world, generic drugs are a cheaper alternative to the more expensive drugs sold by Big Pharma.
So if the TPP goes through, real live breathing people (Doctors Without Borders estimates about half a billion of them) will effectively lose affordable access to the medicine they need to survive.
And that’s just one small provision of SHAFTA – pretty much every major industry in the world has their own little honeypot in there.
The TPP would also let corporations sue countries in international courts owned and run by corporations, with judges handpicked from corporate law firms. In other words, if a corporation doesn’t like a regulation, or thinks it’ll diminish their profits, they can sue your town, state, or our federal government over it – and that would gut environmental and financial rules without any input from “We the People” or our elected representatives in Congress.
Considering what’s at stake here, you’d think that the media would want to fill its broadcasts with wall-to-wall TPP coverage. I mean, half a billion people losing access to life-saving drugs just so Big Pharma can boost its profit margins? Corporate controlled courts? That’s ripe material for a primetime special!
Apparently, though, the mainstream media could care less about the TPP or its disastrous effects on public health, the economy, and the environment.
According to Media Matters for America, during the 17 month period between August 2013 and February 2015, only one nightly network news show, PBS Newshour, mentioned the trade deal – and they only mentioned it just eight times. ABC, CBS, and NBC didn’t mention the TPP once.
Cable news stations did a little better when it comes to TPP coverage than their network counterparts.
According to Media Matters, Fox So-Called News and CNN each talked about the trade deal once and MSNBC talked about it 71 times.
But those 71 mentions were mostly on one show, The Ed Show, and because MSNBC is only available by premium subscription, most Americans never watched Ed Schultz talk about the TPP.
The mainstream media’s complete and utter silence on one of the biggest stories of the year, maybe even the decade, is shocking but not all that surprising.
That’s because when it comes down to it, the mainstream media – which is really just the corporate media – want the TPP to happen.
They want the TPP to happen because the TPP tightens the screws over copyrights so that they can have profitable controls over content.
And they want the TPP to happen because, as giant transnational corporations, they want to be able to sue governments over regulations they don’t like.
This is one of the great ironies of American society.
For all the very real protections our Constitution provides for freedom of speech and freedom of the press, the actual media aren’t all that good at telling us what’s really going on. Profits and ad revenue get in the way of that, you know.
What does this mean? It means that we need to look towards independent and alternative media sources for news, especially when it comes to issues like the TPP that affect the bottom line of the giant corporations that own CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, Fox, or any of the other big media players.
The mainstream media will always stay silent on stories that interfere with their ability to make money, but that doesn’t mean we have to.
So call your two senators and your member of the House of Representatives and tell them to just say “No” to SHAFTA/TPP and to the Fast Track authority that’ll be necessary to shove this terrible deal through congress.