Saturday, July 11, 2015

Term of the Day: TRADE AGREEMENT

[A quick word of thanks to you, dear readers, for pushing this blog past the 6,000 views mark.  Thanks to all of you around the world!]
When is a trade agreement not really a trade agreement?
How can you tell if it is a good or a bad thing?

To the first question, a trade agreement is not really a trade agreement when it really deals with the benefit of corporations and the detriment of people and their governments, thus creating a form of global corporatocracy.  The answer to the second question is you can tell if it is good or bad when you are not told about it fully, as if something is being hidden because it will cause more harm than good.

In short, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), touted as a trade agreement, is no such thing .. and it is really, really bad.

If you were frustrated and/or confused about Obamacare when it was being voted on and then passed and implemented, that will seem like nothing more than a mere conundrum compared to the TPP.  It would be an agreement among a dozen countries, including Canada, Mexico, Australia, and Japan.

The TPP would affect personal Internet use, prescription drug costs, intellectual property rights, and much more.

A little further down into this bowl of unpalatable alphabet soup is needed to understand how close things are to going from bad to worse.  Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) could fundamentally change how future trade deals can proceed in the future.  It allows for the President to send the entire text of the bill to the Congress for an up or down, strictly yes or no vote, without allowing any amendments to be tacked onto it.  This is far different from the usual involvement by Congress in trade deals.  The TPA is also known as "fast track".

On June 18th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the TPA by a vote of 218-210.  The U.S. Senate passed the bill by a vote of 60-38 just six days later.  Another bill, the TAA (Trade Adjustment Assurance), which is alleged to make the trade agreement more agreeable to unions, and which was originally bundled with the TPA, initially losing in the House, then passed the House by a vote of 286-138 on the same day the Senate passed the TPA.  (The Senate had originally voted in favor of the TPA/TAA bundle.)

The bill has gone to President Obama's desk and he has signed it.  His job now is to negotiate the terms of the agreement with other countries included in the agreement before sending the bill off to Congress for a final up or down vote.

The following videos will explain this far better.  The first is by economist, professor, and former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, Robert Reich.  It explains briefly about the TPA and the TPP.  It was released before the votes in favor of fast track were taken, but Reich is clear about his stance on the matter.

The next video explains more about the TPP, including who has had a say about its development and just how far reaching its effects would be.  (The Philip Morris v. Uruguay case mentioned in the video has not yet been decided.)

And this video, looking at it from a Canadian perspective, shows that there is more to come, including talks coming up very soon.

Does this worry you?  It should.  It should worry you very much.

Now, a global corporatocracy cannot really be achieved, or at least not come to full fruition, in the Pacific Rim alone.  Never fear, the TTIP is here.

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would be between the United States and the European Union, has been in negotiations for about a year-and-a-half already.  It is still in negotiations ... and those negotiations remain behind closed doors.  It would be an attack on the EU's national health system through privatization, the relaxing of banking regulations, a lowering of food safety (including the use of GMO foods) and environmental regulations in the EU, and much more.  It, too, like the TPP, is being touted as a trade deal when it is nothing of the kind.

Shockingly, the EU Parliament voted just days ago in support of the TTIP!  This article from last Fall and this article from yesterday, both from England's The Independent, provide even more detail on what is at stake and the recent Parliamentary vote. 

The TPP must be stopped!  The only thing being traded in this incorrectly described trade deal is trading what protections are and should be in place for the stripping away or degradation of those protections ... trading what is best for citizens for what is best for corporations ... trading individual countries' sovereignty for a global corporatocracy.  This cannot happen!

Here in the United States, I urge you to contact your Senators and Representatives and tell them, in no uncertain terms, to vote NO when the TPP comes to Congress for an up or down vote.  Make the TPP DOA.  Here's how:

Click on the image below.  It will take you to the website Contacting the Congress, which lists contact info for all members of Congress, Senate and House.

Anyone from any of the other countries listed in the posting should contact their elected officials, too.  Let your political representatives know in a loud, unified voice that the TPP must not be passed!


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