Thursday, April 28, 2016

Should You Trust Hillary On Corporate Trade Agreements Like TPP?


Raise your hand if you think Hillary's "adoption" of Bernie's positions of anything is more than just soon-to-be-abandoned primary posturing with no significance regaring her adminisration's future policy agenda. Now go put on a dunce cap and sit in the corner. Sure, she no longer publicly insists that the TPP is the "gold standard" of trade agreements, but there are indications that she's never really changed her mind about the horrible treaty she helped negotiate. Ironically, Trump will hammer her if she backs away from the flip-flop Bernie's campaign forced her to make. So it won't be until after the election that she declares the TPP just needs a couple of minor-- and we mean MINOR MINOR MINOR-- adjustments before it's the gold standard again.

When she was Secretary of State, Kurt Campbell was her top lieutenant on East Asia at the State Department and is now a campaign advisor. He describes the TPP in the same terms Hillary sees it-- a "strategic commitment" to engage in Asia. Nothing to do with the pain and suffering inflicted on American workers or consumers. The 12 nations that are party to it, they insist, account for about 40% of global GDP, and "other" Asian nations are interested in joining. Campbell insists-- as does the entire American corporate/political elite-- that full-scale renegotiation will never happen. He insisnuates that "adjustments" could make it "more politically palatable in the U.S.," although it's worth remembering that many of the worst aspects of the TPP were pushed by the U.S. on behalf of American corporations. "There are always opportunities to adjust on the margins," said Campbell, "and figure out how to ensure that we’ve got an agreement which legislators can sell back home." He was speaking at the Truman Center think tank last week and, of course, refused to provide specifics.

According to Parliamentary testimony from the head of the New Zealand Medical Association, "The longer data protection the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would give biologic pharmaceutical makers will push up the cost of the fastest growing primary health treatment in the country... Biologic drugs account for more than 40 percent of new pharmaceutical products being developed and proposals in the TPP to extend the length of time manufacturers can retain the data in producing those products will delay the introduction of cheaper alternatives." The longer protections for pharmaceutical companies against generic drug makers was something the U.S. insisted on during negotiations, in case you were wondering.

The U.S. presidential election campaign might be a great time to debate the TPP, since Congress won't be permitted to according to the ground rules (Fast Track) passed by the GOP with the help of the New Dems. There are a couple of House races where corrupt TPP proponents like Debbie Wasserman Schultz (New Dem-FL) and Kurt Schrader (New Dem-OR) are facing challenges from progressives based on TPP votes. Tim Canova in Florida and Dave McTeague in Oregon are two of the best examples. But the issue is being studiously ignored by the corporate mass media, which would rather discuss Trump's polling numbers.

There seems to be more of a debate in other countries, at least in the media. In New Zealand, at least the citizens are getting a crash course in what the contours of the destruction headed their way is all about.
The TPP is the product of corporate lawyers converting "trade" to the protectionism sought by corporations for extended patent protections for films and pharmaceuticals at the expense of environmental regulation and worker protections.

The multi-national corporations, with their expanding power and loyalty to none but to profit, pose a threat to democracy and to the balance of planetary life.

It is the position of Pope Francis.

In his two encyclicals, Evangeli Gaudium and Laudato Si, he explicitly links bare-knuckle capitalism with ecological catastrophe and growing economic inequality.

Along with the role of relentless profit-seeking as an end in itself, is the ultimate threat posed by the combination of global warming and planetary plundering and economic inequality to the continuation of democratic government.

Basic to democracy is an informed electorate. Some corporations-- tobacco and fossil fuel industries, for example - have done their best to provide disinformation and to sow doubt about the scientific consensus on the harms caused by their products.

The efforts of tobacco companies to sow deliberate confusion over the harm of their products is now well established through litigation.

Likewise, Exxon is now under investigation, as their own scientists had evidence of atmospheric damage from emissions while the industry funded climate change deniers.

No one enjoys paying taxes, but taxes are necessary if government is to perform its functions of providing for the common well-being. Taxes should be fairly levied and everyone pay their fair share.

When corporations or wealthy individuals hide their assets to shield them from taxation (cf Panama Papers) the burden of making up the shortfall is laid upon the ordinary taxpayer.

A total of 358 of the 500 largest United States-based multi-national corporations have off-shored US$2.1 trillion of profits.

Those profits, if brought back to the US, would generate US$620 billion ($900 billion) in taxes-- that would pay for a lot of jobs repairing America's crumbling infrastructure; salaries for a lot of teachers and firemen; or alleviate the high costs of tertiary education.

Clearly not all corporations are such bad citizens-- some have been beneficial in terms of innovation and creating technology. They function well as long as they are competitive but, alas, corporations have the inherent drive toward monopoly with attendant destructiveness.

The six members of the Walton family, owners of Walmart, have combined assets of US$144.7 billion ($211 billion), more than the combined wealth of the lower 42 per cent of Americans.

Walmart's workers are paid such low wages that they must supplement income with food stamps and Medicaid-- which other taxpayers pay for.

Walmart's history puts the lie to the myth of corporations creating jobs. Jobs are created mostly by small local businesses.

In almost every instance in which Walmart has moved into a community, smaller retailers have been driven out and with them their suppliers-- and the pool of local jobs has dried up.

Beyond the disinformation campaigns, the tax avoidance and evasion, the hollowing-out of communities and the contribution to wealth disparities is the political power exerted.

In 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons and that money equals speech. They spend unlimited funds to influence elections. The Koch brothers, owners of fossil fuel companies, have pledged to spend a billion dollars in 2016 to elect candidates of whom they approve.

Corporations are not necessarily good neighbours; they may not be good for your health or your pocketbook and certainly not for your job, which they will outsource to countries with lower labour standards.

The large multi-national corporations who negotiated the TPP have a track record. Those who advocate our getting into that shark tank need to have better reasons than simply throwing out bumper-sticker words "trade" and "jobs."
Paul Ryan has conspired with the Obama Adminstration to keep the TPP from being voted on until after the November elections. That way vulnerable-ish incumbents won't be accountable to their constituents. Example: if Wasserman Schultz voted for the TPP in October, she would lose her seat to Tim Canova the following month... or she'd be canny enough to vote NO. After the election is over, she's safe to vote in line with the corporate interests that finance her career without having to worry about any consequences until 2018 by which time, Tim Canova may not be running against her and few of her constituents will remember anyway. And so on around the country... forever and ever and ever. Maybe Hillary isn't really the lesser of two evils. And remember, the second TPP is passed, Hillary starts negotiations for a European version.

If you want to stop the TPP, don't vote for Hillary and her corrupt, conservative, corporate wing of the party; support opponents of it to Congress, like these men and women:
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At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trust Hillary? After rehashing all of her 2008 dirty tricks and outright lies issued against Obama? Not A Fucking Chanc1!


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