The human race has been waking up to the fact that a great deal of secrecy exists within the government as well as many major multinational corporations. Another astonishing observation is that major events covered by the corporate media in depth seem to coincide with the creation of important bills, legislation and agreements without any attention brought to it by the corporate media. We saw this recently with the Boston Bombings, which coincided with the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which coincided with the passing of the bill in the United States House of Representatives during the Boston Bombings ordeal. Fortunately, leaks from Edward Snowden amongst others have shed even more light on this topic for the human race to wake up to. Despite the United States government shutdown, Secretary of State John Kerry headed to Asia for secret talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership which continues to move forward, and may very well be complete by the end of 2013.
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the largest trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the United States has been engaged in discussion with eight Pacific nations to come to an agreement on the terms of the TPP. It is a free trade contract that would allow for a more open system of exchange between the United States and less developed nations, apparently, and it’s wrapped in secrecy since discussions began within the Bush administration in 2005.
Why is it wrapped in secrecy? Because it’s not really about trade. The agreement has 29 chapters, and only five of them have to do with trade. The other 24 chapters either put restrictions on domestic governments, limit food safety, environmental standards, financial regulation, energy, climate policy and more. It’s basically an agreement for establishing new and enhanced powers for the multinational corporations that seem to own all of the worlds resources. It will affect everything, and all industries we choose to allow to govern our planet and the way that we live.
A portion of the proposed partnership was leaked (1) and it already managed to cause quite a stir. Details about the negotiations have been so hidden from the public that some members of the US Congress have called on the President to come forward with new information. According to the leak, the Obama administration has been considering TPP provisions that would allow foreign corporations operating within the United States to appeal regulations on both the environment and banking that would be forced on American-owned businesses with no chance of reprieve. Again, it is a long agreement that touches on all industries, from health all the way to energy, food and finance.
This isn’t all, there is a great deal of concern with regards to internet freedom. This negotiation could create rules that give media companies new power over the internet. The TPP could make internet service providers act as a copyright cop, policing what information we share. Many have suggested that this is a fast track towards internet censorship. The fact that this agreement would tighten controls over the internet is no secret.
I basically wanted to point out that this has nothing to do with trade, it’s another example of a potential creation of global legislation that would only benefit the same corporations that desire to restrict our freedom, opposing global change.
Posted By Dissidentvoice:
So far, the TPP has been drafted with an unprecedented degree of secrecy. While information has been kept from the public, more than 600 corporate advisers have access to the treaty’s text – including companies such as Halliburton, Monsanto, Walmart, and Chevron. The Obama administration has kept the TPP classified, making it the first-ever classification of a trade agreement. In addition to denying public access to its text, the president has urged Congress to use Fast Track to pass the treaty. Fast Track would limit congressional consideration of the text to a quick up or down vote and give President Obama the power to sign and negotiate the treaty. This turns the Constitution on its head as the Commerce Clause authorizes Congress to “regulate commerce among nations,” and not the president.
Seven advocates dressed as workers attached four massive banners to the front and side of the US Trade Representative’s office. The banners read “Transparency: Release the Text,” “Democracy, not Corporatocracy,” “Corporate Coup against the People and Planet” and “Flush The TPP.org.” Other activists at the front of the building held a large 15 foot tall sign that said: “Trading Away People’s Lives and the Planet’s Future.” They were able to cover the building in banners and hold this non-permitted protest and negotiate doing so without anyone getting arrested; in fact, one activist who had been held in handcuffs was even released.
Margaret Flowers, MD, who dressed as a workman to attach a sign to the front of the US Trade Representative said that “the TPP will undermine health care systems, make pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices more expensive and therefore increase pain and suffering and even cost people their lives.” Flowers, an advocate for a national health care plan that treats health care as a human rather than a commodity, warned that “The TPP will undermine the excellent single payer health care systems in Japan, Australia and New Zealand and make it more difficult for the United States to put in place a single payer system — which is what most Americans and doctors want to see.”
The protesters join Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), and many others who are opposing Fast Track and calling for the text’s immediate release. Earlier this summer, Rep. Grayson stated that, “this, more than anything, shows the abuse of the classified information system,” calling the treaty an “assault on democratic government.” Sen. Warren noted in her letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, “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.”
Groups of Republicans and Democrats are beginning to speak out against Fast Track, the lack of transparency and the TPP. Just as the war against Syria was stopped by a cross-partisan coalition, such a coalition can stop the TPP. Indeed, 14 trade agreements have not become law in the last ten years because of citizen opposition preventing countries from reaching agreement.
An agreement that will empower corporations to dominate every aspect of our lives — food, water, health care, wages, jobs, Internet and more — should be debated openly and transparently. The United States is supposed to be a democracy; acting in secret to create the largest trade agreement in history makes a mockery of democracy. Minimizing the checks and balances between Congress and the President undermines the Constitution, and giving away U.S. sovereignty to transnational corporations is the opposite of a country of, by and for the people.
While the full content of the treaty remains unknown, public opposition to what little has been leaked is growing. We are confident the TPP can be stopped, if people know what is in the agreement. They are keeping this agreement secret because they know its contents would be quite unpopular. People remember the negative impact of NAFTA, the TPP is NAFTA on steroids and will do great damage to working people all over the world as well as to the environment.
A new report from the Center for Economic Policy and Research finds that the TPP will produce small economic growth of only 1/10th of 1 percent per year, but it will hurt working Americans, as 90 percent of workers will see their income reduced as a result of the TPP. Unions including the Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO and Teamsters have raised serious concerns about the TPP’s impact on working families, and doctors have also highlighted consequences for access to health care and life-saving medicines.
Resistance is not limited to the U.S. alone. Other members of the treaty, including Japan and Malaysia, have seen significant public demonstrations in opposition to the agreement, 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.
One protester from FlushTheTPP.org, who locked himself to Margaret Flowers on top of the building’s scaffolding, has firsthand experience with how transnational corporations control and design free trade agreements like these. Steven Bray decided to quit his job after his former employer, Caterpillar, sent the entire company a link to an automated message in support of the U.S.-Colombian Free Trade Agreement. “When I learned how many of my coworkers responded without actually considering the text and its potential consequences, I couldn’t stand it. This made the voice of one CEO sound like the voice of 10,000.” The Colombia trade agreement has had a serious negative effect on farmers and workers in Colombia and has resulted in massive nationwide protests.
Protesters promised to escalate their tactics if President Obama continues to undermine the Constitution, transparency and democracy. On Tuesday, the protesters will crash a Fast Track train into Congress after driving it across the city from the US Chamber of Commerce at 11 AM.
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