The world is run by money. Everything goes back to money, or to put it more accurately, capital. The rich get richer and the poor poorer. What do you do when you’ve taken the money of everyone in your country? Simple: You go overseas and take their money! (And while you’re at it, lock the internet and hide the key.)
TPP is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a really long and complicated treaty similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement. The basic idea the TPP is to enforce the interests of corporations. It effectively attempts to level the playing field of several Pacific-touching nations: USA, Japan, China, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Korea (which one, right? lol), and minor ones.
Of course, those involved don’t want anyone – even Congress – to know about what’s on it. Only via Wikileaks and some insiders have people finally seen what’s on it, and it’s not good… for anyone. New Zealand has finally published the treaty (tiny link).
- “investors” – Businessmen who happen to have a bare minimum vested “interest” in a country, which may consist of a couple of people in an office.
- “member states” – All of the countries who sign the TPP.
International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) – I believe this is the court system, essentially, for handling matters between corporations and member states.
Things it would do:
- Allow for “investments” to be brought between nations by “investors” without paying tariffs or taking financial penalties (such as taxes). The regulating of the regulations as this deal does would allow money siphoning, allowing for purchasing capital for cheap in one country and reselling it via arbitrage while preventing governments for stabilizing their economies via taxes and tariffs.
- Allow corporations to take nations to court, the ICSID, and sue for a variety of reasons, including regulations (such as those that may benefit workers, public health, waste management, etc.) that “inhibit profits”. Philip-Morris, the tobacco giant, has already used a similar move to try to force Australia to bend to its will via setting up shop in Hong Kong and trying to rely on a treaty between Hong-Kong and Australia.
- Allow for private enterprise to dictate the justice system. Court officials will come from the private section and thus not be accountable to the public.
- Attempt to equalize the plane of economic employment.
Via TPP, corporations can demand “minimum expectations” for treatment, which can be cross-boundary, and this includes demanding a lower minimum wage. That will no doubt have adverse effects on places where wages must meet a high standard of living, such as in the U.S. (and notably, we’re the highest).
There’s a more thorough analysis on citizen.org. It’s a rather thick document, but it means a number of things:
- No safeguards or provisions for economic crisis in any of the member states. The U.S. and Japan had close economic ties prior to World War 2, and when the Great Depression hit the U.S., it had a ripple effect on Japan, ultimately making it easier for the rise of the emperor and the start of the Pacific Chapter of the War. Heck – economic depression from Germany trying to pay war debts while rebuilding led to a starving German people and the rise of Hitler. History obviously shows depression helps lead to dictators, and avoiding economic co-dependence helps avoid them.
- Loss of Congressional oversight over treaties and foreign affairs. If you think lobbyists are bad now, in the future, you may wish companies would be more dependant on them. With such a treaty, much of corporate finagling could be done by manipulating the ICSID rather than having to bribe congressmen. Notably, a number of congressmen, Democrats and Republicans, are against this.
- Loss of digital freedoms. As it turns out, buried in all of this are provisions that allow for greater enforcement of copy-wrong laws and makes restricting the internet between member states more possible. Do you enjoy anything from overseas? Better learn to do without it if TPP passes because RIAA wants to make sure not even a single snippet of “infringing” material from any source creeps across the net. Entire websites could be blocked simply because it contained some content presumed to be “infringing”.
Citizen.org also suggests some other things:
- offshore American jobs and increase income inequality,
- jack up the cost of medicines,
- sneak in SOPA-like threats to Internet freedom,
- empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards,
- expose the U.S. to unsafe food and products,
- roll back Wall Street reforms,
- ban Buy American policies needed to create green jobs,
- undermine human rights
Lovely little list, no?
Who is behind this monster?
First, President Barack Obama. He seems intent on leaving the next president with an economic mess. What’s sad about it is that it’s actually spearheaded by a number of Republicans.
Next, you’re very own Senate Committee on Finance, led by Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). From the current sound of it, he isn’t even happy with current patent and copy-wrong enforcement provisions.
Then there’s a whole list of other companies, including Apple, Sony, and everyone in the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP. You can find a list of TPP-supporting companies on uscib.org. There are some big names on the list: Coca Cola, Mars Inc. (candy company), Intel, IBM, BestBuy, Boeing, Exxon, GE, J.C. Penny, Johnson & Johnson, Target, and Walmart (no surprise there). But there are also some names I didn’t expect, in particular: AT&T and Time Warner. Goes to show they have some motives I’m not aware of (yet).
Pew Research reports about half of Americans think TPP is a good thing, but that seems to be about the usual split with most topics. While on one hand, one might consider it nice that there will be more foreign products (especially if you like them), what is more likely is an influx of more garbage products from places with cheap labor. Industrial leaders have no intention of raising the standard, only raising profits. The quality of foreign goods is unlikely to go up, and anyone tenacious enough can already obtain the unique foreign goods they want via the available means (to say nothing of legality, though, lol).
TPP will do one thing particularly noticeable, however: It will eliminate many middlemen (particularly those of companies importing foreign goods). Notably, this results in job losses somewhere. And don’t expect a price drop just because the middlemen are gone.
Why Endorse It?
The corporate answer is easy: It allows for greater corporate control over the world at large.
The government answer… I really have no idea why any politician in their right mind would think any of this was a good idea. A laissez-faire economy works as good as a communistic economy: Only in theory. That said, I can see some people imagining this as a freer form of trade between nations. The problem is, these people – if there are any (other than the naive Mr. Hatch) – are thinking of it from a very one-sided point of view. They think it will defend U.S. companies, but it also happens to defend foreign ones whose means of operation may not be as humane or environmentally-friendly as ours. I suppose if you’re a politician hearing cries of “unfair trade” from U.S. businesses concerning the overseas market, you might be inclined to follow whatever suggestions they have in mind.
From the perspective of the little guy, a whopping majority of people, even according to the Pew Research survey, don’t think more jobs will come. I suppose translators will get jobs, so hop to it and start learning Chinese! Outside of that, you’re probably out of luck.
~ A Little Rant ~
While I used to be an advocate for free trade and capital, I’m finding myself more sounding like a Democrat and those who would put a resource cap on companies and individuals. It’s one thing to be rewarded for hard work, but at some point, there needs to be an end. Consider the corporate pay-check going to each C.E.O. of major corporations? One could say, “Invest”, but investing is sitting on your bum and letting someone else do the work while you collect a share for simply having the money and lending it out. You could also say, “Buy things”, “start another company”, “employ more people”, but that’s not what happens. Man usually does the selfish thing: Think of how to accumulate more. There is no end to accumulating wealth. Once you’re far enough on the road, it’s hard to say “Enough”. More money always feels like it guarantees more security. You need more money so you don’t have to spend the money that you already have… but the whole purpose for having money is to spend it (and you don’t have to have the mentality of a poor person to say that). Money is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
I know of lots of people working just as hard without a remotely comparable check (there is, after all, a natural human limit to how hard humans can work, and I highly doubt the pay-check sets the cap for productivity). But this country doesn’t reward people for the value of their work, it rewards them for how well they manipulate the system to their ends. That’s why it’s always come down to the money, and it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that matters.
All that said, I recall Pope Francis’ message concerning the economic exploitation. He was referring to third-world countries being exploited by U.S. businesses of course, but no doubt, the after effects are eventually going to be felt by the underdogs in the U.S.. I’m reminded of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Money doesn’t vanish out of mid-air. The reason there was a Depression was because only a few people had money. Can you spell Rockefeller? Next to see the Rockefeller center with its giant tree on TV, remember those structures were built during an era of America’s greatest economic crisis, and hopefully it never becomes the only decorated tree common men get to enjoy.