What's on today's agenda, PEN?
PEN: Just the most pressing policy emergency going right now. Despite the fact that 181 bipartisan members of the House have already signed official letters protesting a proposal to "fast track" a purported trade deal called the Trans Pacific Partnership, apparently remaining diehard corporate stooges in Congress are determined to rush this thing through. It's really quite remarkable, some of those signers I am certain we agree with on absolutely no other issue.
JB: Hold on a minute. What is the Trans Pacific Partnership and why is everyone getting so energized about it? And why haven't we heard about it if it's as bad as you seem to be saying?
PEN: We don't use hyperbole lightly. You are not SUPPOSED to have heard about it. It has been negotiated in such extreme secrecy, the documents around it are so classified, that Alan Grayson has complained he would have to break the law to even tell us what is in it from what he has himself seen. Journalists who have tried to attend the conclaves where this is being discussed have been systematically excluded. They tell us this is all necessary because if people knew what was in it, then people would object. Uh . . . duh!!
JB: Is this even legal? Aren't We the People supposed to know what our elected officials are negotiating on our supposed behalf?
PEN: Congress has a constitutional duty to regulate trade. But they also, unfortunately, have the power to be derelict and shirk that duty by voting that they waive it, so instead of serious deliberation we have quick, fast track and a hurry.
JB: Let's back up, PEN. Please tell us what the TPP is supposed to do and what it's really doing. I mean, how and why is it so terrible?
PEN: All we have to go on are leaked documents, but what we do know from them is this: Only two of the 26 chapters of the proposed "trade" agreement have anything to do with trade. The rest is a full on assault on national sovereignty by corporate special interests. The language they are pushing would give private business the right to de facto veto laws on pollution, labor rights, privacy, you name it, everything. If they wanted to come into your backyard and start fracking, there is nothing even your own government could do about it. If you had a labor union, they could in effect dismiss it.
JB: So, the legislation is all just a smokescreen in order to accomplish something else entirely?
PEN: Calling it legislation is to presume that the role of government from now on is to rubber stamp whatever laws private corporations want to make to rule over us. Never did the worst fascists in history even dare to dream about such all supreme power.
JB: Well, we know that various pieces of legislation have been written by corporate lobbyists, most notably the energy bill under Dick Cheney that was allegedly written by oil execs and the health care bill, that was allegedly written by health insurance lobbyists, for instance. How is this different?
PEN: You betcha. But what this represents is an attempt to do to INTERNATIONAL law what they have already done to the laws of our own country.
JB: So, I don't really get this, to tell you the truth, PEN. Are you saying that international and local businesses will have control over rules and regulations which our legislators have deliberated on and passed? How can that be? It sounds outrageous. Why would anyone ever agree to this?
PEN: All it takes is enough corrupt legislators to let mega-corporations write laws that serve only their interests, we're not talking about little mom and pop businesses, assuming there are any of them left. That, and enough passive people to just sit on their hands and watch all of this being done to them. That is what would be the most startling thing, if people DID get wind of this, which so many, not just us, are shouting about, and then did not even make the slightest effort to object.