Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future
Corporations are notorious for sneaking things into laws and regulations before the public can find out and rally to stop it. And we know from the conservative Supreme Court arguments against the Affordable Care Act that even what amounts to a typo can be used to change the obvious meaning and intent of a law.
These are reasons we need to see the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership before Congress votes to preapprove it with fast track trade promotion authority (TPA). They are pushing what is literally a pig in a poke on us. We the People need to open that bag and have a good, long look inside before fast track buys the TPP pig in our name.
Negotiated in secret by corporate representatives, it is probable that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is loaded with things the big corporations have snuck in. We already know from leaks that TPP contains provisions allowing companies to sue our government in "corporate courts" if they feel a law or regulation is cutting into their profits. What else is in there?
Will TPP Force Privatization?
As if we needed yet another reason for the public to see the text of TPP before Congress pre-approves it with fast track, here is a question: Does the TPP contain provisions that corporations can use to force us to privatize "public" things like our Post Office, public schools, public roads etc., so they can replace them with profit-making enterprises that provide a return only to the wealthy few?
We need to see the provisions of TPP that are designed to regulate "state-owned enterprises" (SOEs) and see them now.
It is possible that the giant corporations have slipped language in that section that would force mass privatization of public services. This certainly is the kind of thing corporate/conservative ideologues would want to do if they could. And with the rigged process that is putting together TPP, they certainly have the opportunity to do this.
The U.S. Trade Representative website says TPP will have "groundbreaking new rules designed to ensure fair competition between state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and private companies."
"We are also pursuing pioneering rules to ensure that private sector businesses and workers are able to compete on fair terms with SOEs, especially when such SOEs receive significant government backing to engage in commercial activity.
"Commitments ensuring SOEs act in accordance with commercial considerations and compete fairly, without undue advantages from the governments that own them, while allowing governments to provide support to SOEs that provide public services domestically; and Rules that will provide transparency with respect to the nature of government control over and support for SOEs."
Will TPP enable the privatizers to declare things like our beloved U.S. Postal Service, schools and roads to be "commercial activity" that competes with private companies? How about our parks, libraries, public pensions, and other public services?
Today corporations and investers consider our highways to be "commercial activity" and are competing to turn such roads into private business. There is a corporate movement battling to privatize our public schools and turn those into corporate profit centers. Private companies are trying to get (and many have gotten) the right to deliver our water instead of publicly owned municipal systems. Many municipalities have already turned over garbage collection to private companies, thereby impoverishing the workforce. Would it be a surprise to find that the corporations have inserted provisions into TPP demanding privatization of the Postal Service, schools, roads and anything else the public currently runs?
Ask any conservative and they will likely tell you that anything a government does to make people's lives better only interferes with "the market." They will tell you our public, "government" schools should be privatized. They will tell you that the Post Office needs to go away. They hate Amtrak, public broadcasting, the Export-Import Bank and, public transit. They certainly hate public health care. Many will even say that we shouldn't have public parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone. They have even privatized prisons.
We the People need to take a good, long look at the text of TPP, run it past experts, let legal scholars tell us if the working might be interpreted in sneaky ways -- before Congress votes to pre-approve it with fast track. (The Senate has already voted to do this.)
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Dave has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational (more...)