Another dagger to the heart of democracy
years ago I had my first experience of marketing for a corporation. I learned
that the most often used word in marketing and advertising is "free." I recall this lesson as I follow the debate on
the "Trans Pacific Partnership" (TPP), which is being sold as a "free" trade
agreement. "Free" sells.
What exactly is being sold in the TPP ? To answer that question, you need to read the fine print. But you can't. TPP has been negotiated in almost total secrecy by a team of about 600 lawyers, working for the major trans-national corporations.
The text of the treaty has been classified as "Secret" by U.S. negotiators. Even members of Congress are not permitted access. The deal will be presented to Congress on a "fast track" -- no opportunity for Congress to modify the details. One vote, yes or no on the entire treaty as presented -- a done deal.
But thanks to one or two alert member of Congress and WikiLeaks, which think that information about the deal should also be free to the people of the nations who will be bound by the treaty's terms, there is some news.
What is being sold is not the duty free importation of goods and services across national boundaries; but instead, how the movement of these goods and services, and most especially finance and capital is managed, and by who.
It should surprise no one that a treaty negotiated by lawyers working for the major trans-national corporations stipulates that international commerce should be managed (regulated) by lawyers representing the trans-national corporations.
The purpose is not "free" trade; but rather, to protect and increase the profits of trans-national corporations.
How does that work? Like this.
An industry wants to set up shop in your community. But you decide, based on your local zoning, where they can and cannot operate. Or you decide that their product or service is harmful to your health and welfare, and want to limit adverse impacts; or that female workers deserve some paid time off during pregnancy.
Whatever the issue, you want a say in what happens in your community. Democracy.
The public interest clashes with the private interest and costs the corporation money. So the private interest turns to the international tribunals set up to manage these disputes that get in the way of "free" trade. These tribunals are staffed by representatives from the corporations, because they are "experts."
Guess who they rule for?
Outrageous, you say? Undemocratic? Yes and yes. But it doesn't matter what you say, because your Congress has voted for our nation to abide by the "free" trade pact.
It's already happening.
In an attempt to limit smoking and the related deaths and health care costs smoking causes its people, little Uruguay decided to increase the size and visibility of the anti-smoking messages on packs of cigarettes and in other public health advertising.