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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/20/12

The Cost of Free Trade

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Rick Staggenborg, MD
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Earlier this month, 60 representatives of multinational corporations completed
the latest round of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which
has been called The Mother of all Free Trade Agreements. Since 2008, industry
representatives have been secretly discussing this lucrative trade agreement
that will be binding on all nations that sign. Currently believed to include
about a dozen nations, it is designed to be a multilateral agreement that an
unlimited number of countries can be bound to by unelected

All we know of TPP is through leaked documents that indicate that under the
agreement, nations can be sued by individual corporations in a kangaroo court
of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Not even Senate Trade Subcommittee Chair
Ron Wyden has been allowed access to official negotiation documents.
 If that is not enough to send alarm bells
ringing, then Americans have forgotten the meaning of national sovereignty.

Free trade agreements are championed by Democrats and Republicans alike as the
key to opening up export markets and producing jobs in manufacturing, but the
promise has not lived up to the hype. The reason is that all free trade
agreements are designed to benefit the multinational corporations that back
them, regardless of the cost to workers, consumers and ultimately, taxpayers.
We have seen that trading national sovereignty to regulate trade for the
illusory benefits of "free trade" has not created jobs in the US, but in China
and nations where workers are treated even more poorly.

Under current rules governing the WTO, if a nation complains of "unfair" laws
or trade practices that limit in any way the ability of corporations to conduct
trade in that nation, the corporation can ask the government in which it is
incorporated to file a complaint. The dispute is decided by an unelected three
member panel representing the interests of multinational corporations that
profit by subverting the ability of a nation to enact laws to protect consumers,
workers and the environment. Under the FPP, corporations would no longer have
to file complaints through a government, making nations increasingly irrelevant
in a world economy controlled by corporate CEOs in their own self-interest.

As one example of the power of the WTO under current agreements, it recently
ruled that a US law protecting consumers by requiring country of origin
labeling was an "unfair" restriction on the right of foreign corporations to
dump their potentially tainted agricultural goods on an unsuspecting US
  Even if these foods are safe,
American consumers lose the right to know if they are buying American.

Imagine how much worse it would be if deep-pocketed corporations could demand
that the US and Pacific Rim nations that sign on to TPP can force these
governments to face judgment by a small panel of hand-picked lawyers
representing their interests. We cannot allow this naked power grab to succeed.

Most Americans do not want to be dictated to by multinational corporations that
have no allegiance to any nation or its people. The TPP is the next step in
corporate control of the US and world economies supported by a majority of US
politicians who never met a free trade agreement they didn't like. The only way
that we can fight it is to do what we should have done when Democratic
President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress gave away our sovereignty to
the WTO: demand transparency and that our elected representatives do what we
elected them to do. That means putting the interests of the American people
over the profits of multinational corporations that pay for their election

We cannot allow an unelected international body to rule on the legality of US
laws designed to protect consumers, workers and the environment. The
WTO exists only to maximize profits to corporations that are shipping our
jobs overseas.

  Please contact your members of Congress. Let them know that you want them to
fight to drag this monster out of the dark and into the light where it can be

This article originally appeared on the website of Soldiers For Peace International.
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Rick Staggenborg, MD Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I am a former Army and VA psychiatrist who ran for the US Senate in 2010 on a campaign based on a pledge to introduce a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood and regulate campaign finance. A constitutional amendment banning (more...)

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