The Undemocratic Horrors of the Trans Pacific Partnership

If you’ve seen the front page of Salt Lake Tribune lately, you may have noticed people protesting the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Secret meetings were being centered at the Grand America Hotel this past week, and the lack of transparency is appalling. The TPP, less than democratically, has been kept entirely secret from the public, even after five years of negotiations.. Only some 600 corporations, or
“trade advisiors” have access to its details. It is a large international “free trade” agreement that will pervade our lives on many fronts, being negociated by officials from the United States and 11 other countries. Countries include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. I’ve written briefly on NAFTA before, which caused the elimination of hundreds of thousands of US jobs, and millions of Mexican farmers who were no longer able to compete with heavily subsidized U.S. crops were displaced off their land, setting off a desperate wave of migration north. The TPP will be far worse.

Despite its charming title of “free trade agreement”, out of its 29 chapters, only five deal with traditional trade issues, the rest provide new corporate rights. Only through Wikileaks was the public ever able to get an idea about what a small portion of the TPP looks like. The results were disturbing.

It contains roll backs of food safety. Monsanto is one of the “trade advisors” with access to the document. Not very comforting. The TPP will undermine food safety protections by making it harder for countries to adopt regulations such as labeling laws or laws banning GMOs. This is wrong. If it is the peoples will to ban GMOs, then the government should see it done. Monsanto has no “right” to be protected from the will of the people.

The TPP would dismantle the “Buy Local” movement by overturning government laws designed to keep taxpayer dollars in the local economy.

It would curtail internet freedom. Remember how upset CISPA made people? This will only get worse. Anything published online will become copyrighted and unowned by you.).

It will cause roll backs of financial regulation- spurring further deregulation (like that which literally caused the economic catastrophe of 2008).

There will be more job off-shoring and costlier medicines. It would inhibit access to lifesaving medicine by extending monopolistic drug patents. The expansion of such patents will prevent third world countries from gaining access to generic medicines, which as you can imagine, is extremely harmful for all but the wealthy pharmaceutical companies.

All of our domestic policies and laws would be required to comply with TPP rules. So our state and federal government will lose power- the US Supreme court will be unable to challenge these corporation-favoring policies. Information was gained from

So this new international trade pact is essentially being crafted by multinational corporations. So much for government of the people, for the people. Not about trade at all, the TPP is a corporate power grab that undermines national sovereignty. If ratified, it would create a system of international tribunals that would allow corporations to challenge laws, regulations, and even court decisions of any member nation, if they are deemed to negatively impact the corporation’s expected future profits. So, imagine this, a state decides to pass an anti-fracking law, banning all fracking of natural gas in favor of greener energy solutions. In fact, let’s bring this home. Everyone knows how disgusting our air quality becomes here in Salt Lake City during the winters. We become one of the most, if not the most, polluted cities in the nation. Apart from how ugly it is, it is quite detrimental to the health of our residents. Last winter, when the inversion was worse that what we have seen in recent years, our charming Representatives turned their backs on the smoke stacks of the Chevron oil refinery. They turned their backs from the Kennecott coppermine, a cause of 1/3 of the valleys polution, and offered us other solutions to the very clear and serious problem. They offered us tax credits on using public transportation, and proposed free public transportation in January and July when the inversion is at its worst. They offered us very Kumbayah solutions of working together, one small step at a time, with reminders that idling our car is bad. If perhaps one day, they decide to wake up and stop conning our residents and give us real talk– if one day they decide to pass a law banning large scale toxin vomiting production that we see by the fossil fuel industry and the mining industry, in exchange for something cleaner, then enters the TPP. The companies can challenge that and say, “Look, who needs blue skies? Who needs to acknowledge the direct correlation between cancer and the polluted environment? We can’t imagine the miasma leaving Salt Lake City, making it more appealing to tourists (as well as full time new residents) and making us less of a laughing stock for the rest of the world. We can’t imagine it because it is our right to not have our corporate profits impeded on.” And, unfortunately, Utah, and the residents within, would lose. The corporations would make their paychecks. The irresponsibility and failing health would continue. In fact, the TPP would allow corporations to hold preemptive lawsuits against proposed government actions before they even take place.  Judges of the TPP tribunals would consist of corporate lawyers on temporary leave from their normal jobs with multinational corporations, and their decisions would supersede that of domestic courts and even possibly the US Supreme County.

That was a lot of information. But in short, the TPP will allow multinational corporations’ will to supersede the will of the people of this and 11 other sovereign nations. They will have more authority than we do– than our governments do. They will stand above the law. If that’s not a frightening thought, you’re not reading this correctly.

The TPP is being negotiated under extreme secrecy because previous attempts at such “free trade” pacts were met by widespread public opposition. So the Obama Administration plans to bypass congressional review and public debate entirely. This is called a “fast track” vote.

Everyone must know about this and everyone must fight it.

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