The ultimate goal of trade treaties is to reconfigure the legal apparatus and superstructures that govern national, regional and global trade and business – for the primary, if not exclusive, benefit of the owners of the world’s largest multinational corporations.
The level of security at the recent mega-donor American Courage conference leads one to wonder—why such secrecy if the Kochs’ initiatives are in the best interest of the public?
Clearly the solution to destitution that leads to malnutrition and starvation is addressing the socioeconomic disparity that created it in the first place. But No. The monopolies that benefit from this disparity the most propose to feed the Third World with genetically modified gruel to make up for the fact that poor populations cannot access a normal, balanced diet.
Donna Smith: This blog is about corporate greed and willful disregard for the lives of millions of people. Today I am angry about how GM put me and everyone who rode in my car in danger even as my husband remained loyal to the US car maker.
Housing and consumer activists warn that Wall Street is about to crash the housing market — again. A housing market dominated by all-cash buyers may keep lending standards high, allowing big companies to further tighten their grip, and these companies sometimes prove to be lousy landlords.
Abby Martin interviews Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Chris Hedges, discussing wealth inequality, the unsustainable nature of the economic system, the military mind in solving world problems, and the antidote to defeatism.
At the federal level, the illusion of representative government is now over. With a few exceptions, for-profit interests have colonized government systems that were originally intended to serve people. The danger of allowing this virus to continue, of course, is that the casualty always eventually becomes life itself. Like any virus.
There’s no limit to corporations’ ability to draw profit while screwing over Americans. Tax-avoiding, consumer-exploiting big business leaders are largely responsible for these abuses. Congress just lets it happen. Corporate heads and members of Congress seem incapable of relating to the people that are being victimized, and the mainstream media seems to have lost the ability to express the views of lower-income Americans.
It is now almost certain that a popular revolt is coming. The refusal by the corporate state to address even the minimal grievances of the citizenry, along with the abject failure to remedy the mounting state repression, the chronic unemployment and underemployment, the massive debt peonage that is crippling more than half of Americans, and the loss of hope and widespread despair, means that blowback is inevitable.
(Eyes on Trade/PublicCitizen)
The New York Times has just reported that European government officials have been taking pains to entertain corporations’ deregulatory demands for the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA). The European Commission appears to have mistakenly released minutes of confidential government meetings held with U.S. and European corporations to see how their priorities could shape the proposed U.S.-EU deal. This may not come as a shock to those in the U.S. who know that the Obama administration has been regularly soliciting private advice on both TAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) from about 600 corporate trade “advisors” who are granted privileged access to negotiators and secretive trade texts.
But the just-released minutes of the meetings between EU officials and U.S. and European corporate heads (among other documents unearthed by Corporate Europe Observatory and the New York Times) reveal the incredible extent to which corporations are pushing for TAFTA to rewrite health, environmental, financial and other safeguards to be more convenient to industry interests.
As far as our most informed observers can tell, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a package deal aimed at embedding a slew of pro-corporate policies, which have proven unpopular with publics worldwide, into the legal constitutions of member countries, including the United States. It would precisely cancel every piece of legislation written to protect people and ecosystems from the ferocious appetites of industrial finance capitalism.
In other words, the deal would create a legal means for businesses to attack and subvert government. The new laws would be enforceable by what Wallach describes as “the very controversial investor-state system, which empowers individual corporations to directly sue governments—not in our courts, but in extrajudicial tribunals where three corporate attorneys act as ‘judges,’ and these guys rotate between being the judge and being the guys suing the government for the corporation.” The penalty for breaking the laws (in potentially many instances, remember, for the sake of protecting the public) amounts to another opportunity for companies to make money.
Remarkably for the degree of corporate intrusion into politics, even members of Congress have been kept in the dark about the details of the deal. (That tells us the agreement is not being written by legislators, but dark hands moving in the world of business.)
The institutional framework of a world government composed of Western European and American states remains far more potent than we like to imagine, even beyond the security apparatus revealed by Snowden’s documents. For example, in every major free trade agreement since NAFTA, U.S. courts have been subordinated to international tribunals, which operate according to rules laid out either by the World Trade Organization, a division of the World Bank, or by a division of the United Nations known as UNCITRAL (the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law). These tribunals rule on consumer, labor, and environmental questions – not just trade. And they are trans-national, much as the supply chains of Apple, Ford, Toyota, or any other multi-national corporation are, or the technology that Google, Microsoft, or IBM promote all over the world.
Capitalist power elites exist around the world. The globalization of trade and capital brings the world’s elites into increasingly interconnected relationships—to the point that sociologists have begun to theorize the development of a transnational capitalist class (TCC). In one of the pathbreaking works in this field, The Transnational Capitalist Class (2000), Leslie Sklair argued that globalization elevated transnational corporations (TNC) to more influential international roles, with the result that nation-states became less significant than international agreements developed through the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international institutions. Emerging from these multinational corporations was a transnational capitalist class, whose loyalties and interests, while still rooted in their corporations, was increasingly international in scope.
William Robinson followed in 2004 with his book, A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class, and State in a Transnational World. Robinson claimed that 500 years of capitalism had led to a global epochal shift in which all human activity is transformed into capital. In this view, the world had become a single market, which privatized social relationships. He saw the TCC as increasingly sharing similar lifestyles, patterns of higher education, and consumption. The global circulation of capital is at the core of an international bourgeoisie, who operate in oligopolist clusters around the world. These clusters of elites form strategic transnational alliances through mergers and acquisitions with the goal of increased concentration of wealth and capital. The process creates a polyarchy of hegemonic elites. The concentration of wealth and power at this level tends to over-accumulate, leading to speculative investments and wars. The TCC makes efforts to correct and protect its interests through global organizations like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the G20, World Social Forum, Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group, Bank for International Settlements, and other transnational associations. Robinson claimed that, within this system, nation-states become little more than population containment zones, and the real power lies with the decision makers who control global capital.