Fast Track and TPP Are Trash-Let’s Throw Them Out

Written by on June 16, 2015 in Corruption, Government, Politics with 0 Comments

By Robert O’Leary, J.D., BARATrashonaPlate-25725265_m-680x380-Modified

Author’s Update: Today, June 18, 2015, Republican leadership are pulling a fast one on Fast Track. They are trying to sever the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Bill from Fast Track, delay the vote on it & allegedly will pledge to not require that the TAA be paid for by $700 million dollars in Medicare cuts. Organizations like Democracy for America suggest we cannot trust these promises & assert that “[t]he TPP is one of the biggest threats to our democracy & our economy that we’ve seen in years. DFA members like you helped win a big victory last week when we stalled the Fast Track process. Republicans and their corporate allies are desperate to get it moving again. We can stop them, but House Democrats need to hear from you today, before the vote happens. Will you make the call?” I agree. That number is  1-202-224-3121 for the U.S. Capitol’s switchboard so you can communicate with your representative today. Thank you.

Author’s Note: This past Tuesday the U.S. House of Representatives decided to not vote again on the Trade Adjustment Assistance Bill or the Fast Track & effectively “punted” the deliberations, on all of this, to six weeks from now. The message in this article is still valid & should be considered if or when the House puts either of these bills into a “must pass” bill during the Summer. This is one of the old tricks that certain members of the congress try to pull out when the will of the people seems to be going against their benefactors’ own vested interests.


I want to use an analogy to demonstrate what I think is happening with our U.S. Congress and the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. The Fast Track and TPP are like having trash put on a plate and served to you as dinner. You look at it and know instantly that it is nothing that you would ever want to eat, but the president and many Republican legislators tell you that it is going to be good for you and that the U.S. and 11 other countries have been working on perfecting this recipe for nearly a decade.

Many of the Democratic legislators agree that there are problems with this recipe. Yet the president believes that he can convince them to vote in favor of this being something that all U.S. Citizens, and those of the other 11 nations, will be forced to swallow.

The president also refers to some of these Democrats disparagingly, calling them names and he even tells them that they do not know what they are talking about. Some of these legislators believe that this may not be good for the nation and just want to know and discuss what the ingredients are. Instead, the president maintains that that is not possible and that, while our legislators can ask to see the text, they cannot take notes, bring an expert or assistant with them, and cannot even share what they have read with anyone (neither colleagues nor constituents) for 4 years.

Making the Trash on the Plate More Palatable


The president and Republican leaders have been lobbying hard for Fast Track, a legal maneuver that the president suggests will give him what he needs in order to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership proposal. In the Senate, certain Democratic senators held back their vote in favor of the Fast Track till they were allowed to have a vote on currency manipulation, a fiscal tactic that China and other countries have reportedly used which has caused our American companies to be put at an economic disadvantage. Once Mitch McConnell allowed a vote on currency manipulation – which ultimately failed to get any anti-currency manipulation legislation passed – nonetheless these Democrats voted for the Fast Track in the Senate and it passed.

While the U.S. Senate is indeed a deliberative body, the way in which these Democrats yielded to the president and the Republicans is akin to eating the whole plate of trash on the plate because some delicious French Fries were added on the side. Yet, French Fries did not change the plate into anything else, but trash. Worse, the Senate Democrats’ acquiescence brought us closer to the nightmare of everyone –perhaps – needing to swallow the trash, too. So, now we may have a vote coming up on Fast Track in the House of Representatives this week.

Fast track, as the name suggests, will make it easier for the TPP to pass. The Fast Track is therefore very important because it would facilitate the TPP is We have been hearing more about the TPP and how it may adversely affect Medicare, about what it will do to GMO Labeling, et al. So, in a way, we are seeing that this is more trashy than we thought. The mayor of New York and Donald Trump, among others, have come out against it, too.

Will our representatives in the House yield to temptations from the president and corporate lobbyists, or will they stand firm against the Fast Track? After all, some believe that the TPP will be defeated if Fast Track is defeated.

No Matter How you dress it up, trash is still trash

Nancy Pelosi has stated that this legislation needs to have protections for our workers and perhaps other changes in order for any approval to come from her. And, while these are valid concerns, they miss the broader point that this agreement is trash. Let’s say that we get protections for workers so that if they lose a job, there will be money to train them for other jobs and even some compensation for their inconvenience.

This still does nothing to protect: 1. the internet; 2. small and medium copyright holders from large copyright holders; 3. GMO labelling from being nullified, or 4. Medicare.

Nor does it do anything to get rid of the ISDS tribunal that will be set up to determine all disputes between companies and countries that will not let them sell their product within their boundaries. This tribunal would include 3 members, all rotating between being plaintiff’s counsel, defendant’s counsel and judge. The rules they will play by have not even been drafted yet. These individuals are accountable to no one and are not impeachable.

So, the people in the tribunal and the tribunal, itself, are untouchable. Yet they will surely touch your lives. If your town or state do not wish to have a pipeline run through, a coal-burning factory erected in your neighborhood, fracking done next door, your representatives will have to petition to that tribunal and if the company wins, your town or state will have to pay damages to that company for lost profits.

This is how the 99% End Up Swallowing the Trash, While the 1% Feast on the Best of Everything

Even if you have laws that state that such a company cannot operate in your area, your town or state could still lose – to the tune of 100’s of millions of dollars.

Under NAFTA and GATT Acts, a company can still sue a country for saying “no” to their coming into the country with a bad product. There is an ISDS structure within NAFTA’s Chapter 11. A great article about this subject is entitled “NAFTA Chapter 11 Makes Canada Most Sued Country Under Free Trade Tribunals.” See Sunny Freeman, “NAFTA Chapter 11 Makes Canada Most Sued Country Under Free Trade Tribunals”, January 14, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/01/14/canada-sued-investor-state-dispute-ccpa_n_6471460.html

The article states in pertinent part that:

The investor-state dispute settlement mechanism contained in NAFTA’s chapter 11 grants investors the right to sue foreign governments without first pursuing legal action in the country’s court systems, in order to protect foreign investors from discrimination. Drafters of the 1994 treaty included the provision to protect U.S. and Canadian investors against corruption in Mexican courts.

Critics argue that the mechanism limits governments from enacting policies on legitimate public concerns such as the environment and labour or human rights, and that negotiations are often carried out in secret… There were 12 cases brought against Canada from 1995 to 2005, while in the decade since there have been 23.

The 35 claims brought against Canada comprise 45 per cent of the total number of claims under NAFTA. That’s significantly more than Mexico’s 22 or the 20 brought against the U.S.

Canada has lost or settled six claims paying a total of $170 million in damages, while Mexico has lost five cases and paid out $204 million. The U.S. meanwhile, has won 11 cases and has never lost a NAFTA investor-state case.

“Thanks to NAFTA chapter 11, Canada has now been sued more times through investor-state dispute settlement than any other developed country in the world,” said Scott Sinclair, who authored the study.

Even when countries win the legal costs of fighting an investor claim, it can cost millions of dollars. Sinclair estimates Canada has spent $65 million defending such claims over the past two decades.

About 63 per cent of the claims against Canada involved challenges to environmental protection or resource management programs that allegedly interfere with the profits of foreign investors.

The government has lost some of these environmental challenges and has been forced to overturn legislation protecting the environment. .” See Sunny Freeman, “NAFTA Chapter 11 Makes Canada Most Sued Country Under Free Trade Tribunals”, January 14, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/01/14/canada-sued-investor-state-dispute-ccpa_n_6471460.html

And does Canada have any protections against companies that act inappropriately or illegally in its country? To that, the article responds: “While governments can be sued under ISDS, there is no similar recourse for states to hold foreign investors, often wealthy corporations, accountable for their actions.” See Sunny Freeman, “NAFTA Chapter 11 Makes Canada Most Sued Country Under Free Trade Tribunals”, January 14, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/01/14/canada-sued-investor-state-dispute-ccpa_n_6471460.html

Let’s presume for a moment that House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi gets some great deals for workers in exchange for a possible fast tracking, will that counterbalance the  millions or billions in losses that may be faced when their towns, cities, or states  lose a future ISDS dispute. Will the money they get to train in another job when the TPP takes away their job and ships it overseas matter so much if their city can no longer afford as many police or fire prevention personnel, or snow removal, road repair, or hospitals go out of business? Or will it be like Detroit: going insolvent, lowering pensions, boarding up businesses while millionaires make more millions. How is that a good deal by any stretch of the imagination? And Fast Track has an added feature of applying to any old trade agreement proposal for the next 7 or so years. It won’t matter if those proposed trade agreements are full of more garbage than this one. Those agreements will slide through unread and undiscussed, but still become the law of the land, just as NAFTA and GATT came to Canada years ago.

The Invisible Hand Gets Hijacked

We can look at Canada’s experience as a sneak peak of what we and the other 11 countries may experience under the TTP. And consider this: the U.S. is also in negotiations with the EU for a similar agreement under what is called the TTIP. So, all of the nations in Europe as well as the 11 nations in the TPP negotiations could end up having to fork over money to greedy corporation that wish to bring toxic, dangerous products into a country, when reasonable minds might state that they should not be peddling dangerous products anyway.

Would Adam Smith, the economist who gave us capitalism, have favored this kind of situation? I think not. He suggested that those companies that created and sold the best product would be the ones that would survive within the market. Those that sold lesser products would fail in the marketplace. Certainly, the latter companies could keep trying till they came up with a product that was indeed good enough to survive in the marketplace. These corporations, although they may call themselves “capitalists” are not following the Smithian precepts at all when they foist upon the marketplace a product that has been declared by the laws of a particular country to be harmful to the health, safety or welfare of its citizens.

According to the website, www.inspiredeconomist.com:

Smith argued that there is an invisible force at play in the market that guides production. So, the argument goes, if citizens want to live in a society with all solar power and organic food, they would simply put their money where their mouth is, and buy only those goods. By creating that market demand, people incentive companies to produce only those kinds of goods, and nothing that is bad for society, like coal. As a result, the invisible hand has worked its magic: our society is now 100% solar powered and full of nutritious, non-GMO food.” See Scott Cooney, “Where conservative capitalism breaks down: Three primary sources of free market failure”, undated, http://inspiredeconomist.com/2012/09/07/where-conservative-capitalism-breaks-downthree-primary-sources-of-free-market-failure/

Nowadays, instead of following the guidelines, our corporations are figuratively finding and grabbing the invisible hand and directing it in ways that serve their own interests to such an extent that citizens cannot serve their own interests and needs. The ISDS functionally throws a wrench into the process by which society finds its preferred mix of products and services by imposing upon that society mega-corporate products that they would not otherwise have chosen to buy and use.

If a consumer visits a grocery store, they want to be able to pick the products that will give them a good mix of products. They want to hit the nutritional marks to give their families the nutrition that they need and grab some snacks that will be fun and satisfy their families’ cravings. Polls have shown that they want to know and understand the nature and quality of their ingredients and they want to have GMO’s listed on the label. If they read a label and realize a product is bad, they move on. If it has no nutritional value or if they look at the quality of it and find that it does not look right, they will leave it behind. This is the nature of demand. A product will remain idle on a shelf if it has not been brought into synchronicity with public need or desire. Such a product eventually will meet its expiration date and be discarded. Why? Because trash is trash and should be thrown away.

The same can be said about the TPP. So, with a vote as early as today, let’s call our representatives to say don’t accept any deals or enticements from the president or house leaders to vote for the Fast Track, and simply tell them that Fast Track and the TPP are trash no matter how the president or anyone else dresses it up. Call the U.S. Capitol’s switchboard at 1-202-224-3121, to communicate with your representative today…and thank you.

Robert O'Leary 150x150Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England & “virtually” the world, with his website, www.romayasoundhealthandbeauty.com. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealth [email protected]++

 

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