Let me start by addressing the “WHAT? DO YOU HATE TRADE?!” people. It’s not… ok… in the words of Evan Greer of Fight For The Future, “the TPP is not a trade deal. It’s a corporate power grab.” It’s a way for mega-corporations to protect themselves against workers and lawsuits while maximizing profits at the expense of human, workers, and environmental rights and protections. (TPP = Trans-Pacific Partnership.)
“The TPP is not a trade deal. It’s a corporate power grab.” ~Evan Greer
Let’s break down some of the lessons I learned while attending “Rock Against The TPP” in Seattle, WA.
1. The TPP represents a workers’, environmental, and consumer rights race to the bottom
Seriously. Corporations love the TPP! It empowers companies to look elsewhere for workers and goes over the heads of unions and their negotiation rights as a way to find the cheapest labor from all corners of the world.
The TPP pits $15/hr workers in Seattle against 65 CENTS/hr workers in Vietnam.
Not only the cheapest, but also the worst possible working conditions. “Developing” countries often have lower job safety requirements and are less likely to get sued by workers when something goes wrong. Seems like a smart move for conglomerates. So, yes, the company will turn a higher profit, but say goodbye to local jobs.
2. The TPP gives power to corporations, outranking your legal rights
The TPP grants legal power and leverage to global corporations, that supersedes your rights under US Law. Like all these disastrous agreements, the TPP would allow global corporations to sue countries and individuals. As Bernie Sanders explained in 2015, using NAFTA as an example of this overreach, the country of Uruguay passed anti-smoking legislation. That’s good. Phillip Morris responded by suing Uruguay, arguing that they were illegally obstructing future profits. That’s bad.
Here in America, we blocked the Keystone XL pipeline. That’s good. Thanks to Bill Clinton’s NAFTA agreement, the pipeline’s company, TransCanada was welcome to sue the United States over a botched deal.
On Jan. 6, TransCanada went to court to claim that the Obama administration’s failure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline violates U.S. obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA. The company is asking for $15 billion in compensation from U.S. taxpayers.
Compensation from U.S. taxpayers.
TPP takes this further and into the digital realm. You remember when Keurig tried to protect against third-party “cups” being used in their machines? People figured out ways around the scanner and popped their own custom cups in there anyway. All good right?
3. Let’s talk about digital rights and copyright law
With the TPP’s DRM laws, Keurig would be able to literally throw your ass in jail for messing with their system.
A growing complaint from mechanics or hobbyists is that modern cars have too much computer involvement and parts are sectioned off, making it tougher to tinker or fix at home. There’s a reason for that. Dealerships count on your reliance on them… and here’s the thing. With TPP, you literally wouldn’t be able to tinker with anything they didn’t explicitly allow you to tinker with (on your own car!).
Say, for some ungodly reason, you just bought Wolfman (2010) starring Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins on Blu-ray, and you wanna rip it to your home network. Guess the fuck what! The TPP allows authorities to now confiscate your computer and allows the corporations to press charges. This gets us a little into copyright laws…
Cosplay? F*** you. Charges.
College kid sharing e-books or other resources? Go f*** yourself! Charges.
Artist and a company allege your work is similar to theirs? Pound you in the ass prison. Charges.
Seriously, your protections vanish. Just like our…
The TPP would usher in a race to the bottom on our food safety protections. Listen, I lived in China. I loved it there. The food was great! Was it always prepared in a hygienic environment? Probably not. Did the milk sometimes have lead in it? Sure. Sometimes, were the vermicelli noodles just shredded pieces of plastic? You bet your sweet ass.
But that’s China! *Trump voice* Well, my friend, that’s also your food under the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Not China, specifically, but you know what I mean. If the food quality standards we are used to in the States are higher and more costly to than the standards of the other nations in the TPP, our standards would represent “illegal trade barriers” according to the agreement, and our own rules on pesticides, cleanliness, means of transport and production would go out the window. Basically…
These rules would effectively outsource domestic food inspection to other countries.
5. But when would this madness end?!
The TPP has no expiration date and virtually no escape hatch. Well… a country would have to declare to the other participating countries, simultaneously, their plan to exit. That country would leave with none of the benefits they’ve garnered, and, oh, one more thing…
A country exiting a global trade agreement is virtually unheard of in the history of the modern world.
So what do we do? I’d start by learning more about it. If you can, please attend a “Rock Against The TPP” event near you. In addition to some excellent entertainers, you’ll find discussion panels, educational opportunities, and learn how you can get involved. Talk to people. Research.
You could call your congressman, many of whom voted to “fast-track” the TPP in response to corporate donors putting the pressure on.
In fact, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the disgraced former chair of the DNC, is the only Florida representative to vote in favor of fast-tracking the TPP. Washington State’s Patty Murray has also voted this way. These people worship money and power, and they join President Obama, who is making a humongous cash-grab as he shoves TPP down our throats as a final middle finger as he leaves office. Remember… if TPP passes, corporations win big. People like you lose.
PS: If you are in Florida CD23…
Please vote for Tim Canova, Debbie’s challenger in Florida. Donate to Tim, or phonebank. Tim Canova is anti-TPP. Anti-Fracking. And wants to secure your social security. These are good.
So what do you think? Let me know here, or find me on twitter: @abowersock
This piece was originally published on https://medium.com/our-revolution/tpp-how-can-i-explain-it-c6bef6dfa45e#.gqsytbgib.