Friday, April 24, 2015

TPP Still A Bad Deal, NO Matter What Obama Says!

"Hmmmmm......if we can just sneak this by the People all will be well!"

Barack Obama’s claim that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would be beneficial to the average American worker must still be taken with a grain of salt. Just over a year and a half ago I noted that - via Britain's Guardian - WikiLeaks had released the draft text  of a chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.    

This is a Neoliberal-generated multinational "free trade" treaty that - like NAFTA and GATT before it - promises much but delivers precious little to the average citizen.   The full agreement covers a number of distinct areas but the chapter released by WikiLeaks 17 1/2 months ago focuses on intellectual property rights - an area that influences as many other areas as civil liberties and pharmaceuticals. Most noteworthy, at the time Peter Bradwell of the Open Rights Group, remarked that:

"Lots of people in civil society have stressed that being more transparent, and talking about the text on the table, is crucial to give treaties like this any legitimacy. We shouldn't have to rely on leaks to start a debate about what's in then."
Indeed!   And the most damning indictment that the whole enchilada is bogus and only favors the elites and power brokers is the fact that the 30,000-word intellectual property chapter disclosed a vicious intent to  increase the term of patents, including medical patents, beyond 20 years, and lower global standards for patentability.

The day after the leaks, blogger Thomas Hartmann observed:

" This week, Americans got a peek behind the curtain of the Trans Pacific Partnership, and what we found is frightening. On Thursday, Wikileaks published a complete draft of the “intellectual property rights” chapter of the TPP, and it poses a serious risk to free speech and information access. The document contains proposals that would change copyright and patent laws, so-called fair use practices, and the liabilities for alleged violations.

The provisions would stifle innovation, creativity, and information sharing, all under the guise of protecting intellectual property. And, many of the proposed changes are being suggested by US negotiators. Opposition to these restrictive policies is coming from other nations, like Canada, Chile, Malaysia, and New Zealand."

Right, so now many citizens will be rendered poorer because of increased costs to their meds, negating or disallowing the emergence of lower cost generics. Copyright restrictions are also bound to stifle creativity, making it much more difficult to reference previous work to either build upon or critique. Then there is the double standard on hacking, disallowing it for the usual n'er do wells but allowing exceptions: protection can be broken in the course of "lawfully authorized activities carried out by government employees, agents, or contractors for the purpose of law enforcement, intelligence, essential security, or similar governmental purposes".

Given what segments had been disclosed it was clear the rest of the TPP agreement would be even worse. Indeed on Wednesday night's Rachel Maddow show Maddow played a clip from the president’s appearance on “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on Monday, in which he actually said that progressives who oppose the TPP "prefer the status quo,” .

Actually no, Mr. Prez, we prefer a world and level playing field without Neoliberal hijinks and economic manipulations! THAT is the status quo right now, which TPP doesn't do one scintilla to break!

He also went on saying that while he believes Senator Warren to be an ally on many other issues, in this case “she’s just wrong.” Well, duh, of course she'd be seen as "wrong" if she stands up for the crumbling middle class against advancing Neoliberalism!

Maddow noted that although Obama believes the TPP to be "the most progressive trade compact in American history", progressives in his own party — in particular, Senator Warren — strongly oppose it. And she's absolutely right because we believe the playing field can't be tilted any more than it is toward Neoliberalism and markets dominating over the pro- human agenda. We cannot afford to have in place anything where government guarantees of security and protection must be avoided at all costs, because they discourage personal initiative

Warren  correctly informed Maddow that one of the problems with the TPP is that the public has no access to it. Senators and representatives can read it, but they’re not allowed to discuss the details of it in public — which effectively means that Obama is asking the American people to take his word that the deal would have a favorable effect on the quality of middle-class American lives. But one could ask Mr. Prez if an informed citizenry is the basis for democracy, why are we being kept in the dark? Perhaps because we no longer have a democracy  but a corporatocracy! (And I won't even get into how much data, and how many files are being blocked from citizen scrutiny with the Obama administration now deemed the most secretive in U.S. history)

But that is the other prop the Neoliberals depend upon: citizen inertia, ignorance,  stupidity or belief in impotence, i.e. that they only have "opinions" - which carry no weight.  Also, they don't want citizens pursuing truth - information outside the media they promote, which is more invested in propaganda. This, my friends, is the Neoliberal paradigm at work. Whether it's preventing more disclosure on the exact details of the TPP,  or releasing all salient CIA files to do with the JFK assassination. (Which the National Archives refused to do in 2013, the 50th anniversary year - thereby enabling disinfo specialists and quacks like John McAdams to shamelessly continue their crusades to mock the conspiracy template.).
Meanwhile, the administration said Wednesday that the agreement will be made available online, and that there will be a period of "public comment  on it. Maddow noted this before asking Warren if that move would assuage some of her concerns.  But Sen. Warren wasn't biting:
They’re asking us to vote now to grease the skids,” Warren replied, “so there won’t be any chance to amend or block it, won’t be any chance to slow it down.” She claimed that the administration is saying, “Give all that up, and you’ll get a chance to see the deal on the other side.

 Sen. Warren didn't think that was acceptable and neither do I. It is instead a form of extortion. Indeed, the only thing that the American public has been able to learn about the deal is who was negotiating it — corporate lobbyists.  Well, we saw how that worked out when these same parasites wrote and negotiated the 2003 "Medicare Modernization Act" which ended up costing nearly 3 times more than originally promised and delivered a lump sum of corporate welfare equal to $13.6b to Big Phrma thanks to those who pushed it through like Billy Tauzin (La) who then became a lobbyist. Anytime corporate lobbyists are involved you know: a) the bill or agreement is toxic, and b) it is thoroughly in Neoliberal interests, not the people's.

To Maddow's question, Sen. Warren responded:

My view is when the process is rigged, the outcome’s likely to be rigged too.”

Maddow then asked:
"You’re saying that the corporate interests don’t just have access to see what’s in [the TPP], they helped shape what’s in it?”

To which Sen. Warren replied:

They’ve been in there for months and months and months during the negotiations,”

In other words, watching like the predators they are to make sure every damned 't' is crossed and every 'i' is dotted - in the favor of Neoliberal hegemony
Watch the entire interview via “The Rachel Maddow Show

And here is the letter of Sens. Warren and Sherrod Brown to Obama after his most recent attacks:

Your Administration has deemed the draft text of the agreement classified and kept it hidden from public view, thereby making it a secret deal… It is currently illegal for the press, experts, advocates, or the general public to review the text of this agreement. And while you noted that Members of Congress may “walk over ... and read the text of the agreement” -- as we have done -- you neglected to mention that we are prohibited by law from discussing the specifics of that text in public.

Before Congress votes to facilitate adoption of the TPP, the American people should be allowed to see for themselves whether it’s a good deal for them.

If we really are a democracy then we need to heed Hartmann's words:

"Unions, civil rights advocates, environmental activists, and many other groups are demanding that the details of the TPP are made public. Before this massive trade deal is signed, Americans have the right to know what it contains, and the right to demand that our elected leaders say “No” to the TPP. -"

See also:


What do we know about the TPP? Well, according to Public Citizen, we know that the TPP could ship millions of good-paying US jobs overseas.

We know that the TPP could increase the costs of health care and medicine, while hurting health and safety standards. And we know that the TPP could make corporations even stronger and undo what few reforms are left on Wall Street.

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