On June 12, a leaked copy of the investment chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was made public. This copy was analyzed by Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and has been verified as authentic. This agreement has been negotiated IN SECRET for 2-1/2 years and no information has ever been released until this leak. So why have the details of this negotiation been so secret? This agreement has been framed as a “free trade” agreement and yet out of 26 chapters only two have anything to do with trade. The other 24 chapters grant new corporate privileges and rights, while limiting governments and protective regulations.
If implemented, this agreement will hard code corporate dominance over sovereign governments into international law that will supercede any federal, state, or local laws of any member country. This document alone should set alarm bells ringing, but if one steps back and looks at the larger picture, the future ramifications look even more ominous. After completing this reading, see what your conclusions are.
This video is a must see for anyone who wishes to more fully understand the implications of this secretly negotiated agreement. This article will also show how if this agreement is considered in the context of other recently passed legislation and developments, and the “dots are connected”, the results would be total corporate global governance with an accompanying police state. In this new system the role of elected governments would be to serve as subservient agents for the transnational corporations, while the armies, police, and courts would serve the interests of these transnational corporations. The status of the member states would be locked-in, similar to countries once they are inside the Eurozone.
The TPP is being negotiated by some of the same characters that brought us NAFTA, CAFTA and other so called free trade agreements. Some of the provisions in this document include the establishment of a parallel system of justice to be administered by 3 attorneys with no conflict of interest limitations. This 3 attorney tribunal could order sovereign governments to use taxpayer money to pay these transnational corporations for any environmental or regulatory costs that these corporations expended to meet local standards. Many existing laws would need to be rewritten and no new regulatory laws could be passed.
Governments that tried to pass regulations such as limits on the financial industry using risky bets such as derivatives would have the burden of proof to defend such regulations in a court system controlled by the corporations. The taxpayers would pay should a corporation prevail in one of these “private courts”. In fact over $350 million of taxpayer money has already been paid out to corporations under the NAFTA style deals, because of zoning laws, toxic bans, timber rules and other regulations. This TPP agreement is like NAFTA on steroids. This corporate tribunal bears a resemblance to the private US Supreme Court approved binding arbitration that corporations use to severely limit an individual’s or a group’s right to sue for damages. With binding arbitration we essentially have a “private corporate court system” outside of any government judicial system where the corporations choose the arbitrators and pay for their services. This creates an apparent conflict of interest because the arbitrators know that if they do not rule favorably to the corporations in the majority of cases, they will not be hired back.
The kangaroo courts setup by this TPP agreement will have binding corporate guarantees with both trade and cash sanctions. These cash sanctions would effectively transfer taxpayer money to transnational corporate coffers. Can you imagine the excesses we will see in the financial industry as they challenge regulations within their own private court system forcing governments to pay or eliminate them? The result of these corporate tribunals will be to setup a race to the bottom, where if one country chooses not to regulate something, then the corporations would be able to sue the other nations inside of the TPP to have taxpayers cover their losses for any such regulations. These other countries would be vulnerable to corporate led lawsuits to be decided in the corporate tribunals.
So how could such an extreme agreement that literally gives corporations everything they could possibly want have been negotiated with little or no resistance? The answer is that the ONLY way this agreement could ever pass is if everything is done in secret and the details never see the light of day. Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch recently said:
“These agreements are a little bit like Dracula. You drag them in the sunshine, and they do not fare well. But all of us, and also across all of the countries involved, there are citizen movements that are basically saying that this is not in our name. We don’t need global enforceable corporate rights. We need more democracy. We need more accountability."
These talks have been so secret that Senator Ron Wyden, chairman of the Trade Committee in the Senate which has jurisdiction over trade agreements has been denied any access to information on the negotiations for over 2-1/2 years. This is a man who is on the Intelligence Committee and has access to nuclear secrets, yet he cannot see this TPP agreement? On the Democratic side, Senator Wyden has introduced legislation to force the Obama administration to make the details of these secret negotiations available to the Senate Committee.
On the Republican side, Representative Darryl Issa has also questioned the Obama administration’s extreme levels of secrecy on this agreement. This is not a liberal cause, this is not a conservative cause, this is a common cause. It is vital that the public be aware of this TPP agreement because BOTH of the 2012 presidential candidates are supporting this agreement. Since TPP was negotiated under the watch of the Obama administration, and Mitt Romney has indicated that he wants to quickly complete negotiations of this bill, the results of the next election will be irrelevant to the future status of this bill.
With the corporate takeover of sovereign governments, we see the very essence of a global fascist system. When most people think of fascism, they think of Hitler brown shirts marching through the streets, however, that is not the real definition of fascism. Fascism was defined by President Franklin Roosevelt:
“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group”
Polls show that most Americans from both major political party believe that money exerts far too much influence on public officials, effectively making these elected officials the “hired servants” of the wealthy elites. Both the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement believe that there is too much influence of money on our legislators. Our representatives are essentially the puppets while the corporate elites are the puppeteers. What this TPP agreement does is to take this puppet metaphor to the international level. Our elections have been reduced to the people choosing who will be the “hired servants” of the power elites from a list preapproved by these same elites.
This TPP agreement is nothing less than a power grab by the largest corporations on the planet to establish a legal framework for global corporate government making all sovereign governments subject to international law enforced by corporations. Passage of this bill would essentially be corporate coup against all member states.
So while this TPP agreement should frighten anyone who is still breathing, the threat does not end as the corporations make their ultimate grab for power. Here are some of the other forces that are potentially focusing the power of the corporate state:
National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA)
With the passage of the NDAA, our legislators overrode constitutional protections so that Americans who are “suspected” of providing “material support” to a terrorist organization can be detained indefinitely on American soil, without access to legal counsel, and without any charges being filed. Think about this for a minute, you do not even have to be charged with a crime and you can be locked up indefinitely? What exactly does “material support” mean? Exactly what is a terrorist? Some states have actually declared that people who secretly video record animal mistreatment as “terrorists”, even if no property damage was done. If nonviolent protests can be declared as terrorist acts, it does not take a great leap of the imagination to see how NDAA might be applied. Imagine if the government used NDAA legislation against journalists or whistleblowers such as Julius Assange, Russ Tice, or even Daniel Elsberg? How will we ever know what is happening in a corporate state if the corporations are successful in indefinitely detaining those who would shed light on their activities?
This NDAA is another example of dangerous legislation being passed in darkness. This bill was signed by Obama on December 31, 2011, during the Christmas break when the media attention would be minimal. In an effort to divide the opposition to the indefinite detention of Americans, Obama promised that his administration would never use the provisions. The questions most people should be asking is: ”what is to prevent any future president or even Obama himself from using indefinite detention, and if there is no need for concern over this, why was it necessary to make that signing statement?” Progressive and conservative groups such the ACLU, Gun Owners Foundation, Tea Party Movement, Institute of the Constitution, US Justice Foundation, Tenth Amendment Center, Occupy Wall St, and many other groups are joining forces to fight this legislation. On social media, resistance in the form of a Facebook group called “Recall Every Congressman Who Voted for NDAA” has been formed. Now, in the context of the TPP, think of how useful this NDAA law could be to a global corporate government in silencing its critics.
Citizens United Ruling
Americans have long had a sneaking suspicion that there was a “hidden hand” directing our government in Washington and the states, and they were right. The “hidden hand” was actually the corporations, unions, and other self-serving special interests that contribute literally $billions to our politicians in order to influence legislation that will favor them. This has happened even with limits that had been placed on these groups that prevented them from directly contributing to campaigns. Thursday January 21 2010, will go down in history as a dark day. This is the day that a divided Supreme Court, in the Citizens United v. FEC ruling, removed all limits on corporate political campaign spending. If you thought our politicians were corrupt and beholden to corporations before, things are about to get a LOT WORSE now that all limits have been removed. Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy swept aside decades of legislative restrictions on the money from corporations in political campaigns and ruled that companies can use corporate funds to support or oppose candidates. This ruling will certainly take its place in history alongside other shameful rulings such as Dred Scott v. Sandford, and Plessy v. Ferguson. These 5 justices opened the floodgates of unlimited funds to influence elections. The strangle hold the banks have over the nation’s wealth will now be amplified by this Supreme Court ruling now that all limits on campaign financing by corporations have been removed.
This black day will go rightly go down in history where the Supreme Court officially validated the takeover of the government by the corporations. The 2012 primary election cycle has already seen where approximately 4 dozen people have contributed massively to the super PACS and decided the outcome of the elections. This type of money influence will cut both ways regardless of which political party you support. One donor has stated that he is willing to spend $100 million in this election cycle. This one single donor “donated” the same amount as 2 million families sending a check for $50. This type of funding by large donors undermines the very foundation of our government and creates an environment conducive to corruption. Now in the context of the TPP, think of the impact that huge global corporations will have on governments with their ability to spend unlimited money anonymously.
Corporate domination of media
Media ownership has now become so concentrated that six corporations effectively control US media today. These companies are Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Murdoch’s News Corp, CBS Corporation, and NBC Universal. With this type of concentration, it becomes very difficult to find diversified news in order to form independent opinions. One aspect of this concentration is the increasing number of negative political ads, many of which have no accountability as to their factual accuracy. This will end badly if we do not stop the media from undermining the foundations of our election system. This concentration of media ownership allows billionaires and corporations to ensure that the politicians who will work to pass self serving legislation favoring these wealthy elites are elected to office.
One place where the corporate media has not met with great success in controlling is the independent media on the Internet. Attempts have been made to control access to it, to create “toll system” , as well as extreme copyright rules. We have seen a veritable alphabet soup of acts designed to enhance corporate profits and limit the flow of information. Some examples include PIPA, SOPA, CISPA, and it seems as soon as they are knocked down due to public resistance, another threat arises. For now, the Internet has remained free and a diverse source of information, but vigilance must be maintained. Now, think of the effect that the loss of an open Internet and the increasingly concentrated media ownership will have on the electorate when combined with the unlimited funding that the Citizens United ruling allows, as well as the power that the transnational corporations could gain under TPP.
Increasing Use of Drones for Domestic Surveillance
The use of drones for domestic surveillance is becoming more and more common. The FAA has approved drones for use over the United States and projects that 30,000 drones will be over our skies by 2020. The EPA is actually using drones to monitor cattle ranchers in Iowa, police and universities are using them, and cities are using drones to keep an “eye on things”. New much smaller drones the size of birds and insects are now in development. These smaller drones will be cheaper to produce and deploy which will likely raise the 30,000 estimate significantly and will be much harder to detect. Under a government subservient to the corporations, these drones would effectively be controlled and “regulated” by the corporations. Can you imagine the misuse of this technology to violate any privacy we may have left and to conduct clandestine surveillance?
Militarization of Police Forces
The militarization of our police forces is proceeding rapidly. After 9-11, the Department of Homeland Security gave generous grants to police forces across the nation. Some of the purchases included riot gear, armored personnel carriers, and even acoustic weapons for small towns. A nexus has formed between vendors of military equipment and the nation’s police forces. There are certainly consequences to this militarization of police forces. Once a police officer is deployed into a situation with full riot gear and military training, the chances of violence increases significantly even when the protests remain peaceful. There is significant evidence of this during the Occupy demonstrations.
The roles of police and military are totally different. The police are trained to protect lives, the military is trained to take lives. Consider how these same military trained riot police would be used when they are under the effective control of the transnational corporations and how they would be utilized to silence their critics.
Privatization of Prisons
The privatization of prisons is expanding rapidly. In most societies prisons are run by the state where the incentive is to have fewer prisoners with a lower recidivism rate. In a private system the perverse incentive is to maximize the number of prisoners, and raise the recidivism rate in order to maximize profits. This results in higher numbers of prisoners, broken families, poor healthcare for inmates, and few resources spent to prepare inmates to reenter society. This has contributed to the shame of the US having largest prison population on the planet whether measured in absolute numbers or on a per capita basis, with most prisoners serving time for non-violent crimes. The private for profit prison industry is growing and has actually influenced immigration legislation in Arizona in order to gain more inmates and raise profits. Think of the impact that private prisons, private policing, private contractors providing soldiers for hire, all with loyalty to $$$ instead of their country. We will quickly devolve into a fascist controlled state. This aspect of corporate control should be one of the most frightening to everyone who holds freedom and democracy dear.
Lack of Prosecution For Financial Fraud
If a criminal gets away with committing a crime, there is a strong likelihood that they will commit it again. The lack of prosecution for the major financial fraud that brought about the 2008 economic collapse almost guarantees that it will happen again. Justice Department officials have stated that these are difficult and complex cases. However, during the Savings & Loan crisis, there were thousands of successful felony convictions, despite the fact that it was 1/70 the size of the 2008 crisis. In fact when the 50 Attorneys General were close to starting their own prosecutions due to the lack of any federal action, the Obama administration stepped in and negotiated its own agreement.
To paraphrase David Petrovich, the Executive Director for Society For Preservation of Continued Homeownership:
“This agreement granted immunity to the big banks for the criminal robosigning where they forged documents and fraudulently tried to present them in courts across the country. This was essentially another bailout of the banks only this time the bailout was not in the form of money, but rather where changes were made in the law to retroactively transform banks’ illegal behavior into legal behavior. (Watch how this concept of “retroactive” immunity comes up again.) Think about what would happen if you or I forged notarized signatures and tried to pass them off in court. We certainly would serve prison time. Yet, these huge banks were let off the hook even after forging tens of thousands of these signatures and illegally foreclosing on peoples’ homes.”<
We also recently had the spectacle of the Senate Banking Committee “questioning” one of its largest donors. While wearing presidential seal cuff links, presumably to show his powerful connections, JP Morgan chair Jamie Dimon, easily handled all the softball questions asked of him. Dimon lost over $3 billion (and growing) on risky derivative bets and yet these same senators actually had the audacity to ask him for input and advice on regulating his bank. Think about the implications of total immunity from prosecution for financial crimes in an environment where the TPP has been approved and global corporations are the effective government.
Lack of Protection for Whistleblowers
The increasing prosecution and harassment of whistleblowers has a chilling effect on government transparency . The government often prosecutes the whistleblower rather than the crime that the whistleblower reveals. The Obama campaign in 2008 promised to protect whistle blowers, but instead he has been waging a relentless war against them. Bradley Manning was declared guilty by Obama BEFORE he was even charged with any crime, yet the shooting of the journalists by the US helicopter crew and their callous statements during the shooting was ignored. When William Binney blew the whistle on the NSA’s huge surveillance program, the FBI raided his home in an effort to quiet and intimidate him. Corporations as well as government also often retaliate against whistle blowers. In a corporate state, how would the citizens know about the activities of the corporations if there is no protection for whistleblowers?
Corporate Spying On Americans
The information William Binney made public dramatized the huge scale of the (at that time ) illegal surveillance that was being done on Americans. It also included the fact that AT&T as well as other communication companies were deeply involved in this illegal spying on US citizens. Later, as lawsuits against the corporations started to look like they would be successful, the Obama administration claimed state secrets to kill the lawsuits. Since the telecommunications industry is another VERY large “contributor” to political loyalists, Congress showed its gratitude by passing legislation to grant the telecommunication companies retroactive immunity. (This concept retroactive immunity comes up again.) The questions that should come to mind are: “if no crime was committed, why were the corporations granted retroactive immunity, or if crimes were committed, why were these corporations granted retroactive immunity?” Think of the implications of this in a corporate state, with the increasing use of smaller and smaller drones in an environment that allows corporations to legally spy on you. Then also consider this concept of governments granting retroactive immunity for criminal actions in order to please their major corporate donors. How will the transnational corporations use these “tools” to maximize their profits or to silence opposition?
What we see is a confluence of forces that has the potential to solidify a shift towards corporate fascism and encase it in international law. Governments will merely be the tools of the corporations to provide a degree of separation from the inevitable police state that will accompany this corporate global governance. Sovereign governments even with all their failings still have at least some concern for the general welfare of their citizens. Corporations by their very nature have only one purpose and that is to generate profits. If an individual whose sole purpose was to blindly enhance profits, without any regard to the standards of what is wrong and what is right in society, would likely be considered a sociopath by mental health experts.
If the TPP were to be enshrined into international law, these same sociopath corporations would now lord over sovereign governments, indifferent to criminal law, and beyond the control of nation-states. They would have the ability to utilize the militaries of some states to wage war on other “less complaint” states.
Doug Casey of Casey Research recently wrote: “It’s most unfortunate, but the US and its allies will turn into authoritarian police states. Even more than they are today. Much more, actually. They’ll all be perfectly fascist – private ownership of both consumer goods and the means of production topped by state control of both. Fascism operates free of underlying principles or philosophy; it’s totally the whim of the people in control, and they’ll prove ever more ruthless. “
There are those who would say that it is unpatriotic to be against corporations, however should corporations be in the business of governing? An open public debate on the future role of corporations is needed.
It is vital that the details of this TPP agreement become widely known and circulated. Once it sees the light of day, it will be defeated because people will oppose it. Sorry, corporations really are NOT people, they are merely state created entities.
What Can You Do? Get money out of politics
Until we get money out of politics, corporate control of our government will continue and because of the Citizens United ruling, will most likely increase. Attempts at a corporate coups such as this TPP agreement will continue and will keep resurfacing in various re-invented forms until one day one will be successful. We have already seen this pattern with the repeated attempts to impose limits the Internet. There are organizations that are working towards eliminating the corrupting influence of money. Find out more about them and support their efforts. Some of them include:
http://www.citizen.org Common Cause http://www.commoncause.org United Republic http://unitedrepublic.org
End the secret TPP negotiations
Until we bring this process into public view, there is the danger that it will be passed quickly and secretly with little or no congressional or public input. Once the details of these agreements are made public, the TPP will defeated, or at the very least modified.
There are organizations that are fighting this TPP agreement and they deserve your efforts and support. Some of them include:
We have reached a crossroad where either we allow the corporations to take control of our nations, or we stop them in their attempts. Take an evening off from the TV and make the effort to make a difference so that you leave your children a better future. Don’t expect others to do this vital task.
By Rudy Avizius
Rudy Avizius is a retired school district administrator and a former Director of Technology who has been following economic and political news very carefully for the last 2 decades. He has recently become active in trying to make sure that the government spends taxpayer money wisely with long term benefits to the nation.
© 2012 Copyright Rudy Avizius - All Rights Reserved
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