U.S. trans-national corporations are working to change the rules governing them under the cover of so-called trade deals. I say so-called because the focus of these deals is on enacting rules that Congress could not pass.
You may say "big deal, this doesn't affect me." However if you use the internet, view movies, take pharmaceuticals, value a clean and safe environment, think banks should be tightly regulated, etc., you likely will be negatively impacted.
One current incarnation of these deals is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, based on the fatally flawed NAFTA model. This deal now involves 12 nations in the Pacific region, and negotiations have been underway since 2010. If the TPP is mentioned at all, the media reports that the negotiations are about trade instead of being about easing rules governing transnational corporations.
This May, Senator Elizabeth Warren addressed this limited coverage: "From what I hear, Wall Street, pharmaceuticals, telecom, big polluters and outsourcers are all salivating at the chance to rig the deal in the upcoming trade talks. So the question is, Why are the trade talks secret? ..." Warren said. "I actually have had supporters of the deal say to me 'They have to be secret, because if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.'"
In 2012 Senator Ron Wyden, whose office is responsible for conducting oversight over the U.S. Trade Representative and trade negotiations, said: "Yet, the majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations — like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America — are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement."
Based on a leaked draft of the TPP's Investment Chapter, Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch said: "Via closed-door negotiations, U.S. officials are rewriting swaths of U.S. law that have nothing to do with trade, and ... have agreed to submit the U.S. government to the jurisdiction of foreign tribunals that can order unlimited payments of our tax dollars to foreign corporations that don't want to comply with the same laws our domestic firms do. U.S. trade officials are secretly limiting Internet freedoms, restricting financial regulation, extending medicine patents and giving corporations a whole host of other powers."
Let your representative and senators know you want them to oppose the TPP.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" column runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.