Last week a bill was introduced in Congress that would give Fast Track Authority to the Obama Administration in order to grease the wheels to passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (or TPP), a monstrous trade agreement that twelve Pacific Rim nations, including the United States, have been negotiating secretly for four years. This week is crucial in defeating Fast Track, in order to give more time for the public and for members of Congress to learn about the far-reaching and deadly provisions contained in this pact.
The TPP, if passed, will impact every aspect of our lives, and will be the final undoing of democracy itself. Fast track, if passed, will be a fast track to hell.
First, the TPP will restrict the ability of our government (and the governments of all member nations) in making and enforcing laws of every kind. This will include laws related to: consumer safety, product labeling (such as GMOs), worker’s rights, preferential purchasing (such as “buy local” or “made in the USA”), environmental protections, local sovereignty, organic standards, rights of family farms, restrictions on privatizing public services or community resources, and any other law that may interfere with corporate profits.
Second, the TPP will require governments to adopt laws that will increase corporate profits, as specified in the agreement itself. For instance, it will greatly extend patent and copyright protections for corporations. This will ensure greater corporate profits, for instance, for drug manufacturers, while making it more difficult and expensive for people in member nations to buy generic drugs. For the poor this may mean death. The TPP will threaten Internet freedom in many ways. For instance, “temporary copies” downloaded from the Internet (essentially any computer downloads) will have copyright protection, and violations of copyright laws will be subject to both civil and (depending on the scale) criminal sanctions.
These are just a few of the thousands of regulations being negotiated behind the scenes by corporate CEOs and government representatives with security clearance. By restricting our government’s law-making ability and by requiring our government to pass certain laws, the TPP threatens democracy itself.
If passed, corporations will be able to file disputes through the TPP, challenging specific laws. A tribunal will rule on whether these laws can stand or whether they are “barriers to trade.” These tribunals have binding authority and can institute sanctions if we don’t comply. But no worries–the official policy of the US government is to comply with all such rulings, and to change any offending laws. Besides, the United States, on behalf of US-based corporations, is pushing this agreement, despite the fact that it is bad for people, for communities, and for the earth.
In fact, the TPP is so bad that the only way to get it passed is to rush it through via Fast Track. If the US public becomes aware of the deadly details of this agreement, opposition will continue to grow and support will vanish. Opposition to Fast Track is growing. One example is the City of Los Angeles, which has passed a resolution opposing Fast Track Authority.
The official promotion of this trade agreement and Fast Track is an example of the flawed global economic system, which currently runs as a giant Ponzi scheme. If the TPP is enacted, it will take us even more quickly down the road toward a living hell on earth that I describe in my book, Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization. It will take political power even more completely out of the hands of the people, and deliver it to for-profit corporations.
This will speed up the process that is already well underway: of consolidating corporate power and converting human labor, communities, humanity’s common heritage, and the gifts of the earth into profits that show up as digits on a computer screen, to be electronically traded, used for speculation, and finally cashed out by the wealthy few economic “winners.” Meanwhile, the number of losers and the extent of our social and environmental losses will continue to grow, as long as vampire corporations continue to make rules that enable them to suck the life blood out of people and the earth.
This can’t last. We are quickly heading toward a social, economic, and ecological train wreck. Our children’s and grandchildren’s lives are being quickly diminished as we speak. The TPP would only speed up the process.
Fortunately, we don’t need to leave these decisions to government “leaders” who are blinded by allegiance to their corporate sponsors. The fact is, we who can see what is at stake are the only ones who can stop this fast track to hell. I trust that God and all the powers of the living earth are with us in this struggle.
Learn more! Watch this video in which Emanuel Sferios and I explain “Toxic Trade Agreements and the TPP.” Sign a simple petition opposing fast track. Learn more and stay updated through Flush the TPP and Public Citizen . Help us defeat this disastrous trade bill.