By Peter Mathews
Free Trade and the North American Free Trade Agreement worked very well for the top 1 percent, mostly super rich corporate owners.
For the bottom 99 percent of Americans, mostly workers, Free Trade and NAFTA are a disaster, as we’ve seen. And yet, American corporate elites and their sponsored politicians are not content with the enormous riches they have gained from Free Trade and Globalization. They are pushing hard to pass a Free Trade agreement among the United States and eleven Pacific Rim nations. This so-called Trans Pacific Partnership is led by President Barack Obama, almost all Republicans in Congress, and a large number of Democrats in Congress. What do they have in common? The bulk of their campaign contributions have come from corporate and big business interests. They’ve also been heavily influenced by lobbying from big business and multi-national corporations.
There are a few stalwart leaders in Congress, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CONN), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MINN), and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) who vehemently oppose the TPP.
“Over the past 25 years, our country has signed trade deal after trade deal after trade deal, and each time, each and every time, we have been promised more jobs, increased wages, but the reality has been very different,” DeLauro put it bluntly. “What is insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result. We are headed to the madhouse with this agreement.”
Since it has not been finalized, we can look at some of its proposals. The TPP will “allow foreign corporations to sue the United States Government for actions that undermine their ‘expectations’ and hurt their business, …” (Trans-Pacific Partnership Seen as Door for Foreign Suits Against U.S.”, by Jonathan Weisman, New York Times, March 25, 2015). Corporations and private investors would be allowed to challenge local, state, or federal government rules, regulations, actions, and court rulings before tribunals, established by the World Bank or the United Nations, made up of unelected judges, many of whom were corporate lawyers. Now corporations, not government, would be allowed to rule the people.
Because of NAFTA and other Free Trade agreements, the United States has lost millions of high paying jobs, and is running a $500 billion annual trade deficit. TPP, “NAFTA on Steroids”, will cause us to lose even more jobs, run bigger trade deficits, and lose much of America ’s sovereignty.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is just as nefarious as the TPP, only larger. While the 12 TPP nations compose 40% of global gross domestic product (GDP), the 29 TTIP nations compose 45% of global GDP. The TTIP consists of the United States and the 28 European Union (EU) countries. So, 40 out of 195 nations in the world make up over half of Global GDP, and multi-national corporations will be able to block the democratic decisions of the people of these countries.
A recently leaked chapter from the secretive TTIP agreement, which is currently being negotiated between the United States and European Union, shows that the “Free Trade deal is even a greater threat to environmental, labor, health, and human rights protections – including democracy – than we previously knew.” (“Newly Leaked TTIP Draft Reveals Far-Reaching Assault on US/EU Democracy”, by Common Dreams, April 20, 2015). Just as the TPP does, the TTIP also establishes international tribunals composed of unelected “judges”, many of them corporate lawyers and pro-corporate bureaucrats. These tribunals can rule against national governments (representing the people) when multi-national corporations sue them for making and implementing safety regulations regarding food, labor rights, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and other environmental regulations that may interfere with maximizing corporate profits.
The TTIP has been criticized by its opponents in the United States and the European Union, who claim that “TTIP may give too much power to corporations, especially foreign investors, and that it could undermine food safety and environmental standards, lowering U.S. chemical regulations and forcing Europeans to consume genetically-modified (GMO) American foods and chlorinated chickens.” (“Is Europe on board for a new trade deal with the U.S. ?”, by Bruce Stokes, Pew Research Center ).
The EU admits that TTIP will cause European job loss to the U.S. since American wages and union rights are less. The proof for this is that one million U.S. jobs were lost in 12 years due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S. , Mexico , and Canada . (“What is TTIP? And six reasons why the answer should scare you.”, by Lee Williams, The Independent, October 7, 2014).
Peter Mathews is a Professor of Political Science at Cypress College and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Long Beach City College. He is a Guest Host on KPFK radio 90.7 FM and a Political Analyst on BBC 5 Live Breakfast and KFI AM 640 Morning News. He has served as a Political Analyst on KNBC-TV, KCAL-TV, KCBS-TV and other stations. He is has been a Guest Columnist in the online Orange County Register and the Long Beach Press Telegram. Peter Mathews is the author of his new book on money and politics, DOLLAR DEMOCRACY: WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR SOME; HOW TO RECLAIM THE AMERICAN DREAM FOR ALL, which can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and neighborhood bookstores. Peter Mathews’ website is www.epetermathews.com and his cell is 562-234-3319 http://www.epetermathews.com