The massive fire in the oil sands town of Fort McMurray, Alberta prompting the evacuation of some 80,000 people, is only the latest metastasis.
Thanks to a leak by Greenpeace International, a proposed transatlantic "trade" deal (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States reveals the full ugly extent of just one of the corporate coups now under discussion by the global ruling class racketeers.
Because of the leak of these secret documents, the people's dissent against getting hurt, burned out, evicted, or even killed in the name of endless profits for a select few billionaires can only grow stronger. The leak reveals the full extent by which United States intends to complete the client state status of the entire European continent. "The way is being cleared for a race to the bottom in environment, consumer protection and public health standards", warns Jorge Riss, director of Greenpeace EU.
The proposed TTIP agreement essentially allows the US to veto any regulations by European countries that would protect citizens' rights over those of corporations. Before the EU partners can even propose a new regulation, they would have to submit to a vetting process by the United States.
And then there are the odious, extra-national corporate courts which would have final say over any disputes. If a country persists, for example, in banning cosmetic firms from testing their products on animals, the firms would be able to extract monetary damages from the citizenry for failure to comply with animal abuse in the name of endless profits. If Europe continues its ban on genetically modified foods, companies would quite literally be allowed to yank the food from the mouths of babes in retribution.
Four aspects of the attempted multinational coup are of particular concern, says Greenpeace:
1.The longstanding environmental protections enshrined in the 70-year GATT agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) appear to have been totally dropped, putting profits over the lives of humans, animals and plants. The Paris Climate Agreement is rendered a moot public relations exercise.
2. Not only do the leaked texts contain nothing about climate protection, among the proposals is a clause deregulating the importation of fossil fuels, even such polluting fuels as tar sands oil. This importation has actually already been approved, even as the Paris Climate Agreement was being inked. Pipelines for the transport of highly flammable fracked North Dakota oil have already been constructed. The oil is bound for Europe. When those "I'm an energy voter!" TV ads talk about energy independence, they don't mean that fossil fuels will be stockpiled in the US for future use. They mean that Exxon-Mobil will grow richer as it exports its toxic product to the far corners of the world.
3. Rather than accept the current bans on the use of hazardous substances in Europe, the United States wants its partners to be more careful about using them. It simply calls for better "management" of such things as inserting potentially harmful growth hormone into food products. The typical neoliberal weasel wording of "benefits outweighing risks" is rife throughout the leaked document.
4. The documents make it clear that the world is wide open for continuing capitalistic predation. Big business will get its way and be allowed to intervene in even the earliest stages of any regulatory legislation by any sovereign nation. The leaked papers confirm that such multinationals as Monsanto and Coca Cola and Nestle have all been given seats at the table, while the general public has been excluded from the process. As a matter of fact, some details of the corporate coup have been designated to remain top-secret for the next 30 years. The pathocrats know their takeover will not be popular. They have already threatened to criminally prosecute the leakers of their diabolical texts.
Since some European leaders had already started to waver (because of public protests) in their support of the deal even before Monday's leak,President Barack Obama personally interceded on behalf of the corporate interest he represents. As War on Want's John Hilary writes, his trip to the continent last week was made, in large part, to cajole his counterparts into doing right by the plutocrats. He was greeted by street protesters in Germany, where public approval for the trade pact had plummeted to 17% -- before the leak.
"Oh, merde", you might imagine Obama muttering. "Après moi le Greenpeace déluge. And just when I was revving up my self-burnishing Legacy Tour into third (way) gear!"
But guess what? There are no worries here in the Land of the Free, where the sycophantic press are still raving over Obama's weekend standup routine at the White House Correspondents' annual orgy. Judging from the laughter, it was even better than the time he joked about attacking his daughters' potential suitors with predator drones. It was even more hilarious than the time Bush pretended to look for WMDs under his desk.
And talk about his exquisite timing. Less than two days later, Obama published a truly hysterical op-ed in the Washington Post, joking about that that other corporate coup known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The latest scuttlebut has it coming up for congressional ratification after the November election, when all the players can wash their hands of any accountability. The lame duck session is the truncated, but very rewarding, political version of the gap year. It's that special time when all manner of crap can be tossed at the public without pressure or fear of consequences. They're all spinning madly in the revolving doors between public service and cashing in, or between cashing in and public service.
Meanwhile, I'm so weak from laughing over Obama's op-ed that I can't even stand to parse the whole thing. But here are a few nuggets of comedy gold straight from the glib pen of the Pathocrat-in-Chief, as dictated by his corporate masters. (parentheses are simply my interpretations of his free-floating dialogue)
Today, some of our greatest economic opportunities abroad are in the Asia-Pacific region, which is on its way to becoming the most populous and lucrative market on the planet. Increasing trade in this area of the world would be a boon to American businesses and American workers, and it would give us a leg up on our economic competitors, including one we hear a lot about on the campaign trail these days: China.(The world is nothing but a plunderful market opportunity for billionaires. Never mind that Democrats and Republicans alike are worried that Trump's trash-talking of China is supposedly endangering America's stellar reputation abroad. Obama can trash-talk China even better, and in complete, cogent sentences to boot. He can diss Chinese wage slaves in favor of American wage slaves and still not be called out on his own classism and xenophobia. He's got the rhetoric, baby!)
This past week, China and 15 other nations met in Australia with a goal of getting their deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, done before the end of this year. That trade deal won’t prevent unfair competition among government-subsidized, state-owned enterprises. It won’t protect a free and open Internet. Nor will it respect intellectual property rights in a way that ensures America’s creators, artists, filmmakers and entrepreneurs get their due. And it certainly won’t enforce high standards for our workers and our environment.(He will protect his ultra-wealthy Hollywood and Silicon Valley donors at all costs. And he will hilariously complain that China isn't enforcing the high standards for labor and environment at the same time he's making damned sure that Europe's own high humanitarian standards for labor and the environment will be crushed into corporate dust through his efforts.)
Simply put, once the TPP is in place, American businesses will export more of what they make. And that means supporting more higher-paying jobs.(Simply put, American businesses will export more of what they make... in low-wage countries. As in the Nike sneakers that they hope to make in 40 cents-an-hour Vietnam. That will support more high pay for the CEOs who already rake in about 350 times the salary of the average American worker.)
This agreement also strengthens America’s national security. When fewer people suffer in poverty, when our trading partners flourish and when we bind our economy closer to others in a strategically important region, America is both stronger and safer.(Obama here displays his full allegiance to the discredited, but still popular, Reagan Revolution, a/k/a the Neoliberal Thought Collective. If corporations are allowed to become bloated to bursting, some of that offal will trickle downhill to the impoverished, rather than being "bound" up like a bad case of constipation. This will make the plutocracy even more nationally secure and comfortable than it already is. America is the plunderer that will bind its almighty power to the still untapped and appetizingly exploitable regions of the world.)
I understand the skepticism people have about trade agreements, particularly in communities where the effects of automation and globalization have hit workers and families the hardest. But building walls to isolate ourselves from the global economy would only isolate us from the incredible opportunities it provides. Instead, America should write the rules. America should call the shots. Other countries should play by the rules that America and our partners set, and not the other way around.(You're screwed, proles. Obama speaks the unbelievable truth when he touts the "incredible opportunities" that all those lost, off-shored jobs will provide to the obscenely wealthy, who just can't ever get enough. They set the rules for the whole miserable world. If that makes you skeptical, says Obama, then tough shit. America has to be meaner than China. America has to be a winner, just as the affable Obama is a winner.)
The ruling class racketeers and the pundits are still trying to wrap their heads around the sudden electoral success of nastiness, as personified by Donald Trump. Historically, the bought-and-paid for politicians have managed to keep their own pathocratic tendencies very well hidden beneath their jovial grins and folksy speeches. It's the only way to keep the mob under control. It's the only way to keep the people laughing instead of weeping... or demonstrating on the streets.
Donald Trump is now emerging as the exception to that rule. He's figured out that misery and anger love company. He's co-opting a good chunk of the mob through the old fascist ploy of dividing them in hopes of conquering them.
Hillary Clinton doesn't appear to have figured anything out yet. But it's early days. Give her time. She's only been a major power player for about 35 years.