Well, knock me over with a Lucky Strike. Michael Bloomberg, lord mayor of the fiefdom of New York, 10th richest American plutocrat, 20th wealthiest man in the universe, is taking on the Transpacific Partnership (TPP). More specifically, he is taking on President Obama's "cave" to Big Tobacco, which is demanding the right to spread cancer and sell ciggies to kiddies the wide world over. Under the new agreement, the tobacco cartel will be granted the power to actually supersede local laws governing the sale of its products.
In an op-ed published in today's New York Times, Bloomberg writes:
The early drafts of the agreement included a “safe harbor” provision protecting nations that have adopted regulations on tobacco — like package warnings and advertising and marketing restrictions — because of “the unique status of tobacco products from a health and regulatory perspective.” This provision would have prevented the tobacco industry from interfering with governments’ sovereign right to protect public health through tobacco control laws.
This week, however, the Obama administration bowed to pressure from the tobacco industry and dumped the safe harbor provision from the trade compact. The tobacco industry was joined by other business interest groups that were fearful that the safe harbor provision would lead to other products’ being singled out in future trade accords.
So instead of the safe harbor, the Obama administration is now calling for a clause requiring that before a government can challenge another’s tobacco regulation under the treaty, their health authorities must “discuss the measure.” The administration will also try to ensure that a general exception for matters to protect human life or health (typical in trade agreements) applies specifically to tobacco regulation.
But these are weak half-measures at best that will not protect American law — and the laws of other countries — from being usurped by the tobacco industry, which is increasingly using trade and investment agreements to challenge domestic tobacco control measures.Obama, a known nicotine addict himself, will effectively allow a flood of cheap cigarettes into third world countries, where in some locales, the rules are already lax:
He's going to need all the help he can get funding his presidential library, paying for his daughters' educations, weddings, his homes, their condos, second homes, third homes, ad infinitum. The once-secretive shilling is now right out there in the open. And why limit himself to only one Kill List?
Every human rights organization and public health advocacy group out there, it seems, is up in arms over the president's latest sellout. But Bloomberg's the guy with the heft. Obama once even offered him the presidency of the World Bank. So, as I responded in today's Times comment thread,
Maybe when Mayor Bloomberg leaves office, he can go full Glenn Greenwald and start publishing exposés on the rest of the super-secret, corporation-friendly awfulness contained in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As a member of the Club, he is welcome where the rest of us (even members of Congress expected to give it a quickie carte blanche) are not. If he will do that for the hoi polloi, and rip the curtain of deceit away from the global capitalist cabal, I might even forgive him for evicting Occupy from Zuccotti Park.
So -- what about the reckless epidemic of fracking for natural gas, most of which will be exported to other countries for the enrichment of a few, rather than stockpiled here for our own future use?
What about the importation of foreign food from countries where they don't necessarily believe in inspection? What about the deal that will shield corporations from lawsuits in domestic courts? How about the clause giving drug companies permission to withhold life-saving medicine from impoverished countries?
How about it, Mr. Mayor? Channel FDR, and be a traitor to your class. It's never too late.For the latest information and best coverage of the ongoing corporate coup known as the TPP, check out Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. Since the USG's adherence to the will of the world's business cartels hinges upon Congressional approval, pressure on our reps may do the trick. Obama has yet to secure their permission to unilaterally sign any deals. It's not too late, especially given parallel anger over the NSA spying revelations.
This all ties in, too, to Paul Krugman's excellent column on bubbles and deregulation, on oligarchs gone wild, running from one crisis to the next. My comment:
Transnational capitalism rules the world. And it's super-government run amok. It's the force behind the epidemic of social austerity and corporate deregulation, endless wars and constant surveillance of restive populations. Heads of state are mere brokers, competing for Super Government's business, outbidding each other to offer the most natural resources, the most legal immunity, the most generous corporate welfare. They offer up their increasingly desperate human labor pools, who are forced to work longer and longer for less and less.
The corporate leeches feed, and keep moving. They hide their trillions in their offshore accounts and watch smugly from afar as the toxic bubbles they leave behind fester and burst, and societies crumble. They are never held accountable. They do, after all, own the world.
Well, almost. According to a 2006 UN report, the world’s richest 1% own 40% of the world’s assets, with those in the financial and internet sectors comprising the “super rich.” The top 10% of the global super-rich, a third of whom call the USA home sweet home, own about 85% of the planet's total assets. The bottom half of the population (3 billion people) own less than 1% of the world’s wealth.
In America, the president is now asking Congress for free rein to negotiate yet another massive giveaway to the global super-rich in the form of the ultra-secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership. Because, for the financial predators who run the place, too much is never enough.
|Here's Lookin' At You, Kids|