Monday, April 27, 2015

TPP = Total Plutocratic Predation

The fact that the Obama administration has threatened to prosecute any member of Congress who shares the contents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership with the public is all the proof you need that this is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad deal.

Through Wikileaks, though, we’ve been made privy to its wish list of corporate power grabs. These include, but are by no means limited to: global pharmaceutical price-fixing; putting the world's casino banking cartel on a steady diet of crack cocaine; scrapping the Fair Use doctrine and the free Internet and by extension, free speech; and riding roughshod over a whole panoply of food safety, public health, environmental, and labor laws.

Even if all the above were to be removed from the deal, the mere survival of a clause that replaces sovereign court systems with investor state dispute tribunals ruled by corporate lawyers is heinous enough. It's so bad that Obama and his Wall Street cronies need it to stay a classified secret for at least four years, lest the frogs wake up in their simmering soaking tubs, hop out in the nick of time, run wild, and eat the rent-seeking rich.

Joe Firestone has just published a masterful 23-count indictment of the TPP -- or as he calls it, a Dayenu Seder chant with 23 stanzas. Read, croak or intone the whole thing, then call your congress critter and repeat. A litany repeated often enough can be even more powerful than a bribe, especially when each stanza rings true.

 Obama and the Republicans are orchestrating an act of aggression, not only against American citizens, but against 40% of the world’s economy. This is a president, after all, who has given himself the right to kill anyone at any time in any place. This is a Congress which not only gives him a blank check to kill, but has its members regularly attend snuff films showing people getting blown up by presidential fiat. This is a Supreme Court which has declared money to be speech and political bribery to be legal. This is a Fourth Estate which now holds that accessing the comfortable and the powerful is easier and more career-rewarding than afflicting them.

So, think of the TPP as an invisible predator drone buzzing over your head. Once it strikes, it’ll be too late to run or hide. Protest will be futile. Because despite Obama’s derisive comparison of TPP opponents to Sarah Palin, it is indeed a death panel. By virtue of both its opacity and its toxicity, it effectively condemns democracy to an early grave. Did I mention another clause which guarantees that the entire treaty is designed to remain ironclad for at least the next several administrations?

Obama recently revealed his true inner Joe Wilson pissiness when he publicly shrilled out to TPP critic Elizabeth Warren:"You lie!"  He is absolutely shameless in slapping the “progressive” label on this deal and falsely claiming it supports millions of American jobs --  when it is specifically designed to offshore millions of jobs, effectively depressing wages and ramping up mass precarity.

Can you imagine, as Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown did recently, if Obama had expended half as much energy pushing for a jobs bill and living wage legislation and universal health care and student debt forgiveness as he is in cramming this latest corporate tyranny grab down our throats?

The White House openly and chillingly admits that the neoliberal overthrow of state sovereignty is one of the "pillars of his presidency". At the expense of our own future, he has supreme visions of his own:

Finalists, Obama Library and Shrine design contest (credit: Curbed Chicago)

Tell your congressional reps to vote against fast track, and tell them today. Our time is running out. Remind them that regardless of their powerful donors, they still rely on ordinary human voters for their continued employment.

 We won’t ever forget. Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit.


Robert Sadin said...


Suspicious Pearl said...

clear is that anything is possible for the Department of Justice.

“If a little girl from North Carolina who used to tell her grandfather in the fields to lift her up on the back of his mule … ‘way up high, granddaddy,’ can grow up to become the Attorney General of the United States of America,” she said, “We can do anything.”

Why does this statement along with a most enthusiastic support for Joe Biden's acclamation of our current attorney general make me uncomfortable?
And would Obama choose anyone to work with him who might make waves for change in his administration?
Help me out on this Karen and gang.

My previous comment disappeared so had to repeat

Meredith NYC said...

Karen, thanks for excellent post. And to @Robert Sadin, above...I must quote your comment to Krugman’s blog apr 26---‘ TPP is Not a Trade Agreement', because it goes far beyond the usual commentariat there.

"The largest corporations in the world working with the largest banks and the Obama administration in secret. Leaked provisions show that corporations would have the power to override elected appeal possible.

600 lobbyists can study the treaty, but no one in Congress can take it home or bring in staffers, or take notes.
Fast tracking to insure passage in secrecy. Provisions to keep terms secret for 4 years after passage.

Elizabeth Warren standing up to the President.

Every union, vast numbers of economists and law professors on record opposed.

And Krugman— refers to the treaty as “No big deal.“
Has never written about the corporate courts, never written about who writes and sees the document and who is shut out.

Writes one or two vague columns.

The resistance to TPP is surprisingly strong. It is a critical moment.

Krugman should acknowledge the strong intellectual opposition from so many major figures. If he disagrees, he should say why. Quote chapter and verse. He should speak forthrightly and boldly. Denounce the secrecy. Denounce the power being given to corporations. Denounce the primacy of wealth over people.

Denounce Obama for saying that opponents had their facts wrong.
This about a secret treaty! How could they have the facts if he will not let anyone see them.

To write yet another column about ACA when this issue is about to be decided
When his intellectual stature and influence could make a difference...

That is shameful."

I said, Our star Nobel economist on the nation’s most authoritative paper who calls himself the Conscience of a Liberal should not be a lukewarm opponent of TPP.

And re his latest defense of ACA---it’s getting tiresome to read Krugman’s pride in outwitting therw radicals' continual blather--they set such a low standard.

Another comment said, ....”Workers in industrialized countries painfully built up their wages and benefits and reduced their hours by collective action"
---and that took generations and even bloodshed to achieve.

The other Nobel, Joe Stiglitz, says other advanced nations try to protect their workers against globalization, by keeping unions, higher min wage, low cost college tuition, training, and truly universal h/c. Even PK admits their middle class is more secure than ours. But he never says how that’s achieved.

A commenter says----'Other countries don't let owners close factories as easily and ship operations overseas. (See Germany and France).'
How many American voters even know this? How often has economist Krugman even mentioned this pertinent contrast, while he pretends to defend US workers?

Meredith NYC said...

The pushing of TPP is the same mind set that pushes our 2nd rate Obamacare. Many comments say, be thankful, it’s such a vast improvement over our previous non-system. So the taxpayers and workers are subsidizing private profit as the highest value in both.

If we accept the Gop definition of how our democracy is to be run and for whom, we just argue on their terms. The voting public is never exposed to the full range of argument, so Gop dominance can infect the party of weak opposition and their liberal pundits. The fund raising needed to get elected keeps these issues out of the debate.

The US mostly accepts the basic gop premise that private profit is the 1st component that must always be satisfied in all services, and the public aspect is far down in priorities. Thus our freedoms are protected, they say. How other countries manage to combine private profit with the freedoms and protections for the public is never explained.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Both the link to and Joe Firestone’s 23-count indictment of TPP are keepers.

If you're thinking of sending a word to your reps in DC, a few of Firestone's concluding paragraphs are self-contained, any one of which might be shoehorned into your message, or serve as the entire constituent message itself.

Jay–Ottawa said...

The long, hot summer Hedges was talking about this morning may just have started this afternoon in Baltimore.

The mob's actions are not going down well with the NYT commentariat (200+ comments already). Understandably.

We want change but we don't want all the tragedies that unwind from desperation acted out. Is there still another route to reform?

annenigma said...


I see some of the protestors on tv looting stores and stealing TP and paper towels. I sure hope those are Koch Industry brands! Wouldn't it be great if someone came up with a 'shopping list' so they'd choose the 'right' products? If shopkeepers couldn't keep certain products from being stolen, they wouldn't carry them. Now that's a boycott I'd like to see.

Remember activist Abby Hoffman? 'Steal This Book' was the title of his book. I never read it but I think the time is right to do just that. Read the book that is ;-)

Valerie said...

Well, I wrote to all my Congressional reps - fat chance they will vote against Obama - Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell - but hope springs eternal.

Karen - brilliant article - you have been so faithful reporting on this. What a low life Obama is to go after someone like Elizabeth Warren. He is surely showing his true colours - in public no less.

Jay-Ottawa - Thanks for the tip to check out William Black's take on all of this. I love that guy! He is so smart and has such a great sense of humour.

Cirze said...

"Pillars of his presidency."



You rule.

You put all the dissonant pieces together so well that the thinking behind them almost makes sense.

After much reading and cogitating, my thoughts have recently turned to the all-too-probable nightmare scenario that instead of Obama using his last year (and last chance) to correct his earlier "mistakes" of trying to "compromise" with the unmoveable radical Conservatives (as constantly reported by his ever-hopeful onlookers/funders), that he will use the time to pass as quickly as possible (and by careful design) all the neolib programs that weren't passed previously (as most participants involved were distracted by the "moderates versus the hard-rightists" storyline) until the final moments (now) for action arrives.

It will not stop.

And, thus, we cannot.

Gulp. It's too early/late to write all these ideas clearly.

Maybe tomorrow.

I can't go on.

We must go on.

Denis Neville said...

“And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

Think of the TPP as an invisible predator drone buzzing over their heads in Baltimore.

“My greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.” - John Angelos, Baltimore Orioles COO

Baltimore City public schools will be closed today.

“When I was growing up in Port Clinton 50 years ago, my parents talked about, ‘We’ve got to do things for our kids. We’ve got to pay higher taxes so our kids can have a better swimming pool, or we’ve got to pay higher taxes so we can have a new French department in school,’ or whatever. When they said that, they did not just mean my sister and me — it was all the kids here in town, of all sorts. But what’s happened, and this is sort of the bowling alone story, is that over this last 30, 40, 50 years, the meaning of ‘our kids’ has narrowed and narrowed and narrowed so that now when people say, ‘We’ve got to do something for our kids,’ they mean MY biological kids.”

“The evidence suggests that when in American history we’ve invested more in the education of less well-off kids, it’s been good for everybody. My grandchildren are going to pay a huge price in their adult life because there’s a bunch of other kids, in principle just as productive as them, who didn’t get investments from their family and community, and therefore are not productive citizens. The best economic estimates are that the costs to everybody, including my own grandchildren, of not investing in those ‘other people’s kids’ are going to be very high.’” - Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis

Think of the TPP as an invisible predator drone buzzing over these kids’ heads in Baltimore.

“These really are the excess people in America. Our economy doesn’t need them—we don’t need 10 or 15 percent of our population. And certainly the ones who are undereducated, who have been ill-served by the inner-city school system, who have been unprepared for the technocracy of the modern economy, we pretend to need them. We pretend to educate the kids. We pretend that we’re actually including them in the American ideal, but we’re not. And they’re not foolish. They get it.” – David Simon

Jay–Ottawa said...

Valerie, I can’t take credit for pointing you to the latest William Black post, which is now (Tuesday 8 AM EST) first seen when you call up Thank YOU for pointing it out. Another fine article on that site.

However, yesterday, I was actually encouraging sardonickists to read the entire 23-point indictment of TPP written by Joe Firestone. Time flies, so now Firestone’s article is buried under newer stuff, like Black’s post. Just click on the link provided by Karen within her post to reach the Firestone article.

I was also encouraging readers to bookmark the New Economic Perspectives site as a favorite to be checked out regularly. For me it was a big find to explore. (Thank Karen.) NEP has a big stable of mostly economists writing superior stuff.

Krugman, the Nobel sellout? The star who was our guide? He eats their dust and is no longer worth the time of an op-ed moment.