The Corptocracy that Rules the Planet
I have done more to take on lobbyists than any other candidate in this race. I don’t take a dime of their money, and when I am president, they won’t find a job in my White House.
- Barack Obama, 2008 election promise
The Podesta Group is a top Washington lobbying firm that has represented such clients as:
- Wal-Mart, BP
- Lockheed Martin
- The Egyptian military dictatorship,
- It successfully stalled a Senate bill which was calling on Egypt to curtail human rights abuses.
- It challenged Wall Street reform after assisting one of the world’s largest bansk to fight proposed regulations
Obama publicly reneged on his promise in a record one week! Make no mistake, the corporations rule the planet.
(Source: Washington Free Press)
In the United States, the difference between the Democratic and Republican party is not so great. While the Republican party is a little more pro-corporation, both are overwhelmingly under the control of Corptocracy. Lobbyists do not discriminate between Democrats or Republicans.
The TPP (Toxic Profiteers Plunder) – a Transnational Corporate Coup over the Democratic Process and Public Accountability
This is the least transparent trade negotiation I have ever seen.
- Gary Horlick, one of the world’s top international trade lawyers with a long career representing major U.S. and global multinational corporations, and more than 20 countries in international trade negotiations and disputes, first Chairman of the World Trade Organization's Permanent Group of Experts on subsidies
The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations—like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America—are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement. […] More than two months after receiving the proper security credentials, my staff is still barred from viewing the details of the proposals that USTR is advancing. We hear that the process by which TPP is being negotiated has been a model of transparency. I disagree with that statement.
- Ron Wyden, United States Senator
The TPP officially stands for Trans Pacific Partnership is a super secretive trade agreement between a number of Pacific Rim countries but expanding out to include more. It is the latest tool of plutocracy and multinationals to seal their control of governments and people around the world.
Figure 1: Map of TPP Countries (Source: TPP Info)
- United States,
- Brunei Darussalam,
Obama Administration, Hypochrites and Greenwashing Par Extraordinaire
The Obama administration “intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations,” as Obama and his trade negotiator Ron Kirk are strong advocates “for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.”
In other words, the already ineffective and mostly toothless environmental, financial, and labor regulations that exist are unacceptable to the Obama administration and the 600 corporations aligned with the TPP who are giving him his orders.
Citizens Trade Campaign reveals Kangaroo Court from Leaked Documents
The “international tribunal” that would dictate the laws of the countries would be staffed by corporate lawyers acting as “judges,” thus ensuring that cases taken before them have a “fair and balanced” hearing – fairly balanced in favor of corporate rights above anything else.
A public interest coalition known as Citizens Trade Campaign published a draft of the TPP chapter on “investment” revealing information about the “international tribunal” which would allow corporations to directly sue governments that have barriers to “potential profits.”
Arthur Stamoulis, the executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign, explained that the draft texts “clearly contain proposals designed to give transnational corporations special rights that go far beyond those possessed by domestic businesses and American citizens… A proposal that could have such broad effects on environmental, consumer safety and other public interest regulations deserves public scrutiny and debate. It shouldn’t be crafted behind closed doors.”
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a public interest organization, undertook an analysis of the leaked document on investment and explained that the international corporate tribunal would allow corporations to overturn national laws and regulations or demand enormous sums in compensation, with the tribunal “empowered to order payment of unlimited government Treasury funds to foreign investors over TPP claims.”
(Source: It’s Our Economy)
What makes the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) so unique is not simply the fact that it may be the largest “free trade agreement” ever negotiated, nor even the fact that only two of its roughly 26 articles actually deal with “trade,” but that it is also the most secretive trade negotiations in history, with no public oversight, input, or consultations. Participants in the negotiations had to sign a memorandum of understanding which forbids them from releasing any “negotiating documents until four years after a deal is done or abandoned.” TPP’s negotiations are being held in secret with details kept secret even from the US Congress! But giant corporations are in the loop!
WHO IS ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE
- 600 corporate representatives of the largest companies in the world
WHO IS NOT ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE
- Groups that protect working people, human, political and civil rights and our environment as well as the US Congress
If agreed to by the Senate and signed by the President it will override many laws in many areas. We won’t be allowed to enforce laws and regulations that impede the “rights” granted to big corporations under this agreement, and it will be very hard to rescind the agreement once signed, no matter how much damage might result. If this agreement becomes law, multinationals can claim that those domestic laws and regulations that protect the public or the environment but which hamper free trade and can sue for millions of dollars in “damages.”
February 28, 2012
Dear President Obama,
As organizations dedicated to government openness, scientific integrity and accountability, we are writing to urge you to increase the transparency of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiating process. Currently, without any public access to even the most fundamental draft agreement texts and other documents, important policy decisions that may significantly affect the way we live our lives by limiting our public protections are being
made by executive branch trade officials.
On your first day in office you committed to creating an “unprecedented level of openness in Government.” Recently, your Administration co-launched the Open Government Partnership, a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency and empower citizens. You also have said that your transparency initiative will extend to the Office of U.S. Trade Representative. Administration officials have repeatedly stated that the administration will conduct the most transparent international commercial negotiations ever with inclusion of all stakeholders to ensure that the TPP FTA will meet your goal of a “high standards worthy of a 21st century trade agreement.” We support all these goals. However, multiple aspects of the current negotiations process utterly fail to meet these standards. Instead of new levels of transparency, the process has instituted unprecedented levels of secrecy. Indeed, the extreme secrecy surrounding the process was lauded by a U.S. trade lawyer and former U.S government trade official involved in decades of negotiations: “This is the least transparent trade negotiation I have ever seen,” said Gary Horlick at a Global Business Dialogue Forum on the TPP FTA in late January.
At a minimum, your Administration should provide access to the negotiating texts of the pact’s various chapters for all congressional staff, the public, and the press. Such transparency is standard practice for trade negotiations. The World Trade Organization posts negotiating texts on its website for review, and negotiating texts were also made available on the recently completed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). However, this practice has not been adopted, to date, in the context of TPP FTA talks. Indeed, to the contrary, parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding 2010 imposing heightened secrecy for the process.
This extreme secrecy has shut out of the process small business, civil society and other stakeholders who have a direct and long-term interest in the outcome of these negotiations. We understand that members of Congress serving on the Committees whose jurisdiction is directly implicated by the array of policies being negotiated also have had difficulty gaining access to the texts and providing input into the development of the agreement. Yet, under the trade advisory
system, representatives from over 600 business interests have direct access and thus, unlike the public and Congress, have the ability to influence an agreement that could huge an enormous impact on the public in a myriad of ways.
Greater transparency is essential because these negotiations are of unprecedented scope with respect to both the subject matter and the countries potentially involved. A resulting agreement could include half of the world – all of Asia and the Pacific Rim countries of the Americas. As you noted at the November Hawaii Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, “[T]he TPP has the potential to be a model not only for the Asia Pacific but for future trade agreements. It
addresses a whole range of issues not covered by past agreements, including market regulations and how we can make them more compatible…” This potential is precisely why the TPP negotiations must also be a model of maximal transparency and accountability to the public the pact will affect.
Moreover, the subject matter now being negotiated extends significantly beyond tariffs and other traditional trade matters. As the U.S. will be obliged to bring existing and future U.S. policies into compliance with the international norms established in the pact, this process would establish policies binding on future U.S. Congresses and state legislatures on numerous non-trade subjects currently under the jurisdiction of these domestic legislative bodies. These include patent and copyright, land use, food and product standards, natural resources, professional licensing, government procurement, financial practices, healthcare, energy, telecommunications, and other service sector regulations, and more. Indeed, these texts will affect the cost of prescription drugs, the state of our environment, and our government’s ability to protect the public from tainted food, defective products, safe drugs, and will touch every American family. The enforceability and permanence of such binding rules, with later changes to an adopted pact requiring agreement by all signatory countries, necessitates maximal transparency and extreme care on the front end. Given these concerns and that draft texts for most chapters are completed, we urge you to mandate public access to these texts, and to establish a model for US transparency in all future negotiations of this sort. The goals of a transparent, collaborative, and participatory government with empowered citizens, as well as a “high-standard, 21st century” agreement that advances the health, safety, enterprise and creativity of the American public, require no less.
- American Association of Law Libraries
- American Library Association
- ARTICLE 19, Global Campaign for Freedom of Expression and Information
- Association of College and Research Libraries
- Association of Research Libraries
- Center for Media and Democracy
- Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington – CREW
- Collaboration on Government Secrecy
- Feminists for Free Expression
- Freedom of Information Center at the Missouri School of Journalism
- Knowledge Ecology International
- Liberty Coalition
- National Freedom of Information Coalition
- OMB Watch
- Project On Government Oversight – POGO
- Public Citizen
- Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
- Special Libraries Association
- Sunlight Foundation
- Union of Concerned Scientists
- US PIRG
- Washington Coalition for Open Government
Africa and “Free Trade”
Figure 2: Net annual capital flow in Africa (Source: Health Poverty Action)
Every year, 30 billion dollars flow into Africa. That may sound like a lot until you realize that 192 billion dollars leaves it into other pockets. A study by the Health Poverty Action finds that “This is mainly in profits made by foreign companies, tax dodging and the costs of adapting to climate change. Whilst rich countries often talk about the aid their countries give to Africa, this is in fact less than $30 billion each year. Even when you add this to foreign investment, remittances and other resources that flow into the continent, Africa still suffers an overall loss of $58 billion every year.”
In conclusion, the idea that we are aiding Africa is inaccurate; it is Africa that is aiding the rest of the world, or more accurately, the rest of the world is robbing Africa.
The Bottom Line
The TPP negotiations should not just be negotiated to serve the interests of giant multinational corporations. The process should be opened up to the public and democracy, so people and groups with a huge stake in the outcome — like:
- labor unions,
- environmental organizations,
- human rights groups
- consumer organizations
can participate. With only corporate participation, only corporate interests will be served.