It’s hard to hide a monster when it’s exposed to daylight. However, that is exactly what recent cracks in the media blackout on the TPP have revealed. Not only is this so-called trade deal an assault on democracy, the fact that the US has been pushing for its ratification is a national disgrace.
Hidden in plain sight are investor-state dispute (ISDS) provisions that establish a secret ‘Super Court’ system that renders all other rule-making bodies irrelevant. While similar provisions have been included in other trade deals like NAFTA, corporate attorneys have figured out how to twist their intended purpose and instead use them to scam ‘free’ money from taxpayers.
As Chris Hamby’s BuzzFeed News investigative report revealed:
Over the past two decades, corporate attorneys have stretched the parameters of ISDS… Indeed, financiers and ISDS lawyers have created a whole new business: prowling for ways to sue nations in ISDS and make their taxpayers fork over huge sums, sometimes in retribution for enforcing basic laws or regulations.
There is an added benefit for the abuse of ISDS. By merely threatening a lawsuit against a sovereign nation, corporations can effectively overturn laws they don’t like. And whether or not a case ever makes it to a secretive ‘Super Court’ tribunal, taxpayers would still have to pay settlement payments that could amount to billions of dollars.
Selling TPP As A Trade Deal Is An Insult
As David Dayen at the Huffington Post notes:
ISDS has increasingly become a way for rich investors to make money by speculating on lawsuits, winning huge awards and forcing taxpayers to foot the bill.
Here’s how it works: Wealthy financiers with idle cash have purchased companies that are well placed to bring an ISDS claim, seemingly for the sole purpose of using that claim to make a buck. Sometimes, they set up shell corporations to create the plaintiffs to bring ISDS cases.
Allowing corporations to create their own all-powerful legal system is the ultimate slap in the face to the 99%. But it gets worse. TPP’s ‘Super Court’ tribunals have the power to overrule the existing checks and balances of sovereign nation governance. If that doesn’t scare the shit out of you, it should.
Corporate control of a multi-country legal system introduces enormous threats to just about every aspect of daily life for millions of people. For example, Big Oil has been trying to get lawmakers to eliminate the EPA for decades so they can poison the air and drinking water supplies without penalty. Through legislation or budget slashing, there have also been escalating attempts by corporate lobbyists to get lawmakers to loosen or eliminate public safety and consumer-friendly protections. These attempts to rewrite US laws are all part of the same corporate ‘deregulation’ scheme designed to put profits above all else. With TPP’s secretive ‘Super Court’ system, the corporations that wrote the deal can get what they want without further lobbying, because it hands them ruling power over governments.
Here’s how Public Citizen explains the despicable corporate power-grab that the ISDS provisions legalize:
Comprised of three private attorneys, the extrajudicial tribunals are authorized to order unlimited sums of taxpayer compensation for health, environmental, financial and other public interest policies seen as frustrating the corporations’ expectations. The amount is based on the “expected future profits” the tribunal surmises that the corporation would have earned in the absence of the public policy it is attacking. There is no outside appeal.
It should come as no surprise that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and recent flood of other phony trade deals, have been negotiated in absolute secret. These ‘trade deals’ should not only be recognized as an assault on democracy, but a national disgrace. And any lawmaker that supports them should have their loyalty to country seriously questioned.
The sooner people realize that the TPP this is not really a trade deal, the better the chances are of stopping it before it’s too late.
Featured image: GlobalTradeWatch
*** Maryann Tobin is the author of “Afterlife: The Journey Of A Dog’s Spirit”
This heartwarming story is told through the eyes of an animal spirit that has been sent back to earth in the body of a small dog. His mission is to help a young woman discover that their destinies are more connected to the powers of the Spirit World than either of them ever imagined. If you’ve ever shared your life with a dog or any other pet, you will never look at them the same way again after reading this book. Afterlife: The Journey of a Dog’s Spirit is available now on Amazon.com.