Free Trade For Whom?

People everywhere want free trade. Most folks, however, also realize that, in order to be truly free, trade must also be fair. In its present form, the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), just like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) before it, ignores this widespread desire for fair trade. Instead, TPP calls for expansion of an economic system in which trade is neither fair nor free. This is a direct consequence of the process by which trade “representatives” are selected and how negotiations are conducted.

TPP is not a partnership; it’s a prevarication. These “negotiations” are a true parley in name only. Not all parties are present at the table. Organized labor, indigenous peoples, environmentalists and other players are NOT represented. Proposed TPP language would make corporate legal maneuvers, such as law suits, prevail over existing laws of governmental entities at all levels. Sovereign governments lose out to monopoly corporate capital and acquisitive greed. Some 600 corporate advisers have dominated over four years of negotiations. The final agreement is envisioned to be 1000 pages long. The needs of the people will have been subordinated just as they were in previous “free-trade” agreements such as NAFTA and CAFTA. Negotiations are ongoing between trade reprsentatives of the United States and as many as 15 other Pacific Rim countries known as the Trans Pacific Partnership. All Americans need to know that any “agreement” reached exclusively favors aggressive, covetous corporate interests.

There are numerous nefarious factors pertaining to the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership. Proceedings are conducted secretly. No media exposure means the proposed TPP is evolving contrary to the democratic traditions and constitutional prerogatives of the sovereign peoples of the various nations involved. The Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution is being circumvented and usurped. News media are not allowed to report independently on TPP negotiations. Sovereign national interest is thereby hampered and possibly subverted through deliberate denial of access to reliable information. TPP trade negotiators only bargain on behalf of corporate interests, who presumably stand to gain significantly from its passage on terms favorable to their own vested interests.

Only the narrow interests of mostly transnational corporations are being considered. While members of the US Congress are only able to view selected portions of TPP, lobbyists from such United States corporations as Halliburton, Monsanto, Wal-Mart and Chevron have been granted full access to critical portions of the treaty text. When factors like pleasing shareholders and ensuring profits and other corporate concerns are addressed, the entire negotiating process becomes a charade.

For example, the untrammeled power that TPP represents will reduce or eliminate the freedoms of average citizens as follows:

• TPP makes it even easier to offshore both private and public sector jobs.

• TPP depletes citizens’ rights to sue corporations.

• TPP could impede the public’s access to the Internet and even textbooks.

• TPP makes generic drugs unavailable, which means only high priced drugs will be available.

• TPP will weaken food safety standards.

• TPP will expand the rights and powers of the same Wall Street interests who have already wrecked America’s economy.

We call on our fellow citizens to write or call their representatives in Congress and urge them to vote no to the whole “package.” When it comes to a vote in Congress, the TPP is being railroaded through on a “fast-track” basis. This means that amendments or even debate will not be allowed in either chamber of Congress, and the vote will proceed on an up or down basis, yea or nay to the whole thing. We, the people, want a vote of nay until there is adequate representation of all parties. Congress must be able to debate and deliberate and the people understand the ramifications of TPP. We will not be reduced to serfdom or helotry.

James C. Cary and Allyn M. Stoller
Albion, Ind.

Subsidizing Big Bananas in Our Republic

Dave Sirota’s article [“Ending the Fire Zone Subsidies,” 1/1-15/14 TPP] hit home in Redwood Country, California. With cities facing continuing public divestment for 40 years, Sirota rightfully laments the billions in public dollars required to provide infrastructure, emergency services, insurance and disaster relief to McMansion subdivisions built in remote fire zones, flood planes, and beach fronts, in effect, risky and isolated lifestyles that the vast majority of US incomes cannot qualify to own or commute, but must subsidize anyway.

Here in Humboldt County, we face worsening droughts that tree-ring research reveals could last centuries, yet remote developments and their vineyards, orchards, man-made lakes, trout farms, Olympic pools, rental cabins, livestock, commercial gardens (including marijuana) are not required to provide common water carrying-capacity estimates prior to extraction.

This is California’s ongoing “Gold Rush” that was observed from satellites by frustrated US Census workers in 2010, overwhelmed by a deluge of unrecorded, untaxed structures with unknown uses and uncounted populations draining liquid gold from rivers and streams for the price of a pump and hose. Adding insult to injury, working families in nearby cities face chronic shortages in affordable housing and are taxed twice a year on every nail in their home, they are asked to conserve water while paying two-thousand dollars annually just to meet basic needs.

Climate change, drought, unparalleled environmental collapse and the sixth largest extinction event of life’s history on Earth are no match for the seamless collusion between local government and industry. Emboldened by the windfall from two bailed-out housing bubbles, the development, speculator, finance, Realtor and rental industries effectively control every rigged urban and rural municipality in preparation for the third housing bubble since the 1980s. This is part of America’s unreported cycle of corruption, resource depletion, cynicism and unprecedented voter abstentions.

After three centuries, the US frontier lifestyle is still being marketed worldwide without civilization’s fundamental principle: “Your freedom ends where other’s freedom begins.”

George Clark
Eureka, Calif.

More Than One Way to Universal Health

There are people running around state capitols carrying papers with facts and figures, or colored charts to show off their research and their ability to gather information in order to prove their point. Now on the other side we have people running around with their own fact sheets and their own colored charts and ALEC-written talking points to get state officials to accept their facts and figures. This is the battle going on now between the one-payer believers and life insurance backers and those who want the government out of your life. Now what did the Affordable Care Act do? It opened he doors of hell so more money goes to the insurance companies and universal health care is a long-distance hope. Now I will concede that the ACA helps people but it does not help everyone. Ask the CBO which one of these thoughts will help America reach universal health care for all. The White House said it could improve it but so far it has not reached universal health care.

People still fall through the cracks and there is no universal health except in Vermont once it is put in motion. God bless you and protect you, Max Baucus [former Senate Finance Committee chairman], Mr. Ambassador. But a surprise is coming, that is Maryland, Washington state, New York and Oregon are contemplating one-payer. This is not repealing the ACA but filling in the cracks and all people will have health care. So thank you Mr. Ambassador ... For it will happen while you are in China.

S. Einhorn
Tampa, Fla.

Fraud Threatens Farmers

My sister, who lives in California, bought a towel that said “100% cotton, made in China,” which turned out to be plastic, and the same thing happened to me in Peru, where thousands of cotton farmers have lost their jobs because of cheap, fraudulently labeled textiles.

Rigorous quality control on imports, and stiff penalties for countries that allow exports of dishonestly labeled products, will be needed to prevent the same thing from happening in the US.

Christy Lanzl
Iquitos, Peru

Include Me Out from Hillary

I am in full agreement with Ralph Nader’s article in your 12/15/13 issue exposing Hillary Clinton. I would only like to add a couple of facts to his list of Mrs. Clintons “accomplishments.” After the coup d’etat in Honduras a few years ago, the US, whose foreign policy she then directed, was the only country, at least in the Americas, that recognized the “golpistas” as the legitimate rulers of that unfortunate nation. Besides her innate tendency to side with American business interests and the US imperial attitudes, Mrs. Clinton was no doubt influenced in her decision by the fact that the principal lobbyist for Honduras was a former aide or fund raiser and good friend of the Clintons. When campaigning for the Democratic nomination in 2008 Mrs. Clinton did not hesitate to accept money from Rupert Murdoch. And don’t forget, please, when she had “conversations” with Eleanor Roosevelt, in an obscene effort to compare herself to that truly illustrious woman.

If the Democratic Party nominates Hilary Clinton for president, I, and I dare say many more people who think like me, won’t vote for president.

Julio Rodríguez-Luis
Miami, Fla.

NRA Concern for Blacks?

Have you heard that NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre is encouraging young black males who are like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis to buy firearms in order to protect themselves from white vigilantes like George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn?

I didn’t think so.

Jeff Gitlin
Nonesuch, Ky.

From The Progressive Populist, March 15, 2014


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