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March 24, 2014

Part I of this essay dealt in thumbnail fashion with how we the people are being bull-dozed by a presidential request for fast track authority to agree to a trade treaty, the provisions of which have been negotiated in secret, and then run it through a no-amendment and no-public hearing procedure for an up or down (no debate – no filibuster) vote by the Senate. We the people are not consulted and only get to hear what the Wall Street pro-treaty people have to spoon out to us, even though our jobs and futures and our lives and that of our friends and families may be directly affected (as they were, disastrously, in prior trade treaties with cheap labor venue producers which made Wall Street richer and impoverished middle America). We do not need another Chinese adventure to totally destroy what is left of our middle class and even the lower reaches of our upper middle class.
While the negotiations for this trade agreement have been conducted in secret, there are some things we know. One is the so-called ISDS, also known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement. This section of the proposed trade agreement would allow foreign corporations to sue American governments at every level to contest application of local law (environmental, labor, zoning etc.) that interfere with their making corporate profits BEFORE SPECIAL INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNALS. Local or federal courts would not be involved in the process; the rights of local governments would be decided by people who are not citizens of this country and who are not accountable to any national or local public or democratically elected bodies. This leaves open the question of how and why and for whose benefit we are allowing the provisions of trade agreements to supersede state and local laws and ordinances – and what it does to the democratic process. Why vote for members of state and federal legislatures if the laws they make can be superseded by a provision in some trade agreement and enforced by foreigners rather than judges under American law? Can we allow provisions in a trade treaty to trump our right to protect ourselves? Answer: We sure can, and our rights can be determined under trade (not American) law.
Global corporations have little if any national loyalty these days. Why should they? They are making money everywhere. For instance, the Chinese have recently acquired Smithfield Ham, an American icon. Let’s say they want to put up a hog-killing slaughterhouse in an area zoned for churches and schools and their petition for rezoning is denied. If such an operation is controlled by the language of a treaty, can they sue the local jurisdiction before some trade tribunal and obtain judgment for money damages from the local zoning jurisdiction, damages that taxpayers have to pay? Worse, can the international trade tribunal order the local zoning board to (in effect) rezone the proposed site for Smithfield’s location? What about the rights of other people who live in the area whose property will become less valuable as a result of the rezoning with a slaughterhouse in the neighborhood? What about traffic, noise and semi loads of screaming pigs? Can’t happen? It already has, though with different parties in a different context in a disgusting show of the supremacy of trade and money over democratic rights to be effectively represented and live in peace.
Fortunately, there are others who are waking up to such power plays as the ISDS in these trade treaties being negotiated around the world. Thus public complaints in Europe have led EU Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht to open a 90-day public comment period on this issue, and there are advocacy groups in this country demanding a similar period for comment on the ISDS component of the proposed TPP. Our Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (backed by even some Republicans) has rightly refused to schedule a fast-track vote. We in this country should signal our senators and representatives that, even if the TPP is finalized, this ISDS section must be excised in the name of democracy. We must make and enforce OUR OWN LAWS BY OUR OWN PEOPLE.
It is time to put a stop to so-called “free trade” agreements negotiated in secret for the benefit of essentially stateless global corporations and their rich investors. We have experienced long and lasting economic suffering as a result of allowing such travesties to become job killers and poverty makers in our country over the last twenty five or thirty years. We of both parties (and not they) have fought and bled and died for democracy, so let’s not hand our hard-earned democracy over to the money changers and traders under the cover of some supervening trade agreement – not now, again, or ever. GERALD E

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  1. Right on!!!

    • While we are fed neocon propaganda about going to war over Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, let’s remember that we annexed Hawaii, Texas et al. Let’s also understand that such things as the Ukraine and other such planned diversions are right down Wall Street’s and the “free traders'” alleys in that with such diversion we are not paying attention to their pilfering of our treasury. Flag waving used to be a patriotic exercise, and still is for most of us. However, the money changers use it for another purpose: to divert our attention from their corporate welfare programs and would-be trade atrocities that not only further impoverish our labor but now presume to come in and remove our democratic right of self-government. GRRR! As we used to say, it’s enough to make a preacher cuss! Jerry

      On Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM, elderblogger wrote:


  2. loren boline permalink

    Gerry, Another addition to your blog, my son-in-law, Mark Mylar. His address: Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2014 01:49:30 +0000 To:

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