30 December 2013

NAFTA On Steroids

A while back, I wrote about AmericanLegislative Exchange Council.  At the time, it seemed that few people had heard of it, but I’ve been hearing and reading more about it lately.  Whether or not I had anything to do with that, I don’t know.

Whatever the case may be, I want to discuss something else that has the potential to affect our lives—and the future prospects of recent graduates and graduates-to-be—at least as profoundly as ALEC.  And it is as little-known as ALEC was until recently.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement has been called “NAFTA on steroids.”  To the degree that it has been publicized, it’s been touted as something that will bring prosperity to all by removing barriers to trade.  The same thing was said about the North American Free Trade Agreement:  Easing the flow of goods between Mexico, Canada and the United States would supposedly spur economic development and raise living standards in all three countries.  At least, that was what a charismatic Democratic president wanted his constituents—most of whom were completely unaware of how beholden he was to corporate and financial plutocrats—to believe.

Now another charismatic Democratic president—whose largest campaign contributors are in the financial services industry—seems to be doing as little as possible to prevent or as much as possible to aid (depending on your point of view) the passage of TPPA.

Ostensibly, it’s a “partnership” between Pacific Rim countries (including the United States) that create more than 40 percent of the world’s GDP.  As with NAFTA, the TPPA is being touted as a way to increase living standards in the countries involved.  But a closer look at the agreement makes it seem more like the starter’s flag for a “race to the bottom.”

The so-called partnership does something even more pernicious than saying that corporations are people (which I’ll believe when one comes home in a body bag from Iraq or Afghanistan). It says, in essence, that corporations have dominion, not only over people, but over nations.  It gives a company the right to sue if it believes that a nation’s laws or policies are preventing it from making the profits to which its shareholders believe themselves to be entitled.  So, for example, a mining or smelting company can entangle a nation in a costly legal battle over its environmental laws.  For that matter, a tobacco company could sue New York or other cities over their anti-smoking policies. 

So what’s to stop companies for suing if they think a country’s or state’s laws on occupational safety or equal opportunity are “too restrictive”?   Or mega-banks that believe a country’s regulations on interest rates or abusive practices are too consumer-friendly?  Or, for that matter, educational institutions that are required to post graduation rates?

If you are a recent or prospective graduate, you should learn everything you can about—and fight—the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.  The United States is already on its way to becoming the first nation in history to turning its most educated people—Yes, that means you!---into a servant class.  The Trans Pacific Partnership  Agreement could ensure that it happens.


  1. Don't forget the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

  2. The owners of this country have been fleecing the working classes for the past two generations. At what point will the public revolt against these rich pigs?!

  3. The British have asked the same question since Tumble-down Dick and Charles II. At least the French invented the guillotine.

  4. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would grant enormous new powers to corporations, is a massive assault on democracy. anti anxiety medication