We are in a strange phase of the Obama administration when a “trade agreement,” the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is creating downright weird collaborations. You should have alarm bells going off in your head when you hear or read that President Obama is pushing a massive trade and regulatory regime that most national office holders in his party oppose, and most congressional Republicans – and the Koch brothers – support. It’s critical to understand what is behind this bizarre transideological collaboration.
Media cult of personality, Glenn Beck, for example, has been perhaps the President’s most strident and vitriolic critic. (Long-time subscribers know that this Syracuse Examiner initially defended Obama against Beck’s many false assertions about the President and his policies.) Until lately, Beck has been completely silent about the TPP, but recently he mentioned on his morning radio program that his “friends” are telling him that the TPP is a “good thing.” His “friends” are — most likely — his close ideological allies, Charles and David Koch.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership contains chapter after chapter of corporate-crafted rules and regulations that, if passed by Congress and other national legislatures, would be imposed upon those national legislatures and local governments, i.e., an international, corporate coup des lois. It would impose undemocratic, corporate control over 40% of the world economy described in One Party Planet as a neo-liberal world order. That is the context readers must understand to comprehend the strange collaboration between the “libertarian” Koch brothers, the non-progressive President and his Wall Street cronies.
One Party Planet is a must-read, 60 page pamphlet for anyone who wants to understand our world. It lists the three assumptions shared by “communists” in capitalist China and western “liberals” alike. The author, Martin Kirk, makes it clear that this is not a conspiracy, not a “simple story of good vs. evil.” Neo-liberalism, he explains, is an ideology with three “deep beliefs” which are:
- survival of the fittest through eternal competition among self-interest corporations is the only law upon which society can realistically be ordered,
- in the moral hierarchy, financial wealth equates with success in life which equates with virtue,
- people are, if not an island, a part of a group of islands of shared interests, answerable only to themselves, their peers and their God in that order.
While not anti-capitalist, Martin’s primary concern with this ideology is “a near mathematical certainty that this strategy is causing chaotic climate change to bear down on us ever faster and with more force.” He points out that this ideology “is going unchallenged, and power should never be left unchallenged for long.” Otherwise, he notes, we live in an order “of one mind. A One Party Planet.”
Martin points out that the few thousand people, who are “in control,” do not perceive that “anything is profoundly wrong,” and they “are busy doing what they can to extend” the neo-liberal, world order. The imposition of corporate-rigged, regulatory regimes (Obamatrade) would be a broad (horizontal, cross-border) and deep (vertical, national-to-local) extension of corporate control.
Brazen power ploy
“Trade agreements” are treated in law as treaties because, well, they are. When passed by Congress, they become the law of the land, and the leaked chapters of Obama’s TPP indicate that the transnational corporate interests are rewriting laws to suit their endless quest for financial wealth regardless of the human and environmental consequences. Patents for prescription medicines, for example, would be extended from the current 20 years to 26 or 32 years (still under negotiation). Poor people in New Zealand or Vietnam will not be able to afford life-saving medicines and thousands of folks will unnecessarily die as a consequence.
Because the draft of the TPP is being kept secret, it is unknown how many more laws and rules would be non-democratically imposed on the governments this way. However, from the four leaked draft chapters of the TPP, it’s known:
- the ISDS chapter resembles a protection racket,
- the Regulatory Coherence chapter would aim to prevent elected officials from violating the treaty rules at the national, state and local levels of government
- the environment chapter has no enforcement mechanism,
- the Intellectual Property Rights chapter resembles crony capitalism and offers corporate-friendly modifications that not only extends patents for prescription medicines but would extend copyright life to 95 years for corporate-owned copyrights. Only the U.S. is proposing criminal penalties “even absent willful trademark, counterfeiting or copyright or related rights piracy,”
- the agreement would violate state sovereignty.
Obamatrade, i.e., the TPP, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trade In Services Agreement, would impose corporate order upon the governments of all involved countries. A lot of what is contained in these agreements amount to economic imperialism. It should not surprise anyone to see the Wall Street-backed President in collaboration with the Koch brothers in support of this proposed international order, an imposition and deepening of neo-liberal values.
No wonder the President is lying to the public about this rotten, rigged, regulatory regime. Paul Krugman, macroeconomist and NY Times columnist wrote, “the fact that the administration evidently doesn’t feel that it can make an honest case for the Trans-Pacific Partnership suggests that this isn’t a deal we should support.”
Money makes the neo-liberal world go ‘round
Fast-track authority, the TPA, was passed in the Senate on May 22nd. That unconstitutional law would put complex regulatory treaties before the Congress for a straight up and down vote with a minimum of debate (88 seconds/House member). The Guardian reported that “corporate members of the US Business Coalition for TPP” contributed “an average of $17,676.48 was donated to each of the 65 ‘yea’ votes.” This legalized bribery stems from the campaign finance anarchy currently in place, and Obamatrade would render the United States government even more of a corporate-state, a plutocratic oligarchy.
No doubt, House Representatives will be bribed this way as well in the coming weeks; but that is where the best chance exists to stop this establishment-backed act of treason according to the folks at Public Citizen. While it is difficult to fight the influence of money in politics, with enough citizen involvement, a loud, persistent and a growing movement against Obamatrade can kill this corporate coup in its (fast) track.
Only people can prevent Obamatrade
While there is a transideological collaboration supporting the TPP, there is also transideological opposition to it. Many genuine conservatives oppose this coup, from Alex Jones to Rush Limbaugh to Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum to much of the tea party and other right-wing groups. While Glenn Beck has expressed concern about what is in the TPP, it’s not likely he’ll oppose what the Koch brothers want. Simultaneously, every progressive organization in the country opposes Obamatrade.
Alex Jones has long accused Glenn Beck if being a fraud. With his consent of silence, Beck is ironically, like his supposed nemesis, Barack Obama, a corporate tool. This struggle of transideological, grassroots opposition to the establishment’s corporate agenda is a test of the assertion put forward by Ralph Nader in his book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. In the coming weeks it will be interesting to see if Beck’s distrust of the Republican establishment in general and President Obama specifically, will break down the loyalty to his “friends.” Don’t count on it. Bet on Beck continuing to silently consent to the Koch-brothers-backed, corporate coups Obama is attempting to use in order to fundamentally transform the United States (and not in a good way).