The Thing Sanders, Trump, and Clinton Agree On. It's That Bad.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is slated for an up-or-down vote in Congress. Proponents say it’s about free trade. But it looks more like corporate colonization.
The Thing Sanders, Trump, and Clinton Agree On. It's That Bad.
By David Korten / yesmagazine.org

One issue unites three U.S. presidential candidates from quite different positions on the political spectrum. Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders all oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The TPP is a trade and investment agreement between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations now awaiting an up-or-down vote by the U.S. Congress. Trump says it’s a bad deal for the United States. Clinton says it will cost jobs and lower labor, food safety, and environmental standards. Sanders says it is a corporate assault on democracy.

Trump is right: It’s a bad deal. But he’s wrong that it’s bad only for the United States. It’s actually bad for all of the 12 countries. Clinton is right that it will cost jobs and lower standards, but she’s wrong that the problem is failing to set the bar high enough.

Only Sanders names the most essential reason we must reject the TPP: It is an all-out corporate assault on democracy. Its approval would empower corporations to further hamstring efforts by any member nation to address the potentially terminal environmental, social, and economic threats of our time.

International agreements like the TPP are a corporate lobbyist’s dream. Here is the playbook for creating them.

· Get the world’s most powerful corporations together to make a wish list of rule changes.

· Bundle them into an international agreement of thousands of pages of technical legal text that few people are likely to read.

· Call it a free-trade agreement and promise that it will create jobs, grow economies, and bring the world together.

· Include a provision that foreign corporations can sue a signatory government for any loss of anticipated profits due to government action.

· Require that these claims be decided by secret international tribunals composed of three private-sector attorneys; preclude review of the awards they grant.

· Push the agreement through the national legislative bodies of the prospective member nations under rules that limit debate, prohibit amendments, and require a simple up-or-down majority vote.

This playbook got us the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and similar agreements. The protection of corporate profits against government regulation is in NAFTA. So when President Obama rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline, the TransCanada Corporation immediately sued the United States for $15 billion in lost anticipated profits. If approved, the TPP will expand that provision to all 12 signatories.

The use of the corporation as a legal instrument to circumvent democracy has a long history. The precursors of the TPP trace to the aftermath of World War II when most colonized countries and territories gained their independence. Foreign assistance funded by foreign exchange loans soon got those countries into debts they could not repay.

This is our opportunity to take a stand for democracy.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank stepped in as global loan sharks. They refinanced the national debts in return for acceptance of “structural adjustment,” a kind of bankruptcy procedure that forced each indebted country to roll back its social programs and open its national economy to foreign corporate ownership and market penetration. I witnessed the resulting devastation of the poor and middle class during my 15 years living and working in Asia on the staff of the Ford Foundation and USAID. Colonial rule had returned in a new guise.

Corporate lobbyists, backed by free market economists, soon realized that they could advance the same process in all countries, including the United States, through international trade and investment agreements. That led to NAFTA as the flagship for future regional agreements and the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the flagship for global agreements.

The proposed TPP and its counterpart Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are the most recent such agreements.

The U.S. presidential race is shining a spotlight on the TPP and building broad public awareness that its stated purpose and benefits are bogus. This is our opportunity to take a stand for democracy: Defeat the TPP, begin to roll back corporate rights, and get on with securing the right of all people to democratic self-rule.

David Korten wrote this article for his new series of biweekly columns on the “Living Earth Economy” for YES! Magazine.

 

Dr. David Korten (livingeconomiesforum.org) is the author of Agenda for a New Economy, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, and the international best seller When Corporations Rule the World. He is board chair of YES! Magazine, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group, a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, president of the Living Economies Forum, and a member of the Club of Rome. He holds MBA and PhD degrees from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and served on the faculty of the Harvard Business School.

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
Dakota Access Pipeline Permit Denied
Nika Knight · 12,052 views today · 'For the first time in Native American history, they heard our voices.'
How Romanticism Ruined Love
5 min · 6,056 views today · The set of ideas we can call Romanticism is responsible for making our relationships extremely difficult. We shouldn’t give up on love; we should just recognize that it’s more...
All the News Is Fake!
3 min · 5,438 views today · Jonathan Pie finds nothing new in the idea of fake news.
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 3,579 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
93 Documentaries to Expand Your Consciousness
Films For Action · 2,748 views today · There are over 800 documentaries now cataloged in our library of social change films. That's probably way too many for any mortal to ever watch in a lifetime, let alone a few...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 2,499 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
Why Are Media Outlets Still Citing Discredited 'Fake News' Blacklist?
Adam Johnson · 1,951 views today · The Washington Post (11/24/16) last week published a front-page blockbuster that quickly went viral: Russia-promoted “fake news” had infiltrated the newsfeeds of 213 million...
Lifting the Veil:  Obama and the Failure of Capitalist Democracy (2011)
114 min · 1,664 views today · This film explores the historical role of the Democratic Party as the "graveyard of social movements", the massive influence of corporate finance in elections, the absurd...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,600 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
United Natures: a United Nations of all Species (2013)
103 min · 1,457 views today · United Natures explores the Rights of Mother Earth, Environmental Philosophy, Wisdom, Spirituality and the potential for a Neo-indigenous future for humanity. Directed and...
Post-Brexit Visions of The Possible: It's Time to Imagine a New European Community
Martin Winiecki · 1,437 views today · We live in the beginning phase of a global revolution which will turn societal conditions upside down. We cannot stop this transformation, but we can influence where it will...
After Historic Protests, Army Corps of Engineers Blocks Current Route of the Dakota Access Pipeline
3 min · 1,401 views today · The $4 billion dollar project could still be approved by President-elect Donald Trump who is heavily invested in the pipeline. Help support The Real News by making a donation...
The Fight for Clean Water (#NoDAPL)
2 min · 1,024 views today · Clean water or Corporate profits? What’s more important? #NoDAPL Energy Transfer Partners: (214) 981-0700 U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers: (202) 761-0010; (202)...
The Orwellian War on Skepticism
Robert Parry · 985 views today · Official Washington’s rush into an Orwellian future is well underway as political and media bigwigs move to silence Internet voices of independence and dissent, reports Robert...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 979 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Projext X: Using Leaked Documents to Reveal the NSA's New York Spy Hub, Hidden in Plain Sight
10 min · 908 views today · A top-secret handbook takes viewers on an undercover journey to Titanpointe, the site of a hidden partnership. Narrated by Rami Malek and Michelle Williams, and based on...
Law Professor's Epic Response to Black Lives Matter Shirt Complaint
Social Design Notes · 769 views today · A first year law school student wrote a complaint about her professor having worn a Black Lives Matter T-shirt during class. The professor’s response is priceless. Scans of...
Where Do You Draw the Line? (2016)
60 min · 765 views today · Why is the Ecuadorian government proposing to extract oil in an area frequently classified by ecologists as one of the most bio-diverse rainforest regions left intact on earth?...
Twelve Things To Remember After The US Election, From Front Line Organizers
Bill Quigley · 667 views today · When you find yourself in a suddenly darkened room, what do you do?   Some rush blindly to where they think the door might be.  Others stand still, let their eyes get...
Bikini Was Just the Beginning, Bombs Still Threaten the Islanders
John Pilger · 654 views today · I was recently in the Marshall Islands, which lie in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, north of Australia and south of Hawaii. Whenever I tell people where I have been, they...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
The Thing Sanders, Trump, and Clinton Agree On. It's That Bad.