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
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 23,209 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
18 Empowering Illustrations to Remind Everyone Who's Really in Charge of Women's Bodies
Julianne Ross · 7,947 views today · When Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti began posting colorful illustrations of women and their stories to Facebook, she had no idea how popular they would...
Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure
Daniel Quinn · 3,149 views today · PART ONE A fable to start with Once upon a time life evolved on a certain planet, bringing forth many different social organizations—packs, pods, flocks, troops, herds, and...
Lawns Are for Suckers. Plant a Garden - for the Climate!
Nathanael Johnson · 1,359 views today · Ripping out your lawn and planting kale and peppers won’t just lead to great stir-fry — a new study finds it could make major contributions to fighting climate change...
You Should Get Naked More Often. It's Good for You.
Joni Sweet · 1,208 views today · When Nelly encouraged overheated people worldwide to get naked in 2002, he was unknowingly advocating much more than just a sexy, sweaty dance party. Sunbathing, sleeping...
How Native Americans Managed "Wild" Land Long Before Settlers
Sami Grover · 982 views today · When European settlers first came to North America, they assumed they were looking at "untouched" nature. Sure, there were native peoples, but history tells us they didn't...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 966 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Solidarity Is About What You Do - Not Who You Are.
R.L. Stephens · 749 views today · I am Black. I capitalize Black and leave white lowercased. Sure, it’s the accepted spelling, but really I do it because it feels good. My family lived in Missouri, but my...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 668 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 626 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
Mark Wolynn · 623 views today · The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 572 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
Gabor Maté: Why Our Culture Makes So Many Of Us Unhappy
3 min · 571 views today · Dr. Gabor Maté explains why it is that our culture makes so many of us unhappy, unkind to one another, miserable, alienated from ourselves, etc. Watch the full interview in Part 2.
Masculinity Is Killing Men: The Roots of Men and Trauma
Kali Holloway · 556 views today · We begin the damaging process of turning boys into men long before boyhood ends.
A New Story for Humanity (2016)
102 min · 552 views today · Inspired by the New Story Summit at the Findhorn Foundation: a sold-out multicultural, multigenerational inquiry into a new story for humanity, attended by change makers and...
Bioregional Quiz: How Well Do You Know the Place in Which You Live?
Rua Lupa · 548 views today · In the vast emptiness of space there are an unimaginable number of galaxies, each galaxy containing billions upon billions of stars. Looking at one galaxy we find an average...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 511 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Why You Should Take Your Kids Out of School
Ben Hewitt · 455 views today · We don't need no education. At least not of the traditional, compulsory, watch-the-clock-until-the-bell-rings kind. As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 391 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...
Why People's Opinions of You Aren't Real
4 min · 357 views today · "You are what you love and not what loves you." - From Charlie Kaufman's film "Adaptation"
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
The Thing Sanders, Trump, and Clinton Agree On. It's That Bad.