An impending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is finally being given a short run past the American people, a fleeting glance so it can be said that we had opportunity to weigh in, though in fact we really haven’t a clue. Well, maybe a few clues, for those that like playing detective in a supposed democratic decision that should have total transparency.

This is understandable because, even though it’s a huge economic policy commitment, it’s been given almost no real coverage in our mainstream media.

The clues are mostly red flags that should be given full attention as to their motivation.

Those that remember NAFTA’s roll out might recall how its merits were also buoyed by supposed broad congressional support. All was for the general good. Our economy would benefit greatly. Markets would be opened and untapped commerce would flow across boarders and back again. Ignore all concerns raised about predictions of a great sucking sound.

Ross Perot is remembered not. That sound still resonates, and that was just little old NAFTA. The TPP is described by other so-called alarmists as NAFTA on steroids. Maybe TPP will come with complimentary outsourced ear plugs.

Those who have tried to get a peek at what TPP is actually about are chiefly concerned with that disturbing fact, that its workings are privy only to a elite body. We don’t even know of whom that elite body is comprised, except that it ain’t anyone representing working stiffs or small business. Like NAFTA, the entire enterprise seems rigged towards rewarding those secretly rearranging international trade for their own multinational corporate interests.

Somehow, given what we have come to expect of corporate responsibility, that isn’t very reassuring or convincing that we should entrust them, again, with our bottom line, casually tossing them the keys to America’s economic mobility.

NAFTA’s economic model transported U.S. manufacturing to wherever it best suited the profit of big business. Protection of workers, and their jobs, and storefronts on Main St. was thrown under a bus in pursuing a global economy unconcerned with petty national collateral costs in conducting business.

TPP ‘s scant tea leaves reveal even more compromises to worker rights, environmental protection, and national sovereignty.

For those thinking it a good idea to recognize corporations as having the same rights as people, TPP just ups the ante in gambling that it’s an equally good idea to establish corporations as legally more powerful than existing countries. Under TPP, corporate interests and alliances would take precedence over national laws and any restrictions encountered in countries where corporate business is conducted. Individuals, even whole citizenry, and environmental laws that don’t comply with corporate agendas could be sued and adjudicated in special courts established by the TPP.

All this is already happening in part. Untested drugs, genetically modified seeds and hormone laden meats will gain marketing whether nations approve or not. Governmental rule, and its troublesome impediments to trade, will simply be taken out of play.

Proponents of TPP say all that is hysterical nonsense if one actually reads the TPP. But, since you, I and our elected officials can’t — prevented legally or due to the time constraints and protocol of so called fast-tracking — we’ll just have to take the word of those that have. If that isn’t very democratic, so be it. What’s most important is that time’s a-wastin and, like NAFTA, the proof will be in the pudding whether or not it’s to our collective taste when it’s finally served.

The biggest red flag, and the saddest, is that, on this issue but almost no other, Obama is widely supported by our Congress. “What’s up with that?” should be our immediate question as to whose interests are being represented foremost.

As they say, money talks, and here money is shouting its lungs out. Yet, without general media scrutiny, general awareness is deaf to the warning signals that such ready duplicity between both political parties and those corporate interests promoting such change may, just possibly, not be in the best interest of all those who will pay the suspected hidden costs. Since almost all particulars of the agreement remain hidden from public examination and necessary debate, the “benefits” of the agreement are all branding with no real assurances. However it’s touted, the American people are being asked to essentially trust in buying a pig in a poke. We don’t get to kick the tires or look under the hood. We don’t get to see this newest economic vehicle at all, just a vague description of its vast improvements over NAFTA’s disappointing joy ride.

Free enterprise has always been a bumpy ride, best when it kept to familiar roads close to home and corporations were satisfied without having to dominate a worldwide marketplace. Free enterprise, like most freedoms, did much better when it had a reasonable governor on how fast and far it should be taken. Seat belts and driving regulations irk some, but most welcome the security provided.

Soon we will all be “convinced” to purchase “self-driving” vehicles. Hopefully, some of them might still be American-made.


Gary Anderson lives in Bath.

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