Sunday, May 17, 2015

Toilet Paper and Pee, aka, the TPP

Sometimes--ok, more often than not--I wonder why I think I am qualified to write about whatever it is that I write about.  Egomania? Egotism?

But then I tell myself that I write about very, very, very few topics at all.  I have never, for instance, blogged about art history, or Mendelssohn, or rocketry.  I know enough to know that I don't know a damn thing about most things.  I stick to what I know and what I can understand at least a little bit.  What a tiny, tiny, tiny sliver of knowledge this is--so tiny it would not even blip in the knowledge screen.

Klout even tells me what its algorithms think about my expertise!

Well, enough about you; let's talk about me! ;)

Back when NAFTA was being debated, I remember being conflicted about it.  There are very few things in life that I am certain about, and two decades ago I was a cautious and doubtful supporter of the trade deal.  But then I am almost always suspicious of anything the suits put forward!

Now, it is the TPP, which doesn't have a neat aural effect as NAFTA.  TPP doesn't easily roll off the tongue.  When I read or hear TPP, my mind thinks about TP and pee.  Maybe it is my problem.  Well, enough about you; let's talk about me! ;)

Anyway, about the TPP, John Cassidy at the New Yorker, writes:
Many moderate Democratic senators have been put off by the secrecy surrounding the putative agreement, which has been in negotiations since 2010 and whose provisional text is classified
My suspicious mind is always inclined to worry about any agreement or bill when the material is classified.  What are they trying to hide from you and me?  How much of a secret is the text?
When Senator Barbara Boxer went to inspect it in a secure room at the Capitol, a guard told her she couldn’t take notes.
Pause for a moment and think about it.  TPP is not any national security document from which we can find out how much the government has been spying on you and me.  It is a freaking trade deal. What are they trying to hide from you and me?
A number of legal experts, however, including Yale’s Judith Resnik and Harvard’s Laurence Tribe, have raised similar concerns to the ones Warren expressed, warning that the T.P.P. could allow corporations and investors to challenge the laws and policies of member countries, including the United States, outside the scope of their existing legal system. In a recent letter to congressional leaders, the experts referred to a known provision of the T.P.P., which would see disputes resolved not by the courts but by a new conflict-resolution panel, the prospective makeup of which is far from clear. This panel “risks undermining democratic norms because laws and regulations enacted by democratically elected officials are put at risk in a process insulated from democratic input,” they warned.
But then an idiot like me wants an example of these concerns.  Which is what Joseph Stiglitz does in his commentary:
The real intent of these provisions is to impede health, environmental, safety, and, yes, even financial regulations meant to protect America’s own economy and citizens. Companies can sue governments for full compensation for any reduction in their future expected profits resulting from regulatory changes.
This is not just a theoretical possibility. Philip Morris is suing Uruguay and Australia for requiring warning labels on cigarettes. Admittedly, both countries went a little further than the US, mandating the inclusion of graphic images showing the consequences of cigarette smoking.
The labeling is working. It is discouraging smoking. So now Philip Morris is demanding to be compensated for lost profits.
Pause for a moment and think about it.  We know really well that cigarettes are not dietary supplements and that they kill.  So, we have laws restricting it even while allowing the sale to be legal.  The manufacturer then turns around and sues for the compensation that it "loses"?  This surely merits a WTF!

Stiglitz writes:
The proceedings are so expensive that Uruguay has had to turn to Michael Bloomberg and other wealthy Americans committed to health to defend itself against Philip Morris. And, though corporations can bring suit, others cannot. If there is a violation of other commitments – on labor and environmental standards, for example – citizens, unions, and civil-society groups have no recourse.
If there ever was a one-sided dispute-resolution mechanism that violates basic principles, this is it. That is why I joined leading US legal experts, including from Harvard, Yale, and Berkeley, in writing a letter to President Barack Obama explaining how damaging to our system of justice these agreements are.
This egomaniac has nothing else to say, other than quoting Elizabeth Warren and Rose DeLauro:
Congress should refuse to vote for any expedited procedures to approve the TPP before the trade agreement is made public. And Congress certainly shouldn’t vote for expedited procedures to enact trade deals that don’t yet even exist.



Ramesh said...

I am afraid I have to disagree. Its difficult to make the argument in the comments section; so I am planning a series of rebuttals in my blog !

Anne in Salem said...

Oh, this is going to be fun to follow. I am looking forward to it.

gils said...

Jus fr d very reason y basic civic laws n rights and mandatory medicines are not part of general curriculum.. Illati lawyer n doc pozhappu odaathi

gils said...

Jus fr d very reason y basic civic laws n rights and mandatory medicines are not part of general curriculum.. Illati lawyer n doc pozhappu odaathi

Sriram Khé said...

Hmmm ... Ramesh is so ticked off that he will even skip watching the NBA playoffs to expand on this? And provide the uber-Republican Anne with some fun times? Bring it on! ;)

Gils is apparently so excited that he commented twice
Gils is apparently so excited that he commented twice
hehehe ;)
hehehe ;)