Photo by Brennan Cavanaugh
As New Zealand signs the TPP with the U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and trade ministers from throughout the Pacific Rim, Public Space Party asks the Grey Lady, the New York Times: Why so little coverage about this devastating trade agreement?
We spent weeks and weeks planning a Trans Pacific Partnership action. It’s a vexing piece of corporations loving, environment destroying, prison industrial complex expanding, big pharma expanding policy.
At the forth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, a man sleeping out with VOCAL talked with me about TPP.
Christopher, an activist from Occupy Democracy London, was in town for the Occupy anniversary. He described the ways the prison business have found ways to use mechanisms such as the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) and the TPP to lobby to expand the prison industrial complex. “They want more arrests and people to fill the prisons,” noted Christopher, explaining that the ISDS allows corporations to sue governments, in one case for loss of revenue because not enough people were there to fill a private prison.
When I got back from COP21 in Paris, I wondered how we could actually move toward sustainable urbanism while supporting trade deals such as TPP which give away autonomy to corporations aiming to commodify health, water, and even air.
Several members of my group, Public Space Party, were on hand. Week after week we debated it, looking for targets for a TPP action in NYC.
We wondered why so few people were talking about it, why the papers were not writing stories, why the papers were not writing about New Zealand passing the TPP.
Monica even made some cat photos for facebook, with cute cats declaring: “Fuck the TPP”
Wednesday, we had a prop making session, putting together props for our TPP zip.
And Thursday rode over to the New York Times to carry a sign, as well as raise a banner, with balloons, catching rider after rider as we rode.
“You can’t have too many balloons,” I chimed in as we got ready.
Others were more on point.
“I’m sick and tired of one of the world’s most powerful media conglomerates not covering this story about a trade deal that’s going to impact all our lives,” noted Monica Hunken.
“All those years of watching MacGyver are really paying off,” Brennan followed, tying the balloons.
“The TPP is a bad deal,” noted Wendy Brawer, helping assemble the props. “As we saw with NAFTA, GATT and the other trade deals benefiting corporations not people. And not the environment, we’re about to sign the climate accord, TPP negates that. The TPP twists and destroys our possibilities for addressing climate changes in a comprehensive way.”
“The red balloons are part of the red lines for justice,” noted Hunken, referring to the militant uniformity of the red lines drawn in the streets of Paris during the COP21 in this global struggle for climate justice.
“I’m really scared of the TPP,” noted Michel Fox, an organizer with Occupy the Pipeline. “We want to shine a light that the most important newspaper is not writing about this.
“The TPP is the monster of all corporate giveaways,” noted Owen, another Occupy the Pipeline veteran and member of Public Space Party. “At this time when the candidates for the right and the left are revolting against corporate interests, it’s time that the newspaper of record pays attention.”
And certainly there had been articles about the TPP in the Times, but the point of the action was to get people talking and asking questions about why most of most of the news about the TPP felt obscured from the headlines.
So we held out our banner and tweeted out messages to the NYTimes, calling for them to cover more of the evolving story of this misguided corporate give away. Recognizing this is less a trade policy than a boondoggle support for the policy is crumbling by the day.
And the Gray Lady is running story after story about Trump and Cruz.
“That bullshit they are talking about ain’ worth printing,” noted a woman on the street as we were walking by.
For now, its worth reminding everyone to get to know about a bit about the TPP and speak up about it.
The CITIZENS TRADE CAMPAIGN notes:
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman is in New Zealand right now joining other trade ministers from throughout the Pacific Rim in signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Signing is not the same as ratifying. What the signing means is that the negotiations are concluded; the text is done; and that the TPP can now be submitted for a Fast Tracked vote in Congress at almost any time.
It’s critical that Congress is hearing strong constituent opposition to the TPP right now. Please write your Members of Congress and urge them to come out publicly against the TPP.
For the better part of a decade, we have told our representatives we want a “Fair Deal or No Deal” on Trans-Pacific trade. Now that the text is finalized and changes are all-but-impossible, it’s clear that — while a handful of well-connected corporations got a more-than-fair deal for themselves — for everyone else, the TPP would be a disaster for the economy, the environment and public health.
The TPP Is Bad for Jobs & Wages
As you would expect from a deal negotiated with hundreds of corporate advisors, while the public and the press were shut out, if enacted, the TPP would offshore good-paying American jobs, lower wages and increase inequality by forcing Americans into competition with highly-exploited workers abroad paid less than 65 cents an hour.
The TPP’s much-touted new labor standards are so abysmally weak that countries could literally set their minimum wage at $1/day and their maximum hours of work at 24/day and still be in compliance. The pact simply does not do enough to protect jobs at home or human rights abroad. Instead, it would only accelerate the global race to the bottom in wages and working conditions.
On top of that, the TPP is so poorly negotiated that it contains a massive backdoor for products that are assembled mostly from parts made in third-party countries such as China, with no TPP obligations whatsoever, to enter the US duty free.
Tell Congress we can’t afford a massive new job-killing, wage-suppressing trade deal.
The TPP Is Bad for Food Safety
The TPP would flood the United States with unsafe foods. Going beyond previous trade deals, the TPP includes first-of-its-kind language allowing corporations to challenge both U.S. food inspection protocols and individual food inspection decisions.
Consumer advocates have warned the TPP could have a major chilling effect on efforts to keep out unsafe foods that don’t meet the same standards that U.S. farmers, ranchers and other producers are required to meet.
Tell Congress we can’t afford a trade deal that jeopardizes the safety of the food we feed our families.
The TPP Is Bad for the Environment
The TPP would actually roll back environmental enforcement provisions found in all U.S. trade agreements since the George W. Bush administration, requiring enforcement of only one out of the seven environmental treaties covered by Bush-era trade agreements.
Beyond just failing to mention the term “climate change” in its thousands of pages, the TPP would also provide corporations with new tools for attacking environmental and consumer protections, while simultaneously increasing the export of climate-disrupting fossil fuels.
Tell Congress we can’t afford a trade deal that threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink and the future we leave for our children and grandchildren.
The TPP Is Bad for Access to Medicine
Many of the TPP’s intellectual property provisions would effectively delay the introduction of low-cost generic medications, increasing health care prices and reducing access to medicine both at home and abroad.
The TPP contains requirements that TPP nations allow additional 20-year patents for new uses of drugs already under patent, among other rules that would promote the “evergreening” of patent monopolies. Other TPP provisions may enable pharmaceutical companies to challenge Medicare drug listing decisions, Medicaid reimbursements and constrain future U.S. policy reforms to reduce healthcare costs.
Tell Congress we can’t afford a trade deal that limits access to life-saving generic medications.
The TPP Is Bad for Human Rights
The TPP includes several notorious violators of international human rights, such as Brunei, where LGBT individuals and single mothers can be stoned to death under Sharia law and Malaysia where huge numbers of ethnic minorities are trafficked through the jungle in modern slavery.
Tell Congress we can’t afford to ignore the actions of notorious human rights abusers.
Too many Congress members have hemmed and hawed about the TPP, refusing to state their position. Now that the text has been public for months, and that the agreement has actually been signed, the time for fence-sitting is over. Please contact your Members of Congress now and urge them to oppose the TPP.
Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director
CITIZENS TRADE CAMPAIGN