TPP — Terrible Policy for the People
The Trans-Pacific Partnership aims to make whole countries into consumers, not just their citizens. This is a critical difference, in that it makes countries subject to a new tribunal, independent of national judicial systems. Says Common Dreams:
“Although the TPP has been branded a “trade” agreement, the leaked text of the pact’s Investment Chapter shows that the TPP would:
– Limit how U.S. federal and state officials could regulate foreign firms operating within U.S. boundaries, with requirements to provide them greater rights than domestic firms;
– Extend the incentives for U.S. firms to offshore investment and jobs to lower-wage countries;
– Establish a two-track legal system that gives foreign firms new rights to skirt U.S. courts and laws, directly sue the U.S. government before foreign tribunals and demand compensation for financial, health, environmental, land use and other laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges; and
– Allow foreign firms to demand compensation for the costs of complying with U.S. financial or environmental regulations that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms.”
Note the third and fourth points. Although not mentioned by Common Dreams, or anywhere else that I’ve seen, there is another legal and economic paradigm being promoted by this “agreement” (agreed by who? Not Congress, which hasn’t been allowed to see it yet. Not by the American people, 16358 of whom have so far signed this petition, http://tpp2012.com/, to block it. Not by the many progressive and not-so-progressive groups concerned about America’s last bit of sovereignty slipping away).
The paradigm being promoted by the neo-conservatives is called Willingness to Pay (WTP). It’s opposite is Willingness to Accept (WTA). It works like this. Suppose a coal plant wants to open up near you. Now, of course there will be pollution. So, instead of taxing that pollution (see end of this article for an example of how that works in British Columbia), or fining the company if it goes over a threshold, the question is put to the community — which may be poor, low in population, and certainly outclassed legally — “what would you be willing to pay to have clean(er) air?” It makes a certain amount of intuitive sense to those whose religion is The Free Market: if you want something badly enough, you will pay for it. But, it breaks down in real life. After all, the slaves in the old south didn’t vote out Congressmen who supported slavery, even though slaves were in the majority, because they had no ability to vote. Similarly, says Wiki:
Unlike WTP, WTA is not constrained by an individual’s wealth. For example, the willingness to pay to stop the ending of one’s own life can only be as high as one’s wealth, while the willingness to accept compensation to accept the loss of one’s life would be an extremely high number, perhaps approaching infinity.
Now, without going into details, the major thrust (phallic pun intended) of TPP is to protect the investor, that is, the supposedly anonymous backer of the corporatocracy (in practice, this is the members of Executive Suite, who receive huge compensation in stocks and options that ordinary investors can only dream of). If this canonized investor is harmed by seeing his/her profits reduced, the logic of the TPP goes, then there must be compensation! Perhaps the Obama Administration thinks that the supposedly richest country on Earth can pay for whatever environmental restrictions it imposes, but tell that to a crumbling Middle Class family whose taxes are already subsidizing the ultra-low tax cuts to the 1%. So, while TPP will guarantee more globalization, it will also extract more money from the beleaguered Middle Class (you do want clean air, don’t you?). How much are you willing to Pay very quickly becomes How much are you Able to pay? The upshot of this will be vast swaths of the country turned over to industry as Sacrifice Zones, people displaced into supposedly safer cities, until the polluted environs reach them too, and a permanent feudal system where the serfs (the 99%) pay an ever-escalating and ultimately unpayable tithe to their corporate overseers for the privilege of living. Instead of serving their customers, the corporate model will be turned on its head, and we will be serving the corporations who will decide, or not, whether it is profitable to provide us with essential goods and services.
The LIBOR scandal is too big and too systemic for the public to grasp, and the Presstitute media is fully complicit in not enlightening them. Even the honest ones can’t get their arms around it. LIBOR rates effect everything from the cost of your mortgage to how much the COLA is for retirees. Keeping LIBOR low is to governments’ interest, and as Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone points out, Barclay’s just might be right in saying the British government asked them to keep the rates low — they have an email that strongly implies Barclay’s was singled out for NOT keeping rates low enough in the past. That is, they were penalized by Whitehall for being late to the party, not for leading it.
LIBOR is the interest rate banks charge each other; crucially, it is set by a collection of the largest banks every day, meaning one or two rogue banks makes no difference. For the LIBOR rate to be manipulated downward, as it has been, requires nearly all the major banks to be in on the rigging. And THAT requires complicity of the government, and at the highest levels, including, in England’s case, the Treasury dept, and probably “Whitehall” overall. See here:
It is no different here. America’s interest rates are being manipulated downward by Fed purchases of Treasuries — it is now the largest purchaser of Treasuries, bigger than China even, which has begun to realize buying Treasuries backed by QE dollars is a fool’s game, and there will be little worth to the American dollar. But, of course, it is the banks doing the heavy lifting. Consider Ellen Brown’s recent observation:
The U.S. 2012 budget deficit is significantly worse than either Italy’s or Spain’s, yet somehow the U.S. has managed to keep interest rates on its debt at record lows. How has it pulled this off?
One theory is that JPMorgan’s $57 trillion in interest rate swaps have something to do with it. Another explanation, however, is that the Fed has simply stepped in as lender of last resort and bought up any debt not sold at the low rate set by the Treasury, using “quantitative easing” (money created on a computer screen). Between December 2008 and June 2011, the Fed bought a whopping $2.3 trillion of U.S. bonds in two rounds of quantitative easing.
Calling this corruption is like calling the sky blue. It is just an essential defining feature. It is how the system works (or doesn’t, to the 99%’s detriment).
The entire financial system is completely rotten at the core.
Perhaps it’ll make it easier to understand if you keep in mind 2 things:
1. The 1% will do absolutely anything, legal or not, to keep the system going for their own benefit. Not only do they not want to be exposed for the frauds they are and possibly go to jail, they want to keep “earning” their 8-10 figure incomes.
2. The public, as outraged as it currently is, is still human. Like all humans, it tends to want to believe in authority figures, be they religious, governmental, industrial, etc. This starts from childhood, and the vast majority of humans never fully grow out of this need. The big bankers are loathed not just for the crimes they committed, but for the trust they betrayed, trust they should not have had in the first place.
My advice, FWIW, is to stop looking for the perfect explanation, analysis in movie/video/book/article form, accept the complete corruption (and that there will be continuing scandals because nothing has really changed in the last 10 years, except to get even worse as the power players get even more desperate). Then, start figuring out how you can change the system the most effectively; this answer will vary from individual to individual, but most things won’t work, and those that do will require sacrifice, independent thinking, and even some physical risk. Michael Moore said at the Occupy meeting in Philadelphia this past week that some people will probably have to die at the hands of the police, in order to get the appropriate change started:
“The first piece of any movement is the agitation, you have to wake people up, and they (Occupiers) woke people up. Somebody has to sit at front of the bus, somebody has to be hosed down by the sheriff, somebody has to suffer essentially, they have to put themselves on the line, probably be injured, maybe arrested, sadly, sometimes killed.”
Neither he, nor I, nor most of you, I suspect, is willing to take those kinds of risks; it will be left, as always to the younger, nothing-to-lose-except-their-lives crowd.
Now, for some good news:
From the NY Times:
“ON Sunday, the best climate policy in the world got even better: British Columbia’s carbon tax — a tax on the carbon content of all fossil fuels burned in the province — increased from $25 to $30 per metric ton of carbon dioxide, making it more expensive to pollute.
This was good news not only for the environment but for nearly everyone who pays taxes in British Columbia, because the carbon tax is used to reduce taxes for individuals and businesses. Thanks to this tax swap, British Columbia has lowered its corporate income tax rate to 10 percent from 12 percent, a rate that is among the lowest in the Group of 8 wealthy nations. Personal income taxes for people earning less than $119,000 per year are now the lowest in Canada, and there are targeted rebates for low-income and rural households.”
So there ARE alternatives. Tax the use and abuse of resources, not the production of the People.