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Plutocrats Plan to Dominate the Planet: But the People of Chile Are Fighting for All of Us

Chileans can push for opposition to a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that throws open the floodgates to global corporate domination.
 
 
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The effort by corporate CEOs to dominate the global economy and global government is reaching the end-game stage. 

Corporate CEOs view government and democracy as their gravest threats and are constantly seeking to discredit and hamstring both.  CEOs are particularly eager to discredit, destroy, or capture regulation and they have enlisted enormous support in both major U.S. parties and many of the world’s dominant parties for these efforts.  President Obama has continued and made worse the effort of President Bush to betray our nation, our democracy, and our people through the secret, draft Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement — a plan which would destroy jobs, free bankers from oversight, block access to medicine, and more. This massive new trade agreement between the U.S. and countries including Chile would cover 40 percent of the global economy.

While there is no realistic chance of convincing Obama to repudiate the TPP, there is a chance that the people of Chile will save our democracy and our national sovereignty. Chile’s national election will occur on November 17, 2013 and it is widely expected to return former President Michelle Bachelet to power. If that happens, this politician who also happens to be a pediatrician who has treated Chargas disease (more on that shortly) could help deliver a body blow to this noxious plan.

A bit of background: The U.S. has taken a disgraceful position in the TPP negotiations in which it sides with corporate interests rather than the victims of a terrible parasitical infection called Chagas disease that is epidemic in much of Latin America and a serious problem in the U.S. as well.  Chagas is wreaking havoc in Chile, which is one of the countries negotiating TPP. The failure of Chile under its current conservative party’s control (and the failure of Peru and Mexico) to stand up to the U.S. and expose and block its effort to stand in the way of vital treatment for victims of Chagas disease represents a national disgrace by the heads of state of the U.S., Chile, Peru, and Mexico. 

Progressives should urge Bachelet, should she be elected President, to make the full drafts of TPP public immediately.  She should also demand that the draft TPP be scrapped and fundamentally changed to build democracy and national sovereignty and to control the multinational corporations rather than allow them and their plutocrat panels to dominate and denigrate democracy and national sovereignty.      

The CEOs' audacious assault on national sovereignty, the rule of law, and democracy through TPP will effectively remove the possibility of defeating them through democratic means. The CEOs have had to mount their assult secretly, for the peoples of the world would reject the their demands by an overwhelming margin if they knew what they were up to. But for groups like Public Citizenand WikiLeaks, we would have woken up to a fait accompliand had no democratic recourse. 

WikiLeaks revealed part of the draft, secret TPP text on November 13, 2013.  It deals with Intellectual Property (IP).  WikiLeaks explained the TPP process.

“Since the beginning of the TPP negotiations, the process of drafting and negotiating the treaty's chapters has been shrouded in an unprecedented level of secrecy. Access to drafts of the TPP chapters is shielded from the general public. Members of the US Congress are only able to view selected portions of treaty-related documents in highly restrictive conditions and under strict supervision. It has been previously revealed that only three individuals in each TPP nation have access to the full text of the agreement, while 600 'trade advisers' - lobbyists guarding the interests of large US corporations such as Chevron, Halliburton, Monsanto and Walmart - are granted privileged access to crucial sections of the treaty text.”

The TPP negotiations are currently at a critical stage. The Obama administration is preparing to fast-track the TPP treaty in a manner that will prevent the US Congress from discussing or amending any parts of the treaty. Numerous TPP heads of state and senior government figures, including President Obama, have declared their intention to sign and ratify the TPP before the end of 2013.”

So far I've only discussed one obscene example of the Obama administration’s positions on TPP, but broader analyses of why TPP betrays our democracy and national sovereignty have been done well by others, particularly Public Citizen’sLori Wallach.  I applaud her efforts and thank her for providing me with source materials. 

The partial draft of the TPP agreement on IP and health contains this provision.

 “Article QQ.A.5: {Understandings Regarding Certain Public Health Measures7}

The Parties have reached the following understandings regarding this Chapter:

The obligations of this Chapter do not and should not prevent a Party from taking measures to protect public health by promoting access to medicines for all, in particular concerning cases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, [US oppose: chagas] and other epidemics as well as circumstances of extreme urgency or national emergency. Accordingly, while reiterating their commitment to this Chapter, the Parties affirm that this Chapter can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of each Party's right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all.”

The “US oppose[s]” adding “Chagas” to this list of exceptions. In reality, vigorous efforts to reduce Chagas (there is no vaccine) should be a high priority for the U.S. and Latin America (Mexico, Chile, and Peru are also parties to the TPP negotiations).  The U.S., however, is insisting on excluding Chagas disease from the list of “epidemics” for which a nation may “protect public health by promoting access to medicines for all.”  This kind of “understanding” clause is designed to provide guidance on the correct interpretation of TPP.  It appears that the current state of the TPP draft is that the other nations included Chagas but it was excluded from this clause due to the sole opposition of the U.S.  The provision of “access to medicines for all” is particularly vital in the case of Chagas disease because early drug treatments of infected newborns are extremely effective in eliminating the disease in newborns who were infected maternally. 

The combination of indifference to the victims of Chagas disease and depravity of trying to prevent governments making available low or no-cost medicines to the victims – an action that will lead to many more victims (including tens of thousands of American victims) is so obscene that it brings to mind what lawyers consider the most perfect and deserved legal insult.

Richard Kluger quotes this passage from Plessy(the Supreme Court decision that upheld racial segregation as consistent with “equal protection of the laws”) in his book Simple Justice(1976):

“We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.”

Kluger then comments:

“Of all the words ever written in assessment of the Plessy opinion, none have been more withering than those ... [of] Yale law professor Charles L. Black, Jr., who [said that in] ... the two sentences... ‘The curves of callousness and stupidity intersect at their respective maxima.’”

The Obama administration’s effort to block governments from providing medicine to the victims of Chagas disease represents the intersection of callousness and stupidity at their respective maxima.  The heads of state of Chile, Mexico, and Peru have disgraced their office by failing to denounce the U.S. position on Chagas, to make public the TPP documents, and to withdraw from the treaty negotiations.

Obama has caused the TPP to violate every standard he has endorsed as president, including secret lobbying.  There is no limit on the political contributions that corporations can make to influence TPP policy or disclosure of their lobbying positions.  The TPP is bankrolled” by the world’s most powerful corporate interests.  TPP policies are not made by the American people, but they are also not made by our elected representatives in Congress. Obama’s “fast track” process for adopting TPP is designed to eliminate normal congressional powers.  Obama knows TPP is indefensible and that Americans would vote against it.  He is desperate to avoid any open, democratic debate between the people of America and the corporations, most of them foreign, that TPP seeks to make our unelected, all-powerful rulers.  

This is why President Bachelet could do the world a priceless service by immediately making public the entire travesty that is TPP.

William Black is the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He spent years working on regulatory policy and fraud prevention as executive director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention, litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and deputy director of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement, among other positions.