MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Ever since the current juggernaut of "free trade" agreements began to be negotiated under President George Herbert Walker Bush (which resulted in the signing of NAFTA under President Bill Clinton), jobs have been fleeing America as corporations have become engorged with greater profits.
There is simply no disputing this given the prima facie reality of the current configuration of the US economy. Workers in the manufacturing sector have seen their jobs and factories shipped overseas. As a result, they have become unemployed. If they are lucky enough to get a new job, it's most often at a much lower pay with fewer if any benefits. This is not true of all blue collar workers, but it's the accelerating trend.
Truthout/BuzzFlash staffers are members of the the Newspaper Guild of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), and so issues affecting workers are personally important to us.
Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) calls what is known of the framework of the secretively negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) "a punch in the face to the middle class." Larry Cohen, CWA president, adds that the TPP represents "a race to the bottom and we need a race to the top":
TPP is bad for working families, because, like nearly every other trade agreement that’s been negotiated by the U.S. in the past 20 years, TPP isn’t concerned with U.S. workers or jobs. Every other nation starts out with jobs and the economy as priorities. The U.S. unfortunately has a different focus, and looks at trade in terms of national security and global corporate interests, not ensuring the economic well-being of working families.
Virtually everyone in the United States who is not part of the 1% of corporate and executive branch negotiators is in the dark about the specific provisions of the TPP because it is being negotiated without any transparency whatsoever. It's being hammered out in secret because there is an obvious fear that too many citizens and advocacy groups would be in an uproar about how it globalizes corporations to supercede sovereignty at the expense of workers, human rights, the environment, taxpayer subsidies for offshoring jobs, and many more provisions that betray the interests of all but corporations.
Buzzflash and Truthout don’t take corporate funding - that means we’re accountable to our readers, not big business or billionaire sponsors. Please support our work by making a tax-deductible donation today - just click here to donate.
The basic premise of free trade is to allow global companies to move freely between borders to exploit low wage labor, be free from any but the most minimal environmental standards, not be subject to lawsuits in many areas, and move corporate bank accounts around the world to achieve the lowest taxation possible.
It's ironic that at the same time the TPP is being negotiated in the utmost secrecy, the US is discussing how to further increase an already militarized border with Mexico to stop the free movement of people. So, free trade agreements guarantee the rights of corporations to hop around the world to exploit workers and the environment (among other provisions), but people within those nations are restricted in their movements.
In these sense, when it comes to global trade treaties, corporations have more rights than people.
Corporate rights prevail over human rights. That's the essence of so-called "free trade agreements" -- and the TPP is allegedly a free trade agreement on steroids.
(Photo: Public Citizen)