"It's a corporate world," is a phrase often muttered more in frustration than fear, especially since the United States Supreme Court declared corporations to be people in regard to campaign contributions. Their 2010 Citizens United ruling gave corporations the right to fund individual candidates and electioneering communications, and the money is often unlimited and untraceable. This action screwed down the heaviest lid ever put on a democratic government supposedly controlled by "the people" of the flesh and bone variety.
In overwhelming a one person-one vote process with corporate political power and money, the old Golden Rule of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us became completely overshadowed with "he who has the gold rules."
Corporate power over the economic condition of nations just recently knocked very loudly at our country's door. TransCanada, which was hell-bent on building the 1,179-mile Keystone XL pipeline diagonally across the U.S. from Alberta, Canada, to our ports on the Gulf of Mexico, didn't take too well to President Obama's moment of environmental clarity, when he denied permitting the pipeline's completion. His reasoning is that the burning of this tar sand oil would "undercut [America's] global leadership" in controlling climate change, "the biggest risk we face." About 15 minutes into the Jan. 7 "Democracy Now" program (NPR and PBS) about this lawsuit and trade policies, it was said that 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day were to be piped to the Texas refineries.
The company has sued the United States for $15 billion under the North America Free Trade Agreement's terms. Ironically, however, and maybe coincidentally, the president has also been consistent in pushing for the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which many assume he will tout in his State of the Union address tonight.
Environmental and labor organizations have long opposed these trade agreements, believing they destroy American jobs and "allow companies and investors to challenge sovereign government decisions to protect public health and the environment," as expressed in a Friends of the Earth statement. Mr. Obama has dismissed this fear of loss of national sovereignty, but TransCanada has just thrown down the gauntlet as to whether NAFTA and the TPP will indeed allow corporate rule over a nation's laws.
Did Obama play politics with us by tossing environmentalists a bone when denying Keystone, while knowing all along that the pipeline would be finished because of NAFTA's provisions? If TransCanada wins $15 billion of our taxpayer money, it will not happen in either country's courts, but by judges in a private sector investor-state tribunal allowed under NAFTA. Another charming detail is that companies are allowed to sue for "expected future profits" of a denied project. This means if they win they can recoup initial investments plus what would have been made if their business had been allowed to proceed, and to hell with the health, environment, or economy of the country they sue.
According to Lori Wallach of Public Citizen (www.citizen.org/trade), the TPP would expose our country and its taxpayers to about 9,500 multi-national corporations that do business in and with the United States. She points out that just a month ago another U.S. consumer law was gutted because Congress did not want to face the World Trade Organization's threatened billions in sanctions for labeling meats with their country of origin. We will now not be able to judge for ourselves whether to consume mystery meat from countries that may have little or no food safety regulations that we've come to expect here. Such are the powers of corporate rule over government-derived laws established by the citizens of a trade member country. Fear in place of mere frustration is now what we should feel toward the dictating corporate world.
So far it's been just fine with our president and the majority party in our Congress that the TPP was negotiated for years in secret and not open to public or political view until this past November. And, so far these trade deals are just business-as-usual to the Republican candidates for president. Hillary was for the TPP before she was against it, and Bernie Sanders has always vehemently opposed both the TPP and NAFTA as "disastrous."
My grandmother used to say "the chickens are coming home to roost" when I got what was coming to me. Please read up on the TPP and write our congressmen to change their direction and oppose this trade agreement with all their might. Roosting chickens can make a real mess.
Commentary on 01/12/2016
Print Headline: The Golden Rule