Sunday, December 08, 2013

Who Governs?
Electorate Vs Corporations

Some readers may be old enough to remember Edward Heath asking the question “Who Governs? Government or Trade Unions?” back in 1974. The question was asked again in 2010 by the Financial Times re: government vs financial markets. They didn’t have a clear answer but did say it might become clear during this parliament, and it has. The question can now be re-phrased as: do we want a government controlled by us the electorate or one controlled by the vested interests of huge corporations?

There are two sets of negotiations going on at the moment. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership both masquerading under the dubious title of “free trade” agreements. A quick look at Google search reveals very little about these deals in the mainstream media, including the BBC, which is hardly surprising as they are the propaganda sheets for corporations. That’s why they don’t like social media spilling the beans.

Here’s Avaaz on TPP:
The leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership drafts read like an extended Christmas wish-list for big business -- it would set a global standard of companies imposing their will on our governments through an opaque system of tribunals. These courts could limit access to cheap generic medicines in favour of branded medicines, and even allow cigarette companies to sue governments over health regulations that they say threaten profits! It’s almost too crazy to be true.
But practically no one has heard of the TPP! The talks are so secretive that not even our elected lawmakers know what’s in it -- just the negotiators and 600 corporate lobbyists. Now leaked texts have shocked politicians and citizens from Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. And they are pushing back on the corporate bullying, and against the US that is hell-bent on getting a deal agreed before there is too much public scrutiny.
Here’s what the Ecologist thinks:
As the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations enter their last few days, Ellen Brown exposes their real purpose - corporate control of the world's food, health, environment and financial systems. Of all these, the greatest is food ...
They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.
They also report suspicions of a deliberate sabotage of the Avaaz petition.

George Monbiot on TTIP:
The commission insists that its Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership should include a toxic mechanism called investor-state dispute settlement. Where this has been forced into other trade agreements, it has allowed big corporations to sue governments before secretive arbitration panels composed of corporate lawyers, which bypass domestic courts and override the will of parliaments.
And here’s a press release from a Green Party prospective MEP
“The Government has repeatedly promised a referendum on any big changes to the EU, but, TTIP poses by far the biggest potential threat on the sovereignty of Britain in decades and it seems ready to just sign our rights away. The treaty is supposed to harmonise regulations between Europe and the USA, but it will also create the legal right to rip the heart out of any Government policies or laws which big businesses decide are not in the interests of their shareholders.”
Many of TTIP’s provisions are being kept confidential at the moment, but they are known to include a right for private companies to sue Governments that introduce any policies that go against their business objectives, especially if they harm their profits. Under the investor-state dispute mechanism, private investors will then be able to take legal action against Governments to reverse policies and claim compensation from taxpayers.
And Dorset Eye:
The nuclear power industry is suing Germany because it's phasing out its unpopular nuclear power stations. Tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing Australia for billions of dollars in lost profits because the government took action to reduce teenage smoking. And pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly is suing Canada for $500 million, just because Canada has laws to keep essential drugs affordable.
Worst of all, these cases are happening in secret international courts to which only corporations have access.
Now, details are leaking of two global trade pacts that would massively expand the power of corporations to sue our governments. Countries in the EU to the US and from Australia to Canada are negotiating right now -- and some could be just days from signing up.
So far only the Green Party has managed to comment on this, so far as I know. Maybe that is because, unlike the three Tory parties, they do not accept bribes funding from corporations?

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