President Obama recently returned from a trip to Asia. The primary goal of his trip was promoting the Trans Pacific Partnership – a massive “trade” agreement with vast social and environmental consequences. You will be excused for not knowing much about the TPP since it has been negotiated in secret. It turns out, the more you know about it and the less you will like it – hence the necessity for secrecy. It transfers power from sovereign governments to multinational corporations damaging democracy and frustrating attempts at bringing about a more sustainable and just society.
The goal of Essential Knowledge for Transition is to make visible the operating system of our society – to reveal the design of the monetary and banking system, the economic system and the financial system and to show ways to redesign them for the benefit of our communities and the natural systems on which we depend.
The TPP represents a massive redesign of the operating system of our society that further entrenches the very problems we are trying to solve: erosion of democracy, the power of unaccountable multinational corporations, environmental destruction, climate instability, and wealth and income inequality.
TPP is basically NAFTA on steroids. It has been negotiated in secret since 2008 mostly by representatives of multinational corporations. Elected representatives from the various governments which are party to the treaty have had very limited access to the rounds of negotiations – 15 so far since 2010 and representatives of civil society are not included in the process at all.
The little we know about TPP is thanks to a leak by an insider who was disturbed by what he saw.
President Obama is looking for “fast track authority” (now renamed “trade promotion authority”) to bypass a full discussion of TPP in Congress and limit its involvement to an up-or-down vote.
Only widespread ignorance about TPP and the avoidance of closer scrutiny by Congress could allow for the passage of TPP giving global corporate power the ability to override and effectively end national sovereignty.
In 2005 Canadian-based Methanex Corporation induced the Canadian government to sue the US Government under NAFTA chapter 11 to recover lost stock market value and anticipated profits caused by California’s ban on MTBE in gasoline as a result of water contamination. TPP would expand NAFTA Chapter 11 to allow multinational corporations to sue governments directly to recover lost stock market value or loss of potential profits caused by legislation or regulations issued at any level of government. Any law or regulation aimed at protecting the environment, the health of communities or the rights of workers could therefore be overturned by TPP tribunals at the instigation of multinational corporations.
Here is a short video describing some of the potential impacts of TPP.
What can the person in your seat do about it?
First of all, take a minute to email or call your representative in Congress voicing your concern telling him/her “Do not Fast Track TPP”.
Second, get informed about TPP. You can start with this recent article on Salon Magazine
Third, spread the word. Remember, only if TPP is kept secret until the very last moment it has a chance to become reality. We can beat this one.
- (video) “A Corporate Trojan Horse”: Obama Pushes Secretive TPP Trade Pact, Would Rewrite Swath of U.S. Laws (Democracy Now!)
- (article) Can a “Dracula Strategy” Bring Trans-Pacific Partnership into the Sunlight? (Yes! Magazine)
- (audio) The TransPacific Partnership (Guns and Butter – KPFA 94.1)
- (website) Expose the TPP
- (organizer toolkit) Citizen Trade Campaign
Marco came to the US as a Fulbright scholar in mathematics and economics at the University of California in Berkeley. After a stint in the financial industry, Marco worked as visual artist on a full-time basis for 5 years and obtained a MFA focusing on the intersection between public art and ecology. He later worked for 6 years managing investment equity portfolios primarily on behalf of large foundations and endowments. In April 2009 Marco left the finance industry and has since been instrumental in the formation and development of the Slow Money Northern California chapter. He is sharing his experience doing direct Slow Money investments with communities around the country to help them increase their capacity for local investing. Marco is currently developing Essential Knowledge for Transition – a curriculum for engaged citizens to understand the money and banking system, the economic system and the financial system and how we need to transform them.