I urge anyone who comes across this to educate themselves on the proposed Pacific Rim Trade Agreement. More knowledgeable people than I have reported on this. You might start with Dean Baker's blog and work from there. Suffice to say that the United States is not just trying to engineer another massive corporate giveaway, it is attempting to hand international lawmaking authority over to the corporations and private tribunals they may establish.
This morning's Times reports that the agreement is stalled, as the rest of the international community is gagging on the United States demands. The Times, of course, carries water for the corporations, in the typical fashion in which our press slants the news.
The Times reports what “critics say”, and then goes on to report what the treaty does. But no one knows what the treaty does, as the Obama administration, in all too typical (for it) fashion, has conducted the negotiations in secret, not even allowing Congress to know what it is doing. In any event, as Dean Baker had endlessly pointed out, in such a context, it is more appropriate to report what each party “says” rather than report what they “believe” or “think”, and one should certainly not report what a treaty “does” when one has no idea what it says.
Contrast and compare this:
As the negotiators try to complete a deal, its supporters and opponents in Washington are waging intense lobbying campaigns. Much of the opposition comes from consumer, environmental and labor groups who argue that the deal might end up gutting American regulations, giving corporations too much power and moving jobs offshore.
The Pacific talks would reduce barriers to trade. The deal would cover a huge swath of the globe, nearly a billion people from New Zealand north through Asia, through Canada and the United States and down through Mexico to Chile. Other countries involved include Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Peru.
The opponents “argue”, but it is reported as fact that the agreements would reduce trade barriers. As Dean Baker has pointed out, these agreements reduce barriers to only certain types of trade. The barriers that are reduced are universally those that provide some protections to workers or the environment. Barriers designed to protect the professional classes or corporate interests are never even discussed.
But in the case of this agreement, there is little by way of barriers to be reduced. The U.S. is looking to increase barriers to trade, by, for instance, imposing stringent patent protections for drugs in the affected countries, thus spreading the benefits of outrageously high drug prices from our shores to those afflicted countries whose people are currently actually able to obtain low cost drugs. Of course, we are hearing the tired refrain about “job creation”, but somehow the jobs never get created, and on every front it seems that to get those ever illusive jobs, we must continue to shovel money at the rich. This agreement is nothing more than a corporate welfare program. We can only hope the U.S. will not be able to pressure the other countries to submit, or that Republican resistance to anything Obama will, for once, serve a useful purpose and save the rest of us from a world more completely controlled by the corporations.