No 1465 Posted by fw, October 1, 2015
“So we can’t say a lot about TPP but the little we can say is that it looks like yet another device concealed from the public for good reasons which is designed to carry forward the neoliberal projects to maximize profits and domination and to set the working people of the world in competition with one another so as to lower wages and increase insecurity. But to protect at the same time those who are sometimes called the plutonomy, who are the ones that really matter — the top wealth sector throughout the world…” —Noam Chomsky
So if the Trans-Pacific Partnership is as bad for working people as Chomsky says it is, how come Canada’s Bay Street boys — Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau — are so keen to be heard embracing it? Consider these examples of their endorsements –
Referring to the TPP, Stephen Harper said: “Unlike the other parties, we’re not going to walk away from a trade negotiation at the first sign of worry. We’re there to make sure Canada is a full participant in the global economy of the 21st century. That’s the only way we can create jobs, and we’re the only party that has a record of doing it.” (Source: TPP trade deal will be decided by Canadians, not ‘foreigners,’ Harper says, CBC News, September 29, 2015).
Thomas Mulcair: Mulcair said the NDP was “enthusiastically in favour” of a TPP deal… (Source: Canada election 2015: Tom Mulcair says Stephen Harper is ‘weak and vulnerable’ on TPP talks, CBC News, August 4, 2015).
Justin Trudeau: “Listen, trade is important. The Liberal Party has always understood that signing important trade deals is important for Canada, it’s important because we’re a trading nation, but it’s also very important when you look at the fact that trade-intensive industries pay on overage 50 percent higher wages to Canadians than non-exporting industries. So this is good for Canadians.” (Source: Trudeau comments on Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Global News, August 2, 2015. — Justin Trudeau supports the TPP deal but chides the Harper government for the veil of secrecy around negotiations).
The above Chomsky passage is from a video-recorded interview he did on January 13, 2014. Notice his emphasis on the suffering of the working people at the expense of wealthy, attributable to a TPP agreement. 21-months later, the potential impact of TPP on Canada’s low earners don’t even appear to be on the minds of Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau when they are asked to comment on the secretive agreement. Trudeau seems to falsely blame Harper for keeping the TPP details secret.
This post focuses entirely on Noam Chomsky’s take on TPP as originally published by Salon in January, 2014. Rather than using the original Salon video and accompanying text, I opted to embed below the 4-minute You Tube video, adding my own full transcript.
Interviewer — What do you make of the TPP so far?
Noam Chomsky responds —
It’s very hard to make anything of the TPP because it’s been kept very secret – half-secret I should say. It’s not secret from the hundreds of corporate lawyers and lobbyists who are writing the legislation. To them it’s perfectly public. They’re in fact writing it.
It’s being kept secret from the population, which of course raises obvious questions. And we even have some answers to those questions because one part of it leaked. It was leaked and released by WikiLeaks. It’s the section on Intellectual Property Rights. And what were called “intellectual property rights” are simply highly protectionist measures introduced to maximize profits for pharmaceutical corporations, huge media conglomerates and so on.
It’s called free trade. But that’s just a joke. These are extremely highly protectionist measures designed to undermine freedom of trade. And in fact much of what’s leaked about TPP indicates it’s not even about trade at all. It’s about investor rights, very much like NAFTA and the World Trade Organization rules.
They’re called “free trade agreements” but in fact they’re…it’s kind of a mixture of the elements of liberalization and highly protectionist measures and an array of investor rights which have nothing to do with trade. Actually one economist, Dean Baker, a very good economist, suggested that he would take his old car and name it a “free trade agreement” and then he could sell it for millions of dollars to the press. Well that’s pretty much what’s happening.
So we can’t say a lot about TPP but the little we can say is that it looks like yet another device concealed from the public for good reasons which is designed to carry forward the neoliberal projects to maximize profits and domination and to set the working people of the world in competition with one another so as to lower wages and increase insecurity. But to protect at the same time those who are sometimes called the plutonomy*, who are the ones that really matter — the top wealth sector throughout the world, highly concentrated in the United States but elsewhere too… also China, Russia and other places. [*Refers to economies where economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few].
They’re the ones who count. And the rest of the world will become what’s sometimes called the precariat**, the people who try to survive at a precarious level. [**In sociology and economics, the precariat is a social class formed by people suffering from precarity, which is a condition of existence without predictability or security].
You take a look at the wage level of working people in the United States. It’s startling. I don’t remember the exact numbers but a high percentage, forty percent or so, are actually living below the poverty line. The poverty line is much too… is ridiculously low.
This is the neoliberal assault. And the TPP from what we know of it looks like another step towards carrying out these long-terms goals. And it’s very understandable that it should be kept secret from the public. Why should people be allowed to know what’s happening to them?
“People are being left behind big time,” says BC low-earner Laura Cairns, posted September 29, 2015 — “At 56, Laura Cairns knows what it’s like to try to get by for years on minimum-wage jobs. It’s like a treadmill, she says, one on which you’re always falling behind…. ‘Until we stand up and say we’re not going to accept this crap anymore — and regulate it so we can at least earn a certain amount of money to attain a certain standard of living — we will continue sliding down the way we’re going. People will go further and further into debt, become more and more stressed, and get sicker and sicker. There is a crisis, and people don’t understand that.’ ”
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