Aha! Despite all our trash talk about the Almighty Bernwasher, there is something we can agree with him on…
“I am disappointed,” the self-identified socialist said last week, “but not surprised by the decision to move forward on the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will hurt consumers and cost American jobs. Wall Street and other big corporations have won again.”
But as quickly as he had us nodding our heads, he just as swiftly had us palming our faces.
“It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multi-national corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense.”
That old tired tune again? Blaming the corporations for the rigged system, Bernie, is like blaming the sniffles for the sickness.
What should’ve Bernie said?
[Cue dreamy transition, screen wobbles, harps play. Bernie is standing at a tiny podium the size of a child’s music stand. The entire nation stands in front of him and listens with rapt attention. They are happy… too happy. Then, the unthinkable happens.]
“It’s time for the rest of us to stop letting Big Government rig the system to pad their pockets at our expense. Let’s starve the beast!!!”
[Hair becomes wilder. Crowd is beginning to feel the Bern. Even we are starting to feel a little Bernwashed.]
“That’s right! If I become President, I will fire everyone. Everyone! All that tax money we waste will now stay in your community to create jobs, help the poor, build parks, whatever you want! After all, IT’S YOUR MONEY!”
[Crowd goes wild. Bernie gets encouraged. He waves his arms wildly. He’s really getting into it now.]
“The entire federal government will consist of a small cabin out in the woods. Inside that cabin will be an old chair, an oak desk, and a red landline telephone. I’ll be sitting next to that red phone. Call me. I’ll answer it and give you my advice. If you don’t agree with me, tell me I’m full of it and hang up! That’s it! That’ll be my job. And I’ll get $15 an hour. It’s time we take back our country from greedy bureaucrats!”
[Screen gets wobbly… harps play… Bernie’s voice slows down and gets deeper. Cheers grow distant.]
Hey! Hey! Are you listening?! Heelllooooo. Snap out of it!
No time for daydreaming. This is serious!
Hmm… Where were we? Right. The TPP.
First, New Zealand released the full text online last week. And then, shortly after, the U.S. government released it.
And shortly after that, Obama, acting as if releasing the text were his idea, published an op-ed. Here’s a snippet…
I’ve said many times that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the right thing for our economy, for working Americans and for our middle class. But I’m not asking you to take my word for it.
Instead, I’ve posted the agreement online. If you build cars in places such as Detroit, you can see for yourself how your products will have a better shot of hitting the road in places such as Japan. If you’re a farmer or rancher, you’ll see how your products will face fewer barriers abroad.
If you’re a small-business owner, you’ll see how this agreement will mean less paperwork and less red tape.
We’re not so sure about that.
OK. So we’ve established that much of the Left hates the TPP. Let’s take a look at what the other end of the spectrum thinks…
“No conservative — none — in the Senate or the House should vote for this based on the nature of this phony deal,” conservative talk show host Mark Levin said to Breitbart. “It’s too long. It’s too massive. It empowers the government. It empowers the bureaucracy… It empowers other governments and bureaucracies too.
“… this is not a trade deal. This is a destroy-the-Constitution deal.”
“Whatever’s in it doesn’t matter,” Levin goes on. “We have to stop the central government from ramming… massive laws and phony treaties… down our throats.
“Barack Obama hasn’t read this. No Member of the Senate — their staffs may break it up and look at it — has read this. No Member of the House is going to read this.”
The Constitution of the United States, Levin points out, is 4,543 words, amendments included.
In contrast, the TPP is a whopping 2 million words… 6,000 pages… and 30 chapters.
That’s a lot of words to tell the world how it should engage in commerce… “freely”.
“As a citizen,” Levin says, “I’m tired of the government, I’m tired of phony experts, I’m tired of professors telling me how to make widgets, where to send widgets, what to charge for widgets, who can buy widgets. We don’t need two million words to do that.
“The Constitution exists to serve the people. It exists to protect the people from a centralized government. When the Framers met, that’s what they tried to figure out.”
As we’ve said again and again, the TPP is far from a “free trade” deal. And if you want to see who benefits most from the TPP, simply look to see who’s flashing the biggest smile.
As TechDirt has written…
Hollywood, Big Pharma and Wall Street are probably three of the biggest industries to rely heavily on government regulations as a way to limit competition, limit innovation and to use that exclusivity to artificially increase prices at the expense of the public.
And they like the deal.
That’s because it’s not a free trade deal at all. It’s not about “taking away” barriers to trade, it’s about building bigger barriers in the form of protectionism to protect big, legacy industries from innovation and competition.
Of course, it’s no surprise that Hollywood, Big Pharma and Wall Street are also three of the most powerful lobbying industries in Washington DC, because when you can no longer innovate, and you rely on government protectionism, you focus your efforts on “political entrepreneurship” — better known as getting the government to protect you from real entrepreneurship.
So, no wonder the USTR went this direction. They only hear from these kinds of industries, and the end result is a fake free trade agreement that is designed to do the exact opposite. It’s designed to build up barriers to protect old, stodgy industries who have relied on protection from competition from decades, and don’t want to see that dissolve against foreign competition.
Moreover, if the TPP passes, the public will, henceforth, be locked out of all international trade deals. No matter how these deals might affect them personally.
And judges will be able to selectively inhibit innovation and technological advances through B.S. draconian copyright law…
Meanwhile, genetically modified Johnny Appleseeds will have free reign to spread their alien spore all across America — and YOU won’t be allowed to know what is organic and what is Frankenfood.
What’s even scarier, though, is what the TPP could mean for free speech.Because without our freedom of press, it’s going to be much harder to stay informed in the coming years.
Take, for example, what Evan Greer from the open Internet advocacy group Fight for the Future said in a recent interview with Free Speech Radio News…
There’s an article in the TPP that will extend the required term of copyright protection for all member countries to 70 years past the creator’s death. Now, this is going to keep an enormous amount of information, art, and creativity out of the public domain for decades longer than is necessary, and basically will allow governments to abuse copyright laws to censor online content at will, since so much of it will be copyrighted for so long.
The TPP also contains huge handouts for pharmaceutical companies. It will allow companies to patent ‘new methods of using a known product,’ which basically allows for pharmaceutical companies to patent something almost forever by kind of creating a cascading array of patents around how to use things that are already out there.
Back to the internet, it undermines our anonymous ability to express ourselves online by requiring governments to keep a public database of real names and addresses associated with top level domains, such as .us or .ca if you’re in Canada. This is really dangerous, particularly for the ability of opposition groups to speak out without fear of violent retribution. That’s just a few of the things that are in there.
Another one I guess I’d quickly point out is that it criminalizes, or further criminalizes rather, whistleblowers, like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. And potentially could even make it illegal for journalists to report on documents that whistleblowers expose.
So, really, through and through, the TPP is threatening not only to the internet and our online free speech, but to democracy as a whole.
That’s why, dear LFT reader, it’s crucial we fight back.
We have eight ways you can begin the process, starting tomorrow.