Frictionless Capitalism
June 24, 2015 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Senate passes TPP fast track The Senate is expected to vote today to give President Obama "fast-track" authority to push the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal through Congress. The secretive deal involves 12 countries and nearly 40 percent of the global economy. It has come under heavy criticism from labor activists claiming it as one of the harmful bills against labor, environmental, and intellectual property rights.
posted by bodywithoutorgans (64 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Obama's greatest legacy will be finally and definitively cutting the hamstrings of American democracy.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:09 AM on June 24, 2015 [19 favorites]


It's pretty telling that the only things Democrats and Republicans agree on are bad for everyone except international corporations and finance.
posted by clockzero at 10:09 AM on June 24, 2015 [67 favorites]


God dammit.
posted by brennen at 10:39 AM on June 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


Worst Socialist ever!

: )
posted by Beholder at 10:39 AM on June 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


Is it legal to send dog shit in the mail?
posted by odinsdream at 10:49 AM on June 24, 2015


I guess last week's miss was about getting another week to squeeze more dough out of pro-side lobbyists.

Curious to see if any nastiness gets attached to TAA when it comes up.
posted by notyou at 10:51 AM on June 24, 2015


This was the final blow to Obama's reputation as far as I'm concerned. It's one thing for him to have been disappointing--it's quite another for him to sell out the populace (again) at the bidding of stateless corporate overlords. The usual "politics of the possible" defense has no traction when it comes to this travesty. And there's no amount of hearing his congenial, rational demeanor (as in the Maron interview) that is going to change that. He's "reasonabled" his way to a deepened world crisis on all fronts. Turning the ship two degrees my ass.

I'm hoping the outrageously opaque process behind this and other trade deals will be challenged in court on constitutional grounds.
posted by mondo dentro at 10:54 AM on June 24, 2015 [27 favorites]


I'm hoping the outrageously opaque process behind this and other trade deals will be challenged in court on constitutional grounds.

Some discussion of that, yeah:
Under the TPP, the arbitrators will act like judges, deciding legal questions just as federal judges decide constitutional claims. However, unlike judges appointed under Article III of the Constitution, TPP arbitrators are not appointed by the president or confirmed by the Senate, nor do they have the independence that comes from life tenure. And that presents a significant constitutional issue: Can the president and Congress, consistent with Article III, assign to three private arbitrators the judicial function of deciding the merits of a TPP investor challenge?

The Supreme Court has not ruled on this precise question. But the collective reasoning in four of its recent rulings bearing on the issue leans heavily toward a finding of unconstitutionality.
posted by notyou at 11:00 AM on June 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


And there's no amount of hearing his congenial, rational demeanor (as in the Maron interview) that is going to change that. He's "reasonabled" his way to a deepened world crisis on all fronts.

That calm, civil, "reasonable" voice in US politics is the voice of corporate hegemony. For an illustration, see Uber's recent statement about its drivers' participation in protests in China:

. . . we firmly oppose any form of gathering or protest, and we encourage a more rational form of communication for solving problems.

Calm, orderly, "rational", and docile - that's the elite's goal for public discourse and the public itself.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:03 AM on June 24, 2015 [23 favorites]


Curious to see if any nastiness gets attached to TAA when it comes up.

In the last round they tried to attach Medicare cuts to the TAA. Funny that they have to attach spending cuts as an offset to a trade adjustment assistance bill when everything they told us about the TPP is that the benefits exceed the costs. Additional offsets shouldn't be necessary. Apparently that is a lie.
posted by JackFlash at 11:05 AM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


That calm, civil, "reasonable" voice in US politics is the voice of corporate hegemony.

Well, that's the "liberal" voice. We get to choose between that and outright brownshirt-ism on the right. Whereas the GOP literally wants to starve and/or beat your children to death, the Democrats will speak calmly and soothingly while placing them on a featherbed before administering an overdose of barbituates.
posted by mondo dentro at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2015 [10 favorites]


Whereas the GOP literally wants to starve and/or beat your children to death, the Democrats will speak calmly and soothingly while placing them on a featherbed before administering an overdose of barbituates.

o.O
posted by Xavier Xavier at 11:30 AM on June 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thanks, Obama.
posted by Foosnark at 11:38 AM on June 24, 2015


We might as well have elected Hillary.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:45 AM on June 24, 2015 [15 favorites]


Hey - don't count ourselves short yet, PG! We can still do it next year!
posted by symbioid at 12:07 PM on June 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


So - when I try to find the roll call, both on the Google search and in an article I found, they both link to some thing about public safety workers. WTF? Was this a roll-call vote at all?
posted by symbioid at 12:15 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've seen a lot of hate directed at fast-track authority from people I generally agree with, and am struggling to see why. There's a lot of weirdness going on with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and opposition to TPP (along with other free trade agreements) is a perfectly reasonable position. But fast-track is not the TPP. Fast-track is a necessary element in international trade negotiations. It lets the president and their representatives make promises in good faith, knowing that the deal that is struck will be approved or rejected, but at least not fundamentally altered. Fast-track doesn't bypass Congress, only forces them to vote on the deal as it was hammered out by its parties.
posted by enjoymoreradio at 12:15 PM on June 24, 2015 [11 favorites]


No wonder everyone was so keen to debate the confederate flag; classic misdirection.
posted by acb at 12:17 PM on June 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


And even once ratified, the US has a history of breaking treaties it no longer feels like following. Not that I expect it to happen in this case, but clearly there's precedent.
posted by Blackanvil at 12:35 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


But the collective reasoning in four of its recent rulings bearing on the issue leans heavily toward a finding of unconstitutionality.

Those four rulings are all about arbitration that is binding as a matter of domestic law. International panel decisions aren't binding on the US. Sometimes we abide them, sometimes we don't (we haven't legalized online poker, Antigua's big win against us a decade ago or so notwithstanding).

Putting aside the procedural roadblocks like standing and political question doctrines, I don't see how these constitutional arguments make much sense on the merits.
posted by jpe at 12:37 PM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just imgaine how much of the Republican agenda Obama could've passed if they had started working with him earlier.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:37 PM on June 24, 2015 [21 favorites]


Fast-track doesn't bypass Congress, only forces them to vote on the deal as it was hammered out by its parties.

While this may be true in theory, it means that an entire, complex agreement must be voted on up or down after the fact, which tends to mean that they are steamrolled through congress. It would be great if this thing were rejected, but at this point it's very unlikely.

There's a reason why corporate interests love fast track authority, and there's a reason why these deals are done in secret. It is an affront to democratic principles that during the secret negotiations, corporate interests are allowed at the table, but labor, environmental or other citizen stakeholders are shut out.
posted by mondo dentro at 12:38 PM on June 24, 2015 [30 favorites]


The alternative is as bad or worse: a negotiator (i.e. the President) who cannot offer any guarantees to the other party.
posted by enjoymoreradio at 12:43 PM on June 24, 2015


symbioid, that's just the disguise TPA/TPP is wearing this time around. The measure is H.R. 2146: Defending Public Safety Employees' Retirement Act. On senate.gov, it's called "the legislative vehicle for the Trade Promotion Authority bill."
posted by brina at 12:50 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


The alternative is as bad or worse...

It's hard to see how anything short of letting global corporations outright run your country could be worse. I'd be perfectly happy if such deals were impossible. But at the very least I expect them to be formulated with more transparency and citizen involvement.

To start with, calling them "trade deals" is doublespeak to get around the constitutional requirement that the President can't make treaties by him/herself. It also makes it seem like it's somehow good for the economy as a whole (that is, for the citizens) when it's really just good for certain players in the economy. So letting the global oligarchs and their minions have free rein to secretly pack the agreements with every provision they want is just nuts.

From Public Citizen (emphasis mine):
Fast Track has only been used 16 times in the history of our nation, often to enact the most controversial of "trade" pacts, such as the NAFTA and the establishment of the WTO. Meanwhile, hundreds of less controversial U.S. trade agreements have been implemented without resort to Fast Track, showing that the extraordinary procedure is not needed to approve trade agreements.
posted by mondo dentro at 1:08 PM on June 24, 2015 [18 favorites]


But fast-track is not the TPP. Fast-track is a necessary element in international trade negotiations.

True enough, and some secrecy around the process is also warranted.

Nevertheless, resisting fast track is the best opportunity to stop the pact in its tracks (because Cloture raises the bar for passage), and while opponents can't say with authority what's contained in a deal that isn't done, there's been enough info in the leaks, and in comments from labor and other groups that serve on the trade advisory panels (alongside those other lobbyists) who have seen summaries of the deal and various proposals to form an opinion and decide to act.
posted by notyou at 1:15 PM on June 24, 2015


At last Congressional Democrats and Republicans have found something they can agree upon: The importance of pandering hard to their common corporate campaign financiers.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:21 PM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've seen a lot of hate directed at fast-track authority from people I generally agree with, and am struggling to see why.... Fast-track doesn't bypass Congress, only forces them to vote on the deal as it was hammered out by its parties.

Speaking for myself only, I still think fast track is egregiously incompatible with democracy at least in light of the secret drafting process. Remember that no ordinary Americans have been allowed to read the substantive portions of the TPP drafts - only congress members themselves, and possibly a couple of staff (oh, and the lobbyists who wrote it of course).

Cramming an enormous take-it-or-leave-it package through the two houses of congress with no ability to amend or filibuster is not the way our democracy works. It almost completely eliminates our ability as citizens to even know what laws are being imposed on us / passed in our name, let alone to petition our representatives to make our policy preferences known and get them reflected in the law as enacted. People who respond that "it's just the drafts that are confidential, the final version will be public before voting!" seem to be missing the point - other bills in our legislature are public all the way through the process, even massively complex and highly pre-negotiated ones, like the PATRIOT Act and the ACA. I guess to be cynical about it they may not be public "all the way through the process" if they were drafted by lobbyists and crammed on the calendar, but there is always at least the ability to amend the bill after it is calendared.

I guess kind of on the flipside from you, enjoymoreradio, I am confused by the number of supposedly liberal, democracy-favoring people who look at this secretive negotiation combined with the inability to make any amendments, and just decide that's peachy-keen as long as the substance of the bill sounds kind of vaguely acceptable-ish overall? I mean, what if it wasn't? That's the point of procedural safeguards, even in situations where we agree on the substance - because someday we won't, and we will need a way for everyone to meaningfully make their voices heard in that situation.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 1:30 PM on June 24, 2015 [22 favorites]


I guess kind of on the flipside from you, enjoymoreradio, I am confused by the number of supposedly liberal, democracy-favoring people who look at this secretive negotiation combined with the inability to make any amendments, and just decide that's peachy-keen as long as the substance of the bill sounds kind of vaguely acceptable-ish overall?

Congress will get to examine the agreement's details before they vote up or down on it. The negotiations are secret, but it will not be approved as a pig in a poke.

As with most trade deals, both supporters and opponents are wildly exaggerating the deal's significance. If you look at serious non-partisan studies of the impact of NAFTA, for example, it's impossible to say that any of the worst fears or greatest hopes were borne out. The same will be true for this deal which, after all, is taking place in a world that already has very low tariff barriers.

Probably the most disturbing implications of the agreement have to do with pharmaceutical costs in poorer countries--but that will leaves the status quo unchanged in the US.
posted by yoink at 1:46 PM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


yoink; how do you justify commenting on the impacts of any provisions of this agreement knowing full well that isn't based on any evidence from the actual agreement?
posted by odinsdream at 1:53 PM on June 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


Congress will get to examine the agreement's details before they vote up or down on it. The negotiations are secret, but it will not be approved as a pig in a poke.

With respect, I think you are wrong about that. (And remember, Congress does get to review the drafts, they just can't take them out of the room, and no ordinary constituents can see the drafts.) In my understanding, the entire point of fast track is to make them vote on the entire package without offering amendments and without filibustering. I guess I may not get what you mean by "pig in a poke," but that's my understanding of the actual facts and that's what I object to.

Also I suppose people may be "exaggerating" the importance of the bill on both sides, but, again, we're not formally allowed to know what's in it and we have to rely on hints of it from sources that are partisan on either end. Furthermore, people should still be able to have opinions on policy issues, and petition their representatives about them, without it being end-of-the-world important. For example some of the issues that may strike others as "meh" (such as the IP-strengthening provisions) are very important to me and I object to the imposition of a procedure that prevents me from doing anything about that unless I also ask my representative to topple the entire TPP structure.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 2:02 PM on June 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


Probably the most disturbing implications of the agreement have to do with pharmaceutical costs in poorer countries--but that will leaves the status quo unchanged in the US.

Yes, it's bound to be devastating to poor people in other countries, and that's terrible. But I think a much more disturbing implication is the spectre of the investor-state dispute settlement process, which will allow multinational companies to take entire nations to international arbitration over any statutes or regulations that threaten to impact projected future profits. We've already started seeing this with tobacco companies suing countries that approve new warning labels on cigarette packaging, because letting the people know that their product causes cancer threatens their future profits.

But that's just the beginning - pretty much any law that's good for the safety or well-being of the populace in general threatens to hurt multinational corporate profits, so there's no end to the kinds of shit that countries trying to act in the good of their people will get wrung through ISDS over. If a country votes to pass stricter pollution standards, or restrict more dangerous extraction methods like fracking? The taxpayers can be on the hook for a massive payout to oil companies. If a country approves generics or importation to lower the cost of expensive but necessary medications? The taxpayers can be on the hook for a massive payout to pharmaceutical companies. If a country reduces the (already massively overextended) copyright term? The taxpayers can be on the hook to Disney and other content providers.

It's fucking ridiculous, and it's a lose-lose - the fact that the process exists, by itself, might discourage legislative bodies from adopting measures to protect their citizens because it might threaten corporations' future profits; on the other hand, if they do, the people that they're trying to protect might end up having to pay off the massive corporations they're being protected from for their trouble. It's a sick, perverse incentive: any corporation that is either currently exploiting or has tentative plans to profit from any social, environmental, cultural or other externalities will be allowed to realize those profits, either by taking advantage of those externalities or by compensation for their value for the trouble of not being allowed to take advantage of them.

It's a goddamn mystery to me that this isn't causing more of an uproar among people of both parties - both Democrats who are generally in favor of regulations to protect the environment, assist the poor, and otherwise benefit the common good, some proportion of whom are also super skeptical of giant corporations, and Republicans who are so typically skeptical of the U.N., international courts, foreign aid, and anything else that might involve furriners telling us what our laws should look like or forcing us to pay someone overseas.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 2:10 PM on June 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


take entire nations to international arbitration over any statutes or regulations that threaten to impact projected future profits.

Good thing thing that's false, otherwise it would be concerning. Lost profits can be a method of valuing damages, but aren't a cause of action.
posted by jpe at 2:18 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think this has been more or less said above, but I think the fear is that with fast-track then dubious or unclear trade agreements that have not been rigorously reviewed except by the privileged few (TPP) are more likely to be passed: "Well sure it's got these problems, but it's either this or nothing!"

Knowing where the bar is for passing a slightly flawed bar will allow agreements to be made that have intentional flaws (benefiting someone or some group in particular), flaws that would normally be amended out but are perhaps not egregious or apparently egregious enough to torpedo an agreement.
posted by auggy at 2:19 PM on June 24, 2015


Good thing thing that's false, otherwise it would be concerning. Lost profits can be a method of valuing damages, but aren't a cause of action.

Good thing I never said "lost profits" was a cause of action then, isn't it? Anyway, in the actual real world where we have access to a leaked draft of the Investment Chapter,
The leaked text shows that foreign investors would be able to demand compensation if new
policies that apply to domestic and foreign firms alike undermine their “expectations” of how
they should be treated. This includes a right to claim damages for government actions (such as
new environmental, health or financial policies) that reduce the value of a foreign firm’s
investment (Article II.7 and Annex II-B on indirect expropriation) or that go against the expected
level of regulatory scrutiny that an investor might have had when dealing with a previous
government (Article II.6 on minimum standard of treatment).
So do you have any factual basis for saying it's false, or...?
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 2:27 PM on June 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


That's the expropriation section. It tells us that a country can't seize property or investments without public purpose and fair compensation. The agreement is clear that mere reduction in profits isn't sufficient to constitute a taking; rather, an indirect or regulatory taking has to be tantamount to a direct seizure.

FWIW, the language about expectations comes straight from US law (the Penn Station case).
posted by jpe at 2:33 PM on June 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


BTW, your cited article is misleading about expectations. Investor expectations are relevant to whether something is an imvestment in the first instance. They still have to be expropriated. It's the expropriation, in other words, not the undercutting of expectations, that is the cause of action.
posted by jpe at 2:37 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


jpe: "investments" as defined in the indirect expropriation section include both intellectual property and "every asset that an investor owns or controls, directly or indirectly, that has the characteristics of an investment, including such characteristics as the commitment of capital or other resources, the expectation of gain or profit, or the assumption of risk."

From my reading of the section, it is not clear that it couldn't be sued for mere reduction in profits. And as we've seen, corporations are absolutely using similar provisions in other trade agreements for exactly that purpose - e.g., Germany was forced to withdraw environmental restrictions after a Swedish utility company building a coal plant threatened to take it to ISDS, Phillip Morris sued Australia over cigarette package warnings, and so on
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 2:40 PM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


That German rule was also overturned by German courts, which suggests it really was defective.

The text says an indirect expropriation must be equivalent to a direct expropriation, which means the asset is rendered valueless.

The annex also says:

the fact that an action or series of actions by a Party has an adverse effect on the economic value of an investment, standing alone, does not establish that an indirect expropriation has occurred;
posted by jpe at 2:49 PM on June 24, 2015


enjoymoreradio mentions it above but it doesn't seem like much notice has been taken. The vote was on TPA not TPP. This has become a mixture of comments cross addressing the two of them.

My understanding of TPA is that it basically allows the President to submit a document that has been worked out between the parties to Congress for an up or down vote. Congress says yes or no to the document without changes - Congress can edit the agreement.
posted by Carbolic at 2:53 PM on June 24, 2015


I was editing my post and hit the time limit - Congress CAN'T edit the agreement.
posted by Carbolic at 3:01 PM on June 24, 2015


I remember when the justification for the profits earned was that businesses took on the risk associated with the investment.

I guess that was unfair.

So do we all get the profits now?
posted by srboisvert at 3:15 PM on June 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's been noticed, Carbolic. Opponents of trade deals in general and TPP in particular opposed TPA (Fast Track) because the ground for the fight is better here (the threshold for the TPP vote will be a bare majority in the Senate -- no filibustering).

There'll be another opportunity to fight it out later, but the geography will be less favorable to opponents.

JPE can perhaps explain the distinction between Congress repealing Country of Origin Labeling requirements for meat after the WTO ruled such regulations were verboten and threatened ruinous tariffs, and what we can expect from the ISDS system attached to TPP.
posted by notyou at 3:18 PM on June 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


yoink: "If you look at serious non-partisan studies of the impact of NAFTA, for example, it's impossible to say that any of the worst fears or greatest hopes were borne out."

Those of us in the rust belt don't need a study to tell us that the bottom has fallen out of manufacturing.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:08 PM on June 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's one thing for him to have been disappointing--it's quite another for him to sell out the populace (again) at the bidding of stateless corporate overlords.

Not only that -- but his insistence during the latter part of this process that anyone who tried to derail or stop TPA/TPP was basically not "playing it straight" and later that he had hurt-feels that Congress was implying that he'd sign into law anything that was contrary to the interests of the American people. Obama's been very skilled in his disingenuous faux-affrontedness in many other cases, but this one took the cake.
posted by blucevalo at 5:00 PM on June 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


I can easily conceive of any number of assets that a necessary and prudent policy decision in a country could render valueless: coal-fired power plants, forestry equipment, plants that manufacture addictive or carcinogenic substances, pharmaceutical patents in an epidemic, all kinds of investments in the exploitation of natural monopolies that a future government may wish to nationalise, etc.

The TPP covers countries at many different levels of economic and regulatory development. It’s unrealistic (and morally questionable) to demand that sovereign countries tie their own hands with ISDS. I have to note that it also plays straight into the left-wing denunciation of neoliberalism as a plot against democratic control of economic activity.

A better proposal would be, as noted above, for some kind of independent tribunal with a remit to ensure that any expropriation is not arbitrary and compensation is fair. An ideal treaty would also ensure the judges give proper attention to the urgency of the policy need, the good or bad faith of the investor (eg can it claim not to have been aware of a health or pollution issue), and set upper limits to compensation based on the parties' relative ability to absorb the loss.
posted by ormon nekas at 5:09 PM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


It’s unrealistic (and morally questionable) to demand that sovereign countries tie their own hands with ISDS.

But it's already been demonstrated that governments with a Conservative bent will agree to this kind of treaty because it accomplishes a number of things that they wouldn't be able to achieve with legislation (see here and here for recent discussions).

o ISDSs expose national regulations to external arbitration. Win! We can give corporations the leverage to get what they want while claiming we're encouraging trade and creating jobs at home. We certainly don't want more REGULATION, do we?

o Copyright protection enhancements demanded by foreign lobby groups can be instantiated in multi-nation trade agreements in the name of harmonization. Sorry consumers, but we'll all be better off with some integration, and look at all the money you'll save by not having to enforce your own legislation.

o In Canada, we're gutting various pieces of environmental legislation anyway. We'll all be better off with trade agreements where corporations promise in advance that they won't compromise our environmental or worker safety values. Not only are we saving tax dollars by reducing REGULATION, but we're saving money on enforcement too!

o The net effect, as Mirowski frequently points out is part of the Neoliberal strategy to shift rights and responsibilities from the state to corporations. This kind of agreement (NAFTA, TPP) accomplishes that with very little fuss and behind closed doors. Hey, it's a trade deal - it's about Freedom and Jobs. Your democracy is safe with us™.
posted by sneebler at 6:18 PM on June 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


That's the part that just baffles me. This kind of legislation is profoundly anti-democratic. Examples of similar shenanigans won't calm me, btw, but just make me more bitter. This is not my idea of American democracy. I happen to be a dual citizen and have a European passport. And while I applaud many things about the EU, I also find much of it a nightmare because it devalues actual voters and actual nations and entrusts important matters to a bureaucracy. This is as bad or worse, because it's entrusting important matters to corporations and this is not the representation I signed up for every time I go vote. #superbitterangryvoter
posted by Bella Donna at 6:23 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Remember that no ordinary Americans have been allowed to read the substantive portions of the TPP drafts - only congress members themselves, and possibly a couple of staff (oh, and the lobbyists who wrote it of course).

Not only this, but the congressmen who have read the bill were threatened with prosecution if they discussed its contents. The most transparent administration ever, threatening the people's representatives for even discussing a "trade" agreement.

One of most patriotic things any Senator could do would be to read the full text of the TPP into the Congressional Record relying on absolute immunity, ala the Pentagon Papers. Except they can't even do that, because The Most Dear And Transparent And Benevolent Administration In History has the only drafts under armed guard 24/7.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:50 PM on June 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's clearly down to crunch time on the Obama Legacy (TM) and it's very, very clear what he envisions that legacy as: laying down the ground work for The Corporate Congress of 2032.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:51 PM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Don't blame me, I voted for Google."
posted by tonycpsu at 8:05 PM on June 24, 2015 [4 favorites]




Don't worry, folks, corporate extraterritoriality and statehood is just the next step towards are badass cyberpunk future, along with VR, hoverboards, military robots and autonomous cars.

We're projected to hit 92% cyberpunk realization by the end of next year!
posted by Drexen at 5:20 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would have preferred to start with the hoverboards, enjoy those for a while, and maybe ease our way into the dystopian corporacracy later.
posted by Nerd of the North at 7:57 AM on June 25, 2015


So in rejecting the TAA last week, House Democrats ensured that TPA (and therefore TPP itself) would pass easily without help for displaced workers. Welcome to America.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:32 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I remember when the justification for the profits earned was that businesses took on the risk associated with the investment.

Go back to your Ayn Rand, freak.

/snark
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:58 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


yoink; how do you justify commenting on the impacts of any provisions of this agreement knowing full well that isn't based on any evidence from the actual agreement?

So...it's o.k. to say that this deal will cause the end of American democracy as we know it and be a lasting and irredeemable stain on Obama's presidency when you haven't read the "actual agreement" but it's terribly, terribly presumptuous to say that the effects really won't be all that remarkable.

Gotcha.
posted by yoink at 1:45 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


So...it's o.k. to say that this deal will cause the end of American democracy as we know it and be a lasting and irredeemable stain on Obama's presidency when you haven't read the "actual agreement" but it's terribly, terribly presumptuous to say that the effects really won't be all that remarkable.

This is clearly logical to me. Yes, passing a bill when the public doesn't have access to the text is undemocratic and reflects poorly on the people involved in its passage. No, you can't reasonably comment on its effects because you don't know what's in it, because it's being passed undemocratically and you couldn't possibly have read it. Nothing about that is at all contradictory, by my read.
posted by dialetheia at 1:50 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes, passing a bill when the public doesn't have access to the text is undemocratic and reflects poorly on the people involved in its passage.

Which bill will be passed that the public doesn't have access to? The trade agreement isn't even close to being passed. Fast Track won't allow it to be passed. It will allow the US to get on with negotiations to agree on what's going to be in proposed agreement. It should be noted that these negotiations over the content of what will be in the TPP have been going on for years.

The left's reflexive opposition to TPP and Fast Track is baffling to me, and the conflation of TPP with Fast Track only reinforces the feeling that such opposition is indeed far more reflexive than insightful.

One curious thing about the proposals being decided upon that will make up the TPP is that they're evil because secrets. But they aren't all that secret, if you're really that curious about it. The tl;dr for the TPP can be found here. So yeah, the sinister THEY DONT WANT YOU TO KNOW!!! vibe that many on the left seem eager to play not only sounds a bit unhinged, it's not entirely true. And I suspect is probably conducive to eroding one of the strengths the left has had the privilege to enjoy so much in this age of Tea Party dominated conservatism: rationality.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:53 PM on June 25, 2015


One curious thing about the proposals being decided upon that will make up the TPP is that they're evil because secrets.

Look, just tell me this: what is the plus side, from a participatory democracy standpoint, of having the drafts and the negotiation process all be secret? I'm saying it impairs my ability to know what's in the bill, and therefore my ability to intelligently petition my representatives about it, and for that reason it should be public. I wish people would put as much energy towards providing justifications as they do towards mocking those of us who object to the secret lawmaking process.

Also your dismissal of positions you don't agree with as "reflexive" and non-insightful is an insulting conversational approach to take with your fellow commenters.

Also-also:

The tl;dr for the TPP can be found here.

It is literally preposterous to suggest that a "tl;dr" summary on wikipedia (!) is a suitable alternative to being able to see the proposed text of the legislation at a phase where it can still be amended. I want to see at a title - chapter - section level what the proposed amendments are to the US Code. I read complex statutes all the time, I have reviewed previous bills at this level of detail and I have based my correspondence to my representatives on that review so that I would know what I was talking about. I find it repulsive to the idea of representative democracy that none of us are able to do that in this case.

Please note the catch-22 here: you criticize people for having a "more reflexive than insightful" reaction to the bills, but by being completely blase about the secretive nature of it all, you implicitly acknowledge that people are forced to rely on (typically partisan) summary and innuendo about the substance of the TPP rather than reviewing its actual text and forming a meaningful opinion about it - where exactly are they supposed to come up with the vaunted "insight"?
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 5:00 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'll ask again, yoink, how you dare to suggest what the effects of the legislation are knowing full well that text isn't available. This argument is completely separate from your disregard for people voicing concern about the secretive negotiation and drafting process.

Any statements about the effects of the legislation at this point are based on feelings and hearsay, not fact.
posted by odinsdream at 6:14 PM on June 25, 2015


Dear Senator Feinstein (re "Fast Track", TPP, etc.)
The most cynical argument in favor of these trade deals is the geopolitical argument. "If we don't write the rules, then China will!" If we don't write good rules, then maybe China should. The United States should wield global authority not merely because it is our team. The United States should wield global authority because it exercises that authority for the good. Not for the good of well-connected interest groups within the United States, not even just for the good of US and its citizens, but, if we are to exercise global authority, for the world. From the bits that ordinary citizens have been able to learn about the contents of the various deals under negotiation by USTR, we have fallen down badly on the job. Good for well connected interest groups, foreign and domestic? Check. Good for US citizens or the world broadly, no.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:16 AM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Despite the secrecy, we do know one thing for sure: the TPP has democracy-trumping ISDS provisions that are absolutely un-fucking-acceptable. There is NOTHING "positive" in the deal that can compensate for that. We don't even have to read the rest of it.

It's bad enough that communities can have laws overturned by corporate corruption operating at the state/provincial level. This shit, supra-national corporations suing countries for "potential lost revenues", is the sort of thing that led to the actual Tea Party (not the mythologized version so popular with contemporary rightist wankers). The original Boston Tea Party was not "anti-government" or "anti-tax" in the way the oligarchs of today want us to think it was. Rather, it was a response to corrupt "trade agreement" between a multinational corporation (The British East India Company) and a British government (Great Britain) in the form of the Tea Act.

Here's an example of the kind of mischief these provisions can cause today, from a Harold Meyerson article from last October:
The mockery that the ISDS procedure can make of a nation’s laws can be illustrated by a series of cases. In Germany in 2009, the Swedish energy company Vattenfall, seeking to build a coal-fired power plant near Hamburg, used ISDS to sue the government for conditioning its approval of the plant on Vattenfall taking measures to protect the Elbe River from its waste products. To avoid paying penalties to the company under ISDS (the company had asked for $1.9 billion in damages), the state eventually lifted its conditions. Three years later, Vattenfall sued Germany for its post-Fukushima decision to phase out nuclear power plants; the case is advancing through the ISDS process. German companies that owned nuclear power plants had no such recourse.
That's right, Germany is being sued for having decided to phase out nukes after Fukushima! And this is for some existing "trade agreement" (the Energy Charter Treaty), which maybe should really should be called "corporate rights agreements". The TPP will at the very least be more of the same. And that is just not acceptable. It amounts to giving foreign, corporate control over the laws of a democratic republic.
posted by mondo dentro at 1:03 PM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Asia-Pacific AIDS Groups Support UN Expert Call For Human Rights Impact Assessment of Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement - The UN experts have also highlighted the risks of investor-state dispute mechanisms that allow corporates to sue governments in private arbitration. They note that experience demonstrates that the ability of governments to legislate in the public interest have been put at risk including in relation to access to generic and essential medicines, and reduction of smoking.
posted by cendawanita at 3:38 PM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


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