No, Fairfield, this column isn’t about California’s bullet train, although that money could be much better spent. Today, let’s discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the so-called free trade agreement that President Obama asked Congress to pass on a fast track and send to him for signing.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another corporate free trade deal like the North American Free Trade Agreement that passed during the lame duck days of George H.W. Bush’s presidency.
Before NAFTA was born, we Americans really didn’t know what to expect. During the 1992 presidential debates, both the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates thought it was the best thing since sliced bread, but the Independent candidate, Ross Perot, eloquently and accurately foresaw (fore-heard?) the “giant sucking sound” of American jobs leaving this country. About 1 million jobs were exported during its first 10 years, well before the Great Recession. As American jobs were shipped to Mexico and Mexican products and produce shipped back here, our trade surplus of more than $5 billion in 1992 became a trade deficit, of more than $54 billion, last year.
These corporate treaties reduce barriers between nations to buy and sell their products, that’s the “free trade” part. But in doing that, it places American workers, ranchers and farmers on the same playing field as those in the poorest parts of the world. A person can live on 50 cents a day in some places, but not here. If you were a corporation and could produce a widget for $10 here, or for $1 there, you would produce it there, right? Now, would you pass that savings on to your customers and sell your widget for $1.50, or would you continue to sell it for $15 and profit the difference?
Corporations win, workers and consumers don’t.
Another problem with these corporate agreements is that they are international treaties written by corporations, for corporations, which supersede other, legitimate laws passed by Congress. Thanks to NAFTA and another corporate entity, the World Trade Organization, we now have corporations suing nations, and winning, because laws and regulations cut into their profits.
But what about the Trans-Pacific Partnership? What does that corporate treaty do? Well, we, and our elected representatives, are not allowed to know. In spite of that, President Obama wants to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress and pass it without discussion or amendment.
But fast tracking hit a major roadblock last week when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said he will not allow it to go forward. I agree; if the Trans-Pacific Partnership is so great, let’s all look at it and discuss it.
Once bitten, twice shy, thrice, highly irritated.
I have often written in this Daily Republic column of how the wealthy and their corporations purchase “our” congressional representatives, but if their Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty is fast tracked through Congress without debate, the carefully crafted, delicate façade of representational government will truly be shattered.
Thankfully, there is a growing and diverse group of aware Americans who are fed up with multinational corporations selling out America for bigger profits at the top. Besides manufacturing workers, American ranchers and farmers are also hurt by these free trade treaties and these issues are now unifying big-city Democrats on the coasts with rural Republicans in the center of this country.
There’s a spark of hope in this enlightened union crossing America’s great political divide, because these people understand the economic issues of our time far, far outweigh the petty political bickering and distractions that dominate our media.
America only has two real political groups, the 99.9 percent and the 0.1 percent. Fairfield, which one are you?
Mike Kirchubel grew up in Fairfield and is the author of “Vile Acts of Evil – Banking in America.” He can be reached at email@example.com.