Saturday, 29 March 2014

Thousands say no TPPA

Today thousands of New Zealanders marched demanding an end to the secrecy surrounding the TPPA negotiations. Including and estimated 500 at parliament. People from all walks of life and across the political spectrum. While next to nothing of any substance has been officially announced to the public, negotiators themselves have said there will be little in it for New Zealand.
What is known about the TPPA comes from leaked documents available at wikileaks.
Three things stick out as big concerns for New Zealanders.
Pharmac negotiates for cheap medications, this is likely to be seriously curtailed, either preemptively by Pharmac soft balling to avoid suit under the investor-state disputes chapter, or by suits claiming lost profits by pharmaceutical corporations seeking compensation from the tax payer.
SOPA the "Stop Online Piracy Act" tabled in the US house of Representatives, was so awfully unworkable it would break the internet, and so clearly hideous that not only were there street protests, even Google and Wikipedia protested it with 24hour black outs.
The ability of government to legislate for the public good will be subordinated to good of multinational corporations in member countries. Philip-Morris in Hong Kong could sue the tax payer for lost profits if we implement plain packaging as Australia did. There is already a pending case against Australia for their plain packaging law.

The thing that bothers most critics of this "treaty" is the unusual secrecy with which it is being negotiated. Even US Senators have publicly complained they can only read the text if they specify which bits they wont to read, and sign documents swearing they wont tell anybody what they have read, and while they are reading it they can take the documents out of the room.

Given what we do know about the history of "free trade" agreements and their economic effects, and more specifically the leaked chapters of this agreement it hard to understand why any country with an advanced economy would willingly sign up to this pig in a polk.  If this thing is so good, why the secrecy? Any one would be forgiven for thinking there was some chance that if we understood what was in it, we might hate it more than the oh so suspicious secrecy which it has surrounded it.

For working people in advanced economies like New Zealand and USA, the biggest threat comes in the form of investment mobility, what this means, investment capital will be more freely movable to low wage economies, meaning that higher wage economies will manufacturing workers toss into the street to scrape for the jobs in the wonderful world of minimum wage service industries which are pushing for no minimum wage, while offering zero hour contracts and precarious employment. This is get that step too far, after 30 years of neoliberal economics, which has only offered a plentiful supply of empty promises, while delivering the wealth created by working people to the top 10% of income earners. Just how perverse this situation has become, was recently well summerized Bill Maher (See here at Raw Story).

See also
  One News

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