Below is an excerpt of a story from Truthout.org. It’s a great series of stories about how Nafta has allowed a small number of people to get rich by driving down wages in Mexico and the USA. Our government is intending to do the same thing with the forthcoming Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (TPP), which is currently being negotiated. Like Nafta, the TPP is being negotiated with an eye toward redistributing income from the 99 to the 1 percent. That’s what Obama wants, what Romney wants, what Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Earl Blumenauer want, what most of politicians on the payrolls of the 1 percent want.
“In an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute in 2003, “The high price of ‘free’ trade: NAFTA…has cost the United States jobs across the nation,” the precedent set by NAFTA for corporations creating a system of arbitrating bodies that have jurisdiction above national laws is explained:
NAFTA included unprecedented guarantees to protect the value of corporate investments and even the rights to earn profits in the future arising out of changes in government regulations or policy. In particular, NAFTA created specific clauses that provide for compensation for lost investments and loss of future profits due to regulations that are “tantamount to expropriation” (NAFTA Secretariat 2003, article 1110).
No other part of NAFTA has generated as much controversy as this “investor state” clause. To date, 27 cases have been reviewed under this clause by companies alleging that their foreign investments or their right to earn profits in other countries have been expropriated (Hemispheric Social Alliance 2003, 68-74). These claims, several of which have resulted in damages paid or regulations rescinded, have had a chilling effect on government efforts to regulate private businesses throughout the hemisphere.
In addition, signatories to NAFTA and other such treaties are required to adapt laws to conform with the protocols of free trade agreements to allow corporations and financial firms to maximize the conduct of business without being limited by national boundaries.
A recent article in Truthout, “America the Beautiful: A Fire Sale for Foreign Corporations,” emphasized that the forthcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement is NAFTA on steroids in this respect:
But 26 of the 28 chapters of this (TPP) agreement have nothing to do with trade. TPP was drafted with the oversight of 600 representatives of multinational corporations, who essentially gave themselves whatever they wanted; the environment, public health, worker safety, further domestic job losses be damned….
Even if you are oblivious to environmental concerns, you should be outraged at the total circumvention of national sovereignty. Foreign investors could bypass our legal framework, take any dispute to an international tribunal and pursue compensation for being denied access to our resources at fire-sale prices – with much of the [United States] West on fire as we speak.
It gets worse. Those tribunals would be staffed by private-sector lawyers that rotate between acting as “judges” and as advocates for the corporations suing the governments.