freetradepanelWe’ve mentioned the forthcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty in passing, but in case you’re wanting to find out more about these treaties and why they might not be such a good thing in general, you might want to take a closer look at this. I’ve run across a great explanation in the form of a 27-page online comic book that explains exactly what trade agreements in general are supposed to do, what they actually end up doing, and what we know about the TPP.

The biggest problem with these treaties is that they basically override nations’ laws—but unlike those laws, which are created in public with accountability, these treaties are “fast-tracked” behind closed doors and the public doesn’t have a chance to have its say.

And the TPP in particular, from the leaks that have come out about it, has some fairly obnoxious clauses. As seen in the excerpt above, those corporate interests who are responsible for aur current IP mess are pushing for even more property rights—including legalizing useless patents and even patents on things that couldn’t be patented before such as biological processes.

Read the whole thing—it’s very eye-opening, And decide what you’re going to do to push back against treaties like this which essentially give away the family cow for a handful of beans that aren’t even magical to begin with.


  1. At this point, we don’t really know what will be in the TPP (nor TAFTA, the upcoming European-American trade agreement). Of course, Big Business and Wall Street know. They have representatives in the negotiations, but the general public as well as labor, environment, and consumer interests are banned from the process. That alone should tell us that these agreements are not designed to benefit regular folk or Main Street.

    The most insidious part of these deals is what is known as Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). Basically, it is language inserted in the agreements which lets corporations bypass the court systems of the respective countries when they feel that they have been “injured” by government actions. Rather than suing in court, they take their case to an unelected panel of arbitrators, usually drawn from the corporate world, who can grant them unlimited compensation to be paid by the government involved as damages (usually referred to as “loss of potential/future earnings.”

    An example: the state of XXXX decides to ban a pesticide after it has been proven to cause birth defects and cancer. ZZZZ Chemicals, Inc files an ISDS claim for loss of its future profits from sales of the pesticide in the state of XXXX. The arbitration panel consists of one former lawyer from the chemical industry, a retired hedge fund manager, and an investment banker. The arbitration rules are generally such that economic issues are to be the deciding factor, not issues about health, the environment, or public welfare. Thus, ZZZZ Chemicals is awarded $100 million to be paid by the state of XXXX and the decision may not be appealed to any state or federal court.

    This sham process will also apply to all other legislation or administrative actions by government. Raise the minimum wage? A multinational can claim that it is stealing potential future profits from its factories and file a claim against the state. Require new safety regulations or equipment in an industry? Again, it’s stealing from the multinational and thus it must be compensated via the public treasury.

    These agreements are toxic to democracy and the common good.

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