There is a lot that is wrong with the “free-trade” model embraced by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. But nothing is so wrong as the little-covered but hugely important threat to democracy itself in the form of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, which Public Citizen says “formally prioritize corporate rights over the right of governments to regulate and the sovereign right of nations to govern their own affairs.”If you have to "carve out" something just to make sure tobacco companies don't abuse the system, doesn't that mean the system is inherently a vehicle for abuse?
As Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton warned Monday after the announcement of the agreement, the inclusion of ISDS provisions represents “a corporate dream but a nightmare for those of us on Main Street.”
A New York Times report published Monday explained that the TPP agreement “would overhaul special tribunals that handle trade disputes between businesses and participating nations” in response to “widespread criticisms that the Investor-State Dispute Settlement panels favor businesses and interfere with nations’ efforts to pass rules safeguarding public health and safety.” The “overhaul” involves what the Times referred to as “a code of conduct [that] would govern lawyers selected for arbitration panels.” There’s also a “carve out” to address abuses by “Big Tobacco.” That’s fine; but the problem goes far beyond lawyers, and far beyond the wrongdoing of one industry. The problem goes to the heart of the matter of whether special tribunals, which exist to advance free trade, will have the power to help multinational corporations circumvent or undermine local laws.
Nobody cares. It's amazing that nobody has cared much about this. Twenty years from now, the TPP will be remembered as Obama's primary legacy. And the world it delivers to us will be more unequal and less democratic than even the one in which we currently live.