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The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose (washingtonpost.com)
302 points by walterbell on Feb 28, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 119 comments



http://www.stopfasttrack.com — organizations lending their logo and giving a reason why they oppose, include Reddit, ACLU, boingboing, Free Software Foundation, EFF, Sierra Club & others.

Edit: illustrated video (2:27) by MoveOn, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3O_Sbbeqfdw

"Mind boggling in its complexity (the US takes 80 specialists to each negotiation, Japan 120, and Australia 22) the negotiating text is secret. Robb says even most of the negotiators don't know what's in the whole thing. Each knows about little more than the chapter they are working on and there are more than 20 chapters.", http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/trans-...


"This isn’t a partisan issue. Conservatives who believe in U.S. sovereignty should be outraged that ISDS would shift power from American courts, whose authority is derived from our Constitution, to unaccountable international tribunals. Libertarians should be offended that ISDS effectively would offer a free taxpayer subsidy to countries with weak legal systems. And progressives should oppose ISDS because it would allow big multinationals to weaken labor and environmental rules."

(from the Warren article)


Any sufficiently complicated trade regime is going to need dispute arbitration. If we don't like the way that arbitration is playing out for us, our elected representatives are completely within their power to abridge or modify our agreements.

This is complete misdirection: If every bit of ISDS were pulled from the draft negotiations, Sen. Warren would still oppose the pact because she comes from the protectionist wing of the party.

Maybe we can get Al Gore to take a break from his climate change work and debate Sen. Warren as he did Ross Perot back in the day.

God I miss free trade Democrats like Bill Clinton.


What's your take on WTO and WIPO, are they not suitable venues for international trade discussions?


How would the WTO arbitrate an independent agreement? You'd endorse TPP if it were just part of the WTO process?

I wish the Doha round had gone somewhere. But it didn't, so here we are.


National legislatures have had decades and centuries to develop governance models. The WTO process, while much younger, has a longer track record and greater international investment (than TPP/TTIP) in public debate on issues related to international trade, governance, disputes.

It would be helpful if trade agreements were documented like open-source projects which coordinate with larger upstream projects, while retaining private forks that are not accepted upstream now, but could become more relevant later.

Is everything in TPP unacceptable to WTO, by definition? If TPP can negotiate 20 chapters independently, why can't WTO unbundle problematic issues to regional agreements? Governance and trade agreements that affect the lives of hundreds of millions of humans should not require all-or-nothing bundling. There is no shortage of paper or electrons to negotiate interoperable agreements which segment risk and goals.


How about

"Conservatives who believe that labor and environment rules are excessive and heavy handed, should support ISDS because it will also allow these rules to be challenged for being protectionist. Libertarians should be encouraged that the ISDS effectively would commit nations to smaller governments. And progressives should support ISDS because it makes government accountable for the impacts of their actions on the wider community, instead of focusing exclusively on narrow self-interest.


Yeah,your point about why democrates should support that stuff is a little silly. with the TTIP democracy stops being relevant . Elected representatives wont make laws.International Businesses and international tribunals will de facto since they will be able to challenge any national law. Minimum wage hurting corporation Z business? well corporation Z will challenge that.

As for Republicans,well,the idea of trading a big government for an even bigger government,only international, isn't going to fly.

Anyway,that shit will happen sooner or later. It's obvious that the world will be run not by states but by corporations,it's not just a science fiction fantasy.


This will come into effect silently without any public discussion about it. I can only speak about Germany where the news and mainstream-intellectual talkshows are still dominated by Muslim vs West discussions and reports about Anti-Muslim demonstration that a few (2000) whackjobs are attending.

The Demonstration against TTIP with roughly 50.000 attendees in Berlin a few weeks ago received no news, no articles and did not spark discussions other than satirical/comedy shows making fun about it. I start to believe they aim to kill the seriousness of the outrage.


Why is it that nobody takes seriously the concept that mainstream media is a propaganda source for government, even in the West?

Everyone jokes about how bad it is developing nations (and dictatorships), and makes fun of everyone that raises concerned about western countries as being nut-job conspiracy theorist who believe in lizard people or whatever.

US News in particular is breathtakingly propagandist. It is like watching a US themed Russia Today. And only the "comedy" shows in the US, and some internet-only sources really provide a moderately unbiased view.


This article is written by a major dissenter in the US Govt, and published in one of the most read newspapers in the country, trying to demystify and make public the actions of the government and trade partners. Perhaps it's just the exception that proves the rule.


Who do you want to take the concept seriously? The mainstream media?

The Internet is a great achievement. For the first time we can get the information the media isn't wiling to share with us, and it is damaging. People are noticing. They are just not reacting the way you (and me) expected - what should be expected.


The counter-point is how PR folk have been learning to master the art of viral, distributed propaganda. While it's harder to control than broadcast (memes have a life of their own), active manipulation of public narrative for profit remains alive and well on the Internet.


Every media source is biased. Even The Daily Show and Colbert Report. Even reddit and Hacker News are biased (reddit calls it the hivemind).

That's not the same as being a propaganda source for government, unless the only viewpoint anyone is allowed to express is the one approved by the government.


> That's not the same as being a propaganda source for government, unless the only viewpoint anyone is allowed to express is the one approved by the government.

In the west (especially the US) I'd say the media is a propaganda source for big businesses, and the only viewpoint anyone express is the one approved by big businesses.


I agree. The media IS big business, owned by even bigger business, and that's their point of view.


And that big business is buying the government more and more every day.. which indirectly means the only view in the media is that of the (big business owned) government.


Journalists trade puff-pieces for leaks and exclusives. Only those in power typically have leaks to trade.


Bias != propaganda.

You definition of propaganda is overly specific. If you're waiting for leaflets to be dropped out of airplanes, you're going to be disappointed.

>unless the only viewpoint anyone is allowed to express is the one approved by the government.

That's totalitarianism, at least WRT the media and public discourse.


If simply expressing a point of view is propaganda, we're all propaganda sources.

The mainstream media expresses plenty of opinions the government doesn't share. Consider Fox News during the Obama administration.


It's a difficult point to argue without going into specifics because everyone has a different concept of what the nature of the government is, and so they will interpret being propaganda for the government differently.

E.g. Chomsky sees the government as a vehicle for the rich elite, and so when he speaks about being propaganda, he has in mind the media spreading messages that benefit the rich elite. E.g. he thinks that the US encourages a right wing regime in Israel in order to stir up trouble in the middle east, which I think is ridiculous.

Someone on the economic left (without Chomsky's social or geopolitical viewpoint) might consider the government to be working to lower wages by doing deals with other like minded governments. And (as people are saying here) the media would be complicit by not reporting this.

I think that the government is primarily controlled by ideological forces, and that the government does not exercise much direct control over the media, but that both the media and government are heavily influenced by the same ideologies.


It is worse and simpler than ideology: self-interest demands collusion. Media conglomerates benefit from political ad revenue and "access"; political figures benefit from corporate news channels that won't rock the boat. Individuals who buck this trend from either side are filtered out, usually before they set foot in the door. Those who remain are only too happy to believe the narrative that benefits them.


Because the "conspiracy theory" charge is used to successfully lump all investigative journalism in with people who think the queen of england is a reptile.


Where did you get the 50,000 figure? The mainstream media is reporting "thousands".

You seem to think that the Muslim issue is there to distract the masses, but everyone has a different view of what the "real problem" is. Some people would consider issues around Islam in Europe to be of great importance, and the free trade agreement to be a distraction.


oppinions are formed, e.g. by the gate keepers of the media. If one topic gets lots of air time ppl misinterpret it with importance. Media often prefer the simpler story over abstract and complex topics, the secrecy of TPP negotiations help as well.

Muslim issues compared to TPP have 0 relevance. TPP and the like will erode democratic societiey untill there is only plutocracy left.


>The Demonstration against TTIP with roughly 50.000 attendees in Berlin a few weeks ago received no news

Wait, what? I'm on the mailing list of stop-ttip.org and had no idea. How can I be sure to get notified of any scheduled demo in my area?


> that a few (2000) whackjobs are attending.

You could have made a good point without your unnecessary rant and insult against some people that express their opinion peacefully. You're the definition of arrogance and why the little people don't listen to people like you. These insults were unnecessary. It's not about Pediga.If Pegida didn't exist the media would talk about anything but the TTIP. So please continue to defend whatever cause you defend that way. Because you do it so badly.


This is why it's important to prevent fast-track legislation that would allow for congress to pass this on an up and down vote with little or no public scrutiny of the actual text of the treaty.

It's a power grab, pure and simple. It's kind of bold to be undermining state sovereignty, but other than that it's your standard attempt to tilt the playing field.

Also, what if one of these three-judge panels gets asked to rule on the legality of debt-slavery? What are the limits these panels operate under?


Analysis of the WH response to Warren's OpEd, http://www.foe.org/news/blog/2015-02-tall-tales-of-the-tpp

"The wealthy enjoy greater procedural rights. The U.S. Model BIT and the leaked TPP investment chapter provide greater procedural rights for foreign investors than U.S. investors enjoy. For example, they get to pick one of the arbitrators.

.. A separate “court” for foreign capital is established. Foreign investors would be able to bypass domestic courts and bring suit before special international tribunals designed to encourage international investment.

.. Tribunal arbitrators typically have a pro-corporate bias. Arbitrators in these cases are typically international commercial lawyers who may alternately serve as arbitrators one day and return as corporate counsel the next ..

.. Crippling awards of money damages chill regulatory initiatives and put pressure on governments to settle.

.. These models bear little resemblance to property rights and substantive due process protections in the U.S. Constitution or the legal traditions of other countries .."


Further, how could so many TPP/TTIP countries choose (vote?) multiple panels of "international judges" that could override the decisions of "national judges"? That seems even harder than picking judges for a nation's Supreme Court, a process which has been through decades to centuries of constitutional law debate and debugging.


Gee, the majority here was all in favor of the FCC doing things without public review, why the sudden change of heart?

When will people here realize that ANY new law, regulation, or such, should be fully made in the public. Apparently the price of silence is promises of cable internet providers getting taken to the woodshed


FCC rulings can be overruled via congress or by the FCC itself in the future.

It takes an act of God to overturn a treaty.


Not at all. For one thing, trade pacts aren't "treaties" anymore, in the Constitutional sense. They're "Congressional-Executive Agreements", which our trade partners take seriously enough to consider our obligations fulfilled.

Thus Congress can abridge any trade pact with a majority vote and the President's signature.


Sometimes it is amazing how little Congress understands what they pass. Just look at the "Patriot" act.


This is pretty funny, for many Europeans ISDS is one of the main reasons why they oppose TTIP [1]. They fear US companies suing European countries because of stricter regulations, with food and environmental standards being popular examples.

[1] https://stop-ttip.org/


It's stupid to see this as US companies vs. EU consumers and vice versa. It should be seen as gigantic companies against small companies and consumers. American or European makes little difference.

It's still an affront to democracy that commercial entities with enough political clout can sue whole countries because those countries dared to believe in their sovereignty.

I understand that it is a mechanism to reduce risk and therefore incentive wealth creation but when you have to make exceptions to democracy and sovereignty is when I say that your pursuit of wealth creation has become a bit too fanatical.


The opinions are not all that simple, I just focused on that because the article also focuses an it. But big US oil companies vs European tax payers compensating them because they are denied to use fracking techniques does obviously not require many words to explain and therefore opinions are certainly dominated by simple arguments.


The oil companies could only successfully sue for compensation for being banned from fracking, when the ban only applies to foreign companies, i.e. only when the ban is discriminatory.

Source: The EU commission says “The protection given covers a limited number of specific actions which can concretely affect an investor’s daily business operations in a foreign market, i.e. discrimination, denial of access to justice, expropriation without compensation and the inability to transfer capital to invest.“


Some rebuttals to EU commission rebuttals on ISDS, http://www.computerworlduk.com/blogs/open-enterprise/ttip-up...


Weakening sovereignty is the goal, IMO. This is nothing about trade.


The myths those fears of ISDS are based on are so widespread in Germany, that the EU commission felt the need to debunk them, by stating (among other things):

“ISDS is not about giving unlimited rights to multinationals to challenge any legislative measure taken by sovereign states in any area of regulation. Under TTIP, investors will not be compensated with taxpayers’ money just because of a fall in profits due to a change in the law. Nor will it be possible for investors to override bans of practices like fracking. The protection given covers a limited number of specific actions which can concretely affect an investor’s daily business operations in a foreign market, i.e. discrimination, denial of access to justice, expropriation without compensation and the inability to transfer capital to invest. Legitimate policy measures taken by public authorities to protect the environment or public health and which apply to all firms in the same way – foreign or national – cannot be successfully challenged under these provisions under the guise of investment protection.“

(from http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=1008)


That's very nice language but the whole point is that commercial entities can challenge what is or isn't a legitimate policy to protect public health or the environment. They shouldn't be able to do that in the first place. They have no such right.

Not to mention that you make it sound like ISDS is a new thing that was marketed ineptly when in fact the notoriety stems from foreign businesses suing counties who tried to reduce trade in asbestos.

And besides, I'm not even sure whether it would be economically wise for a country to always threat foreign business and local business equally. Right now I'm sure many Europeans wish they had more local alternatives to US tech.

http://ejil.oxfordjournals.org/content/20/3/749.full


I cannot imagine a policy that, in order to protect public health or the environment, had to discriminate between companies with foreign investors, and those with domestic investors.

Why shouldn't commercial entities be able to sue the government? When a government has agreed to an ISDS agreement (if they hadn't, the agreement wouldn't be in effect), it's only appropriate that they are held accountable to keep up on their promise.

An ISDS agreement is simply about a government promising “We will not discriminate against foreigners (and also don't do a bunch of other terrible stuff, like expropriating foreigners), and if we still do, we will at least compensate them.“


I don't see why it's funny. It's not that ISDS is good for America and bad for Europe, or good for Japan and bad for America; according to opponents, it's good for big business and bad for ordinary people.


Because I was not aware that there are exactly the same concerns in the USA. In Europe TTIP is - as far as I can tell - mostly seen as a one-way street, empowering US companies over EU countries. The article kind of suggests the same view for the USA and TPP, empowering foreign companies over the USA.

It would now be interesting to know whether these are just one-sided views ignoring the potential damages EU companies could do to the USA respectively US companies to the other TPP countries, or if these agreements would really turn out to be one-way streets, Vietnamese companies hurting the USA and US companies hurting Germany because there is a very real gradient with regard to the relevant standards.

So can somebody tell what the US view on TTIP is? Are there the same concerns getting hurt by companies from EU countries?


This article has links to trade (not specific to TTIP) viewpoints from different US stakeholders, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/02/27/fast-track-looms...

Watch the John Oliver video elsewhere in this thread about Philip Morris using Hong Kong to sue Australia. No one knows how companies will use these proposed powers, it may become less legally clear what constitutes the home-nation of a corporation.

See also corporate inversions, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/tax-reform/report/20...


The argument is really compelling. There are good reasons to be suspicious when corporations want to go over the heads of national democratic legal systems.

That said, the basic idea of TTIP is a REALLY GOOD THING. It's not just about making it easier to trade across the Atlantic, which could give a huge fillip to both US and EU economies. It's also about the political results that will cement our relationship. Both the US and EU are facing rising powers which do not share our fundamental values. We will be stronger if we stand together. Binding our economies closer will help that happen.

Not wishing to close criticism down, but TTIP is too big an opportunity to be spoilt by the greed of some lobbyists - or by knee-jerk opposition. Fight over the details, not over the principle.


Actually one of the main reasons I want TTIP not to happen is because I don't want any closer relationships with the USA. US foreign policy has been somewhere between awful, irresponsible and plain evil for the last couple of decades. Don't get me wrong, it is not unreflected anti-Americanism, I am German and hugely thankful for what the USA has done for Germany in the past, especially of course during and after World War II.

But that changed. I would love if we could distance ourselves from the USA for a multitude of things from spying over torturing to the offensive war against Iraq, to just name some obvious examples. If we as Europeans impose sanctions on Russia right now for their actions related to the Ukraine, we should have imposed sanction on the USA long ago.

But we can not because we are so dependent on the USA, especially when it comes to IT with most of the major players like Microsoft, Intel, Google, IBM and Apple being US companies. We would be screwed without them. Could we openly oppose the USA and still do business with them? Maybe. Do we want to find it out, test who gets hurt more? Not really.

In the same way the USA is doing business with regimes like Saudi Arabia we keep doing business with the USA. But I am convinced we should really avoid getting even more entangled with the USA wherever possible to not risk worsening our position further. At least until US politics gets sane again.


Do you realize how many military installations we have in your country?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_Army_ins...


Of course, but I don't know what you want to say with that.


Well, you are proposing sanctions against a country which is largely responsible for defending your country. You don't see the disconnect? Further, you wrote about dependence on the U.S. with respect to IT, which seems to pale in comparison to the military dependence.

We fly drone strikes out of your country and you are worried about CPUs?


In which way is the USA defending Germany and against whom? Besides local businesses profiting from the presence of US soldiers people either don't care about these military bases or want to see them gone because of drone strikes from there or the opportunity to have spying equipment there. Getting rid of the US military bases would not really hurt anyone, losing access to US IT technology would hurt a lot.


I'm not really the person to argue with on this topic because I probably agree with you on most counts. Given the close ties our countries share, I just thought your original comment a bit odd.


Would you care to pin down what you perceived as odd? I would appreciate that, because it is obviously a highly controversial topic and I would like to know where I have to be more clear or precise or whatever to get my point across as objectively as possible.


What is the United States doing currently that deserves sanctions?


The NSA spying on Merkel (and other allied world leaders, but someone mentioned they're German in comment to this as well), off the top of my head?

Or for humanitarian reasons, same as we claim when we impose them elsewhere? Examples such as our continued use of torture both abroad and local (especially since solitary confinement is viewed as torture when it goes on longer than a few weeks), our continued life without parole imprisonment of non-violent offenders for miniscule crimes (3 strikes and you're out), our still imposing the death penalty, etc.

Or for our breaking international law in the various wars and attacks the US has undertaken without international backing? I mean, we're basically a rogue state in that regard, just, you know, big enough no one responds to it, same as Russia with the Crimea.

What exactly do you think it would take to deserve sanctions, if not those?


Guantanamo is still open, for one thing.


Ya I have to 2nd this one, why on earth would germany impose sanctions?


I did not necessarily mean exactly right now, but the Iraq war was obviously worth sanctions. Also distancing from the USA does not necessarily imply imposing sanction, but the US spying programs and the drone war are recent and current activities that make me want to get as far away from the USA as possible.


I would want to fight over the principle. And what the heck are our fundamental values? Snowden, guantanamo, gladio. Do you really think we are so much better? Instead of having this polarizing US VS THEM attitude you should travel more. You will see people are people everywhere and we all strive for life, liberty, peace and happiness.

How about harmonization instead of confrontation (Remember when that ever had a positive outcome?). How about global trade mechanics with a global currency not controlled by privately held banks and ever-corrupt governments of single nations.


The US appears to be a failed state to many Europeans, with many serious problems (just one example of which, being, a population which has been indoctrinated to paranoia and xenophobia of a great degree, which you demonstrate to a certain extent in your comment [1])

From my perspective the US and Russia look very similar. I'm guessing many US readers will find this implausible or shocking, but on paper, those two countries really are very similar, and have similar chronic problems.

Being dragged down into the mire of problems with the US is a nightmare many Europeans. We would prefer to distance ourselves as much as possible from the US.

[1] Few other dire problems (ie. Much worse than the global average) in the US I could mention. Wealth gap, terrible standard of education, public healthcare, contamination of your land and water from dirty mining oil fracking processes , prison industrial system with a huge % of your population in jail, huge defense spending and military industrial complex, spy and security agencies out of control


Syria is a failed state since it is in the middle of a civil war. The USA is not a failed state because the government still effectively governs. And from my perspective, many European countries appear to be more xenophobic than the USA. France's crazy anti-Muslim laws are a good example.


Yes, I was being a bit hyperbolic. But the US certainly fulfils some of the qualifications of a failed state according to the definition of the phrase on wikipidia anyway. For example.. 'Erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions' - It appears that a lot of US policy is decided by private special interest groups, lobby groups and corporations and not by any sovereign or democratic process. 'Inability to provide public services' - Aforementioned lack of education, healthcare, adequate drinking water etc. for a large cohort of the population. 'Inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community' - Arguable as the US has acted unilaterally, breaking international laws during the invasion of iraq for example. The respected US commentator Noam Chomsky makes the point that the US is becoming more and more like a failed state in book 'failed states'


hmm, have you been to the usa? adequate drinking water? This isn't mexico :)

Every country has problem, money in politics is a problem everywhere. I would say Europe and the USA are pretty equal in every regard, some have some pros over here, some cons over here. It would be better if everyone could try learning from each other.


The main point of the article to me was that judges in those matters will not elected but simply paid, and yet their decisions will affect nations.

This is a big detail.

The only way to solve those issue will be to create an international democratic judiciary institution, with elected members. But then, knowing that a wide majority of the worldwide population doesn't live under a true democratic regime, those kind of institution are doomed to repeat the UN fiasco.


Half a year ago I watched Continuum - a sci-fi TV series, which feature a dystopian Earth ruled by so called Corporate Congress - corporations bought out governments and created their own. It was an interesting concept to watch, but I haven't really expected to see it forming in front of me, in the real world...


Watch the original RoboCop sometime. It presents privatized industries which were traditionally government services, as if it was a ludicrous idea that all those things would ever be provided commercially.

Today, the things presented are all private industries.


DIRECTIVE 4: (CLASSIFIED)


Try Person of Interest. A bit cheesy at first, I watched it pre-Snowden, and about 3 seasons in, the NSA leaks appeared - and all of the sudden the series turned not so cheesy anymore...


PoI is actually my favourite show right now. It's perfect on many levels, from acting to storyline to humour to getting a lot of infosec right. Just few episodes ago they were dropping a ShellShock test...

And it's not just about Snowden leaks. I've been reading a lot on AI topics in past few years, and the show resonates with my interests strongly.

EDIT: even previous week's episode - I thought that people hired to listen to queries spoken to in-show equivalent of Siri was writer's invention, only to learn just few days ago that it is in fact real...


Is it worth continuing past the start of the second season?


It is definitely worth continuing. Third and fourth seasons are amazing - they focus less on the crime-of-the-week and more on the Machine arc. But you get a lot of deep and complex characters in those seasons.


It's been a surprising ride to see how on-point the story lines have become.

This week they stepped back from the AI briefly to look at how marijuana legalisation affects the criminal underworld and managed to tie in money laundering via online gaming virtual currencies. Love it :)


[SPOILER ALERT]

And look at those beautiful visualizations:

http://imgur.com/a/yaLPk

Those are the prettiest pictures about War on Drugs I ever saw.


This kind of provision is in NAFTA too, 20 years old.

I wonder if there's ever a case where a U.S. law has actually been invalidated, and the U.S. hasn't just ignored the ruling, with no real consequences. Anyone know? In general NAFTA has served as a weapon to make sure third world economies stay maximally exploitable by U.S. corporations -- as it was intended.

This isn't a reason to support such provisions, of course. It's not right, it's not fair -- AND the U.S. won't be this powerful forever. We'd all be better of strengthening democracy, not strengthening corporate rule -- the corporations don't really care which country is on top, as long as it's one that they can control.

But it is noteworthy that NAFTA isn't even mentioned in Warren's piece; how's that working out?


It's looking more and more like TPP is the new ACTA. What does it take to sink the whole agreement?


Edit: EFF has put together an Act Now page to lobby three key representatives for tie-breaking votes in next week's debate: http://boingboing.net/2015/02/27/act-now-congress-wants-to-f...

There's 18 months of updates on ComputerWorld's UK blog about the EU TTIP agreement, http://www.computerworlduk.com/blogs/open-enterprise/ttip-up... but I haven't seen a similarly consistent US reporting effort on TPP. The EFF has covered some copyright topics, https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/02/white-house-doesnt-wan... . Twitter has activity, including lobbying of Sen. Ron Wyden on fast-track, https://twitter.com/search?q=%23tpp


John Oliver explains a "corporate sovereignty" (ISDS) dispute in Australia, https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150216/17390930032/john-...

"That's right. A company was able to sue a country over a public health measure, through an international court. How the fuck is that possible? Well, it's really a simple explanation. They did it by digging up a 1993 trade agreement between Australia and Hong Kong which had a provision that said Australia couldn't seize Hong Kong-based companies' property. So, nine months before the lawsuits started, PMI put its Australian business in the hands of its Hong Kong-based Philip Morris Asia division, and then they sued, claiming that the "seized property" in question, were the trademarks on their cigarette packages."

Another dispute, between Canada and Eli Lilly on IP, http://www.thestar.com/business/2015/02/11/canadian-reply-to...

"The Canadian government has delivered a scathing response to a $500 million lawsuit from the American pharmaceutical industry, dissecting the intellectual-property practices of the company that launched the case. .. Eli Lilly had filed for 12 separate patents between 1992 and 2004 claiming it could treat psoriasis, stuttering, incontinence, hot flashes, anxiety, learning disabilities, tic disorders and, finally, ADHD. .. “Canadian law does not grant patents for almost-inventions,” said the submission. “Even if the applicant’s speculation at the time of filing is later confirmed.”

There is a proposed US-EU equivalent of the Australia - Hong Kong arbitration panel for ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) in TTIP, http://www.computerworlduk.com/blogs/open-enterprise/ttip-up...

"So what the European Commission is proposing with the dispute resolution chapter is how future clashes with the US over those key social constructs should be resolved. And the answer is: by a three-person arbitration panel.

That is, key aspects of everyday life - the social, environmental and safety protections that have been laid down over decades or more - can be thrown out purely on the say of those three people if it is decided that they clash with TTIP. And remember: "The ruling of the arbitration panel shall be unconditionally accepted by the Parties." So if, for whatever reason, the arbitration panel says a well-established regulation protecting health and safety, or the environment, has to go, well, it has to go, even if the vast majority of the public that it will effect disagrees."


It should be noted that Australia is often a test-bed for these sorts of activities before being exported to the International sphere. As a nation, it has been a playground for corporate interests since its inception as a state. Australians are generally ignorant of the role their legal system plays in corrupting the wider International community.

The point is, it works both ways: if you want to know what the corporate elite will try to do in 5 years, watch what they're doing in Australia today ..


That's really interesting. Is New Zealand used similarly? Canada and Australia are probably good testbeds/canaries due to smaller populations. Would you recommend any books/papers/sites on the history of Australia as international legal testbed?


Why does Australia play such a large role?


Because Australia, by necessity, has been run by corporations and companies and non-state actors since its inception, and its current government is extremely pro-business in its desire to build the national infrastructure, exploit the massive resource treasure of the land, and construct a 'next generation' society built on principles its learned from other failures through contemporary history. Australia influenced Marx, it influenced Stalin, and during the period of the modern era has provided corporate elite with an industrial playground in which policies can be tested, adjusted and improved. The Australian people are very eager, culturally, to play that role.


Willingness to bend over for US? Possibly stemming from mandatory voting: if everybody has to vote then it dilutes the votes of people who really care about outrageous issues.


Wow. If I was trying to cause anticapitalist movements and revolutions in every First World country, I would have a genuinely hard time coming up with more effective measures than these.


And people are surprised there are so many silly movements appearing and gaining popularity, like anti-vaxxers, pro-organic or anti-GMO folks. They are all symptoms of the very same thing - that people in general got fed up with being lied to and constantly abused by corporations and governments, who are often in bed with them.


Ha! Clickbait.

> "What’s so wrong with the U.S. judicial system? Nothing, actually"

That's a very unique point of view only the government paper can present.

In this special case having a bit more international law would do better for everybody. The post should rather critize the TPP where it really is broken, not with this international arbitration argument. Read the TPP leaks Wikileaks published and you will be surprised.


It's pretty neat that the Democrats and Republicans have no problem cooperating when it comes to screwing the American people.


I wonder what it would have been like to live back in those decades when democracy was expanding instead.



Which sadly completely dodges the main issue, which is that a foreign tribunal can extract potentially billions of dollars from US taxpayers and the US would have no say in the matter.

Our justice system is far from perfect, but at least it allows the accused a say in the matter.


Why "potentially billions" and not "potentially trillions"? I mean, if this is truly a totally unaccountable, unelected body...

The truth is that if the TPP ever stops being a net win for the United States, we can leave it.

Would you only support a trade system that forgoes any neutral arbitration between partners?


I'm a big supporter of free trade, but the article makes some good points. Free trade agreements where companies agree not to impose import tariffs are a simple and good way to encourage free trade. But when it comes to government regulation that might in some sense be regarded as restricting free trade, things are a lot murkier. I wonder why these free trade agreements don't just lower tariffs even further, instead of setting up this sort of agreement. E.g. Australia still has a luxury car tax, which is a barrier to free trade that could easily be removed.


TPP is not about free trade, it's about helping bigger players getting a deeper dip in the trough. Pretty much the opposite of freedom to trade.

(As usual, "free trade" or "free markets" is a euphemism for "trade policy that will help the guy using the term 'free trade'". Truly free markets would entail lots of bad things like freedom of children to work and the freedom to create Bohpal disasters. This is no exception)


> bad things like freedom of children to work and the freedom to create Bohpal disasters

Children working is better than a family starving to death no? Child labor laws are a first world problem, and could have disastrous consequences for the third world. Union Carbide was a corporation, a legal fiction in which ownership is divorced from responsibility, that cannot exist without privileges given to it by a state. State capitalism has little to do with actual free markets i.e. voluntary trade in a free society.

Agree with you about the TPP, though, and the way that the term "free market" is often used in the vulgar sense.


Why are they starving in the first place? Pay the parent(s) a survivable wage already.


Who is going to pay the parent a survivable wage? And how is that person going to get the money to pay them?

People are starving (well usually the problem is that they are very poor, not literally starving) because they don't have money, because they don't produce things of value that they can trade for money. Free trade gives people the opportunity to produce more value (e.g. by working in factories or producing cash crops) so that they can earn more money.


Why does this feel like another one of those 1 2 3 ? PROFIT jokes?


I don't know. Why does economic orthodoxy result in smug self assured replies and downvotes, even though when people choose to educate themselves (by taking college courses, not reading blogs or non-mainstream sources) they almost all are convinced by the orthodox outlook?

I honestly feel like a pro-vaccination advocate when I post about economics.

EDIT: And to address your (very weak) point, how does working in factories not make people in poor countries richer? Are you aware of what a Chinese farmer makes per year, compared with a Chinese factory worker?


You're a free marketer who's against the limited liability corporation? That's a combination I've never encountered before. Start a business, risk losing your house.


It's not that uncommon among the people who defend free markets (as opposed to the ones who pretend to support it for their own benefits). E.g. Rothbard opposed it, saying that you could have limited liability as a clause in contracts, which could be negotiated (that also implies that you would be fully liable to third-parties you harm, since there's no contract).


It would turn that around and say that people who pretend to defend free markets support limited liability companies as a pragmatic solution, while people who pretend to support free markets, but want to have the social cred of rebelling against the existing system, make a big deal about the theoretical problems of limited liability.

In practice, a corporation by far is most likely to owe money to its creditors, and not random third parties. In this case, all limited liability does is create a default contract (and rule out alternatives) in which the creditors cannot go after the investors, but can seize the company if it stops repaying its debt.


I have never seen someone making a big deal about the theoretical problems of limited liability, so I wouldn't know. Rothbard in particular only mentions it - in a single paragraph of one of his books - because he's trying to show that corporations don't need the State to exist, not because he's railing against it specifically.


Free trade is not a euphemism when it means eliminating tariffs.

It allows a lot of good things like Chinese workers being able to earn $2 an hour instead of $0.20 an hour.

EDIT: $2 an hour is from about 5 years ago when Chinese manufacturing was more controversial. Now it's more like $3.50 (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/china-manufacturing-wages-rise...)


I know what you mean, but in America free trade means NAFTA and TPP so it basically is a euphemism.


Im a suppirter of free trade too, but most 'free trade agreements' arent about free trade, they are just trade agreements.

That said, a luxury car tax is far from the worst offender for free trade.


What is a "trade agreement" that isn't a free trade agreement? And what is a worst offender than the luxury car tax? I guess corn subsidies are an example.


Tariffs are already quite low and it wouldn't make much of a difference (between some companies, like the US and Europe). Regulations just have become the more important factor hampering trade and thus have to be a focus of trade agreements if you actually want to increase trade. In a few cases, countries do use regulation as tool for protectionism (the french do fun things to keep german trains out of France). In other cases, consumer preferences lead to different regulations, like Europeans hating GMO.

And then there's Phillip Morris suing Australia and Bolivia for trademark infringement, because they require shock images on cigarette cartons...


Free trade agreement doesn't require negotiation: either you agree to trade free, or not. The so-called free trade agreements are about trade-restrictions and exceptions. Doublespeak at its best.


Prisoner's dilemma? It's in the best interests of both parties to drop trade barriers, but not if the other party doesn't, so you need negotiations to make sure they will.


Free trade is not compatible with secretly negotiated treaties.


Interesting, since the US sent some European countries to WTO arbitration when they banned American GMO food.


A2K has published books on lessons learned from WTO and WIPO, free PDFs

2010 handbook, http://a2knetwork.org/handbook

2010 case studies, http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/access-knowledge-age-intellect...


Really hope Warren beats out Hillary in the Dem primaries. If it's another Clinton vs Bush election it will really feel like this country is done for.


That TTIP stuff is happening under Obama,ie, the liberals themselves.


Elizabeth Warren? Isn't she the one that claimed to be native Anerican to get affirmative action benefits? We really want to elect someone that commits fraud? If George W. Claimed to be 1/12 black in order to get an affirmative action job, would you feel the same way?

I completely agree about Bush III though. He's a unprincipled fake. Rand Paul is a far better choice. Come to think of it, a Warren Paul race would actually be interesting and likely filled with more constructive disagreement on policy which would give voters a clear choice. A Clinton Bush race would be boring; they're two sides of the same coin.


>Isn't she the one that claimed to be native Anerican to get affirmative action benefits?

No [1]. (And keep in mind, I don't want her to run for President. She's far more useful as a policy wonk in the Senate.)

>Rand Paul is a far better choice.

Rand Paul? You mean the far-right anarcho-capitalist who considers one of the provisions of the Civil Rights Act unconstitutional[2], said that criticizing BP for trying to get out of paying for their own oil spill was "un-American ... criticism of business"[3], fought to defend tax-evaders who stash their money in Switzerland[4], and says that he's "not a firm believer in democracy"[5]?

Your post smells like you may be one of those people with a hobby of walking into places on the internet and trying to act like we all, for some strange reason, need to vote for the Pauls. While Clinton and Bush would indeed be two sides of the same coin, as was Obama vs Romney, Warren vs Paul would simply be a centrist vs an anarcho-capitalist, a distinction without a difference due to the present climate already being very firmly right-wing on economic matters[6] -- and that assumes Warren wouldn't be transformed into a Clintonite by the machinery of presidential campaigning.

[1] -- http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/rand-p...

[2] -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Warren#Native_America...

[3] -- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/21/rand-paul-obama-sou...

[4] -- http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/rand-paul-tax-swiss-ba...

[5] -- http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/06/why-rand-paul-d...

[6] -- http://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection2012


> Rand Paul? You mean the far-right anarcho-capitalist who considers one of the provisions of the Civil Rights Act unconstitutional[2], said that criticizing BP for trying to get out of paying for their own oil spill was "un-American ... criticism of business"[3], fought to defend tax-evaders who stash their money in Switzerland[4], and says that he's "not a firm believer in democracy"[5]?

The problem with calling Rand Paul "far-right" is that he isn't anything like Dick Cheney. Calling someone "far-right" who agrees with the Green Party on so many social issues is just... odd.

So let's go through your list for a second, because it's kind of unreasonable to criticize someone for taking positions that are essentially correct. Forcing employers to hire people they don't want to is pretty clearly a violation of the freedom to associate, regardless of whether you think it's a good idea. It is political pandering for politicians to lambast a company which is taking full responsibility for a disaster and doing the cleanup by the book. Blocking a privacy-invading treaty that requires companies to provide the government with private financial records without any suspicion of wrongdoing is entirely the right thing to do. And the idea that democracy can lead to tyranny of the majority is so old and well-established that I'm not sure how you even expect to question its veracity.

Moreover, the idea that Elizabeth Warren is "centrist" is as wrong as the idea that Rand Paul is far-right. Centrist doesn't mean anything. If you can describe a candidate who agrees with Republicans and Democrats on half of the issues each as "centrist" but apply the same label to someone who takes exactly the opposite position on everything then the label is useless. It typically gets applied to the professional politicians who never take a position on anything and therefore seem to be inoffensive to everyone, which is exactly the opposite of what Elizabeth Warren is.

Elizabeth Warren will tell you what she thinks. You may not always agree with it, but at least you know what it is, which is more than you can say for Clinton, but really quite similar to Rand Paul. Which is why Paul vs. Warren would be interesting -- the campaigns would be spectacular because they're both candidates who take actual positions on things.

But Elizabeth Warren has stated unequivocally that she's not running.


It's ironic that Warren opposes this international trade court even when it supplants a government's own court, yet she supports the international criminal court which does the exact same thing.


It's not really ironic. Warren supports international human-rights law, but opposes "international" trade treaties that treat First World countries like Third World beggar-nations under IMF supervision. Simply put, establishing the sovereignty of human rights as a legally-enshrined standard is just plain morally superior to establishing the sovereignty of multinational financial and industrial corporations.




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