Sunday, July 24, 2016

At the bottom of the wine dark sea is the TPP

By chance, the TV was on during lunch yesterday so that we could find news about a fire a few miles from our house. That fire filled the sky with a smokey haze that covered the Salt Lake Valley, so I wanted to learn more.

But instead of getting news that I wanted, I got something else, entirely. I got to watch Tim Kaine's acceptance speech. I heard him talk about raising the minimum wage to "a living wage". I find it interesting that he could not bring himself to be specific about the number, $15 an hour. I heard him talk about making college debt free, not free.

They are already walking back anything that was said on the day of "the endorsement." As I watched, all I could think of was Tim Kaine's support for the TPP. Whatever he was saying about public policy didn't matter. As far as I was concerned, he was lying. I could hardly stand to listen to him tell his folksy tales of his life as a normal human being knowing that he supports the TPP.

Kaine is probably a nice and charming guy, but I could see through all of that charm and down-home rhetoric. I know about his ties to the banking industry. His smile hides his support of the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership, a deal that if enacted, will affect 40% of the world's economy. This deal, the TPP, is the goal of the neoliberal elite. It is one more handcuff on the economy and the people. It will add a rounding error to the economy in terms of growth, but it will further confine us to the bubble economy that we inherited from NAFTA.

"Get the chalice." That's the phrase that comes to mind as I write this. I can imagine the global business community chanting it as if they were praying for another digit to add to the end of the number at the bottom line. The chalice that I speak of is buried in the TPP: the investor state dispute system, aka, ISDS. ISDS is a system designed to subordinate the will of the people to the will of corporations. It was originally built into trade agreements to prevent hostile governments from nationalizing industries with significant American investment. ISDS was originally intended to defend against banana republics. You would be forgiven if you thought that ISDS was only for banana republics. Now they want to use ISDS to defend against democracy.

You might remember NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. That "free trade" agreement pitted American manufacturing against the world with rules that favored and protected the professional class over everyone else. If you're a doctor, lawyer or some other "professional", you're good. But if you actually make things for people to buy, you're going to have trouble making payments on your mortgage. With the TPP, we're going to see a repeat of the Big Short (now on Neflix, BTW).

I watched Mr. Kaine make his speech behind a podium with the Hillary campaign logo, "Stronger Together". Stronger together, huh? I guess we're only stronger together if we have Clinton as the nominee, but not Sanders, right? No mention of Sanders at all. No mention of the millions of voters he brought to the Democratic Party during the primaries. Not even a thank you. Oh, wait. She did say "thank you" with a smile no less after "the endorsement", but not at this event. As I watched Kaine's speech, I could see it from here: Trump is going to win unless we change course.

Even Michael Moore thinks that Trump will win. Why? Because Hillary is already polling in a tie or is under water in the swing states of the Rust Belt. They remember NAFTA in spades. Any state that once had a thriving manufacturing sector now does not. They will see Trump coming to town to hammer Clinton for NAFTA and her support of the TPP. In January 2016, Trump said, "I will stop Hillary’s Obamatrade in its tracks, bringing millions of new voters into the Republican Party. We will move manufacturing jobs back to the United States and we will Make American Great Again."

Clinton and Kaine know they can talk progressive policy all they want and that it won't happen. Why? They know that their ticket will depress the vote. Millions of disappointed voters will stay home because they don't believe that they have a meaningful choice for president once again. They know that down ballot votes will go to more conservative candidates when the voter turnout is low. They must know by now that inequality is tied to voter turnout. The lower the turnout the better for the 1%. They can talk about a progressive agenda until the cows come home knowing that the votes will not be there for it in the next Congress. Then they can trot out their "3rd way", "we'll take what we can get from the Republicans" leadership and say that they really did try.

Voters will have to choose between Trump, who they hate, and Clinton who they hate, but not as much as Trump. Millions of us wanted Sanders there, front and center.

But the DNC decided not to be so fair and neutral. They did everything they could to sandbag Sanders. Someone is already planning a movie to show how rigged the primary elections were against Bernie Sanders. They have plenty of material to work with including 20,000 emails from the DNC. The latest Email leaks that tell us the story of how DNC staffers mocked Bernie Sanders, worked against his campaign and used the media against him to prevent him from having an even chance to secure the nomination. They knew that party unity was not a priority from the beginning.

In 5 days, the DNC will very likely see millions of people register with another party in a protest known as the #demexit. In November, we will very likely see an alternative on the ballot that is not Democrat or Republican. We may very well see Green on the ballot.

Bottom line, one way or another, the global business community sees their number one goal as getting the TPP ratified and signed.

I love Bernie Sanders and what he is doing for the country, but the #1 goal is not to defeat Trump. We can deal with a buffoon in the White House for 4 years, for we have already survived 8 years under Bush. What we can't deal with is 3 potential paths for the TPP to get through. If Trump wins, the TPP will be quietly signed by a lame duck president. If Hillary Clinton wins, she will sign so that Obama can have his presidential library, his foundation and his book writing deals, so he can live the rest of his life in obscurity and peace with guaranteed income for life. If Hillary is somehow impeached or indicted, Kaine will find a way to get it passed and signed.

I think we need to re-assess our priorities and make it clear that the elite agenda is not about who gets elected. It's about getting the TPP passed. Isn't it an interesting coincidence that, despite what she says, Clinton is the only remaining presidential candidate strongly in favor of the TPP?

#rockagainstthetpp
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