John Edwards Was Right about Two Americas

2015 May 16
by bc3b

Perhaps John Edwards was right. There are two Americas: 1) one for the rich and powerful and 2) one for the rest of us. And, the trans-Pacific Partnership is just more evidence of that. While this important treaty is being kept secret from US citizens, 28 US government- advisory committees and member companies (e.g. GE, Nike and Walmart) have access to it. In fact, they have greater access than members of Congress.

The Senate today (Friday) is holding a key procedural vote that would allow the Trans-Pacific Partnership to be “fast-tracked.”

So who can read the text of the TPP? Not you, it’s classified. Even members of Congress can only look at it one section at a time in the Capitol’s basement, without most of their staff or the ability to keep notes.

But there’s an exception: if you’re part of one of 28 U.S. government-appointed trade advisory committees providing advice to the U.S. negotiators. The committees with the most access to what’s going on in the negotiations are 16 “Industry Trade Advisory Committees,” whose members include AT&T, General Electric, Apple, Dow Chemical, Nike, Walmart and the American Petroleum Institute.

The TPP is an international trade agreement currently being negotiated between the US and 11 other countries, including Japan, Australia, Chile, Singapore and Malaysia. Among other things, it could could strengthen copyright laws, limit efforts at food safety reform and allow domestic policies to be contested by corporations in an international court. Its impact is expected to be sweeping, yet venues for public input hardly exist.

Industry Trade Advisory Committees, or ITACs, are cousins to Federal Advisory Committees like the National Petroleum Council that I wrote about recently. However, ITACs are functionally exempt from many of the transparency rules that generally govern Federal Advisory Committees, and their communications are largely shielded from FOIA in order to protect “third party commercial and/or financial information from disclosure.” And even if for some reason they wanted to tell someone what they’re doing, members must sign non-disclosure agreements so they can’t “compromise” government negotiating goals. Finally, they also escape requirements to balance their industry members with representatives from public interest groups.

Read more:

Hat tip: The Intercept

14 Responses leave one →
  1. 2015 May 16 7:01 am
    [1]
    bc3b permalink

    The fact that 28 advisory committees (comprised of many of the country’s most powerful corporations) has greater access to information about TPP than members of Congress demonstrates who is running the country.

    There was a time when what was good for General Motors (e.g. big business) was good for the country. That time is long past.

  2. 2015 May 16 7:46 am
    [2]
    justrand permalink

    WTF?? Our Founders would already be writing drafts of the Declaration of Independence

    Bring on CWII

  3. 2015 May 16 7:51 am
    [3]
    drdog09 permalink

    JR, Might not be a good example. The US Constitution was pretty much written in secret. Fact more so than the TPP is.

    But yeah lets get on with it. I ain’t gettn’ any younger.

  4. 2015 May 16 7:57 am
    [4]
    justrand permalink

  5. 2015 May 16 8:30 am
    [5]
    bc3b permalink

    justrand –

    WTF?? Our Founders would already be writing drafts of the Declaration of Independence

    JR – If 1776 was today, the Declaration of Independence would be a far different document. The writers would be keeping it secret and giving the draft to Thomas Donohue, head of the Chamber of Commerce, and to General Electric and Walmart for approval. It would include a section endorsing advocating crony capitalism and corporate welfare (funded by the middle class) along with special privileges for the elites.

    This country, as we knew it, ended in 1992, maybe earlier.

  6. 2015 May 16 8:35 am
    [6]
    bc3b permalink

    JR #4 –

    As a Catholic, the nicest thing I can say about the current Pope is that he’s a left-wing @$$hole.

    Being a graduate of a Jesuit university, I knew he would be bad news when I discovered he is a Jesuit.

  7. 2015 May 16 8:38 am
    [7]
    gnqanq permalink

    JR – many conservative catholics are deeply frustrated/piss with the current pope. According to catholic prophecies (St Malachi who was a monk), this is the last pope. According to some, the prophecies indicate that he will betray the church. If one was to look at what this pope has done so far, he is on course to destroy the catholic church. Doing about as good of a job as Obama.

  8. 2015 May 16 8:48 am
    [8]
    bc3b permalink

    gn #7 –

    Amen.

  9. 2015 May 16 3:46 pm
    [10]
    gnqanq permalink

    drdog – very good read. I pretty much agree with his analysis. Thus why I keep my money down and invest in beans & lead.

    The only real worth is in what items we own. As Ann Barnhardt once said, “They are just 1’s and 0’s on a computer screen.” Same can be said of paper money. Once people realize it is just colored paper, people will run from it.

  10. 2015 May 16 11:13 pm
    [11]

    Harper – Bought.

    http://www.michaelgeist.ca/2015/05/harper-letter-to-music-canada-on-budget-day-confirms-copyright-extension-the-product-of-industry-lobbying/
    Because you know 50 years wasn’t long enough to milk something dry…. they needed 70! Gotta love it too that this change was slipped into a budget act with no public discussion. They’re learning from DC.

    Also on the sneaky changes front and on the topic of 1’s and 0’s.

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/may/15/intelligence-officers-have-immunity-from-hacking-laws-tribunal-told

    “GCHQ staff, intelligence officers and police have been given immunity from prosecution for hacking into computers, laptops and mobile phones under legislative changes that were never fully debated by parliament, a tribunal has been told.

    The unnoticed rewriting of a key clause of the Computer Misuse Act has exempted law enforcement officials from the prohibition on breaking into other people’s laptops, databases, mobile phones or digital systems. It came into force in May.”

    Yes let’s give some blanket immunity for things that would be crime if anyone else did it, without debate! More please!

    Hey wait why did they need such?
    “The act is primarily deployed to provide legal cover for domestic investigations. It is thought that individual warrants are not being obtained to justify each inquiry. ”

    Oh because they breaking the law by not getting warrants, so lets just forgo that pesky requirement.

    re:9 off to read it now.

  11. 2015 May 17 2:37 am
    [13]
    drdog09 permalink

    11,

    Funny thing about IP, time is of the essence. The Founders (aka first Congress) pretty much had it right with the 17-20 year exclusivity mark. If you can’t bring your idea to market and make a buck in that 2 decade exclusive then tough. These days IP is developed without any thought to bringing it to market, but purely as a defensive trading marker used between corporations. Its stiffing innovation.

  12. 2015 May 17 7:45 am
    [14]
    justrand permalink

    So if Lord Obamareaaly does think TPP gives him the Big Brother powers he so desperately seeks, will he “take them for a spin”?

    And if he does will that FINALLY be enough to initiate CWII?

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