Sunday, April 22 , 2018, 7:43 am | Fair 52º

 
 
 
 

Jim Hightower: ISDS a Corporate Cluster Bomb to Obliterate Our People’s Sovereignty

The Powers That Be are very unhappy with you and me. They're also very unhappy with senators like Elizabeth Warren, activist groups like Public Citizen, unions like the Communications Workers of America and ... well, with the majority of us Americans who oppose the establishment's latest free-trade scam.

Despite its benign name, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a cluster bomb of legalized "gotchas" that won't bode well for the vast majority of Americans and for our small businesses.

TPP empowers global corporations from Brunei, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and seven other nations to circumvent and even overturn our local, state and national laws. Those moneyed elites are upset that rabble like us oppose their latest effort to enthrone corporate power over citizen power, and they're particularly peeved that we've found TPP's trigger mechanism — something called "Investor-State Dispute Settlements."

That's a mouthful of wonky gobbledygook, isn't it? Indeed, ISDS is an intentionally arcane phrase meant to hide its democracy-destroying impact from us. It would create a system of private, international tribunals through which corporations (i.e., "investors") could sue our sovereign governments to overturn laws that might trim the level of corporate profits that — get this — they "expected" to make.

These tribunals are not part of our public courts of justice but are totally privatized, inherently biased corporate "courts" set up by the United Nations and the World Bank. A tribunal's "judges" are corporate lawyers, and they unilaterally decide whether the protections we've enacted for workers, consumers, our environment, etc., might pinch the profits of some foreign corporation.

This mess all started when the Dr. Frankensteins on our Supreme Court created a monster by declaring that a lifeless, soulless corporation is a "person." But the corporate giants thought, "Why stop there?" So now, another coterie of Frankensteins is trying to transform multinational private corporations into "nations." The secretly engineered Trans-Pacific Partnership magically endows private profiteering corporations with sovereign rights equal to those of real nation-states.

Under TPP, a "corporate nation" — unlike individual citizens of real nations — could directly compel the U.S. or other countries to alter their laws in order to increase corporate profits. Of course, the Frankensteins dismiss such concerns as an "irrational fear," claiming that no corporation would actually be able to force a country to change its laws.

To give you a look of what this is going to look like, let's take a peek at what other corporate-written trade deals have done to the laws written in the USofA.

Remember that these Frankensteins say that no corporation outside our country can change our laws. Really? Well, just ask "Flipper" the dolphin. While not yet able to confront a nation directly, corporations can get their home governments to sue in the World Trade Organization to overrule another nation's laws. That's what happened to our "dolphin-safe" tuna labeling law. Most Americans oppose tuna fishing with nets that also catch and kill the loveable Flipper, so we have a law encouraging dolphin-free fishing methods. Tuna packers that comply can put "dolphin-safe" on their labels, thus giving consumers a marketplace choice. Free-enterprise at work!

But some Mexican fishing companies got their government to complain that our label discriminates against their dolphin-slaughtering methods — and a World Trade Organization "compliance" panel ruled that our label is a "technical barrier to trade," essentially overruling a law that We the People enacted.

And now, if the Trans-Pacific Partnership is approved, foreign corporations won't have to get their national governments to intervene, for they will become governments. Jefferson, Madison, Adams and the other revolutionaries of 1776 would upchuck at this desecration of our nation's democratic ideals — and so should we.

For the lowdown on this and to join today's rebellion against the aristocracy of corporate elites, go to www.citizen.org/trade/.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author of Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow. Click here to contact him, follow him on Twitter: @JimHightower, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >