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August 20, 2014

NSA Spying, Tax Fraud Join Trade Debacle

US Trade Representative Michael Froman (left), EU Trade Chief Karel de Gucht (right)

US Trade Representative Michael Froman (left), EU Trade Chief Karel de Gucht (right).
Don’t they look like the honest lads you want hammering out the fate of the world behind closed doors?

Although the horrendous TPP (“Trans Pacific Partnership”) pact is the most pressing global trade story here in the U.S., the current round of the TPP’s European cousin (aka TAFTA) is taking the cake in Belgium for sheer entertainment value.

At the core of both pacts are sweeping new corporate rights and privileges, like the investor-state system. That little gem allows corporations to sue governments in foreign tribunals for taxpayer compensation of any domestic policy they claim undermines their “expected future profits.”

Take a minute and sit with that last sentence until it really sinks in.

Developing nations seeking commercial relationships with the U.S. and the European Union will be required to join onto these new rules, rather than negotiate terms more suited to their own needs. Sucks to be you, everyone who isn’t a corporation!

And of course the original TAFTA (Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement) acronym needed an overhaul. Gotta get rid of those nasty phonetic associations with a certain trade pact from the 90′s that has not performed as advertised, to put it mildly (*coughNAFTAcoughcough*). And by “not performed as advertised,” we mean “resulted in a massive net loss of American jobs.” You know. It happens.

But no worries—TAFTA has been hastily rebranded as the much more perky-sounding “T-TIP,” so everything’s going to be cool. It’s just like a Q-TIP, except it’s not a fluffy white implement of personal hygiene – it’s a crappy corporate global entitlement program. Here’s a Top 10 list of all the awesomeness TAFTA’s going to bring your way.

So who are the corporate Consiglieres squaring off in Brussels as you read this?

Well, in one corner, there’s us…

NSATAFTA

Started as satire, then became… not.

…recently causing exasperated EU Parliament President Martin Schulz to demand “how can we negotiate if our positions are known in advance?”

Good question, sir. Were you aware that according to a recent New York Times report the United States’ Trade Representative, Michael Froman,  is actually …wait for it… a “customer” of the NSA?  A customer? Does this mean he gets the Swiss Colony Tower of Treats™ and a thank you note from the NSA next month, expressing gratitude for his loyal patronage of their services?

001830

A guaranteed, can’t-go-wrong gift for your most valuable customers: you’ll love giving it, and they’ll love digging into it! Beef Log and Sausages, Cheese Bars, Mixed Nuts.
Incredible Spreadables & Mustards, Butter Toffee, Petits Fours, Santa chocolate, candy-coated Pretzels & candy buttons!

Froman and General Keith Alexander of the NSA will also be getting something else in the mail – it’s a letter from dozens of watchdog groups and organizations advocating on trade policy matters who are – ya know – just curious about whether the United States government is SPYING ON THEM.

[Here's the letter signed by groups including Center for Effective Government, CREW, the Sunlight Foundation, Greenpeace, Public Citizen, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Media and Democracy, the Government Accountability Project, and on and on...NSAsurveillanceletter111213]

And in the other corner, we have Europe’s ethically challenged trade chief Karel De Gucht, purveyor of fine Tuscan villas subsidized by tax fraud.

What’s 900,000 euros between friends?

What’s 900,000 euros between friends?

If you’re one who tweets, feel free to taunt our corporate combatants @USTradeRep, @trade_EU & @EU_TTIP_Team.

Let them know how much you appreciate their designing a system of enforceable global governance with rules crafted for large multinational corporations—while causing severe damage to ordinary people. Praise your new masters’ clever inclusion of non-trade constraints on policy, and shiny new corporate rights.

Feel free to use the hashtag #EvilOverlords.

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