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Debates Forum

  1. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    17 Oct '14 22:51
    Corporate interests have taken over US politics. Through free trade agreements they are now trying to use the influence of the US to push through anti democratic changes in other countries. The theme is always the same - corporate interests, corporate agendas, in conflict with the policies and priorities of elected governments; secretive negotiations in which lobbyists participate fully and draft the free trade agreements while the public are not consulted or even informed.

    e.g.
    U.S. negotiators are pushing hard to force smaller nations into accepting a censored Internet.
    https://openmedia.ca/news/leaked-draft-confirms-tpp-will-censor-internet-and-stifle-free-expression-worldwide
  2. Standard member DeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    18 Oct '14 02:25
    I took a look at the agreement on Wikileaks. Frankly it is virtually unreadable, to the point that I can't tell what they are trying to achieve. There's a lot in there about protection of music copyright, so people who download free music might be disappointed. I can't find where anything is censored beyond copyright and patent protection. In which case I don't see the point as that exists anyway. Also I find it difficult to believe that they'll ever reach agreement. This is one of the clauses:
    [US propose86; CL/PE/VN/MY/CA oppose: Each Party shall permit the use, and as appropriate, allow the registration, of signs or indications that identify goods other than wines or spirits, and that reference a geographical area that is not the place of origin of the goods, unless such use is misleading, would constitute an act of unfair competition, or would cause a likelihood of confusion with a prior trademark or geographical indication that identifies the same or similar goods. The foregoing shall not be understood to prevent a Party from denying registration of such a sign or indication on other grounds, provided such denial does not derogate from the provisions of the Paris Convention and the TRIPS Agreement.]
    Other than the idea that a brand should be allowed to reference a location other than where it is made is stupendously silly - they are not referring to a style e.g. English muffins vs American muffins, as they say trademark. But virtually every clause is like this with one or more countries proposing (typically the US) and other countries opposing. It renders a difficult to read document virtually incomprehensible. I find it hard to believe they'll ever agree to anything.
    The worrying stuff was where the US were trying to be able to patent plants and animals. Almost everyone else opposed this (except for microbes).
  3. Standard member DeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    18 Oct '14 03:01
    This page does a reasonable job of explaining the issues and explains why it should be opposed: http://keionline.org/node/1825
  4. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    18 Oct '14 09:23 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    This page does a reasonable job of explaining the issues and explains why it should be opposed: http://keionline.org/node/1825
    Thanks - it is a good review. The entire process does, however, blind opponents and it is intended to - it makes open debate incredibly difficult and can patronise opponents by claiming they are paranoid or do not understand. We must defer to our corporate masters and their paid-for political sponsors.
    The U.S. proposals are sometimes more restrictive than U.S. laws, and when consistent, are designed to lock-in the most anti-consumer features. On top of everything else, the U.S. proposals would create new global legal norms that would allow foreign governments and private investors to bring legal actions and win huge damages, if TPP member countries does not embrace anti-consumer practices..... There are no opportunities for consumers to bring such disputes.
    Perhaps that quote captures the essence of all this. Bear in mind that US public protection is often vastly less than the protections demanded in European countries and unlike the US, we still have some elected politicians that are not corporate agents. The whole agreement is designed to place an intolerable and oppressive barrier in the way of public interest protection against private sector greed.
    The trade agreement includes proposals for more than a dozen measures that would limit competition and raise prices in markets for drugs. These include (but are not limited to) provisions that would lower global standards for obtaining patents, make it easier to file patents in developing countries, extend the term of patents beyond 20 years, and create exclusive rights to rely upon test data as evidence that drugs are safe and effective.
    The extent to which these proposed free trade agreements are the product of powerful corporate lobbies is stunning. It is beyond crazy.
    Why is the United States putting so much effort into narrowing if not eliminating the flexibility in the WTO agreement to provide exceptions for patents on “diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical methods for the treatment of humans or animals”? It did not hurt that ... an army of lobbyists [- many listed in the text -] -- all companies involved in the medical device business. All are considered “cleared advisors” to USTR and have access to the TPP text.
    On copyright, notice this:
    There is little reason for any language on copyright in the TPP. All of the TPP member countries are already members of the WTO, which has its own extensive obligations as regards copyright, ...The article gives far more detail on existing international agreements and concludes with the remark While the US negotiators are indeed promoting US legal norms, they are promoting norms that most experts and consumers see as a mistake, that should be corrected. There is no justification
    In a discussion about the level of damages corporations may like to screw out of elected governments, the article spells out that these free trade deals incorporate plans for vastly inflated levels of damages, beyond any reasonable notion of just compensation. These damages will, in turn, provide the mechanism by which corporations wish to overturn democratically determined social, environments, health and other public policies to permit untrammelled corporate greed.

    This is a plot against democracy.
  5. 18 Oct '14 09:50
    Originally posted by finnegan
    Corporate interests have taken over US politics. Through free trade agreements they are now trying to use the influence of the US to push through anti democratic changes in other countries. The theme is always the same - corporate interests, corporate agendas, in conflict with the policies and priorities of elected governments; secretive negotiations in wh ...[text shortened]... e fully and draft the free trade agreements while the public are not consulted or even informed.
    I knew all that back in the 80s when I was still in school. Did you only just now find out?
  6. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    18 Oct '14 11:25
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I knew all that back in the 80s when I was still in school. Did you only just now find out?
    Not at all but what is topical now is the secret negotiation process by which the US seeks to entrap us in a tangle of new free trade agreements. What that requires is that citizens protest to their elected representatives and work in other ways to promote democratic opposition in the hope of preventing our various governments from signing up to this terrible deal.

    The broad framework is that the US dislikes the diversity and multinational environment of the UN and other international bodies like even the WHO in which American values are not worshipped without debate. To get around international politics, it seeks bilateral agreements in which the UN et al are not engaged and not able to use their resources to challenge the validity of what the US wishes to impose on the world.

    You might (possibly) enjoy a new book by Henry Kissinger called World Order, in which he describes at some length the US obsession with imposing its own, one-right-way of doing democracy and free markets on a world that has opposing priorities. He considers this a major error unlikely to succeed and promotes a need for international arrangements that acknowledge the impossibility and undesirability of demanding only one set of values must win out over all else. In short, the US is locked into an ideology that is unacceptable to the rest of the world and not terribly different to the extreme Islamist desire to impose its world order or the now ended communist movement for world domination.
  7. 18 Oct '14 12:01
    Originally posted by finnegan
    Not at all but what is topical now is the secret negotiation process by which the US seeks to entrap us in a tangle of new free trade agreements.
    But this is hardly new. When I was at university, Zambia went though a really bad period in part because of bad policies forced on us by the IMF. We have also suffered enormously due to the loanshark tactics of first world countries in the 60s and 70s that left most of Africa in permanent debt crisis. When I first got a job, 90% of my taxes were being used to service foreign debt. Service interest payments mind you, not actual capital repayments.
    This has not changed significantly with entities like the World Bank still trying to push unnecessary loans on us to serve their interests. The problem is that our politicians benefit from these loans so they don't say no.
    So called free trade with the US will never be genuinely free as long as the US continues bankrolling its side of the bargain with farm subsidies and subsidies in other key industries.
    And don't get me started on the US tax havens that allow companies to evade tax in our country.
  8. 18 Oct '14 12:04
    Originally posted by finnegan
    Not at all but what is topical now is the secret negotiation process by which the US seeks to entrap us in a tangle of new free trade agreements. What that requires is that citizens protest to their elected representatives and work in other ways to promote democratic opposition in the hope of preventing our various governments from signing up to this terrib ...[text shortened]... amist desire to impose its world order or the now ended communist movement for world domination.
    ...the secret negotiation process...

    Do you really believe it would be possible to come to an agreement if everything is done out in the open?
  9. Standard member DeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    18 Oct '14 16:33
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    [b]...the secret negotiation process...

    Do you really believe it would be possible to come to an agreement if everything is done out in the open?[/b]
    Yes. Although what they could come to agreement over would be different.
  10. 18 Oct '14 17:15
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    Yes. Although what they could come to agreement over would be different.
    It's just not how it works. You don't come to any sensible agreement by negotiating through the media or though another public channel. It doesn't work because compromises have to be made, and the end deal has to be presented in a way that everyone who is involved can save face. Works the same for national or regional governments, corporate bureaucracy, etc.
  11. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    18 Oct '14 18:07
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    It's just not how it works. You don't come to any sensible agreement by negotiating through the media or though another public channel. It doesn't work because compromises have to be made, and the end deal has to be presented in a way that everyone who is involved can save face. Works the same for national or regional governments, corporate bureaucracy, etc.
    That level of innocence is beyond weird. Look again at the history of corporate greed and tell us about the kind intentions and democratic credentials and all round humane values that drive global capitalism.

    The whole ~~~### point is for governments to protect consumers and not profits. We elect governments and can hold them to account; we rely on government to hold corporations to account, not sell out our interests for their profits.
  12. 18 Oct '14 22:10
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    It's just not how it works. You don't come to any sensible agreement by negotiating through the media or though another public channel. It doesn't work because compromises have to be made, and the end deal has to be presented in a way that everyone who is involved can save face. Works the same for national or regional governments, corporate bureaucracy, etc.
    I disagree that agreements negotiated in public are impossible. I do realize that it is probably harder. As you say, the need to save face whilst compromising is high on many peoples agenda.
  13. 19 Oct '14 08:40
    Originally posted by finnegan
    That level of innocence is beyond weird. Look again at the history of corporate greed and tell us about the kind intentions and democratic credentials and all round humane values that drive global capitalism.

    The whole ~~~### point is for governments to protect consumers and not profits. We elect governments and can hold them to account; we rely on government to hold corporations to account, not sell out our interests for their profits.
    Innocence? Kind intentions? Did you read the post you were responding to?
  14. Subscriber Wajoma
    Die Cheeseburger
    19 Oct '14 08:43
    Originally posted by finnegan
    Corporate interests have taken over US politics. Through free trade agreements they are now trying to use the influence of the US to push through anti democratic changes in other countries. The theme is always the same - corporate interests, corporate agendas, in conflict with the policies and priorities of elected governments; secretive negotiations in wh ...[text shortened]... edia.ca/news/leaked-draft-confirms-tpp-will-censor-internet-and-stifle-free-expression-worldwide
    Of course Finnegan got the title wrong and in doing so revealed his true agenda.

    Censorship by guvamints is nothing to do with free trade.

    Ye olden tymes strawman.