Don’t Shit on My Playing Field

Old News #2, Monday, May 18th 2015: The TPP

Normally, I am pretty cynical when it comes to governments–especially their politicians. So I try to avoid the shit that they sling at each other. But I’m just like you, and sometimes I step in it.

Recently, Obama was ridiculously criticized in the media regarding how he supposedly talked down to Elizabeth Warren in his comments about her criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Some say he was being sexist, others that he was simply being familiar. If anything, I think he misspoke, and I don’t care if he did. Neither does Elizabeth Warren, I’m sure. What matters is the TPP, so I ignored the noise and kept reading.

According to the internut, the TPP is worse than NAFTA and gives private interests unprecedented power. For those of you that don’t know about NAFTA, it is a trade agreement that was supposed to be a great deal for everyone involved. What it did, among other things, was force many Mexican people out of jobs because they were not able to compete with the large North American companies that were given free rein in Mexico.

Of course, there are other reports that clam the TPP is better than NAFTA. But if it is anything like NAFTA, it needs a serious revision. Being cynical about the whole thing, I tend to believe the TPP is probably worse.

Warren and Obama are usually on the same team, but on this issue, they’re not. Warren is critical about the TPP because she claims the agreement gives too much power to corporations and special interests, i.e. not the public. Obama on the other hand, is behind the agreement all the way, fighting hard to reinstate presidential fast track authority in order to take part in it.

Apart from this issue, both of them often talk about “leveling the playing field.” Insofar as I understand this to mean being fair and just, I think it is a good thing and a laudable goal.

For Warren, the TPP doesn’t level the playing field enough, and for Obama, it levels the playing field as much as possible.

It is hard to know what to think about this, since I haven’t read the agreement. And that seems to be by design–the agreement is not open to the public.

So, I must come to a proto-conclusion using the information that I do have. In my web-wanderings, I have found a couple of red flags that make me think this agreement is sheisty.

First red flag: Nike is a major supporter of the TPP. They are known for allegedly dodging taxes and regulations and paying low wages. They seem uninterested in leveling the playing field for anyone but themselves. This deal would presumably lower costs for them and protect their business inside and outside the US or they probably wouldn’t agree to it.

Second red flag: the very public that is being asked to sanction the TPP is being asked to do so without ever being able to read it.

These two red flags are enough for me to doubt the TPP’s legitimacy. That’s why I signed a petition to give us the right to read it.

I am all for international agreements, but they must be fair and just. And when any politician claims that any law “levels the playing field,” we should all demand to know exactly whose playing field they are talking about.