This picture is but a drop in the ocean of corporate consolidation. When you read about an increase of M&A (mergers and acquisitions) it is usually an indication that rich people (using the corporations they own) have just stolen a great deal of money from you, legally (because the rich write the laws) and/or illegally. The past decade or so has been one of those times. The consolidation of money/power has surpassed that of the gilded age. Inequality has never been greater in human history. The rich have so much money they literally don’t know what to do with it. When you see stock buy-backs, art and property selling for record amounts, and billions “invested” in silicon valley vaporware, you see this in action. Of course, the rich bought most of the world’s politicians long ago. They always came cheap. The $200,000 a speech is nothing to sneeze at, but only the high profile politicians get those kind of payoffs. The rest can usually be purchased with petty cash.
Starts around the two minute mark:
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If enacted, these laws will be an end-run around existing laws and institutions created to protect us. Their goal is to continue the transfer of our rights as citizens to transnational corporations, eliminating regulations and “opening markets.” As they simultaneously oppress and steal from us, they will have removed all legal mechanisms for us to fight back. It is an obvious threat to activism of any kind and a major worldwide threat to all working people and our environment.
The TPP/TTIP are essentially neoliberalism enshrined in trade law. The laws will be used to extract wealth, consolidate corporate power, and quell dissent. The agreement has been described as “NAFTA on steroids.” Consider how much damage has been done to our country – and others – by massive corporations and financial institutions who used NAFTA to rip good jobs out of our hands, only to give them to unprotected workers in other countries, where the corporations polluted and exploited with impunity. Then the manufactured crisis of 2007-08 was unleashed on us by the same people. They have stuck the knife in, they have turned it, and now they want to finish us off and put the final nail in the coffin of anything resembling freedom or democracy.
When the global corporate elite control everything, the only thing left will be for us to consume, produce and obey. If we have been marginalized to such an extent that we are unnecessary to that system, then the system has no place for us and asks that we not be seen, or preferably die quietly. We aren’t far off from this now. Millions suffering in poverty, a rapidly dwindling middle-class, the rich reaching new heights of wealth every day. They have bought the political system, they have instituted mass surveillance, militarized police forces, corporate control of almost every aspect of our lives…and that is not enough for those who constantly want more.
People who are still paying the bills, have retirement, can buy a few high tech consumer goods, help their kids out every month, maybe take a vacation now and then, somehow think they’re immune. If they think about the reality of our situation as a country (and as a world) they may despair or shrug and think, same as it ever was…but it’s not. Things have changed. We have never had a global elite like this in the history of the world. Collectively, they have and control more wealth and power than has ever existed in history. They cross borders with impunity, have no allegiance to any state, play entire countries off of each other, raid pension funds and government treasuries…the list is seemingly endless. They write the laws and they make the rules. If they can’t “outsource” your job, they are trying to replace every worker they can with a machine – and not just blue collar workers…
Even if TPP is never enacted, a variation will be – or a thousand variations, stuck into laws and trade agreements around the world. NAFTA has had a massive impact on all of us. As clinton fast-tracked it and pressed for China’s entry into the WTO, most of us chose not to listen to the people who were trying to warn us about it. Now, the TPP promises to be a thousand times worse. Intellectual property rights enabled pharmaceutical companies to keep poor people in need from getting access to generic drugs (and many middle-class americans), they helped monsanto make criminals of millions of farmers. Now it seems Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), an aspect of existing trade agreements under the WTO, are a major focus of the TPP. Not only will they criminalize even more of the world, they will use TRIPS to clamp down on the internet and all of its users. They believe they can succeed where SOPA and PIPA failed.
Of course, the earth, our environment, is front and center in most big trade agreements written by corporations. When a transnational corporation sees an opportunity for exploitation in a particular country, say oil drilling, but a government (and more importantly, it’s citizens) doesn’t want it to happen, that would be considered, in trade-speak, a “barrier to trade.” We don’t know the details because all of these trade negotiations are taking place in private, but leaks from preliminary documents indicate they want to get paid – with our tax dollars – on the projected income losses from not being able to exploit a resource. The logic is twisted and perverse. It is the logic of capitalism. So, not only do they want to more “efficiently” exploit more of the earth with impunity by “opening markets,” it appears they also want to be paid – by us – for doing nothing.
It’s time to be honest with ourselves and have a sense of urgency. Whatever your situation is today, it is not static. There are dynamic changes happening and the corporations writing the TPP in secret are at the vanguard of those changes. The only true way to fight this is to realize it is part of the same neoliberal agenda that corporations and venal politicians are using to privatize education, water, steal money out of our pockets through the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) “economy,” make war, sell weapons, and displace huge populations around the world.
Many people are beginning to see the same policies enacted in different countries with the same wealthy elite benefiting and the same working people paying the price – just talk to anyone in Britain…
So, first we need to learn about what is happening and realize its profound impact. Then we need to organize to fight a capitalism that is using neoliberal strategies to oppress and exploit the planet – and all but a few of its inhabitants. Not only do we need to organize world wide, but we need to have a vision of what we want. I suggest we create a way of life that puts people before profits. No time like the present…