By: Mark A. Linnhofer
I came across the Transatlantic Trade And Investment Partnership on one of those hung-over Sunday mornings where everything just seems kind of shitty through the haze of pain killers, weed, and the remaining blood-alcohol-level. I was unsuspectingly skimming through a variety of news, when a commentary criticizing aforementioned free-trade agreement caught my attention; being a Business student, the idea of free trade seemed quite agreeable to me at first, which is why I was interested in the reasoning behind this person’s ostensible problem with the TTIP-treaty. I was baffled by my findings to say the least.
For those of you completely in the dark in regard to this topic, let me start by illustrating the ease of trade between the EU and the US: tariffs are as low as 3%, and there are close to no customs restraining the freedom of traders and investors. But there are non-tariff related boundaries to trade and investment, which have been a thorn in the corporation’s flesh for an eternity now, and are as such to be removed by the free-trade agreement, TTIP.
In light of the almost non-existent tariff restraints, it seems reasonable to tackle other barriers that hinder free trade. Unfortunately those barriers are mostly the laws and regulations our governments have told us would be upheld by them in order to protect us from a capitalist investing frenzy; things such as labor laws, investor regulations, environmental-protective decrees, labor unions, laborers’ rights, minimum wages, etc.! The problem is that the treaty does not explicitly aim at removing any of the laws mentioned above, but much rather that it allows companies to coerce governments into removing them by opening a small backdoor, called an “investor protection clause”, which would allow foreign businesses to sue the states in which they are operating for profits they think were missed due to unfavorable laws in extrajudicial courts. This means in essence that if a community decides to ban for example fracking, the foreign company wanting to undertake that act can sue the federal government of the country in which our example community lies for an usually gargantuan sum. The government in question can then decide to either pay the unreasonable sum, or remove the laws in question, hence giving in to corporate demand, basically giving corporations the possibility to bypass national law. And even if the affected government decides to pay up, the company can always sue again, because the profits are still missing, aren’t they?
If we allow this virus to infest our politics, it will mutate and slowly but surely turn all parties involved into an undemocratic shithole that is solely shaped by large corporations’ will. Which is what happened to Mexico under the NAFTA agreement; it has become a place ruled by corrupted politicians acting at the mafia’s bidding, their economy has essentially collapsed, and people are willing to work as illegals under shitty conditions in the US because they are unable to find a job in Mexico.
So are we going to let this happen to our countries? No, we’re not, and people in both Europe and America are protesting this agreement. A coalition to stop TTIP has actually submitted a million signature strong petition to the European Commission, but those cocksucker are actually suing against said petition. You heard that right, they’re suing against the people’s will, and that is just a majorly fucked up step for a supposedly democratic institution. I highly doubt that there is any democratic constitution or document of equal status that wouldn’t deem such an atrocious attack on any democratic principle illegal. But apparently, the ideal of having the people freely rule over themselves is no longer endorsed by the European Union, which is just a sad sign of decay within that NATO – and therefore US – ruled conglomeration of economies.
Another hot point in the TTIP agreement is the merging of standards, which at first does once again sound like something that might be of benefit, but after a deeper look once again reveals to be a stepping stone on the way to a corporate-friendly nightmare, because all standards will be merged downwards; Europe will adapt US standards that allow for GM foods and electronics with inferior quality, and at the same time America will adapt US standards that will for example remove the Dodd-Frank Act, so on both ends the standard will be lessened and people will get screwed. Said merging cannot end well, seeing as the US has much more leverage, and the only people besides greedy politicians that have access to the negotiations are corporate lobbyists, meaning that the standards will definitely be merged to the lowest common denominator instead of lifted to the highest level between both parties.
All of the points mentioned so far paint a clear picture of what the future is going to be like if we allow corporations to run rampant in our politics. It is a truly disturbing picture, taken straight from an angry Expressionist’s art book, painted in dark, smoggy colors, showing humans in hamster wheels only running around to make those keeping them from exiting the wheel filthy rich, whilst barely receiving any compensation themselves, and in the end withering in a corner of their cage for the few remaining years, living off of a lousy retirement fund. It is a picture of corruption and greed, of exploitation and lacking moral values. Agreements such as the TTIP are creating an environment for companies to go rogue in, and this will eventually abolish minimum wages, keep employees voice- and powerless, and exploit the planet and its resources until all that is left of humanity is a decayed, hollow shell of a broken society living in the burned-out remnants of what used to be our planet, slowly dying in the excrements of the system we call capitalism.