Bernie Sanders, Our Best Chance for Surviving the TPP

by Shelley Pineo-Jensen, Ph.D.

David Brooks, in a column published on 7/14/15, wrote that some Democrats are “drifting toward Bernie Sanders/Occupy Wall Street-style rhetoric.” Brooks disparaged Bernie for taking on transnational corporations and rendering himself “unelectable, by wandering into the class warfare fever swamps.” Noting that Hillary “dodged the trade issue,” he suggested she was “listening to voters, especially female ones” by adopting a Children’s Defense Fund tone; thus she will “excite the progressive base.”

Snort laugh. This particular progressive female did, at one point, thrill at the potential of the first woman president, but I’m over it.

Mainstream media, disparaged on social networks as MSM, has failed to report about the TPP until the last possible moment, when Congress geared up, conducted a quick dog and pony show, and then gave the president Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), or “fast track.” Immediately after the vote, MSM moved on to Supreme Court decisions in favor of the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage. There was much rejoicing in the land and the TPP was pushed out of the news.

Undistracted by MSM’s smoke and mirrors, progressives remain concerned about the TPP. We watched Hillary for a stand in opposition to the TPP and TPA. We knew this would be unlikely, given that as Secretary of State she was a chief advocate for the TPP. After the TPA passed, she said “let’s take the lemons and turn them into lemonade.” Women like cooking metaphors?

And in the other corner we have Bernie Sanders. He said the trade agreement would be “a continuation of failed trade policy” that is wrong, since it pits American workers against those who earn far less.

Fun fact: There are two more trains coming down that fast track. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) does for Europe what the TPP does for the Pacific Rim nations, empower corporations to sue governments at all levels for violating corporations’ “right” to make a profit. The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) enacts global rules that make it illegal for democratically elected governments to protect the privacy of citizens by putting limits on the free flow of information. TiSA also creates loopholes for the destruction of net neutrality.

These secretly negotiated trade deals, TPP, TTIP, and TiSA, are written by the lobbyists and lawyers of transnational corporations. The reason we know what is in these documents is from public-minded leakers. The texts demand that the documents be kept secret for years after they are adopted. I guess we should just not worry our pretty little heads about all this, especially if we are women.

And women’s rights is a huge issue here. Recent tariff reductions have opened up opportunities to exploit workers. Internationally, it is women working in garment and food production who bear the brunt of the abuse. Oxfam reports chilling details in Trading Away Our Rights: Women Working in Global Supply Chains. One example: a retail giant employs 6,500 women in third world factories. The corporation’s pre-tax profits have doubled since 1997; workers’ pay has been cut 30 percent in the last three years. The supply-chain time was reduced from 14 days to seven. Production efficiency was improved by restricting workers’ access to toilets; workers now have increased kidney problems. Transnational corporations play hopscotch around the world, moving their production to the countries with the weakest worker and environmental protections. It’s not personal; it’s business. Publicly traded corporations exist to produce profit for shareholders.

More fun facts: the World Trade Organization’s transnational court ruled that our country’s “nation of origin” labeling denies profit to meat producers in other nations. Our congress is dismantling that law to avoid huge fines. The USDA just ruled that chickens produced in and destined for US markets can be shipped to China for butchering, where workers earn up to $2 per hour and meat inspection is lax.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Perhaps elected representatives who favor the TPP have good intentions, but I doubt it – it’s more likely that the bobsled to hell is paved with influence peddling.

To summarize, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will cede national, state and local control of environmental and worker regulations to transnational corporations like Monsanto. Hell on earth will look like slavery and taste like biosphere destruction.

An International Business Times poll of Americans found that 62 percent of respondents opposed Fast Track, with 43 percent “strongly” opposing it. 85 percent of moderate and conservative Republicans opposed Fast Track. One of the top concerns was that it’s unfair to U.S. workers to expect them to compete with a flood of imports made under less costly conditions to employers.

In response to widespread criticism of the secrecy surrounding the TPP, it will now be available to the public for two months before the president signs it. This claim that the TPP process is now transparent ironically sends the message: it does not matter what the American public thinks about the TPP, the president is going to sign it.

Corrupted politicians are a dime a dozen – and Citizens United makes it all legal. Let’s take a look of some of the key players who will benefit from the TPP: tobacco companies including Philip Morris, fossil fuel companies including Exxon, financial institutions including Goldman Sachs, pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer, military-industrial profiteers including Halliburton, GMO makers including Monsanto, lobbyists for transnational corporations including Business Roundtable, polluters including PPG industries, agribusinesses including Cargill, and companies that exploit workers locally and internationally and/or engage in anti-union practices including Wal-Mart and Nike. These power players are spending a fortune to corrupt your public officials, and they are succeeding.

So what is a tool? A tool is a publicly elected official who, rather than serve the voters of her state or district, serves (is a tool of) multinational corporations and wealthy individuals like the Koch brothers. A tool promotes the agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and is rewarded financially.

Some national representatives represent the people and not corporate masters. Representative Peter DeFazio said: “The deal is massive, and would allow the biggest corporations to chase the lowest wages and loosest regulations around the Pacific Rim.” Senator Jeff Merkley said: “The trade agreement would undermine U.S. sovereignty by allowing foreign countries to challenge American laws.” Senator Elizabeth Warren called for a no vote until we have transparency: “Giant corporations have had an enormous amount of access to see the parts of the TPP trade deal that might affect them and to give their views as negotiations progressed. But the doors stayed locked for the regular people whose jobs are on the line.”

Most importantly to the current Democratic Party Presidential Primary, Senator Bernie Sanders said: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy.”

DeFazio, Merkley, Warren and Saunders are not lying and they are not mistaken. Elected representatives who support the TPP are not confused or uninformed. They are tools.
Legislators who supported the fast-tracking of the TPP disingenuously pointed to improvements in the TPP to justify their support, instead of acknowledging the real dangers of the trade pact. First and foremost is the lack of transparency; the only reason we even know what is in it is because brave individuals share the documents with WikiLeaks. What we don’t know CAN hurt us. Beyond that, the leaked passages reveal a massive handover of national rights to corporations. Monsanto is already on record for using legal maneuvers to destroy small scale (rival) farmers whose crops are contaminated with GMO pollen. Nestle has asserted that we have no inherent right to water.

And now back to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Bernie is not for sale; Hillary hired a former Monsanto lobbyist to run her campaign. Bernie is passionately anti-TPP; while Secretary of state, Hillary was an advocate of the secretly negotiated trade deal. The progressives who are paying the most attention to the TPP and climate change are already on board with Bernie. Progressives who are busy working two jobs to make ends meet will soon enough recognize this one slim opportunity that Bernie offers. There is still a chance to save our species from demolition in the sixth extinction that accompanies the climate chaos and biosphere destruction of our present moment as well as the slavery that is inevitable when transnational corporations complete their objective to create a global court system with the power to overrule national and local governmental decisions.

For the sources on this report and more information visit this webpage:

About the Author

Dr. P-J
Dr. P-J took a Ph.D. in Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership from the College of Education at the University of Oregon in 2013. Her scholarly interests include statistics, quantitative methods, qualitative methods, power structure analysis, Gender and Queer Theory, Critical Theory, and labor studies. Her dissertation (published as "An Informed Electorate" and available at found a statistically significant correlation between a high level of a state’s educational standardization and high level of voter suppression / low voter turnout.

6 Comments on "Bernie Sanders, Our Best Chance for Surviving the TPP"

  1. Shelley, a very good article, as usual, but it appears that the only thing we can do about the TPP is to vote for Bernie! We could be IN THE STREETS RIGHT NOW WITH TORCHES, but we’re safe and comfy at home watching OPB or CNN and wringing our hands. There’s a whole lot I still don’t know about all the trade agreements even after consulting WikiLeaks. I hope to see you at Saturday’s Bernie meeting at Cozmic.

    • Hi Graham,
      I will admit that I lost heart that we can stop the TPP when the Fast Track cloture vote happened.
      [Cloture is a motion or process in parliamentary procedure aimed at bringing debate to a quick end. It is also called closure or, informally, a guillotine. The cloture procedure originated in the French National Assembly, from which the name is taken.]
      I was pretty depressed the next day, when the Fast Track vote was accomplished.
      As you know, I joined others (like Oregon Fair Trade Campaign) in working for years to educate people about the TPP and get folks to contact Oregon’s Senator Wyden – which they did. Thousands of phone calls and emails, office visits delivering tens of thousands of petition signatures . . . Wyden was unmoved (his campaign donations from Akin Gump, lobbyist for Monsanto, tell the story).
      That cloture vote informed me. I could see that our government has been corrupted by Monsanto and their ilk. I was resigning myself to Plan B – sit on the back porch and drink ice tea and observe as the transnational corporations completed the destruction of the biosphere we call home.
      But a new day dawned – I woke up with the realization that “I’m for Bernie!”
      I don’t know what can be done about the TPP that does not entail removing corrupt politicians like Senator Wyden – and as far as I know, no one has stepped up to challenge that tool in the primary. I would love to know what the plan is – but for now – I’m for Bernie!
      Your pal,

  2. I too used to be excited about electing our first female president – but as you say – “I’m over it” now. I’m for Bernie – and this article helps clarify a few more reasons why!

  3. Thank you for the amazing work you are doing. Truly appreciated! #Bernie2016

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