Who Is Mistral Dawn?

Mistral Dawn is a thirty-something gal who has lived on both coasts of the US but somehow never in the middle. She currently resides in the Southeast US with her kitty cats (please spay or neuter! :-)) where she works as a hospital drudge and attends graduate school. Taken By The Huntsman is her first effort at writing fiction and if it is well received she has ideas for several more novels and short-stories in this series. Please feel free to visit her on FaceBook or drop her a line at mistralkdawn@gmail.com

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Just How #Scary Is The #TPP?

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I'm back with another political post today. See, told you I'd warn you upfront. ;-)  I'm going to walk you through a possible scenario whereby the TPP results in relegalization of slavery in the United States.  Sound far-fetched?  Well, maybe, but maybe not. If you'd like to know my reasoning, read on.

If you've read any of my rants about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment, you've heard me mention the TPP before and you know that I'm strenuously against it being adopted by the United States. But why?  What is it and why do I think it's so horrible. I'm glad you asked! :-)

First, what is it?  TPP stands for Trans-Pacific Partnership and it's an international trade agreement with 12 signatory countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei, Singapore, and New Zeland.(1)  So, already it's a problem. Remember NAFTA? Remember what it did to the American manufacturing industry?  The TPP is NAFTA on steroids.  But the problems with the TPP go much deeper.

At the heart of the biggest issues with the TPP is the clause -- the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) -- in it that allows corporations that feel that a signatory country's laws interfere with its profits in some way to take the matter to an international panel of arbitrators.(2)  The rulings of these tribunals cannot be challenged in the courts of the signatory countries.(2) The arbitrators would be corporate lawyers, who are people who have a vested financial interest in maximizing corporate profits and in keeping the corporations happy so that the corporations might hire them for other things in the future.(2) So, they're not exactly unbiased.

Now, the worries about the ISDS clause often center around environmental issues, for good reason. If a corporation doesn't like an environmental regulation of a signatory country, the corporation can challenge the regulation under the ISDS clause and there's a very good possibility they'd win.  Which means that the government of that country would then either have to pay the corporation a penalty or repeal the law. So, all those laws that prohibit corporations from dumping toxic waste in your backyard or poisoning the public water supplies? Gone.  Yep, bye-bye to regulations that protect people from unsafe corporate practices. Either that or bye-bye to large amounts of tax-payer money to pay fines to allow countries to have laws that corporations don't like.  Sounds like a problem to me, but it gets worse.

Malaysia, one of the signatory countries, has a horrible human rights track record.(3) Both sex slavery and forced labor are serious problems in Malaysia.(3) There are laws against human trafficking, but those laws are largely ignored and generally go unenforced.(3) So, let's say there's a Malaysian corporation that relies on slave labor and wants to expand its operations to the US. It isn't allowed to import slave laborers to the US because, under the 13th amendment, slavery is illegal in the US. But under the ISDS clause, the corporation could plead its case to an international tribunal of corporate lawyers who will likely be hoping to be hired by that corporation at some point. Are you scared yet? I am.

But that's too extreme, you say. Public outcry would never allow such a thing. That's possible. The US Government page on the TPP(1) does state under the "Get the Facts" tab under the "Dispute Settlement" subsection that the TPP guarantees that dispute hearings will be open to the public.  So, it is possible that public opinion would be enough to ensure that a corporation wouldn't win in such a case. Of course, a country with a human rights record as dismal as Malaysia's shouldn't technically be eligible to be a signatory to the TPP, and Malaysia was only allowed to sign on because the State Department arbitrarily, and in spite of Malaysia's failure to make any improvement in their enforcement of human rights protections, upgraded Malaysia's status on human rights just so they could be a signatory of the TPP.(3)  And, of course, there's also the little matter of Brunei, another signatory country, having adopted Sharia law, with all its inherent human rights violations, in 2014,(4) and yet still being allowed to sign on to the TPP.(1)  So, frankly, I don't think that human rights are a big concern of those promoting the TPP and I'm a bit skeptical of the US government's reassurances about the protections of said rights in the TPP.

Even if the TPP doesn't lead to slavery being legalized in the US again, and I do consider that a big if, it still results in domestic US corporations being forced to compete with international corporations that might be benefiting from the forced labor of a slave workforce.  Is that something we, as a society, want?  I know it's not something that I want.

Yes, I know both major party candidates say they're against the TPP.  But given their histories, do you believe them? Let's take a look.

Hillary Clinton pushed for the TPP 45 times before she stated that she opposes it.(5) And she only stated that she opposes the TPP after Bernie Sanders and his supporters repeatedly confronted her over it.(6)  And yet, Hillary Clinton's delegates wouldn't allow anti-TPP language to be included in the Democratic Party platform, in spite of Bernie Sanders's delegates pushing for such language.(7) And her VP pick, Tim Kaine, was on the record as being in favor of the TPP just one day before Hillary Clinton announced him as her running mate.(8)  So, again, forgive my skepticism, but it seems as if Clinton may not have been entirely honest about her true intentions on the matter.

As I've said multiple times in the past, her stance on the TPP is only one of the many issues that keep me from voting for Hillary Clinton as president, and maybe now you understand why I consider it such a big deal.  But looking at Trump, is he any better? Even on this one issue?

Donald Trump has repeatedly said that he's against trade deals.  And yet...most of the products made by his companies are made in countries other than the US.(9)  There are some exceptions, but if he's truly as against these trade deals as he claims he is, why doesn't he make all of his products in the US?  There's no law that requires him to take advantage of the trade deals and export his labor, so why does he do it if he thinks it's so damaging to this country?  Or maybe he's more concerned with his bottom line than he is with the wellbeing of the American public?  And if that's the case, would he really do anything that might decrease his profit margins?  Sorry, folks, I ain't buying today. I think he's just blowing smoke up your asses.

But, please, don't take my word for it, do your own research. Read up on all the arguments about the TPP, both for and against, and on the candidates and their histories, and make your own judgment. And remember, there are more than just the two candidates for you to look into.  Gary Johnson and Dr. Jill Stein have both stated their positions on the TPP multiple times, so don't forget to find out what they think too. It's important to understand who and what we're voting for when we walk into the polling places, and I hope you'll all join me in becoming better informed about the issues.




  1. Love that you educate yourself on important events.
    Thanks for a great article!
    Rob Kimbrell

    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it! :-)