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The Tasks of The People-Powered Movement for 2014
Posted on Jan 10, 2014
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance
For example, the public is told that we are going to war for democracy or for ‘humanitarian’ reasons, not for resources for corporations. Another example is the ‘all of the above’ energy policy which is said to address climate change and create energy independence but actually does neither while lining the pockets of Big Oil and Gas. On issue after issue there is a discrepancy between the official policies and the actual policies. One of our key jobs is to separate myth from fact, so people understand what is going on around them. Groups like Wikileaks and whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond and Edward Snowden are doing critical work in exposing the myths by leaking documents that make it undeniable what the government is really doing.
We are going to be seeing myth in hyper-gear in January around the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is the largest trade agreement since the World Trade Organization in the early 90s. The government has worked hard, with the cooperation of the mass media, to keep the TPP secret from the public. But, now most people in the activist community are aware of the TPP thanks to high profile protests and leaks of portions of the TPP that reveal the US is pushing an extreme corporate power grab. And more people are aware that the President is trying to circumvent a democratic process of review in Congress.
In early January some of the most pro-corporate members of Congress will put forward a bill calling for Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority. Fast Track would permit the President to sign the TPP before it goes to Congress. Members of Congress would then have a limited time to review the thousands of pages in this agreement that has been negotiated over the past four years with the help of 600 corporate advisers; they would not be allowed to make changes to it and would only be allowed an up or down vote.
Fast Track is needed to prevent Congress from doing its job under the Constitution. The Commerce Clause gives the constitutional responsibility of “regulating trade between nations” to Congress. If Congress does its job that will require the contents of the TPP to be made public, hearings to be held and experts and citizens to weigh in. If the people know what is in the TPP, it will not become law. The only way for the TPP to pass is for its contents to remain secret.
We expect to hear President Obama and corrupt senators like Max Baucus (D-MT) and members of Congress like David Camp (R-MI) telling us that these rigged trade agreements are necessary for the economy. We just passed the 20 year anniversary of NAFTA, on which the current trade negotiations are based, and the opposite has happened. We need to explode the myth. These trade agreements are not to create jobs or raise wages or even grow the US economy, they are to make transnational corporations wealthier and increase the profits of the investor class. They are only good for the wealthiest and are terrible for the rest of us, as a recent report found:
“A new Public Citizen report shows that not only did promises made by proponents [of NAFTA] not materialize, but many results are exactly the opposite. Such outcomes include a staggering $181 billion U.S. trade deficit with NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada, one million net U.S. jobs lost because of NAFTA, a doubling of immigration from Mexico, larger agricultural trade deficits with Mexico and Canada, and more than $360 million paid to corporations after “investor-state” tribunal attacks on, and rollbacks of, domestic public interest policies.”
Stopping the TPP will be job one for the movement in 2014. January will be the key month to engage in this issue because a vote on Fast Track is expected by the end of the month. The TPP is an issue that unites the movement because it affects not just workers but the environment, regulation of finance, Internet freedom, food safety, healthcare and gives corporations control of virtually every aspect of our lives. There are many ways to organize in local communities to unite people and stop the TPP. We can stop the TPP and when we do, it will be a major victory of the people over the transnational corporations and their government allies.
Our task is to change the political environment, not succumb to it.
One of the key points in this phase of the movement is to avoid compromise. We are often told by those who want reform that the solution we are urging is “not on the table.” We need to refuse to accept the limits of the current political table. It is evident to all that politics in the United States is corrupted by money from big business interests and the wealthy. It is corruption that determines what is “on the table” so we need to respond that we are not limited to the corruption-defined political table. We are seeking real solutions that require a paradigm shift. Our task is to change the political environment, not succumb to it.
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