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Sun May 3, 2015, 02:21 PM

What DO you call it when democracy is broken at the behest of business? [View all]


http://thefloridasqueeze.com/2015/05/03/what-do-you-call-it-when-democracy-is-broken-at-the-behest-of-business/


“Democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 29, 1938 (Letter to Congress on the problem of Curbing Monopolies)

We sometimes forget that private monied interests have been campaigning for “small government” since long before Grover Norquist dreamt of drowning government in the bathtub. In this letter to Congress on curbing monopolies, Roosevelt warns that government must be strong enough to make corporations play by the rules or else we’ll be playing by their rules. Implicit is the idea that our interests don’t necessarily align.

The very next words that he wrote were, “that, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.” Does the word “fascism” shock you the way it does me? I read this and thought “Didn’t FDR know that the first person to mention Nazis loses the argument?” But of course he hadn’t heard that (Godwin’s Law was coined in 1990), and he was dealing with real Nazis, so we have to cut him slack here.

When Roosevelt wrote this, I believe he chose his words carefully. In 1933 he’d encountered a group of right-wing bankers who tried to convince him to turn over his power to them in a corporatist government backed by the military. By the time he wrote this letter he’d already dealt with on attempt by big business to topple democracy in order to muscle its way into power. He called these Wall Street bankers “economic royalists” and warned: “give them their way and they will take the course of every aristocracy of the past – power for themselves, enslavement for the public.”

Wall Street bankers grabbing power for themselves is a very familiar tune. As a matter of fact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is an overt attempt to achieve many of the end results of a corporate government that Roosevelt warned about.

The TPP asks us to deputize private interests to run public policy as a profit center. This is antithetical to democracy as FDR points out later in his letter: “We believe in a way of living in which political democracy and free private enterprise for profit should serve and protect each other—to ensure a maximum of human liberty not for a few but for all.” As a successful capitalist Roosevelt knew that you can’t have a healthy business environment without fair rules of the road.

We know through leaks that the TPP seeks to tilt those rules toward the largest, most lawyered-up global businesses. Members of the Senate who’ve seen the actual TPP document are so alarmed they’re asking for it to be declassified. Currently they’re only allowed to read it with a minder present (no notes, no photos), and aren’t allowed to discuss it with the public. A staffer can read it only if their Senator is there with them by their side. That’s why Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown challenged President Obama to release the text of the negotiation to the public.

Regardless of the secrecy, we know that the most shocking features of the TPP gives corporate lawyers the ability to preempt “non-tariff barriers” to trade that could impact “expected future profits.”

Let’s be clear — non-tariff barriers are government policies that make it possible to have safe food, good jobs and a clean environment. Basically, this is what Republicans call “big government.” Under TPP, 500 the lawyers for the 1% were empowered to identify government policies on health, environment, labor and safety, that could impact business’ future profit with the intent of preempting any barrier to profit. These are the details they won’t let us see. On this subject, the usually understated Sierra Club says “these provisions elevate corporations to the level of nation states and allow them to sue governments over nearly any law or policy which reduces their future profits.”



(more at link)

http://thefloridasqueeze.com/2015/05/03/what-do-you-call-it-when-democracy-is-broken-at-the-behest-of-business/

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