It’s important to understand that the JCPOA is not just an agreement between the US and Iran, but one negotiated alongside our partners in the P5+1 – the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – and endorsed by the United Nations security council. Trump’s withdrawal further deepens tensions with our most important democratic allies, France, the UK and Germany, who all continue to support the agreement and have consistently said that it is in their own national security interests to see it upheld.
Trump also rejected the advice of his own top national security officials like the joint chiefs chairman, Gen Joseph Dunford, and defense secretary, James Mattis, both of whom have repeatedly stated that staying in the agreement is in the national security interests of the US. Nuclear non-proliferation and national security professionals around the world share that assessment. Just as he has done on the issue of climate change with his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, Trump has chosen to ignore the overwhelming expert consensus and sided instead with a small ideological faction, with disastrous consequences for our global security.
The 5,544-page text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership confirms that the agreement would be another step in the global capitalists’ march to enslave us. Open, sustained revolt is our only option.
Australia will provide more butter and cheese to Japan, and sugar and Tony Abbott to the USA under terms agreed at this week’s Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Trade Minister Andrew Robb revealed he put Abbott on the table at the last minute to get the deal over the line. “We’ve got a lot more Tony Abbotts than we need in Australia, so it makes sense to export the surplus,” he said.
But the deal has not been embraced widely in the US with some Democrats saying there is already a healthy local industry producing slightly odd Christian conservative leaders.
Meanwhile US Republicans say their country doesn’t need any more left-wing socialists like Abbott.
This post originally ran on Robert Reich’s website.
The U.S. economy is picking up steam but most Americans aren’t feeling it. By contrast, most European economies are still in bad shape, but most Europeans are doing relatively well.
What’s behind this? Two big facts.
First, American corporations exert far more political influence in the United States than their counterparts exert in their own countries
In fact, most Americans have no influence at all. That’s the conclusion of Professors Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, who analyzed 1,799 policy issues — and found that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
Instead, American lawmakers respond to the demands of wealthy individuals (typically corporate executives and Wall Street moguls) and of big corporations – those with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns.
The second fact is most big American corporations have no particular allegiance to America. They don’t want Americans to have better wages. Their only allegiance and responsibility to their shareholders — which often requires lower wages to fuel larger profits and higher share prices.
When GM went public again in 2010, it boasted of making 43 percent of its cars in place where labor is less than $15 an hour, while in North America it could now pay “lower-tiered” wages and benefits for new employees.
American corporations shift their profits around the world wherever they pay the lowest taxes. Some are even morphing into foreign corporations.
As an Apple executive told The New York Times, “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems.”
I’m not blaming American corporations. They’re in business to make profits and maximize their share prices, not to serve America.
But because of these two basic facts – their dominance on American politics, and their interest in share prices instead of the wellbeing of Americans – it’s folly to count on them to create good American jobs or improve American competitiveness, or represent the interests of the United States in global commerce.
By contrast, big corporations headquartered in other rich nations are more responsible for the wellbeing of the people who live in those nations.
That’s because labor unions there are typically stronger than they are here — able to exert pressure both at the company level and nationally.
VW’s labor unions, for example, have a voice in governing the company, as they do in other big German corporations. Not long ago, VW even welcomed the UAW to its auto plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (Tennessee’s own politicians nixed it.)
Governments in other rich nations often devise laws through tri-partite bargains involving big corporations and organized labor. This process further binds their corporations to their nations.
Meanwhile, American corporations distribute a smaller share of their earnings to their workers than do European or Canadian-based corporations.
And top U.S. corporate executives make far more money than their counterparts in other wealthy countries.
The typical American worker puts in more hours than Canadians and Europeans, and gets little or no paid vacation or paid family leave. In Europe, the norm is five weeks paid vacation per year and more than three months paid family leave.
And because of the overwhelming clout of American firms on U.S. politics, Americans don’t get nearly as good a deal from their governments as do Canadians and Europeans.
Governments there impose higher taxes on the wealthy and redistribute more of it to middle and lower income households. Most of their citizens receive essentially free health care and more generous unemployment benefits than do Americans.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that even though U.S. economy is doing better, most Americans are not.
The U.S. middle class is no longer the world’s richest. After considering taxes and transfer payments, middle-class incomes in Canada and much of Western Europe are higher than in U.S. The poor in Western Europe earn more than do poor Americans.
Finally, when at global negotiating tables – such as the secretive process devising the “Trans Pacific Partnership” trade deal — American corporations don’t represent the interests of Americans. They represent the interests of their executives and shareholders, who are not only wealthier than most Americans but also reside all over the world.
Which is why the pending Partnership protects the intellectual property of American corporations — but not American workers’ health, safety, or wages, and not the environment.
The Obama administration is casting the Partnership as way to contain Chinese influence in the Pacific region. The agents of America’s interests in the area are assumed to be American corporations.
But that assumption is incorrect. American corporations aren’t set up to represent America’s interests in the Pacific region or anywhere else.
What’s the answer to this basic conundrum? Either we lessen the dominance of big American corporations over American politics. Or we increase their allegiance and responsibility to America.
It has to be one or the other. Americans can’t thrive within a political system run largely by big American corporations — organized to boost their share prices but not boost America.
Need a new liver? Why not head to France. A hip replacement? Japan could be the place for you.
According to a leaked document, the highly secretive Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) negotiations that will resume in Geneva on Monday will include discussion of wide-ranging reforms to national public health systems to promote “offshoring” of health care services.
Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have been saying that healthcare expenditure is unsustainable, but Andrew Robb is quietly engaged in negotiations that could potentially see scarce healthcare dollars going overseas
But health unions and trade experts say the negotiations, which are being led by Australia, the US and the European Union, could lead to massive growth of “medical tourism” to the detriment of investment in Australian public hospitals and local healthcare.
The leaked discussion paper – published by the non-government organisations Associated Whistle-Blowing Press and Public Services International – has for the first time revealed TiSA countries including Australia are actively discussing measures to boost the “cross-border delivery of health services”.
“Thanks to the secrecy that’s surrounded these talks, we haven’t known what is being negotiated in our name, and the Australian public haven’t been aware of the potentially huge health implications,” said Michael Whaites, NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association organiser and spokesman.
“Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey have been saying that healthcare expenditure is unsustainable, but Trade Minister Andrew Robb is quietly engaged in negotiations that could potentially see scarce healthcare dollars going overseas,” Mr Whaites said.
“You can ask whether the government is working in a co-ordinated manner, and indeed what is their real intention on the future of Medicare?”
The leaked “concept paper on health care services within TISA negotiations,” reportedly tabled by the Turkish government in negotiations in Geneva last September, argues there is “huge untapped potential for the globalisation of healthcare services,” creating massive business opportunities from what is a $US6 trillion ($7.7 trillion) per year industry.
The proposed regime would involve health professionals authorising patients to be treated in other TiSA countries (for reasons including long waiting times in the home country or inadequate expertise for specific medical problems); and the patients’s costs being reimbursed through their home country’s social security system, private insurance coverage or other healthcare arrangements.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, a further TiSA negotiation round in December 2014 made “good progress” in dealing with issues that included “facilitation of patient mobility”.
However, Professor Jane Kelsey, an expert on trade in services at the University of Auckland, warned that health-service-exporting countries such as Australia would find that qualified staff are diverted to health export services “that often have better pay and facilities, eroding the personnel base for public facilities and perpetuating inequalities in the health care system”.
Education and training investments may also be diverted “to benefit foreign healthcare users, rather than local citizens and taxpayers”.
Fifty countries including Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the EU (representing its 28 member countries) and the US are engaged in the TiSA negotiations, which began in 2013.
Mr Robb said the TiSA will “strengthen job-creating services” and that the Australian government wants an agreement “that supports each party’s right to protect public health”.
“As is common practice with many negotiations on international treaties, draft negotiating texts of the TiSA are not public documents,” Mr Robb wrote in a letter to the nurses and midwives’ union.
Read more at http://junkee.com/john-oliver-returns-to-lift-the-lid-on-how-pharmaceutical-companies-try-to-buy-your-doctor/50862#12rlX3iyRmEYoQFC.99
Joe Stiglitz warns us what harm the TPP wants to do to pharmaceutical pricing:
There are two ways the office of the trade representative can use the T.P.P. to maintain or raise drug prices and profits.
The first is to restrict competition from generics. It’s axiomatic that more competition means lower prices. When companies have to fight for customers, they end up cutting their prices. When a patent expires, any company can enter the market with a generic version of a drug. The differences in prices between brand-name and generic drugs are mind- and budget-blowing. Just the availability of generics drives prices down: In generics-friendly India, for example, Gilead Sciences, which makes an effective hepatitis-C drug, recently announced that it would sell the drug for a little more than 1 percent of the $84,000 it charges here.
That’s why, since the United States opened up its domestic market to generics in 1984, they have grown from 19 percent of prescriptions to 86 percent, by some accounts saving the United States government, consumers and employers more than $100 billion a year. Drug companies stand to gain handsomely if the T.P.P. limits the sale of generics.
The second strategy is to undermine government regulation of drug prices. More competition is not the only way to keep down the prices of essential goods and services. Governments can also directly restrain prices through law, or effectively restrain them by denying reimbursement to patients for “overpriced” drugs — thus encouraging companies to bring down their prices to approved levels. These regulatory approaches are especially important in markets where competition is limited, as it is in the drug market. If the United States Trade Representative gets its way, the T.P.P. will limit the ability of partner countries to restrict prices. And the pharmaceutical companies surely hope the “standard” they help set in this agreement will become global — for example, by becoming the starting point for United States negotiations with the European Union over the same issues.
Americans might shrug at the prospect of soaring drug prices around the world. After all, the United States already allows drug companies to charge what they want. But that doesn’t mean we might not want to change things someday. Here again, the T.P.P. has us cornered: Trade agreements, and in particular individual provisions within them, are typically far more difficult to alter or repeal than domestic laws
We can’t be sure which of these features have made it through this week’s negotiations. What’s clear is that the overall thrust of the intellectual property section of the T.P.P. is for less competition and higher drug prices. The effects will go beyond the 12 T.P.P. countries. Barriers to generics in the Pacific will put pressure on producers of such drugs in other countries, like India, as well.
Of course, pharmaceutical companies claim they need to charge high prices to fund their research and development. This just isn’t so. For one thing, drug companies spend more on marketing and advertising than on new ideas. Overly restrictive intellectual property rights actually slow new discoveries, by making it more difficult for scientists to build on the research of others and by choking off the exchange of ideas that is critical to innovation. As it is, most of the important innovations come out of our universities and research centers, like the National Institutes of Health, funded by government and foundations.
The efforts to raise drug prices in the T.P.P. take us in the wrong direction. The whole world may come to pay a price in the form of worse health and unnecessary deaths.
As near as I can figure out, the plan is to use trade agreements to allow U.S. companies (who, let’s face it, don’t even pay many taxes here anymore) to dominate everywhere in the world and make as much money as possible by controlling regulation and overriding existing legal systems.
Which make us the Mafia, right?