New Populism Fights Corporate-Favoring Trade Agreements

Dave Johnson

The New Populism Conference

So-called “free trade” agreements have been used to strengthen the power of giant corporations, weaken democratic government and deliver fear to American workers. These agreements enabled the corporate elite to say to Americans, “If you complain about pay or benefits or job safety or pollution we will move across the border to a place where we can do what we want.”

The terrible damage done to working Americans by these trade agreements have become so clear that a New Populist movement is rising up to fight them. There is a new energy that has people pushing back against rising inequality and increasing levels of corporate control. People are organizing, educating and mobilizing to restore democracy, fight low wages and restore the middle class.

The New Populism Conference on May 22 in Washington (featuring Sen. Elizabeth Warren) will discuss ways to fight for an agenda for economic change that strong majorities of Americans already support. (See the Populist Majority website containing polling numbers showing that Americans support this New Populist agenda.)

People Are Fighting TPP — Another, Even Worse Trade Agreement

Corporate elites are trying to sneak through another, even worse trade agreement that redefines the relationship between corporations and governments. This agreement is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and has been described as “NAFTA On Steroids.”

The terms of the negotiations are rigged from the start:

  • It includes “investor” protections that place corporations above governments. Corporations can sue governments for citizen protections that get in the way of profits, but citizens can’t sue corporations for low wages, harming people’s health or the environment or corporate scams.
  • Consumer groups, environmental protection organizations, labor groups, human rights groups and other groups that represent the interests of regular people are denied a seat at the table, while corporate representatives dominate the table.
  • The trade negotiators come from and go to corporate positions. They know that if they “rock the boat” they won’t be able to collect huge corporate salaries later.
  • Corporate elites are pushing Congress to pass “fast track,” which rigs the process to keep our representatives from debating, amending or blocking trade agreements.

This agreement is so clearly an attempt to make an end-run around our democracy that it includes policies that We the People have already defeated using our democratic, constitutional process. The Stop Online Piracy Act – SOPA – for one, was defeated in the Congress but similar policies have shown up in TPP. Tobacco companies could even sue governments for anti-smoking campaigns if TPP is enacted into law.

In response to this corporate “trade” push, a new populist movement is rising up, organizing, and is fighting to stop this. In spite of a near-blackout of information about the TPP trade agreement in the corporate media people are organizing and mobilizing using the Internet. Coalitions like Stop Fast Track!, Expose the TPP, Global Trade Watch, The Electronic Freedom Foundation and others are helping get information to people and helping them get organized.

These efforts have also started to challenge the next round of trade accords – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – trying to get them to stop going down that road.

On the May 11 Virtually Speaking Sundays show I discussed how a rigged trade process was used to rig our economy against working people. Click to listen.

The New Populism Conference

A template is developing for how we build independent movements to improve the economy for regular people and transform our politics. With a new wave of populism rising, the Campaign for America’s Future has announced “The New Populism Conference,” May 22 in Washington and featuring Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Participants will discuss strategies for educating, energizing and mobilizing around an agenda for economic change that strong majorities of Americans already support, including:

  • Investing in good jobs to achieve full employment
  • Ensuring that anyone who works full time should not be in poverty
  • Breaking up the banks that are “too big to fail”
  • Increasing, not cutting, Social Security benefits
  • Recognizing that America is not broke; the rich and big corporations are not paying their fair share.
  • Rejecting the Supreme Court’s view that corporations are people, and refusing to let big money buy our democracy.

In addition, critical sessions throughout the day will be sharpening the progressive principles that will unite and galvanize America’s new populist majority. If you want to be a part of it, click here and reserve your place now.

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