Where inequality comes from

Last spring, President Obama got downright crabby toward Sen. Elizabeth Warren and muckrakers like me.

Last spring, President Obama got downright crabby toward Sen. Elizabeth Warren and muckrakers like me.

He was irked that we critics of his Trans-Pacific Partnership kept pointing out that this corporate power grab would directly undermine America’s very sovereignty. Under TPP, multinational corporations would be allowed to bypass our courts and go to secretive, corporate-run international tribunals effectively empowered to roll back our nation’s consumer, labor, environmental, and other laws that they don’t like. “They’re making this stuff up,” Obama wailed. “No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws.”

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But on December 18, the president veeery quietly repealed one of America’s consumers laws in response to a legal complaint that corporations in Mexico and Canada had filed with an existing international tribunal. In effect, the corporations used this secretive autocratic tribunal set up by the World Trade Organization to force Congress and Obama to change US law. So much for the “untouchable” sovereignty of We the People.

And now, at the behest of global oligarchs and plutocrats, Obama is asking Congress to extend this outrageous veto power to thousands of private multinational giants in the 12 countries – from Australia to Vietnam – that would be part of his TPP deal. To sell it, he’s the one making stuff up. “Put simply,” he declared in February,” TPP will bolster our leadership abroad and support good jobs at home.”

Put simply, that’s hogwash. As researchers at Tufts University have calculated, TPP will cost our country another half a million jobs and increase inequality by “redistributing income from labor to capital” in all 12 countries. You see, inequality doesn’t just happen, it’s caused by deliberate decisions – and deliberate lies – of corporate and political elites.

“12 nations formally sign Trans-Pacific Partnership,” The Washington Post, February 4, 2016.

“Portman Will Oppose Trans-Pacific Trade Pact,” The New York Times, February 5, 2016.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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