There are many reasons to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), not the least of which is its very limited relationship with so-called “free trade.” But perhaps the most important reason is the profoundly anti-democratic nature of the TPP, which is a striking example of the conflict between democracy and the financial sector that structures so much of our politics today.
This attack on democracy is evident in what we know to date about the TPP’s approach to finance and financial regulations. In several documents that have been leaked, it is obvious that financiers — bankers, hedge-fund managers, traders — are seeking privileges that they would have little or no chance of obtaining in open discussion and debate.
First, financiers are attempting to limit the ability of national governments to regulate “too big to fail” financial institutions, arguing for the deregulation model — the one that worked so well in the 1998-2008 period that it brought us the housing bubble and the “Great Recession.” The limitations on finance that have been put in place to date are insufficient; however, even these would be removed.
Second, although large majorities in all major European countries — and a significant minority in the U.S. — support proposals for a financial transaction tax (FTT), such as those in place in several countries, the TPP would prevent any national legislature from enacting an FTT. Once again, finance seeks to evade any constraints that democracy might impose on private gain.
In addition to these substantive violations of democracy, there is the secrecy of TPP negotiations — secret to human persons but not to corporate persons. This is then to be followed by the anti-democratic “fast track process” process urged by the current administration.
In November, Oak Park voters will have a chance to say no to the TPP. Please do.