Letter from Chuck Gregory of Springfield, VT

Imagine this: Altria (formerly Phillip Morris Companies) sues Vermont for $100 million, alleging that our anti­tobacco education policy has damaged its potential cigarette sales revenues. The court that hears the case is a tribunal made up of corporate lawyers appointed by the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. We lose. We are forbidden to appeal the decision. We have to pay up, and we also have to abolish our smoking­ prevention education efforts. Lots more people die for Altria’s bottom line.

But if the U.S. tries protect its fishing industries, say, by suing a foreign seafood company for using slave labor on the Indonesian island of Benjina, the case will not be heard. Welcome to the world of the Trans­Pacific Partnership, where businesses will sue governments in an “investor­-state dispute settlement tribunal,”, but governments can never sue businesses.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently gave examples of cases that corporations would file: “A French company sued Egypt because Egypt raised its minimum wage. … A Swedish company sued Germany because Germany decided to phase out nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster. … A Dutch company sued the Czech Republic because the Czech Republic didn’t bail out a bank that the Dutch company partially owned.”

To be kept secret from us for four years after its adoption by Congress, the TPP is the next logical step in a Wall Street takeover of democracy. To quote blogger Gaius Publius, “I’ll say again — the only people who want this deal are global billionaires, the mega­corporations they control, and the politicians who serve their interests. Why else keep the text and other details secret from the citizens of every nation considering it?”

Write Senator Ron Wyden, who can kill it:  221 Dirksen Senate Office
Building, Washington, D.C., 20510

By Chuck Gregory
Springfield, VT