The much touted, at least by multinational corporations and some governments, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, has grave consequences for the so-called poor of the world, including those in the United States. This agreement, clouded in secrecy, has been characterized as something akin to “NAFTA on steroids!” But, what exactly does it mean for the poor and working class of the United States?
Recent statistics released by the Census Bureau of the Federal Government indicate that half of the United States population is now living at or below the poverty line. This is a very serious and startling statement. At no time in the history of the United States has this been true. Add to that the fact that the gap between the rich and poor is also the widest in U.S. history, and that makes this one of the most serious situations of poverty in the so-called “developed nations”.
Compounding this serious situation is growing homelessness. We have the highest rate of homelessness or people without homes since the Depression. Our rate of homelessness is the highest in the “developed” world and even higher than in some “developing” nations. In my state, Florida, we have the 2nd highest rate of homelessness in the U.S.. In the Tampa Bay area, where I live, we have 25,000 homeless individuals and families. This is the highest rate per capita in the country! Florida also ranks among the highest in real unemployment and foreclosures, as well as in low wages.
So what has all this got to do with the TPP? The so-called Trans-Pacific ‘Partnership’ is a trade agreement being brokered by twelve Asian and Pacific Nations. The intent is to remove all ‘trade barriers’ between nations so that multinational corporations can move goods, services, and ‘commodities’ between countries more easily. Major multinational corporations such as big drug companies, WalMart, Nike, Chevron, and others support the TPP because these ‘trade barriers’ prevent them from making the highest profit possible on their goods and services.
Trade barriers include environmental safeguards, fair labor practices, inexpensive and generic drugs, safety regulations, indigenous sovereignty, national borders, regulations on GMO’s, and input from the public. If the TPP were passed, it would deeply impact the poor of the United States and the world.
The TPP’s implications on the poor and working class of the United States are grave and serious. From information gathered thus far it is known that the TPP would drive down wages even further, would further eliminate safety regulations and would ship more jobs overseas, including those in the service industry which employs many working-class and poor people in electronically-driven and telephone-oriented work. The TPP would also make it difficult to get necessary medications at affordable prices. Particularly, it would diminish significantly the use of generic drugs, which are the most affordable to those with low incomes.
The TPP would make foreign investment in domestic real estate easier which would drive prices up, making affordable housing more difficult to find. In the end, the result of all of this would be a continued and potentially dramatic increase in poverty, unemployment, and homelessness due to decreasing wages, further joblessness, and increased health costs. This may not only be true domestically, but internationally as well. The TPP would accelerate the ‘race to the bottom!’
With these very serious issues in mind, we must resist passage of the TPP at all levels! We must be involved in campaigns of resistance! We must inform each other and the general public of the dangers of this agreement. And we must be willing to resist with our voice and actions, including disruption and direct action.
As a member of the Green Shadow Cabinet, I, as with the rest of the cabinet, am committed to a campaign of resistance. To allow the TPP to pass would strengthen the greed and avarice of multinational corporations and wealthy elites. It opens the doors to a TransAtlantic Trade agreement of the same nature.
We must and can resist this evil! We can and will resist this horrific trade agreement.
~ Rev. Bruce Wright serves as chair of the President’s Commission on Ending Homelessness in the General Welfare Branch of the Green Shadow Cabinet.