In her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, Naomi Klein remarks, “A great many progressives have opted out of the climate change debate in part because they thought that the Big Green groups, flush with philanthropic dollars, had this issue covered. That, it turns out, was a grave mistake.”
In the introduction to the book, which you can read here, she adds, “It was only years into this project that I discovered the depths of collusion between big polluters and Big Green…” This statement is at the heart of her assertion that environmental organizations have been silenced by cash donations from the very corporations that made their existences necessary.
The TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership, resembles NAFTA, but on a more global scale. Any last vestiges of power remaining to workers unions worldwide after the passage of NAFTA could be decimated by its passage. Thus far, the governments of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam are potential agreement with its terms. The formulation of these terms have largely been conducted in complete secrecy, despite the democratic processes of many of the countries involved. In fact, the only portion made public in the U.S., which concerns intellectual property rights, was made public only through WikiLeaks.
In one of her previous books, “The Shock Doctrine”, Klein examines what she calls “moments of collective trauma to engage in radical social and economic engineering”, using the example of Japan’s Fukushima incident, which she claims is being used ” to impose a rapid-fire transformation of the economy―tax cuts, free trade, privatized services, cuts to social spending and deregulation.”
According to a public announcement in Japan, which currently has a nationalized healthcare system, under TPP, “USJBC companies can connect with Japanese industry and government to help shape transparent trade rules, standards and regulations in this dynamic region.” Charles Lake II, the USJBC’s chairman, is also the chairman of the American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (Aflac) Japan. As such, he stands to profit substantially from the privatization of Japanese health care.
This is just one example of how the passage of TPP will affect ordinary citizens of participating countries. Klein isn’t the only one voicing concerns about job loss as a result of TPP. In the U.S., organized labor argues that it would benefit corporations at the expense of workers, especially in the manufacturing and service sectors. The Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Economic and Policy Research have voiced concerns that it would result in an even further decline in already low wages as well as job losses.
Klein goes on to assert: “The main power of divestment is not that it financially harms Shell and Chevron in the short term but that it erodes the social license of fossil fuel companies and builds pressure on politicians to introduce across-the-board emission reductions.” Nothing affects the global climate as much as fossil fuels. TPP was first introduced in 2005. Trading in “weather futures,” which allows companies and banks to profit by gambling on changes in the weather and the resulting “natural” disasters, increased from $9.7 in 2005 to $45.2 billion in 2006. Under these circumstances, the loss of jobs represent the loss of lives.