Bill Moyers on why the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement is death for democracy

Many of you know I’ve been covering TPP (the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement) for a while now — for example, here. Obama and the rest of the neoliberal (“free-trade”) Democrats are dying to implement it, and the Republican servants of the same fine CEOs are not far behind.

But the TPP is complicated — at least in appearances — and the public is having a hard time bottom-lining it, in between taking kids to soccer and paying bills in the evening. By comparison, characterizing Keystone is easy — “Want to drink goo from your faucet and watch the earth cook? Support Keystone.”

It’s not really hard to understand TPP though, once you see the pattern — TPP puts the ruling class (and the corporations they control) in charge of most aspects of our economic and regulatory life. It rewrites the laws of every nation that signs it, all to increase the wealth of our pathological betters. We just need more people saying that.

Now comes Bill Moyers with an excellent, listenable primer on what TPP is and why it spells death to democracy (literally) and breathes even more life into the predator 1% of the 1%.

Governments involved with our betters in implementing the TPP "corporate-rule" agreement

Governments involved with our betters in implementing the TPP “corporate-rule” agreement. These are the perps.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Moyers’ great introduction, then to the discussion with Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism and Dean Baker of CEPR. This is one of the best ways to come up to speed on TPP I’ve found — very tight, very clear:

From the video’s introduction at Vimeo:

A US-led trade deal is currently being negotiated that could increase the price of prescription drugs, weaken financial regulations and even allow partner countries to challenge American laws. But few know its substance.

The pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is deliberately shrouded in secrecy, a trade deal powerful people, including President Obama, don’t want you to know about. Over 130 Members of Congress have asked the White House for more transparency about the negotiations and were essentially told to go fly a kite. While most of us are in the dark about the contents of the deal, which Obama aims to seal by year end, corporate lobbyists are in the know about what it contains.

And some vigilant independent watchdogs are tracking the negotiations with sources they trust, including Dean Baker and Yves Smith, who join Moyers & Company this week. Both have written extensively about the TPP and tell Bill the pact actually has very little to do with free trade.

Instead, says Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, “This really is a deal that’s being negotiated by corporations for corporations and any benefit it provides to the bulk of the population of this country will be purely incidental.” Yves Smith, an investment banking expert who runs the Naked Capitalism blog adds: “There would be no reason to keep it so secret if it was in the interest of the public.”

Suitable for sharing with your friends and online associates. Seriously; help to make TPP a household name ahead of the Senate hearings on it and the Fast-Track legislation that will introduce it.

We’ll be following this closely as well. At some point soon, we’ll all need concerted and raucous citizen opposition. As Moyers and company show, this is as big a deal as stopping Big Carbon in its tracks. If we don’t prevent this, TPP will rewrite constitutions across the globe, including here at home.

And believe me, our poor Constitution has taken on a lot of rewriting lately. Save the Constitution. Help kill the TPP “corporate-rule” agreement. (More information here.)


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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57 Responses to “Bill Moyers on why the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement is death for democracy”

  1. Dustin says:

    like he says, watch the video

  2. Shouting Prole says:

    Werner’s use of “we don’t know what we don’t know” was, by his admission, a reference to an expression used by NASA engineers during the Apollo space program: unknown unknowns, or “unk unks”

    I cannot speak to the assertion regarding copyright, but this was indeed the source

    as a participant of the original est Training, the live satellite launch of the new Forum, and many advanced programs both before and after Werner’s disentanglement with his wife, the divestiture of assets, and the creation of the employee-owned Landmark Education I had several occassions to hear Werner live, and interact with him personally

    it is worthy to note that the “transformation” of experience which Landmark programs espouse, went beyond the eastern mysticism, New Age thinking, and ontology of which the original est Training was an amalgamation. We can attribute this to the new focus upon the work of Martin Heidigger and the role that language plays in (re)defining consciousness, and consequently the domain of what is possible

  3. Sjdsgirl says:

    I don’t get this. The author doesn’t make much clear. I get that the TPP is a threat but specifically in what ways?

  4. Not EvenClose says:

    We have been conditioned (and heavily lied to) by our masters to forget that we all stem from
    tribes of Man living on the land freely in harmony with our environment
    in abundance without hierarchical parasites. can you not fucking read?

  5. ozp says:

    To Bill M (3min in) your reference to Rumsfeids’ comment “how do you know what you dont’ know”?? correct origin to that statement goes back not to DR, but to LANDMARK EDUCATION…its their Copywrited material. its a part of the first-day module in the infamous LandMark Forum series. Great Stuff, and when I heard DR using it on the air, I nearly fell of my seat! Very telling that even powerful people would take a break and venture to take a look at how -they think-.

  6. David Warwick says:

    corporate monopoly = NWO

  7. Red Polygon says:

    “we all stem from tribes of Man living on the land freely in harmony with
    our environment in abundance without hierarchical parasites”

    We most certainly do not, and never have. Hierarchy has always existed, abundance has been consumed at the maximum rate allowed (and right through the point of extinction in many cases) and ‘freedom’ was only as free as the tribal hierarchy or next strongman to come along allowed. This kind of libertarian/anarchist romanticizing is detached form reality.

    I’m not for a dictatorial state, but the idea that seven billion people can flourish in a structureless, unregulated state is nonsense. Our present system is terribly corrupt and leaves a great many out in the cold, but at the same time, a great many more are protected by collective structures. The only successful future is compromise. But we aren’t there yet.

  8. Monkeymen Int says:

    someone once said: if you go with anarchy in the end the strongest gang will ass fuck the rest..that is what is happening now i would say…so we already have anarchy. i fully agree with what you said

  9. Nathanael says:

    …oh, and with approval voting you KNOW the winner was the most popular choice. It’s structured that way.

    I’ve used approval voting for small clubs to good advantage, eliminating arguments about legitimacy.

  10. Nathanael says:

    Personally I advocate approval voting — it’s really easy to count, unlike ranked-choice. And there are no wasted votes.

  11. Nathanael says:

    TPP is better described as death of the legitimacy of the governments which go along with it.

    Democracy is an active enterprise, and as Thomas Jefferson said, sometimes it requires rebellion. Democracy as a whole cannot be killed… only the people practicing democracy can be killed. Which is bad enough, of course.

  12. ronbo says:

    That sewer-oil story was disgusting. But I know the American public could be swayed by a good marketing campaign calling it “recycled”. After all, we’ve come to accept a permanent state of war, when actually, more Americans die of lightning strikes than terrorism.

    When Reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine, the 1% were sold the media and given the keys to the kingdom.

    Thank God for the internet. It’s our only hope.

  13. Michael Beard says:

    that’s true good point.

  14. therain says:

    Extremely inaccurate characterization of the Keystone.

  15. therain says:

    You are truly a confused person.

  16. therain says:

    To be fully accurate, clinton did not balance the budget. It was never actually balanced, and that can be easily confirmed by going to the government’s “debt to the dollar” website. It was close, and Newt Gingrich is the one to give credit to, as he architected that budget.

  17. Not EvenClose says:

    The “President” or “Prime Minister” of any slave farm I mean country, is the Chief Executive Officer for the running of the Corporation, these puppets are appointed by electors not chosen by voters…

  18. dao says:

    You misspelled “Khazarian” in your skewed rant.

  19. Colleen Klemp says:

    if the TPP-Trans-Pacific Partnership is enacted our Minimum Wage won’t mean anything, our food safety laws will be over-ridden by corporate law made laws. I think that’s why some of the higher minimum wage deals are going thru because corporations know that even the low $7.25/hr. will be history-they will pay what ever they want to.

  20. Gramerck says:

    It is correct, it is Congresses responsibility to negotiate trade agreements!

  21. Kelly says:

    Wow you obviously don’t know what Reich stands for. You’re just spewing out hateful words without offering a thoughtful argument, which at least, he does. Congrats.

  22. Mary Meinel Newport says:

    You may also call the CIA about me. Perhaps the FBI, too. They vindicated me of a very serious crime. They also discredited me. Oh, Then there’s 4 Star General Barry McCaffrey. We have had a lifetime of involvement. Since I was in the 4th. grade. He trained me, when I was a child, up to the age of 15. I just hope that they will talk. They can be so very tight lipped.

  23. Mary Meinel Newport says:

    PARASITES!!! They already established a catastrophic death spiral for the Planet. Our entire economy is parasitic in nature. They sucked the life out of our planet for GOD DAMNED MONEY!!!
    Unfortunately, the parasites killed their Host, Planet Earth. I assure you, they won’t be able to enjoy their Loot. My parents were Ted Kennedy’s Energy Advisors. 1973 through pretty much to the end of his life. Dr. Aden B Meinel was intentionally killing the planet. I got the whole schmear of a confession from him. He was also the State Department’s Scientific envoy to China in the mid to late 70’s. He convinced them to build their infra structure based upon burning coal. Unfortunately, burning coal creates Mercury. Mercury poisoning destroys the brain and nervous system. You get stupid, crazy, and violent, then die a slow, miserable death. My father knew that. But China didn’t. In 1997, I talked to China’s leaders. I told them what they had been sabotaged with. They were livid, and wanted to nuke us. I talked them down for about 2 hours. I struck a deal with them, and gave them an economic plan. It has served them well. I was attacked by the USA for my unpaid work. You didn’t get nuked, correct? Now, we have killed the planet. You can vet me. Please, GOOGLE ME, then ask China. I have had a long relationship with China. Including The Tianamen crisis. I actually dispersed a mad Chinese crowd out side the Chinese Embassy Domestic Headquarters. I simply posed at the front of the crowd after interviewing a bunch of them. I was actually leading them for the last block. I made a breif speech to them I knocked on the front door, and said my name. They immediately opened the door just a crack. (They were armed) I said very quietly, I’m going to help you. Now watch this. I turned around the the crowd, “They’re going to negotiate with me! Yay! Now get over to the UN!!! MARCH! And they immediately marched away, down 42nd. Street. The embassy officials couldn’t believe their eyes. I HAD PUT MY LIFE AND SAFETY ON THE LINE FOR THEM. They talked with me for a long time. I don’t know if they are ready to talk, yet. BUT YOU CAN ASK RONNIE REAGAN JR. ABOUT ME. Ask about the time we entertained and gave a nuclear policy speech together. We made a video at the entrance to the UN. Ask to see it. my email is [email protected]. Spielberg and I had a contract in the mid to late 90’s. He might talk. But he’s a bit afraid of me.

  24. Not EvenClose says:

    hmmm to save democracy? what fucking democracy? oh yeh the 2 wolves and 1 sheep deciding whats for dinner system.. so fucking what, the SYSTEM is irrelevant. Time to grow up people. Government is not and never was for our best interests. We seem to be suffering a collective amnesia quite conveniently as the vast majority have grown comfortable suckling on the scraps from our masters table. The ONLY solution to the SYSTEM is NO SYSTEM! and before anyone applies the label “anarchy” ahhhh scream heaven forbid ?????? no!, no SYSTEM is not the same as anarchy. We have been conditioned by our masters to forget that we all stem from tribes of Man living on the land freely in harmony with our environment in abundance without hierarchical parasites. But sadly most people dont want to be truly free they prefer to settle for a compromised comfort as slaves.

  25. telast says:

    Defaulting on our debt, or offering to, was also an attempt to undo China, which for myriad reasons must be undone. They are the Iran of Asia.

  26. duffer says:

    c’mon o-blah-blah…introduce the new-new greenback…back it in bitcoins…it’ll be all good this time…

  27. realist says:

    That’s not correct. The president is the head of state, and has the responsibility to negotiate all international treaties (delegated to the DoS) or other agreements. The job of congress is to Ratify the treaty.

  28. Elmo Fudginputz says:

    Like Bill Moyers hasn’t been the depraved mouthpiece for liberalism in American for 50 years. Heck, he worked for the pshychopath LBJ, mass-murderer of 38,000 American soldiers before he left the Presidency, and all while he promoted his Great Society. Plus, his right-hand hit man, Mac Wallace, Mac’s fingerprints were found on a box of the sniper’s nest on the 6th Floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository the day after JFK was assassinated. Watch out for anyone who works for a Democrat in the White House, as Obama and his Kazarian atheist thumpers are proving so egregiously every day now – Hellfire missile another group of Arab babies in Afghanistan today, Obama. Sure is fun playing with that Predator joystick, right?

  29. Dave Mende says:

    You people floor me. Trade policy stabbed american workers in the back in1980. Reagan did it, and you all swore to it. Clinton balanced the fed budget, $1/gal gas, tried to stop the Iraq war by Israel. And they you voted for the Bush Bastard. Now you’re complaining about a trade deal? Puleeze. Read “Take This Job and Ship It” by Sen. Byron Dorgan. Learn how your military “heroes” have been skrewing you for decades. All because the booger man is always just around the corner.
    Well guess what. If we had fought with the Nationalist Germans, in 1936 we wouldn’t be in this mess now. Because Nationalism is a virtue. Anyone who says it isn’t is an asshole.

  30. cole3244 says:

    the time has passed to fix americas lost democracy in this environment, a total revolution or collapse might be the only cure.

  31. Gramerck says:

    It is Congresses responsibility to negotiate trade with other countries, they gave that right away to the president and he has given it to Corporate America. What right does a business have to negotiate trade for our country??? This is rotten! Congress take back your responsibility, already you do not have the right to see or review what these companies have negotiated. You are allowed to vote on it unseen???. How in Gods name can anyone give the power of our government to a business. They are negotiating to destroy our laws and keep any government from controlling their profits, with the power to sue if their profits are touched.. They can force us into labor camps and use our prison population to make profits. Congress wake up!

  32. James Houston says:

    Thomas Jefferson gave us one representative for 30,000 voters. It is now one rep per 250,000 and climbing as our population increases. The House and Senate voted to limit their numbers in 1904 and things have gone downhill since then. Either we have representation as it was intended by the Constitution, or we do indeed accept the end of democracy. We have become one of the LEAST representative republics on earth.

  33. kmtominey44 says:

    Every party to the treaty comes up to our standards unless theirs are tighter. Clean air & water, worker safety, financial regulations, etc. Worker pay, disability, medical, sick leave etc. Every page out gor thepybluc to see and comment on – no exceptions.

  34. Gann says:

    it will also cost American Jobs that will go overseas; more in fact than the last Trade Agreement cost us; you think wages are low now wait till they pass this one; most these country’s earn less than two dollar an hour; so get ready for the biggest nightmare this country has gotten into.

  35. bhil says:

    Sure you can, yea you know the walking dead that’s democracy these days.

  36. Neil Cameron says:

    “A US-led trade deal is currently being negotiated”

    What??? The US was one of the new Asia Pacific members enticed into the already existing TPP by the founding four members in 2008.

    As usual, late to the party but stepping up and claiming ownership.

    “One of the intentions is to isolate China”.

    Is it? Whose intention?

  37. NMRon says:

    Where’s the Reich-wing outrage at the loss of sovereignty and one-world government?

  38. pappyvet says:

    Once again Gaius thank you a MILLION TIMES

  39. cole3244 says:

    its very hard to like much less love the nation we have become.

  40. Joedaddy0617 says:

    This is truly DISTURBING!

  41. Joedaddy0617 says:


  42. Joedaddy0617 says:

    We actually need to start applying Tarrifs’ to other Countries goods to bring corporations and business back home to the USA.

  43. Joedaddy0617 says:

    They are trying to kill our 2nd amendment rights in the same way….through treaties. Its truly sickening.

  44. Joedaddy0617 says:

    I believe it Can and Will get much worse as our Constitution is taking a beating as are all of our Civil Rights in this country I love so dearly….but it is almost unrecognizable anymore.

  45. cole3244 says:

    the direction we are headed almost any change would be an improvement at this time, there are few if any patriots in politics today but why state the obvious.

  46. Erik says:

    “NAFTA on steroids”. Great.

  47. karmanot says:

    This trend goes back to Clinton and NAFTA, where jurisdiction went to a court in Belgium and negated sovereign legal rights. This was particularly onerous in toxic spill cases.

  48. ronbo says:

    Dead? It’s been on a cash-transfusion for so long, let’s just say that it’s in a coma.

    We still get to vote, we just don’t get to vote for someone we want.

  49. Rumionemore says:

    And I think I pay attention to what is going on in our country. Most media spend their time on issues not half as important as TPP. Thank you, Mr. Moyers, for alerting us. Now I am paying attention and plan to write my senators and congressman about it. Although I never voted for Obama, I was always willing to give him a fair shot. That goodwill expired many months ago.

  50. BeccaM says:

    There are lots of electoral systems that would work much better than the one the U.S. currently has.

    And even the current system could be made to be more democratic and functional, if voting rights shenanigans, gerrymandering, and “money = free speech” were outlawed.

  51. BeccaM says:

    Roughly equal to the chances we’ll see more instances of lead paint being used on kids toys sold here and sewer-oil showing up in our restaurants.

    In other words, probably guaranteed.

  52. Drew2u says:

    What are the chances Japan/Western Asia can start selling (more?) radioactive products to the U.S. – that which couldn’t be sold originally?

  53. Drew2u says:

    What about ranked-choice voting combined with percentage-representation?

  54. cole3244 says:

    it used to be when things looked bad you could always look to the next election for help, those days are long gone because the dems are no better day at the beach than the republicans.

    the two party system will be the end of democracy and the death of america as we know it, or used to.

  55. BeccaM says:

    By the way, TPP is one of those yardsticks by which I measure the complicity and co-opting of any purported ‘activist’ movement, especially in the U.S.

    Occupy Wall Street: Mentioned it. Clearly against it. Sees TPP for the corporatist 1%’er power grab it really is. Opposes it.

    Tea Baggers: “Huh? Obama is a Kenyan Hitler.”

    The ‘Baggers pretend to fear of a conspiracy that’s nothing but nonsense — U.N. black helicopters and all that — and completely miss the one that’s real. Corporations overriding national sovereignty through this TPP abomination.

  56. nicho says:

    Death for democracy? You can’t kill something that’s already dead.

  57. Matthew Wade says:

    This article is truly showing the picture clearly. Telling the fact.

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