As TTIP trundles towards being adopted as legally binding in all European countries it seems despite having collected 3,318,592 signatures of all people in those countries, I notice that the hitherto high standards Europe has prided itself on are slowly being dropped. I can no longer buy pharmaceutical drugs with aspirin in them, which I find very effective for pain. One well known discount grocery shop now only sells American nuts rather than native European nuts (why I have no idea. Hungary is closer to the UK than the US, therefore it would be cheaper and more cost effective to have Hungarian walnuts on our shelves). What have been standard employment benefits (such as paid holidays, sick leave, child care, work place pension) are now being re-packaged as something extra-ordinary.
Five years of Tory government (5 years within a coalition, not that you’d notice) and we have had our expectations lowered to such a level as to be risible if it weren’t so tragic.
And yet, in all of this I found something that makes my heart sing, just a little. The Guardian published a story explaining that Starbucks and Fiat Chrysler have been operating under illegal tax deals granted to them under letters of comfort (a legal document which is a communication from a party to a contract to the other party that indicates an initial willingness to enter into a contractual obligation absent the elements of a legally enforceable contract. The objective is to create a morally binding but not legally binding assurance) by a certain Jean-Claude Juncker in his 18 year tenure in Luxembourg. Here is the fun part, these two companies were not the only ones granted such assurances as Mr Juncker granted around 340 companies similar terms of avoidance of tax. Having commented in my previous postings on Mr Juncker’s ringing endorsement for TTIP in a speech in Brussels a month or two previously, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he finds his position untenable in the near future.
In the interests of a New World Order (as it’s called these days) where one size fits all regardless of how mature a country is at being able to make its way through the commercial morass that seems to be engulfing humanity at present, I note there was a proposal for student fees in South Africa to rise 10-12% (does this seem familiar to any of my readers, I wonder?) white and black students protested, the government listened and backed down. Thank goodness common sense prevailed.
In all the “free trade agreements” being bandied around like confetti to all countries concerned, they have caused the most harm in African countries who are still young countries and, coming out of decades of grinding poverty, find education is their best hope of coming out of it. Being told by other countries and institutions (IMF, World Bank, etc, etc) that their young people should just accept living in mud huts and shanty towns as normal is beyond belief. These young people did the right thing to demonstrate and stop such a stupid idea. The point I’m trying to make is that these agreements, and TTIP, CETA and others do NOTHING to advance the human race, but hold it back, reduce whatever advances have been made so far.
Politicians are not respected because they are happy to “do deals” which benefit themselves but not those who put them there in the first place, us the voters. This needs to change really quickly. Politicians and media deliberately muddy the waters between government and power. Politicians are in government to govern, that is to make decision that will benefit us in the months and years to come. TTIP, CETA et al are not those decisions. They are not good for people and not good for the environment.
In the UK we’re going to get to vote whether to stay in the EU or not in 2017 (if Dave is still in government). After the events over the summer I would say there is a 60% chance the UK will leave. However, we don’t get the same opportunity to have a referendum over TTIP, CETA and other such agreements. If we’re going to become slaves then the last, faintly democratic act the EU can give us is to determine whether we actually do want to become slaves to faceless corporations who will assume they own us body and soul, not pay us what they owe us (after all, when did you hear of slaves being paid?). I’ve put my name to such a proposal and would urge my readers to do the same. Lobby their MP, MEP, Senator that there should be a referendum on this issue and that a vote either way of more than 70% should count as a mandate. That’ll make the bastards sweat!