December 19, 2013

TPP would let corporations sue governments


The Trans-Pacific Partnership currently being negotiated would hurt our small farms and essentially bankrupt the dairy industry in Maine.

I am particularly alarmed by the TPP’s “investor-state dispute settlement mechanism,” which would give corporations increased power to sue any government that changes its policies in a way that reduces the corporations’ profits.

During the next 20 years, climate change will become harmful enough that world governments will have to pass new laws and regulations that will reduce use of fossil fuels. This will cut deeply into the fossil fuel industry’s profits.

If this industry is empowered by the TPP to successfully sue governments for these losses, it could slow down mankind’s efforts to stop climate change, and our grandchildren would pay a terrible price.

The threat of lawsuits also would make it difficult for government to make all kinds of new policies, because it will be hard to anticipate which policy changes would provoke a lawsuit from some corporation. Another danger is that TPP will be used to force countries with the strongest environmental and workers’ protections to lower their standards to the lowest common denominator, or be sued for damages.

The bottom line is that governments are designed to try to balance the public welfare with the ability of business to operate successfully, whereas corporations are designed strictly to make profits.

Corporations are not designed to consider the public good, and consequently, they should not be empowered to control governments through lawsuits. Governments have to be able to take action to protect the public, even when this means that a corporation is going to lose money.

I urge others to join me in writing to our senators and representative in Congress about this issue.

Richard ThomasWaterville
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