Journalists are dismissing our WTO Services Agreement problem as fake news. Here’s how you can show them its a very real threat to democracy quickly.
As some may have read elsewhere, the US signed on to a trade agreement in the 1990s which hijacks all policy if it “affects trade in services”.
Unfortunately, that is virtually everything, including all the changes we need to make in our country, particularly in areas like health care insurance (which we tragically included in our WTO Scheduled Commitments!) In short this agreement attempted to take everything we arguably need to do off the table (and so far its been successful) of what legislators can change and makes our future bleak, notably hijacking health care and making all deregulatory changes made by legislators permanent, without telling us. (Link to the relevant standstill-containing financial services document here)
Most of the WTO's agreements were the outcome of the 1986-94 Uruguay Round of trade negotiations. Some, including GATT…www.wto.org
Note, the linked document is clearly why the “protectionist” ACA is being rolled back. Trade agreements will lock in all deregulation and result in the rolling back of post-1998 financial services regulations — such as in health insurance and banking, made in the last 19 years, if they are unprofitable, without most people realizing why its being done. Its being done so that they can’t be framed as a trade barrier.
To not do so would risk a future suit in the WTO, which would expose all this lying and be very embarrassing for both parties.) We still have yet to be told about GATS, a national expanation is long overdue. GATS is nothing less than an agreement to privatize everything that threatens Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other “services” with one way irreversible privatization unless they have always been free and remain free, (although “statutory systems of Social Security” enjoy a carve out that remains in effect unless they become commercialized in any way, something that could happen soon due to a proposal by India to make nations WTO require SS benefits earned by its growing numbers of guest workers be made portable.)
(Its possible there could be major disruptive effects coming due to job losses, exacerbated by the gradual setting up, without warning, of an alternative system of trans-border temporary migration to perform lower wage guest work for international corporations, (“temporary service providers” “guest workers” “subcontractors” etc.) , The falling wages and job loss will cause drops in spending, putting more pressure on businesses to cut costs by subcontracting, leading to more job loss and more offshoring and outsourcing making wages fall still more. This will also have a dramatic negative effect on health, just as the health care system is safety net being dismantled. Home values will also be impacted especially outside of the major cities, by large scale job losses and business closures.
This irreversible nature of deregulatory policy only, with the stakes being the entire future, is obviously why there was so much effort made to hijack the 2016 election. It seems journalists are terrified to know these facts and even when told them they beg forgiveness to not cover the issue. (They want somebody else to cover it first.) I’ve spoken to dozens of them.
And recently, a mechanism has been set up to squelch inconvenient news by labeling it ‘fake news’. In the case of the 1995 (and public) GATS deal deals, there is an increasingly urgent need for public knowledge of this agreement, which conflicts with not only any progressive agenda, it also conflicts with democracy because it ties the hands of legislators — only allowing them to deregulate (thats called the ratchet)
Trade and investment agreements directly attack democratic governance and threaten the existence of a “right to regulate”, unless that regulation is compatible with the overall WTO goals of increasing international trade. New regulation (such as the ACA) unless it was spelled out in the original documents is generally disallowed if it is non-conforming, in any covered service (such as health insurance in the US since 1998) unless it is clearly deregulation, it usually is not. (You don’t need laws to deregulate, deregulation is the absence of laws.) The goal of the WTO GATS is “progressive liberalisation” of the world, meaning ever increasing, irreversible deregulation. It sees government activity as interference, and works towards a world where the market decides everything. So its libertarian, trickle down solution for lack of affordable health care in a world without laws, would be that people move to a country where they could afford health care. There is no denying that many Americans, even if close to destitute, could still afford basic health care in the Least Developed Countries, but it raises disturbing questions about society that forces people to do that. I think that for that to happen overnight is unlikely, but I do think that is what the current path we are on w8ill take us to, if people don't become aware of the agreements and their strongly arguable illegitimacy. Also, we need to switch to some other means of valuing outcomes apart from how much they increase GNP.
(When there is a conflict between two corporations’ interests, the one that makes the most money will likely win. People’s interests are only recognized in the most extreme situations and then any regulation pursued on their behalf must be minimally trade restrictive. That means held to a test of whether some other measure which could be done is less trade restrictive- one which is more favorable to a global corporate agenda would also serve the same purpose.
Good introduction to many concepts:
Here is an easy, authoritative way to show them that this problem is for real. This is a short course in WTO dispute settlement that outlines some basics about the GATS.
What other “authoritative” sources can we point to to quickly bring the problem out into the open? There are quite a few — the problem though, when talking about the General Agreement on Trade in Services, is many are old.
But, since trade agreements last forever, they never expire. They are always there like a noose around democracy’s neck, getting tighther and tighter with the ratcheting in of irreversible “progressive liberalisation” (disinvestment in society, and deregulation). They are also clearly “criminogenic”.
Turning politicians into liars. (after all, if all your power has been taken away or is being taken away with every movement, who can get elected telling people the truth, they must think.)
Particularly horrible are politicians and activists who pretend these agreements are not there.
Its not helpful to mislead people that, for example, getting single payer would be as easy as voting in a new Congress and Senate and President when every day could bring a triggering event that would make getting it forever so expensive as to be virtually impossible. Read the following report from the state of Maine that explains how that could and will happen, soon. So, in other words, its an emergency.
Its not possible to turn back the clock, as these agreements operate at a higher level and all national regulation must conform with their tenets, or be vulnerable to challenge and rollback.
In fact, its clear that this is no doubt the real reason the Republicans are worried about with the ACA. (The blame needs to be shared by both parties because despite its relative “generosity” the problem was there from its beginning and caused by the GATS which is part of the Clinton’s legacy.
Its likely that because of the WTO GATS the ACA was a temporary fix, which was never intended to be left there long. (As taking care of sick people is expensive, health insurance companies do everything they can to dump them on the government which currently ends up paying around 64% of every health care dollar, enough to give everybody in the country, rich and poor top quality health care for free, if we just got rid of the middlemen. But again, this clearly violates the WTO rules.
Also its framed as a trade barrier, preventing the US from using the healthcare of its millions as a valuable bargaining chip, which can be traded to other countries for other concessions, such as ending the sales of generic drugs and so on. Negotiations have gone on for 20 years and still have not gotten where they all can close the deal.
During that time a million Americans have died!
Should the market be used to vastly increase the profitability of the broken health care system or pass savings on to consumers, or both?
Its hard to tell but if the past is any guide, the savings wont be passed on to Americans unless they leave the country and make the arrangements themselves. Its clear that healthcare plans as were being made by Democrats did likely involve medical tourism.
I think its likely the GOP’s plans do too. They just won’t tell us that. (This is what I mean about these agreements being poisonous to democracy.)
Newer “agreements to privatize everything” in the pipeline.
The document below is a (declassified) outline of a newer agreement which is almost done. Like its predecessor (GATS, described above) it contains what is effectively a standstill/rollback provision. (The reason the ACA is being rolled back, so that it does not act as a trade barrier preventing international trade in services, for example, medical tourism and international sales in insurance for people without pre-existing health or genetic issues (all new regulations will likely be rolled back, to prevent a WTO challenge like the one being mounted by India against our visa quotas.) The newer agreement has a potentially much wider scope, even new services which have not been invented yet, will be covered by default! It also attempts to include all services and modes of supply unless carved out — protected in advance. (thats called “Top down, or “negative list”) These agreements kill democracy for corporations. They will eliminate all that is good (which governments could offer before 1995) and cover all services by default unless “supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers” meaning completely free and noncommercial. (and having been so since before either January 1 1995 or their country’s accession to the WTO, or possibly the new agreement.)
Note that the very beginning it contains a promose to “capture the autonomous level of liberalisation” That is a standstill-rollback clause similar to the one in the GATS, but differently worded. It will have the same effect.
With a great many jobs going away in the coming years due to automation (and of course the goal of these agreements, jobs being off-shored and outsourced in large numbers, as many as 40% of our jobs could be off shored in the coming years, not including automation.)
…this is not the time to be gutting the safety nets and forcing young people to abandon their educations in despair. (Nor is it a good time for foreign countries , like India to be committing their higher education in the GATS, and ending their public higher education subsidies, and relying on sending their young people overseas when there is so much work to be done at home. the US should stop opposing local sourcing of tech jobs in India for Indians in the WTO.)
All countries, including our own and our future world will need educated people and it will need them to come from economically diverse backgrounds from home and abroad. Not simply from wealthy families overseas. Trading young people so they can be paid less is an unsavory practice. As is the widespread growing use of internships and guest worker programs to undercut wages. US global trade and domestic policy need to be consistent with one another, not diametrically opposed and secretive. Especially we need to be attempting to raise the condition of humanity in every way, and any international agreements we sign should be continuously negotiable, not carved in stone. They should not attempt to subvert or hijack democracy and should in every way, prevent the race to the bottom that economists tell us is coming, not trigger it.
In order to prevent extreme inequality and a hardening of the human spirt when it should be rejoicing in the extra time technology is giving us, we need to make education available as long as people pursue it in good faith and it should be free to prevent a situation we’re seeing now where only the wealthiest can afford to educate their children and then support them long enough for them to get a start in life. Frankly, we should look at the situation with the oligarchy very closely. The oligarchs are setting up a scheme to take over the world with these deals, it is treasonous in every way to all democracy everywhere.
Instead we need to dump these deals and return to the situation we had until 1995 when governments could create new public service programs like Medicare for all (as long as its free and noncommercial and was created before 1995- the use of dates and standstills - should be removed) . G20 was wrong in characterizing new public services as “protectionist” measures to be eliminated.
Expansions of non-commercial and high quality public services will save all society money, and is desperately needed in health care, higher education, and water in particular.
and soon TiSA stand in the way. Something like the following is desperately needed, but the barriers are higher for us, as GATS bars new non-conforming services, Europeans are merely trying to protect their existing services from US and our hyper-aggressive negative list trade agreements..
So we really have our work cut out for us.