Negotiations are under way between the US and the EU that may have a massive impact on our democracy, but the story is being overshadowed by stories in the media of ‘too powerful’ vacuum cleaners, and soon, according to the Daily Express recently, fast-boiling kettles, too.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a treaty currently in secret negotiation, which, if passed, will give large corporations the ability to sue governments if their profits take a nosedive as a result of changes in government policy. Details of the negotiations at this time are relatively few and far between, and those that are available have come via leaks.
An un-named American union has warned that the treaty will give corporations the ability to sue governments for loss of earnings if the minimum working wage is raised, and indeed in Argentina during the recession, when water and energy prices were frozen by the government, international utilities companies sued for the loss of profit they suffered as a result. By removing the differences between how different markets are regulated in order to pursue a healthier bottom line, TTIP is effectively allowing for corporations to legally outrank governments.
It is, of course, a far more complex issue but in its favour the treaty is expected to add about 1 per cent to GDP growth, though the real issue is getting people excited about it. After all, it’s a lot easier to get a reaction from someone if you tell them that their vacuum cleaner is too powerful, or their kettle boils too quickly, and at the same time deflect public attention away from the impending change on where the real power lies in our democracy, and here’s a clue – it’s not in your vacuum cleaner.
‘Money is power’ could very soon become a stark reality that affects us all.