By World Developement Movment (https://www.flickr.com/photos/wdm/14657251391/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Yesterday I looked in stunned disbelief at the headline in The Independent – ‘Philip Morris International threatens to sue Government if plain packaging introduced’, with a picture of a cigarette pack beneath it. Something we have all been fearing with this Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has already begun . . . And the deal hasn’t been ratified yet as I understand it!!
What does Philip Morris know that we don’t was my first response, closely followed by “If this is the beginning, where will it all end?” As a Society we have been nurturing the abolition of smoking for many years now. Laws have been passed that would now appear to be totally worthless with this agreement, undermining the very fabric of our democracy.
And what happens if Philip Morris win an obscene ‘profits over health’ action such as this. Does it create a precedent for the other brands to jump on the bandwagon and take our Government for zillions? Let’s not forget that this is taxpayer money we are talking about here. What you have is a lunatic situation where a corporation could take our money without selling any of its products because of this crass agreement . . . Corporate Utopia!
If we then follow this to its logical conclusion we will have sports car and motorcycle manufacturers suing the Government because of the 70 mph speed limit on motorways as it is harming sales of their speedy machines and impeding profits. An identical situation to cigarettes I would suggest, where legislation designed to safeguard our welfare is restricting profit growth.
Far more frightening to me is what havoc could be wreaked upon our food, as manufacturers sue because they are banned from using additives to prolong the life of their products and the knock on effect to their bottom line. Let’s face it their track record is already worrying, particularly in the case of companies such as the king of GM, Monsanto!
I know where corporations are coming from on this and to a very limited extent I can see their point BUT where in the hell are our government coming from?! Philip Morris are looking after the interests of their shareholders, rightly so, but whose interests are our politicians looking after, certainly not Society’s.
At the heart of democracy people elect the few to manage the needs of Society through the wishes of those people. ‘Manage’ is the operative word here, they do not dictate against the wishes of the electorate as seems to be the current political trend. A trend responsible for this derisory decision making, as they enact laws to safeguard us and then disarm those laws because of obviously divided loyalty between those who sponsor them and those who elect them.
At the core of this lunacy is the lust for profits brought about, not by the corporation I would suggest, but global Stock Markets. In the last few decades they have created an increasingly hysterical atmosphere where even a small a drop in profits over last year can produce a state of apoplexy.
This has come about, I believe, with the opportunities presented by ‘globalisation’, where companies can merge and expand exponentially into the many vast conglomerates we see today. What I don’t think any of the captains of industry foresaw were the intense pressures these vast entities would create, in their need to produce never-ending profit growth to protect shareholder values.
This is why we now see them encroaching upon our social services. They have pretty much exhausted their traditional market places and sources of supply, as the world’s natural resources disappear at a Life threatening rate. Services Society has previously managed for the benefit of that Society are now being gobbled up at an equally alarming rate. The outcome will be services that no longer benefit Society. Education and Healthcare will become a profit resource, where nourishment of the less capable is discarded because they are not profitable, or reduce potential profits.
TTIP is, to my mind, the last port of call for corporate profit generation as it rips the heart out of Society. No wonder it has been shrouded in secrecy for over 7 years now and thank God for the responsible Whistleblower(s) who have shone a light upon this odious collaboration between governments and business. Having said this I was heartened by recent news that Germany is shying away from this toxic agreement and hopefully other government will follow suit, although I am not holding my breath!
It is also obvious that the current breed of politician is quite incapable of responsibly managing the needs of our Society, with a lack of vision and lust for power that is truly terrifying with all the challenges we now face as a species.
We need new leaders who should be sought from the charitable sector. My reasoning is that they have a responsible mind-set that seeks to protect and care for this Planet and its Inhabitants, something totally at odds with the ‘profit and power brigade’ that are now taking us to hell in a handcart!
Those of you who regularly read my work will know that I strive to see both sides of an argument and here there is no exception. I believe some good might come from the implementation of this agreement, in that it would sound the death knell of ‘Health and Safety’ and all who sail in her. No bad thing perhaps!
Until the next time
Thinking from his book ‘Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If they Want It! BY J T Coombes