Sunday, April 13, 2008

Holding Out For The Results We Need, Not Acquiescing To The Process They Want by Anthony McCarthy

Part Two of Three
Second, for pacts that do pass, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is developing a proposal that would give nonprofit groups and individuals the same enforcement powers that corporations currently enjoy. Ellison floated a truncated version of this concept during the 2007 debate over the Peru Free Trade Agreement, arguing that if a trade deal gives a corporation the right to sue in international courts for enforcement of investor rights (copyrights, patents, intellectual property, etc.), then individuals and advocacy organizations should also have the same right to sue for enforcement of other rights (labor, environmental, etc.). A Democratic administration could incorporate this forward thinking into the core text of any future trade pact.

This sounds like a good idea provided the parties, nonprofit groups and individuals aren’t run over by the resources of those who benefit from despoiling the environment and subjugating labor. Unfortunately, in this world, you make a heck of a lot more money by destroying the environment and scouring the world for slaves than you do by asking for $35 annual contributions. It’s essential to stop pretending that any court, even those indirectly subject to democratic constraints, is an equal and impartial judge when the resources are just about entirely on one side. That’s a general problem with the law, it favors those with resources normal circumstances. But when it comes to these international treaties adjudicated by courts with little to no connection to restraints by The People and rushed through without real legislative consideration, the law isn’t an ass, it’s an arrogant advocate for hire to whoever can pay the best. And that isn’t us.

Note: But even with that, those who would bring and argue these cases have to change their thinking, from upholding the process to actually getting the results. Let me repeat that, GETTING THE RESULTS. That is the actual legal practice of the rich and powerful going back to before the robber barons into time immemorial. Why shouldn’t the side representing The People and the environment practice ruthlessness, on our side, to match them? No domesticated advocates practicing petty legal scruples are going to get us what we need, never mind what we want. We need attack dogs, not lap dogs who would be welcome to have their heads petted at a DC area cotillion. Or at NPR, as if there’s a difference.