Wednesday, September 10, 2003

The WTO is insane. 

The Sierra Club, is voicing concerns that the World Trade Organization (WTO) is proposing changes that could seriously undermine efforts to protect the environment and the interests of working families.

I would say this is a vast understatement.

· Under the services rules on "market access," US trading partners could challenge the right of a local government to restrict the size or location of a new residential or commercial development. States could be penalized for limiting the number of fishing licenses granted in coastal waters, the amount of waste dumped into a landfill, the amount of timber that can be logged from public lands, or the amount of water extracted from an aquifer. Even limits on energy production in wilderness areas could be challenged as illegal restrictions on "market access."

Clean Water at Risk

· New investor rules on "expropriation" could prevent governments from setting standards that protect the public if doing so harms a foreign company's profits. For instance, the Methanex Corporation of Canada used NAFTA's investor provisions to sue U.S. taxpayers for $1 billion after California phased out a hazardous gasoline additive, which the company helps to manufacture. Should Methanex prevail, the federal government would have to force California to reverse its ban or pay damages. Similar lawsuits are expected to grow if investor provisions are included in the WTO.

So, let me get this straight: a Canadian company that produces an additive that has been used in gasoline, recently sued California citizens, because California banned the additive because it was found to be hazardous? And the WTO wants to expand the power of trading partners over the self-rule of local governments, in effect, severly watering down their autonomy and ability to govern themselves, according to what they feel ought to be their priorities?

Has the WTO finally gone stark raving mad? The level of greed and megalomania within this organization is amazing to me. Regarding NAFTA, were some of its creators delusional? Did they bow to corporate pressures to ante-up the powers awarded multi-nationals?

And we wonder why Dennis Kucinich, presidential candidate, wants to cancel NAFTA and the WTO? The same Kucinich who is semi-regularly labeled something close to "insane" in the popular media, and posters on the Daily Kos (recently, someone there called him possibly "crazy as bat shit", though she agrees with his politics; go figure).

It is interesting to me to observe how someone like Kucinich is regularly misunderstood by many. Is it the mark of genius, to be so out of step, as to be seen ready for the funny farm? I guess his proposed Department of Peace really has them preparing papers for his admittance on the 3rd floor.

I suppose wanting peace, and a fair shake for workers and their families, and a clean environment, are really insane.