Sunday, November 15, 2015

Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Finally Released

Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Finally Released: A Disaster for Workers, Communities and the Planet, and a Gift to Multinational Corporations

By James Wheat

After years of secret negotiations, the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has been released. If passed, it will be the largest trade agreement in the world, covering 38 percent of the world's economy. It will be unprecedented in its scope. It will be an utter disaster for workers, communities, and the planet, and will cement and expand corporate rule.

The TPP will be a repeat of other free trade agreements, such as NAFTA and the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The Economic Policy Institute demonstrated that the latter lost nearly 60,000 jobs[1] while the former cost nearly 689,000 jobs.[2] As the TPP covers a much larger portion of the global economy, we can expect a much larger loss of jobs. But it is not simply American workers who will suffer. NAFTA also exacted a heavy price on Mexico, where cheaper American agricultural products flooded the market and undercut the price of domestic products. Many Mexican smallholder farmers were no longer able to make a living and left the land, and dependency on American agricultural products increased. Mexico now imports 42 percent of its food.[3]

The TPP will also water down international environmental protections. It will eliminate the government's ability to regulate natural gas exports by requiring the Department of Energy to automatically approve all exports of liquefied natural gas to all TPP countries.[4] This will encourage greater LNG production, much of which will be extracted through fracking.

Additionally, the TPP will establish an Investor-State Dispute Settlement system, similar to the one implemented by NAFTA. Under such a system, a corporation may sue a government in a secretive court for passing a law which diminishes that company's profits. This means that companies could challenge laws such as those that require GMO labeling, discourage smoking, or prohibit the use of certain chemicals. In one such case, Methanex, a Canadian corporation, sued the United States government for $970 million after California restricted the use of a gasoline additive. Currently, PhillipMorris is suing Uruguay and Australia over laws related to cigarette packaging. Even if these cases are resolved in the country's favor, as in the Methanex case, their high costs can serve as a deterrent for other countries. New Zealand recently reversed its decision to implement a cigarette packaging law after the lawsuit against Australia.[5]

Ultimately, the TPP will displace jobs in the United States and abroad, it will lead to further environmental degredation, and it will continue the consolidation of corporate rule. As socialists, we are opposed to a world where the people work for the benefit of corporations. Let us work to build a world where the economy works for us! Oppose the TPP!

[1]     Robert E. Scott. (14 March, 2014). U.S.-Korea Trade Deal Resulted in Growing Trade Deficits and Nearly 60,000 Lost Jobs. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved from
[2]     Robert E. Scott. (3 May, 2011). Heading South: U.S.-Mexico Trade and Job Displacement After NAFTA. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved from
[3]     Timothy A. Wise. (2 January 2014). How Beer Explains 20 Years of NAFTA's Devastating Effects on Mexico. Global Post. Retrieved from
[4]     The Sierra Club. (Undated). An Explosion of Fracking? One of the Dirtiest Secrets of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement. Retrieved from
[5]     Jim Armitage. (22 October, 2014). Big Tobacco Puts Countries on Trial as Concerns over TTIP Deals Mount. The Independent. Retrieved from

Sunday, November 1, 2015

On De-funding Planned Parenthood

by James Wheat

On October 19, the Texas government announced that it was cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood clinics.[1] This is in response to videos released by the Center for Medical Progress that allegedly show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue and altering abortion procedures. Multiple federal and state-level investigations have found no evidence of such practices at Planned Parenthood clinics. No court of law has found Planned Parenthood or any of its employees guilty of these practices.

And yet, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has terminated funding for Planned Parenthood based only on these videos and allegations in other lawsuits.[2] The Health and Human Services Commission argues that cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood “will not affect access to care in this State because there are thousands of alternate providers in Texas”.[3] If we examine the available data, we can see that this is not the case, and that thousands of people will be adversely affected.

Planned Parenthood is not the only provider of contraceptive services in the United States, but it is the largest, providing services to 36 percent of people receiving publicly-supported contraceptive care.[4] In many counties in Texas, that number is considerably higher: Fort Bend County, 43%; Travis County, 66%; Hidalgo County, 72%. In nine counties (Angelina, Cooke, Ellis, Falls, Johnson, Navarro, Starr, Tarrant, and Walker), 100% of publicly-supported contraceptive care is provided by Planned Parenthood. Of the nearly 1.7 million women in Texas in need of publicly-supported contraceptive services, more than 474,000 live in counties where Planned Parenthood serves 50 percent or more of all clients.[5] Thus, by removing funding for Planned Parenthood, the state government has gravely impacted the availability of reproductive healthcare for hundreds of thousands of women across the state.

As socialists, we recognize that a woman's control over if, when, and how to have children is fundamental to the liberation of women. As noted by the Women's Commission during a previous attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, the Socialist Party “believe[s] that access to a broad range of reproductive choices is a right of all women. This includes safe, affordable and on demand access to abortion, as well as access to birth control and prenatal care.”[6] Defending our sisters' rights to reproductive choice goes hand-in-hand with our struggle against capitalism. Let us oppose the state government's decision to shackle women by limiting access to reproductive healthcare! Support the liberation of our sisters!

[1]     Texas cuts off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood. (19 October, 2015) The Associated Press. Retrieved from
[2]     Office of Inspector General, Texas Health and Human Services Commission. (19 October, 2015). Notice of Termination.  Retrieved from The Houston Chronicle
[3]     Office of Inspector General, paragraph 2.
[4]     Jennifer Frost and Kinsey Hasstedt. (8 September, 2015). Quantifying Planned Parenthood's Critical Role in Meeting the Need for Publicly Supported Contraceptive Care. The Guttmacher Institute. Retrieved from
[5]     Jennifer J. Frost. (14 August, 2015). Response to inquiry concerning geographic service availability from Planned Parenthood health centers. [Correspondence to Lisa Ramirez-Branum, Congressional Budget Office] Table 3. Retrieved from
[6]     Andrea Pason and Kristin Schall. (26 February, 2011). Stop the Right Wing Attack on Women! Statement by the Socialist Party USA Women's Commission. Retrieved from