Page 2


virtually direct corporate control of the international economy, unmediated by democratic political concerns or ordinary human needs; that it will further insulate international banks and corporations from accountability for the effects of their investments on the people, communities, and environments where they do business; that it will serve as the legal instrument and ratification of the globalization of trade already well under way, under which all community priorities are subservient to the demand of international capital for “free markets,” cheap labor, and deregulated industry. W completely the overall intent of the agreement, allach laid out most which she described as based on the prevailing and unquestioned corporate philosophy that “the well-being of the world is best served by getting government out of the market.” “Government,” of course, in industry parlance, means any real form of represen tative government; in its place is the benign dictatorship of the transnational corporations, which have been directly involved in the ongoing draft of the agreement through their international lobby ing organizations, the U.S. Coun cil for International Business, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the Business and Industry Advisory Council to the OECD. \(Honk if any of those groups grant broad rights to investors \(i.e., corporagations on governments. Its major principles require no “native” restrictions on ownership \(whether land, money, or corporate investment \(e.g., no state-sponsored boycotts for human rights violations, as in South tions” on investments \(e.g., requirements that an investor provide local jobs or purcorporate losses, or even potential losses, from government regulation or community action of virtually any kind. “In short,” said Wallach, “the MM socializes all risks, while privatizing all profits, and insures in vestments against any losses on the backs of the government.” Should an uppity government not fulfill its role as defined by MAI \(say, by passing a minimum wage law or additional envimechanism contemplated by the agreement is laughable in its naked reach: the affected corporation could sue a sovereign nation before an OECD-approved arbitrator, who could grant “compensatory money damages” or other relief, for violation of the agreement. What is contemplated is essentially an international Bill of Rights for Corporations, to which nations must come as supplicants for the right to be exploited if they promise to behave. Under these circumstances, it’s little wonder that in the early nineties, when the agreement was first proposed to the World Trade Organization which like the U.N. includes many underdeveloped nations the WTO balked. State Department rep Amy Holman seemed puzzled by the WTO’ s reaction \(“They just weren’t ready for it,” she tries turned to the OECD, until then mostly a high-dollar think tank. It’s apparent that the OECD countries intend to use the MAI as a against poorer nations generally: sign on to these rules, the message will be, or watch foreign capital flee to “freer” pastures. Holman is a fresh-faced young foreign servicewoman, apparently dispatched by her cynical elders at State to politely hold at bay the great unwashed. There was a certain amount of pathos in her presentation, which mixed Pollyanish bromides about international trade \(“Trade creates jobs for everyone”; “Everyone wants American middleclass life-styles”; “NAFTA has been proven futility of opposition \(“The global economy is here get used to it”; “The French want to exclude their ‘cultural industry,’ but the tion” for U.S. investors was her watchword as though the ordinary American working stiff had anything to gain from granting freedom to Bill Gates or Jim Bob Moffett to bust open Chinese or Indonesian or Vietnamese markets to the brutal depredations of “free trade.” Holman was composed and only a little nervous before the politely disapproving Dallas audience; reportedly, a less submissive group in Milwaukee sent her running from the room in tears, and she now declines to directly debate Public Citizen’s formidable Lori Wallach. There was much more infor mation, primarily on the threats to labor and the environment under MAI, compelling stories but difficult to summarize in this small space, especially in light of the virtual blackout of the MAI in the U.S. press \(Canadian and Eu ropean sources have been a little Gary Oliver better, as have been a few left journals, notably In These Times, January reporters taking up the agreement have gen erally parroted the State Department’s Pan glossian arguments, while dismissing the MAI’ s critics as “ultra-nationalists,” “flat earthers,” and “the black helicopter crowd.” They may soon get a chance to test such epithets. Ravi Batra, who has been right on such things before, used the Dallas occa sion to bluntly predict a major U.S. stock market crash in the near future, reverberat ing from the Asian collapse \(which he had market” pretenses that had generated it. The Asian economy was a “bubble econ omy,” said Batra, in which there was a huge and growing gap between excess pro See “MAI I?” page 11 FEBRUARY 13, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7