Article – Joseph Graddy
As a nation, New Zealand can be proud of being one of the least corrupt countries in the world. International organisations, such as Transparency International, and our own citizens have consistently rated our political and legal processes and one …
Corruption and the TPPA
As a nation, New Zealand can be proud of being one of the least corrupt countries in the world. International organisations, such as Transparency International, and our own citizens have consistently rated our political and legal processes and one of the least corrupt and this is something worth celebrating. Ridding ourselves of corruption is very important. Very corrupt countries don’t have many of the things we take for granted in NZ. High quality education systems, health systems, and national infrastructure, a free press…these are just some of the things that countries such as Somalia, North Korea, and Afghanistan are sorely missing.
One interesting aspect of corruption is that we seem to have an innate ability to detect it when it happens. When a speeding motorist offers a policeman $50 cash to not write a ticket, most of us can immediately tell that it is wrong and an example of corruption. Corruption can be thought of as when a process designed to help the many is affected in a way that it hurts the many, while helping a select few. We give people tickets for speeding to make it less likely they will speed in the future. If a person gets too many tickets, they have their licence confiscated. This process helps the many as it reduces the chance they will speed in the future. If a policeman takes a bribe, this process is changed and now only the policeman and the speeding driver are helped.
Compared to New Zealand, the US is much more corrupt. A 2014 Gallup poll found that 75% of Americans believe that corruption is “widespread” throughout their government (it was 27% in NZ). While it can be more difficult to detect corruption when very complex political and legal processes are the ones being corrupted, it becomes clearer when we follow the money. Large US corporations spend billions of dollars supporting politicians who then go on to support and enact laws that benefit those corporations, and often hurt the many. From watering down safety regulations to tax breaks for big businesses, the effects of this corruption are widespread in the US political system.
Those same large US corporations helped to write the TPPA.
It is no secret that before the text was made public, very few people and groups had access to the TPPA. Members of that group included trade representatives from the participating countries, US corporations such as Intel, Cisco, General Electric, and industry lobby groups such as the Recording Industry Association of America and Motion Picture Association of America.
Emails between the US Trade Representative’s office (USTR) and many of these groups have been released under the US Freedom of Information Act and they give us an insight into how the TPPA was written. In fact, many of the staff at the USTR come from jobs with these corporations and lobby groups further blurring the line between government and big business.
NZ is poised to sign a trade agreement written with the help of major corrupting influences. Being one of the least corrupt countries in the world is hard work. We must be constantly vigilant and stamp out corruption where ever we see it. What that means for us now, is to not sign the TPPA.
Joseph Graddy teaches psychology at the University of Waikato and have just completed a Masters in Applied Psychology