It’s been awfully fun to watch the different branches of government quiver like Aspen trees in a force 5 tornado arguing the pros and cons of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact. The TPP is either an environmental travesty designed to set the union movement back 100 years, or the spine of the Pacific Rim’s economic pushback against China. Depends on who you talk to. One or the other: nothing in between. It’s two cliffs and a gorge.
Problem is, despite all the blatant blaring blather, no one knows exactly what’s in the 30-chapter, 12-nation agreement, which has spent 10 years in gestation. The public being allowed to see the contents... no times. Zero. Zip. Nada. We’re talking Ultra-Hyper-Super Secret. More classified than Taylor Swift’s cell phone number. As transparent as diving for oil. In Arctic winter. At night.
You know the drill. “Comprehensive market access will eliminate tariffs and promote global job creation.” Blah. Blah. Blah. “Workers will experience increased affluence while consumers bask in the riches of less expensive imports.” The usual pie-in-the-sky promises from people whose connection to the real world mirrors that of a sultan’s sequestered eunuch’s knowledge of fantasy football.
Though 500 corporate lawyers have worked on the negotiations, not even members of Congress have gotten a copy. No sense riling up the kiddies prematurely. But, in the spirit of the deal itself, utilizing a series of clandestine bribes and extortion, not excluding threats, we here at Durstco are able to exclusively reveal some of the covenant clauses a full month before they are released to the public.
In an effort to decrease child labor abuses, Malaysia pledges to no longer treat anyone able to smoke cigarettes as an adult. From now on, they have to light them as well.
Brunei promises to quit pretending to be a real country until their population exceeds that of Milwaukee.
Canada doesn’t have to do anything at all, except be their cuddly selves, as long as they stay out of the way of the big boys.
Peru pledges to conceive of a new word for “currency manipulation” that can be utilized by member nations to placate local troublemakers.
New Zealand will give it a rest with that whole damn lamb thing.
The latest version of the TTP requires Vietnam to pay workers the minimum equivalent of $0.20 per hour- without benefits. $0.10 with.
The U.S. will compile a list of their most radical environmentalists who will be restricted from annoying other member nations with boring chants and slogans and emotional appeals based on... “workers’ rights.”
In an attempt to combat overfishing, Japan agrees to eliminate all drift nets that exceed a mile in length.
Singapore will be forced to legalize chewing gum and all hell will break loose.
Mexico will be in charge of the resolution tribunals that adjudicate intellectual property disputes. Based on the theory that an absent witness is an ineffective witness.
Chile will be encouraged to change its name to something that inspires fewer jokes.
Australia shall henceforth be required to stop living in the 1970s and forever refrain from using the word barbie to describe grills. And Sheila is a woman’s name, not a pronoun.
Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed columnist and comedian