Sunday, October 11, 2015

A ship shipping ship and free trade shenanigans

There was an article in the Daily Mail (UK) recently about this extraordinary ship which clearly called for some witty alliteration. I don't know who came up with the tongue twister, but I'd like to thank them for the fun I and some others on G+ have had spinning off from the original. The fanciful story below is a tale of caution, and is in no way a slight on the ship builders, on their engineering expertise, craftsmanship, morals or professional integrity.

If you shuffle over here, I'll share a startling story about the ships and the ship builders who were to ship them in ship shape fashion to shipping regions around the world.

Shh, it's a bit shady and I doubt the shop steward knows about the shortcomings of his boss.

The super ships were built by Shonky Brothers, the showy local company with the significant signage. It's an unfortunate surname, but their ships are in no way similar to the name. They're superbly slick ship shapers! Rumour has it the ships were to be shunted from the Schippol shipyard slipway, but I'm not sure of that summary.

Significantly, last summer, one of the ship shaping siblings, it's said it was Cyril, was shagging shapely Charleen in the shade of a super ship in his classic Scorpion. Because of the deep shade in the chartreuse Scorpion, they surmised they were sheltered from suspicious eyes. Silly them! Shush wasn't their forte! In a spirited moment, Cyril shouted "shazam" and they were seen by Shane who'd snuck out for a siesta and subsequently shamed the sugar coated Cyril. There were lots of sniggers, smirks and snide comments. Statuesque Charleen, the sexy sheila who usually shimmies around looking sultry, was really shirty.

Cyril was a bit of a sun-baked character. He used to stride around unshaven, with a scarlet parrot on his shoulder singing sea shanties and saying, "Shiver me timbers!" at regular intervals. Sure beats being stuffy!

Sadly, Charleen's shifty snaky boss, Sheldon found out (not about the singing, the shagging). He fancied Charleen and felt sorely snubbed. Sheldon is a smooth talking senior in a litigious multinational that wanted the significant contract to shape the shiny ships. He thought "I'll sue the shit out of them", but that wasn't enough for the smitten spewing Sheldon. If Sheldon couldn't have Charleen, then he'd make Cyril suffer. (It's an odd kind of logic, but some sad sods are like that.)

Sheldon really shouldn't have chosen a skirmish, he could have shrugged and suffered the snub in silence. Sadly he's a slave to his emotions and being a short tempered bastard, he shot Cyril Shonky in his shagging equipment. 

Sheldon's company, which shall evermore be called, We Shit On You From A Great Height Ha Ha, swiftly sued the sovereign state that'd contracted the local ship shaping company. 

These sneaky sharks (apologies to all sharks - this kind of sloppy analogy makes you sound sinister) sleuthed around and found a shocker of a sadistic, but subtle ISDS* clause, under the shameful TPP agreement (or TTIP** depending on where you live). Many smart systematic thinkers believe the ISDS clauses should be shelved because sovereign states will surely suffer substantially. The shocking sneaky clauses leave many speechless. 

It's such a sad situation. Some soar, others are shattered. But is this skulduggery sustainable? Will sovereign states be subsumed by self serving multinationals? That's sobering ... are we stuffed? Secrecy isn't soothing.

The Shonky Brothers previously successful ship shaping business has suffered significant setbacks. Staff were suddenly laid off and are now getting by on a shoestring. Some were paid shush money, others are sick. 

Cyril struggles to sit without slouching. He's really suffering from the shooting of his shagging equipment. 

The whole state shudders to watch We Shit On You From A Great Height Ha Ha erode carefully crafted environmental protection laws and shamelessly shaft the small country which is struggling to cover costs of the suing skulduggery. When questioned about ethics, integrity and honesty, they quote the ISDS clauses, sneer and snort "It's legal, shan't change. We can shoulder your local laws aside! We won't shelve anything, so sod off." 

Something stinks when super-powered multinationals can sue countries virtually unsupervised. It sucks.


Massive protests this weekend in Berlin: (Oct 10 2015)

ISDS clauses: ISDS is a mechanism for corporations to sue governments.
... the authority of sovereign courts is ignored in favour of an international dispute tribunal.

If this is such a great deal, why are they hiding it? There is, among other things, a four-letter answer to this question: ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement). ISDS is a mechanism for corporations to sue governments.

Water and waste management giant Veolia is suing the government of Egypt for lifting the minimum wage. 
Canada is being sued for a ban on fracking and 
Germany for its phasing out of nuclear power; all actions taken under ISDS clauses in free trade pacts.
US corporations are the biggest litigants, having brought some 127 cases thus far against sovereign government decisions which they claim have damaged their financial interests. Taxpayers have the pleasure of footing the legal defence bills. Even worse, the authority of sovereign courts is ignored in favour of an international dispute tribunal.
The reality is this TPP free trade deal is as much about free trade as it is about entrenching the interests of large multinational corporations.

In 2011, the Australian Gillard government announced it would no longer adopt international investment arbitration into its trade agreements and investment treaties with other states on the basis that investor state arbitration “constrains the ability of the Australian Government to make laws on social, environmental and economic matters; concerns no doubt based in part on Philip Morris’s claim against Australia under the Hong Kong-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
Australia has now mollified its approach under the Abbott government;