February 18, 2015
The Risk-Monger, as a mid-Atlantic analyst, should have some clear ideas and positions on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). He does, but until now has not bothered to join the debate, because, frankly, there is no point. This is not because TTIP is flawed – there are many points that are very positive (and freeing up trade has led to enormous benefits for economies, consumers and businesses time and time again). But rather, he has avoided getting pulled into this debate because too many in Brussels and other EU capitals are too prejudiced against Americans to ever risk standing up and defending the positive effects of free trade. Who are we kidding? TTIP does not have a chance in such an anti-American place like the Brussels Bubble.
Like most Canadians who can only define themselves by whom they are not, the Risk-Monger also likes to give it to the Americans with a smug sense of misplaced superiority. But even he is shocked by the raging anti-American bias, prejudice and absolutely stupid nonsense embarrassingly coming out of the anti-TTIP protest movement. I am frightened to think about what policy analysts in Washington must be thinking about those ill-informed yahoos in Brussels. On behalf of the dwindling thinking class in Brussels, I would like to use this blog to apologise for the tasteless slurs and offensive stereotypes found in anti-TTIP campaign materials.
I am not talking about the predictable racist slurs from Eur-rednecks like Marine Le Pen or Nigel Farage – but they too have found many friends in the anti-globalisation, anti-industry activists running around Brussels calling themselves environmentalists or transparency aficionados. These anti-TTIP campaigners are embarrassingly prejudiced yobs – what erupts from their narrow minds is little more than hateful propaganda, sadly too widely shared in this day and age.
Take for example the fear-mongering video (cue alarmist music) on how American chemicals, GMOs and, gulp, chlorinated chicken (mentioned three horrifying times) will poison us innocent and unsuspecting environment and health-loving Europeans. By the way, what exactly is so terrible about chlorine-treated chicken? Millions of Europeans swim in and drink chlorinated water every day and enjoy the protection this miracle chemical provides. For those who risk eating highly bacteria-infected meat that poisons and kills hundreds every day, is there really something wrong about protecting humans with a safe disinfectant? But if you can make it sound scary, people won’t notice how stupid you are treating them.
Of course these campaigners try to hide their discrimination behind issues they claim are important to citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. They argue with horror that TTIP talks are being done in secret (Duh! How else do you negotiate? You don’t put all of your cards publicly on the table!) or that there is something sinister going on with the concept of regulatory cooperation (something we used to call stakeholder engagement until the anti-industry groups didn’t like the idea that companies, as innovators and job producers, were also considered as stakeholders and allowed at the table). They will play this rhetoric up through the spring fundraising campaigns (which should be very lucrative as defending prejudice is a highly emotional, credit-card swiping technique) and then when crunch-time comes, play the anti-American card to claim victory.
Apparently with TTIP we Europeans will all become: obese, non-thinking consumers force-fed processed fast foods. We will all be unwittingly eating GMOs and have our environment polluted with unrestricted chemicals dumped in our school playgrounds. We will all have big corporate lawyers telling our governments what to do (at the taxpayer’s expense) and lobbyists will take our democratic rights away from us. We’ll have to give up our beloved windmills for fracking wells. We’ll lose our trade unions and collective bargaining rights (not to mention all of our holidays!) and become minimum-wage paid serfs. As if Europe does not have lawyers, fat people, minimum wage workers, natural gas or GMOs.
How would Europeans feel if Americans in Washington stoked the stereotypes about European bank and insurance industry thieves, poisonous pharma-fraudsters, mafia-driven closed-door companies and, God-forbid, those hedonistic Catholics. Wouldn’t we find them stupid to play up such fear cards? Fortunately, Americans don’t think like some European scaremongers.
The Risk-Monger is not surprised about the anti-American prejudice found in the chattering classes inside the Brussels Bubble. He has been cursed with an American accent and knows what it means to be treated like an American (it usually gets very uncomfortable in Brussels when Republicans are in power in the US). After 30 years in Brussels, he has learnt to work a reference to his Canadian roots somewhere into a conversation. At which point the interlocutor usually apologises profusely for his or her mistaken prejudice (as if he wishes he could remove his spit from my coffee).
What is regrettable to thinking people is that groups like SumOfUs, Corporate Europe Observatory, attac and LobbyControl have resorted to playing the prejudice and anti-American scaremongering card in order to win the debate against TTIP. They will easily win on this issue because, unfortunately, there are enough anti-American Eur-rednecks around EU capitals who would rather react against Americans than think about selling the benefits of free trade or risk having to compete in a fair and open market. And that is the T-TIPping point!
NB – The Risk-Monger will be on a speaking tour in New York, Boston and Washington in April, where he will apologise in person for all of the embarrassing claims from the Brussels Bubble Eur-rednecks.