What Ron Kind Was Afraid to Listen To

My statement for Ron Kind’s “listening” session was occupying my brain cells for several days before-hand. In spite of showing up early and following all of the rules, most of the people who got called on showed up long after I did.

I can only conclude that either the process for choosing people to call on was grossly unfair, or unappealing questions were filtered out of the pile. I suspect a combination of both. At any rate, after three hours invested in my attempt to participate in democracy, I was never called on.

Here is what I would have said if Kind had had the courage to call on me:


The last time we spoke, it was during breakfast one morning last summer in Philadelphia. Our encounter was hurried and awkward, and it didn’t go well for any of us, and I apologize for that. So let me take this opportunity to respectfully and politely explain why so many people have a problem with your position on international trade deals.

We are not against trade per se, but we prefer FAIR trade over “free” trade. The problem with NAFTA, CAFTA, SHAFTA, the TPP, and all of the other trade deals you support so enthusiastically is that when they were negotiated, the only people at the table were representatives of trans-national corporations.

Those who represent working people were not given a seat at the table.

Those who represent the interests of the environment were not given a seat at the table.

The entire process was conducted in the dark, and the general public  – even members of Congress – was forbidden from knowing what was being negotiated in our names.

If these agreements had been negotiated openly, and with advocates for workers, local communities, and the environment at the table, then we might have reacted differently.

But the biggest deal-breaker is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement provision. ISDS allows a foreign corporation to sue a domestic government for passing a law that may affect potential future profits. For example, there was a state that wanted Country Of Origin Labelling on food products, but a Canadian food processor sued for potential (NOT actual) lost profits.

This is an attack on our national sovereignty, as it puts the interests of foreign corporations against the will of our own people. I really hope you can reconsider your position on such international trade deals in the future.

Perhaps my mistake was being truthful when I filled out the space on my sheet with my question. “I’d like a response to some concerns on trade.” I don’t remember hearing ANY questions where trade was the central topic.

During the last half-hour of the “listening” session, I could see Kind sifting thru the pile of question sheets in front of him. Some were discreetly shuffled to the side. I suspect the word “trade” got my sheet shuffled to the side.

“I’ll be holding another listening session in La Crosse,” he said as time wound down. But I’m not going to waste my time showing up unless those of us who didn’t get called on are guaranteed to be at the front of the line next time.

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