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Watch and read: The linked article and video below by Alexandra Rosenmann from the AlterNet is from an interview with Noam Chomsky discussing TPIP. Chomsky says TPIP “has nothing to do with reducing tariffs, (and calls) it ‘pretty extreme’.” Greenpeace, having recently released a portion of the agreement (about 280 pages) says: “Whether you care about environmental issues, animal welfare, labor rights or internet privacy, you should be concerned about what is in these leaked documents. They underline the strong objections civil society and millions of people around the world have voiced: TTIP is about a huge transfer of power from people to big business.”
Chomsky points out that “so-called free-trade agreements are not free-trade agreements. To a larger extent they’re not even trade agreements. These are investor rights agreements.” By all means, let’s protect investors above all else. In the short video you’ll hear exactly what Chomsky says. Read the rest of this entry »
Read this: The news abounds with stories about the problems in our economy. Those in power too often rush to curtail social programs in the name of austerity. Something’s not working. “Many jobs are now part-time, flexi-time, or “gigs” with no benefits and few protections. And, we spend a lot of money to subsidize” more and more of us and resenting them simultaneously. There are lots of people talking about expanding the welfare state while others try hard to eliminate as much of it as possible.
While inequality spreads like the plague, it is obvious that something has to change. New ideas need to be explored. The attached article “Welcome To The Post-Work Economy” found in co.exist, by Ben Schiller, takes a close look at Finland’s attempt to try something quite different. They are attempting to universally protect everyone from changes in technology, etc. that are beyond their control. The system is called a “universal basic income” (UBI)—where the state gives everyone enough to live on. This would put a floor under the class of people we’re calling the ‘precariat,’ people for whom work doesn’t lead to increased financial security. It would free us from the bullshit, allowing everyone to benefit from automation, not just the lucky few.” Yes this is a very different kind of protection. Of course critics are everywhere suggesting “it’s unaffordable, impractical, and liable to lead to millions of layabouts living off the government dime—and perhaps they’re right. These criticisms are reasonable. But before dismissing UBI too quickly, it’s important to consider the idea not in the context of our current economy, but of what the economy could become in the future.” After all technology continues to change and often does a poor job (at best) of preparing us for the consequences. What will the new economy look like and how will we become prepared?
Schiller says we “need to read Postcapitalism, a profound and important book by Paul Mason, a British economist and journalist. Mason makes the case for UBI, among a larger set of changes necessitated by the failure of the current system.” A couple key points:
- “We need to move towards a “postcapitalist” economy, where working for money loses its centrality, where goods, information, and intellectual property are shared, and where economic actors collaborate in new ways,”
- He “shows how current economic orthodoxy—based around “free markets,” globalization and an oversized role for the financial services industry—isn’t some historical end-state, perfecting everything that went before. Rather, it’s the result of a particular set of choices, starting in the 1980s, that advantage some people over others.”
The article continues citing many factors that make UBI something we need to consider, such as : “inherent instability of the current system”, “cheap money where the seeds of debt-derived disaster are being replanted”, “Western capitalism’s fantasy with the financialization of debt”, “intellectual goods (informational / software) are intrinsically different from physical goods (car)”, “In time, technology is likely to drive many things to ‘zero marginal cost'”, “belief by leaders today that the market must set the limits of climate action”.
Mason says “we should socialize aspects of the finance industry (to stop it from taking all the profits while leaving society with bail-out bills), socialize information (so Google and Facebook don’t enjoy information asymmetry), encourage collaborative work and nonprofits, and nationalize utilities.” A basic income is key in a non-market economy, and “it would stop people from having to do things that machines can do more easily and more safely.”
Open your mind. Read and consider something very different.
My thoughts: Bernie Sanders is calling for a political revolution – Me too. Most progressives and Democrats have have trouble with this and have no interest or understanding of such an idea. Their focus is narrower, as they are busy fighting for a multitude of issues, many of which may have varying success. Some of these may even have overlapping benefits, evoking even more enthusiasm. These people work extremely hard to make these changes: civil rights, Obama Care, women’s health & equality, minimum wage and many other truly valuable democratic causes. The problem is, none of these changes (even most of the New Deal) are secure in the democracy currently practiced in America. Every government in history is a reflection of those in power, accumulated over time and power (real power, not just who gets elected) only changes through revolution. America’s democracy is controlled by the wealthy and their primary weapon or tool is the corporation. Yes, “we need a revolution”, but where Bernie focuses on a variety of policies, I believe the primary or initial policy of that revolution should be to remove any and all political power from corporations. Corporations are not people and have no innate rights under the U.S. Constitution and this statement must be permanently written therein.
We are currently at a place where, over time, the wealthy have worked diligently, enabling corporations to wheedle their way as legal precedents onto various Supreme Court decisions, thus granting corporations “rights” that were never intended via the Constitution. Over time, other changes such as “money as speech” have also been assumed (Citizens United). From the late 1800’s, “Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad” decision, The Powell Memorandum to ALEC, the power and affect of corporations has become more and more successful and refined. Who has more money/speech/power than multi national corporations and their billionaire directors? The power and control over the laws that are written/passed (NAFTA, CAFTA and soon TPP), the people elected and the control of the news and advertising we see and hear are all frightening. “We The People” have no real chance as things currently stand. It is merely a game to play at, as we deceive ourselves.
To begin this revolution we need an amendment to the constitution that correctly defines the corporation. This process is already in progress through many groups and one of the best is called Move To Amend, where the focus is very specific and simple. I would also like to see severe changes in the rules of incorporation of every state, maybe even national standards eliminating loopholes. At one time corporations could only exist as long as they proved a social benefit (yes socialism) and when that was not present the corporation was dissolved. A pretty sweet idea with some real teeth.
After “corporate personhood” is correctly defined in the constitution the ability of the Supreme Court, wealthy players and political organizations to manipulate laws ensuring inequality through the continuation of any excessive leverage should be severely curtailed. This process will take some time. Simultaneously, the ability of social, progressive and democratic policies become much more viable. While these two breakthroughs are strengthening, members of Congress and the Senate can begin to focus on reacting to the desires of the larger population, no longer needing to spend ridiculous quantities of time (or any) seeking money and then bending to the whims of power players. Lastly, as citizens organize to accomplish change, they will have a much greater assurance that those changes may endure. Additionally, the causes that they fight for (like climate change and Obama Care) may not need to be diluted, fearing the rage of corporations (insurance industry, pharmaceutical industry, fossil fuels industry, etc.) and their lobbyists. They may actualize the change that is needed, when it is needed.
Yes we need a revolution, but Bernie, because of climate change, we need to make sure we are focused on the correct target, where real changes can occur and endure, where the political process is corrected. This revolution must focus on corporations.
We all know that climate disruption is here. It’s arrived at doorsteps around the world and directly impacts millions. Many of the direct consequences of climate disruption are on our health. This is no less true in the United States than it is in in the developing world. The U.S. Global Change Research Program’s draft Climate & Health Assessment highlights the many impacts of climate on Americans ranging from vector-borne diseases to food safety to extreme weather, that potentially leads to thousands of illnesses and premature deaths per year.
Read this: If we don’t wake up and begin to understand what a democracy means, the oligarchs will soon own and control everything. They have recently captured the press, their current target is government and widespread expansion of power. Some would call this fascism. In the article linked below, Thom Hartmann does a brief examination of what fascism is, warnings we have been given by our historical leaders and signs of American Fascism.
Basically the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is, “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.” Famous fascist Benito Mussolini said it is not “a government of, by, and for We The People; instead, (a) fascist state would be a government of, by, and for the most powerful corporate interests in the nation.” We sure have that here in the USA. We have gone so far as to grant corporations (fictitious entities) personhood, granting them constitutional rights intended for humans. What have we done? Empowered by writings such as The Powell Memorandum and organizations such as ALEC “they (corporations are) openly in charge of the government”.
The amazing thing is we have been consistently warned about the trend towards fascism. People such as “former vice-president Henry Wallace was talking about (it) when he warned us 71 years ago about the ‘American fascists’ among us.” But, “almost a decade before Henry Wallace … President Roosevelt had actually made a similar warning during his speech at the 1936 Democratic Convention.”
Hartmann emphasizes two critical aspects of the current fascist movements: fascist movements are worldwide and the 2016 elections in America (all elections, not just the presidency) are directly in the cross-hairs. Read Hartmann’s’ entire article and use it to view what is happening through a more accurate filter.
Watch and listen, really listen: Sometimes we don’t have to say anything, just listen. In the video from the link below, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, from The Environmental Children’s Organisation (ECO), addresses the very first U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Rio. After watching I thought, WOW this will have an effect. It has some real power and maybe it will catch the hearts and influence the actions of leaders around the world. What I didn’t catch, initially, was that the year was 1992 and though it was definitely a fantastic speech, deaf ears and existing agendas do not easily change. So much for the effect on those who could have actually done something. The second video shows Cullis-Suzuki 20 years later, now a mother herself, but still fighting as she recaps where we are today. Frustrated, but not quiting she says, instead of acting to change / correct the sources of the problem, leaders (in Canada, likewise the world) have moved “to gut conservation legislation, to devalue science and now to discredit environmental non profits in Canada. Finally, Canada left the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol, even though they were one of the first governments to sign back in 1998”. Her 1992 speech should be consistently played before environmental leaders, particularly where she says “You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer. You don’t know how to bring salmon back up a dead stream. You don’t know how to bring back an animal now extinct. And you can’t bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert. If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!”.
Watch these two videos and and wonder, Why? How could they? How do we change this? The answer, like Tom Hartman says as he ends his radio and TV shows, “Democracy, tag, your it”. We all have to become players.
Read this: The subject of Climate Change provokes many differing emotions in all of us. Many of them we are not effectively equipped to deal with. Nevertheless we must. The article below found in The World Wildlife Magazine, by Lou Leonard looks at many of these ways we deal with sych an overwhelming issue. As recently stated by Dr. Jim Yong Kim President, World Bank Group “we know that if we don’t confront climate change, there will be no hope of ending poverty or boosting shared prosperity. Furthermore, the longer we delay, the higher the cost will be to do the right thing for our planet and our children.” Leonard goes on saying that “Climate change is almost always told as a bad news story.” He sights examples, some of which many of us had not considered like “in the years leading up to the Syrian civil war, the region suffered from the worst drought in its modern history. As Abu Khalil, a local commander in the Syrian opposition and a former cotton farmer, put it, this is ‘a revolution of hungry people.'” Leonard stresses the urgency saying “Carbon pollution is causing climate impacts already—today, decades ahead of schedule.” And, of course, there is the desperation argument that there is nothing we can do about it. But “unfortunately, that’s been proven not to be the case, and we need to begin to acknowledge the aspect of interdependence that is our effect on the environment even as the environment affects us. ” The arctic is the real indicator we need to watch. As Margaret Williams, leader of WWF’s Arctic program, says, “This isn’t Las Vegas; what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.”
On the positive side Leonard says “While our climate system is changing faster than expected, so too are our energy, food and forest systems. And public attitudes and calls for action are also changing. In this case, the changes are not only fast, but many are really positive. Even better: these solutions are uniting rather than dividing us, which makes us stronger and more resilient for what’s ahead.”
There is too much in this excellent article to try to rehash here. Please invest the time to read the complete article. You will be better off for having done so.
Read this: Since the early 1970’s the 99% has increasingly been victims of the myth of “Trickle Down” economics. We don’t seem to hear the term as often today, but its’ policies continue to infect our political system, very much alive and well. The article below from The Daily KOS, by Laura Clawson, illustrates one of the key pieces that spread the effects of this myth – “reducing corporate taxes produces jobs”. This “frequently cited rationale for corporate tax breaks (suggests) that companies will use the extra money to create jobs. They’d love to create jobs, we’re told, if only they could afford to do so, and one more tax break will make that possible.” The reality, after recitation of the myth puts us to sleep, like any good fairy tale should, “we see that many companies are sitting on giant piles of cash and cutting jobs anyway.” But where are the numbers to support this you ask. According to Clawson’s article, “The AFL-CIO’s Paywatch includes some data on major corporate cash hoarders—five companies that added $57.8 billion to their cash stockpiles between 2007 and 2011 while cutting more than 64,000 jobs worldwide. (We can’t know how many of those jobs were in the United States, because companies aren’t required to tell us that.)” If we can’t kill the “Trickle Down” myth, what can we do? Perhaps a shift in policies would help – you think? “We know that helping these corporations accumulate more money doesn’t create jobs or help the working economy. And if lower corporate taxes created jobs, the United States would be at full employment and looking into making second jobs mandatory, given our effective corporate tax rate. If corporations are going to act only in their own shortest-term self-interest, our policies and politics should at least reflect that, and make it mandatory for them to pay something approaching their share.”
Read this: This article from the Los Angeles Times, by RONG-GONG LIN II, gives details on what is being called a “Godzilla El Niño”. The storm “has the potential to become one of the most powerful on record, as warming ocean waters surge toward the Americas, setting up a pattern that could bring once-in-a-generation storms this winter to drought-parched California.” But this doesn’t mean the California drought is over. Bill Patzert, a climatologist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge says “this definitely has the potential of being the Godzilla El Niño.” Warnings suggest “so much rain all at once has proved devastating to California in the past. In early 1998, storms brought widespread flooding and mudslides, causing 17 deaths and more than half a billion dollars in damage in California. Downtown L.A. got nearly a year’s worth of rain in February 1998”. This will not necessarily solve California’s drought for any extended period of time. “The Pacific Ocean west of California is substantially warmer than it was in 1997. That could mean that though El Niño-enhanced precipitation fell as snow in early 1998, storms hitting the north could cause warm rain to fall this winter. Such a situation would not be good news ‘for long-term water storage in the snowpack,’ said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at Stanford University.”This is another example of the complicated nature of “Climate Change” and our need to actively pursue corrections in our behaviors worldwide that continue to contribute to its’ acceleration. Please support Climate Change legislations.