Faryn Balyncd's Journal
Member since: Wed Nov 23, 2005, 08:15 AM
Number of posts: 4,589
Number of posts: 4,589
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Mr. Russert: "So you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?"
Sen. Obama: "I will not."
Transcript, Meet the Press, January 22, 2006
(photo from May 4, 2008)
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Mon Dec 15, 2014, 11:48 AM (68 replies)
Corporatist propagandists have been so successful at dragging the Overton Window of political discourse so far to the right that anyone who has been paying attention recognizes that the policies of a trust-busting Teddy Roosevelt, and of Eisenhower (who not only accepted the new Deal, but in 1956 ran on a platform bragging of expanding Social Security), are closer to the democratic socialism of Bernie Sanders than to the predatory corporatism currently being peddled as capitalism.
What is less commonly appreciated is that the granddaddy of free market capitalism, Adam Smith was himself so suspicious of the motives of the economic 1% that he favored regulatory policies that, expressed in 21st century American politics, would result in the intellectual patriarch of capitalism being labeled left-wing.
Emma Rothschild, director of the Center for History and Economics at King's College, Cambridge, in her study ''Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet and the Enlightenment'' portrays an Adam Smith far, far different from the "philosophy" of today's corporate apologists. Rothschild discusses how, despite the fact that Smith has been "reinvented" & misrepresented as "a narrow, unyielding defender of unfettered free enterprise", the real Adam Smith was much more complex.
The real Adam Smith:
- - - "railed against monopolies and the political influence that accompanies economic power",
- - - "worried about the encroachment of government on economic activity, but his concerns were directed at least as much toward parish councils, church wardens, big corporations, guilds and religious institutions as to the national government",
- - - "was sometimes tolerant of government intervention, especially when the object is to reduce poverty'',
- - - "supported universal government-financed education because he believed the division of labor destined people to perform monotonous, mind-numbing tasks that eroded their intelligence, not because education led to economic gain."
A sampling of Adam Smith's own words leave little doubt that, if uttered in 21st century American politics, the intellectual patriarch of capitalism would be labeled, like others who dare to confront the excesses of predatory corporatism, as one who speaks "Foolish Anti-Wall Street Rhetoric":
"The interest of the dealers , however, in any particular branch of trade or manufacture, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, and absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens."
(Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1991), pages 219-220)
"This monopoly has so much increased the number of some particular tribes of , that, like an overgrown standing army, they have become formidable to the government, and upon many occasions intimidate the legislature. The member of parliament who supports every proposal for strengthening this monopoly, is sure to acquire not only the reputation of understanding trade, but great popularity and influence with an order of men whose numbers and wealth render them of great importance. If he opposes them, on the contrary, and still more if he has authority enough to be able to thwart them, neither the most acknowledged probity, nor the highest rank, nor the greatest public services, can protect him from the most infamous abuse and destruction, from personal insults, nor sometimes from real danger, arising from the insolent outrage of furious and disappointed monopolists."
(Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, page 368)
"The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it."
(Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, page 220)
"But though the interest of the labourer is strictly connected with that of the society, he is incapable either of comprehending that interest, or of understanding its connexion with his own. His condition leaves him no time to receive the necessary information, and his education and habits are commonly such as to render him unfit to judge even though he was fully informed. In the public deliberations, therefore, his voice is little heard and less regarded, except upon some particular occasions, when his clamour is animated, set on, and supported by his employers, not for his, but for their own particular purposes."
(Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, page 218)
''When the regulation, therefore, is in support of the workman, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters.''
- Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations
''No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged.''
What is being mislabeled by today's corporate media as "far left" is actually mainstream by historical standards.
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sun Dec 14, 2014, 04:13 PM (20 replies)
by endorsing Elizabeth Warren (&/or Bernie)
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Fri Dec 12, 2014, 09:31 PM (163 replies)
We need another Full Court Press like this spring to again beat the Fast Track plan to turn Congress into a mute, non-deliberating, no input rubber stamp for a corporate spawned nightmare, that is attempting to produce a more expansive degradation in more diverse field (environmental law, worker safety, food safety, patent and copyright law, pharmaceutical pricing, the ability of local & state governments to carry out their constitutional duties to protect the general welfare, ETC) all in one, non-negotiable, no input, no deliberation of the corporate produced rules by the elected representatives of our democracy, up or down, last minute/under duress vote.
We've got to get the word out, and increase those protests in the street , if we're going to beat the corporatists again.
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Wed Dec 10, 2014, 08:52 PM (10 replies)
TPP Negotiators Hit With Protests, Media Doesn't Cover
In spite of the lack of American media coverage of this tremendously important agreement representatives of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, Internet freedom, public health, faith, human rights and community organizations held a rally Monday outside the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. These organizations represent "stakeholders" from all countries that are denied a seat at the TPP negotiating table....At the rally George Kohl, senior director of Communications Workers of America, said "We believe in trade. We are fighting against old trade policy that literally guarantees corporate profits at the expense of working families in all nations. In the weeks ahead, we will mobilize like never before against Fast Track authorizing legislation and the TPP, and for 21st century trade that gives workers' rights, environmental issues and other concerns the same standing as corporate profits."
The negotiations are secret and the kids of people at that DC rally are not represented at the bargaining table. But corporate representatives have access to drafts of the treaty, and the negotiators typically come from and expect to go to lucrative corporate positions after the treaty is finalized -- assuming they "play ball." ... While we do not know exactly what is being negotiated, we do know from leaks -- and previous "NAFTA-style" trade agreements -- tell us what to expect. Much of TPP is about "investor protections" and not trade at all. These provisions allow corporations to sue governments for doing things that infringe on profits -- like laws and regulations protecting the environment, worker safety, consumers and the health of citizens. For example, under similar agreements already in effect tobacco companies are suing governments to block anti-smoking efforts that protect the health of citizens!
Members of Congress are very concerned about the transparency of the TPP negotiating process. On a call Monday Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Keith Ellison (D-MN) and (rock star) Dan Kildee (D-MI) expressed their concerns about the secrecy of TPP as well as the failure to address currency manipulation in the agreement. Senator Elizabeth Warren put her finger on the secrecy problem, saying, "Why are the trade talks secret? You'll love this answer. Boy, the things you learn on Capitol Hill. I actually have had supporters of the deal say to me, 'They have to be secret, because if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.'
Here are a few stories about the media blackout of this important treaty -- all in the non-corporate media:
Common Dreams, As TPP Opposition Soars, Corporate Media Blackout Deafening
Media Matters, STUDY: Media Leave Viewers In The Dark About Trans-Pacific Partnership
Nation of Change, Mainstream Media Blackout of the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement
Project Censored's 2013 news that didn't make the news #3 Trans-Pacific Partnership Threatens a Regime of Corporate Global Governance
CREDO petition from February: TELL THE MEDIA: IT'S TIME TO EXPOSE THE TPP
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Wed Dec 10, 2014, 09:02 AM (22 replies)
Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's superb research and activist group, Global Trade Watch, correctly calls the Trans-Pacific Partnership "a corporate coup d'etat." Indeed, nations that join must conform their laws and rules to TPP's strictures, effectively supplanting US sovereignty and cancelling our people's right to be self-governing. Worse, it creates virtually permanent corporate rule over us--there's no expiration date on the agreement, and no provision in it can be altered unless all countries agree. Thus, even if Americans voted in an election to make changes, any other TPP country could overrule us by not agreeing.
Well, you might think, we'll still have our courts to redress corporate misuse of TPP's provisions. Uh... no........ One of the deal's chapters creates a monstrous monkey wrench called the "Investor-State Dispute Resolution" system. In this private, supra-legal "court," corporations are empowered to sue TPP governments over environmental, health, consumer, zoning, or any other public policies that the corporations claim are either undermining their TPP "rights" or diminishing--get this--their "expected future profits." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . This elevates thousands of private, profit-seeking entities to the legal status of sovereign nations. Under the investor-state system, a smaller version of which was included in NAFTA and other free-trade schemes, the deck is stacked for corporate interests. Cases are decided behind closed doors by three-person international tribunals of private attorneys who often have a glaring corporate bias. The same lawyers who represent corporations in these cases routinely switch over in other cases to serve as "judges." Holy revolving door!
These "tribunalists" are not accountable to any electorate, and their decisions are final--there's no appeal to a real court. If a corporation wins a case, taxpayers of the government being sued lose, for they must pony up cash to compensate the corporation for its "loss" of profit. . . . . . . . . . . . . At present, even before the elephantine TPP is imposed on us, corporations are demanding a total of nearly $14 billion just in cases brought under free trade arrangements that include the US. Among the current corporate giants suing governments in investor-state tribunals are (1) Philip Morris (Altria), attacking Australia's and Uruguay's cigarette labeling policies; (2) Chevron, trying to avoid its liability for the gross toxic contamination of people and nature in the Ecuadorian Amazon; (3) Eli Lilly, demanding that Canada rewrite its patent law to give its drugs extended monopoly protection; and (4) several European investment firms, assaulting Egypt's minimum wage law. . . .
(more, including effects on drug pricing, extension of drug patents, restrictions on rights of governmental bodies to negotiate with drug giants to get lower consumer prices, fracking, and details of how the TPP rolls back financial reforms, forces governments to compensate corporations for "loss of profits" due to financial reforms/regulations, and secures a corporate takeover of the internet... at http://www.hightowerlowdown.org/node/3402 )
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Mon Dec 8, 2014, 07:19 AM (62 replies)
As Bitter as Ever
The ‘Medicine’ of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
by Pete Dolack
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is as dangerous as ever. Denying access to medicines, increased surveillance of Internet usage and mandatory patents at the behest of multi-national corporations are some of the corporate goodies stashed in the TPP’s intellectual property chapter, revealed by WikiLeaks this month. Journalism could even be criminalized. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The more we know about the TPP, the worse it gets, which is why the governments of the 12 countries involved, led by the Obama administration, continue to negotiate in unprecedented secrecy. The latest text of the TPP’s intellectual property chapter shows very little change from an earlier draft also published by WikiLeaks. In a press release accompanying this month’s publication of the revised text,
WikiLeaks says: “There are significant industry-favouring additions within the areas of pharmaceuticals and patents. These additions are likely to affect access to important medicines such as cancer drugs and will also weaken the requirements needed to patent genes in plants, which will impact small farmers and boost the dominance of large agricultural corporations like Monsanto.” . . . . . . . An analysis by Public Citizen explains: “A rule require the patenting of plant-related inventions, such as the genes inserted into genetically modified plants, putting farmers in developing countries at the mercy of the agriculture industry, including seed manufacturers such as Monsanto, and threatening food security in these countries more broadly.”
Monsanto, already attempting to gain a stranglehold over the world’s food supply, is hardly in need of yet more favorable treatment. Proprietary seeds and genetically modified organisms are Monsanto’s routes to control what you eat and what farmers grow. Once under contract, farmers are required to buy new genetically engineered seeds from the company every year and the Monsanto herbicide to which the seed has been engineered to be resistant. . . . . Stealth ‘fast-track’ process needed to sneak TPP through Congress: Concomitant to the secrecy shrouding the TPP is the stealth needed to pass the “free trade” treaty. The Obama administration is seeking to be given “fast-track” authority by Congress. Under the fast-track process, Congress cedes its right to make any changes, limits its time to debate, and must schedule a straight yes-or-no vote (no amendments allowed) in a short period of time. Some of the worst “free trade” deals have been approved in this manner, and the importance of fast-track is shown in that the last U.S. trade pact approved, with South Korea, was approved in 2007 — literally one minute before fast-track authority expired!
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sun Dec 7, 2014, 06:41 PM (7 replies)
How the Trans-Pacific Partnership Would Undermine Internet Freedom
Remember SOPA - the "copyright" legislation before Congress last year that public outcry stopped cold? Well, the same corporations behind SOPA have pushed to insert its most pernicious provisions into TPP. Says who? The organizations that stopped SOPA like the Electronic Freedom Foundation and the ACLU.
Under this TPP proposal, Internet Service Providers could be required to "police" user activity (i.e. police YOU), take down internet content, and cut people off from internet access for common user-generated content.
Violations could be as simple as the creation of a YouTube video with clips from other videos, even if for personal or educational purposes....Mandatory fines would be imposed for individuals' non-commercial copies of copyrighted material. So, downloading some music could be treated the same as large-scale, for-profit copyright violations.
Innovation would be stifled as the creation and sharing of user-generated content would face new barriers, and as monopoly copyrights would be extended. The TPP proposes to impose copyright protections for a minimum of 120 years for corporate-created content... Breaking digital locks for legit purposes, such as using Linux, could subject users to mandatory fines. Blind and deaf people also would be harmed by this overreach, as digital locks can block access to audio-supported content and closed captioning.
So, is 120 years really what the framers had in mind, when writing the Constitution?
Article One, section 8, clause 8:
"The Congress shall have power ... To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."
Is 120 years the appropriate "limited time" term of copyright protection, given the framers stated goal of promoting "the progress of science and useful arts"?
EFF: All Nations Lose with TPP's Expansion of Copyright Terms
....corporate works that were not published within 25 years of its creation, are protected the term of protection is 120 years from the date of the creation.This provision expands the terms of the controversial US Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (or the “Mickey Mouse Act” as it was called due to Disney’s heavy lobbying) to countries of the Pacific region. New Zealand, a party to the TPP negotiations, currently has a copyright term of the author’s life and an additional 50 years for literary works. Another TPP member, Malaysia, has a copyright term of life plus 50 years for “literary, musical or artistic work.” Canada, which is just entering negotiations, has an even shorter term of just 50 years for fixed sound recordings. Pursuant to the current TPP terms , all of these countries would be required to extend their terms and grant companies lengthy exclusive rights to works for no empirical reason.
The common justification for granting restrictive monopoly rights in copyright law is to provide an “incentive” for people to generate material that can be enjoyed by the public. But economists and law scholars who have studied this rationale have found that “the optimal length of copyright is at most seven years.” . . . Long copyright terms are a poor recipe for compensating creators, who generally receive low royalties from their works.5 And yet, the strong copyright lobby prevents any recommendation to reduce the presently excessive terms, attacking any attempt to speak for the public domain or for users rights and dazzles politicians with nonsensical “copyright math”.
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sat Dec 6, 2014, 05:21 PM (16 replies)
Historically, free trade agreements were designed to reduce or eliminate protective barriers (tariffs, in particular), which weakened monopolistic power by opening borders to trans-border competition.
But, as Paul Krugman has noted, there is already extensive trading between TPP nations as protective tariffs are largely already gone. Consequently, from a "free trade" perspective, the TPP is not a big deal, as virtual free trade is already a fait accompli.
So now, as everyone knows, "free trade agreements" are no longer about free trade.
It's a familiar pattern. Corporate interests have co-opted the process, utilizing the language of free trade, while using the largely secret negotiations to erect new walls to competition.
These new walls are primarily in the form of locking in corporate written interpretations & enhancements of intellectual property law (especially as preferred by Big Pharma, big AgriBusiness) and the outright subversion of popular sovereignty by the setting up (separate from established courts) of corporate designed arbitration panels which allow corporations to sue & financially cripple any pesky local or state government who would have the audacity to use its constitutional power & duty to protect the general welfare by passing appropriate environmental, worker protection, or safety regulations (or, in the case of the TPP, have the audacity to require labeling of food content such as GMO ingredients).
So we now live in a world of "Free Trade Agreements In Name Only", mockeries of language which, by strengthening rather than weakening corporate monopolies, have the opposite effect of historical, actual free trade, having been co-opted, twisted, and perverted by corporate interests.
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sat Dec 6, 2014, 07:54 AM (10 replies)