Faryn Balyncd's Journal
Member since: Wed Nov 23, 2005, 08:15 AM
Number of posts: 4,674
Number of posts: 4,674
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"Let’s tear down trade barriers in places like Europe and the Pacific....
The president has already expressed some support for these kinds of ideas. We’re calling on him now to cooperate to pass them."
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Wed Jan 21, 2015, 09:57 AM (8 replies)
Espey: US deserves better transparency from TPP
Hugh Espey, A Better Iowa contributor, January 13, 2015
Soon this year, Congress will vote on whether to give President Barack Obama "fast track" authority to put in place the massive, and highly secretive, Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Incoming Representatives David Young and Rod Blum, and Senator Joni Ernst, would serve the Iowans they represent — as well as the U.S. Constitution — by voting no on fast track authority. . . . . . TPP has been shrouded in secrecy from its very beginning. Aside from the 600 advisers from mostly multinational corporations, members of Congress and the American public have been kept in the dark on its contents.
The American people and those we elect to represent us deserve more than the thin promise of job creation and increased economic activity. If the TPP is so good for America and our economy, then its backers would have no need to hide behind a curtain like the Wizard of Oz, pulling whatever lever is within reach. . . . . . .Unless, of course, it's all smoke and mirrors and an even bigger corporate giveaway than its predecessor, NAFTA.
We the people deserve to know more about the TPP, and how it will impact our day-to-day lives. Plus, our constitution gives Congress the "authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations," not the president. That's why Iowa's congressional delegation, especially those newly elected by the people of Iowa, need to vote no on fast track authority. It's what lots of Iowans are expecting them to do. . . .
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hugh Espey, is executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.
Other work by Hugh Espey:
Espey: Grassley, Ernst at odds with Iowans on tax fairness issues
Espey: Braley, Ernst worlds apart on Social Security
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sat Jan 17, 2015, 11:37 PM (3 replies)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which continues the battle to prevent extreme copyright and digital privacy provisions, which could never be passed in a transparent democratic environment, from stealth passage under TPP "Fast Track", is asking our help with a petition to Sen. Wyden:
Demand an End to Secret Copyright Trade Deals
Senator Ron Wyden may hold the future of the Internet in his hands. Let's call on him to fix the secretive process that has led to trade deals carrying extreme copyright and digital privacy provisions.
As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Wyden is under pressure to fast track trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. But he has another option: to finally bring these deals out into the open. We call on him now to continue to stand up to big private interests and help ensure that our digital rights are protected. . . .If digital policies must be included in trade agreements, they cannot be dictated solely by the one-sided concerns of Hollywood and other corporate interests. Users need a seat at the table. Here are some crucial fixes that will help make that happen.
January 17, 2015
Dear Senator Wyden,
As constituents, consumers, and Internet users, we call on you to defend users' rights as you work to develop a new trade authority proposal. Democratic and transparent negotiating procedures are essential to protect those rights and the future of our Internet. Thus, any such proposal must include:
Easy, ongoing access to negotiating texts by all Congress members and their staff with proper security clearance and timely public release of concluded provisions following each round of negotiations;
Ongoing, up-to-date publication of detailed summaries of the USTR's specific proposals being submitted in negotiations;
Regular publication of agendas and transcripts of meetings and of all communications between USTR officials and all stakeholders, including industry groups;
Mandatory negotiating objectives that balance users' rights with those of private industry, including requirements to enact safeguards for free speech, privacy, and access to knowledge;
Congressional certification that negotiating objectives have been met before negotiations are concluded with only the pacts that have been so certified qualifying for expedited consideration;
Congressional approval of trade agreement texts before they can be signed by a president so that Congress explicitly authorizes a president to enter into a pact only after ensuring that an agreement’s contents are acceptable.
We stand opposed to any new version of trade authority that does not include these critical guarantees of transparency, inclusiveness and accountability. Additionally, provisions in current trade negotiations must not be considered closed until these transparency and oversight mechanisms have been put in place.
We Need to Stop the White House From Putting TPP and TTIP on the Fast Track To Ratification
Some background on why such common-sense restoration of democratic processes and transparency to the TPP is necessary:
How TPP Would Harm You At the Drug Store and On The Internet
A law affecting content on the Internet that was rejected by Congress shows up in a trade agreement designed to bypass and override Congress. Small, innovative companies that manufacture low-cost, generic drugs find their products blocked.
Those are examples of what is in store based on provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is now being negotiated by the United States and 11 other nations, that have been leaked to the public. The leaks appear to show that provision after leaked provision will take power away from democracy and countries and hand it to the biggest corporations. No wonder these giant, monopolistic corporations want Congress to approve Fast Track before they – and We the People – get a chance to read the agreement.
Because of these leaks we know that the TPP has an intellectual property section that will override government rules that limit the power giant corporations can wield against smaller competitors and the general public. Intellectual property (IP) is a term that covers patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, industrial designs and similar ‘intangible assets.”. . .
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sat Jan 17, 2015, 01:54 PM (3 replies)
Assessing the actual effects of "Free Trade Agreements", including the effects "investor-state tribunals", on Public Interest law (including environmental protection, labor law, safety, food labeling) takes on increasing relevance when we hear supporters of TPP claim that the agreement, to which U. S. Senators, Representatives, & other citizens have been denied access, will include provisions to "protect the environment".
On January 12, a CBC.ca report on a valiant attempt by Canadian environmental activists to initiate an investigation by the North American "Commission on Environmental Co-operation" into Canada's non-enforcement of its own its own Federal Fisheries Act pertaining to tar sands tailing ponds.
Despite the well-documented history of consistent attacks upon, and weakening of environmental protection under NAFTA, this valiant attempt by Canadian environmentalists was hailed by some as an example of how NAFTA, and by extension the proposed TPP, "protects" the environment.
Before one accepts such claims (especially in regards to an agreement the details of which have been denied to U. S. Senators), perhaps we should examine the differences between the manner in which complaints by citizens and environmental groups are handled, compared to the way complaints by corporations are handled:
(1.) Corporations who feel that their projected profits are negatively impacted by pesky environmental (or labor, safety, or food labeling) regulations are empowered by NAFTA to file suit in a sovereign "investor-state tribunal" which is exempt from normal judicial appeal.
(2.) In contrast, environmental groups and other citizens are not empowered to file suit in such tribunals. Instead, the process set up by NAFTA involves an entity entitled the "Commission on Environmental Co-operation" (CEC), set up with an explicit mission to "to provide the public an outlet for environmental concerns", and which "can recommend an in-depth investigation, called a factual record, if they find there are grounds. But it has no power to compel the countries to do anything."
So before we accept promises that the secretive provisions of the TPP will "protect the environment", wouldn't it be wise to look at the actual effects of NAFTA?
This question increases the relevance of Public Citizen's meticulously documented "NAFTA’s 20-Year Legacy and the Fate of the Trans Pacific Partnership":
NAFTA’s 20-Year Legacy and the Fate of the Trans Pacific Partnership
The data compiled in this report on the outcomes of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provide an answer: 20 years of living with NAFTA has created deep default skepticism among Americans about trade agreements. Even before many Americans hear details of how the TPP would expand on the NAFTA model, NAFTA’s two-decade legacy has primed them to oppose the deal.
This is not a story about protectionism, but about lived experience. The data show that NAFTA proponents’ projections of broad economic benefits from the deal have failed to materialize. Instead,millions have suffered job loss, wage stagnation, and economic instability from NAFTA. Scores of environmental, health and other public interest policies have been challenged. Consumer safeguards, including key food safety protections, have been rolled back. And NAFTA supporters’ warnings about thechaos that would engulf Mexico and a new wave of migration from Mexico, if NAFTA was not implemented have indeed come to pass, but ironically because of the devastation of many Mexicans’ livelihoods occurring, in part, because NAFTA was implemented. NAFTA was an experiment, establishing a radically new “trade” agreement model.
NAFTA was fundamentally different than past trade agreements in that it was only partially about trade. Indeed, it shattered the boundaries of past U.S.trade pacts, which had focused narrowly on cutting tariffs and easing quotas. In contrast, NAFTA created new privileges and protections for foreign investors that incentivized the offshoring of investment and jobs by eliminating many of the risks normally associated with moving production to low-wage countries. NAFTA allowed foreign investors to directly challenge before foreign tribunals domestic policies and actions, demanding government compensation for policies that they claimed undermined their expected future profits.......
(documentation of skyrocketing corporate demands for taxpayer compensation begins on page 19, and specific documentation of attacks on environmental protections in investor-state tribunals begins on pages 21.)
The sad reality is that NAFTA set up a system in which corporations who feel that their profits are threatened by pesky environmental or labor regulations may sue in a special tribunal exempt from judicial appeal, while environmental groups and citizens may only complain to a commission set up to give an "outlet" to such citizens, but which is given no enforcement powers.
What can we realistically expect from the TPP, negotiated behind closed doors, the details of which are known to corporations but not United States Senators and Representatives?
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Tue Jan 13, 2015, 08:00 PM (4 replies)
Do You Think Products Made in China Should Be Called ‘US Exports’?
by William Greider
If not, we must stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership before it does more damage to our country.
(Full article requires subscription)
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sat Jan 10, 2015, 12:16 AM (3 replies)
"Your job is to hold my feet to the fire. So, you need to be out there everyday raising these issues, telling us when we’re doing the right or wrong thing. My role is to be President of the United States, and your role is to be a strong voice for people who aren’t always heard."
"I think that’s a powerful message — what produces good policy is not just the expertise of people inside the government, but the pressure that comes from outside."
". . . I think at the core of the president’s agenda on democracy and human rights is recognizing that sustainable political change comes from the bottom up,” Weinstein said. “. . . . .You tend not to get the kinds of outcomes that you’re interested in unless you have that base of support and interest with people willing to take risks. . . . ”
The president instructed his supporters to hold "my feet to the fire" for the simple reason that without this pressure to change course when wrong, without his supporters assertively being a "voice for people who aren’t always heard.", his ability to achieve democratic outcomes is made much harder.
Blind approval is the last thing he needs: To the contrary, such misguided "support" all but guarantees that the political pressure to triangulate will result in continued shifts of the Overton Window even furthers to the right.
Blind, unquestioning approval is thus not helpful (but harmful) even when the President is fighting for correct policy, because it does not provide the positive pressure of an assertive base that is essential in this age of sold-out corporate media.
But blind, unquestioning approval is catastrophic when the President's policy is in need of the correction that can only be provided by a vigorous base of support that demands that a ill-begotten course be corrected.
Our President had the foresight to explicitly instruct us to hold his feet to the fire when he is doing the "wrong thing" that used an example of us being a "voice for people who aren’t always heard".
This wisdom could is particularly appropriate in 2015 as we (following on the heels of a budget deal that capitulated to Wall Street) confront a multifaceted corporatist attack on workers, on the ability of governments to protect the environment, on citizens, on due process through our judicial system, and massive inappropriate expansion of intellectual property laws in ways that hinder rather than promote innovation, that enrich the 1% on the backs of everyone else, all written in secret by corporate lobbyists, and falsely peddled as a "trade deal", and demands that Congress vote with no input or amendments, on faith alone.
If ever there was a time that our President NEEDS us to be that voice for people who aren’t always heard., and to hold his feet to the fire, to tell him when he is wrong, and to provide the public pressure necessary to prevent a policy disaster much worse than NAFTA, is this not the time?
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sat Jan 3, 2015, 12:11 AM (76 replies)
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)