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Member since: Sat Dec 6, 2003, 05:15 AM
Number of posts: 57,936

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I agree that the reason we, the US do not compete well or work together well with the international

trade community, is that we do not have the social infrastructure and safety net to respond and retool to the lost jobs and the changes that globalization requires.

But I have a more serious objection to global trade.

The corporate form of business organization is useful. It encourages efficient investment, allowing capital to flow into useful purposes and be used well to develop new products and services for the benefit of our society.

But corporations are not organized democratically. Corporations are autocratic, dictatorial institutions by nature. They are specifically and clearly organized in order to limit the social responsibility, even the potential indebtedness in case of failure of the corporation to its creditors. They can be useful means of development for democratic societies as long as the corporations are regulated by and answer to the democratic will as expressed in government. But corporations are by definition, by organization, by law, structures that avoid or limit responsibility.

In addition, human beings are limited by nationality (dual nationality, maybe even triple nationality is possible but people are still limited by national affiliation and their geographical location) while corporations today are often multinational.

Thus individual human beings who are limited and defined by geographical and national limits and who form governments, hopefully in a democratic fashion are now living in a world in which corporations, irresponsible (by design), undemocratic (by definition) and in need of regulation are organized as multinationals, huge multinationals with large amounts of capital and an irresistible drive to dominate, to compete, to govern selfishly and recklessly, irresponsibly and to get what the corporation wants in spite of the needs of people and nations.

And these corporations, which could and do serve an essential role in our society, are because of and via our trade agreements overwhelming our democratic institutions and replacing them with the autocratic, dictatorial institutions of corporations.

And that i view as an insurmountable drawback to the trade agreements and the ISDS courts.

Corporations are not perhaps intentionally conspiring to take over the world via these trade agreements. But that will be the result of the trade agreements.

I do not think that it is possible to have international regulation of these huge corporations that is compatible with democracy and the local law-making, local rule, local government that is necessary if democratic institutions are to thrive.

China, a Communist dictatorship, has found a way to deal compatibly with the corporate investment model. But it is still not a democracy. It is a nation ruled by one party, the Communist Party. interestingly although not surprisingly because of its huge population, it is the biggest exporting nation in the world.

It is proof that international trade is no impediment to dictatorship.

The US, a democracy for well over 200 years, on the other hand has a large trade deficit, has seen its steel sector, and other industrial sectors such as furniture production, etc. nearly shut down. We are unable to compete.

The corporate model is a dictatorship. If we value democracy, we need to protect it at all costs, even by entering into one-on-one trade agreements with other countries rather than these multi-national trade agreements through which the corporations, which are not limited by geographical location or national affiliation, outmaneuver us and destroy us and our democratic ways of life.

I note that even Germany which, with its amazingly effective training and retraining system (I've lived there and know it well) which its wonderfully efficient and skilled labor force, with its long tradition of labor guilds and now unions and good relationships between employers and employees, is under pressure from corporations that want to force it to accept nuclear power that it does not want.

So, I oppose these corporate-dominated, sociopath, supernationa, undemocratic trade deals including but not limited to the TPP.

We should go back to unilateral trade agreements until we get our balance of payments system

under control and until there is some way to appoint judges that gives ordinary people some input, even if remote.

The trade courts are not a democratic institution. Neither is the WTO.

And they are bound to fail America.

Those arbitration courts are inconsistent with American values. I understand the idealism of the Rockefellers and the Roosevelts and Wilsons who wanted world government. I know the history. But the fact is that the trade courts are incompatible with our representative democracy. What is more important? World trade? Or our democratic institutions?

Let's just write the experiment with the international trade courts including the WTO off as a learning experience.

Fact is, that in recent years, corporations have discovered the means to circumvent local, democratically passed laws through the trade courts. They are doing tthis not just in the US and Canada but in countries like El Salvador where a gold-mining company sued to be able to ruin the water the Salvadorians drink.

If we don't end the trade court or limit the trade court authority, we will end up with a world dominated by corporations, rogue corporations who control governments such as our own and bypass democratic institutions.

I realize that is not precisely the case now, tut that is where we are headed.
. . . .
Nearly thirty years ago, the Wisconsin-based Commerce Group Corp. purchased a gold mine near the San Sebastian River in El Salvador and contaminated the water. Now, according to Lita Trejo, a native Salvadoran and school worker in Washington, DC, the once clear river is orange. The people who drink from the arsenic-polluted river, she says, are suffering from kidney failure and other diseases.

. . . .

An Australian-Canadian mining company, OceanaGold, is suing the Salvadoran government for refusing to grant it a gold-mining permit to its subsidiary, Pacific Rim. Manuel Pérez-Rocha, a researcher at the Institute for Policy Studies, explained the situation: “OceanaGold is demanding more than $300 million from El Salvador. They are saying, ‘If you do not let us operate in your country the way we want, you must pay us for the profits that you prevented us from making.’”

That sounds absurd, but it’s true: The company is claiming that under the Central American Free Trade Agreement, it has the right to sue the Salvadoran government for passing a law that threatens its bottom line.

El Salvador is now defending its decision to prevent OceanaGold/Pacific Rim from operating the El Dorado mine near the Lempa River before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a little-known World Bank–based tribunal.


It's a real problem. These courts are now disenfranchising, depriving of local rule, only people in a few countries. But the potential that these courts and that system of resolving disputes between corporations and countries is menacing. We do not need those courts.

The gold mining company in El Salvador, for example, should accept the decision of the Salvadorian people to reject their gold mine endeavor.

The international trade courts have the potential and it is a very real potential to deprive people all over the world of human rights. The trade courts are designed at this time to placer CORPORATE RIGHTS above HUMAN RIGHTS.

And that is why I object to the trade courts.

Corporations should only be able to sue a country when that country allows it. I could understand trade courts in which a country sues a country. But the ability of corporations to bring claims in the trade courts is anti-democratic. That procedural possibility needs to be ended. Corporations are merely legal constructs. They should not be participating, much less, interfering or threatening, democratic institutions and values.

So you agree with Paul Ryan on the TPP?

“Completing these trade deals is my No. 1 priority,” Ryan said Thursday at a Washington International Trade Association event in Washington.


My views.

1. Will refocus some Eastern hemisphere trade away from China and toward SE Asia.

And what does that do for out-of-work or underemployed Americans? What in the world does that have to do with the US? China is huge. Our trade with China is what has enabled it to build its military strength. While we are rejecting TPP, why don't we reject trade or control or limit trade with China. Why don't we tie the amount of trade we have with China and other countries to the size of our trade deficit? If our trade deficit grows, we trade less. CORRUPTION

The problem is not whether China will trade more with other countries. The question is whether our practice of importing so much more from China and other countries than we export is weakening our economy and therefore our ability in years to come to defend ourselves? CORRUPTION.

While under some circumstances increasing trade can make for a more peaceful world, it is quite likely to lead to war if we find ourselves to be an angry debtor nation forced increasingly into austerity at home because we are buying necessities like socks and shoes and pillowcases and even food on the international markets on borrowed money that we cannot repay because we no longer have the factories to produce goods that other countries want to buy. CORRUPTION. Heat up a cold war with China. More money for "defense industries." When we started to trade with China, it was to make friends and not have a war with China. That appears to have been a stupid plan. So now we want to make more friends (translate buy more friends with money we don't have) and that is supposed to prevent war with China. That's like the drunk getting up in the morning and taking another drink so he won't have such a headache. We are simply drunk on free trade. And our CORRUPT politicians and cynical corporations are plying us with the drink that made us sick in the first place.

Your first question assumes a lot of things about how the world works that are simply false. There is no reason to think that China will fail to trade a great deal with other third world countries simply because we sign the TPP which on paper sets rules (unenforceable as to labor and environment no matter what Obama says) that are likely to lead to a greater trade deficit for us. The first item is based on so much empty speculation about what might happen if that it is just silly. Sorry to be insulting, but the first point is so much hot air and speculation. Frightening speculation. But speculation nonetheless.

2. Why would a poor, developing country sign an agreement with us if it protected our jobs at their expense?

Good question. Why should a country such as ours with a huge and growing trade deficit sign such an agreement. I can think of no reason other than corruption among those negotiating and pushing for the signing of the agreement. No possible explanation other than corruption. Big corporations corrupting just about everyone and everything they come near much less touch. CORRUPTION.

3. Why would a poor, developing country sign an agreement with us if it protected our jobs at their expense?

Good question. Why would we sign an agreement with a poor country if it transferred our jobs to that country at the expense of American working people and our society and national sovereignty? CORRUPTION. That's why. Pay-offs to top level politicians. Politicians who represent, work for, are paid by and advocate for the interests of multinational corporations and not for the people of the developing country/US. CORRUPTION

4. In a financially multipolar world, TPP would not fall as heavily on the shoulders of the US as China trade did - China would also pay, whether it wants to or not.

Only because we have already lost so many jobs. Let's focus on reviving our industrial base and using alternative fuels to do it. Let's set the example for the world before we so impoverish ourselves that we ourselves are ranked among the "developing" nations of the world. CORRUPTION. And again, this point is completely speculative. We heard all the speculative reassurances that NAFTA would be so good for our economy. It and the other trade agreements we already have entered into have nearly destroyed our economy and our industrial base. Why in the world would we want to get tangled up in yet another trade agreement when we haven't yet managed to sustain our industrial development with the agreements we have? And we should exit our agreement with China and reconsider our agreement with NAFTA. The world is taking advantage of us and our leaders are either too stupid or too CORRUPT to work for our benefit.

5. Negotiations involve bargaining positions one doesn't necessarily intend to see in the actual deal, so don't get hysterical over every leaked proposal.

If the agreement has not been completely negotiated or at least not negotiated to the point that a draft of the entire agreement can be published for all of us to read, then drop the pressure about fast-trac. It looks very much as though Obama is pressing for fast-trac to please his corporate masters. It looks very much like CORRUPTION. And the pressure being placed on members of Congress to vote for this hideous agreement and for more trade when we have a huge balance of trade deficit can be nothing but CORRUPTION. Let's rebuild American infrastructure and the American industrial base with alternative energy and then maybe we can trade with other countries and set an example of a good economy and a good, strong, democratic society that other countries will want to emulate. Trade is not the way. We have had NAFTA and GATT and other trade agreements in place for over 20 years now and our economy is worse off than it was when we entered into those agreements. Let's lay off the trade agreements until our economy is stronger and until we no longer have such a huge trade deficit.

6. If we aren't willing to make such deals, China is.

So, let China run up a big trade deficit. We don't need to. CORRUPTION.

AND I SAY IT ONE MORE TIME: CORRUPTION. Let's find out who is paying whom to get these trade agreements that have harmed America and Americans.

But, McCamy, watch this speech:


Sorry, but Bernie doesn't have to apologize. Why support a candidate who has to apologize, whether Byrd or Hillary when you have a candidate that is smart, most often right in his judgment even on complex foreign policy issues and can speak with moral authority, authenticity, a candidate we can trust through and through.

Again. Watch this.


It's Bernie and he is the best qualified to be president in 2016. Authentic, honest and very, very wise. No need to apologize. And if he does need to apologize about something, he will be ready to do it.

Bernie is our candidate for 2016. I'm just amazed at this speech.


As I usually do in preparing for an election, I am gathering articles, books and information

on the candidates that I may refer to when preparing to stand on a street corner or somewhere and talk to voters.

Here is the first document that I have printed out and will file in a notebook in order to refresh my memory from time to time (with acknowledgement to Loonix who posted it first):

f You’re Wondering If Hillary Is Turning Populist, Just Ask Her Banker Friends

Hillary Clinton is trying to recast herself as the future president of the people—but she’ll need more than a PR campaign to erase her longstanding ties to Wall Street.

<snip>To grasp the dangers that the Big Six banks (JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley) presently pose to the financial stability of our nation and the world, you need to understand their history in Washington, starting with the Clinton years of the 1990s. Alliances established then (not exclusively with Democrats, since bankers are bipartisan by nature) enabled these firms to become as politically powerful as they are today and to exert that power over an unprecedented amount of capital. Rest assured of one thing: their past and present CEOs will prove as critical in backing a Hillary Clinton presidency as they were in enabling her husband’s years in office.


Do you know of an alternative?

I don't think there is one.

The icebergs that are melting are adding fresh or unsalty water to the ocean.

Icebergs that break off into the ocean from glaciers do not contain salt, as they are formed by freshwater on land (snow, ice).

Icebergs that form in the ocean mostly do not contain salt either. This is because as the seawater freezes, it forms a crystal structure (ice) that prevents salt ions from being included.


I suppose the salt we would put in would not change the proportion of the salt in the ocean all that much. A lot of the water we use goes right back into the ocean. We are on the coast.

What is storm water pollution?

Storm water pollution is when water from rainstorms, garden hoses and sprinklers causes runoff that collects harmful debris and flows through local creeks, rivers and lakes - eventually draining, untreated, into the ocean.
. . . .
Los Angeles is located in four watersheds - Los Angeles River, Ballona Creek, Dominguez Channel and Santa Monica Bay. The water from these four watersheds flows into San Pedro and Santa Monica Bays and ultimately into the Pacific Ocean.
. . . .
Storm water flows do not receive any treatment because of the sheer volume of runoff – tens of millions of gallons on even the driest day – from an area encompassing more than 1,000 square miles.
. . . .

The sanitary sewer system takes waste water from toilets, showers and sinks and routes it to one of several waste water treatment plants here in Los Angeles. Once there, it receives multiple levels of treatment before being discharged into the ocean.



We put a lot of water that is salty in the ocean, so if we put salt in it too, I suppose it won't be such a problem.

Great work! Hillary and Bill could do a lot of good with their foundation if they stuck

to doing the foundation work.

But their foundation relies on donations from extremely wealthy people to do that good work.

And that is where a problem arises if we want to get big money, the money of wealth and influence out of our government and have a government that governs for all of us.

It is very difficult to go to wealthy people for money and then turn around and speak out for some cause or law that the wealthy people do not want.

I worked in fundraising for eight years. I know all about the influence that wealthy people and their money can have on you when you go out begging for donations for good causes.

I left fundraising when I caught myself going down my list of friends and categorizing them according to whether they were rich enough to give a sizable donation to the homeless project I worked on. I realized at that point that somehow the need to fund the project was causing me to place the value of wealth, my need for money, above the value of human qualities. I'm not sure many will understand what I mean by this.

But to put it another way, I felt that I might be beginning to "suck up" to people who had money because I needed their money for the project that I and others were working together on. I felt that I was developing discrimination against old friends just because they were not wealthy. I'm exaggerating a bit, but some will understand what I mean.

When you try to raise money from the wealthy, you begin to spend a lot of time with them. You think about entertaining them according to their tastes. They invite you for lunch at their clubs, etc. and if you do enough of that, you lose the sense of the value of people who are middle class and poor and you lose touch with life outside the elite clubs. You go home to your modest house and life and you feel poor.

I don't think I can explain this well.

This morning i woke up thinking about a friend of mine who lost her job some years ago

due to a leveraged buy-out and through no fault of her own. (She was an exemplary employee.) Within 7 months after losing her job, she was diagnosed with cancer. Of course, having lost her job, she had no health insurance. (Even with Obamacare, I'm not sure she is covered.) Her medications cost thousands of dollars a month. She and her husband had purchased a home years ago but still owed on the mortgage.

She got Medical, but there is something that most people do not know about Medicaid and Medical.

Here is is:

Under Medicaid law, following the death of the Medicaid recipient a state must attempt to recover from his or her estate whatever long-term care benefits it paid for the recipient's care. States also have the option of recovering all Medicaid benefits from individuals over age 55, including costs for any medical care, not just long-term care benefits. However, no recovery can take place until the death of the recipient's spouse, or as long as there is a child of the deceased who is under age 21 or who is blind or disabled.

While states must attempt to recover funds from the Medicaid recipient's probate estate, meaning property that is held in the beneficiary's name only, they have the option of seeking recovery against property in which the recipient had an interest but which passes outside of probate. This includes jointly held assets, assets in a living trust, or life estates. Given the rules for Medicaid eligibility, the only probate property of substantial value that a Medicaid recipient is likely to own at death is his or her home. However, states that have not opted to broaden their estate recovery to include non-probate assets may not make a claim against the Medicaid recipient's home if it is not in his or her probate estate.

In addition to the right to recover from the estate of the Medicaid beneficiary, state Medicaid agencies must place a lien on real estate owned by a Medicaid beneficiary during his or her life unless certain dependent relatives are living in the property. If the property is sold while the Medicaid beneficiary is living, not only will the beneficiary cease to be eligible for Medicaid due to the cash from the sale, but the beneficiary would have to satisfy the lien by paying back the state for its coverage of care to date. The exceptions to this rule are cases where a spouse, a disabled or blind child, a child under age 21, or a sibling with an equity interest in the house is living there.

Whether or not a lien is placed on the house, the lien's purpose should only be for recovery of Medicaid expenses if the house is sold during the beneficiary's life. The lien should be removed upon the beneficiary's death. However, check with an elder law attorney in your state to see how your local agency applies this federal rule.


Medicaid is not a gift to those who are buying or who own their homes. It is sort of a way of means-testing qualification for Medicaid. So no matter how hard my friend had worked, once she had medical bills in the thousands and thousands, it was gone or most of it was gone.

Cancer and many other expensive diseases including end-of-life care in a nursing home impoverish people at random.

I thought about this when I woke up today. How many heart operations has Dick Cheney had? And he of course is covered by excellent insurance and will not lose his home. But if you or I or our parents or families suffered from a medical problem and faced a choice between paying huge amounts for medications and operations or death, we would suffer and if we had been fortunate enough to buy a house or save money, it would be gone in a flash as it was with my friend.

Obamacare has helped to alleviate this problem, but we still have many people uninsured.

Everyone deserves the kind of healthcare that Dick Cheney has received (even Cheney in my opinion) and we need a system of healthcare that really provides the health insurance to cover that care for EVERYONE, and not just those who qualify for Obamacare and for health insurance in general.

I lived in European countries in which health care was viewed as a right. Of the countries in which I lived, I liked the French system the best. French doctors saved my life, and I was not a French citizen. I had health insurance from another European country, but France took care of me anyway.

That's the kind of health care we need in America. Everyone, even those between jobs, should have the health care they choose. Under the healthcare plan I had, I could choose my doctor. Virtually all doctors were available on my plan, and I could pick a different doctor every few months if I felt I was not getting the care I needed.

Now, think about all I have said and the fact that the Republicans just tried to eliminate any estate taxes on the rich.

The Medicaid claim to the assets of a person who needs a lot of expensive care wipes out the assets of many hardworking people in the middle class. We need to change this, and if everyone pays a fair share to insure against severe illness, we can change this.

I'm voting for Bernie. I don't know whether he agrees with me on my view of health insurance, but I think he has a similar view.

And yes, Bernie is right about Scandinavia. We should learn from them and from the Germans and Austrians and Swiss on many issues.

We can still work on our own problems with racism before we worry about the problems with racism in other countries. Baltimore and Ferguson are my problems, not Stockholm. I want to copy the good things that the Scandinavians do and when our race relations are so good we can brag about them, then we can tell the Scandinavians how to correct theirs.

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