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Nederlog

June 13, 2015
Crisis: Fast Track * 2, Leftist Spanish Mayor, Scheer & Jay, TPP+TTIP+TiSA
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton















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Sections
Introduction

1.
Fast Track Derailed? House Deals Blow to
     Corporate-Friendly Trade Agenda

2.
House Rejects Obama's Corporate-Friendly Trade Deal
     In Stunning Defeat

3. Podemos-Backed, Anti-Austerity Leftist Becomes
     Madrid's New Mayor

4. Robert Scheer: Plundering Our Freedom With Abandon
     (Part 2 of 3
)
5Fast-track Hands the Money Monopoly to Private Banks
     — Permanently


This is a Nederlog of Saturday June 13, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items: item 1 and item 2 are two different articles about the same event (the fast track is - initially, at least - defeated); item 3 is about a turn to the left in Spain; item 4 is about the second of three
interviews that Paul Jay of the Real News made with Robert Scheer; and item
5
is a very fine piece by Ellen Brown on the TPP, TTIP, and the TiSA. (This may
sound boring, but when these are accepted, your life will change, and not for the better, unless you are a rich manager.)

I also added a remark about Marx and Marxism to yesterday's Nederlog, because I think it may clarify my relations to to Marx, Marxism and marxists.
1. Fast Track Derailed? House Deals Blow to Corporate-Friendly Trade Agenda
The first item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Though it wasn't the resounding rejection progressives had hoped for, the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday dealt a serious blow to President Barack Obama's corporate-backed trade agenda, while erecting a major stumbling block for proponents of Fast Track, or trade promotion authority.

After a tense showdown and multiple votes in the chamber, a final decision on Fast Track was ultimately deferred, affording a delay that critics say could further scuttle the trade authority.

I say. I was quite curious about the outcome, and this is one of the first reports, that I found late yesterday. (There is another one as the next item, that was written a bit later.)

Here are two reactions. First:

"I applaud the House of Representatives for the vote today," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a statement after the vote. "While the fight will no doubt continue, today’s vote is a victory for America’s working people and for the environment. It is clearly a defeat for corporate America, which has outsourced millions of decent-paying jobs and wants to continue doing just that."

Yes, that seems more or less correct. And no, a deferment means there will be another vote on it, so the fight is not won and indeed will continue.

And second:

As Lori Wallach of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch pointed out after the vote, "Passing trade bills opposed by a majority of Americans does not get easier with delay because the more time people have to understand what’s at stake, the angrier they get and the more they demand that their congressional representatives represent their will."

This story is developing.
Yes, for one very basic criticism of the TPP just is that it is a secret treaty, that will effect the lives and chances of hundreds of millions of persons, while under Obama's planned "fast track" this treaty also could hardly be discussed - in so far as it could be read - and not at all amended, and both measures are firmly anti-democratic (and indeed are kept secret, in seems, because in actual fact they embody vast changes, nearly all of which only favor the very rich).

Here is another view of the outcome:

2. House Rejects Obama's Corporate-Friendly Trade Deal In Stunning Defeat  

The next item is an article by Adam Johnson on Alternet. The subject is the same as in the previous item, but this was written a bit later:
This starts as follows:
The U.S. House of Representatives rejected the Trade Adjustment Assistance provision of the TPP this afternoon - the first in a series of trade bills - designed to lessen the blow of any potential (and very likely) negative effects resulting from the broader Trans-Pacific Trade deal. The reaction in Washington appears to be genuine surprise, mostly at the number of Democrats who broke ranks and voted against party leadership, including President Obama who had been lobbying fellow Democrats for support for weeks.
There is also this:
The Congressional Progressive Caucus is celebrating the vote as an unqualified victory, writing in a fundraising email this afternoon  "Corporate forces will try to bring "fast track" back -- but today's vote is one of the biggest progressive victories in years. As we celebrate, let’s take a second to remember how far we’ve come. Just a few months ago, this corporate-backed trade agreement was a done deal. The fix was in. Most Americans didn’t even know what TPP stood for, and the media was silent on the issue. But that was before bold progressives fought back hard."
I do not think this is "an unqualified victory", because it is a victory but it is not "unqualified", for there will be another vote in the coming week. But the rest of the quoted paragraph is true.

3. Podemos-Backed, Anti-Austerity Leftist Becomes Madrid's New Mayor  

The next item is an article posted by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Manuela Carmena, a 71-year-old retired judge who ran on an anti-austerity, anti-corruption, anti-eviction platform, is set to become the next mayor of Spain's capital, Madrid, after her leftist Ahora Madrid protest party on Thursday agreed to an alliance with the Socialist party.

According to Reuters, "The victory of her left-wing alliance in the national capital is another blow to the [Popular Party] after its rout in municipal and regional elections last month when austerity-weary Spaniards abandoned the party in droves."

I say. And there also is a leftist mayor of Barcelona now, also a woman.

The reason to list it here is mainly that I like this development, and indeed I also am an opponent of Blairite and other propaganda that socialism or leftism is dead: Both could be quite alive, if only there would be considerably more honest and non-totalitarian politicians, who also knew something about economics and the social sciences themselves. [1]

4. Robert Scheer: Plundering Our Freedom With Abandon (Part 2 of 3)

The next item is an article that was posted by Jenna Berbeo on Truthdig:

To start with, the previous item in this series I reviewed here. And this is the video of the second part:

 

I'll be following this as well, and start with this bit:

JAY: Yeah, so you’ve get this problem of Silicon Valley is making tremendous amounts of money cooperating with the government in all this, and you’ve got this kind of libertarian thread, we’re told, within their ideology and outlook.

SCHEER: Oh, that we’re self-made people in all we do. And there’s a contradiction, by the way. That’s what my book is all about, this contradiction, that—first of all, let me—.

JAY: Let me just remind everybody, this is—the book Robert’s talking about is They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy.

SCHEER: Yeah. And let me apologize. I’m usually the interviewer, so maybe I’m playing that role also, interviewing myself.

But first of all let me say I’m really not that interested in my own history. And I’m very interested in where we are now. You know, yes, I’ve done a lot of real, you know, I think, interesting, important, blah blah blah blah blah. But I get kind of bored thinking about it. And I’m now 79 years old, and maybe I should be sitting on some retirement funny farm (..)

I am somewhat interested in the contradiction between the libertarian ideology ("Freedom!", "No Government!") and the fact that the libertarians-with-a- corporation make enormous amounts of money by cooperating with the government, but then again this is more a problem for them than for me,
because I am quite aware libertarianism is an ideology.

Second, I copied the information for Robert Scheer's latest book again, and third, while it is true he is 79, he is also one of the most youthful looking 79 years old people I know of.

Here is a personal detail I didn't know, which must have made a considerable difference to Scheer:

SCHEER: (..) And let me explain, by the way. I love the internet. I love the new technology. I’m not a Luddite. I have to say that. I run an internet publication. I’ve done it for over nine years now, and we’ve won a lot of awards. I love the technology. I’m an early adopter to everything.

For one thing, when growing up, they didn’t use the language of learning disabilities or differences or dyslexia or anything, but I had a pretty pronounced case, and I had a hard time with cursive, I had a hard time with spelling. And as a result I ended up studying engineering, because I really had a hard time writing essays and so forth.

That is, Scheer is a dyslexic (<- Wikipedia), and as he also explains his children have similar or worse difficulties, even while they are, as he is, quite intelligent.

This is a considerable handicap, which I know a bit better than most, because I have had a good friend who was both very intelligent and very dyslexic, who also studied engineering, indeed by a very circuitous route because he simply couldn't write grammatically, and who also had a daughter of whom precisely the same is true. And both of their lives were considerably different from what they would have been had they not been dyslexic. For one thing, neither went
to a university because they couldn't write, even though otherwise they were
easily intelligent enough to do so. (There really was no difference between them
and other intelligent men and women I have known - except that they couldn't
write and had trouble reading. [2])

Indeed, there also is this:

SCHEER:   I’ve talked to plenty of people with learning issues who are successful, and we all agree this technology has been incredibly liberating. So I only could become a writer because of computers.

JAY: Yeah, same with me. I can’t spell.

I say. I don't have these problems at all, and this may be one of the reasons why I was an early adopter of computers (in 1980 a good friend bought an Apple II; in 1987 I started with an Osborne computer, and have been computing ever since) until ca. 2000, but since then I am not.

That is, I do have a decent recent desktop which is rather fast, but I don't have a laptop; I don't have a cell phone; I don't have a broad screen; I don't even have a working printer (mostly because I hardly ever use a printer); and I rather do not have them either, mostly because I don't need them, I am home nearly always, and I never liked phones (also not in the 1960ies, when everything was still analog). [3]

And as to cell phones, there is also this, which is quite correct, and one of the reasons why I will never buy one:

SCHEER: The downside is most people don’t ever go anywhere without the little machine, and the little machine, even when you think it’s off, can be controlled by the CIA and the NSA, the FBI, and be spying on your entire family and intruding on your home in violation of the Fourth Amendment, without a warrant, and can see where you ate and who you ate with and correlate it with other data, and because of cheap storage space and massive, powerful computers, can do biometric comparisons. And so we have no privacy. And we can discuss that, ‘cause that’s what my book is about, without privacy.
Next, there is rather a lot about the Constitution which I skip, not because it isn't interesting but because I know these ideas rather well. I agree the Constitution was a great idea, but I will leave this to your interests.

In fact, I will quote just one more thing:
SCHEER: So on the left, what is healthy and good is an idea of an equal playing field, at least, of equal opportunity, of public education, of helping people when they’re down so they can get up again, of some social responsibility. That’s why I’m on the left. I’m not a right-wing libertarian. You know, and if I would — previously I’ve said I’m a bleeding heart liberal, only liberals have sold out so much I worry about that label. Yet people could attack people on the left and say, wait a minute, it gives rise to totalitarianism. Look at those governments around the world that claim to be socialist. They’re horrible.

I agree that is why I also am on the left - in the end it is about power and ethics, and I do not want the few to lord it over the many, while I think any somewhat decent society is based on giving equal rights and a fair living standard to all.

As to liberalism: I am a liberal, but the meaning of that term is vague. For me it has specifically to do with having equal rights for all (although I agree we all are different, also in capacities), and maintaining individual liberties, including the right to express any idea. And I choose the term "liberal" because it seems best - and in my case I mean especially the thoughts of John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville. (I don't care about how many disagree, and indeed my understanding
of the term is more philosophical than political. [4])

This also relates to totalitarianism: I am a real anti-totalitarian, and never believed any country in the Soviet block was "socialist" in any sense I could subscribe to, after I had visited the GDR in 1964, and had been nearly thrown
out of the country because of my radical opinions.

5. Fast-track Hands the Money Monopoly to Private Banks — Permanently

The last item is an article by Ellen Brown (<- Wikipedia) that I found on Washingtons Blog, but that originates on Ellen Brown's The Web of Debt:

This starts as follows:

It is well enough that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.                                                                                                     — Attributed to Henry Ford

In March 2014, the Bank of England let the cat out of the bag: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it. So wrote David Graeber in The Guardian the same month, referring to a BOE paper called “Money Creation in the Modern Economy.” The paper stated outright that most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong. The result, said Graeber, was to throw the entire theoretical basis for austerity out of the window.

The revelation may have done more than that. The entire basis for maintaining our private extractive banking monopoly may have been thrown out the window. And that could help explain the desperate rush to “fast track” not only the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). TiSA would nip attempts to implement public banking and other monetary reforms in the bud.

First, here is the explanation why the fact that money is merely an IOU undermines the whole argument for a "private extractive banking monopoly" - and note the stress here is on "private":

If money is just an IOU, why are we delivering the exclusive power to create it to an unelected, unaccountable, non-transparent private banking monopoly? Why are we buying into the notion that the government is broke – that it must sell off public assets and slash public services in order to pay off its debts? The government could pay its debts in the same way private banks pay them, simply with accounting entries on its books. What will happen when a critical mass of the populace realizes that we’ve been vassals of a parasitic banking system based on a fraud – that we the people could be creating money as credit ourselves, through publicly-owned banks that returned the profits to the people?
(...)
It is not hard to predict that the international bankers and related big-money interests, anticipating this move, would counter with legislation that locked the current system in place, so that there was no way to return money and banking to the service of the people – even if the current private model ended in disaster, as many pundits also predict.

And that is precisely the effect of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), which was slipped into the “fast track” legislation now before Congress. It is also the effect of the bail-in policies currently being railroaded into law in the Eurozone, and of the suspicious “war on cash” seen globally; but those developments will be the subject of another article.

I note that the TiSA is another secret treaty that was in part made public very recently on Wikipedia. In fact, I got to know about it only on May 29, last. And here is a summary of what this secret treaty (very much supported by Obama)
seeks to achieve, in secret, regardless of any of the billions ordinary members of any of the countries involved (for these treaties are secret, and remain secret four or five years after their adoption (!)):

TiSA involves 51 countries, including every advanced economy except the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The deal would liberalize global trade in services covering close to 80% of the US economy, including financial services, healthcare, education, engineering, telecommunications, and many more. It would restrict how governments can manage their public laws, and it could dismantle and privatize state-owned enterprises, turning those services over to the private sector.

Indeed:

In a report from Public Services International called “TISA versus Public Services: The Trade in Services Agreement and the Corporate Agenda,” Scott Sinclair and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood note that the already formidable challenges to safeguarding public services under GATS will be greatly exasperated by TiSA, which blocks the emerging trend to return privatized services to the public sector. Communities worldwide are reevaluating the privatization approach and “re-municipalizing” these services, following negative experiences with profit-driven models. These reversals typically occur at the municipal level, but they can also occur at the national level.

I quite agree: I pay far too much in premiums for health costs, water, electricity and gas, all of which have been privatized in Holland, all of which have managers who "earn" grossly obscene amounts of money, none of which offers more than extremely minimal "services", that also are chock-full of propaganda, and all  of which treat ordinary customers and ordinary men as if they have no serious rights.

This is a strongly recommended article.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Note

[1] To be sure, this doesn't dissolve all problems, but in actual fact few people really know much about the real politics and economics of capitalism and socialism, and there are considerably more potentially viable models of either
than most know. I am for individual liberties and decent incomes for all, and as long as the system under which I live is non-totalitarian and really does put the promotion of individual liberties first, I care less about whether it is regulated
capitalism or non-totalitarian socialism. (Also, in either case, the basic problem is power: How to prevent that a few get nearly all the power or nearly all the income.)

[2] Incidentally, having read the dyslexia article: Both were quite good at mathematics, and indeed better than most.

[3]
I think I never liked phones because I found they interfere a lot: I like to do the things I do in private, in my own pace, without being interfered with, while a telephone is the perfect way to interfere with whatever one is doing: The phone rings, and you have to answer it (and generally you don't learn much).

[4] Indeed in ordinary Dutch political terms I am not a "liberal", because the "liberal" party is in fact the conservative party. But since I haven't seen anyone in Holland I could vote for since 1971, which also is the last time I voted, and that
only because until 1971 every adult Dutchman had to vote, I don't much care.

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