January 1, 2015
Crisis: TPP * 2, Noam Chomsky, George Carlin 
  "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

Prev- crisis -Next


1. Ten Reasons Why the TPP Must Be Defeated
2. Are Corporate-Friendly Trade Deals Top New Year
     Priority for White House?

3. American Socrates
4. George Carlin interview (one of the last)


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, January 1, 2015. This is the first ordinary file of 2015, but there is an Updates for the new year from arlier today that gives some numbers for 2014.

This is a
crisis file, and there are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is by Bernie Sanders, and explains why the TPP is very bad; item 2 is by Jon Queally and is about Obama's strong support for the TPP, and also about Sanders' article in item 1; item 3 is by Chris Hedges about Noam Chomsky; and item 4 is not an article but three connected interviews (each or around 10 minutes) with George Carlin, that must be one of the last interviews Carlin gave.

I hope and think that most things I installed for the new year work, and if not, this will be sorted out tomorrow.

1. Ten Reasons Why the TPP Must Be Defeated

The first item today - and of the new year, in an ordinary file - is an article by Senator Bernie Sanders that I found on Common Dreams:
  • Ten Reasons Why the TPP Must Be Defeated
This starts as follows:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy. It will also negatively impact some of the poorest people in the world.

The TPP is a treaty that has been written behind closed doors by the corporate world. Incredibly, while Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry and major media companies have full knowledge as to what is in this treaty, the American people and members of Congress do not. They have been locked out of the process. Further, all Americans, regardless of political ideology, should be opposed to the “fast track” process which would deny Congress the right to amend the treaty and represent their constituents’ interests.

The TPP follows in the footsteps of other unfettered "free trade" agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA and the Permanent Normalized Trade Agreement with China (PNTR). These treaties have forced American workers to compete against desperate and low-wage labor around the world. The result has been massive job losses in the United States and the shutting down of tens of thousands of factories. These corporately backed trade agreements have significantly contributed to the race to the bottom, the collapse of the American middle class and increased wealth and income inequality. The TPP is more of the same, but even worse.
Let’s be clear: the TPP is much more than a “free trade” agreement. It is part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system. If TPP was such a good deal for America, the administration should have the courage to show the American people exactly what is in this deal, instead of keeping the content of the TPP a secret.

Yes, indeed - and I like to say that I ended last year's ordinary files with an
end of the year statement by Sanders, which indeed I liked, except that I thought it was rather optimistic, and that Sanders also should also have rejected the various trade agreements (for the TPP is one of several, and all are awful). Well... he did, the next day, and this is the article, and it is good.

There is considerably more there, under ten headings, which I recommend you to read. Here I just give the headings, but all have explanatory texts:

10 Ways that TPP Would Hurt Working Families

1. TPP will allow corporations to outsource even more jobs overseas.

2. U.S. sovereignty will be undermined by giving corporations the right to challenge our laws before international tribunals.

3. Wages, benefits, and collective bargaining will be threatened.

4. Our ability to protect the environment will be undermined.

5. Food Safety Standards will be threatened.

6. Buy America laws could come to an end.

7. Prescription drug prices will increase, access to life saving drugs will decrease, and the profits of drug companies will go up.

8. Wall Street would benefit at the expense of everyone else.

9. The TPP would reward authoritarian regimes like Vietnam that systematically violate human rights.

10. The TPP has no expiration date, making it virtually impossible to repeal.

Yes, indeed - and mind that the "international tribunals" of point 2 are not ordinary courts.

2. Are Corporate-Friendly Trade Deals Top New Year Priority for White House?

The second item today is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
  • Are Corporate-Friendly Trade Deals Top New Year Priority for White House?
This starts as follows:

It's not yet the new year, but the Obama administration appears to be preparing an all-out effort to push through the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement in 2015 despite the widespread concerns among his Democratic base, the unified opposition of hundreds of progressive organizations, and vocal warnings from individual lawmakers.

To its critics—along with a similar deal now being secretly negotiated with European nations known as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—the TPP represents an anti-democratic and regressive set of economic and regulatory policies, many of which have little to do with trade and much more with consolidating corporate power across international borders.

Led by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the White House push to gain support for the TTP—which would lower trade barriers and codify reams of corporate-friendly rules between the U.S. and twelve Pacific rim nations—will likely be a top policy priority in the months ahead. Though administration efforts in 2014 to gain executive "trade promotion authority" (aka "fast track") failed in Congress, the White House seems hopeful that a new Republican-controlled Congress will be more willing to give away their right to review or amend the content of the deal before it receives a single up-or-down vote.

There is rather a lot more under the last dotted link, and indeed the article of Bernie Sanders I started with is both mentioned and quoted. This also is a good article, that I recommend you read.

3. American Socrates

The third item today is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
  • American Socrates
This is about Noam Chomsky and starts as follows:
Noam Chomsky, whom I interviewed last Thursday at his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has influenced intellectuals in the United States and abroad in incalculable ways. His explications of empire, mass propaganda, the hypocrisy and pliability of the liberal class and the failings of academics, as well as the way language is used as a mask by the power elite to prevent us from seeing reality, make him the most important intellectual in the country. The force of his intellect, which is combined with a ferocious independence, terrifies the corporate state—which is why the commercial media and much of the academic establishment treat him as a pariah. He is the Socrates of our time.
I think the name - "American Socrates" - is deserved, not so much because in 2500 years time (if there is so much time, with a - then - thriving human species) Chomsky will be as well-known then as Socrates is now, but especially because has been treated like a pariah, while most of his criticisms were quite justified, and usually much better founded than his opponents.

4. George Carlin interview (one of the last)

The fourth and last item today is not an article but a video (in fact: three videos, linked together) of one of the last interviews George Carlin gave:
  • George Carlin Interview
I think this is from 2008 (the year Carlin died) and while it does not provide any really new ideas, Carlin does explain - among other things - why he does not vote, and why he has given up on the United States and on his species, and does so in a bit more detail than I've heard him before.

       home - index - summaries - mail