Tag Archives: corporatocracy

White House economic report calls for cutting corporate taxes

By Andre Damon
February 24, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

On Thursday, the White House released its “2015 Economic Report of the President,” presenting it as an argument for “middle-class economics.”

The document seeks to justify Obama’s scheme, spelled out in his most recent budget proposal, to slash corporate taxes by up to ten percentage points. The report attempts to obscure the fact that such a windfall for the corporate-financial elite will dramatically increase social inequality, claiming instead that it will “increase productivity, output and living standards.”

The document falsifies both present economic reality and the development of the US economy in the post-World War II period in order to argue for further pro-corporate “reforms.”

It declares that, in the aftermath of the 2008 Wall Street crash, “a successful multifaceted policy response, including actions by the President, Congress, and the Federal Reserve, combined with the determination of the American people, has enabled the US economy to dig out of that deep hole, putting more people back to work, reducing the unemployment rate, and creating a virtuous cycle in which higher consumer purchasing power supports greater economic activity and job creation.”

In reality, the majority of new jobs have been low-wage, including a large percentage of part-time and temporary positions. Wages have stagnated or declined, and benefits have been slashed. Millions remain unemployed and millions more have dropped out of the labor market.

Combined with virtually unlimited cash handouts to the banks, the lowering of working class living standards has provided the basis for the so-called “recovery”—a recovery for the rich and the super-rich, not the working class.

In his introduction to the report, Obama declares, “Since the crisis, we’ve seen our deficits cut by two-thirds, our stock market double, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years.”

Here, Obama praises the fruits of his own right-wing policies, including the pumping of trillions of dollars into the banks, the slashing of funding for social programs, and the use of the Affordable Care Act to slash corporate and government health care costs.

The report includes damning acknowledgments of the decades-long redistribution of wealth in America from the bottom to the top, carried out by Democratic and Republican administrations alike. It notes, “In the United States, the top 1 percent has garnered a larger share of income than in any other G-7 country in each year since 1987,” a process that has accelerated under the Obama administration.

The report shows that, since 1973, the income share of the top 1 percent in the US has ballooned from 7.7 percent of the total to 17.5 percent, while the income share of the bottom 99 percent has fallen from 68.1 percent to 53.0. The document also notes that the labor force participation rate, particularly for males, has plunged in recent decades.

However, it presents the growth of social inequality as though it were an entirely impersonal process, the result of cosmic forces divorced from the struggle of social classes and the policies of governments and politicians.

This is deliberate. The aim is to grant the American ruling class and its two corporate-controlled parties a political amnesty for the ruthless offensive they have carried out against the vast majority of the American people. This, in turn, facilitates the attempt to dress up right-wing, pro-corporate proposals for future action in “progressive” and even “egalitarian” trappings.

The growth of social inequality is directly bound up with a decades-long assault on the American working class. The president’s report purports to review the economic history of the US since World War II, but fails to mention any of the key events in the escalating ruling class offensive.

There is no mention of the near-bankruptcy of New York City in 1975, which was used to impose a de facto banker’s dictatorship and sweeping cuts in municipal workers’ jobs and compensation. Similarly passed over in silence are the 1979–1980 bailout of Chrysler, which was used to begin the wave of wage and benefit concessions that have continued ever since, the 1981 smashing of the PATCO air controller’s strike and ensuing decade of strike-breaking and union-busting, and Obama’s forced bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler in 2009, which included the halving of the wages of all newly hired workers. Nor is there any mention of the relentless attack on social programs at the federal, state and local levels.

In a report whose main proposal is a drastic lowering of corporate taxes, there is no examination of the relationship of taxation to inequality—for example, the fact that inequality has soared in parallel with the repeated cutting of the top personal income tax rate from 90 percent in the early 1960s to the present level of 35 percent.

While the more than 400-page document is full of generalities and amorphous proposals, it gets right down to business when arguing that taxes for US corporations should be slashed. The report declares that “business tax reform offers the potential to boost productivity by improving the quantity and quality of investment in the United States.”

This is the standard free market pabulum that was once the province of the Republican Party. In Reagan’s day, it was known as “supply side” economics. It has since been fully embraced by the Democrats.

The basic conceit is the assumption that the corporate ruling elite will use its increased wealth from lower taxes to invest in new production, hire more workers, raise productivity and, with it, wages. But the White House Council on Economic Advisers, which drafted the report, acknowledges therein that productivity has been rising in the US since 1995 while wages have stagnated, and that the current “recovery” has seen a level of corporate investment far below that of previous recoveries.

The authors write, “Investment spending has grown more slowly than usual for a business‐cycle expansion.” They note that instead of investing, “corporations used a good part of those funds to buy back shares from their stockholders,” pushing up stock prices.

In other words, the ruling elite has used the windfalls provided from virtually free cash from the Federal Reserve, falling wages and benefits, and increased exploitation of workers—compliments of its political servants in Washington—to further enrich itself. It has taken advantage of the largesse of the Fed and the White House to expand its parasitic activities at the expense of the productive forces and the working class.

There is not the slightest reason to doubt it will continue to do so after its taxes have been reduced further, something of which the Obama administration is fully aware.

Meanwhile, the reduction in government revenues will be used as an argument for further cuts in social programs and workers’ wages and pensions.

The New American Way: Work Harder for Less Pay

Federal Reserve Says Your Wages are Too High

By Pete Dolack
February 20, 2015
Counter Punch

 

money-greedy1The Federal Reserve has declared that the reason for ongoing economic weakness is because wages have not fallen enough. Wages have been stagnant for four decades while productivity has soared, but nonetheless orthodox economists believe the collapse of 2008 has been a missed opportunity.

A paper prepared by two senior researchers with the San Francisco branch of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank attempts to explain the lack of wage growth experienced as unemployment has fallen over the past couple of years this way:

“One explanation for this pattern is the hesitancy of employers to reduce wages and the reluctance of workers to accept wage cuts, even during recessions, a behavior known as downward nominal wage rigidity.”

The two Federal Reserve researchers, Mary Daly and Bart Hobijn, based their argument on the standard ideology of orthodox economists, writing:

“Downward rigidities prevent businesses from reducing wages as much as they would like following a negative shock to the economy. This keeps wages from falling, but it also further reduces the demand for workers, contributing to the rise in unemployment. Accordingly, the higher wages come with more unemployment than would occur if wages were flexible and could be fully reduced.”

The “problem” of wages stubbornly refusing to drop as much as corporate executives and financiers would like is referred to as the “sticky wages” problem in orthodox economics. Simply put, this “problem” is one that orthodox economists, themselves not necessarily subject to the market forces they wish to impose on others, have long struggled to “solve.” You perhaps will not be surprised to hear that “government” is the problem. Consider this remarkable passage published on the web site of the Mises Institute, an advocate of the Austrian school of economics:

“Much of the alleged ‘stickiness’ of wages is due to government policies. … [T]he trouble stems from workers not being willing to take pay cuts. When the demand from employers drops, at the old wage rate there is now surplus labor — a.k.a. unemployment. Only when market wages drop to a lower level, so that demand once again matches supply, will equilibrium be restored in the labor market.”

Collapsing wages in the Great Depression didn’t help

According to this author, Robert P. Murphy, an “associated scholar” of the Mises Institute, failing to drive down wages is such a big mistake that it caused the Great Depression. He writes:

“After the 1929 crash, Herbert Hoover gathered the nation’s leading businessmen for a conference in Washington and urged them to allow profits and dividends to take the hit, but to spare workers’ paychecks. Rather than cut wages, businesses were supposed to implement spread-the-work schemes where workers would cut back their hours. The rationale for Hoover’s high-wage policy was that the worker supposedly needed to be paid ‘enough to buy back the product.’ … The idea was that wage cuts would just cause workers to cut their spending, which would in turn lead to another round of wage cuts in a vicious downward spiral.”

Herbert Hoover was not vicious enough! Although it was Hoover’s Treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, who advocated the government “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate” so as to “purge the rottenness out of the system,” and not Hoover himself, the president did take hard-line right-wing positions. Michael Parenti, in discussing Hoover in his book History as Mystery, wrote:

“Like so many conservatives then and now, Hoover preached the virtues of self-reliance, opposed the taxation of overseas corporate earnings, sought to reduce income taxes for the highest brackets, and was against a veterans’ bonus and aid to drought sufferers. He repeatedly warned that public assistance programs were the beginning of ‘state socialism.’ Toward business, however, he suffered from no such ‘inflexibility’ and could spend generously. He supported multimillion-dollar federal subsidies to shipping interests and agribusiness, and his Reconstruction Finance Corporation doled out about $2 billion to banks and corporations.” [page 261]

Hoover’s concern for working people was demonstrated when his troops fired on veterans demanding payments owed to them and burned their camps. His laissez-faire policies led to manufacturing wages falling 34 percent and unemployment rising to about 25 percent by 1933. That collapse in wages did not bring better times; only the massive government spending to wage World War II put an end to the Depression. Such wage declines, in the real world, actually make the economy worse, argues Keynesian economist Paul Krugman:

“[Y]ou could argue that a sufficiently large fall in wages could restore full employment now — but it would have to be a very large wage decline, and the positive effects would kick in only after deflation had first driven just about every debtor in the economy into bankruptcy.”

How many formulae can be written on the head of a pin?

Although orthodox economics is often nothing more than ideology in the service of capitalist elites, its practitioners like to believe themselves scientific because they base their theories on mathematical models. Unfortunately, these formulae are divorced from the real, physical world; the economy and the human behavior that animates it are not reducible to mathematics.

Robert Kuttner, a heterodox economist, explored these shortcomings in an article originally published in Atlantic Monthly. He wrote:

“The [prevailing] method of practicing economic science creates a professional ethic of studied myopia. Apprentice economists are relieved of the need to learn much about the complexities of human motivation, the messy universe of economic institutions, or the real dynamics of technological change. Those who have real empirical curiosity and insight about the workings of banks, corporations, production technologies, trade unions, economic history or individual behavior are dismissed as casual empiricists, literary historians or sociologists, and marginalized within the profession. In their place departments are graduating a generation of idiots savants, brilliant at esoteric mathematics yet innocent of  actual economic life.”

That was written in 1985; little if anything has changed since and arguably has gotten worse. Professor Kuttner points out that the very fact of persistent unemployment contradicts the basic theses of orthodox neoclassical economics. If the belief that markets automatically reach equilibrium were true, then wages would automatically fall until everybody had a job. Rather than acknowledge the real world, orthodox economists simply declare involuntary unemployment an “illusion,” or claim “government interference” with the market is the culprit. “Business cycles were around long before trade unions or big-spending governments were,” Professor Kuttner noted.

Wages are not as flexible as orthodox ideology suggests because within an enterprise preference is ordinarily given to existing workers to fill job openings, thereby buffering wages from external market forces, writes another heterodox economist, Herbert Gintis. In an essay originally appearing in Review of Radical Political Economics, he wrote:

“In particular, there is a tendency for the number of individuals qualified for a position to exceed the number of jobs available, in which case seniority and other administrative rules are used to determine promotion. Hardly do workers compete for the job by bidding down its wage.”

In almost all cases, employees do not even know what wages their co-workers are earning. This top-down secrecy facilitates the disparity in wages, whereby, for example, women earn less than men. If everybody earned what they were worth, there would no such wage disparity. The very fact of disparities between the genders or among races and ethnicities demonstrates the ideological basis of orthodox economics, which assumes that employees who do the work of production are in their jobs due to personal choice and wages are based only on individual achievement independent of race, gender and other differences.

You produce more but don’t earn more

Back in the real world, wages have significantly lagged productivity for four decades; thus, wages, examined against this benchmark, have significantly declined for those four decades. A study by the Economic Policy Institute, written by heterodox economist Elise Gould, reports:

“Between 1979 and 2013, productivity [in the U.S.] grew 64.9 percent, while hourly compensation of production and nonsupervisory workers, who comprise over 80 percent of the private-sector workforce, grew just 8.0 percent. Productivity thus grew eight times faster than typical worker compensation.” [page 4]

Middle-class U.S. households earn $18,000 less than they would had wages kept pace with productivity, Dr. Gould calculates. Nor is that unique to the U.S.: Wages in Canada, Europe and Japan have also fallen well short of productivity gains. Canadian workers, for example, are paid at least $15,000 per year less than they would be had their wages kept pace.

To circle back to the San Francisco Federal Reserve paper that began this discussion, the authors claim that wage stagnation will persist until markets “return to normal.” They assert:

“[T]he accumulated stockpile of pent-up wage cuts remains and must be worked off to put the labor market back in balance. In response, businesses hold back wage increases and wait for inflation and productivity growth to bring wages closer to their desired level.”

But as we can plainly see, and as those of us living in the real world experience, wages cuts have been the norm for a long time. The caveat at the end of the paper that it does not necessarily reflect the views of the Fed board of governors should be noted, but the paper was issued as part of a regular series by the San Francisco Fed and the authors are senior members of it, so it is not likely to be at variance with opinions there. It certainly does reflect orthodox economic ideology. Similarly, the argument by the Austrian School’s Mises Institute, stripped of its academic-sounding veneer, is a call to eliminate the minimum wage.

Stagnation, declining wages and the ability of capitalists to shift production around the globe in a search for the lowest wages and lowest safety standards — completely ignored in the orthodox hunt for economic scapegoats — are the norm. Our need to sell our labor, the resulting reduction of human beings’ labor power to a commodity, and the endless competitive pressures on capitalists to boost profits underlie the present economic difficulties.

Collective bargaining through unions and the needs of capitalists to retain their employees can be brakes against the race to the bottom — what the orthodox economists at the Fed and elsewhere are arguing is that these remaining brakes be removed and wages driven down to starvation levels. That is what global capitalism has to offer.

Pete Dolack writes the Systemic Disorder blog. He has been an activist with several groups.

 

Has Democracy Gone Missing? Or Was it Ever Here?

Lesley Docksey
February 19, 2015
Global Research

 

With a general election looming in the United Kingdom and Spain possibly following Greece’s revolt against austerity later this year, we need to think, not just who or what we are voting for, but why we should vote at all.

People are suffering from a deficiency which is as unbalancing as a hormone or vitamin deficiency.  What we are severely lacking in is democracy.  Many of those pondering on the state of politics feel unhappy and somehow depleted.  They haven’t yet realised it is democracy that’s lacking because they have believed what so many politicians have told them, over and over again:

“We live in a democracy.  Now exercise your democratic right and vote for us.”

But what is the point of voting if, no matter who you vote for, what you get is the same old, same old?  Who do the British vote for in May, if none of the candidates can seriously offer what we want?

Members of Parliament – or some of them – are becoming worried about voter ‘apathy’.  The implication is that it is our fault we are not interested in their politics.  There was a debate in Westminster Hall on 5 February – on ‘voter engagement’.

These figures were quoted: 7.5 million people were not registered to vote last year.  This year 8.5 million are not registered (with a projected 17 million by July, because of changes in registration rules), mostly not because they couldn’t care less but because, in the words of MP Graham Allen:

“They are not connected with our democracy at all… those people have turned away from politics not because of any recent issues, but because they do not feel that it can do anything for them or that it is relevant to them… If the current trend continues, I am afraid that our democracy itself could be threatened.”

But what is ‘our democracy’ that we have turned away from?  38 Degrees surveyed its members on what they thought was wrong with the UK political system.  Over 80,000 responded and in March 2014 David Babbs presented the results to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee.  Asked what would make them turn out and vote, the most popular response was having a “None of the above” box on the ballot paper.  In other words they wanted to vote, they wanted their votes counted, but they also wanted to deliver a vote of no confidence in the current system.

There is a murmur that this would be discussed in Parliament – but not until 2016.  Of course Westminster will argue that we can’t have such a vote because it might produce a result that was in support of no party at all; and we must have a government, even if it is one we don’t want; and let’s forget that Belgium survived for some time without a government.

The concept of ‘democracy’ has been used to curtail both our freedom and our independence of thought.

But is that concept, so blithely used by our leaders, truly what is meant by democracy?  Or is it just a word where many party-politicians are concerned, not a principle by which to live.  The ‘democratic right to vote’ is worthless if it doesn’t produce democracy, nor does having a vote necessarily mean you live in a democratic society.

Where did this all start?  The beginnings of democracy came out of Athens, an independent city-state.  Athens – the home of Socrates, Plato and other philosophers.  It is worth remembering that while some of the best philosophical advances came out of their discussions in the Agora, Athens was fighting a 20-year war with Sparta, something pretty well absent in Plato’s later Socratic writing.  These days fighting wars is accompanied by discussions based on propaganda, and there is no love of wisdom in that.

The Athenians labelled the different types of government thus: there was monarchy, the rule by one person and/or royal family; tyranny, the illegal or usurped monarchy; oligarchy, rule by those few with power; and demagoguey, rule of the people, by the people, for the people – what we now think of as democracy.

Democracy comes from ‘demos’ or ‘deme’, the Greek word for ‘village’. The deme was the smallest administrative unit of the Athenian city-state.  And there, essentially, is the key.  Democracy belongs to the little people and their communities, not Washington or Westminster.  And because there are now such large populations everywhere, the administrative area has become too large to be governed by anything other than draconian methods.  The connection ‘of, by and for the people’ has been broken.

Athenians didn’t vote; they chose by lot.  That did mean that sometimes they got a lousy lot of men governing, but that was balanced by occasionally getting a really good council – of men.  Of course, of men.  Only citizens’ names went into the pot; landless men, slaves and women didn’t come into it.  Not that much of a democracy, but a beginning.

Should we chose by lot?  Perhaps not.  But on a purely local level there is an argument to be made for selecting our representatives rather than electing people who put themselves forward or are chosen by political parties.  The Zapatistas, from the Chiapas area of Mexico, are known for reaching decisions by consensus, community by community, as well as selecting their representatives.

The benefit is that those selected are there to represent the majority view of their community, rather than a party’s agenda.  For one of the things that British voters are saying is that MPs do not represent their views, and too often the party agenda has little to do with, or is even damaging to the area the MP represents.

Almost all governments counted as democracies are really oligarchies, government by the few; the few being a political class backed by money and corporate power.  Real democracies aren’t rich in money; they are rich in people and values.

Many ‘democracies’ end up being dominated by two main parties, right and left, Tory and Labour, Republican and Democrat and so on.  To an outsider, there is little difference to be seen between America’s Republicans and Democrats.  In Britain, the Tories, Labour and the LibDems (fast melting away into a miserable little puddle of their own making) are all claiming the centre ground.  No one seems to have realised that the centre ground itself has moved to the right.  Not for nothing has the Scottish Labour Party earned the name ‘Red Tories’.  It is now hard to find a genuinely left mainstream party.  The Scottish National Party, the Green Party and the Welsh Plaid Cymru are getting there but all are hampered by party-political thinking.

A party-political system can be very divisive.  For a start, it demands that people take sides.  It is an adversarial system that pits interests against each other instead of finding common ground.  It becomes almost impossible for independent candidates, no matter how worthy, to be elected.  Parties demand loyalty over and above an MP’s conscience.  It is difficult to do anything but toe the party line, and that line can be very dogmatic and narrow in vision.  Westminster’s party whips rule when instead they should be got rid of.  The Parliamentary Select Committees have come out with some eye-popping reports since party whips were shown the door.

Parties also have ‘party values’ which are of course ‘better’ than those of other parties.  Prime Minister David Cameron is strong on values.  More than once he has claimed that “Britain is a Christian country” and that we should all follow Christian values.  How can he urge that considering some of the cruel policies his government has put in place?  And anyway, what specifically are the ‘Christian values’ he says we should live by?  In bringing them into the conversation, isn’t there an assumption they are different, not to say superior, to those held by Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus or aboriginal peoples?

If it isn’t Christian values, it’s ‘British values’.  Children should be taught them in school, though the textbook has still to be written.  Politicians talk vaguely about ‘fairness’ and ‘justice’ yet can give no justification for these values being particularly British.  I suspect that the ‘British’ values at the back of Cameron’s mind were born out of and promoted by the British Empire.  One only has to read late Victorian and Edwardian boys’ fiction to see the process: never surrendering to the ‘enemy’, remaining at one’s post while facing screaming hordes of ‘natives’, the stiff upper lip and so on.  British values were built out of remaining in control of oneself while controlling ‘the natives’ in the Empire and Colonies.  It’s what being British was all about. Rule Britannia!

And what with English Votes for English Laws, another distracting result of the Scottish Referendum, how long will it be before Cameron and his cabinet ask us to uphold ‘English values’, happily ignoring the Welsh and the Northern Irish, let alone the independently-minded Scots?  Values as promoted by political leaders are the values of the ruling class – because political leaders see themselves as the ruling class.  And that is the problem that we voters have to solve.

We could all hold and live by good and moral values.  But those values are universal.  They do not belong to this religion or that, this nationality or that.  They do not even belong exclusively to the human race.  A lifetime dealing with animals has shown me how generous, caring, altruistic and ethical animals can be.  There are times when I think that we humans are only superior in one way – our ability to delude ourselves.

So how is this for delusion?

The Minister for the Constitution Sam Gyimah wrapped up the Westminster Hall debate.  (Did you know we had a Minister for the Constitution?  He is responsible for constitutional reform. As the UK doesn’t have a written constitution, one wonders quite what he does, and what bits of paper he shuffles.)  He came out with this:

“Scotland had a huge turnout in the referendum…  The reason was that people were motivated, excited and engaged with the issues.  Introducing more electoral innovation might make voters’ lives easier, but it is not a substitute for us politicians doing our work to connect properly with people, to engage with them and, after all, to get them to turn out to vote for us.” (my emphasis)

And the Electoral Commission told the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee:

“As we have seen in Scotland with the historic turnout at the referendum on independence, individuals will register and turn out to vote when they are inspired by the debate and are convinced of the importance of the issues at stake.  Politicians and political parties must be at the forefront of this engagement.”

Isn’t it time that we the people were at the forefront?  If we really want democracy, surely that is where we must stand.

6000% Increase in Cancer Rates at Fukushima Site

By Christina Sarich
February 06, 2015
Natural Society

 

radiation_fukushima_world_735_350

As reports from individuals like Chieko Shiina, a supporter of the Fukushima Collaborateive Clinic talk about exploding rates of thyroid cancer in children, as well as an epidemic of leukemia, heart attacks, and other health problems, the Abe-led government and US continue to sweep the fall out of the Fukushima disaster under the rug.

Cancer rates have exploded at an increase of almost 6000% in areas near the reactor meltdown. Aside from people-on-the-street interviews that a rare media outlet like “Hodo station” will report on, mainstream media stays completely silent. One Japanese resident, Carol Hisasue, laments that as the incident has disappeared from the media, it has also disappeared from people’s consciousness.

So why does Fukushima continue to be a see no evil, hear no evil event? You can watch an over hour-long report that goes into detail, but to sum it up, people can’t even turn on their gas-stoves near Fukushima because “it would be like burning radioactive fuel in their kitchens.” The contamination levels are too ridiculous to even comprehend.

No matter if the accident was caused by a purposeful nuclear attack, an act of weather warfare (as some conspiracy analysts have suggested), or by the sheer greed of the nuclear industry who built it, it is essentially a massive nuclear weapon on fault lines. The Japanese government and TEPCO are guilty of crimes against humanity, and their neglect is compounded by a complete disregard, not only for human life, but for all life upon this planet.

The US is also responsible. After the spotlight was put on failing plants across the United States that continue to leak radiation into our air, water, and soil every day, the multi-billion dollar, US taxpayer-subsidized contracts of the nuclear industry came into question. And you can be sure any real inquiry into the infrastructure of our nuclear plants was hushed up as quickly as concerns were raised.

The World Health Organization once warned that cancer rates could soar 50% in less than 20 years – but we’ve already surpassed that estimate, which once seemed catastrophic, exponentially.

So tell me – why are we in such a hurry to forget Fukushima, and why are plans being drawn up to build more nuclear reactors in the US using taxpayer monies?

Landmark study links pesticides to high depression rates

By Carolanne Wright
February 6, 2015
Natural News

 

depressionGlobally, one person dies by suicide roughly every 40 seconds. Around the world, over one million people commit suicide each year — an increase of 60 percent over the last four and a half decades. Incredibly, farmers have one of the highest rates of self-inflicted death.

Newsweek reports that suicide for farmers in the U.S. is about twice the average of the general population. However, this isn’t just a problem in America; it’s an international crisis.

“India has had more than 270,000 farmer suicides since 1995. In France, a farmer dies by suicide every two days. In China, farmers are killing themselves to protest the government’s seizing of their land for urbanization. In Ireland, the number of suicides jumped following an unusually wet winter in 2012 that resulted in trouble growing hay for animal feed. In the U.K., the farmer suicide rate went up by 10 times during the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, when the government required farmers to slaughter their animals. And in Australia, the rate is at an all-time high following two years of drought.”

Although factors such as poor yield, financial stress, erratic weather and animal disease certainly contribute to a high suicide rate in farmers, researchers are beginning to suspect another cause: exposure to pesticides.

20-year study establishes a connection between depression and conventional farming chemicals

Researchers at the National Institute of Health completed a historic study earlier this fall which confirmed that seven pesticides — some of which are widely used — contribute to clinical depression in farmers. Over the last two decades, the team interviewed almost 84,000 farmers and their spouses. The findings were startling. Dr. Freya Kamel, lead researcher for the study, said that two specific types of pesticide were responsible for the massive uptick in depression — organochlorine insecticides and fumigants. Each increases the risk of depression by an astounding 90 and 80 percent, respectively. One of the more common varieties is called malathion and is used by approximately 67 percent of the farmers surveyed. It also just happens to be banned in Europe.

This isn’t the only study that links pesticides to depression. According to Newsweek:

“A group of researchers published studies on the neurological effects of pesticide exposure in 2002 and 2008. Lorrann Stallones, one of those researchers and a psychology professor at Colorado State University, says she and her colleagues found that farmers who had significant contact with pesticides developed physical symptoms like fatigue, numbness, headaches and blurred vision, as well as psychological symptoms like anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating and depression. Those maladies are known to be caused by pesticides interfering with an enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter that affects mood and stress responses.”

In the end, both studies beg the question: If farmers who utilize conventional pesticides as part of their profession are experiencing the damaging consequences of the chemicals, what is the effect on the general public who ingest the substances through their food?

Sources:

http://www.suicide.org

http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov

http://www.newsweek.com

http://npic.orst.edu

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

http://modernfarmer.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

About the author:
Carolanne believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, wellness coach and natural foods chef, she has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of green living for over 13 years. Through her website www.Thrive-Living.net she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people who share a similar vision.

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Jewish writer warns of GMO/biotech holocaust

By S. D. Wells
February 6, 2015
Natural News

 

waterHow does one voluntarily commit suicide without realizing it? The result of a slow, painful death is no different from a sudden unexpected death — the end of mortality. For starters, I am Jewish, so don’t take this the wrong way, but eating cancer-causing food designed by Nazi scientists is suicide, and it’s like walking into the gas chambers slowly, over time, getting dosed over and over again with “mustard-gas-food.” Pesticides infect most conventional foods in the USA today, and it’s all thanks to the same I.G. Farben Nazis from the second World War. Today’s food holocaust includes all the same ingredients, including fluoride in the water, that was given to Jews in the concentration camps to keep them weak so they wouldn’t fight back or think deep about their short future. They worked in factories making war materials and they were sick to death, literally, from the chemicals they were fed. Scientists in labs in Auschwitz ran insane experiments on humans as if they were lab rats, just the way chemotherapy and surgery are applied today to fix a blood disease known as cancer. We might as well be “bleeding humans out” like the old days. It’s just NOT working. In 10 years, 6 million or more Americans will die of cancer and/or chemotherapy treatment overdose, and that’s the same number of Jews who died in the Holocaust from being poisoned and murdered in the name of science, power and money. Sound familiar?

Biotech, Big Agriculture and toxic pharmaceuticals – a well-orchestrated blend of death and destruction

Gabriel Donohoe of wrote:

After World War Two, scores of suspected Nazi war criminals were prosecuted by the Allies in the Palace of Justice in the city of Nuremberg, the birth-place of the Nazi Party. The defendants were drawn not just from the military, but also from medical, judicial, administrative, industrial, and other sectors of the German war machine.

Among the industrial prisoners charged with crimes against humanity were 24 managers of IG Farben, an organization without whom, according to U.S. Chief Prosecutor Telford Taylor, the Second World War would not have been possible.

In 1925, IG Farben, Interessengemeinschaft Farben, (Association of Common Interests), became a powerful cartel of German chemical and pharmaceutical companies such as Bayer (the aspirin manufacturer), BASF, AGFA, and Hoechst (now known as Aventis.) By 1933, the IG Farben group had become the largest chemical and pharmaceutical corporation in the world. And even today, although it doesn’t use the name IG Farben, its companies remain the most powerful transnationals on the planet in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and agro-chemicals.

Organochlorine pesticides and toxic chlorinated tap water:

Are you underrating massive health detriment right now? Consider these facts:

Bioaccumulative means that these chlorine by-products keep going through the food chain time after time. The individual living carrier species die, but the chemicals persist unchanged, decade after decade. The result is that the levels of PCBs and dioxins found in meat and fish can today be millions of times greater than the amounts found in nature.

Slow breakdown of PVC plumbing, year after year, is one big stand-alone reason why it’s bad to drink tap water, irrespective of the quality of the water itself. …

Bleaching paper is another big market for chlorine. …

Chlorine is the most popular method of bleaching. Problem is, 300 different organochlorines are the result. Guess how much of them gets dumped into lakes, rivers, and oceans of the world each year. Go ahead, guess. 4 million tons! …

Once in the body, organochlorines are protectively encapsulated in fat cells — the site most conducive to long-term storage and accumulation.

Now understand this: Three pounds of friendly bacteria are supposed to populate our colon to facilitate the final stage of digestion and vitamin synthesis. Chlorine, just like antibiotics, knocks out all the bacteria — good and bad! This means your probiotics are destroyed and the whole digestive system is forced to operate in survival mode. Three out of every four American cities chlorinates the drinking water. It’s pure evil politics.

WWIII: There is a war going on today for chemical-free food and water

The concept of organic food for disease prevention and healing has been suppressed. Many alternative doctors have been persecuted and even assassinated for using and defending it. Hundreds of known disease causes and cures still are buried under the rug, kept out of the mainstream media, out of medical journals and out of the mouths of the doctors who sell you on their latest prescription drug so they can get front row seats to the ball game. Chronic diseases we know so well today could be cured with simple, inexpensive natural therapies. Dr. Herbert Ley, the former United States FDA Commissioner, has been quoted: “What the FDA is doing and what the public thinks it’s doing are as different as night and day.”

Don’t be a knowing volunteer for experimental treatment (surgery/chemo/radiation). Don’t “board the train” to the food holocaust known as GMO. If you’re on that train now… jump off immediately! You can live in the organic world and there are no “consequences” to suffer, nor any swastikas to which you must bow down. Live your healthy life with respect for your body. Live free!

Sources:

http://www.thedoctorwithin.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.sourcewatch.org

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.gmoevidence.com

http://www.gmoevidence.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.whale.to

Brussels Rally Denounces Massive Trade Deal That Would Be ‘Hijack of Democracy’

TTIP would put corporate profits above people, critics of the proposed EU-U.S. trade deal say.

By Andrea Germanos
February 5, 2015
Common Dreams, February 4, 2015

 

TTIP protesters in Brussels on Wednesday. (Photo: campact/flickr/cc)

 

Hundreds of people rallied in Brussels on Wednesday, where negotiators are holding their latest round of talks on a proposed EU-U.S. trade deal criticized as a “Trojan treaty” that threatens democracy and puts corporate profits above people.

At issue is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would be the biggest-ever trade deal, and is a proposal that has faced years of opposition over its secrecy as well as possible impacts on issues ranging from food safety to fracking to copyright.

Among those who came from the UK to take part in Wednesday’s action was Derek Hansford, chair of Hastings and District Trades Council, who stated, “Ordinary people from across the UK are traveling to Brussels to make their voices heard. Democracy is about what’s best for everyone, not what’s best for the world’s richest and most powerful corporations. The TTIP deal is a hijack of democracy, and we need to stop it.”

Adding their voices to the demonstration were European organizations including Friends of the Earth Europe, War on Want and Global Justice UK.

Friends of the Earth Europe brought their touring “Trojan horse” to Brussels to urge negotiators to say not to what the environmental group says is a Trojan treaty. Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe, stated previously, “Real people power can prevent irreversible damage being done by this Trojan treaty. Our Trojan Horse tour is about standing up for citizens and our right to decide our own laws and putting people and our planet before big business profits.”
Economist Dean Baker has written that the TTIP is not about free trade, as it is touted; rather, he says, it’s “about imposing a regulatory structure to be enforced through an international policing mechanism that likely would not be approved through the normal political processes in each country. The rules that will be put in place as a result of the deal are likely to be more friendly to corporations and less friendly to the environment and consumers than current rules.”

This regulator structure has also met the ire of the deal’s critics.

A statement from over 150 civil society organizations denounces the “regulatory cooperation” part of the deal, calling it “the ultimate tool to prevent or weaken future public interest standards for citizens, workers, consumers, and the environment.” The statement, which was posted at the Corporate Europe Observatory website, reads, in part:

The [European] Commission proposes a system that can only result in further barriers to developing public interest standards as these would need to be ‘trade and investment’ proof. It also gives unprecedented influence to business lobby groups to stop any new regulation that would impact on trade and investment. The proposal strongly prioritizes trade and investment over the public interest. The system would give enormous power to a small group of unelected officials to stop and weaken regulations and standards even before democratically elected bodies, such as parliaments, would have a say over them, thus undermining our democratic system.

The investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in the deal have also been fiercely criticized. A number of far-ranging voices has spoken out against them, so their continued inclusion in the deal, Corporate Europe Observatory states, represents “a blatant disregard for democracy.”

Max Bank from Germany-based watchdog organization LobbyControl added in a statement, “Like Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), regulatory cooperation strengthens big businesses power and threatens democracy on both sides of the Atlantic.”

In an op-ed published Wednesday at the UK’s Guardian, Molly Scott Cato, a professor of green economics at Roehampton University and the Green party’s finance speaker, writes that she has “seen the secrets of the TTIP” and that the protesters are right to be concerned.

We hear much criticism of the “nanny state”, but the world according to TTIP is more like Big Brother Corporation, where individual preferences are swept aside in the onward march of progress and order. It is the disturbing and unsettling worldview that David Korten envisaged in his 1995 book, When Corporations Rule the World. At the time the title seemed rhetorical; outlandish even. It seems considerably less so today.

See more of the day’s action from these tweets:
This video from SumOfUs outlines issues with what the group describes as “the dirtiest trade deal in Europe’s history.”

Obama’s “pro-middle class” budget: Cut corporate taxes, raise military spending, slash Medicare

By Andre Damon
February 3, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Obama_civil_libertiesOn Monday, President Barack Obama presented his budget proposal for fiscal 2016, described by the New York Times as an “unfettered case for spreading the wealth.”

In reality, the budget proposal, cynically packaged and promoted as a populist boon to the middle class at the expense of the rich, is dominated by corporate tax cuts, expanded military spending, and cuts to Medicare.

These are accompanied by a grab bag of social and infrastructure spending proposals, trivial in and of themselves, which are proposed solely to make the budget appear to favor the “middle class.” As Obama and the Democrats know perfectly well, the supposedly “progressive” elements of his budget will be rejected by the Republican Congress, while the pro-corporate and militarist meat of the proposal will be enacted.

The real character of Obama’s budget was signaled by the location he chose to unveil it. The president gave the press conference announcing the budget at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, where he emphasized that he would significantly expand spending on the military and domestic security.

Obama declared, “We need to fund the department [of Homeland Security], pure and simple. We’ve got to put politics aside, pass a budget that funds our national security priorities at home and abroad.” The budget, he added, “gives us the resources to confront global challenges, from ISIL to Russian aggression.”

This was a reference to his proposal to lift caps on military, intelligence and domestic security spending imposed as part of across-the-board cuts mandated by the so-called “sequester” law that came into effect in early 2013.

Obama’s budget proposal would increase Pentagon spending by seven percent, adding an obama-tyranny-2additional $38 billion to bring the total defense budget to $534 billion. Obama is separately proposing $51 billion in additional funding for the wars in Iraq and Syria, including money to back the so-called “moderate” opposition in Syria, as well for as the ongoing US troop presence in Afghanistan.

The budget calls for the corporate tax rate to be cut to 25 percent for manufacturers and 28 percent for other corporations, down from the current rate of 35 percent.

The proposal would also allow US corporations to repatriate past profits generated overseas at a tax rate of only 14 percent. Foreign profits would be taxed at 19 percent in the future. Currently, US corporations pay a rate of 35 percent on foreign profits, which many corporations avoid by keeping their foreign earnings abroad.

These tax cuts are accompanied by $400 billion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and the Department of Health and Human Services. The budget proposes to raise $66 billion over ten years by charging higher Medicare premiums to upper-income patients, a move that would undermine Medicare’s status as a universal entitlement and open the door to means testing and the transformation of the government health insurance program for seniors into a poverty program.

The plan would cut another “$116 billion in Medicare payments to drug companies for medicines prescribed for low-income patients,” according to the New York Times. It would also slash $100 billion for the treatment of Medicare patients following their discharge from the hospital, affecting primarily the elderly.

The increases in military and security spending, corporate tax reductions and entitlement cuts, which form the core of the budget proposal, are coupled with a series of social spending increases and tax hikes on the wealthy which are certain to be stripped away by the Republican-controlled Congress.

The proposed tax increases include a 0.07 percent fee on some 100 large financial corporations and an increase in the capital gains tax from 24.2 percent to 28 percent for couples making more than $500,000 per year.

These would ostensibly be used to finance a plan to pay tuition—but not increase per-pupil funding—at community colleges, which would cost $60 billion, as well as an $80 billion proposal for increasing child care tax credits. The budget also proposes $478 billion in infrastructure spending over six years. These projects would be contracted out to private for-profit companies and would not take the form of government-run public works programs.

In announcing his budget, Obama claimed that his proposal would undo the effects of the sequester budget cuts. Since their implementation, Obama and Congress have taken measures to shift the burden of the cuts to social programs and away from the military.

Obama made clear that he would not allow sequester cuts to defense spending, declaring that “if Congress does nothing to stop sequestration, there could be serious consequences for our national security, at a time when our military is stretched on a whole range of issues.” He added, “I’m not going to accept a budget that locks in sequestration going forward.”

The token social spending measures in the budget are aimed at perpetuating the fraud that the Democrats are the party of the “middle class”—as opposed to the pro-business Republicans—in preparation for the 2016 presidential election.

Despite the constant talk in the media about “partisan gridlock,” the two parties represent different factions of the same ruling oligarchy and pursue a common agenda of austerity, militarism and the build-up of the repressive powers of the state.

The High Social and Environmental Costs of Capitalism

The Destructive Component in Capitalism’s ‘Creative Destruction’ Is Very High

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
February 02, 2015
PaulCraigRoberts.org

 

In my book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism , I explain the concept of external or social costs. These are the costs associated with production that are not incurred by the producer but are inflicted on outside third parties, most often the environment, such as land, air, and water resources on which humanity is dependent. In models demonstrating the efficiency of capitalism in allocating resources, economists include assumptions that move external costs out of the picture.

Finian Cunningham describes external costs associated with fracking. If the cost of earthquakes to homeowners and owners of commercial buildings and damaged and ruined water resources had to be covered by the fracking companies, the total cost of production would exceed the value of the oil and gas recovered. As long as the oil price was high, the frackers made money by imposing what could well be the largest production costs on people who do not participate in the profits of the enterprise.

If the oil price does not soon recover, the failure of the frackers’ debt obligations and associated derivatives are likely to impose yet more social costs by setting off another financial crisis and more public bailouts.

Another main source of capitalist profits is the exploitation of labor. In economic theory, labor is exploited when the value of the worker’s contribution exceeds his wage. As a slave does not own his own labor or the products of his labor, the plantation owner is able to confiscate some of the value of the slave’s labor, thus boosting the plantation’s profits. Capitalists can achieve the same result by underpaying labor in company town kind of situations in which labor unions do not exist as a countervailing power. (Also, governments use income taxes to confiscate value from labor just as a slave owner used his private ownership of the slave.)

In the 21st century, jobs offshoring have turned the entirety of the United States into a company town. By moving manufacturing offshore, corporations both destroyed the unions and dramatically lowered labor costs by taking advantage of the surfeit of labor in countries where living standards are low. In other words, by dispossessing Americans of their jobs and careers, corporations increased their profits, with the rewards flowing to shareholders in capital gains and to executives in the form of “performance bonuses.”

When capitalists encourage illegal immigration they simultaneously exploit labor and dump social costs on the general population. As illegals build up as a strata of the population, they become dependent on public support for education and health care.

In the 21st century American capitalism has flourished, because it has succeeded in overturning unions and blocking environmental restraints. Income and wealth inequality has increased with the rise in social costs. The power of US corporations is approaching that of an earlier time when governors and the federal government called out police and federal soldiers to use deadly violence to break strikes and union attempts to organize. Many decades of struggle by labor and farmers have gone by the board as unfettered capitalism again reigns supreme.

Mobilized & Winning, Now It’s Time to Escalate

The ‘Movement of Movements’ against Fast Tracking the TPP has the power to win

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
January 31, 2015
Dissident Voice, January 31, 2015

 

Trans-Pacific Partnership Don't fast-track this dealSince the President’s State of the Union message where he announced his plan to push corporate trade agreements and seek Fast Track trade promotion authority, the movement against Fast Track, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and globalized trade has grown. Instead of the bump in support that Obama expected after the State of the Union, opposition has increased inside Congress and in the grass roots.

Indications are that we are winning, and if we continue to mobilize over the next two months, we will win.

Mobilization

Before the President’s speech there was already a large movement organized from across the political spectrum to oppose Fast Track and stop corporate trade agreements.

When we took action on Capitol Hill this week, we did so as part of a larger campaign to stop Fast Track. The US Trade Rep Michael Froman testified before the House and Senate. It was essential for him to be confronted at these hearings because he has consistently misled the Congress and the people. There are multiple false statements to dissect, but his latest is the claim that Fast Track will give Congress the power to shape the negotiations. This is a laughable lie since the negotiations have been carried on in secret for most of Obama’s Presidency. How can Congress shape negotiations that Froman claims are near completion?

The truth is that Fast Track removes Congress from the equation. It allows the President to sign trade agreements before sending them to Congress for a brief review of thousands of pages of documents; without committee hearings and only brief debate on the floor. Then Congress has an up or down vote with no amendments. Under Fast Track, Congress would be unable to fulfill its responsibilities under the Commerce Clause to regulate trade. It is also a tremendous grant of power to President Obama.

After the President’s speech there was a protest at a town hall of Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. Wyden is a key player as the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. He has played both sides of the debate and the movement needs to monitor him closely and hold him accountable. If he cannot reach agreement with Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, then Fast Track is unlikely to pass the Senate. This week Senator Grassley said that currently they don’t have 60 votes in support of Fast Track and therefore it could not pass a filibuster. If Wyden demands that Congress sees the text of the TPP and has true involvement in the negotiations before they are finalized, then he and Hatch will not reach agreement and the Republicans will have to go it alone.

In the House there are even more challenges for Fast Track. Chuck Porcari of the Communication Workers (CWA) writes:

“House Speaker John Boehner has said that the White House needs to deliver at least 50 House Democrats if Fast Track has any hopes of passing, especially now that the White House is trying to whip together 80 Democrats in the House and New Democrat Coalition is trying to cobble together at most 40 votes. . . . According to a story by Inside U.S. Trade, ‘one informed source questioned whether the New Democrats actually have an idea of which lawmakers will provide the 40 ‘yes’ votes they are seeking.’”

When the TPP negotiators met in New York City this week, people showed up to protest the negotiations despite a winter blizzard. The protests were organized by Trade Justice New York and included the Teamsters, 350.org NY, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Fight for the Future, Food and Water Watch, Veterans for Peace, Citizens for Safe Energy, Popular Resistance and a host of other organizations. Despite snow, the crowd was too large to stay in front of the Sheraton and police forced them across the street. After the protest, they marched to protest Senator Chuck Schumer, a member of the Finance Committee and the Democratic Party leadership in the Senate.

In the first week after the President’s speech there were 10,000 phone calls opposing Fast Track made to Congress, according to Arthur Stamoulis of Citizens Trade Campaign. These phone calls will continue to escalate. We urge people to call; go to StopFastTrack.com which will contact your legislator for you and provide you with talking points. Phone calls make a difference when tied to a campaign that includes on-the-ground protests, meetings with congressional representatives and media work. We know that this movement can generate tens of thousands of calls and are confident it will do so again.

NAFTA has changed the Politics of Trade

There are many differences between the debate over trade today and the 1990s era debate over NAFTA. The major difference now is people know that corporate trade agreements favor transnational corporations but undermine people and the environment. At the same time, politicians know they are risking their political careers by supporting corporate trade agreements.

In Trade and Consequences: Dems Forget Political Impact of NAFTA, the author reminds us that:

From the get-go, the pursuit of NAFTA was damaging to Democrats . . .With pro-labor and pro-environment congressional Democrats lined up against business oriented New Democrats in their own caucus and the White House . . . when the elections came around, Clinton’s advocacy of NAFTA seriously hurt the Democrats.

The political fall-out from NAFTA was severe. In 1994 there was a tremendous backlash to the policies of Bill Clinton. The result was a 54-seat swing in membership from Democrats to Republicans. For the first time since 1952, Republicans gained a majority of the House. Democrats have still not recovered from this electoral slaughter. But, Republicans should realize that if they go it alone on Fast Track, the Democrats will reap the political benefit from these trade agreements which always lose jobs, expand the wealth divide and increase trade deficits.

The political winds on corporate trade have been blowing strongly negative in recent years. Obama_civil_libertiesIn a 2008 Gallup Poll, 53% of Americans said that NAFTA had a primarily negative effect on the economy; only 37% said the effect had been positive. As a result President Obama took an anti-NAFTA campaign stance saying “NAFTA and its potential were oversold to the American people” and promised to “fix” the agreement so it “works for American workers.” Obama claimed he would seek renegotiation of NAFTA to include more rigorous labor and environmental stipulations. Now, he is negotiating even worse deals in the Trans-Atlantic and Pacific partnerships.

By December 2012 polling indicated “U.S. public opinion has intensified from broad opposition to overwhelming opposition to NAFTA-style trade deals,” citing

U.S. respondents who believe that the United States should ‘renegotiate’ or “leave” NAFTA outnumbered by nearly 4-to-1 those that say the country should ‘continue to be a member’ (53 vs.15 percent). Support for the ‘leave’ or ‘renegotiate’ positions dominated among Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike.

The 2012 presidential campaign played on these views; spending “an unprecedented $68 million—about $34 million each—in ads attacking more-of-the-same trade policies. Trade-themed presidential ads aired an estimated 83,000 times in 2012, more than twice the number of trade-related airings in 2008.”

Perhaps more importantly for the current debate in Congress, in the 2012 congressional elections, 57% of candidates in competitive races campaigned against trade deals:

Out of more than 125 paid ads used by congressional candidates across 30 U.S. states, only one indicated support for any trade deals modeled on NAFTA. (It was from GOP candidate Linda Lingle, who lost her bid for Hawaii’s Senate seat.) The same was seen in the Senate where ‘candidates who employed ads against status quo trade won seats in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

And, these views continue through current times as Dave Johnson writes:

The public gets it that our NAFTA-style trade agreements have sucked jobs out of the country. They get it that we need a national plan to restore our manufacturing ecosystem. They get it that we need to invest in maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure.

Even politicians who have supported trade in the past are expressing doubts. The Teamsters reported on Froman’s testimony writing “Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said to Froman, ‘If trade agreements can’t show they’re going to help the middle class…I’ve got some real problems with them.’” And in a theme heard throughout the day: “Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, criticized the TPP talks because members of Congress are severely constrained from reviewing the text. He also grilled Froman on the failure of the S. Korea trade deal to create the jobs promised.”

Huffington Post reports another area of bi-partisan opposition came from “Senator Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rob Portman (D-Ohio), who pressed Froman on the issue of currency manipulation — an economic strategy in which a nation devalues its own currency in order to attract jobs from abroad without reducing its workers’ standard of living.  Grassley asked Froman twice if currency manipulation had been raised in the TPP talks, without getting an answer.” Even though almost 250 members of this Congress signed letters in the previous Congress saying this issue is critical for their support.

The Movement against Corporate Trade has Grown Deeper, Broader and Stronger

The movement has broadened because the current trade agreements cover much more than trade, impacting every aspect of our lives. Leo Gerard of the US Steelworkers writes:

Supersized trade agreements now intrude on every area of life, from food safety to generic drugs to national sovereignty. They can extend patents that make life-saving drugs unaffordable. They can forbid country-of-origin labeling on food. They can outlaw requirements that American taxpayer-financed road and bridge projects use materials made in America. They can allow multinational corporations to sue governments for damages if a law to protect the public reduces profits. They can commit the United States to pay fines or revise laws if an international tribunal orders it.

Another reason for stronger opposition is the experience with NAFTA and other corporate trade deals. Teamster Mike Dolan writes in a report on how to fight the corporate trade agenda:

The NAFTA and WTO and their progeny have cost the U.S. millions of jobs lost through outsourcing and cheap imports, and it is the definition of insanity to continue the same trade model and expect different outcomes. The new crop of trade talks, these alleged high-end, 21st century agreements, are so big and complex, and intrude on so much of the substantive jurisdiction of law-makers and regulators, that the old-fashioned Fast Track is a completely inappropriate delegation―an abdication even―of Congressional Authority.

The NAFTA impact can be seen in changes in the environmental movement. During NAFTA, Mike Dolan reports seven Big Green environmental groups provided Clinton cover: World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense Fund, Conservation International and Audubon Society. Now the environmental impact is evident and the environmental crisis has worsened. Fresh Greens have taken a more aggressive stand preventing Big Greens from providing Obama cover. Their demand now, echoed by many in Congress, is enforceable environmental standards. The agreements negotiated by Obama have less environmental protection than those negotiated by George W. Bush –leaks show they have no environmental protection.

Dolan also points out that consumers have joined the anti-corporate trade movement because food and water, health care and medicines, data and privacy as well as the future of the Internet are all adversely impacted by these trade deals. He points to mainstream groups like the American Association of Retired Persons, Breast Cancer Action, AllergyKids Foundation and the Alliance for Natural Health U.S.A, the Council for Responsible Genetics, Food Democracy Now and Moms Across America.

The threat to the future of the Internet has brought groups like Fight For the Future into the battle against Fast Track along with Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge and Free Press.

While NAFTA is good for agribusiness, it is not good for traditional farmers. Dolan writes “three great farmer groups, . . . the National Farmers Union (NFU), founded 1902, representing farmers and ranchers in all states; the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), founded 1986, and its 24 constituent grassroots groups in 32 states; and the Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy (IATP), the preeminent progressive think-tank at the intersection of globalization and farming” now oppose corporate trade agreements. Similarly, the Organic Consumers Association which has an Internet following of over one million people opposes corporate trade.

Another area of large growth has been faith-based groups. The Vatican has spoken out on trade because of its adverse impact on developing countries, facilitation of corporate tax evasion and exploitation of workers and natural resources.  The Sisters of Mercy oppose corporate trade because of their concerns about immigration, non-violence, anti-racism, women’s rights, and the Earth. Protestant groups opposing NAFTA-like trade include the United Methodists, Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ. The Unitarian Universalists and the Quakers have been long time opponents of corporate trade. And, conservative religious groups oppose the trade agreements because they include countries that are hostile to Christianity.

Of course, a backbone of opposition to corporate trade is labor.  Teamster Mike Dolan lists other key players the “United Auto Workers, The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, United Steelworkers of America, the Communication Workers of America,  the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, and the Union of Needletrades and Industrial Textile Employees, affiliates of Public Services International, including AFSCME and the American Federation of Teachers, Service Employees International Union.”

How We Win

The movement opposed to corporate trade is larger – representing tens of millions of Americans; broader – representing people concerned about food, water, healthcare, the Internet, workers’ rights, the environment, banking regulation and more; and more committed because they have seen degradation of the economy and environment by NAFTA and similar corporate trade agreements.

The key is for this movement to mobilize now. The next two months will decide whether corporate trade is finished for the remainder of President Obama’s term in office. If people take action (go to www.StopFastTrack.com), we will win.

There is also a week of national actions being planned in February during the congressional recess. Take the pledge at www.FlushtheTPP.org to get involved and stay informed.

This is a battle between mass people power and trans-national corporate power. It is a battle the people can win, and it is essential for every issue we care about that we win.

Kevin Zeese, JD and Margaret Flowers, MD co-host Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC, co-direct Its Our Economy and are organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC. Read other articles by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers.