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If the median household’s income is heading upward, the economy is in good shape. If it’s heading downward, as it’s been for this entire recovery, we’re all in deep trouble. Advocacy groups who sought a moratorium on shutoffs testified last week that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s policies of mass shutoffs — 19,000 in recent months — are leaving low-income households with seniors and children without water service. INTERVIEWER: Do you think of yourself as a feminist? SONTAG: That’s one of the few labels I’m content with. But even so…is it a noun? I doubt it. In the current recovery, at least through 2012, the bottom 90 percent actually lost ground, with all of the income gains being grabbed by the wealthiest 10 percent of American households.

Grass Roots Grow Against Greed [Bill Moyers broadcast]

One idea that has become clearer and clearer to me over the years is that organizers need to organize themselves while they organize others. This piece is one (very small) indication that it may actually be happening. Eventually, it needs to happen on a grand scale, encompassing all organizations that work for human rights and justice (and I mean that in the broadest sense) as well individuals. As capitalism progresses and corporations increase their global control using the same neoliberal tactics everywhere, people around the world are experiencing the same kinds of oppression, oftentimes by the same corporations. The only true chance of challenging corporate power and reversing it is for people to organize world-wide. The organizing efforts detailed in this piece only hint at that, but it should be the goal and we should be developing visions of the future that offer a successful movement more than a kinder, gentler capitalism.

Educate yourself about the TPP with Bill Moyers, Yves Smith, and Dean Baker

If enacted, these laws will be an end-run around existing laws and institutions created to protect us.  Their goal is to continue the transfer of our rights as citizens to transnational corporations, eliminating regulations and “opening markets.”  As they simultaneously oppress and steal from us, they will have removed all legal mechanisms for us to fight back.  It is an obvious threat to activism of any kind and a major worldwide threat to all working people and our environment.

The TPP/TTIP are essentially neoliberalism enshrined in trade law.  The laws will be used to extract wealth, consolidate corporate power, and quell dissent. The agreement has been described as “NAFTA on steroids.” Consider how much damage has been done to our country – and others – by massive corporations and financial institutions who used NAFTA to rip good jobs out of our hands, only to give them to unprotected workers in other countries, where the corporations polluted and exploited with impunity. Then the manufactured crisis of 2007-08 was unleashed on us by the same people. They have stuck the knife in, they have turned it, and now they want to finish us off and put the final nail in the coffin of anything resembling freedom or democracy.

When the global corporate elite control everything, the only thing left will be for us to consume, produce and obey.  If we have been marginalized to such an extent that we are unnecessary to that system, then the system has no place for us and asks that we not be seen, or preferably die quietly.  We aren’t far off from this now.  Millions suffering in poverty, a rapidly dwindling middle-class, the rich reaching new heights of wealth every day. They have bought the political system, they have instituted mass surveillance, militarized police forces, corporate control of almost every aspect of our lives…and that is not enough for those who constantly want more.

People who are still paying the bills, have retirement, can buy a few high tech consumer goods, help their kids out every month, maybe take a vacation now and then, somehow think they’re immune. If they think about the reality of our situation as a country (and as a world) they may despair or shrug and think, same as it ever was…but it’s not.  Things have changed. We have never had a global elite like this in the history of the world. Collectively, they have and control more wealth and power than has ever existed in history.  They cross borders with impunity, have no allegiance to any state, play entire countries off of each other, raid pension funds and government treasuries…the list is seemingly endless.  They write the laws and they make the rules.  If they can’t “outsource” your job, they are trying to replace every worker they can with a machine – and not just blue collar workers…

Even if TPP is never enacted, a variation will be – or a thousand variations, stuck into laws and trade agreements around the world.  NAFTA has had a massive impact on all of us. As clinton fast-tracked it and pressed for China’s entry into the WTO, most of us chose not to listen to the people who were trying to warn us about it.  Now, the TPP promises to be a thousand times worse. Intellectual property rights enabled pharmaceutical companies to keep poor people in need from getting access to generic drugs (and many middle-class americans), they helped monsanto make criminals of millions of farmers. Now it seems Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), an aspect of existing trade agreements under the WTO, are a major focus of the TPP. Not only will they criminalize even more of the world, they will use TRIPS to clamp down on the internet and all of its users. They believe they can succeed where SOPA and PIPA failed.

Of course, the earth, our environment, is front and center in most big trade agreements written by corporations.   When a transnational corporation sees an opportunity for exploitation in a particular country, say oil drilling, but a government (and more importantly, it’s citizens) doesn’t want it to happen, that would be considered, in trade-speak, a “barrier to trade.”  We don’t know the details because all of these trade negotiations are taking place in private, but leaks from preliminary documents indicate they want to get paid – with our tax dollars – on the projected income losses from not being able to exploit a resource.  The logic is twisted and perverse.  It is the logic of capitalism.  So, not only do they want to more “efficiently” exploit more of the earth with impunity by “opening markets,” it appears they also want to be paid – by us – for doing nothing.

It’s time to be honest with ourselves and have a sense of urgency.  Whatever your situation is today, it is not static. There are dynamic changes happening and the corporations writing the TPP in secret are at the vanguard of those changes. The only true way to fight this is to realize it is part of the same neoliberal agenda that corporations and venal politicians are using to privatize education, water, steal money out of our pockets through the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) “economy,” make war, sell weapons, and displace huge populations around the world.

Many people are beginning to see the same policies enacted in different countries with the same wealthy elite benefiting and the same working people paying the price – just talk to anyone in Britain…

So, first we need to learn about what is happening and realize its profound impact.  Then we need to organize to fight a capitalism that is using neoliberal strategies to oppress and exploit the planet – and all but a few of its inhabitants.  Not only do we need to organize world wide, but we need to have a vision of what we want. I suggest we create a way of life that puts people before profits.  No time like the present…

Educate yourself about the TPP with Bill Moyers, Yves Smith, and Dean Baker

This is an end-run around left and/or liberal activism and a major threat to all working people around the world. The TPP will be used to extract wealth, consolidate corporate power, and quell dissent in the most wicked, nefarious, and brutal ways possible. The agreement has been described as “NAFTA on steroids.” Consider how much damage has been done to our country – and others – by massive corporations and financial institutions who used NAFTA to rip good jobs out from under us, only to give them to unprotected workers in other countries, where the corporations polluted and exploited with impunity. Then the manufactured crisis of 2007-08 was unleashed on us by the same people. They have stuck the knife in, they have turned it, and now they want to finish us off and put the final nail in the coffin of anything resembling freedom or democracy.

The myth of the american dream has become superfluous to our global corporate elite. It is simply no longer necessary for them to continue the lies. When the myths are gone and they have crushed the last dreams, the only thing left will be for us to consume and obey. Look around. We aren’t far off. Millions suffering in poverty, a rapidly dwindling middle-class, the rich reaching new heights of wealth every day. They have bought the political system, they have instituted mass surveillance, militarized police forces, there is corporate control of every aspect of our lives…and this is not enough for those who constantly want more.

People who are still paying the bills, have retirement, and can buy a few high tech consumer goods, help their kids out every month, maybe take a vacation now and then, somehow think they’re immune. If they think about the reality of our situation as a country (and as a world) they may despair or shrug and think, same as it ever was…but it’s not. Things have changed. We have never had a global elite like this in the history of the world. They cross borders with impunity, have no allegiance to any state, play entire countries off of each other, raid pension funds and government treasuries, they write the laws and make the rules and the only use they have for us is as labor to exploit – and maybe as consumers (if they actually produce anything).

Even if TPP is never enacted, a variation will be – or a thousand variations, stuck into laws and trade agreements around the world. NAFTA has had a massive impact on all of us. Most of us chose not to listen to the people who warned us about it as Clinton fast-tracked it and pressed for China’s entry into the WTO. Now, the TPP promises to be a thousand times worse. Intellectual property rights enabled pharmaceutical companies to keep poor people in need from getting access to generic drugs, they helped monsanto make criminals of millions of farmers. Now it seems Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), an aspect of existing trade agreements under the WTO, are a major focus of the TPP. Not only will they criminalize even more of the world, they will use TRIPS to clamp down on the internet and all of its users. They believe they can succeed where SOPA and PIPA failed.

Of course the earth, our environment, is front and center in most big trade agreements written by corporations. Not only do they want to more efficiently exploit more of the earth with impunity, they want to rig the system to pay them – with our tax dollars – when they see an opportunity for exploitation, say oil drilling, but a country (and it’s citizens) doesn’t want it to happen.

It’s time to be honest with ourselves and have a sense of urgency. Whatever your situation is today, it is not static. There are dynamic changes happening and the people writing the TPP in secret are at the vanguard of those changes. The only true way to fight this is to realize it is part of the same neoliberal agenda that corporations and venal politicians are using to privatize education, steal money out of our pockets through the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) “economy,” make war, sell weapons, and displace huge populations around the world.

Many people are beginning to see the same policies enacted in different countries with the same wealthy elite benefiting and the same working people paying the price. So, first we need to realize what is happening, then we need to organize to fight it. Not only do we need to organize world wide, but we need to have a vision of what we want. I suggest we create a way of life that puts people before profits. No time like the present…

Robert Reich interviewed by Bill Moyers about his new film “Inequality for All”

As usual, Reich’s analysis of our situation is sound, but because he is a liberal, he is loathe to question the core tenets of capitalism.  The logic of capital is to concentrate wealth and power.  It makes everything a “resource” to be exploited, from the natural world to human beings (also part of the natural world, but that is another -related- discussion).  Capitalism works to commodify the entire world, i.e., put a price on everything and bring it into a market.  You can see this happening to education now with horrific effects.  It also demands ceaseless accumulation.   An example of that logic is embodied in the creation of corporate business cycles where each one has to be more profitable than the next, forever – by any means necessary.

The idea that we can’t have total equality because everyone would sit around and feed at the trough of the state is joke.  What do you do when you are relaxed and have time to yourself?  What happens when you get together with other people with a common goal? What would happen if you had the opportunity to create something and pursue your interests?  That we need fear or greed to motivate us is another sick myth perpetuated by capitalists because they don’t want us to have agency, control of our own lives. They don’t want us to realize we have the power to create a system without them – and they definitely don’t want us to be angry at them, much better to blame ourselves.  We have been so propagandized, we have internalized our corporate master’s attitudes.  Yes, you’re working two jobs and can’t make ends meet. Well, blame yourself.  This is bullshit.  One of the good things this film does is show how wrong that propaganda is, but Reich constantly falls down when he continues to put his faith in capitalism.  Of course, I don’t expect him to do anything else.  He is a liberal and the modern american liberal is afraid of radical change. He is an advocate of tweaking the system we have to make it more equal.  Unfortunately – and we can look back over more than 100 years to show this conclusively – the system we have is capitalism and for the reasons stated above, its logic is faulty and it progressively makes things worse.  The roller-coaster of change under capitalism can make it seem like some things are better, but the highs and lows get lower as time goes on and it is fueled literally and figuratively by exploitation.  It constantly works toward inequality and concentration of wealth and power through exploitation.  I won’t even begin a discussion of the psychological devastation it has caused because that would make this comment book-length.

Reich is correct, there is nothing wrong with globalization – but there is something wrong with corporate globalization.  Creating NAFTA and bringing China into the WTO decimated our economy.  Corporations (while they were making huge profits incidentally) wanted to rip our jobs from us (no, we didn’t “lose” them, we were bashed over the head and they were stolen) and exploit poor people in other countries, all just to make more, and more, and more…Neither Clinton nor Reich invented trade or trade organizations.  Corporate interests got Clinton elected, wrote the legislation, and served on the boards that made it all happen.  Yes, there are bad guys.  Moyers has been good about naming them for years. They are members of ALEC, they are the walton family who almost single-handedly created the system for our goods to be made in China, they are the koch brothers, GE, coke, mcdonald’s, big oil, monsanto, bankers, apple (yes, apple), microsoft, and the gates foundation…the list is long.

I’m sure Reich wants to be diplomatic and keep his friends in high places, most likely so he can try to convince them to change, but it is also because he has been paid by the elite and/or their institutions his entire career: public service is never wholly public and rarely is it service. Also, elite schools have always been a part of the power structure and as far as I know, Reich has spent most of his time at those institutions since leaving “public” “service.”  That being said, his heart is in the right place and his analysis of how we got here has a lot to recommend it.  Some of his prescriptions aren’t bad and some are downright necessary; so, I will probably see his movie and continue to post info from his site – and I will continue to insist that capitalism is a doomed course.  We need to organize to fundamentally change our system at the root.

Matt Taibbi and Yves Smith on Big Banks — Bill Moyers

Three great sources of information below. Nakedcapitalism has the most detailed info. You actually have to read and think and research – and it helps to know something beforehand — BUT, you can still get something out of it with a fairly short surf. It is worth it if you want to understand a big piece of what – and who – is determining our collective economic fate.

nakedcapitalism.com

www.rollingstone.com/taibbi

http://billmoyers.com/