By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The essence of privatization today is to turn a public good into a profit center for Wall Street. US economic policy has created a wealth class that is grotesquely wealthy and under-taxed so that it has the money government needs to provide public services. This forces the government to borrow money from or sell a public service to the privateers or to create a public-private partnership (disguised corporate welfare and crony capitalism) in order to provide essential services. There is another way. We’ve reached a tipping point, as evidenced by the worldwide revolt through Occupy, the Arab Spring, the Indignados and other movements. We can reverse the trend toward privatization and inequality by claiming the commons for our mutual prosperity. If we believe in a more just, sustainable and democratic world, a world based on the common good, we will build the foundation for a world in which people work together to solve common problems and create an equitable economy that betters the lives for all.
By Staff for Politico Morning Trade. Trade agreements have become politically toxic. President Obama has three trade deals he has been pursuing, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). They all need to be stopped. The administration has used secrecy as their key tool. Their view is the less people know, the more likely an agreement is to become law. Why? Becuase these agreements are unpopular. They are written by and for transnational corporations and not for the protection of people and the planet. During the 2016 election we have seen how these agreements have become politically toxic. Obama hopes to get the TPP through a lame duck session of Congress, a time when many members of Congress are in their last session because they are retiting or lost re-election. He knows he could not get the TPP through Congress at any other time this year. We need to stop these agreements and then demand a total rethinking of how trade proceeds. We can create trade agreements that serve the economy but also serve the interests of the people in safe good and services, living wages and safe conditions for workers, as well as aid the world in dealing with climate change and protecting the environment.
By Graeme Wood for Richmond News - The trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries has reopened the debate over free trade deals, pitting proponents of increased trade and fewer tarriffs and regulations against the likes of trade unions, environmentalists and those concerned about national sovereignty. Touting the agreement as one that will foster more economic growth was B.C.’s Minister of International Trade Teresa Wat, who is also the MLA for Richmond Centre.
By Andrew Smolski for Counter Punch - In this interview, we discuss wages, a pertinent current topic with the ongoing struggle for $15/hr, stagnating worker incomes, and what will be TPP’s further attack on wages in the United States. More importantly, what began as a discussion of wages quickly developed into a much broader critique of the current system’s political economy, and a way to fundamentally alter the way we produce, distribute, and consume. It is not enough to bargain with capitalists. We must instead look to how workers can take over the means of production and employ them for the benefit and wellbeing of all.
By Kyla Mandel in DeSmogBlog - The latest release of lobbying data on the European Commission’s Transparency Register has raised concerns that the fossil-fuelled Kochs are trying to influence the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership(TTIP) negotiations. Digging through the data, DeSmog UK found that the European arm of Koch Industry’s legal, lobbying and public affairs branch – known as Koch Companies Public Sector LLC – has spent up to £0.5m lobbying EUpolicymakers on the environment, energy and free trade. And according to the voluntary register, Koch Industries – the largest privately owned energy company in the United States, known for funding climate denial groups – has a particular interest in lobbying on the “EU’s free trade agreement negotiations.”
By Alan Morrison in The Atlantic - It is January 2017. The mayor of San Francisco signs a bill that will raise the minimum wage of all workers from $8 to $16 an hour effective July 1st. His lawyers assure him that neither federal nor California minimum wage laws forbid that and that it is fine under the U.S. Constitution. Then, a month later, a Vietnamese company that owns 15 restaurants in San Francisco files a lawsuit saying that the pay increase violates the “investor protection” provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement recently approved by Congress. The lawsuit is not in a federal or state court, but instead will be heard by three private arbitrators; the United States government is the sole defendant; and the city can participate only if the U.S. allows it.
Sen. Ron Wyden took to Wired yesterday to argue that the Fast Track bill he co-sponsored to rush approval for trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement will help protect the free and open Internet. Sen. Wyden has long been a staunch defender of the Internet and users' rights, and more recently, he has renewed his efforts to reform the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The primary reason Sen. Wyden boasts that Fast Track and the TPP would protect Internet users is because both contain provisions involving the "free flow of information." Such provisions live in the TPP's E-Commerce chapter, which has never been leaked, so no one except the negotiators themselves and corporate advisors with special privileges have seen the actual language. What we do know is based on public statements and leaked texts from other secret trade deals.
We are hearing more and more news from Europe that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is running into stiff head winds, and I had the pleasure of seeing this growing storm of opposition first-hand in Berlin last week. I attended a series of events culminating in the WIR HABEN ES SATT! “We’re Fed Up” march, a massive mobilization of people saying no to industrial agriculture. This year, a special focus was on TTIP and GMOs and demanding new protections for animal welfare. This was the fifth year of the march, and at 50,000 people, the biggest so far. One of the organizers of the march, ARC2020, described the event: “Farmers and beekeepers, tractors and stiltwalkers, samba bands and chanting citizens of all ages made their colourful way from Potsdamer Platz to the Angela Merkel’s chancellery. Their aim? To say no to a broken industrialised globalised food system and yes to an alternative.”