Newsletter: Privatization vs. The People

Privatization protest

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.

Time To Rethink Approach To Trade Agreements

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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.

Newsletter: Brexit Backlash Against EU, A Revolt Against Elites

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The globalized economy is not working for most people of the world. International trade agreements and new government structures like the European Union serve corporate power and put the people and planet aside to ensure profits continue to come first. They undermine democracy and national sovereignty, leaving people feeling more powerless. By pushing austerity and commodification of public services, people are now more economically insecure with less wealth and lower incomes. The response of many is anger. Some protest austerity, others blame people of a different skin color, heritage or ethnicity. The surprise vote in the UK to leave the European Union is the latest, and perhaps the biggest, example of the blowback economic and political elites are getting for their actions. Brexit shows we have our work to do to educate people that this is not about racism and anger at ethnic groups, but is really the battle between the people and the elites. It is a conflict over whether we the people will have the power to decide our futures, whether we can create a fair economy that serves more than the 1% and whether we can act in ways that are consistent with the needs of the environmental crisis we face.

Vocal Protest Kicks Off TPP Public Event In Richmond

A small protest was held in Richmond on Monday to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Photo by @LeadNowCA

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.

Newsletter: Only People Power Can Save The Planet

Climate Our Future from People's Climate March by Reuters.

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. In recent years the conflict has escalated between the people and energy interests due to the reality of climate change. There is national consensus to end dependence on fossil fuels, against big energy corruption of government, and its bi-partisan ‘all of the above’ energy strategy with massive new carbon infrastructure projects, and against the escalation of extreme energy extraction like tar sands and fracking. People on the ground in communities across the nation are standing up to big energy, corrupt government and extreme extraction – and they are having an impact. As the climate meetings approach in Paris, the climate movement should recognize its growing strength.

Richard Wolff: How Workers Can Take Over A Business

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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.

Newsletter: Rigged Trade Negotiations Struggle, Protests Escalate

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. For those concerned about corporate power vs. democracy; jobs, the environment, healthcare, food, water, energy, regulation of banks and more – all eyes were on Atlanta this week where 12 nations were negotiating the massive trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The Atlanta meetings come after more than five years of secret negotiations, secret to the public, media and elected representatives but not to transnational corporations. No matter how Atlanta turns out, we are winning and can finish the job. Our goal: end corporate rigged trade and force governments to re-make trade with a goal of putting people and planet first and doing so by negotiating agreements with transparency so the people can participate.

Are the Koch Brothers Trying To Influence TTIP Negotiations?

TTIP - ein Trojanisches Pferd © greensefa (CC BY 2.0)

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.”

Is The Trans-Pacific Partnership Unconstitutional?

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

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.

How Fast Track And The TPP Undermine The Internet

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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.

50,000 In Berlin Say No To TTIP

TTP Protest in Germany

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.”