Before the Zombie Apocalypse –These 4 Trade Deals Were Ravaging the World!

by James Trimarco

Cartoons by Marc J. Palm

Forget ghouls and goblins. From deregulating Wall Street to shredding environmental and labor protections—these policy monsters are way scarier.
This time of year, the fabric that separates our world from prowling ghouls is at its thinnest. But what really keeps us at YES! Magazine up at night are the international trade agreements constantly being negotiated by the United States and its partners—each one more terrifying than the last.

These deals have a way of favoring corporations over people.
How can something as pleasant-sounding as “free trade” be more threatening than a zombie apocalypse? The devil’s in the details, and the fine print on some of these agreements is enough to curdle a bucket of blood.
Whether it’s blocking a ban on chocolate-flavored cigarettes marketed to kids, or rolling back post-2008 regulations on Wall Street, these deals have a way of favoring corporations over people. They’re not popular, as you might imagine, and in some cases people’s movements have been able to stop them in their tracks. In response, proponents of the deals have attempted to slip under the radar by conducting negotiations in secret.
Here are four of the scariest deals—and why they’re so abominable.

WTO-The-mother-of-all-trade

The World Trade Organization, created in 1995 as a re-imagining of an earlier group called the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, is the mother of all trade bodies and sets the rules for the flow of goods and services between countries. The WTO claims its goal is to “improve the welfare of the peoples of the member countries.” But critics say what it really does is force poor nations to open their markets to wealthier ones, who themselves often bend the WTO’s rules.
The WTO also gives companies a place to complain about regulations enacted by democratically elected governments. It has found fault with laws protecting public health, the environment, workers’ rights, and other things that would affect industries’ bottom line. Recent rulings have objected to producers labeling certain kinds of tuna as “dolphin safe;” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ban on sweet-flavored cigarettes that entice kids; and labels that inform consumers what country meat products originated in. The WTO says such labels violate the rights of Mexican and Canadian farmers to a level playing field. The United States sometimes refuses to comply—but risks trade sanctions when it does so.
Perhaps most frightening of all, the WTO (along with NAFTA) has spawned a whole new brood of bilateral and regional deals that take the same approach to trade and development.

TTIP-The-Warlock-that-would

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, if approved, would promote trade between the United States and the European Union.
The deal has some bright spots—for example, it would universalize the plugs for electric cars. But American negotiators are also pushing hard to overturn Europe’s ban on imports of U.S.-grown genetically modified crops. Meanwhile, European negotiators and bankers are trying to set Wall Street free from regulations passed after the financial crisis of 2008. According to the nonprofit research group Public Citizen, they want to roll back the Volcker Rule, which restricts U.S. banks from the riskiest investments, and to block efforts to limit the size of banks.

NAFTA-corportate-werewolf-2

When President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada in 1993, he sold it to the people of the United States as a job creator. “NAFTA means jobs,” he said. “American jobs, and good-paying American jobs.”
More than 20 years later, the agreement’s dark side is showing. The U.S. government’s own Trade Adjustment Assistance program acknowledges that nearly 900,000 workers in the United States have officially lost their jobs due to the relocation of businesses to Canada or Mexico under NAFTA. Meanwhile, exports of cheap U.S. corn have damaged the livelihoods of Mexican farmers and driven huge waves of migration. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of Mexican-born people living in the United States more than doubled from 4.5 million to 9.8 million.

TPP-The-Kraken

The Trans Pacific Partnership, if approved, would unite 12 Pacific Rim countries into the world’s largest free trade area, comprising 40 percent of the global economy. When he spoke about the TPP in 2011, President Barack Obama, who has made the deal’s passage a major objective of his administration, sounded a lot like Clinton in 1993. Obama said the deal “will boost our economies, lowering barriers to trade and investment, increasing exports, and creating more jobs for our people.”
But leaked sections of the agreement’s secret text show the TPP taking more controversial stances—and it has its tentacles on a breathtaking variety of issues. On health care, U.S. negotiators seem to be working at the behest of the pharmaceutical industry, trying to extend the rights of patent-holders to charge more money for medicines. On labor, the TPP makes it easier for companies to move manufacturing to low-wage Vietnam, but offers no enforceable provisions to prevent abuse. On the environment, it preserves the status quo, doing little to prevent the illegal logging and overfishing that are taxing the forests and oceans of the region.
Last but not least, advocates of a free Internet are up in arms over sections in the TPP’s intellectual property chapter they say would significantly diminish the free speech rights of web users.
________________________________________

James Trimarco wrote this article and Marc Palm created the comics for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. James is a web editor at YES! and you can follow him at @JamesTrimarco. Marc is an un-schooled artist who has been self-publishing comics and graphically designing since the mid-90’s. Find more of his work at marcpalm.carbonmade.com.

This article is reprinted from YES Magazine under a license from Creative Commons.

Voting Gives Working People a Place at the Table

by Duane Campbell

vote-graphic-smElections are one of the important tools in labor’s arsenal and organized labor is the organized expression of the working class. We should act like it.   Labor has its problems that have been analyzed by many (see the excellent new piece by Harold Meyerson http://prospect.org/article/seeds-new-labor-movement

But, organized labor is still 6 % of the private sector work force and 13 % of the public sector work force. It is the most organized electoral machine on the democratic left. And we need to join in and make this machine work.

When the Waltons (Walmart) and other out of state super rich such as the pension fund thief John Roberts invest almost 12 million $ in the race to defeat teaches’ unions in election for California Superintendent of Public Instruction, there must be a reason . This is one of the current battle against neoliberal power.

See Talking Union below and http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/10/28/3585128/arnold-pensions-retirement-manufactured-crisis/

As we know, the U.S. political system is overrun by money. Economic power at the top is used to produce political results in Congress and in elections. The rich get richer while the middle stagnates and the poor get screwed.

Our response must be encouraging more voting, not less. The lack of interest in electoral participation expressed in many places is not progressive, rather it reveals a lack of interest in defending democracy. Not voting is giving up on what democracy we have. Yes, our democracy is truncated, exploited, and distorted by economic power, but we need to grow and expand democracy, not abandon it. And, that is why we organize politically in labor.

Political activity – elections- is a an important tool in the arsenal of labor. Election victories are one of the key elements of union power, particularly for public sector unions and often even for the building trades. Continue reading

Meet the Hedge Fund Privateer Who Is Shrinking Workers Pensions.

Meet the Hedge Fund Privateer Who Is Shrinking Workers Pensions.

Alan Pyke  October 28, 2014  ThinkProgress Arnold’s spokespeople bristle at the suggestion that the billionaire is out to cut pensions, insisting that he only wants a realistic accounting of the under-funding problem. But the similarities between what Raimondo did in Rhode Island and what the Arnold Foundation advocates nationwide are striking.

 RhodeIslandgif

When longtime private equity analyst Gina Raimondo won her bid to become treasurer of her home state in 2010, Rhode Island’s public pension system was in such disarray that federal regulators were sniffing around to make sure the state was reporting the funding levels accurately.

Within two years, Raimondo (D) would push through the most significant cuts to public worker retirement benefits in the country and begin a campaign for the Governor’s mansion. The changes she masterminded in 2011 shrank the state’s pension funding gap by billions of dollars almost overnight, an achievement that would have taken years under the more moderate reforms other states have tried. But the rapid, aggressive approach came at a steep cost for the 66,000 men and women who teach, fight fires, and administer public programs in the state.

After years of paying into a retirement system that promised fixed annual payments in their golden years, Rhode Island’s public workforce got herded into a new, far riskier system. Raimondo’s policy is what’s known as a “hybrid pension,” where the system of guaranteed payments to retirees was replaced by a combination of individual investment accounts and a much smaller version of the traditional pension payments. The change amounted to a large benefit cut for thousands of workers.

Read the entire piece.

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/10/28/3585128/arnold-pensions-retirement-manufactured-crisis/

Reposted from Portside.

This  John D. Arnold is the same guy funding the anti teacher union effort in California in this election. http://wp.me/pachF-6ex

 

NEA and Union Political Spending in Campaign 2014

Interesting interview. http://www.c-span.org/video/?322369-4/washington-journal-karen-white-teacher-union-spending-campaign-2014

http://static.c-span.org/assets/swf/CSPANPlayer.1412970412.swf?pid=322369-4

Teachers Unions defend San Francisco City College

City College of San Francisco Seal, Black version

City College of San Francisco Seal, Black version (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

from California Federation of Teachers.

Day One of “The People vs. ACCJC”
October 27, 2014, San Francisco—After kicking off the day with a spirited early morning demonstration outside the San Francisco Superior Court building, about a hundred City College of San Francisco faculty, students and community supporters moved en masse into the courthouse to attend the opening day of the trial to keep the college open.
They heard Deputy City Attorney Yvonne Mere deliver the opening argument. She began simply, with “This case is about fairness.” For the next half hour she told Judge Curtis Karnow that the People’s case would prove three things: that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges violated federal regulations and their own policies when it failed to control for conflicts of interest; it failed to create site review teams that were adequately balanced with academics and administrators; and it failed to give due process to City College.
She also noted that the ACCJC acted in violation of California law when it failed to follow the law and its own procedures; that it deprived CCSF of the opportunity to participate in a process of peer review; and that it acted unfairly when it chose to evaluate CCSF while embroiled with the college in a very public debate over the future of the mission of community colleges in California. Continue reading

Outside groups continue to pour over $7 million into anti teacher union effort in California.

Outside groups, the Waltons, former Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, tech millionaires, pour additional money into the anti teacher union race in California. The race now is spending over $10 million. http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article3356114.html

See the post below.

Millionaires Try to Defeat Teachers’ Unions in California

by Duane Campbell

VergaraSlider-24If you believe in public education, if you think preparing students to live and work in a democracy is an important role for state government- then this election is important. The election will set the direction of school improvement for the next four years.

California voters have a choice.  It is not a perfect choice, but the options are stark. We can continue with the current improvements in k-12 education (Torlakson), or we can move the state down the road of test driven, corporate neoliberal model of schooling (Tuck). Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kansas, Louisiana, Texas, are following this route- and their schools are failing.

Incumbent  Tom Torlakson is a former teacher and is  supported by both major teacher unions.  He supports extension of Prop. 30 taxes passed in 2012 which have restored funding to California schools after the devastation of the national  economic crisis when over 30,000 teachers were dismissed in the state.

The corporate right wing failed in 2012 in their attempt to take away union rights in California Proposition 32 while neoliberals were successful in 2010 and 2012 in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. These anti labor campaigns have severely weakened unions in the nation as described by Harold Meyerson in the new issue of the American Prospect. http://prospect.org/article/seeds-new-labor-movement . The question in this election is whether California’s teachers will be similarly defeated. Continue reading

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