Judge Says Vermont Law Protecting Human Health over Corporate Rights is Legit

Vermont-GMO-Labeling-Required

An Associated Press article this week reported that a federal judge will allow to stand for now a Vermont law that could make the state the first in the country to require labeling of genetically modified food, despite opposition by corporate food groups. These groups, representing the likes of Monsanto corporation and other mega food companies, claim the law violated their First Amendment constitutional rights – specifically their claimed right to have broad discretion about what to include (or not include) on their labels. This is not simply the right TO speak, but also the right NOT to speak. Consumer and environmental groups claim the state should have the right to protect their citizens.

The corporate food groups tried to throw out the law before a trial could even start. The decision means there will at least now be a trial.

If history is any guide, Vermont faces an uphill battle since never intended corporate “personhood” constitutional rights have been granted and expanded by activist federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. The 2nd federal circuit court concluded in International Dairy Food v Amestoy in 1996 that a 1994 Vermont las requiring mandatory labeling of milk laced with artificial growth hormones was unconstitutional, as it compelled food corporations to choose speech instead of silence.

Chalk this up as another example of corporate rights trumping the rights of human beings to define laws and regulations protecting human health.

MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR April 27 – May 3

lincolngback

APRIL 27

1637 – HOLLAND SUSPENDS ALL CONTRACTS DURING TULIPMANIA BUBBLE
Tulip mania or tulipomania (1636-37) was a period during which contract prices for new tulip bulbs in Holland exceeded more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble (or economic bubble). People from all walks of life sold homes and land at low prices just to speculate on the rising tulip prices. Prices suddenly collapsed in February 1637. By March, tulip prices had crashed by 90 percent or more. There were widespread defaults on purchased contracts. Long-term economic decline followed. The suspension of contracts gave the seller the right to sell contracted bulbs at market prices.
[NOTE: The current stock market is divorced from economic reality — just like the tulips of Holland were. The mania is not as intense and the drop won’t be as severe, but it is a bubble nonetheless.]

2009 – COMMENT BY DICK DURBIN, US SENATOR, ILLINOIS
“And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”
What was a refreshing bit of true reality in 2009 is even truer today. The finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector tops all sectors in political campaign contributions (or are they investments?) to Washington politicians. The return on their investments are substantial – no indictments of top bankers responsible for the 2008 sub-prime crisis and financial implosion, bailouts galore…and, of course the continuation of the license to print debt money that is loaned to the US – at interest.

APRIL 29

1947 – DEATH OF IRVING FISHER, PROFESSOR AND ECONOMIST
“Thus our national circulating medium is now at the mercy of loan transactions of banks, which lend, not money, but promises to supply money they do not possess. ”

2006 – DEATH OF JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH, AMERICAN ECONOMIST, PUBLIC OFFICIAL AND DIPLOMAT
“In numerous years following the Civil War, the Federal Government ran a heavy surplus.  But it could not pay off its debt, retire its securities, because to do so meant there would be no more bonds to back the national bank notes.  The pay off the debt was to destroy the money supply.”
The same is true today. Since most money is created as debt via loans (to individuals, corporations and the government), paying off the debt would reduce the money supply. A severe depression would inevitable result since not enough money would exist to permit all our economic transactions. The solution is not to “reform” our debt-based money system, but to replace it with a system where money is created debt-free.

APRIL 30

2014 – IMF APPROVES $17.01 BILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE IN EXCHANGE FOR “ECONOMIC REFORMS”
The IMF money comes with stringent terms, what used to be called “Structural Adjustment Programs,” which includes spending cuts, privatization/corporatization of public assets, laying off of public employees, increased prices and debt restructuring. IMF loans in essence transfer economic sovereignty domestically to international bankers.      In the case of Ukraine, the requirements include a 50 percent increase in the price of gas for households, as well as a quick pension reform and lower government spending.
The World Bank warned on April 10 that the loan terms set by the IMF would cut 2014 consumption in Ukraine by 8 percent, as well as erode capital investment.

MAY 1

1871 — KNOX V LEE US SUPREME COURT DECISION
This decision was one of several popularly known “Legal Tender Cases” during this period (the others were Hepburn v. Griswold and Julliard v Greenman). The Supreme Court reversed their earlier decision in Hepburn v. Griswold (1870). The decision upheld the Legal Tender Act declaring that making paper money legal tender did not conflict with US Constitution (Article 1). The decision allowed debtors to repay debts in Greenbacks rather than gold or silver.

MAY 2

2012— TALK FEDERAL RESERVE GOVERNOR DANIEL TARULLO AT THE COUNCIL OF FOREIGN RELATIONS
“It is sobering to recognize that, more than four years after the failure of Bear Stearns began the acute phase of the financial crisis, so much remains to be done–in implementing reforms that have already been developed, in modifying or supplementing these reforms as needed, and in fashioning a reform program to address shadow banking concerns. For some time my concern has been that the momentum generated during the crisis will wane or be redirected to other issues before reforms have been completed.” [Note: The political influence of financial corporations has prevented any serious banking and monetary reforms from being passed. Those that were passed have been watered-down during the implementation phase out of public spotlight thanks to intense lobbying from the same financial corporations]

MAY 3

1939 – TESTIMONY OF GRAHAM TOWERS, GOVERNOR OF THE BANK OF CANADA (1934-54) BEFORE CANADIAN SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE ON BANKING AND COMMERCE
Question: “But there is no question about it, that banks create that medium of exchange?” [i.e., bank deposits]
Towers: “That is right. That is what they are for.”
Question: “And they issue that medium of exchange when they purchase securities or make loans?”
Towers: “That is the banking business, just in the way that a steel plant makes steel.”  (p. 287)
Towers testified that just as steel corporations create steel, banking corporations create money. The difference is that steel corporations start with iron ore and apply labor and technology. Banks, by contrast, create money out of thin air…as debt.

———————–

Why this calendar? Many people have questions about the root causes of our economic problems. Some questions involve money, banks and debt. How is money created? Why do banks control its quantity? How has the money system been used to liberate (not often) and oppress (most often) us? And how can the money system be “democratized” to rebuild our economy and society, create jobs and reduce debt? Our goal is to inform, intrigue and inspire through bite size weekly postings listing important events and quotes from prominent individuals (both past and present) on money, banking and how the money system can help people and the planet. We hope the sharing of bits of buried history will illuminate monetary and banking issues and empower you with others to create real economic and political justice. This calendar is a project of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee. Adele Looney, Phyllis Titus, Donna Schall, Leah Davis, Alice Francini, Deb Jose and Greg Coleridge helped in its development. Please forward this to others and encourage them to subscribe. To subscribe/unsubscribe or to comment on any entry, email monetarycalendar@yahoo.com

Hillary Clinton’s Support for a Constitutional Amendment

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Hillary Clinton made a surprising declaration last week. She embraced the idea of a constitutional amendment to restrict big money in politics. This seems to include reversing the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United vs FEC decision.

“We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccounted money out of it, once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment,” she said to a gathering in Iowa, an early presidential primary state.

Campaign finance reform is one her four campaign pillars — along with help for families and communities; a stronger, more balanced economy; and a strong national defense.

There are more than a dozen SuperPACs already backing her, entities not directly connected to political candidates but able to raise unlimited funds from individuals and corporate entities. These are the very sorts of entities that would be adversely affected if Citizens United is reversed. Clinton expects to raise more than a billion dollars for her own campaign.

Clinton spoke a few days following comments on a possible amendment by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham’s, who is eyeing his own Presidential run. “The next president of the United States needs to get a commission of really smart people and find a way to create a constitutional amendment to limit the role of SuperPACs,” Graham said on a radio program in New Hampshire, the first state to hold a presidential primary. This seems to indicate Graham is also open to revisiting Citizens United.

What in the world is going on with Clinton and Graham? Are they “seeing religion” when it comes to money in politics? Does this mean they support the Move to Amend constitutional amendment?

Hardly and no way. At least not yet!

They and other established politicians realize people are angry about big money from a few number of exceedingly wealthy individuals and corporate entities in elections – and they’re trying to tap into that anger.

The solution of reversing or ending Citizens United via a constitutional amendment, however, as Clinton now advocates, is not the same as ending corporate personhood and ending money as free speech. It’s an effort, rather, to co-opt the growing movement of people who realize the entire system is rigged against people without money — the 99%. All Hillary’s proposed constitutional amendment would do is return us to the “democracy” we had on January 20, 2010 — the day before the Citizens United decision. That wasn’t all that much better. Citizens United blew open the reality of our undemocratic political system. Her proposal would simply return us to the mythical democratic political system – where and when the economic power elite ruled politics less blatantly without us noticing.

More people are now paying attention.

Don’t be fooled, misled, or distracted. Don’t get caught up in a bait and switch.

The real solution is, in fact, a constitutional amendment – but one that goes much further than simply overturning Citizens United. And that’s one that asserts that only human beings, not corporate entities, possess inalienable constitutional rights and that money is not speech and therefore, can be regulated in elections.

NEO AFSC April 24, 2015 Podcast

podcasticon

Listen to podcast here

We summarize last week’s activities; announce upcoming events for next week; and comment on Hillary Clinton’s support of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, how to fund needed infrastructure repairs, IMF warnings of global financial instability, and the latest votes for and opposition to Fast Track and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Campaign Investments Matter

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The man who killed Eric Harris, an African American man from Tulsa Oklahoma, is an insurance company executive who contributes or invests to play cop.

Robert Bates, 73, shot Harris when he attempted to assist in his arrest as he struggled on the ground with Tulsa sheriff’s deputies. Bates accidentally pulled out his gun instead of his Taser.

Bates is a volunteer reserve Tulsa County Sheriff’s deputy, part of a group of wealthy donors who make large contributions to the Tulsa Police Department. He’s donated cash, multiple vehicles, weapons, and stun guns since becoming a reserve deputy in 2008.

Bates also has contributed/invested $2500 toward his re-election campaign of Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz.  Call it an example of “pay to play” cop.

Eric Harris’ tragic and unnecessary death is yet another example of the power of private money over rational public policies. Not a trained officer, Bates was on the scene and armed for one reason alone — he had forked over large amounts of cash and other goodies. This wasn’t simply a case of buying access to an official — a Sheriff. It was buying entry into becoming a (deputy) Sheriff. How cool, right?

We know from the killings of Tamir Rice in Cleveland and other African Americans across the nation by police officers how out of control police officers can become when they are supposedly fully trained. But giving a guy a gun to “play to play” cop after limited training simply because he opened his checkbook is both a problem of “privatizing” policing and the problem of money influencing elections and elected officials.

Without the constitutional “free speech” shield that permitted Robert Bates to donate/invest to the Tulsa County Sheriff’s campaign coffers and police department, Eric Harris might have been protected from an untrained insurance exec who would be deputy sheriff.

“Money as free speech” not only kills democracy. It kills people.

Money is not speech. It’s property. Time to amend the U.S. Constitution to make it so…as well as the equally lethal doctrine that corporations are legal “persons.”

MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR April 20-26

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APRIL 20

1868 – BIRTH OF JOHN HYLAN, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY, 1918-1925
“The real menace of our republic is this invisible government, which, like a giant octopus, sprawls its slimy length over city, state and nation. Like the octopus of real life, it operates under cover of a self created screen….At the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller Standard Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. They practically control both political parties.”

2010 – PUBLISHED ARTICLE, “BANKING REFORM SELLS BETTER WHEN ‘WALL STREET’ IS MENTIONED”
“Americans are about evenly divided on the merits of giving the federal government new powers to regulate large banks and major financial institutions; however, they offer greater support when the issue is more specifically framed as regulating “Wall Street banks.” http://www.gallup.com/poll/127448/banking-reform-sells-better-wall-street-mentioned.aspx

APRIL 21

1910 – DEATH OF MARK TWAIN, AUTHOR
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
”I wasn’t worth a cent two years ago, and now I owe two million dollars.””
Classic Twain.

1946 – DEATH OF JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES, BRITISH ECONOMIST
“Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some…Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

APRIL 22

EARTH DAY – CREE INDIAN PROVERB
“Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish been caught, will we realize we cannot eat money.” Seems an appropriate quote on this day.

APRIL 23

384 BC – BIRTH OF ARISTOTLE
“The most hated sort of wealth getting is usury, which makes again out of money itself and not from the natural object of it.  For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money…of all modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.”
“Money exists not by nature but by law.” This is one of the most insightful comments on money of all time.

871 – REIGN OF KING ALFRED OF ENGLAND BEGINS
King Alfred (Alfred the Great) implemented a law that moneylenders who took usury would forfeit all their possessions to the King.

APRIL 24

2014 – PUBLICATION OF ARTICLE IN FINANCIAL TIMES: “STRIP PRIVATE BANKS OF THEIR POWER TO CREATE MONEY” BY MARTIN WOLF, CHIEF FINANCIAL WRITER
Since banks create money out of thin air, they should be stripped of this power, and limited to normal depository functions. Wolf indicates the centrality and importance of the issue with his subtitle: “The giant hole at the heart of our market economies needs to be plugged.”

APRIL 25

2012 – PUBLISHED ARTICLE, “TARP OVERSEER DEBUNKS BAILOUT MYTHS: BIG COMPANIES HAVEN’T REPAID TARP FUNDS…AND FUNDS TO HELP HOMEOWNERS HAVEN’T BEEN PAID”
“Apologists for government bailouts push two main myths:
-That all of the bailout funds have been repaid
-That the bailouts helped the average American
But the official government overseer of the Tarp bailout program – the special inspector general for TARP, Christy L. Romero – has debunked both myths.
Today, Romero wrote the following to Congress:
After 3½ years, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”) continues to be an active and significant part of the Government’s response to the financial crisis. It is a widely held misconception that TARP will make a profit. The most recent cost estimate for TARP is a loss of $60 billion. Taxpayers are still owed $118.5 billion (including $14 billion written off or otherwise lost).”

APRIL 26

1564 – BIRTH OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
“Poor? Look upon his face. What call you rich?
Let them coin his nose, let them coin his cheeks.”
– From The First Part of King Henry the Fourth, act 3, sc 3
The word “coin” is a verb, a common usage of the period. The same is true in the phrase “To coin Money” in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives the legislative branch the authority to “create” or “coin” our nation’s money supply. Was true then. Is still true now. Yet, banking corporations have largely usurped this public authority – creating money as debt, loaned to the government, which must be paid back with interest. Insane.

———————–

Why this calendar? Many people have questions about the root causes of our economic problems. Some questions involve money, banks and debt. How is money created? Why do banks control its quantity? How has the money system been used to liberate (not often) and oppress (most often) us? And how can the money system be “democratized” to rebuild our economy and society, create jobs and reduce debt? Our goal is to inform, intrigue and inspire through bite size weekly postings listing important events and quotes from prominent individuals (both past and present) on money, banking and how the money system can help people and the planet. We hope the sharing of bits of buried history will illuminate monetary and banking issues and empower you with others to create real economic and political justice. This calendar is a project of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee. Adele Looney, Phyllis Titus, Donna Schall, Leah Davis, Alice Francini, Deb Jose and Greg Coleridge helped in its development. Please forward this to others and encourage them to subscribe. To subscribe/unsubscribe or to comment on any entry, email monetarycalendar@yahoo.com

NEO AFSC April 17, 2015 Podcast

podcasticon

Listen to podcast here

We summarize last week’s activities; announce upcoming events for next week; and comment on a new report documenting multinational corporations dodging billions in U.S. taxes, the death of Eric Harris by a man who contributed to the Tulsa police department for the chance to play cop, the postal pilot who flew on the Capital lawn for campaign finance reform, why GE corporation is leaving the profitable banking business, and a call to stop the just-introduced Fast Track TPP bill.

Beacon Journal is silent on anti-democratic provision of TPP

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Not one single paragraph, sentence, clause or even word in this Beacon Journal editorial in support of Fast Track and the TPP about the “investor-state dispute settlement” provision that establishes unelected and unaccountable tribunals to rule on suits filed by transnational corporations that regard democratically enacted rules, laws and regulations protecting workers, consumers and the environment as “trade barriers” and thus deserving of financial compensation over “expected future profits.” Profoundly undemocratic. A Fast Track bill is being introduced soon in Congress. Contact your Congressperson and Senators Brown and Portman…and send a letter to editor to the Beacon Journal.

Fast track to job creation
http://www.ohio.com/editorial/editorials/fast-track-to-job-creation-1.582895

MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR April 13-19

lincolngback

APRIL 13

1743 – BIRTH OF THOMAS JEFFERSON, THIRD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
“This institution (the Bank of England) is one of the most deadly hostility against the principles of our Constitution…suppose an emergency should occur…an institution like this…in a critical moment might overthrow the government.”
“And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”
“Bank-paper must be suppressed, and the circulating medium must be restored to the nation to whom it belongs.”

APRIL 14

1948 – RETIREMENT OF MARRINER S. ECCLES AS CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE US FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD
“That is what our money system is. If there were no debts in our money system, there wouldn’t be any money.”

APRIL 15

1865 – ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN
“The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy.”
It was President Lincoln who advocated for and oversaw the creation and circulation of our nation’s last debt-free money, the Greenbacks. This was money not borrowed from banks, but created (as authorized in the US Constitution, Article 1, Sec 8) by the government to meet the nation’s needs.

2015 — TAX DAY
Federal and state tax returns are due on this day. Why are taxes so high? Why does it feel we aren’t getting back in programs and services what we put in? Part of the reason has to do with the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend every year paying interest on the national debt. That interest goes disproportionately to the very wealthy. And that interest would not exist if instead of borrowing that money (including from banking corporations), we created interest-free and inflation-free money as stipulated by Congress in Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution. Why be enslaved by debt when we could be liberated by democratic money?

APRIL 16

1854 – BIRTH OF JACOB COXEY, OHIO BUSINESSMAN
Jacob Coxey, a businessman from Massillon, Ohio organized a 500-strong “Coxey’s Army” march beginning on March 25, 1894 from Massillon to Washington, D.C. (ending April 30) to promote federal intervention for job creation. The primary demand of this “petition in boots” was unique — the direct printing and issuance of $500 million by the Federal Treasury to employ 4 million people. Coxey’s Army proposed two bills. The first, a “Good Roads Bill,” would help farmers with $500 million issued by the federal government in legal tender notes, or greenbacks, to construct rural roads. The second, a noninterest-bearing bonds bill, would empower state and local governments to issue noninterest-bearing bonds to be used to borrow legal tender notes from the federal treasury. This money would be used to build urban libraries, schools, utility plants and marketplaces. Millions of jobs would have been created — debt-free.

1915 – DEATH OF NELSON ALDRICH, LEADER OF REPUBLICAN PARTY IN THE US SENATE
Aldrich was a key proponent of the Aldrich-Vreeland Act, a bill creating a National Monetary Commission in 1908, which studied the problem of monetary instability following the financial Panic of 1907. The Commission played a pivotal role in calling for “reform” of the US monetary system. The Act also established the “Aldrich-Vreeland system” which through the Comptroller of the Currency authorized some banks to issue new money. This helped the US deal with the financial crisis associated with WWI. The expanded money power of the government, however, was meant to be short-lived. The final volume of the Commission’s report called for a privately owned central bank, the “National Reserve Association,” in which “[c]ontrol was to be exercised completely by private bankers.” Passage of this Act was a stepping-stone to passage of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913.

APRIL 17

1790 – DEATH OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
“Experience, more prevalent than all the logic in the world, has fully convinced us all that paper money has been, and is now, of the greatest advantage to the country.”
“The inability of the colonists to get power to issue their own money permanently out of the hands of George III and the international bankers was the prime reason for the revolutionary war. ”
“A legitimate government can both spend and lend money, while banks can only lend significant amounts of their promissory bank notes.  Thus, when bankers place money in circulation, there is always a debt principal to be returned and usury to be paid.”

1837- BIRTH OF JP MORGAN, US FINANCIER AND BANKER
John Pierpont Morgan dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation during his time. His empire consisted of banks but also hundreds of other corporations via interlocking corporate directors and financial investments. The “House of Morgan” was also one of the key players in organizing politically and backing financially the campaign to pass the Federal Reserve Act in 1913, creating the largely private Federal Reserve System.

APRIL 18

2012 – PUBLICATION OF DAILY CENSORED ARTICLE “CARL HERMAN EXPLAINS WORKING WITH THE CRIMINAL 1%: TWO UN SUMMITS, MONETARY REFORM”
“The 99% must achieve factual command of the basic facts how money and credit are created, or else continue their debt-damned existence under an oligarchic and Robber Baron-era structure.
Monetary and credit reform can be understood with three simple areas of facts that are taught in basic economics and easily verified:
1. The US does not have a money supply; we have its Orwellian opposite as a debt supply. This is because the US leading banks won legal right through passage of the 1913 Federal Reserve Act to have private banks and the Fed create debt for what we use as money, and then charge the 99% for its use.
2. The policy choice of a debt supply compounded with interest cause ever-increasing aggregate debt that can never be repaid….
3. Monetary reform creates debt-free money that extinguishes the debt, and allows government to become employer of last resort for infrastructure investment (hard and soft)….
Obviously, monetary and credit reform benefits 100% of humanity because it guarantees full employment, optimal infrastructure, and no government debt/interest cost…
Americans cannot be responsible citizens without understanding this fundamental structure of money.”
http://www.dailycensored.com/carl-herman-explains-working-with-criminal-1-two-un-summits-monetary-reform/

APRIL 19

1776 – AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY WAR OF INDEPENDENCE FROM ENGLAND BEGINS
“In one year (after the Coinage Act of 1764), the conditions were so reversed that the era of prosperity ended, and a depression set in, to such an extent that the streets of the colonies were filled with the unemployed…The colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been that England took away from the colonies their money which created unemployment and dissatisfaction.  The viability of the colonists to get power to issue their own money permanently out of the hands of King George III and the international bankers was the prime reason for the revolutionary war.”
– Benjamin Franklin in his autobiography/memoirs

2014 – STATEMENT OF ANDREI KOSTIN, PRESIDENT AND CHAIRMAN OF THE POWERFUL RUSSIAN VTB BANK
“It is time to change the entire international financial system that considers the dollar the key reserve currency…The world has changed. [China’s] yuan and [the Russian] ruble have to take their place in international transactions.”

———————–

Why this calendar? Many people have questions about the root causes of our economic problems. Some questions involve money, banks and debt. How is money created? Why do banks control its quantity? How has the money system been used to liberate (not often) and oppress (most often) us? And how can the money system be “democratized” to rebuild our economy and society, create jobs and reduce debt? Our goal is to inform, intrigue and inspire through bite size weekly postings listing important events and quotes from prominent individuals (both past and present) on money, banking and how the money system can help people and the planet. We hope the sharing of bits of buried history will illuminate monetary and banking issues and empower you with others to create real economic and political justice. This calendar is a project of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee. Adele Looney, Phyllis Titus, Donna Schall, Leah Davis, Alice Francini, Deb Jose and Greg Coleridge helped in its development. Please forward this to others and encourage them to subscribe. To subscribe/unsubscribe or to comment on any entry, email monetarycalendar@yahoo.com

Can the US Military Chief Save the TPP Sinking Ship?

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Ashton Carter is the relatively new U.S. Secretary of Defense. He delivered a speech April 6 on “the next phase” of the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.

Much of his speech at the McCain Institute at Arizona State University focused on topics you might expect – military weaponry, strategy, partnerships and alliances.

What was completely unexpected were his comments on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)  – the proposed so-called “trade” agreement between the US and 11 other Pacific rim nations that its advocates assert would result in the increased free flow of goods and services, more jobs, greater opportunities, higher growth and improved standard of living in the region.

Carter said:

“In fact, you may not expect to hear this from a Secretary of Defense, but in terms of our rebalance in the broadest sense, passing TPP is as important to me as another aircraft carrier.”
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“It would deepen our alliances and partnerships abroad and underscore our lasting commitment to the Asia-Pacific,” he continued. “And it would help us promote a global order that reflects both our interests and our values.”

The Obama administration must clearly be worried to float out the U.S.’ main military man to advocate for the TPP. They realize their efforts up to now to pass the TPP through the process of deliberately suppressing its contents and trying to ram it through Congress by first passing a “Fast Track” bill that would limit debate and prohibit amendments on any proposed so called trade deal that would come before it may have, at least, temporarily run aground – just like an aircraft carrier in shallow waters.

Traditional lobbying by the President and Congressional TPP supporters (including Republican leaders — to demonstrate its bipartisan nature) apparently haven’t yet yielded enough converts on both sides of the political aisle to pass Fast Track and the TPP on their own.

Thus, the administration is now playing the patriotic card by linking the deal to “defense” – which often produces little questioning when it comes to military spending by Congresspersons who don’t want to appear soft on defense.

Placing the TPP in the same security boat as a basic naval weapon system like an aircraft carrier simply underscores to undecided Congresspersons how important the so-called “trade” pact is to the head of the nation’s military.

It’s very effective imaginary…and very much needed by TPP promoters in light of recent revelations that threaten to sink the so called trade deal that’s not mainly about trade.

Examining the TPP primarily through the lens of trade, be it free or fair, is a distraction.

The TPP isn’t primarily about trade. It’s about democracy, self-determination, governance.

Only five of the proposed agreement’s 29 chapters, or 17%, deal with traditional trade issues. Other chapters address topics like outsourcing jobs to other nations, the environment, food safety, the Internet, financial services and more.

TPP negotiations have been kept secret for five years – secret, that is from the public, media, even federal elected officials. Not so for corporate representatives. More than 500 official corporate “trade advisors” have helped shape the document. Consumers, farmers, workers and environmentalists aren’t seated at the negotiating table. The reason for its secrecy can’t be to keep its provisions remain hidden from the U.S.’ trading competitors since those 11 other nations are part of the negotiations. If the TPP is so positive, then let’s see its full text.

The recent leak of a portion of the TPP negotiations revealed its profoundly undemocratic provisions. The TPP would establish a supra-national court or tribunal where foreign corporation can sue nation states over any democratically enacted law, rule or regulation protecting consumers, workers, communities and the environment and receive taxpayer compensation for losses of “expected future profits.” These “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) tribunals would supersede local, state and federal court systems. How democratic is this? Exactly how does this “reflect our interests and our values”?

It doesn’t. Not at all. Just the opposite, in fact.

No wonder the TPP has been kept secret by its promoters. No wonder why its promoters are now pushing for a Fast track bill in Congress (with the sanitized name of “Trade Promotion Authority”). And no wonder the first of what may be many unexpected spokespersons like the Pentagon’s Ash Carter are trying to keep the TPP from capsizing – hoping their voices will sway undecided Congresspersons.

One wonders who may be next pitching the accord. Michael Jordan? Clint Eastwood? Miss America? Maybe Flo, who represents an insurance company in commercials?

Don’t be distracted. The TPP is ultimately about who (or what) should have the ultimate authority to made governing decisions in our county: We the People or transnational corporations.

TPP advocates are reaching. It’s our job to keep up the pressure. No single issue is more threatening to what remains of political self-determination (as little as that might be thanks to corporate personhood and money as speech) as the TPP. Nevertheless, we still have a chance, and a good chance, to work to create real democracy at the nation-state level. Trying to influence unelected and non-publicly accountable members of international tribunals or panels empowered by the TPP, however, will be futile.

The TPP is not akin to aircraft carriers. It has certainly nothing to do with “reflecting our interests and values” – assuming those include worker justice, consumer safety, environmental protection, peace, and self-determination.

Now’s the time to weigh in with our U.S. Senators and Representative. The Fast Track bill may be introduced in Congress as early as Monday, April 13.

Call, write, email.  Take your democratic responsibility as a citizen seriously.

Time to derail Fast Track and pull the plug on the TPP.