Economic Articles from 2018
Speaker Ryan Dives In to Save NAFTA
by Lori Wallach
Posted May 21, 2018
Against all odds, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations launched by the Trump administration in August 2017 were heading towards an outcome that could have generated support from Democrats in Congress, unions, and Public Citizen. NAFTA’s job outsourcing incentives and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) regime were on their way out. The timeline to finish talks for a vote to occur this year was looming in June, due to the requirements of Fast Track negotiating authority.
That includes elimination of investor-state dispute settlement, which makes it less risky and cheaper for corporations to outsource jobs. ISDS empowers multinational corporations to sue governments before a panel of three corporate lawyers. These lawyers can award the corporations unlimited sums to be paid by taxpayers, including for the loss of expected future profits over claims that domestic laws violate their NAFTA rights. The decisions are not subject to outside appeal.
The system operates like free risk insurance subsidizing outsourcing. Already under NAFTA nearly $400 million has been paid to corporations after attacks on environmental and health policies. In a sign of panic that the NAFTA countries were poised to agree, corporations launched a big dollar MSNBC and Fox ad campaign in defense of ISDS. More…
The Oligarchs’ ‘Guaranteed Basic Income’ Scam
by Chris Hedges
Posted May 20, 2018
A number of the reigning oligarchs—among them Mark Zuckerberg (net worth $64.1 billion), Elon Musk (net worth $20.8 billion), Richard Branson (net worth $5.1 billion) and Stewart Butterfield (net worth $1.6 billion)—are calling for a guaranteed basic income. It looks progressive. They couch their proposals in the moral language of caring for the destitute and the less fortunate. But behind this is the stark awareness, especially in Silicon Valley, that the world these oligarchs have helped create is so lopsided that future consumers, plagued by job insecurity, substandard wages, automation and crippling debt peonage, will be unable to pay for the products and services offered by the big corporations.
The oligarchs do not propose structural change. They do not want businesses and the marketplace regulated. They do not support labor unions. They will not pay a living wage to their bonded labor in the developing world or the American workers in their warehouses and shipping centers or driving their delivery vehicles. They have no intention of establishing free college education, universal government health or adequate pensions. They seek, rather, a mechanism to continue to exploit desperate workers earning subsistence wages and whom they can hire and fire at will. The architects of our neofeudalism call on the government to pay a guaranteed basic income so they can continue to feed upon us like swarms of longnose lancetfish, which devour others in their own species. More…
Public Health’s Response to Decline: Loyalty to the 1%
by Dan Bednarz
Posted May 17, 2018
American institutions are in decline and rife with corruption brought on by a combination of hitting the limits to growth while under the control of neoliberal capitalism. To the extent one deviates from the appearance and demeanor of staid white middle or upper class norms, an encounter with the police in many localities can be dangerous to ones person and pocket. The government’s reaction to the “the most destructive epidemics of elite financial frauds in history” has been to further enrich –rather than jail- financiers, and protection of the banks continues to harm and ruin the lives of millions of citizens. Higher education is embroiled in several scandals, from encouraging students to take out usurious loans few will able to retire, to the exploitation of adjunct professors, to covering up campus rape cabals. Many Americans are trapped in debt with virtually no possibility of paying it off; trust in government and corporations is at all time lows; and in fashions too lugubrious to list the federal government –and the two major political parties- do not promote the public interest, preferring instead to serve political/economic elites.
In the obscure yet critical institution of public health organizational leadership and academic researchers either blithely ignore or erroneously frame these indicators of cultural decline and corruption as the unfortunate fallout from “The Great Recession.” I suggest these leaders are trapped in a tightening contradiction between the field’s mission, protecting the health of the entire public, and acquiescence to social policies that serve the private interests of the 1%. More…
American Samoa finally gets a public bank. And U.S. states are watching
By Rob Blackwell
Posted May 8, 2018
American Samoa is finally getting its own full-service bank — and successfully creating only the second public bank in the United States.
The Federal Reserve is allowing the Territorial Bank of American Samoa access to the U.S. payments system nearly two years after the bank first applied.
The decision is a boon to the remote U.S. territory in the South Pacific, where more than half of the households are at, near or below the federal poverty level. Officials across the seven islands that comprise American Samoa have been scrambling for a way to maintain local banking services since the Bank of Hawaii announced in 2012 it was leaving the territory.
“It’s a huge deal for the people of American Samoa,” Phil Ware, president of the Territorial Bank, said in an interview. “There hasn’t been a commercial loan made on the island in five years or more.” With the Fed approval, that all changes, he said. More…
How Cooperation Richmond is Empowering Marginalized Communities to Build an Equitable Economy
By Robert Raymond
Posted May 3, 2018
Lying a few miles south of Marin County and just across the bay from San Francisco, the city of Richmond, California, is situated within two of the wealthiest regions of the United States. Richmond, however, does not share in this wealth. Its downtown has been largely abandoned and its northern periphery is on the front lines of the Chevron Richmond Refinery, processing over 240,000 barrels of crude oil every single day and creating a toxic environment to those living in the surrounding vicinity. It’s an example of what we know as a “sacrifice zone” — a community that has been largely incapacitated by environmental damage and economic neglect.
But in the shadow of the looming refinery, and within the spaces between boarded up storefronts and abandoned lots, something is stirring in Richmond. Residents, organizers, and activists have come together to create an incubation hub for community revitalization and resilience. They call themselves Cooperation Richmond, and their aim is to empower the marginalized and exploited residents of this city to build community-controlled wealth and wellbeing. More…
The Secretive Bank of England
Posted April 27, 2018
With the enactment of the privately owned central bank, the Bank of England provided the model for the financial enslavement of governments, and their citizens. Well before the conflict for establishing a National Bank in America or the eventual surrender to the money changers with the betrayal in instituting the Federal Reserve, the history of the Bank of England needs to be studied. Relying on British historians may seem to invoke a cultural bias; however, the range and wealth of information on this topic comes from an earlier age. Further research will expand this understanding and many of the sources cited can fulfill this objective.
Now for most of its history the privately held, Bank of England was extremely profitable to its owners. The method for charging interest on the creation of money has been the prime vehicle for driving both public and private debt throughout modern times.
The entire monitory financial system is based upon charging usury on the creation of national currencies. No larger debtor exists then governments. The perfection of the Rothschild fraud is founded upon charging compound interest on the very medium of exchange that serves as legal tender. More…
The 4 Biggest Banks Have Already Made $2.3 Billion Off Trump’s Tax Law
by Eric Levitz
Posted April 25, 2018
In Donald Trump’s final campaign ad, the GOP nominee informed America that “those who control the levers of power in Washington” do not “have your good in mind,” as a sign reading Wall St. flickered across the screen. Moments later, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs appeared, cast as an embodiment of the global elite that has “robbed our working class.”
In the first quarter of 2018, President Trump’s signature legislative achievement made America’s four biggest banks $2.3 billion richer, according to a new analysis from The Wall Street Journal.
Last fall, Trump made an “explicit commitment that tax reform will protect low-income and middle-income households, not the wealthy and well-connected. They can call me all they want; I’m doing the right thing.” In February, House Speaker Paul Ryan boasted that his party’s tax law had given a “secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA” an extra “$1.50 a week” — a windfall that would “more than cover her Costco membership for the year.” More…
From North Dakota to Puerto Rico, Controversial Security Firm Profits From Oil Protests and Climate Disasters
From North Dakota to Puerto Rico, Controversial Security Firm Profits From Oil Protests and Climate Disasters
by Alleen Brown
Posted April 22, 2018
TigerSwan, the mercenary security company best known for its efforts to suppress indigenous-led resistance to the Dakota Access oil pipeline, is stepping up its pursuit of profits in areas hit by climate change-driven natural disaster.
At Standing Rock, TigerSwan operatives hired by the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners used militaristic tactics to disrupt the massive opposition to the project, sending infiltrators into resistance camps, conducting aerial surveillance, and engaging in propaganda efforts. The private security firm routinely coordinated with law enforcement, sharing equipment and intelligence and assisting with arrests. Although preventing water pollution was the Standing Rock movement’s rallying call, many of its organizers were also climate activists; the earliest DAPL opponents were veterans of the anti-Keystone XL pipeline movement, which centered on the harmful climate effects of carbon-intensive tar sands oil.
In essence, TigerSwan has gone from suppressing a movement seeking to slow climate change to marketing itself as a company that can help clients survive climate change’s most severe consequences. More…
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