Archive for the trade Category

Free Trade, CETA, TPP, and the US and Canadian Federal Elections: Some Critical Perspective

Posted in activism, Canada, economics, politics, trade, US with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2015 by jtoddring

The following is critical to understand – for the people of Canada, the US, Europe and the world: “free trade” deals such those already signed (NAFTA), and those being pushed through with great secrecy now (CETA, TTIP and TPP), are agreements which grant supra-national powers to transnational corporations, powers over and above democratically elected governments, and therefore, they are agreements which are disastrous to everyone but the few – the global corporate elite.

In both Canada and the US, the major parties all support “free trade,” aka, neoliberalism, and the wrongly labelled “trade deals” which are in fact corporate rights agreements.

Both the Liberals and Conservatives in Canada are in open support of such democracy-destroying, sovereignty annihilating, economically, socially and environmentally devastating “trade agreements,” making them the Tweedledee and Tweedledum of political prostitution to corporate rule.

In the US, the Republicans and Democrats are both staunch supporters of neoliberal policies of “free trade” – not surprisingly, since Wall Street pays for their elections, and Wall Street gains from such policies, while the middle class is wiped out, poverty and inequality soar, and the nation is eviscerated, and eaten live.

The one exception in the US seems to be Senator Bernie Sanders: a rare, sane and honest voice in US federal politics. I wish there was such a one, and such a one with such fast-rising prominence and popular support, in the Canadian federal election – but that does not appear to be the case so far.

In Canada, the Greens show promise, but require two things now to be relevant: much greater boldness and focus – for example, in terms of a strong stand on core, critical issues such as the quite monumentally significant and potentially disastrous trade deals, including CETA; and much stronger and broader popular support. So far, both seem to be sadly lacking. I beg to be proven wrong, however, and would be thrilled to see it.

Nevertheless, the Greens have shown more courage and integrity on the critical subject of trade than any of the three major Canadian political parties, and that alone places them head and shoulders above the old-guard parties of the past which still, sadly, dominate the Canadian political landscape – or have to date.

Greens in Canada and Europe have made a clear stand on CETA – a trade deal which would allow corporations to overrule the sovereignty and democracy of member nations by allowing corporations to sue governments for passing legislation which impinge upon their profits.

The Council of Canadians, a leading citizens’ action group in Canada, sums up CETA in a few stark and lucid words:

“CETA is a “next generation” free trade and investment pact that Canada and the EU have been negotiating since May 2009. But it is better understood as a corporate power grab. The Harper government clearly sees CETA as a way to further deregulate and privatize the Canadian economy while increasing corporate power and undermining Canadian and European efforts to address the climate crisis.”

And the Liberals under Justin Trudeau have also declared their support for CETA.

The Greens have said no to CETA. The Liberals and Conservatives are pro “free trade” and openly support CETA. And the NDP policy under Muclair on CETA and other similar “trade deals” – which have to date universally been corporate rights agreements? That’s anyone’s guess, since Mulcair’s NDP have been notoriously vague, ambivalent, and decidedly wish-washy, at best: or worryingly soft, to be more honest and blunt.

The Greens appear to be the only party in Canada which at present to have any resolve, conviction, clarity or vision on the matter of such disastrous “trade” deals which are in truth corporate rights agreements. The position which the big three parties have taken, it seems clear, is effectively, to roll over for corporate interests – at the expense of the Canadian people, the economy, the environment and democracy.

We must understand this:

More “free trade” = more corporate rights agreements = corporate rule and the death of democracy.

This is not the way to conduct trade – by handing over supra-national, anti-democratic powers to large corporations, over and above democratic governments. The major parties don’t agree – because they have either lost their courage, or their integrity, or both, and have become wholly subservient to the ruling oligarchy of global neo-feudal corporate rule and the billionaire class. This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff: on this key issue, and others like it of similar gravity.

The policies of political parties and political candidates on such “trade” agreements – which, again, must be understood to be corporate rights agreements – such as CETA, the TTIP and the TPP, FIPA, the SPP and the FTA, are the litmus test for whether these parties and candidates are in service to the ruling corporate powers, or whether they stand with the other 99% of the people. And, unsurprisingly, most parties and most candidates fail that test.

In Canada, I would say, vote Green, since they are the only party now worthy of support.

In the US there is similarly only one choice, and one candidate who in any way, or by any stretch, merits support – and that is Bernie Sanders.

There are a great many well-meaning people out there – both Democrats and Republicans, and also, Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrat supporters – who frequently fall for pretty words and hollow promises. And there are many more people yet, who can and do fall for parties and candidates with some genuinely good policies on this or that issue, while the voters miss the bigger picture entirely, and do themselves severe injustice as a result. If we do not understand what is going on with these giant, nation-dissolving, sovereignty-eviscerating, and democracy-destroying “trade agreements”, then we do not understand what is happening at all.

This is critical to understand. This is central. This is, as I say, the litmus test of a party’s or a candidate’s legitimacy in this hour. If we fail to understand this, then we understand nothing of what is happening in the world at this time.

We need to be clear, and we need to vote with clear minds. Our choices have narrowed: we can vote for the parties and the candidates of the super-rich and the ruling corporate powers, or we can vote for the rare ones who still stand with the people. The time to decide is here. Let us use it wisely.

Political parties and political candidates can have the prettiest, loftiest speeches and policy platforms on earth, but if they are not firmly and unequivocally opposed to the corporate rights agreements which are being pushed through now, then they are either deeply confused and misinformed – in which case, their words and promises will come to nothing – or they are effectively owned by the corporate elite, and are in service to them. These are the simple facts. We should vote accordingly.

J. Todd Ring,

September 29, 2015

Please see:

Picking apart one of the greatest lies in American politics: “Free Trade” – Thom Hartmann, Alternet

http://www.alternet.org/economy/picking-apart-one-biggest-lies-american-politics-free-trade

Here is an excellent analysis of the three major political parties in Canada, by Toronto Star journalist Thomas Walkom, PhD in Economics from University of Toronto. (In a nutshell, they are all shills.)

Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau Offer Little On Economy

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/08/04/stephen-harper-tom-mulcair-and-justin-trudeau-offer-little-on-economy-walkom.html

And one more brilliantly clear-headed analysis of Justin Trudeau and the Liberals:

With Justin Trudeau, Canada Now Has Two Conservative Parties, by Will Dubitsky

http://commonsensecanadian.ca/with-justin-trudeau-canada-now-has-two-conservative-parties/

And another excellent article by Walkom, on the gleeful embrace of the failed policies of neoliberalism and “free trade” by the three major Canadian political parties:

Justin Trudeau, Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair buy into free-trade theory that doesn’t work: Walkom

Other countries ditch free-trade orthodoxy to protect jobs. But not Canada.

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/04/19/justin_trudeau_stephen_harper_thomas_mulcair_buy_into_freetrade_theory_that_doesnt_work_walkom.html

What do you get the corporation that has everything? CETA. – Council of Canadians

http://canadians.org/ceta

Liberal Party Statement by Justin Trudeau on CETA

http://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0LEVrhbx8lVmXgAR9MPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByOHZyb21tBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–/RV=2/RE=1439315932/RO=10/RU=https%3a%2f%2fwww.liberal.ca%2fstatement-liberal-party-canada-leader-justin-trudeau-ceta-2%2f/RK=0/RS=quEeYwXf8HagopNPlS7zn2QTnqs-

Fact Sheet: No More NAFTAs! No to CETA-TPP-FIPA-FTA… – Council of Canadians

http://canadians.org/publications/factsheet-no-more-naftas-no-ceta-tpp-fipa-fta%E2%80%A6

One Million To Stop The Corporate Death Star – Avaaz

http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_the_corporate_death_star/

BUSTED! What corporations are hiding about TPP

NAFTA, “Free Trade” and the TPP: Fast-Track To Full Corporate Rule

Posted in activism, analysis, Canada, capitalism, Chomsky, civil liberties, class, collapse, consciousness, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, coup, crisis of democracy, deep integration, democracy, democratic deficit, disaster, ecological crisis, ecology, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, fascist, Feudalism, FTAA, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, imperialism, jobs, labour, Mexico, money, Mussolini, must-read, NAFTA, nation state, national democracies, NAU, peace, people's movements, police state, policy, political economy, politics, Security and Prosperity Partnership, sociology, sovereignty, SPP, sustainability, tipping point, trade, truth, U.S., war on democracy, WEF, World Economic Forum, WTO with tags , , , , on November 6, 2013 by jtoddring

The TPP In A Nutshell: Growing corporate power and the death of freedom

The FTA, NAFTA, the WTO, the WEF, the SPP, and now, the TPP – it is all a further drive for increasing global corporate power, and we should be very concerned. This should not need to be spelled out. The situation is becoming critical. Here is some background and context.

“Twenty years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed into law. At the time, advocates painted a rosy picture of booming U.S. exports creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and economic development in Mexico, which would bring the struggling country in line with its wealthier northern neighbors. Two decades later, those promises have failed to materialize. U.S. trade deficits with both Canada and Mexico have surged, crippling domestic industries, prompting massive job displacement and the replacement of living wage union jobs with jobs in sectors with low pay, minimal benefits and no job security.”

– Expose the TPP

 

What have been called “free trade” agreements are more accurately called corporate rights agreements, as Chomsky and others have said. And these agreements have helped to de-industrialize the US and Canada while shifting production to Mexico and other cheap labour offshore locations, such as India and China, wiping out the bulk of the middle class at home in the process, while leaving the great majority around the world in poverty as well, and generally benefiting only a small elite. Continuing in this course would clearly be disastrous for the vast majority of the people world-wide.

NAFTA, CAFTA, the FTAA, the WTO, the WEF, the SPP, the ECB and the Fed, and now, the TPP – all of these are treaties and organizational structures which represent the enthronement of the global corporate elite as the de facto rulers of the world, as the London Financial Times itself has said. They represent, in essence, a set of treaties between big business and governments, in which governments yield and cede their power to the trans-national corporate elite who already dominate the global economy, the major media and the political process and governments of most nations in the world today.

What this represents is the merger of business and the state, which as Mussolini himself said, is the very definition of fascism. What we are seeing is the destruction of both democracy and freedom, as well as human rights, constitutional law and civil liberties, under a global corporatist rule of increasingly stark neo-feudalism.

And if that were not already bad enough, we should also recognize that the people do not even benefit economically. Such moves benefit the few at the top, while the middle class is eliminated, the sea of poverty grows as the great majority of the people are driven into a growing underclass, inequality skyrockets, and a police state is constructed to keep the increasingly discontent masses silent and obedient, suppressed, subjugated, and neutralized – meaning effectively, neutered.

This is not even mentioning the utterly disastrous effects that our new global empire of corporate feudalism is having on the environment and the prospects for any kind of future for human life on earth.

Say no to the TPP and corporate rule, or say hello to a new and hellish form of Babylon, and an accelerating race towards a collective suicide.

J. Todd Ring,
November 6, 2013

The Politics of Illusion

Posted in alternatives, American politics, analysis, banks, Barack Obama, Cheney, class, consciousness, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, democracy, Democrat, democratic deficit, Democratic Party, detention centers, elite, empire, empowerment, environment, fascism, Feudalism, free speech, freedom, geopolitics, global warming, globalism, globalization, imperialism, inspiration, labour, money, must-read, national democracies, neo-feudalism, neocon, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, Obama, peace, people's movements, police state, political economy, politics, propaganda, psychology, Republican, Republican Party, the world's other superpower, tipping point, trade, truth, U.S., Uncategorized, war, war on democracy, work on September 24, 2013 by jtoddring

Or,

Politics and the illusion of choice

“The politicians are there to give you the illusion of choice. You don’t have choice – you have owners. They own you. These rich cock-suckers own the entire country.” – George Carlin

(Apologies for the poor choice of wording, but he does nail it here. You can find this short, powerful statement on politics in the real world on youtube. See “The American Dream”.)

The problem is, the people are given a false choice: the Democratic Party works for and is owned by the same big business interests which run the Republican Party, as Chomsky and many others have rightly said, and as the majority of the people are fully aware. And both of them are taking us rapidly into a dark age of global technocratic neo-feudalism, which is frankly fascist in nature, and is run by and for the world’s banking and corporate elite.

Look at what Obama did – not just what he said he would do. “You shall know them by their fruits.” He spoke of ending war, and instead expanded it. He spoke of peace, but has consistently served the interests of the military-industrial complex.

He dressed up like Kermit the Frog, metaphorically speaking, and presented himself as a green and an environmentalist. Then he went on to support fracking, which is destroying ground water quality across the nation. He continues to support the Keystone Pipline (appropriately named, as it is a keystone to the US corporate empire and its ravenous thirst for energy) and the burning of the Canadian Tar Sands – which, if allowed to continue, will be a disaster of global proportions. And he has catered loyally to Monsanto and the genetic engineering lobby, with serious and grave dangers for human health and even greater dangers with regards to global food security and the viability of continued food production on earth for human beings.

He presented himself as a populist, but then went on to hand the banking elite trillions of dollars of the people’s money, and bailed out the banks instead of the people; and then told the people “help is coming” – help which has never materialized, of course, since the government is broke, thanks to the bail-outs to the bankers, the continued policy of off-shoring of production and capital, the continued de-industrialization of the nation, the continued disastrous wars abroad and the whore-like service to the military-industrial-security complex and the financial elite, which, together, now rule the nation.

Obama posed as a democrat, a populist, a progressive and a friend of the people, and then intensified the Bush/Cheney/neo-con war on democracy, civil liberties and the Constitution, and further accelerated the creation of a police state at home, while giving the corporate and financial elite pretty much whatever they want.

Change? What change? Obama is Dick Cheney on steroids, with a pretty PR job and slick speech writers. He is a whore to Wall Street. His actions have proven it beyond any reasonable doubt. This man should be in prison, not running the country.

(Actually, he knows very well he doesn’t run the country – he serves the business elite who run the country, which is how and why he got into power in the first place.)

And by the way, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party – the two parties of the US branch of global corporate rule – are both deeply committed to abolishing all of the gains made by the people over the past two hundred years. They are both committed to returning us to Dickensian times, to the glory days, the golden age of unfettered capital, when there was no minimum wage, no social security or economic security of any kind, no restrictions on child labour, environmental degradation or workplace safety, and no right to organize or form unions for collective bargaining or simple self-protection; the days when the vast majority of people were so destitute and desperate that they would work for anything, even starvation wages, and the business class could rape and pillage freely, without any constraints, to their hearts’ content, and to the last dying gasp of their worker drones, who live little better than slaves.

Both the Republicans and the Democrats are committed to the continued off-shoring of production and capital, the continued de-industrialization of the nation, which means the creation of a largely jobless society and the third-worldization of the country – and the remainder of the world – in the drive for ever more astronomical profits and riches for the fraction of a percent of the population who are the ruling elite. It’s just a matter of whether you want the floor pulled out from underneath you, on the installment plan, by way of painful little pieces being cut away daily, or whether you want to take it on the chin with the Republicans, and get the blood-letting over with all at once. Either way, it is the same agenda, and the results will be indistinguishable in the end – because they work for the same people!

Both of the major US political parties are committed to increasing the already stratospheric wealth and power of the corporate and banking elite who have bought and purchased these parties, and whom they loyally serve – as their actions make abundantly clear. Anything that stands in the way of these core objectives must be demolished, and is actively being demolished – including the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Convention, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, all environmental, health and labour standards, media diversity, freedom of speech or the right to protest or even publically assemble peacefully for any purpose – other than sports games and other distractions, since the policy of “bread and circuses” is almost as core as the policies of “divide and conquer” and rape and pillage; the demolition of any meaningful sense of authentic democracy, actual freedom for the overwhelming majority of the people, and even the ability of the people to think for themselves, or to unite to discuss or pursue their common goals in solidarity and with the power of uniting the people. All these things stand in the way of ever increasing wealth and power for the few, so all of these things must be destroyed, and are now actively being destroyed. Those who are awake have seen this happening for some time now. It is high time the rest of the people woke up, before they get to the end of the cattle chute, and find out first hand, and most painfully, where all of this is leading.

In a word, what the business elite who control both major political parties in the US want, is a global labour camp – a global prison planet, where the vast majority of the people live in a sea of poverty, the great ocean of the ever-growing underclass, and the lucky few who have “jobs” are willing to work for the lowest possible pay, with zero security, so that they will be terrified of saying a word or making a peep about their abysmal lives and working conditions – and meanwhile, and of course, as the primary objective to all of this, the super-rich corporate elite can live like pharaohs on their private islands, in mansions and yachts, sipping champagne or quaffing Scotch and caviar, surrounded by private armies, heavily armed henchmen and security barriers, while the world slowly bleeds – or rather, is bled – to death.

They want a gulag. They want a return to feudalism. They are greedy little boys and girls, obsessed with their egos and their infantile sense of grandiosity, wanting ever more self-aggrandizement, and dreaming of being god-kings. It would be laughable, were it not also pathetic, and truly dangerous in the extreme.

We have seen such patterns in the past. Every empire has fallen, and every would-be Tzar or Caesar has failed in the end, and has tumbled and crumbled to dust. But that does not mean that these trends are not dangerous nonetheless. They are, and extremely so.

No, their is no real difference between the long-term trajectory, motives or agenda of either of the major US political parties. They are the parties of corporate rule, the parties which represent the aggressive drive to return us to the glorious reign of feudal kings and lords, sweatshops everywhere, and detention centres – labour camps – for those who are displeased with this arrangement of affairs. The only real difference between them is that the Democratic Party is far better at public relations, or what the industry itself calls “image management.” Either way, you get war, a police state, the destruction of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and civil liberties, a war on democracy and a steady drive towards a kind of global neo-feudalism under corporate rule. There is no real choice between them. They represent the same interests – those of the global business elite – and their long term objectives are virtually indistinguishable. These are the unpleasant facts of the matter.

So long as the Obamaphiles continue to prop up this failed regime – this regime which has pushed forward the Bush/Cheney/neo-con agenda further than that giddy little George Junior ever likely dared to dream; and pushed further ahead with the same policies of imperial warfare abroad, and the destruction of democracy, the Constitution and civil liberties at home, with the continued drive towards a police state – until this regime of Obama/Wall Street/neo-cons in neo-liberal Democratic guise and disguise is ended and brought down, there will be no real change. Let’s be perfectly clear on that.

The real choice is not between two parties of corporate rule, but whether we, the people, will continue to play along with this losing game, this deal with the devil; or whether the people will rise and reclaim their power.

When, not if the people rise to reclaim their power and their future, the game will be over, for the people always hold the greater power. Mark my words. Of this you can be sure. And the tipping point is fast approaching.

Look at the fall of the Soviet Empire. When the crisis of legitimacy reached a tipping point, the final threshold, the people threw off the old empire like water shaken off a dog’s back, and the USSR and five other Communist regimes collapsed, virtually overnight.

The same is coming to the West. This empire will not last forever – this empire of neo-feudal global corporatism. But, it will be deadly in its destructiveness and in the suffering and misery it causes, so long as it continues. Therefore, let it be brought down swiftly and decisively, and now, by peaceful means, by the people rising to reclaim their power.

It is time.

We, the people, the other 99.99%, can and must challenge the ruling order, which is rapidly devolving into a kind of neo-feudal, global corporate rule. The people always have the greater power, but in order to exercise our power, we must first recognize and embrace it. We can start by inspiring and empowering ourselves and one another. We must also unite the people. United, the people will be victorious. Divided, they will continue to be subjugated, and they will be doomed to great and increasing sufferings and tyranny.

Empower, inspire and unite the people. The rest will follow naturally from there. Remember, all empires fall, sooner or later. This too shall pass. It is up to us to hasten the transition to a better world, and now.

J. Todd Ring, September 24, 2013

Built to crash: the coming economic tsunami

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, analysis, books, capitalism, Chomsky, class, climate change, collapse, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crash, deep integration, disaster, drought, ecological crisis, ecology, economic collapse, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, Eric Fromm, fascism, fascist, Feudalism, geopolitics, global warming, globalism, globalization, must-read, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, police state, political economy, political philosophy, politics, politics of oil, post-carbon, reading, resources, Security and Prosperity Partnership, social theory, sociology, SPP, sustainability, trade on June 7, 2011 by jtoddring

`Would you rather have a perfectly efficient system that, if hit by a pebble, would shatter? Or, would you rather have an adaptable system that may not give you the exact output you want, but can handle anything?  According to Barry Lynn of the New America Foundation, our economy and our entire domestic food supply are being set up to be shattered.`

Lynn`s work is truly a must-read…. Monopoly capitalism is a system built to crash. Wonderful to hear a lucid mind cut through the crap, even if the news is troubling. Build local economic self-reliance now if you are wise – the monopolists won`t let up until we have a collapse: and the comibination of a self-created and escalating ecological crisis with this extremely fragile monopolistic global economic system, pretty much guarantees a collapse is coming.

China Controls Our Food Supply: Barry Lynn on Radio Free Dylan | Dylan Ratigan

JTR,

June 7, 2011

See also:

A Brief History of Progress, Collapse, The Party`s Over, Power Down, Life After Debt, The Yes Men, The Corporation, Shock Doctrine, A Game As Old As Empire, Year 501, Necessary Illusions, The Ecology of Freedom, Escape from Freedom, Power to the People (in suits), The End of America, The Great Turning, relocalization, permaculture, organics, slow food, food revolution, Real News, InfoWars, Centre for Research on Globalization, Prajnaseek on Youtube and Twitter

Organic Agriculture’s Resilience Shows Untapped Potential

Growing a Better Future: Food justice in a resource-constrained world :: Oxfam GB

The System’s bust :: Oxfam GB

Fears of a corporate police state – David Sirota – Salon.com

Is American law enforcement colluding with Cisco? – David Sirota – Salon.com

Power to the People (In Suits) How a whole new kind of business lobby is a threat to democracy by Paul Bigioni

What Must Be Done: When corporatism and Leninism have both failed – part two

Posted in activism, alternative, Canada, Chomsky, common ground, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporatism, crisis of legitimacy, democracy, ecological crisis, ecology, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, freedom, FTAA, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, good news, history, human rights, imperialism, inspiration, Jefferson, left, liberal, Martial Law, NAFTA, neoliberalism, people's movements, police state, policy, political economy, political theory, politics, right wing, Security and Prosperity Partnership, social theory, sociology, SPP, the right, the world's other superpower, tipping point, trade, U.N., U.S., WEF, World Social Forum, WTO on February 28, 2007 by jtoddring


Building a World Federation, from the Grassroots Up

The U.N. is failing and in need of fundamental reform – people everywhere are rightly skeptical about its present and future role in the world. Corporate and financial power is clearly out of hand, to say it mildly, and great powers, in the traditional sense of powerful nation states, clearly also have to be reigned in. In this context, it is becoming clear to all that only the global human community, the people of the earth themselves, united in solidarity across our great and wondrous diversity, joined together by some few commonly shared principles, can reign in the unwieldy and anti-democratic, anti-ecological destructive powers which now dominate the earth.

The mood of humanity, if you can make such a broad statement, and I believe one can with a fair degree of accuracy (see the World Economic Forum global poll 2002), is one of deep concern for the future; deep discontent with the present state of global power, economy and relations; deep disillusionment with existing forms of power and institutions; and showing a clear and growing realization of the need to both deepen democracy, and simultaneously build bridges of world solidarity for mutual protection and creative action.

Can humanity agree upon a few basic principles, while allowing for mutual respect of our differences and diversity? I think this is not only a reasonable proposition, but one that has already been demonstrated. We have international agreements such as the Kyoto Accord, ratified by 141 nations, the Montreal Protocol on ozone depletion, ratified and implemented around the world, the Ottawa Treaty, banning landmines world-wide, ratified by the majority of the world’s nations, and the Geneva Convention, to name just a few examples of human agreement and consensus internationally. We have the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, for example, which the vast majority of the world have accepted as a basis for international unity and understanding.

The basic principles of freedom, democracy, equality, peace and sustainability are acceptable to the vast majority of the global village. It is only the rogue financial and corporate powers, along with an unfortunately large number of political elites from many countries around the world, and a relative handful of extremists, who cannot or will not accept these principles as binding. The populace, as a whole, and world-wide, in virtually every nation on earth, already accepts these principles as foundational for any decent human society. Agreement is already there. It is solidarity that is lacking. Alienation and division must be overcome. We already agree on enough to build a better world. It is the unity across diversity that is missing, but that is changing quickly.

Some form of world federalism is needed now. Before this statement can be misunderstood, it must be said that I am not advocating the further institutionalization of hyper-concentrated global power. We do not need any further centralization or concentration of power in the world – in fact, what is needed is a radical decentralization and democratization of social, political and economic power. At the same time, however, it is clear that we need a greater degree of solidarity and cooperation amongst humanity and human communities world wide. We need thus, some form of global federation in which power is democratically held and concentrated at the grassroots level.

After the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle of 1999, just such a grassroots-based global network of solidarity began to emerge. Individuals and popular movements world-wide began to recognize the need to respond to social and environmental issues in a more comprehensive, systematic and globally linked fashion, with greater international solidarity, across all lines of geography, issue-orientation, race, class, gender and religion. Seattle `99 was a watermark, a turning point. Since then, much has been done to create and develop such a decentralized, democratic and popular-based unity amid diversity: a global network of peoples’ movements. This phenomenon shows great promise. It may be the only thing that can reverse the trend toward hyper-concentration of global power, the destruction of human rights, freedom and democracy, and the destruction of our home on earth.

The shining star to emerge out of this growth of grassroots global solidarity is the World Social Forum. The WSF is not a body with any direct political or economic power. It is a gathering, a place of networking and bridge-building. It is a place for individuals and popular movements to come together to exchange information and ideas, to discuss and debate, and most importantly, to generate greater solidarity and cooperation among peoples, communities and movements world-wide for the creation of a better world. It is not a centralized power, but a place where decentralized, democratic grassroots constituencies can discuss, come to certain agreements as to shared values and goals, and together, without the need for a centralized authority directing them, in the spirit of equality, freedom and democracy, bring about greater cooperative and effective action for the benefit of humanity and the earth. Noam Chomsky recently remarked that the World Social Forum is presently the most promising phenomenon on the planet.

Along with 1) the pervasive global questioning and challenging of all forms of power in society and all previously held assumptions, 2) the emerging spirit of democratic citizens’ empowerment world-wide, 3) the increasing realization by humanity of the interdependent nature of our world, 4) the dawning awareness that unity and diversity are not intrinsically contradictory, but in fact can be mutually enhancing, 5) the rapidly developing and growing global solidarity among diverse peoples, groups, communities and social movements world-wide, and 6) the rapidly unfolding genuine human renaissance which is perhaps unprecedented in its depth as well as its breadth; I would have to agree with professor Chomsky: the World Social Forum is one of the most promising things happening on earth at this time.

Along with the World Social Forum, we clearly also need a renewal and a deepening of democracy world-wide, in individual communities, states, provinces and nations. And, I would say, in order for this to be possible, a federation model, rather than a model of centralized power, needs to be developed or restored: otherwise we have the outer forms of democracy, but the democratic forms hide the real nature of power in society, which is oligarchy.
This needs to be done at the local level – the level of communities – and also at the state/provincial level, the level of the nation-state, and internationally. We need, in sum, a decentralization and democratization of power in society, along with a corresponding increase in global solidarity and cooperation: we need a decentralized and democratic world federation of some form.

It must be noted that it is absolutely critical that not only overt formal political power be decentralized and democratized, linked in a global federation of democratic communities (and perhaps for a time yet, also nation-states), but also economic and cultural power. We must swiftly, peacefully, and absolutely decisively deal with the exisitng hyper-concentrations of media power, and the parallel and even more fundamental hyper-concentrations of economic power – in the hands of banks, financial institutions, large corporations, family dynasties, old boys clubs, and trade agreements and bodies that effectively concentrate global power in the hands of the international investment class (such as the WTO, NAFTA, the FTAA, the SPP and the WEF).

Although their vision and example was imperfect, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine both held a clear and sensible, and in some regards, a noble view of the world as it could be – as can be yet. Thomas Paine, the primary political theorist for the American democratic revolution, along with Jefferson, took his inspiration from the Iroquois Confederacy, not the ancient Greeks, as is commonly believed. The Iroquois Confederacy still offers perhaps the best model for the future of humanity. Five nations lived in peace in a grassroots, community-based federation for mutual protection and prosperity. The people of these nations lived with greater peace, freedom and authentic democracy than almost any other peoples before or since. Jefferson himself admitted that the new American democracy was a pale imitation of the superior, more free and equal, and more democratic form of government which he saw in these native communities. Despite their faults, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, along with the Iroquois Confederacy, offer us now among the best and clearest inspiration for a better world, as we together look to our future on earth, and together face the ominous and simultaneously hopeful trends of the present.

Jefferson saw it clearly: either keep political power decentralized and out of any one group or individual’s hands (beware the ostensibly benign oligarchs), or watch tyranny arise, and freedom, democracy, human rights and even decency of life, decay and die. He also saw clearly that if the increasing concentration of economic power in the hands of the corporations is not checked, democracy will be overthrown by stealth: consumed and digested by the dominant power of money. He was right on both counts. We are late in heeding his warning, but not too late. There is still time to rescue the dream of democracy from the threats which surround her. There is still time to found a beautiful and just, free and fair world for humanity on earth. It is not to late. But we must act now.

J. Todd Ring,
February 2007

What Must Be Done: When corporatism and Leninism have both failed – part 1

A “Must-Read” Short List: Author’s Picks

Overview: Geopolitics 2006-2008

Posted in Bush, Canada, Canadian, corporate rule, deep integration, economy, fascism, globalization, NACC, NAU, North American Union, policy, politics, SPP, trade, U.S. on January 25, 2007 by jtoddring

Time for Action:


Canadian politics and the future of Canada as a nation

The long and the short of it is – I believe – unless we seriously address the macro-economic issues, we will not even have the option of meaningful parliamentary debate, much less effective action via parliament, for parliament will continue to be subsumed under corporate dominance. Whatever concerns or good ideas we may have would then be blocked from implementation, at least within the parliamentary process. We would then be left to plead from the sidelines – or bleat from the sidelines – having failed to tackle corporate rule, and thus having failed to reclaim our democracy and our nation.

I’d like to see the Green Party, the NDP, a new party, or a coalition that is created from elements of the existing parties – based on a shared set of principles, values and goals – address our current socio-economic, political and ecological situation in Canada systematically and boldly.

I’d like to see a party – any party – or a coalition of individuals derived from progressive elements of a number of parties – take on corporate globalism, the crisis of democracy, oil dependency and environmental issues, in a comprehensive, systematic, strategic and courageous manner, with vision and vigour.

This would entail a platform that communicated the realities of our current predicament to Canadians in a straight-forward, no-nonsense way – realities which polls show the great majority of Canadians already understand. And it would require the creation of a vision, a strategy and a platform for addressing these realities in a way that fits the seriousness of these issues, and not in a tepid or piecemeal way.

It would be a platform to take back Canada, to truly “stand up for Canada” (as Harper and the Conservatives promised, but promised insincerely) by reclaiming and renewing authentic democracy, and re-investing in our ability as Canadians to set our own independent social, economic, environmental and foreign policy values, goals and policies.

In order to accomplish this, we would have to form and implement a plan to reduce our economic dependence on the US, in terms of trade and economic policy, and we would have to take a courageous stand against corporate globalization and the defacto corporate rule which has emerged.

We would then, in terms of the details of such a strategy and vision to reclaim our nation, abrogate NAFTA, say no to the FTAA, deep integration and the SPP, gain control of our currency through capital controls and changes to monetary policy with the Bank of Canada, create a Tobin tax to deter financial speculation, repatriate the debt, and restructure our investment policies and regulations.

(For example, we could start by revising our investment policies so that tax credits are given for RRSP’s only when the investment is in Canada, in Canadian companies or Canada savings bonds – which would go a long way both to strengthening the economy and toward gaining greater economic and thus political independence, and which also would provide a way to repatriate the debt, thus freeing us from dependency upon and manipulation (economic leverage, or simply blackmail) by international banks and financial institutions.)

A couple of points, at least, need to be realized, acknowledged, and acted upon. 1. Corporate-led globalization is not working for the vast majority – either in Canada or elsewhere in the world, does not benefit the vast majority, and is in fact destroying our social programs, quality of life, environment and democracy. We need to fundamentally re-orient our economic policies and strategy in order to create prosperity with both equity and sustainability. We urgently need to find or create, and to implement, an alternative to corporate globalization. 2. The U.S. economy is a sinking ship. We need to cease immediately our strategy of aligning ourselves ever more deeply with this failed state and empire at eclipse. We need to halt the rapid slide into deep integration with the U.S., and immediately begin to diversify and shift our trade alliances. While the U.S. is sinking economically, Europe, Latin America, India and China are rising fast. If we are intelligent, we will shift our trade and economic alliances in response to these rapidly changing global economic realities.

The EU and the BRIC alliance make far more sense as trade partners now, when the U.S. is in rapid decline, than does the teetering giant to the south. The BRIC alliance – Brazil, Russia, India and China, with many other Latin American and Asian countries joining – is the rising star. Given the choices between closer ties with the U.S. (via NAFTA and the SPP), or the EU and the BRIC alliance, smart money would certainly be on the latter. In fact, the smart money, and most of the big money, is already moving or has moved out of the U.S. We are very slow in the uptake if we as a country do not get this.

In terms of a rejection of corporate globalism, Chavez has shown what a bold approach to macro-economic and social policies can achieve, especially when backed by large oil reserves and the economic and political power that comes with these. There is no reason why Canada could not be even more bold: we hold more oil reserves than Venezuela, and have more resources and greater economic wealth and power than Venezuela.

We should be radically restructuring our tax and subsidy policies with regard to the oil and gas industry in Canada. With the increased tax revenue, we can do far more than has been done in Venezuela, Venezuela having comparably fewer resources and less economic power to work with. With this increased public revenue from the oil and gas industry we can adequately fund, protect and even enhance our social programs, expand dramatically our environmental programs, and get serious about the environmental and social issues we face. More importantly, we can gain and preserve a greater degree of economic, social, cultural and political independence: we can preserve our nation. Presently the Alberta government, presiding over the bulk of the nation’s oil reserves, which it claims as its own, is charging an absurd 1% royalty rate on oil extraction. Meanwhile, the federal government actually subsidizes the oil companies, to the tune of multi-billions a year. Is this not just a little ridiculous?

There is no reason to let Exxon take a long straw from Texas and suck out our oil – at least not without the biggest part of the profits going to the Canadian people. Venezuela, under the leadership of Chavez, has increased the windfall profits tax on oil companies, reaping an additional USD $3 billion a year into the public purse. The oil industry in Venezuela now generates about one third of the nation’s GDP, and approximately half of all government revenues. This windfall to the public purse is being used to eradicate poverty, fund education and public health care, and, in short, lift the quality of life for all people in the country. In Bolivia, President Evo Morales simply turned the profit distribution for the oil industry on its head. Before, oil companies took 80% of the profits, while 20% of the profits went to the people of Bolivia. Now the people of Bolivia get 80% of the profits, and the oil companies are happy to receive 20%. Are the oil companies leaving en masse? Of course not. They want the oil, and they can still make a hefty profit. The countries with oil have the upper hand. They can either concede to essentially giving away their oil, or they can insist that the bulk of the profits go to the people of the country, while leaving room for ample – though not extortionist – oil company profits. The difference is one of fair trade versus economic predation.

Who’s oil is it anyway? The trans-national oil companies certainly have less of a legitimate claim to it than do the people of the country. The oil companies can still invest, operate, extract, and make a profit. They simply can’t make a killing. If we had a party or a coalition that showed real leadership, this one act of socializing the oil industry – not expropriating it, but making 80% of the oil profits go to the Canadian people, and not the global oil companies – would make a dramatic difference in the lives of the Canadian people, and in this country. For one, there would be no crisis in our social programs – they would be amply funded. And not incidentally, a significant portion of the multi-billion dollar a year windfall to public coffers could go to investing in renewable energy and conservation. We give our oil away, and neither the environment nor the people of Canada benefit. How sensible is this?

Meanwhile, to site just one example:

“In 2005, Exxon reported third-quarter profits of $9.92 billion, 75% higher than its third-quarter earnings in 2004, and the largest quarterly profit ever reported by a US company.

“Exxon is reportedly giving its retiring chairman, Lee Raymond, a package worth nearly $400 million, in combined pension, stock options and other perks, including a $1 million consulting deal, the use of a corporate jet for professional purposes, 2 years of home security, and a car and driver.

“While testifying at a Congressional hearing last November, Raymond claimed that high gas prices were a result of supply and demand. “We’re all in this together,” he told members of Congress, “everywhere in the world.”

“”In 2004, Mr. Raymond,” Senator, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), was quick to point out, “your bonus was over $3.6 million.”

“After exhibiting a chart revealing the pay scale for each of the CEOs at the hearing, Senator Boxer told the oil executives: “Your sacrifice appears to be nothing.”

“According to Exxon’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Raymond’s paycheck rose to $51.1 million in 2005.”

– Evelyn Pringle, Will Big Oil Destroy the US Economy?

As with our oil industry, we are still currently shipping our forestry products out of the country with relatively little gained for the Canadian people. This is 19th century colonial thinking. We should immediately increase stumpage fees levied upon forestry corporations, and re-invest the money back into the forestry industry, supporting the growth of valued-added industries that take the raw logs and pulp, and turn them into high-value products for export. A log shipped to China is a gross waste of Canadian resources, and shipping lumber to the U.S. is little better. We can tax the rapacious cutting of our forests by big forestry companies, and feed the creation and support of value-added industries and sustained-yield ecological forestry in this country, thus creating a surge in jobs and tax dollars while preserving the long-term economic viability of the forestry industry and the ecological base which it rests upon. Instead of shipping logs, lumber and pulp, we would then be shipping furniture, musical instruments and other high value products, increasing our positive trade balance and public revenues enormously while protecting the forests from a senseless hack and slash model in the tunnel-visioned and myopic pursuit of short-term economic gain. Simply by making an intelligent shift in economic strategy with regard to these two giant industries – oil and forestry – we can bring profound and far-reaching benefit to the people of Canada. What we need is a bold approach that does not flinch when the corporate lobby flexes its muscle. Sorry MacBlo and Syncrude. The people of Canada come first.

Just as we need urgently to shift our international trade and economic strategies – away from reliance on and integration with the sinking U.S. empire, and away from excessive dependency upon and vulnerability to trans-national capital and international financial markets and institutions – we need to dramatically shift our economic policies and strategy domestically, at home.

We need to shift our basic macro-economic strategy: away from one of catering to big corporations, especially foreign-based multi-nationals, for whom we presently bend over obligingly, and whom we subsidize with massive tax breaks as well as direct and indirect subsidies; and toward funding and giving tax breaks to small and medium size businesses, the poor and the middle class. Small business is the engine of economic growth, the backbone of the economy, and the primary employer in the country, as elsewhere – as is widely acknowledged. It makes no sense to subsidize big corporations and tax small business to death. What makes sense is to reverse this pattern, reign in the corporate giants who now dominate the political process and receive huge tax breaks, and support small business. This would strengthen the economy, create jobs, increase our economic and political independence and sovereignty, and provide a functional, viable and prosperous, as well as more equitable alternative to corporate-dominated globalization.

***

Who would benefit from such a platform? Small and medium business, the poor, the middle class, students, children, the elderly – in short, the vast majority of Canadians. Who could we seek to support such a platform to truly “stand up for Canada”? The grassroots right – who voted in Harper and the Conservatives on the promise to stand up for Canada, who want tax cuts for the middle class, the poor and small business, who want a revitalized democracy, who want a strong economy and good jobs – and many authentic conservatives, who are not happy with the sell-out of the country to big business, financial institutions and foreign governments (ie: the U.S.). The left and centre, who want prosperity with equity, protection for and enhancement of social programs, expansion of environmental programs, a reduction of taxes on the poor and middle class, an alternative to corporate globalization – which 70% of Canadians say is not working in the public interest – and a preservation of our cultural, political and economic sovereignty. In short, across the political spectrum, support can be expected, if the platform is sufficiently bold and inspiring, and is communicated clearly enough.

There is no party currently offering such a platform or vision, no party that currently offers anything resembling a bold and inspiring vision for Canada. Should a party or coalition decide to offer such a vision, there could be a landslide of popular support that rises up in response. This is what I’d like to see happen.

If Chavez, Morales and Kirchner, in Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina, can show leadership in throwing off the gross failure which is neo-liberalism, can assert authentic democracy in the face of decades of history with fascist regimes, imperial aggression and U.S.-backed coups, and present a viable, dynamic, moving, inspiring, wildly popular movement and vision for independence, solidarity and justice, what can we do in Canada with even more resources and economic strength at our disposal?

Sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves – the tar sands – and with one of the world’s resource-richest nations, one of the biggest economies in the world, a highly educated and literate populace and skilled and educated workforce, an infrastructure and technological base that has few rivals, and a history of social justice and peace that, while imperfect, is strong and runs deep, we in Canada are in a position not just to bemoan the social, economic, political and environmental difficulties that we face, but to take the lead. We can become the junior partner to a dying empire, and slide further into neo-fascist corporate rule, or we can break out of the mold, find solidarity with Europe and Latin America, as well the fast-rising star of India (the world’s largest democracy, home to the world’s largest middle class, with an economy that is set to out-pace China’s in economic growth this year), and set a course for economic and socio-political independence, in solidarity with other nations that are sick and tired of imperial power games.

It is a choice that we are going to face rather soon, and with increasing urgency, for the realities of deep integration with what has become a fascist state – the Security and Prosperity Partnership with the United States – are about to hit us. We had better awaken from the American dream now. This dream is becoming a nightmare. We need to chart a new course – our own course. A Canadian course.

***

The initiatives outlined above are not in themselves sufficient to remedy our social or environmental problems, but they are a necessary first step. If we do not take serious action now, we will only see the further unraveling of our democracy, the further drift into full-fledged neo-fascist corporate rule, the further destruction of our social programs, and the further destruction of the environment. If we care about any of these things, if we care about having or creating a just society, a peaceful society, a sustainable society, or even a society where the quality of life for all is preserved and enhanced, rather than undermined, then we need to take serious steps to renounce corporate globalism and corporate rule, and to reclaim our democracy and our sovereignty. Piece meal efforts will not do. We must now boldly present and act upon a plan to reverse the dominance of the trans-national corporations over our economy and political process. We must regain control of our currency, economy and parliaments. If we do not, then our fine words and nice ideas will go nowhere. If we do not regain control of the helm, then we are a drifting ship of fools, and our pious words are all in vain.

If none of the political parties can take the necessary steps and do what needs to be done, then they should announce themselves as irrelevant, and close up shop. My hope is, however, that the Canadian people can create the movement necessary to get one of the political parties, a new party, or perhaps a coalition that is created from members of all parties, to step up to the plate and get the job done. However it gets done, we need to act now. Time is running out on our sovereignty, our democracy, even our existence as a nation. Time for action.

***

Now that it is outlined, as to what needs to be done, the question that remains is one of strategy: how do we do it? Political strategy in the era of corporate dominance of the political process, the media and the economy is a tricky question. When most political parties are indebted to big business for the funds that get them elected, when the mass media is either directly owned or else controlled by corporations – via dependency on corporate advertising money – the political process becomes mired in the politics of vested interest, democracy is in crisis, and even public debate and discussion is largely quashed. Creating a popular movement for bold and progressive social change requires communicating a vision that will rally popular support and empower collective action. But the means of communication are locked up by corporate controlled media, who have no interest in changing the status quo. Any movement, party or coalition that seeks to create an alternative to corporate rule, that seeks to reclaim, renew and revitalize genuine democracy, will no doubt meet with bad press, or no press, given the present media environment. Thus, in order to reach out to the people, the newest and the oldest of tools for political mobilization will be required: the internet and the street. To reach out to the people with a bold and inspiring vision, to even begin to form a movement for creative action and positive social change, will require the use of the new town hall – the web – and the old town hall – the face-to-face meetings that used to be the staple of politics, before the electronic age. In the age of mass-media electoral politics, the new medium of the internet is often overlooked, and the old medium of town hall-style public meetings is forgotten. But this is where the movement will begin. This is where it will succeed or fail.

In order to accomplish the goals of reclaiming our democracy, protecting our sovereignty, our social programs and our environment; to create a just and sustainable society, and to preserve and enhance the quality of life for all, it will be necessary to make a few simple but crucial steps. The above outline of a platform can be taken as a starting point for creating a vision. Without a vision there is no inspiration, and therefore no action. A small group of activists – ordinary individuals – can take the initiative. From there, the enlistment of support from a few prominent Canadians will do to encourage more involvement and get the ball rolling. After that, it is a matter of old-fashioned political organizing – from the grassroots up. Go to the people, city by city, town by town, hold public meetings in libraries and churches, schools and union halls, universities and workplaces, and utilize the internet to its fullest capacity to compliment the face-to-face engagement of citizens. From there, it is a matter of either forming a new party from this emerging grassroots movement, getting an existing party to find the courage to take on the challenge, or forming a coalition from members of existing parties as well as ordinary Canadians to take the movement to the next level: implementation.

The path is hard, but the time is ripe. The political landscape has, in some ways, never been more ready for such a groundswell of change. There is an opening now. And there is a need. The urgency is almost ear-shattering. The longing for meaningful, clear-headed, good-hearted change is almost palpable. The movement that can fill this need – recognize the opportunity and act to create the flow through that opening – is going to meet with resounding success. It is now that we must dispense with pious hand-wringing and defeatist pessimism. There is always more day to dawn. The time is ripe, the moment is now. Let us begin.

JTR

January 24, 2007

Time for Action: Canadian politics and the future of Canada as nation

The Sinking U.S. Economy:
Poor Choice for an Economic Partner in the 21st Century

America’s Unsustainable Current Account Deficit

* The Dollar’s Full-System Meltdown

Economic ” Armageddon ” Predicted

Dollar Catching Asian Flu – Asia Times

Arab central banks sell dollar

As Dollar Plunges, Watch for US Government Bonds Sell -off – DEBKAfile –

The War To Save The U.S. Dollar – Trinicenter.com –

Fears for dollar as central banks sell US assets

BBC NEWS | Business | Is the global economy set for trouble?

Collapse of the Petrodollar Looming

Iranian Oil Bourse Opens for Business: A Final Step Toward US Dollar Collapse & Preemptive Nuclear Strike

Deep Integration & the SPP:


* Secret Banff Meeting of CEOs and the Defense Establishment : Militarization and the Deconstruction of North America

CBC – Top secret: Banff security meeting attracted U.S., Mexico officials

* CNN Video: Lou Dobbs Slams CFR & North American Union

*** De Facto North American Government in the Making: “Canadians must take back Canada”

Deep Integration – The Council of Canadians

* North American Union/Testimony, Publications and Reports – SourceWatch

*** Paul Martin’s Big Texas Adventure


Fascism in America:

*** Habeas Corpus Your words are lies Sir – YouTube – olbermann 10-18-06

***Bush Moves Toward Martial Law

Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (12/15 – 2006)

General Tommy Franks calls for Repeal of US Constitution

Air Force chief : Test weapons on testy US mobs – Sep 12 …

Ten Minutes to Midnight: The Emerging Police State – Z Store

Fascism watch

War on Terrorism Watch: CAUT Resource Website – Home Page

The Guardian article, “This war on terrorism is bogus: The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination”

Time for Action: Canadian politics and the future of Canada as a nation

Posted in Bush, Canada, Canadian, corporate rule, deep integration, economy, fascism, globalization, NACC, NAU, North American Union, policy, politics, SPP, trade, U.S. on January 25, 2007 by jtoddring

The long and the short of it is – I believe – unless we seriously address the macro-economic issues, we will not even have the option of meaningful parliamentary debate, much less effective action via parliament, for parliament will continue to be subsumed under corporate dominance. Whatever concerns or good ideas we may have would then be blocked from implementation, at least within the parliamentary process. We would then be left to plead from the sidelines – or bleat from the sidelines – having failed to tackle corporate rule, and thus having failed to reclaim our democracy and our nation. The same holds true in Canada, the U.S., U.K. or any other “liberal democracy” around the world, where liberal democracy has devolved into neoliberal or neoconservative corporatism.

I’d like to see the Green Party, the NDP, a new party, or a coalition that is created from elements of the existing parties – based on a shared set of principles, values and goals – address our current socio-economic, political and ecological situation in Canada systematically and boldly.

I’d like to see a party – any party – or a coalition of individuals derived from progressive elements of a number of parties – take on corporate globalism, the crisis of democracy, oil dependency and environmental issues, in a comprehensive, systematic, strategic and courageous manner, with vision and vigour.

This would entail a platform that communicated the realities of our current predicament to Canadians in a straight-forward, no-nonsense way – realities which polls show the great majority of Canadians already understand. And it would require the creation of a vision, a strategy and a platform for addressing these realities in a way that fits the seriousness of these issues, and not in a tepid or piecemeal way.

It would be a platform to take back Canada, to truly “stand up for Canada” (as Harper and the Conservatives promised, but promised insincerely) by reclaiming and renewing authentic democracy, and re-investing in our ability as Canadians to set our own independent social, economic, environmental and foreign policy values, goals and policies.

In order to accomplish this, we would have to form and implement a plan to reduce our economic dependence on the US, in terms of trade and economic policy, and we would have to take a courageous stand against corporate globalization and the defacto corporate rule which has emerged.

We would then, in terms of the details of such a strategy and vision to reclaim our nation, abrogate NAFTA, say no to the FTAA, deep integration and the SPP, gain control of our currency through capital controls and changes to monetary policy with the Bank of Canada, create a Tobin tax to deter financial speculation, repatriate the debt, and restructure our investment policies and regulations. Without these steps, we can forget about having a democracy, or sovereignty: all talk of other issues will be futile and hollow until or unless we address these fundamental macro-economic issues. Ignoring these issues while blathering about this or that noble cause is utter foolishness. We have no more time for such non-sense. Issues of domestic policy, foreign policy, war and peace, economic policy, social policy, environmental policy, health care, child care, pensions or any other issue become moot if we have no substantive democracy or sovereignty remaining. This should be perfectly obvious to all.

(We could start by revising our investment policies so that tax credits are given for RRSP’s only when the investment is in Canada, in Canadian companies or Canada savings bonds – which would go a long way both to strengthening the economy and toward gaining greater economic and thus political independence, and which also would provide a way to repatriate the debt, thus freeing us from dependency upon and manipulation (economic leverage, or simply blackmail) by international banks and financial institutions. Leaving the door open to international financial speculation is leaving our sovereignty up for grabs to the power of global financial markets. Watching capital flood out of the country rather than be re-invested in sustainable economic development, debt elimination and social programs at home, is equally senseless.)

A couple of points, at least, need to be realized, acknowledged, and acted upon.

1. Corporate-led globalization is not working for the vast majority – either in Canada or elsewhere in the world, does not benefit the vast majority, and is in fact destroying our social programs, quality of life, environment and democracy.

We need to fundamentally re-orient our economic policies and strategy in order to create prosperity with both equity and sustainability. We urgently need to find or create, and to implement, an alternative to corporate-led globalization.

The prediction that corporate-style globalization is a race to the bottom, has born out in experience. The gap between rich and poor has widened over the past 15-25 years, in both “developed” and “less developed” nations, as well as globally. The numbers of people living in poverty has grown, both in the “first world” and the “third world.”

Corporate globalization has wiped out jobs, whole industries, countless small businesses, social and environmental programs, and is in the process of wiping out the middle class.

It should be clear to any who are paying attention that this is not working. This neoliberal/neoconservative global corporatist order is working only for the already obscenely rich. The number of billionaires keeps increasing, but the vast majority of humanity keeps falling. Maybe the two are related?

2. The U.S. economy is a sinking ship. We need to cease immediately our strategy of aligning ourselves ever more deeply with this failed state and empire at eclipse. We need to halt the rapid slide into deep integration with the U.S., and immediately begin to diversify and shift our trade alliances. While the U.S. is sinking economically, Europe, Latin America, India and China are rising fast. If we are intelligent, we will shift our trade and economic alliances in response to these rapidly changing global economic realities.

The EU and the BRIC alliance make far more sense as trade partners now, when the U.S. is in rapid decline, than does the teetering giant to the south. The BRIC alliance – Brazil, Russia, India and China, with many other Latin American and Asian countries joining – is the rising star. Given the choices between closer ties with the U.S. (via NAFTA and the SPP), or the EU and the BRIC alliance, smart money would certainly be on the latter. In fact, the smart money, and most of the big money, is already moving or has moved out of the U.S. We are very slow in the uptake if we as a country do not get this.

In terms of a rejection of corporate globalism, Chavez has shown what a bold approach to macro-economic and social policies can achieve, especially when backed by large oil reserves and the economic and political power that comes with these. There is no reason why Canada could not be even more bold: we hold more oil reserves than Venezuela, and have more resources and greater economic wealth and power than Venezuela.

We should be radically restructuring our tax and subsidy policies with regard to the oil and gas industry in Canada. With the increased tax revenue, we can do far more than has been done in Venezuela, Venezuela having comparably fewer resources and less economic power to work with. With this increased public revenue from the oil and gas industry we can adequately fund, protect and even enhance our social programs, expand dramatically our environmental programs, and get serious about the environmental and social issues we face. More importantly, we can gain and preserve a greater degree of economic, social, cultural and political independence: we can preserve our nation. Presently the Alberta government, presiding over the bulk of the nation’s oil reserves, which it claims as its own, is charging an absurd 1% royalty rate on oil extraction. Meanwhile, the federal government actually subsidizes the oil companies, to the tune of multi-billions a year. Is this not just a little ridiculous?

There is no reason to let Exxon take a long straw from Texas and suck out our oil – at least not without the biggest part of the profits going to the Canadian people. Venezuela, under the leadership of Chavez, has increased the windfall profits tax on oil companies, reaping an additional USD $3 billion a year into the public purse. The oil industry in Venezuela now generates about one third of the nation’s GDP, and approximately half of all government revenues. This windfall to the public purse is being used to eradicate poverty, fund education and public health care, and, in short, lift the quality of life for all people in the country. In Bolivia, President Evo Morales simply turned the profit distribution for the oil industry on its head. Before, oil companies took 80% of the profits, while 20% of the profits went to the people of Bolivia. Now the people of Bolivia get 80% of the profits, and the oil companies are happy to receive 20%. Are the oil companies leaving en masse? Of course not. They want the oil, and they can still make a hefty profit. The countries with oil have the upper hand. They can either concede to essentially giving away their oil, or they can insist that the bulk of the profits go to the people of the country, while leaving room for ample – though not extortionist – oil company profits. The difference is one of fair trade versus economic predation.

Who’s oil is it anyway? The trans-national oil companies certainly have less of a legitimate claim to it than do the people of the country. The oil companies can still invest, operate, extract, and make a profit. They simply can’t make a killing. If we had a party or a coalition that showed real leadership, this one act of socializing the oil industry – not expropriating it, but making 80% of the oil profits go to the Canadian people, and not the global oil companies – would make a dramatic difference in the lives of the Canadian people, and in this country. For one, there would be no crisis in our social programs – they would be amply funded. And not incidentally, a significant portion of the multi-billion dollar a year windfall to public coffers could go to investing in renewable energy and conservation. We give our oil away, and neither the environment nor the people of Canada benefit. How sensible is this?

Meanwhile, to site just one example:

“In 2005, Exxon reported third-quarter profits of $9.92 billion, 75% higher than its third-quarter earnings in 2004, and the largest quarterly profit ever reported by a US company.

“Exxon is reportedly giving its retiring chairman, Lee Raymond, a package worth nearly $400 million, in combined pension, stock options and other perks, including a $1 million consulting deal, the use of a corporate jet for professional purposes, 2 years of home security, and a car and driver.

“While testifying at a Congressional hearing last November, Raymond claimed that high gas prices were a result of supply and demand. “We’re all in this together,” he told members of Congress, “everywhere in the world.”

“”In 2004, Mr. Raymond,” Senator, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), was quick to point out, “your bonus was over $3.6 million.”

“After exhibiting a chart revealing the pay scale for each of the CEOs at the hearing, Senator Boxer told the oil executives: “Your sacrifice appears to be nothing.”

“According to Exxon’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Raymond’s paycheck rose to $51.1 million in 2005.”

– Evelyn Pringle, Will Big Oil Destroy the US Economy?

As with our oil industry, we are still currently shipping our forestry products out of the country with relatively little gained for the Canadian people. This is 19th century colonial thinking. We should immediately increase stumpage fees levied upon forestry corporations, and re-invest the money back into the forestry industry, supporting the growth of valued-added industries that take the raw logs and pulp, and turn them into high-value products for export. A log shipped to China is a gross waste of Canadian resources, and shipping lumber to the U.S. is little better. We can tax the rapacious cutting of our forests by big forestry companies, and feed the creation and support of value-added industries and sustained-yield ecological forestry in this country, thus creating a surge in jobs and tax dollars while preserving the long-term economic viability of the forestry industry and the ecological base which it rests upon. Instead of shipping logs, lumber and pulp, we would then be shipping furniture, musical instruments and other high value products, increasing our positive trade balance and public revenues enormously while protecting the forests from a senseless hack and slash model in the tunnel-visioned and myopic pursuit of short-term economic gain. Simply by making an intelligent shift in economic strategy with regard to these two giant industries – oil and forestry – we can bring profound and far-reaching benefit to the people of Canada. What we need is a bold approach that does not flinch when the corporate lobby flexes its muscle. Sorry MacBlo and Syncrude. The people of Canada come first.

Just as we need urgently to shift our international trade and economic strategies – away from reliance on and integration with the sinking U.S. empire, and away from excessive dependency upon and vulnerability to trans-national capital and international financial markets and institutions – we need to dramatically shift our economic policies and strategy domestically, at home.

We need to shift our basic macro-economic strategy: away from one of catering to big corporations, especially foreign-based multi-nationals, for whom we presently bend over obligingly, and whom we subsidize with massive tax breaks as well as direct and indirect subsidies; and toward funding and giving tax breaks to small and medium size businesses, the poor and the middle class. Small business is the engine of economic growth, the backbone of the economy, and the primary employer in the country, as elsewhere – as is widely acknowledged. It makes no sense to subsidize big corporations and tax small business to death. What makes sense is to reverse this pattern, reign in the corporate giants who now dominate the political process and receive huge tax breaks, and support small business. This would strengthen the economy, create jobs, increase our economic and political independence and sovereignty, and provide a functional, viable and prosperous, as well as more equitable alternative to corporate-dominated globalization.

 

***

Who would benefit from such a platform? Small and medium business, the poor, the middle class, students, children, the elderly – in short, the vast majority of Canadians. Who could we seek to support such a platform to truly “stand up for Canada”? The grassroots right – who voted in Harper and the Conservatives on the promise to stand up for Canada, who want tax cuts for the middle class, the poor and small business, who want a revitalized democracy, who want a strong economy and good jobs – and many authentic conservatives, who are not happy with the sell-out of the country to big business, financial institutions and foreign governments (ie: the U.S.). The left and centre, who want prosperity with equity, protection for and enhancement of social programs, expansion of environmental programs, a reduction of taxes on the poor and middle class, an alternative to corporate globalization – which 70% of Canadians say is not working in the public interest – and a preservation of our cultural, political and economic sovereignty. In short, across the political spectrum, support can be expected, if the platform is sufficiently bold and inspiring, and is communicated clearly enough.

There is no party currently offering such a platform or vision, no party that currently offers anything resembling a bold and inspiring vision for Canada. Should a party or coalition decide to offer such a vision, there could be a landslide of popular support that rises up in response. This is what I’d like to see happen.

If Chavez, Morales and Kirchner, in Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina, can show leadership in throwing off the gross failure which is neo-liberalism, can assert authentic democracy in the face of decades of history with fascist regimes, imperial aggression and U.S.-backed coups, and present a viable, dynamic, moving, inspiring, wildly popular movement and vision for independence, solidarity and justice, what can we do in Canada with even more resources and economic strength at our disposal?

Sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves – the tar sands – and with one of the world’s resource-richest nations, one of the biggest economies in the world, a highly educated and literate populace and skilled and educated workforce, an infrastructure and technological base that has few rivals, and a history of social justice and peace that, while imperfect, is strong and runs deep, we in Canada are in a position not just to bemoan the social, economic, political and environmental difficulties that we face, but to take the lead. We can become the junior partner to a dying empire, and slide further into neo-fascist corporate rule, or we can break out of the mold, find solidarity with Europe and Latin America, as well the fast-rising star of India (the world’s largest democracy, home to the world’s largest middle class, with an economy that is set to out-pace China’s in economic growth this year), and set a course for economic and socio-political independence, in solidarity with other nations that are sick and tired of imperial power games.

It is a choice that we are going to face rather soon, and with increasing urgency, for the realities of deep integration with what has become a fascist state – the Security and Prosperity Partnership with the United States – are about to hit us. We had better awaken from the American dream now. This dream is becoming a nightmare. We need to chart a new course – our own course. A Canadian course.

 

***

The initiatives outlined above are not in themselves sufficient to remedy our social or environmental problems, but they are a necessary first step. If we do not take serious action now, we will only see the further unraveling of our democracy, the further drift into full-fledged neo-fascist corporate rule, the further destruction of our social programs, and the further destruction of the environment. If we care about any of these things, if we care about having or creating a just society, a peaceful society, a sustainable society, or even a society where the quality of life for all is preserved and enhanced, rather than undermined, then we need to take serious steps to renounce corporate globalism and corporate rule, and to reclaim our democracy and our sovereignty. Piece meal efforts will not do. We must now boldly present and act upon a plan to reverse the dominance of the trans-national corporations over our economy and political process. We must regain control of our currency, economy and parliaments. If we do not, then our fine words and nice ideas will go nowhere. If we do not regain control of the helm, then we are a drifting ship of fools, and our pious words are all in vain.

If none of the political parties can take the necessary steps and do what needs to be done, then they should announce themselves as irrelevant, and close up shop. My hope is, however, that the Canadian people can create the movement necessary to get one of the political parties, a new party, or perhaps a coalition that is created from members of all parties, to step up to the plate and get the job done. However it gets done, we need to act now. Time is running out on our sovereignty, our democracy, even our existence as a nation. Time for action.

 

***

Now that it is outlined, as to what needs to be done, the question that remains is one of strategy: how do we do it? Political strategy in the era of corporate dominance of the political process, the media and the economy is a tricky question. When most political parties are indebted to big business for the funds that get them elected, when the mass media is either directly owned or else controlled by corporations – via dependency on corporate advertising money – the political process becomes mired in the politics of vested interest, democracy is in crisis, and even public debate and discussion is largely quashed. Creating a popular movement for bold and progressive social change requires communicating a vision that will rally popular support and empower collective action. But the means of communication are locked up by corporate controlled media, who have no interest in changing the status quo. Any movement, party or coalition that seeks to create an alternative to corporate rule, that seeks to reclaim, renew and revitalize genuine democracy, will no doubt meet with bad press, or no press, given the present media environment. Thus, in order to reach out to the people, the newest and the oldest of tools for political mobilization will be required: the internet and the street. To reach out to the people with a bold and inspiring vision, to even begin to form a movement for creative action and positive social change, will require the use of the new town hall – the web – and the old town hall – the face-to-face meetings that used to be the staple of politics, before the electronic age. In the age of mass-media electoral politics, the new medium of the internet is often overlooked, and the old medium of town hall-style public meetings is forgotten. But this is where the movement will begin. This is where it will succeed or fail.

In order to accomplish the goals of reclaiming our democracy, protecting our sovereignty, our social programs and our environment; to create a just and sustainable society, and to preserve and enhance the quality of life for all, it will be necessary to make a few simple but crucial steps. The above outline of a platform can be taken as a starting point for creating a vision. Without a vision there is no inspiration, and therefore no action. A small group of activists – ordinary individuals – can take the initiative. From there, the enlistment of support from a few prominent Canadians will do to encourage more involvement and get the ball rolling. After that, it is a matter of old-fashioned political organizing – from the grassroots up. Go to the people, city by city, town by town, hold public meetings in libraries and churches, schools and union halls, universities and workplaces, and utilize the internet to its fullest capacity to compliment the face-to-face engagement of citizens. From there, it is a matter of either forming a new party from this emerging grassroots movement, getting an existing party to find the courage to take on the challenge, or forming a coalition from members of existing parties as well as ordinary Canadians to take the movement to the next level: implementation.

The path is hard, but the time is ripe. The political landscape has, in some ways, never been more ready for such a groundswell of change. There is an opening now. And there is a need. The urgency is almost ear-shattering. The longing for meaningful, clear-headed, good-hearted change is almost palpable. The movement that can fill this need – recognize the opportunity and act to create the flow through that opening – is going to meet with resounding success. It is now that we must dispense with pious hand-wringing and defeatist pessimism. There is always more day to dawn. The time is ripe, the moment is now. Let us begin.

 

 

JTR

January 24, 2007

Time for Action: Canadian politics and the future of Canada as nation

*****

Further information:

 

The Sinking U.S. Economy:
Poor Choice for an Economic Partner in the 21st Century

America’s Unsustainable Current Account Deficit

* The Dollar’s Full-System Meltdown

Economic ” Armageddon ” Predicted

Dollar Catching Asian Flu – Asia Times

Arab central banks sell dollar

 

As Dollar Plunges, Watch for US Government Bonds Sell -off – DEBKAfile –

 

The War To Save The U.S. Dollar – Trinicenter.com –

 

Fears for dollar as central banks sell US assets

 

BBC NEWS | Business | Is the global economy set for trouble?

 

Collapse of the Petrodollar Looming

 

Iranian Oil Bourse Opens for Business: A Final Step Toward US Dollar Collapse & Preemptive Nuclear Strike

 

Deep Integration & the SPP:


* Secret Banff Meeting of CEOs and the Defense Establishment : Militarization and the Deconstruction of North America

 

CBC – Top secret: Banff security meeting attracted U.S., Mexico officials

 

* CNN Video: Lou Dobbs Slams CFR & North American Union

 

*** De Facto North American Government in the Making: “Canadians must take back Canada”

 

Deep Integration – The Council of Canadians

* North American Union/Testimony, Publications and Reports – SourceWatch

 

*** Paul Martin’s Big Texas Adventure


Fascism in America:

 

*** Habeas Corpus Your words are lies Sir – YouTube – olbermann 10-18-06

 

***Bush Moves Toward Martial Law

 

Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (12/15 – 2006)

General Tommy Franks calls for Repeal of US Constitution

 

Air Force chief : Test weapons on testy US mobs – Sep 12 …

Ten Minutes to Midnight: The Emerging Police State – Z Store

 

Fascism watch

War on Terrorism Watch: CAUT Resource Website – Home Page

The Guardian article, “This war on terrorism is bogus: The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination”