Archive for trade

A sinking world, and sane responses to it

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2015 by jtoddring

My country is sinking like a rock (for reasons of corporate oligarchy, neoliberalism, corporate rights agreements, and an addiction to oil revenues and the politics of a resource extraction-based economy, and the thorough corporate domination of the political process), though the great majority of my fellow citizens do not realize it, lost in a stupor of denial as they are (I can think of twelve countries in the Western hemisphere which are either moving in a positive direction, or at least showing some fight – and Canada is not one of them); and so too is the greater part of the world descending, and rapidly so, into a morass of injustice and ecological suicide, to say nothing of concerns for freedom, human rights and democracy, (as well as a pervasive malady, and an epidemic, of economic fundamentalism, neoliberalism and neoconservatism being the primary, and reigning, quasi-religious orthodoxies, along with other forms of ideological and even “scientific” fundamentalism, which are widespread, and far more influential today than their mirror image, which is religious fundamentalism, and an even worse epidemic of illusions of powerlessness, as well as an epidemic of apathy, denial, conformity, and undue and excessive, and frequently mad obedience to power) with only a handful of countries as the exception. How am I not to be distressed, if not anguished, and even furious, or all of the above?

All of the greatest minds and greatest spirits have echoed the same thoughts about the modern world. As David Suzuki has recently said (paraphrasing from memory), “There has never been a better time for being scared and angry….. We should get mad as hell, and then fight like hell.”

Where is the fight in us? And why should we be ashamed of being distraught with a world that is on a collision course with both tyranny and collective ecological suicide, as well as being steeped in war, violence, rampant injustice, inequality, poverty and a culture of voyeurism, vicarious living, materialism, consumerism, and a pathological aversion to the real?

As the great sociologist Erich Fromm said (again, paraphrasing from memory), “Normal only exists in relation to a profoundly abnormal norm.” “The fact that there is neurosis [or psychological strain and distress] is a good sign. It is a sign of a healthy individual, an individual that is still struggling to be fully alive, and by necessity, is struggling against a society that wishes to turn him or her into an atomaton.”

As the saying goes, “If you can keep your head when everyone around you is losing theirs – you’re not paying attention.”

Calm is good. Heart-break for the state of the world is natural. And action is vitally needed – and urgently so.

Let’s see more action, and the heart-break will fade into a memory of times past, and lessons learned.

JTR,
October 7, 2015

Essential reading:

(A few among many other great books that could be included in such a list)

A Brief History of Progress – Ronald Wright

The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies – Richard Heinberg

When Technology Fails – Matt Stein

Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

A Game As Old As Empire – John Perkins

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies – Noam Chomsky

Year 501: The Conquest Continues – Noam Chomsky

Escape From Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

The Chalice and the Blade – Rianne Eisler

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Ancient Futures – Helena Norberg-Hodge

Brave New World Revisited – Aldous Huxley

Roads To Freedom – Bertrand Russell

Wisdom of the Elders – David Suzuki

Walden – Henry David Thoreau

On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude – Etienne de la Boite

Mutual Aid – Peter Kropotkin

Peter Kropotkin Was No Crackpot – Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History, June, 1997

The Hero With A Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell

Conservatives swing further to the far right – other major parties are little better

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2015 by jtoddring

The Conservative party of Canada is clearly playing into fear, xenophobia and racism as a way to win votes, as its “War on Terror” narrative, its racial baiting and its new snitch line show. This is sickening.

Mind you, the Liberals and NDP have eerily similar agendas to the Conservatives on key issues of the environment, the economy, trade and democracy. They may smell better, and look better on the surface, but scratch the surface on either of them, and you find a clear submission to anti-democratic, neoliberal, and neo-feudal, corporate rule.

On the environment, as David Suzuki has said, only the Green party has any seriousness about it. And for that reason alone, given that the crisis is so urgent and action on it so critical, the three major parties can in no way be supported. All three major parties are committed to pipelines, tar sands, big oil, a resource extraction-based economy, throwing us back a hundred years or more, to our former status of hewers of wood and drawers of water, and a surrender to the interests of an international corporate elite – with the results being, among other terrible consequences, that any one of the three major parties would spell ecological disaster for Canada and the world.

In terms of the economy and trade, all three major parties are now firmly neoliberal, pro-corporate and pro “free trade.” The Liberals openly support CETA, the corporate rights deal that is being pushed through with Europe; and the NDP has been decisively evasive, ambiguous and wishy-washy on the issue. Only the Green party has taken a stance against this disastrous, NAFTA-style free trade agreement, which would give corporations the right to sue the Canadian parliament, thereby over-riding, and effectively nullifying and destroying Canadian democracy.

Neoliberal policies of free trade have been economically disastrous, (see Naomi Klein’s, Shock Doctrine) benefiting only the rich few and the big corporations, while harming the other 99% of the people; and worse, they have been disastrous for the environment, for social programs, and most importantly, for sovereignty and democracy. NAFTA, CETA, FIPA and the TPP are all neoliberal corporate rights agreements, which put the interests of the large corporations over the people, the planet, and even above democracy. These corporate rights deals must be opposed, and defeated. This is absolutely critical.

Because all three major parties are either in open support of CETA, or in the case of the NDP, are decisively sitting on the fence, none of them can in any way be supported, since CETA would effectively mean economic, ecological and social disaster for Canada, as well as the destruction of Canadian democracy.

So yes, the Conservatives are acting more and more like Republican extremists, and can in no way be supported – but neither can the Liberals or the New Democrats.

Voting for the lesser of evils means voting for evil. We cannot continue to do that any longer.

The Liberals may have marginally better policies than the Conservatives, and the NDP marginally better policies than the Liberals, but all three are in lock-step agreement in terms of the core and key policies: in support of big oil, neoliberalism, austerity and free trade. The rest is simply window dressing – PR to hide the ugly facts.

The NDP may be slightly preferable to the Liberals in terms of policies, but only slightly; and in another way, they are worse, in that they pretend to be social democrats with a real alternative. They are not, and they have none. The NDP is now a neoliberal party of the right, in drag as left of centre democratic socialists.

The Liberals, meanwhile, may be slightly less offensive than the Conservatives, in terms of promised policies at least, but they too have slid far to the right, and are now right wing conservatives, in reality, in drag as centrist Liberals.

The Conservatives have gone the furthest to the right, and are now veering into the realm of US Republicans – all the while, presenting themselves as moderate centrists, if not liberals.

The whole charade is a sordid mess of empty posturing, PR and spin, and a thin veneer masks the underlying reality: that all three parties are now in complete submission to the corporate powers.

Once again, from every indicator, we now have to conclude that we have three neoliberal, pro-corporate, pro big oil, pro free-trade parties in Canada. And that is a tremendous tragedy, and a disgrace. What has happened to our critical intelligence that Canadians are clearly willing to settle for so little? More to the point, what has happened to our courage?

“Oh, Canada, our blah and weenie land…. True servility, until the promised land…..”

The major parties have lost their courage, or their integrity, or both. But that is not the central problem in Canada. The central problem is that the Canadian people do not demand more, and better.

All three major parties in Canada, the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP, are now parading themselves as the party for the middle class. Well here’s a news flash – the middle class are being wiped out by the very same policies the big three parties are committed to. The middle class in Canada, as in the US, Europe and around the world, are being wiped out by an ideological program of corporate globalization, or what is known as neoliberalism, with the offshoring of production and profits, de-industrialization, deregulation, privatization, austerity policies for the many, and tax breaks and subsidies for the corporations and the richest few, and above all, by “free trade” deals – which are in reality corporate rightsagreements – deals such as NAFTA, CETA, FIPA and the TPP. And all three major Canadian parties support these disastrous, pro-corporate, neoliberal policies and “trade” deals. The entire charade, as I say, is completely disingenuous, and utterly deceitful. And Canadians are falling for it – hook, line and sinker.

The free trade deals in particular, which are supported by all three parties, will guarantee that the middle class continues to be eviscerated and driven into the growing underclass. We would be extremely foolish and naive to think otherwise.

The working class and poor, of course, will fare even worse. Generally speaking, and with few exceptions, the only ones who will benefit – other than by being thrown a few token crumbs from the table of corporate feasting and engorgement – are the richest 1%. This is who the big three serve now. The rest is hollow pretense, and an extremely dishonest and empty posturing, for the sake of getting elected.

All three major parties in Canada, at different times in the past, had integrity. Not any longer. They have surrendered to the powers of big money and big corporations, and are actively ceding the powers of parliament, and democracy, as well as selling out the country, to what the leading business journal of the Western world, the Financial Times, calls, the “de facto world government” of neo-feudal, global corporate rule.

Other countries have begun to reject the neoliberal, “free trade” policies which haves become the staple of the global corporate agenda, and which are being pushed forward by Wall Street, the IMF, the big banks, the ECB, WEF and WTO, along with Bay Street, the big oil companies, and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives – the CEOs of the biggest 200 corporations in Canada, and the group which runs this country.

But Canada is foolishly continuing to follow the lead of Washington and London, the US and UK: two of the countries which are facing economic implosion and fiscal insolvency – as well as the death of the middle class, with soaring poverty and inequality, the rise of insecure, underpaid “McJobs”, and a dismantling of the manufacturing base, as all production is shifted to China and other low-wage nations, in the short-sighted rush for higher short-term corporate profits – as a direct result of precisely these Friedmanite, corporate-led policies of “The Washington Consensus,” which have laid waste to the economies as well as the people of the United States and Britain, along with much of the world.

In the US, we now see a rapidly growing groundswell of popular support for the one presidential candidate who has rejected the neoliberal agenda which has been shaped by the large corporations and the billionaire class: and that is Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders actually has a bold and intelligent vision for rebuilding a nation in economic tatters, reclaiming democracy, and setting a course for peace and prosperity for all.

Meanwhile, in Canada, we have the politics of The Great Yawn, and politics as usual, as the country and the people are eaten alive by a rapacious and insatiable global investor class.

Before we see any hopes for a better future for the people of Canada, Canadians will have to become considerably bolder, as well as more imaginative, and above all, we must face the fact that there has been a corporate take-over in Canada, as in the US, Europe and around the world, and rise to the challenge to defend and reclaim our democracy.

Rolling over and playing dead is simply not an intelligent, nor a moral option. Nor is voting for any of the big three political parties, which is effectively the same thing, and an act of self-neutering, or self-castration.

J. Todd Ring,

October 5, 2015

J. Todd Ring is the author of Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium

See also:

Free Trade, CETA, TPP, and the US and Canadian Federal Elections – J. Todd Ring

https://jtoddring.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/free-trade-ceta-tpp-and-the-us-and-canadian-federal-elections-some-critical-perspective/

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

Neoliberalism: Profits Without People – Noam Chomsky

A Game As Old As Empire – John Perkins

Global Showdown – Maude Barlow

The Great Turning – David C. Korten

The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies – Richard Heinberg

A Brief History of Progress – Ronald Wright

Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed – Jared Diamond

Here is an excellent, and devastating critique of the NDP – from the left. (Although, the article, while excellent on analysis, is short on strategies, vision or answers.)

The NDP and the Election – Canadian Dimension

https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/the-ndp-and-the-election

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/

Bernie Sanders would win – if US elections weren’t controlled by big money….. But he just might win anyway, and he is well on his way

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2015 by jtoddring

The Independent Senator from Vermont, and US Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, is riding a fast-growing wave of popular support across the United States. Sanders is getting ten times the turn-out for rallies as any other candidate, and the momentum continues to build.

Bernie Sanders is getting higher turn-outs to rallies than the Republican candidates, even in conservative strongholds. And Hillary still hasn’t had any turn-out that comes remotely close to those of Bernie.

If elections really were free and fair in the United States, Bernie Sanders would almost certainly win. But they are not. They are owned and controlled by Wall Street and the super-rich.

Beyond this, 90% of the media is controlled by the same large corporations and corporate elite who control Wall Street, the economy, the financial system, the electoral system and the major political parties. So a free and fair, open, democratic debate on the issues, or any free and fair, open discussion or coverage of elections, politics or any issues in the country, is very near to impossible. Propaganda, spin, noise and distraction, gossip and sensationalism are the rule, and this is very hard to break through.

There are excellent sources available for news and analysis, discussion, commentary and debate – sources which are not controlled either by big business or the government – such as Global Research, Trends Journal, CounterPunch, Z Magazine and The Real News Network; and the audience for independent media continues to grow rapidly and exponentially, while people continue to walk away in droves, in a virtual mass exodus, from the network media and the corporate press; but it still remains the fact that the corporate elite control the mainstream media and the major news outlets today: which means, they dominate and shape the public discussion, and to a great degree, control what can and cannot be discussed.

Until we have major media reform – meaning, most essentially, that anti-trust laws are applied to the media empires, and they are broken up – democracy will continue to be more theory than reality in the United States and other “leading” industrial nations. So media control and media monopolies are a major barrier to getting any decent person or party elected to government, including Senator Bernie Sanders.

If the corporate media don’t like you, then you are at a tremendous disadvantage – and if you don’t cater to the whims and the demands of the corporate oligarchy, then the corporate media are going to shut you out, ignore, marginalize or silence you, or else attack you, and try to portray you as irrelevant at best, if not something far worse than that. The gatekeepers of the establishment within the media play to the gains of their masters, and they will attempt to keep all doors closed to any real change.

Furthermore, the Democratic Party elite are terrified of Bernie Sanders. Why? Because he would return the power to the people. That means the Wall Street gravy train ends. And that means the gravy train for the party establishment ends. The party elite know who butters their bread. That’s why they don’t like Bernie.

But what if Bernie wins anyway? It is a long-shot, and Bernie is a definite outsider from the ruling elite circles and the establishment. But we need someone who is not an establishment man or woman, as Trump and Hillary are. And long-shots can, and sometimes do, win. Obama was a long-shot. Carter was a long-shot. And they both won, of course.

Bernie Sanders is climbing rapidly in support.

Bernie has won the support of veterans, because he fought tooth and nail for them.

Bernie is winning the support of labour, because he has said he is opposed to the TPP, which is yet another corporate rights agreement that will be disastrous for jobs and the 99% of the people who are not among the economic elite. Hilary is owned by Wall Street, and is silent, unsurprisingly, on the TPP.

Hilary laughed maniacally in a Reuters interview clip about the proposal to attack Iran, and was eager to attack. Bernie opposed the war in Iraq, and is still pro-peace.

Trump is a slime-ball corporate vulture, to be perfectly frank. Hilary is a hawkish Wall Street hack, eager for war.

Bernie Sanders is a grassroots populist who is committed to peace, environmental sustainability, a more equal society, the defence of freedom and civil liberties, universal health care and free education for all, the rebuilding of America and the US economy and infrastructure, and the removal of big money from politics. This is why he is so wildly popular with the people – because he resonates with their values and what they want. They want a peaceful and free, sustainable and democratic nation, with liberty and prosperity for all – not a war-obsessed gulag with increasing abuses of civil liberties and human rights, rule by the super-rich, the destruction of freedom and democracy, as well as the environment, and poverty or insecurity for the great majority.

Bernie Sanders is the only progressive candidate – and for that matter, the only one seriously opposed to big money controlling politics, to war, to the surveillance state and the destruction of civil liberties, to the obliteration of the middle class and the abandonment of the poor, and to the demolition of democracy in the name of profits, or for any other reason.

Embedded image permalink

Bernie Sanders is the only US presidential candidate at all worthy of support. And if he continues to build momentum like this, he just might win.

Everyone said Obama had zero chance of winning in 2008. Everyone said Hillary would definitely win. But Obama came from out of nowhere, and won. Everyone said Jimmy Carter had zero chance. But he won.

Everyone said Bernie could never win and become mayor of Burlington, Vermont. But he did. Then the establishment said it was a fluke. Then he won two more times. It was no fluke. Then they said he could never win as a Congressional candidate. But he did. And then won as a Senatorial candidate, and is now the longest serving member of the Senate.

Bernie has a proven track record, not just of fierce integrity, honesty and courage in politics, not just in a five decade long record of consistency, but in winning, when everyone said it was impossible for him to win. This man is a lion – and a lion for the people.

I heard a great comment recently about the good Senator. “Bernie Sanders is the next most popular socialist after Jesus.”

One commentator put it ironically, and well, and said essentially the same thing. He said, “You have a problem with him (Bernie) being a socialist? Jesus was a socialist. Would you rather have Donald Trump?”

Or how about Hillary, bomb-em-now, Clinton, and her Wall Street cabal?

The Red Scare tactics simply don’t work on the majority of the people anymore. This is not 1955 and the midst of the McCarthy era. People look to Denmark, Finland, Sweden, or Canada, with their democratic socialist traditions which are blended with a capitalist economy, and they think, “Well, democratic socialism seems to work just fine there – in fact, it works better for the people than what we have here.”

Some people will say, “Ok, the man has good values and strong ethics, and he is admirable, and maybe would make a great president – but he doesn’t have a chance of winning.” I can understand this view, and there are certainly some good reasons for thinking this way, but I disagree.

A very dear friend of mine, and a very intelligent, well-read woman, basically said this of Bernie Sanders: that she respects his values and his ethics, but he doesn’t have a chance of winning. To which I said the following: I really hope you’re wrong. I think you might possibly be right, but I really hope not. And even if there is only a slim chance that he could win, I want to support him. In any event, win or lose, as Chomsky has said, the very fact of his running brings up facts and arguments and ideas that otherwise would not be discussed – so even if he loses, we all win, to some significant extent at least.

And as I write this, and look further into what is happening with the US presidential primaries, I find this startling piece of information. As of August 14, Bernie Sanders had passed Hilary in the polls in New Hampshire. Remember that New Hampshire is the first primary race. Winning in the first primary goes a long way to building momentum. Bernie could take New Hampshire, and conceivably, take it all the way to the presidency.

Let’s hope the US, and the world, are so lucky.

As one savvy political observer has said, “Bernie Sanders is the guy Barack Obama pretended to be in 2008.”

Go Bernie. The people need a champion in the White House who will fight for them, and not for the ruling oligarchy of the Wall Street elite.

Frankly, I have a feeling that Bernie Sanders is going to win. I pray that I am right. A change in the presidency of the most powerful nation on earth is not enough in itself to accomplish the major changes that are needed now in the world today, or even within the United States, but it could be a tipping point, and a decisive turn of events.

Go Bernie.

J. Todd Ring,

August 21, 2015

Update, September 18, 2015:

Sanders takes the lead in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, leading over Clinton by 10 and 20 points, respectively. I think he’s going to win. I certainly hope so.

Here he is on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. And the crowd loves him!

http://www.alternet.org/media/watch-bernie-sanders-explains-colbert-why-he-doesnt-want-billionaires-money-late-show

Update, September 28, 2015:

Millennials are now the largest voting block in the US, and they are lining up behind Bernie Sanders. So too are progressives, labour, environmentalists, and people like prominent black American scholar Cornel West and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Meanwhile, Bernie still leads over Hillary in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, two of the key primary states, is drawing bigger crowds than any candidate, and raising more campaign funds than any candidate, despite his rejection of the billionaires’ money. This is looking interesting, to say the least.

http://www.laborforbernie.org/#letter

For more information please see:

Senator Bernie Sanders nails it, in this two minute video from C-SPAN, from over 20 years ago – just as he did before that, just as he has done since then, and just as he is doing now. Watch this short clip to see who Bernie Sanders really is, and what he stands for. I think most people will agree, Senator Sanders simply makes sense. And he has the guts to fight for what is right, what is good, what is sane, and what is meaningful – the guts to fight for the real changes that we urgently need today.

Bernie Sanders: Where is the leadership? (C-SPAN, 6/4/1992)

Bernie For President: Progress

Sanders Was Progressive Before It Was Cool

Hillary laughs about possible war with Iran

Hillary Clinton: “If I’m President, We Will Attack Iran”

On Friday, presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton addressed a hand-picked audience at a Dartmouth College campaign event. She lied calling Iran an “existential threat to Israel… I hope we are able…

globalresearch.ca

Bernie Sanders’ track record distinguished by consistency

Rachel Maddow traces the political history of Bernie Sanders, from small city mayor of Burlington Vermont, to congressman, senator and upstart presidential candidate, all while staying consistent on a core set of issues – msnbc.com

MSNBC uploaded a new video

Bernie Sanders: My “campaign is about political revolution.”

All In with Chris Hayes uploaded a new video: Bernie Sanders: “Let me tell you something that no other candi…

Bernie Sanders: “Let me tell you something that no other candidate for president will tell you”

Bernie Sanders Unveils Racial Justice Platform

Bernie Sanders On Meet The Press

Good background info on the fast-rising tide of support for Bernie Sanders (from July 1):

Huge Crowds For Bernie Sanders Should Terrify Hilary Clinton

Bernie Sanders Surges Past Hilary In The Polls

Hillary Clinton’s Keystone Crisis – Common Dreams
Hillary waivers, waffles, obfuscates, evades, and refuses to take a stand, while taking big money from big oil

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/08/21/hillary-clintons-keystone-crisis

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

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