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The #Compassion #Project, Only #Compassion #Defeats #Dehumanization

Different from empathy and sympathy compassion is the strength to be willing to try and ease someone's suffering, to help them ho...

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#Populism Is A Reaction To The #Liberal #International #Order Becoming The #Neoliberal #Investment Order

Why are citizens either apathetic or becoming populists? Many reason, but they boil down to frustration with politicians and media lost within their own game and ignoring the audience. Politics has become a war of echoes instead of an attempt to govern for the common good with other citizens with different points of view. Now we're all enemies.

Constructive criticism is the essence of democracy. Never stop. But don't oppose as reflex. Look for good ideas to support and use. That's the problem that we're all sick of, no attempts to agree, for common ground, no recognition of opposition ideas or common good, just a continual vicious struggle for power without regard for representation, just tribe.

 Ever notice that when populism and the current politics and economics of the world are discussed, it seems that all roads lead back to the 1980s. That is where our present troubles started, putting on us a disastrous path that the mainstream believes impossible to change. A self-fulfilling prophecy that we are tired of serving. Unquestioned investment and growth priorities, letting the rich and corporations blackmail countries into low taxes and obeying their investors, and defending a system that transfers wealth and political power to the extremely few. And treating "markets" as if they are ethical, intelligent unbiased computers rather than the investment whims of a few major players. Serve the markets and you serve the 1%. And it is infuriating that media and intellectuals refuse to even try to connect the dots that brought us here. Instead they just tell us to do more of the same. We gone from funding society with taxes to funding the rich with tax breaks and austerity.

Monday June 12, 2017

'Corporate coup': Naomi Klein says Trump's goal is to make the rich richer

Naomi Klein says she sees U.S. President Donald Trump as the culmination of trends she's been documenting for decades. (Kourosh Keshiri) Listen 25:43

For many around the world — even many of his voters — Donald Trump winning the U.S. election came as a surprise, or even a shock.

But activist and author Naomi Klein argues in her new book No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need that we should have been expecting someone like him.

From the rise of megabrands, to the idea that the role of government is to get out of the way of business, Klein sees Trump as the culmination of trends she's been documenting for decades.
'Trump would have been unelectable were it not for the groundwork laid by Bill Clinton and Bill Gates.' - Author and activist Naomi Klein

"One of the ideas that I wanted to highlight, which is actually a very bipartisan idea — it's not just about conservatives — is this worship of wealth, the CEO saviour," Klein tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"We can't just blame this on Trump. Trump would have been unelectable were it not for the groundwork laid by Bill Clinton and Bill Gates, two liberal heroes," she says.

Klein believes those who oppose Trump — and those who are actively resisting him — need to think beyond his administration.

"My worry about this exclusive focus on Trump — the personality and how all of this is so unprecedented — is that then the solution seems to be, 'Well, we'll just get rid of Trump,'" says Klein.

She argues that though Donald Trump's campaign focused on how he could help those who have been left behind by the economy and globalization, what we've had instead is a "corporate coup."

"What we see is a very clear pattern of methodically transferring wealth upwards," explains Klein.

Klein worries that the Trump administration is likely to take advantage of any shocks that shake the United States — whether economic, environmental, or related to terrorism — to push this agenda further.

"We have not seen the worst that this administration is capable of or that they've openly talked about," says Klein.

"I do worry about how they would use a crisis to say, 'Sorry, the Constitution is a luxury we can't afford right now."

Listen to their conversation at the top of the web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley.

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The Current Transcript for June 12, 2017

Host: Anna Maria Tremonti

Listen to the full episode

The Current
Full Episode for June 12, 2017 - The Current


[Music: Theme]
If we have old fashioned political nation states on able to respond to the global challenges like climate change then maybe it's time for mayors to rule the world.
ANNA MARIA TREMONTI: Yes, the world's mayors elected by people who actually know where they live. Often representing tens of millions of people responsible for municipal budgets as large as a small country. And in the case of Canada bigger than some provinces. And unlike their counterparts running entire countries actually able to make alliances and agreements that get things done, from climate change to trade. Cities have been stepping in where countries have tripped up. In an hour we're looking at the rise of the city state. Also today the fight against the Islamic State and the failure of human rights.
There's not even a pretext here of torture in the name of obtaining intelligence. This is just torture for fun.
AMT: We have been following the story of the Iraqi photographer whose efforts to chronicle an elite Iraqi unit retaking parts of Mosul from ISIS ended up documenting multiple instances of torture. That photographer Ali Arkady, is now in hiding outside Iraq and was at first unable to speak to all but a few other journalists about what he captured on film. Now he's ready to talk to us hear Ali Arkadi in half an hour. And if this is a day where we talk to people about seeing the world that is in the context of what it might be, my first guest argues that individuals can resist the politics they reject and win a world they want.
When you're told to stay in your homes that is the most important moment to go out to just defy to have strength in numbers and say we're not going to give away our rights in this moment.
AMT: Naomi Klein insists that no is not enough. Her ideas up first I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.
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'Corporate coup': Naomi Klein says Trump's goal is to make the rich richer

Guest: Naomi Klein

The Current
"A corporate coup': Naomi Klein says Trump's goal is to make the rich richer
[Crowds shouting] We reject the president [unintelligible]
This is awful. And even though we can’t change anything, it feels good to stand together with my brothers, my sisters, with people that share my belief and let everyone know that we are not okay with this.
[Crowds sheering]
The next 1459 days of the Trump administration will be 1459 days of resistance. This is just the beginning [crowds sheering].
AMT: Since the 8th of November millions of people have gathered to protest U.S. president Donald Trump. They meet in cities and towns they are chanting their frustrations carrying hand main signs that read things such as, not my president, kindness not racism and women are no joke. The women's march the march for science protests against entry bans for people from majority Muslim countries. For the people taking part, this is resistance but Naomi Klein would like those opposing the president to think beyond the Trump administration. She wants people to really think about what it is they are resisting and come up with a united vision of the world they want to see. Naomi Klein is an author and activist. Her latest book is No is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. And she's with me in our Toronto studio. Hello.
NAOMI KLEIN: Thank you it's great to be with you.
AMT: How consumed are you by what's going on in the U.S. right now?
NAOMI KLEIN: I'm consumed, yes. It affects all of us and it certainly affects Canada the decisions that the Trump administration is making are decisions that have global implications. I mean that will be etched in geologic time when it comes to climate change.
AMT: And I should remind our listeners that you're a dual citizen.
NAOMI KLEIN: I am a dual citizen. My parents came to Canada during the Vietnam War my father didn't want to go to Vietnam. I guess the most amusing response on election night that I received was a text from my father that just said aren't you glad we already moved to Canada? Not to say everything is fine here by any means.
AMT: You say that Donald Trump's ascendancy to the Oval Office is not an anomaly that we should have been expecting him. Why?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well I say that because the narrative around Trump is so much about the shocks that people experience just watching a political figure that is admittedly different than anything we've seen before. He is a product of shifts in culture there's never been a reality show President before, reality show is relatively new. Has never been a president who is a fully commercialized brand and has children who are essentially brand extensions or some brands. Right the whole idea of lifestyle branding and the idea that people can be brands. My worry about this sort of exclusive focus on Trump the personality and how all of this is so unprecedented is that, then the solution seems to be we'll just get rid of Trump, right?
AMT: But in fact there were things that have been happening all along you argue. What are the factors over the last couple of decades that you see as is leading to this point in time?
NAOMI KLEIN: I think there are many paths that lead to Trump. I think he represents a view of the world that is exclusively based on dominance, of dominating people, of having a hierarchy of people a racial and gender hierarchy of people. And also this dominance over the natural world, and his whole view around business is all you're trying to do is essentially screw your opponent. One of the trends that he represents goes back to what I wrote about when I wrote No Logo 17 years ago which is these companies that are selling ideas instead of products, and the idea that Trump has been selling all of these years is this winner take all idea of capitalism. The idea of pure impunity if you have enough money. One of the ideas that I really wanted to highlight which is actually a very bipartisan idea, is not just about conservatives but is this worship of wealth, the CEO savior. We can't just blame this on Trump. Trump would have been unelectable were it not for the groundwork laid by Bill Clinton and Bill Gates to serve the liberal heroes in the United States because more than anyone else. They set up this structure of philanthropy capitalism. Billionaires are going to save you because they are rich. Let's let Bill Gates solve the crisis in U.S. education. Why? Because he's so rich and I think that set a context where Trump could stand up and say Vote for me I'm rich. I don't have any experience in government but my wealth is proof of my wisdom and it is significant that so much of this is inherited wealth. I think there is this a particular pathology that comes with inherited wealth where you can either decide you're lucky or you can decide that you're a superhero that you are better.
AMT: I have a clip I want to play. After the election I spoke with Teri Galvez a long-time Republican organizer and a Trump supporter. She said she did not like a lot of Mr. Trump's rhetoric but there was a compelling reason to vote for him. Listen to her.
A lot of the conversation has been about politicians and sort of you know their inability to deal with the real concerns of the people. I mean you know the fact is Obama was so hip he hung out with Beyonce He sang like Al Green. He was charming. You know, Hillary was a woman she would have been the first woman. But you know the clear message was people were bothered by much of what Trump said but were more offended by Obama's policies and Hillary, and I personally was offended by them wanting to take more of my money.
AMT: Naomi Klein how did Donald Trump successfully portray himself as a candidate who would be best for the American pocketbook?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well he said a lot of things on the campaign trail that are very different from what he's doing now. You know he said that he was going to protect Social Security that he was going to protect people's health care. He actually ran a campaign that broke a lot of the rules of what most people around the world call neo liberalism the ideology that has held all of our elites in its sway since Reagan and Thatcher. Right. Basically the role of government is to get out of the way of business that market solutions are better than regulatory solutions, that there really isn't much government can do any way except for unleash the power of wealth. But I think the most important message to take from a clip like that is that it isn't that Donald Trump won this election with some a landslide mandate. Hillary Clinton lost the election. She was not able to energize her base. I don't think we can understand how he won without understanding the colonization of the Democratic Party by this ideology that was not able to offer any kind of real alternative to Donald Trump beyond just be afraid of him. Vote for us. People need to either feel like they're saying screw you to the system or that they're voting for policies that are going to tangibly improve their lives.
AMT: Even if those policies like health care turn out to be something else, again. Yes.
NAOMI KLEIN: Well this is why I say that what we're seeing in Washington really is a corporate coup because what he is doing is so different from what he promised on the election trail. What we see is a very clear pattern of methodically transferring wealth upwards. We see it in his attacks on regulations. We see these huge tax giveaways that benefit him that benefit his cabinet of millionaires and billionaires. So when we look at his economic policies this isn't what he campaigned on. But there is a very very clear pattern and I think that this idea that it's all chaos that there's no sense to it that he has no idea what it's doing, obscures those patterns.
AMT: Well in fact there is that sense of chaos which in a way falls in line with your ideas about the shock doctrine. Does it not?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well seeing the sort of tsunami of executive orders you know in that first 100 days and this is what they're most proud of. And the strategy is you know Machiavellian strategy, the advice to the prince that the pain will be felt less if it's done all at once, that people can't really resist when they're facing attacks from all directions. But my concern was that this is really shock doctrine like because what we're talking about here are that little sort of mini shock that Trump is constantly generating himself. Some of it deliberately because he understands the value. I mean any other president would be upset with a press secretary who gets in as much trouble as Sean Spicer. Donald Trump says he's doing great. He's got great ratings, right? He understands that having this show and really this distraction is very good for the economic policies that he's advancing. But what worries me most is what happens when there's a real external shock that this administration can take advantage of, because we have not seen the worst that this administration is capable of or that they've openly talked about. So what happens if there's a terrorist attack like the recent one in London, God forbid. We've already seen how ready Trump was to exploit what happened in another country to say well I want my travel ban.
AMT: Remind us briefly what the shock doctrine is.
NAOMI KLEIN: Right. So the shock doctrine is a term I came up with over a decade ago to describe a strategy of using large scale disasters, and the chaos and the disorientation that follows an extreme event like a hurricane Katrina, or a war where people are really scrambling panicked focused on their daily concerns to ram through in a very undemocratic way. Policies that you could never push through, otherwise. That book begins and ends with Hurricane Katrina and how that shock was used to turn New Orleans into a laboratory for charter schools and school vouchers. It's the most privatized school system in the United States, to demolish public housing that was overwhelmingly the homes of African-Americans but it was on valuable pieces of real estate. When I heard who Trump had chosen as his vice president I should just have this feeling like, I know that name from somewhere and I went back and looked at my research for the shock doctrine and remembered that it was Mike Pence who chaired a meeting at the Heritage Foundation while New Orleans was still partially underwater and came up with a list of 32, what they called free market solutions, to Hurricane Katrina. And it was exactly what the Bush administration went ahead and did. So what I'm saying is these guys are disaster capitalists. They know how to use shocks. They've done it before. Look at their track record. And so the resistance as it calls itself needs to be ready for that.
AMT: So how do you predict the potential of what could trump use as a shock tactic in the coming years? What kinds of things you watch for?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, the biggest concern I have is that if you look at the policies that they're introduced it's sort of a shock creation machine. I don't think they're doing it deliberately in order to create shocks. But I do think they're unconcerned about it. Right. So you know you deregulate the banking sector which is what they're in the middle of doing. Well that's going to mean Wall Street's able to go crazy blowing up new bubbles.
AMT: But they don't even need a shock now because they're in power. They can just do this.
NAOMI KLEIN: Well not necessarily. I mean as you said earlier, there has been resistance to some of their more extreme attempts to push through their agenda most notably the travel ban, and they have been stopped on many fronts. But they've been stopped by the courts. They've been stopped by mass protests. What do we think Trump and Pence and Steph Bannon would do, if there were a terrorist attack in the United States? Well I think it's fair to prepare for them banning precisely the kinds of protests that stopped the travel ban in the first place. And there has to be a strategy for what to do.
AMT: And to what end. Do you see the people that you have identified working on this.. You're talking about the corporate convergence with government. But to what end? What does Donald Trump want?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well let's look at his brand. I mean Donald Trump's brand has always been about money. He's made no attempt to hide it. I think that what we're seeing is not very complicated. All of these policies enrich elites. They come at a time when many of the sectors that trump most represents in his cabinet were pretty panicked about resistance that they were facing before Trump came along. Right. I mean look at who he appointed as secretary of state Rex Tillerson the former CEO of Exxon. Well, Exxon was pretty concerned about what was going on before Trump came to power. The banking sector that is so well-represented in Trump's administration was concerned about a figure like Bernie Sanders who was riling up the masses talking about breaking up the banks. I do worry about how they would use a crisis to say sorry we you know, the Constitution is a luxury we can't afford right now, to attack the courts which has already been signaled in Trump blaming the courts and saying you know if anything happens after this blame the courts right. I think we have to be prepared for this. And one of the things I do in the book is talk about societies that have faced precisely this. They have faced administrations that try to use a large scale crisis whether you know economic chaos or a terrorist attack to say stay in your homes, be afraid, we're in charge. And the examples I give are Spain and Argentina where people respond to that because they had a memory of dictatorship in their own countries which Americans don't have.
AMT: Remind us what happened in Argentina because this is an example of where a moment of shock does not have to lead to falling into line with the government.
NAOMI KLEIN: Right. So in 2001 Argentina was in the midst of a profound economic crisis. The country was spiraling into chaos. People were locked out of their bank accounts. Supermarkets were being looted on the outskirts of the city. And the president at the time Fernando De La Rua went on television and declared a state of siege, said everybody should stay in their homes. And as he was speaking people started flooding into the streets banging pots and pans. And what people said was this was how the dictatorship started in the 70s we’re not going to let them do it again. And De La Rue had to lift the state of emergency. And he actually left the presidential palace in a helicopter that night. So you know what I've been saying when I speak in the U.S. is, you know when you're told to stay in your homes that is the most important moment to go out, to just defy, to have strength in numbers and say we are not going to give away our rights in this moment.
AMT: The United States is a very polarized place right now. When you talk about this there are people who just will see it through the prism of she's wrong she's anti-Trump. She's another polarizer. How do you get .. can you foresee a situation where the people of the United States come out in the streets the way they did in Spain the way the Argentines did?
NAOMI KLEIN: I can see. Yes it doesn't have to be the entire country but it has to be huge numbers of people and there are huge numbers of people indeed the majority of Americans did not vote for Trump, right? Hillary won the popular vote and a whole lot of people stayed home. You don't have to get every Trump voter onside. That said you know I think that the context in which I'm trying to place Trump is less polarizing than a lot of what we're seeing in the US, which is sort of all about Russia and a conspiracy and sort of treating Trump as a foreign agent. You know I'm trying to put him in the context of a bipartisan economic project. I'm saying Hillary Clinton shares the blame. Obama shares the blame. And I think that by focusing on the economic side of what Trump is doing and those broken promises and also urging the articulation of a real political alternative to this that is grounded in economic fairness and racial justice there is a much better chance of peeling away some of those working class voters who had voted for the Democrats previously and this time decided to raise the middle finger at the whole political system and vote Trump.
AMT: You argue that money is Donald Trump's appeal his brand, and in a rather Shakespearean twist, that's his weakness. The thing that brings him up could bring him down. Talk to me about that.
NAOMI KLEIN: Part of what is not working about the resistance strategies confronting Trump, is there still this idea that he's a regular politician that if you just have just catch him out you know lying just catch him cheating. Then there'll be some gotcha moment. And finally people will you know wake up. What I am arguing is that Trump ran as a brand. The presidency is the ultimate extension of the Trump brand. He sees his voters as consumers you know their relationship to him is not the traditional one of political constituencies who have a right to demand accountability from the politicians they elect as their representative. It's much more of a kind of a fan based relationship. They are part of this tribe that he has created this circle of belonging and the real problem with Trump is that he created a completely immoral brand, which is all about I'm the guy who grabs whoever I want. I'm the guy who wins at whatever cost. So showing that he cheated showing that he screwed over his workers. Any of this, none of it sticks to Trump. But what would stick to Trump is really attacking that central claim that he's the boss that he's the rich guy who because he's so financially successful he should be trusted with everything else. And so I think presenting Trump as a puppet as opposed to the boss that really drives him nuts and it drives him nuts because it attacks his brand.
AMT: And the brand is getting bigger, his sons are just announcing another hotel chain.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. They're launching a new brand of hotels bargain hotels three star hotels that they're calling American idea. The first three branches of this are going to open in Mississippi which is a red state where Trump won the popular vote by 18 percentage points over Hillary Clinton. So that the Trump boys while they were out on the campaign trail it turns out we're doing market research and they've been very open about this. Here they were out there in what they call the real America and they saw the..
AMT: Crappy little motels [laughs].
NAOMI KLEIN: They were not impressed with the accommodations. So basically what they're doing is they're launching a brand to get at that Trump's middle class base because the truth is that they haven't been able to fully exploit the Trump Nation that they've been building, because their product is higher and then, their base can afford. So this I mean this is very telling. They are treating their voters as consumers and at the same time Americans are being told that there's a firewall between the Trump Organization, the Trump business and the White House which is patently absurd.
AMT: I'm speaking with Naomi Klein. Her new book is No is not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics in Winning the World We Need. NAOMI KLEIN We need to pause for the CBC news we will continue our conversation afterward to talk about action on climate and what Naomi Klein has learned from her own personal shock. Plus a little later war photographer Ali Arkady was embedded with an elite military unit in Iraq. He thought he would be documenting acts of heroism. What he saw on the frontlines still haunts him.
Why they arrest the people. Why they kill the people. Why they need to rape this people.
Ali Arkady explains what he saw. Why he is in hiding. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current on CBC Radio 1 Sirius XM. Online on cbc.ca/the current and on your radio app.
[Music: Theme]
AMT: Hello. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current.
[Music: Theme]
AMT: Still to come no White House, no problem.
I was there in Paris with almost five hundred other mayors from around the world and we realized then that federal government would not implement this plan. It would be up to us.
AMT: When President Trump pulled out the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, cities such as Pittsburgh and Chicago announced they'd pick up the fight against climate change, cities asserting their power in half an hour. But first we are going to continue with author and activist Naomi Klein. Her latest book is No is not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. If you're just tuning in, we began this conversation before the news. You'll be able to catch it all in full on our website cbc.ca/thecurrent or on the CBC radio up. Naomi Klein's been arguing that Donald Trump's rise to power in the U.S. is not an aberration but a cultural shift that's made a mega brand President possible. She's also called the Trump presidency a “corporate coup”. You see this is a moment in time where the issue of the wider world converges with the politics of the United States. Why does it hinge on the United States like that?
NAOMI KLEIN: Trump has taken power at the absolute worst time in human evolution for this to happen, because we are up against it when it comes to climate change. I mean we have kicked the can down the road in terms of when we're going to really take meaningful action for so long that there is no road left. This really is the do or die moment on whether or not we are going to do what is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change.
AMT: So how do you interpret the reaction in the United States of mayors, governors, individuals, some corporations some very big corporations saying we will go forward on our climate change ideas and works to try to bring the United States along with the Paris climate change? Is it enough? How do you read that?
NAOMI KLEIN: What they're saying, the way I interpret it, is Trump controls a lot but he does not control everything. He does not control every state. He does not control every city so precisely because what he's doing with his power in Washington is so exquisitely dangerous. It raises the bar. And I think it's very inspiring to see that reaction you know the mayor of Pittsburgh who steps up right and says after Trump says I was elected by the people of Pittsburgh not the people of Paris. He says well actually the people of Pittsburgh didn't vote for you. And not only are we going to meet the Paris commitments but he unveils this plan to get to a 100 percent renewable energy for the city of Pittsburgh by 2035 which is the Bible school in the United States. That is leadership. And I would say contrast that with what we're hearing from conservative politicians in Canada saying, well because they're racing to the bottom we better join them there and Canada can't afford the already inadequate climate policies that have been introduced by the liberals. We need to follow the U.S. backwards. No this is a moment where we're seeing what real leadership looks like.
AMT: What do you say to those who say you're fear mongering; you're going too far in your interpretation of Donald Trump?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well frankly I haven't heard that. I think people are pretty afraid. What I'm hoping the book will do is just help orient people so they aren't just driven by fear and panic. You know there's been so much focus on the dangerous trends that are happening on the right side of the political spectrum, that we can fail to notice some incredibly hopeful and inspiring trends that are emerging on the left of the political spectrum. I think we see it in the support among millennials for Jeremy Corbyn. You know I think the most important thing is that we sort of get oriented, get out of shock and be strategic.
AMT: And figure out what you want. Let's talk about The Leap Manifesto, just in a nutshell, in a big fat nutshell. The Leap Manifesto is the vision of what should replace what we see.
NAOMI KLEIN: That's why we launched Leap Manifesto during the federal election campaign, about a year and a half ago now. We launched it because we didn't see any of the major political parties that had a chance of winning the election, putting forward an agenda that met this historic moment, right. When it comes to climate change but also when it comes to the crisis of inequality of economic inequality of racial inequality the human rights crisis for Indigenous people in this country. You know I think what's different about this document is that it's not like a list of things that we want is not a laundry list. It's really a different story about what we think Canada can and should be. And it is an attempt to connect the dots between all these different crises. It is possible to radically lower emissions while fighting all of these different forms of inequality and all of these crises are urgent. So we can't solve them sequentially. We need this leap. When we launched The Leap we started to hear immediately from people in different countries because you know one of the impacts of four decades of neoliberalism is that we've gotten really good at saying no. But that idea that there could be something different that is a crisis of imagination that I think so many of us have suffered you know, since Margaret Thatcher said there is no alternative.
AMT: I want to ask you something about shock because you write about how governments respond to shock. How maybe you can think about responding to the shock differently. But you lived through your own personal shock when you were younger in your own family. And I'm wondering what you learned from that what happened to your mother?
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah I did. When I was a teenager my mother, when she was younger than I am now, suffered a catastrophic stroke, actually two strokes which turned out to have been caused by a brain tumor that bled in her brain that she'd had her whole life. But she didn't know was there. My mother Bonnie Sherr Klein who is a filmmaker and you know her life and our family's lives changed completely in an instant. You know I don't think this makes us special I think so many families go through events like this. The truth is I know it changed me for the better. You know I was a very wayward teenager and it was it was a moment where I was like, okay are you going to grow up? Like, right now? Like, by tomorrow? And this is what I've noticed as a journalist going to places like New Orleans after Katrina or Iraq after the invasion, I mean. In addition to seeing these very cynical attempts at crisis exploitation of taking advantage of people weakness in those painful moments, you also see the best that humanity is capable of. And I think this is what offends me most about the strategy of profiteering from crisis, is that it goes so against the way so many regular people respond when tested by crisis; the generosity, the compassion, empathy, the way it brings out our best selves. And so I think we are in a moment like that with Trump. So we are being tested and we will either fall apart or grow up fast. And moments of crisis are like that. Thanks for sharing your ideas.
NAOMI KLEIN: Thank you so much. I was such a pleasure to talk with you.
AMT: Naomi Klein, author and activist. Her latest book is No is not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. She spoke with me in our Toronto studio. Now stay with us. Later in the program we'll pick up on the idea of cities stepping up with their own agenda to fight climate change.


  This recent CBC Spark episode demonstrates the damage still being caused by the myths being clung to by the mainstream. Investment isn't helping innovation, it is stifling it. He mentions a "stockholder revolution" at the base of this. Guess when it happened. That's right, the 1980s.

Sunday May 21, 2017

Has America become anti-innovation?

Listen 8:33

Full Episode

"Pointless"... "Might make you hate humanity"... "Needs To Be Squeezed Out Of Existence"... just a few of the headlines for Juicero, a $400 high- tech juicing machine that uses $8 packs that, it turns out, you can squeeze by hand.

It was the punchline of the tech world last month.

Ben Tarnoff writes about technology for The Guardian. He says, "The fall of Juicero isn't just entertaining tech industry stupidity, it's the sign of a country refusing to break new ground."

Ben argues that the Juicero fiasco is not an anomaly, but an example of how profoundly anti-innovation the U.S. seems to have become. "I really see it as a symptom of an economy that's not investing in itself to grow."

He sees the "whole machine breaking down" due to a lack of investment in basic tech research.

A lack of innovation, or even antipathy towards it, has serious consequences, not least because a great deal of government investment goes into the tech sector, he says. When that investment is used wastefully, it fails to produce economic growth and encourages stagnation, and working people suffer.

Ben believes that the root of the problem lies in the so-called "myth of the entrepreneur."

"The Steve Jobs mold of the rule-breaking visionary who disappears into a garage and emerges with this totally world changing invention… it's just not an accurate story of how innovation works. Every major innovation since WW2 has required a massive push from the public sector."

What will it take to nurture actual innovative breakthroughs? "In the long term we need to increase public funding for research. We also need to claw back the resources that have been essentially surrendered to the private sector," Ben says. "So it's going to take a lot of different simultaneous fights, but ultimately we need a long term real industrial policy that has substantial funding behind it."

The following explains much of the problem. It comes from bostonglobe.com.

Too much corporate greed? Blame Harvard Business School, author says

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

By Andrew Ross Sorkin New York Times April 14, 2017

If you were to look for one ingredient that binds together the nation’s chief executives, top managers and boards of directors, you’d find a remarkably consistent commonality, now and in generations past: A disproportionate number of them are graduates of Harvard Business School.

An MBA from HBS, as those in the know refer to it, has long been the ultimate Good Housekeeping stamp of approval on any résumé. Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook — and the list goes on and on. The number of Fortune 500 chief executives who earned their business degrees at Harvard is three times the total from the next most popular business school, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

It is hard to overstate the school’s influence on corporate America.

That’s why a new, exhaustive history of the school is causing a stir before it is even out. The book, “The Golden Passport,” by the veteran business journalist Duff McDonald, is a richly reported indictment of the school as a leading reason that corporate America is disdained by much of the country.

“The Harvard Business School became (and remains) so intoxicated with its own importance that it blithely assumed away one of the most important questions it could ask, which was whether the capitalist system it was uniquely positioned to help improve was designed properly for the long term,” McDonald writes in the book, to be released in two weeks.

His answer? “With economic inequality at a hundred-year high and meaningful progress on climate change and other social and environmental issues embarrassingly paltry, the answer to that question is obvious. It is not.”

Citing a report from the Aspen Institute, McDonald explains that “when students enter business school, they believe that the purpose of a corporation is to produce goods and services for the benefit of society.”

“When they graduate,” he continues, “they believe that it is to maximize shareholder value.”

McDonald brilliantly tells the story of the school’s creation in 1908, when its mission was to educate the next generation of business managers. Edwin Gay, its first dean, defined business as the “activity of making things to sell at a profit — decently.”

But, the author says, somewhere during the mid-1980s, something went very wrong: “The money got too good.”

The money he refers to is the tsunami of job offers that Harvard students received from Wall Street, and the funding the school raked in from its well-heeled alumni.

In fairness, Harvard Business School makes an easy punching bag, given its stature as the top feeder for big business. This is hardly the first time the institution has been criticized.

And it is too much to paint all 76,000-plus alumni as being ethically challenged, as McDonald appears to imply. Indeed, many of the school’s vaunted alumni are among the most talented executives in the country, and many are trying to think about stakeholders holistically.

Yet in example after example, McDonald sets out his thesis that money and influence have distorted both the school’s curriculum and the worldview espoused by its professors, who themselves are on the payroll of corporate America as part-time advisers and consultants.

“For a whole semester, for example, the school is basically bought and paid for by the consulting firms,” McDonald writes, quoting Casey Gerald, a member of the class of 2014 whose rousing speech at the school went viral on YouTube.

The moneyed interests of employers prompted Harvard, McDonald contends, to hire the economist Michael C. Jensen, a financial economics specialist, in 1985. Jensen is famous for advocating the “principal-agent theory” — the idea that investors, rather than corporate managers or the board of directors, should have the most influence.

McDonald describes Jensen’s arrival as “the moment of peak paradox for HBS,” contending that Jensen’s “ideologically driven hijacking of the study of finance served as a cynical repudiation of everything that had come before him at the school.”

With the elevation of Jensen, McDonald writes, “HBS had nurtured the professional manager from his birth and then helped to kill him.”

The book is filled with anecdotal evidence of McDonald’s argument. In once instance, he draws from a paper Jensen co-wrote in which the professor recounted a well-known story about the playwright George Bernard Shaw. As the story goes, Shaw had asked “an actress if she would sleep with him for a million dollars,” McDonald writes. “When she agreed, he changed his offer to $10, to which she responded with outrage, asking him what kind of woman he thought she was. His reply: ‘We’ve already established that. Now we’re just haggling about the price.’”

To McDonald, Harvard teaches its students that “we’re all whores.”

Continuing his train of logic, he writes: “If everybody assumes you’re a whore, you might as well grab as much money as possible while you’re still in demand.”

McDonald’s book also makes a provocative argument that Harvard Business School, and, by extension, the American business school complex, is responsible for out-of-whack compensation schemes for top management.

He quotes Julian Birkinshaw, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the London Business School, saying, “There’s no doubt that business schools are complicit” in the exorbitant pay packages in boardrooms.

“We benefit financially from it as well,” the quotation continues. “Clearly, the fees we can charge MBA students are correlated with the salaries they can get when they go get jobs.”

In the end, McDonald acknowledges that “one shouldn’t expect Harvard Business School to be teaching courses on how to overthrow the capitalist economy.”

But McDonald does raise enough salient questions that maybe the school should be asking: Should we create a case study about ourselves?

The following debate is a perfect example of what’s wrong with mainstream thinking right now. They are both right. However, one is talking about the Liberal International Order that was while the second is talking about the Neoliberal Investment Order that is.

What the Mainstream Doesn’t Get:  The common thread in populism is an anger and frustration with the mainstream because they cling to belief that FDR’s Liberal International Order is the present condition. It is not. Reagan, Thatcher and most other governments, attacked unions, gutting the ability of workers to protect themselves from corporate greed, thus allowing the insane rise executive compensation. They deregulated, allowing industries most vulnerable to greed to self-regulate (which means do what they wanted). This led to 2008 and the bail out of the institutions that caused it with one person being held responsible. They cut taxes on the rich and corporations to encourage their growth while cutting that available to the social safety net and infrastructure. GDP and inequality rose together.  Investors through the free market god they created became able to dictate to countries. The balance sheet became the sole measure of a country’s successful. Bugger those getting chewed up to achieve it.

Reagan and Thatcher began the mutation of the Liberal International Order into the Neoliberal Investment Order with the simple idea that there is no such thing as a society, only individuals and families. Without society there can be no order beyond the family. All pretense of caring about the common good evaporated once the threat of the common people choosing communism ended. That was the reason there were social programs and a welfare state, so we did thing the Soviet Union was better. No Soviet Union, no reason to care about us. No reason to fear us. No reason to serve us as governments or corporations. Survival the richest through exploitation of the poorest is the new norm. 

Populism is an attempt to wake the mainstream out of their delusion, out of the past they see to the present we live.  The mainstream left and right have become the arms of the Neoliberal Investment Order. We keep changing parties but we can’t get anyone to lead us back to the original path of a true Liberal International Order.  We just get to walk faster or slower toward the same cliff while are so-called leaders strangle each other for the privilege of jumping over first.

And, as you can see from the second article/program, they are trying to revive it with the same old voodoo that started this mess. Lowering taxes on the rich and corporations doesn't create jobs because they don't invest it in anything but themselves. Corporations channel it into profits. The last few years have definitely proven this, as shown in the third article/program.

Tuesday May 09, 2017

The decline and fall of the liberal international order

Listen to Full Episode 53:58

Niall Ferguson, Rudyard Griffiths, and Fareed Zakaria. (The Munk Debates)
For decades, global affairs have been moulded by ideas about the mutual benefits of an interdependent world. But the pillars of liberal internationalism are cracking under the rise of nationalist politics and other challenges. Is this the beginning of the end of the liberal international order? In a head-to-head Munk Debate, historian Niall Ferguson says Yes, the old order is collapsing, while commentator Fareed Zakaria argues No, there's life yet in liberal ideals.

Almost a year after Brexit, Fareed Zakaria and Niall Ferguson spar over the accuracy of a legendary story about British suspicion

"All this talk of a liberal international order is just what they do at Davos and Aspen to keep their spirits up as slowly and inexorably, ever smaller shrinks the deck on the Titanic." -- Niall Ferguson

"Poland is three times richer than Ukraine having started in the same place in 1990 … it is those ordinary Ukrainians, ordinary Poles who understand this, and who understand that the European Union provides them with political stability... Those are the people who I look to when I ask myself 'Does the European Union have a future?' I couldn't care less about the bankers at Davos." -- Fareed Zakaria

The United Nations, the European Union, NATO, the International Monetary Fund, NAFTA, the World Health Organization. The list is long, and the ideas behind these and many others have shaped our world since at least the end of the Second World War, and led to a time of general prosperity. But a rising tide hasn't raised all boats equally. Economic disparity, declining industries, and large-scale immigration have all contributed to a growing anxiety about the state of the world.

Niall Ferguson is a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies, at Harvard University. He also holds positions at Tsinghua University in Beijing and the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. He is a prolific commentator on contemporary politics and economics, writing a weekly column for London's Sunday Times and the Boston Globe.

Ferguson has published 14 books, including most recently Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist. Many of Ferguson's books have been adapted for television. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He holds a master's degree and a doctorate of philosophy from Oxford. He is a father of four and is married to the author and women's rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Fareed Zakaria was named one of the top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy in 2010. He is the host of CNN's flagship international affairs program, Fareed Zakaria GPS, and is also a Washington Post columnist, a contributing editor at The Atlantic and a New York Times bestselling author. He has written several books, most notably The Post American World, (2008), The Future of Freedom (2003), and most recently In Defense of a Liberal Education (2015).

Zakaria was born in India, received a bachelor of arts from Yale College and a Ph. D. from Harvard University. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

Related websites:
Watch the full debate on the Munk Debates website

​The Munk Debates

**This episode was produced by Dave Redel.

One of the key tactics in changing Liberalism into Neoliberalism was a continuus official attack on unions without relief from the so-called left. The assault of unions begun by Thatcher wasn't all explicit busting. Many governments simply left inadequate labour standards and employment regulations unchanged for decades until they became useless. Some actively reversed or ceased to inforce them as if the will of business, of investors was irreversalb, irritable, sacred, omnipotent, omniscient, and beneficent. For example, no change was done in Alberta by the Progressive Conservatives for over 30 years. This is the NDP's answer from the LAberta Government website.

Bill to make Alberta workplaces healthier

The proposed Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act would help reduce workplace illnesses by giving Albertans unpaid, job-protected sick days.

Job-protected, unpaid sick days help prevent ill workers from spreading infections to others

If passed, the bill would allow Alberta workers up to five days of job protection a year for personal sickness or short-term care of an immediate family member. It would also allow for 16 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave for long-term illness or injury.

“A guarantee of job-protected, unpaid sick days would give workers time to get healthy and it would keep employers from worrying about ill workers spreading infectious bugs to others because they are afraid to take a sick day off. These proposed changes would make life better for workers and employers.” Christina Gray, Minister of Labour

“In my practice, I often hear that patients are concerned to take time off work for illness due to concern that they will lose their jobs. This has been worse over the past year with the economic downturn here in Alberta. The proposed government policy to ensure job security for those employees who are sick or unwell is an important social support initiative.” Dr. Doug Klein, Edmonton family physician

“For the most part, the patients I see have support from their employers when advised to take medical sick leave. However, there is a small minority of Albertans who fear taking sick leave will cost them their jobs. These proposed changes would improve the overall health of Albertans and protect our work force.” Dr. David Ryan, St. Albert family physician

“Over the course of my career, I’ve seen too many hard-working Albertans juggle work and family responsibilities while battling a chronic illness. This balancing act comes at the detriment of the patient. Long-term job-protected sick leave will help Albertans focus on recovery and battling illness.” Dr. Raquel Feroe, medical specialist

Alberta has some of the oldest workplace legislation in Canada. Both the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code have not been significantly updated in nearly 30 years.
Quick facts
Most Canadians have job-protected sick leave except for residents in Alberta, British Columbia and Nunavut.
Ontario residents have 10 days for personal and family sickness
Saskatchewan and Yukon residents have 12 days.
Newfoundland and Labrador residents have seven days.
Northwest Territories residents have five days.

The proposed Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code changes are the result of previous government reviews, as well as broad consultation with Albertans, employers, business organizations, labour organizations, municipalities, academics and advocacy groups. More than 7,000 submissions were received.
 These RN ABC program describes the attack further.

Unions, freelance workers and Codetermination

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show transcript Sunday 4 June 2017 10:30AM

In this, the second program in our two-part series on the future of unions and employee representation, we take a practical look at what unions can do to transform themselves to meet the new realities of the 21st century.

We’ll talk with the head of the Canadian Freelance Union, Leslie Dyson. And we’ll also be joined by Corporate Law specialist Jean du Plessis who’ll explain the ins and outs of the management participation system known as ‘Codetermination’.


Professor Jean du Plessis - Professor of Corporate Law, Deakin University

Professor John Quiggin - ARC Laureate Fellow in Economics, University of Queensland

Dr Jim Stanford - Director, Centre for Future Work, Australian Institute

Leslie Dyson - President, Canadian Freelance Union

Professor Richard Baldwin - Graduate Institute, Geneva and author of The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalisation
Transcript Hide

Antony Funnell: Hello and welcome to Future Tense, I'm Antony Funnell.

Today we continue our look at unions and collective representation. With work conditions increasingly precarious and with rising inequality, why do trade unions seem to have such a stunted future?

Here's some of what we heard last week:

Jim Stanford: For young workers under 25 years of age in Australia, only about 6% of them belong to a union, versus about, say, 15% for the workforce as a whole. And there's a number of reasons why the union presence among young workers is even lower. One of them is the fact that young workers are the storm troopers, if you like, of this casual precarious labour market that we are creating. They are the ones who confront immediately the fact that there is no permanent full-time stable jobs anymore. If you want to work, you're going to get a gig, you're going to get a few hours here or you're going to get a casual job there, you're going to do labour hire work there. That's the reality of most young workers, and those are situations where it's hard for unions to get a foothold.

John Quiggin: At the same time as a range of policies were introduced that increased inequality, that cut tax rates for the wealthy, that in general promoted these developments, the same people introducing these policies were also consistently introducing policies that made union organisation more difficult, that made union officials more subject to criminal liability, that limited strikes, along with ad hoc things like royal commissions and so forth. And so what we've seen has been 30 or 40 years in which almost every piece of legislation effecting the labour force has been calculated to reduce the influence of unions, to make unions' life more difficult. So one could reasonably say we've seen policies that produce inequality, policies that drove unions down, the same people pushing both sets of policies, there isn't a mystery here. There's probably more to it than that, but that's certainly a pretty good starting point.

Richard Baldwin: People continue to think about 21st-century problems with this 20th-century thinking, that it's sectors and skill groups. And I think to a large extent the unions, just along with the governments, are still trying to think about this globalisation like the old one and haven't realised that it's going to require quite different organisations. But so many countries, so many governments and so many labour unions are still focused on industry means factory jobs, that they haven't been able to think beyond that. So I think to a certain extent it's a lack of imagination.

The other is that this fragmentation and the fact that globalisation is affecting people more individually makes it much harder to organise and therefore it may be technologically more difficult to organise labour. I suspect that once we get over this gig economy shock, that the gig economy workers will start to organise in some way or another and demand worker rights, but just right now they haven't got there because I fundamentally think they are misthinking the impact of globalisation on the economy.

Antony Funnell: And if you missed that episode, it is available to podcast or stream from the Future Tense website.

So what needs to change for collective representation in the workforce to have greater relevance in the future?

Professor John Quiggin from the University of Queensland:

John Quiggin: Well, in the Australian context I think the tie to the Labor Party has proved really toxic for both groups. It's very convenient for the personnel on the typical career path is, you know, a bright university graduate joins a union as an organiser representing people who do jobs that this person has probably never done, then proceeds into parliament and then, if they are successful enough, reaches the ministry in their 40s and then goes on to a job in a bank later on. That kind of career path is very satisfactory for the people involved, so it's unsurprising that union officials and the Labor Party see a big benefit in staying together. But when we look at the way in which on the one hand the Labor Party has really gone along with all the market liberal policies that which have led to the decline of the unions, and on the other hand the way in which this compromises unions in the eyes of people who may not support the Labor Party, lots of working class people who don't support the Labor Party. So that tie I think is something which ought to be broken in the interests of both parties.

Antony Funnell: What about the nature of the staff that are employed by unions?

John Quiggin: Well, the traditional model of course was that people came up from the shop floor, and there's obvious a problem with going back to that. When we say the shopfloor we have an image dating somewhere back to the middle of last century. There really isn't a shopfloor anymore in that same sense. But it certainly seems as if a more organic union movement would be developing from people who were in the sector the union represents, and indeed in my perception the parts of the union movement that have done the best, the white-collar public-sector unions, the officials of those unions seem much more likely to come from that same background than that do, for example, the officials of the Shop Assistants Union.

Antony Funnell: And that's a criticism that is often levelled at political parties, isn't it, that almost there's this professionalisation of the high ranks of political parties, and then also of trade unions.

John Quiggin: Yes, and I think the political party system is cracking under the strains of this. We don't have a particularly good answer to it because political party membership has decayed in the same way. But very clearly the willingness of the public to vote for random people of various kinds is an indication that the professional political class isn't doing a great job, and of course increasingly of course the workforce consists of professionals, so we don't want to over-exaggerate this part of the story. But there's no doubt that if we had moved to a more activist model in which lots of people played a part-time role in the nature of the kind of organisations we see, things like [5:44 Airhart?] where they have lots and lots of members who aren't turning up to meetings every month and individually may not be doing that much, they still seem to be very effective organisations compared to the kind of model of full-time officials working on dues paid by members who do very little.

Antony Funnell: And full-time officials who are often there for very long periods of time.

John Quiggin: Well, of course that has been true ever since unions existed, you've had union bosses who had have held onto power for many decades, but it certainly does seem to be more and more of a problem in the era where those kinds of very long-term arrangements are the exception rather than the rule. And it does I guess undermine the view that these people are in some sense democratically elected representatives when we see very few people survive very long in proper electoral politics. So if somebody can stay in a position of union secretary for 30 or 40 years, there certainly seems to be a problem with the degree to which that organisation is really a democratic responsive kind of organisation with an active membership.

Antony Funnell: I suppose looking to the future, is it inevitable that there will be some kind of public demand for a new type of representational organisational body in the future?

John Quiggin: Well certainly the public demand is there, and of course as unions have pushed things out of that sphere and into political debate, we saw the Work Choices campaign in 2007 and the recent dispute over penalty rates, those haven't been fought in the traditional mould of mass meetings and workers going on strike and so forth but in the political sphere, and we've seen that there is a lot of public support there. And of course that's what propelled unions into politics through the Labor Party 100+ years ago. So I think that move back into the public political sphere is inevitable. How that is played out organisationally is unclear, but again, I think in the Australian context at least the tie to a specific political party I think is something which really belongs in the past.

Antony Funnell: John Quiggin from the University of Queensland.

Staying with the Australian context, and Dr Jim Stanford, the director of the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute, says nothing is likely to change as long as what he terms the 'free-rider effect' continues.

Jim Stanford: We have to have a situation where if people are going to benefit from the activities of unions and collective bargaining, whether it's through their workplace agreement or through the work of unions in lifting minimum standards and the awards and so on, there has to be some system that supports the unions as an institution and their ability to do that.

There are lots of models to choose from. It could be a European type of structure where you have works councils that are set up in every major employer, that the employer has to support as a way of solidifying the collective bargaining relationship. In some jurisdictions if you are covered by a union contract you are not required to join the union per se, or even necessarily to pay union dues, but you have to pay something that reflects the cost of the services and protection that you get from the union. So it could be called a fair share fee or a representation fee so that it is deducted from their pay cheque as long as they are covered by the employment agreement or the enterprise agreement. So it's a kind of a compromise, if you like, between the pure individual free rider situation that we have in Australia today, and sort of a full closed shop situation where you have to be in the union if you want to work there.

Even in the fair share model, it's still a collective choice. You know, these are ultimately democratic decisions in the sense that the workers in a workplace decide by majority rules that, yes, we want to have a union, we want to have the benefits that come with a union and we will collectively pay to ensure that that happens. That happens in the business world all the time, Antony. Think about a corporation. A corporation is nothing other than a collective of individual shareholders who make votes by majority rules, and if the majority decides to spend money on something, every shareholder has to pay their share towards it. Or a strata that operates an apartment building, same deal. If you're going to buy a unit in that you are required to pay into the strata and abide by the majority decisions. That same logic should apply to collective bargaining and representation in workplaces, but because of the antiunion goals of the regulation, they are somehow treated as different.

So there are different ways to do it, but what is clear is that if we don't address that free-rider paralysis that's undermining the viability of unionisation in Australia, then density and the influence of unions is going to continue to erode.

Antony Funnell: Jim Stanford also believes there's a need to modernise the structures of collective bargaining to better reflect the 21st-century workforce.

The National Wage report released in August 2016 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, estimated that almost one in three Australian workers was now employed part-time, while around 90% of all new jobs created in the Australian economy in the 12 months to July 2016 were either part-time or casual.

Jim Stanford: We have to give casual and labour hire workers I think more rights, including the rights to have collective representation. Even dealing with the labour hire firms themselves, there is terrible exploitation where labour hire companies will charge their clients, say, $40 or $50 an hour for the labour that they supply, but only pay the workers sometimes half of that. And so giving labour hire workers more power to negotiate with the labour hire companies, and/or regulatory constraints on how the labour hire companies treat the workers that they mobilise would be another approach.

The same goes with the gig economy and platform type of work. I think we need clarity in the regulations, that those people, even if they are not showing up in a particular workplace each day, they are still de facto employees of those companies, and those companies have to have some obligations, including the obligation to negotiate with them collectively.

Voice-over: Welcome to Uber. Drivers are our most important partners, and we appreciate all you do to keep Uber running smoothly. Let's get started. As a driver with Uber…

Jim Stanford: Even though we get a lot of hype about how this gig economy model is so new and exciting, most of the features of working in the gig economy are actually not new at all, and we have seen them for generations, things like working on demand where you don't have a regular job but you just work when you are required. Things like supplying your own capital equipment or your own tools or, for Uber drivers, supplying your own car, getting paid by a piecework system rather than paid by the hour. Those features have been around for a long time, and unions will have to continue to be creative because some of the new situations, you know, the Ubers and the digital platforms and so on, are going to require different ways of collective representation, but I think ultimately they're going to benefit from collective representation and workers are going to find ways to do it, like a Facebook group for Uber drivers, for example, and other ways where they can communicate with each other, negotiate with a collective voice with Uber or whoever is the employer is. So I'm optimistic that unions will be open-minded about finding some of those structures. In fact I see it in Australia, as well as in other countries, of that experimentation and innovation going on. But we do need a supportive institutional environment to support those efforts, otherwise it is going to be very hard for them to be viable in the long run.

Antony Funnell: And getting that supportive institutional environment relies in large part on putting public pressure on politicians, regulators and employers themselves, just as traditional unions did early last century.

Voice-over: Restaurant food delivered to your door in 35 minutes, that's what Deliveroo is all about. The company insists its riders are self-employed and that they want to be. Flexibility is part of the appeal of the job. But when…

Journalist: I'm here on day three of an industrial action by Deliveroo scooter drivers, cyclists. The major grievance is this, effectively you are going from a sub living wage once you include costs and so on, to piecework. The workers are saying that it's going to be £3.25 per job…

Antony Funnell: This protest by gig economy workers in the UK is unusual, but far from unprecedented.

Social media platforms like YouTube are also being used by people to counter company spin around the amount of money you can make in a gig economy job, even though you'll receive very few, if any, traditional worker entitlements, like holiday pay or sick leave.

And despite the difficulties in providing union representation to casual and part-time workers, some established unions do see an opening.

Leslie Dyson: I can tell you that people join the Canadian Freelance Union because they want to build the union movement, they want to get additional work, they want access to benefits, and they want to end the isolation.

Antony Funnell: Leslie Dyson's organisation is specifically focussed on freelance workers in the media industry, a sector which continues to face massive change and where full-time employment is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. She's the union's president. She admits there are challenges.

Leslie Dyson: We offer a political voice on freelancer issues. We provide access to Press Card provided by our own union and also the International Federation of Journalists. We offer seminars and webinars, avenues for finding work, including with other unions. We have an online member directory that we distribute, and we offer grievance support, contract advice, access to benefits, and most importantly probably is the social and professional connections, taking people out of isolation.

Antony Funnell: What about the industrial side of it, what about collective bargaining, that kind of thing, is that possible in a situation where you've got people who are by definition freelancers?

Leslie Dyson: So it could be possible, we could have voluntary agreements with forward-thinking employers. And the goal for all of our members is a collective agreement, but it is very difficult, the bigger we become then the more leverage that we have. So I think a lot of people would like the protection of a union but it is becoming increasingly difficult.

So the CFU, the Canadian Freelance Union, is advocating for a number of changes, government legislative changes. In Ontario there was a commission that was set up to look at precarious workers, looking at if the government is serious about this growing number of workers who are in this position, then there are some changes that need to be done to acknowledge their working conditions.

Antony Funnell: So is it the case then…I mean, does the situation have to get worse before it is going to get better in terms of worker representation in the employment force?

Leslie Dyson: I would like to believe that it's as worse as it can get. We have a situation where we have older workers who work in the area of media and communications, they are having a real struggle right now because it's hard for them to hold onto their jobs, employers find them very expensive and are laying them off. We have younger workers, younger members who are highly skilled and highly educated, carrying an enormous student debt, and they can't even get their foot in the door. I don't know how much worse it has to get.

Antony Funnell: What are some of the steps that organisations like yours had to take over time in order to not only increase your membership but also the more effective as an advocate?

Leslie Dyson: Well, there's a couple of things that are happening here, and I don't know if it's similar in other countries, but in Ontario for example this commission was set up to look at the situation of precarious workers and vulnerable workers, and there are some possibilities. They have sector councils, for instance they have one for construction, and it sets minimum standards based on a collective agreement that everybody has to receive. The same could be applied to freelance workers.

On the national level we have the Status of the Artist Act, and that was tested recently. And in 2015 artists who were commissioned by the National Gallery were invited to exhibit their work, and the artists were able to bargain collectively with the gallery to ensure minimum standards for all the artists. Something like that could possibly be applied to freelance workers. For example, all the social media companies in a particular centre could perhaps have minimum standards that would apply to all media workers working for those particular companies, a minimum standard, so we can get out of this continually downward spiral, that there could be minimum standards for the people who were doing the photography, videography, writing, editing, web development, web design, all of those kinds of services could be covered in a particular area. So those are the kinds of things that we are looking at that we think could be not just applicable to us but acceptable to some of the jurisdictions.

Antony Funnell: It is part of the issue a suspicion of the traditional trade union movement, is that one of the factors that influences people not to seek membership with the union?

Leslie Dyson: I don't think that that's something that we are coming up against. We are a community chapter of Unifor. Unifor has 300,000+ members across the country and we are a community chapter of that. This model is very new, and I think it was started in 2014. So we are given great independence and flexibility, so we can be really responsive to issues. We don't have a lot of interference from Unifor, our parent union, however we can tap into all the experience, skills and power of such a large union.

So we have relatively low union dues, $125 per year, and our membership is somewhat fluctuating, and there are various reasons for that. I don't think it's because people don't want to belong, but when you're a freelance worker you know that sometimes it can be a long time in between assignments, and some of our members go on and find full-time employment and are covered by a union agreement and no longer need the Canadian Freelance Union, so there are issues like that. I think a lot of workers would appreciate some kind of stability, some kind of grievance procedure, some kind of steady benefits, pension contributions, all that sort of thing. I don't hear this criticism of unions so much anymore.

Antony Funnell: Leslie Dyson from the Canadian Freelance Union.

You're listening to Future Tense, I'm Antony Funnell.

The industrial relations system that developed in the English-speaking world from the late 1800s onwards was built on confrontation, workers on the one side and bosses on the other. But does it have to be that way in the future?

Jean du Plessis is a Professor of Corporate Law at Deakin University and an expert on the management participation system known as codetermination.

Jean du Plessis: The idea of codetermination comes from the German model where shareholders and employees jointly appoint people to what is called a supervisory board, and that supervisory board is responsible for appointing the management board. And in that way, once again, it's a codetermination between the shareholders and the employees, with the interest of the employee's almost constantly taken care of, rather than just once every three years through enterprise agreement negotiations in a very combative form through the unions.

Antony Funnell: So the idea, according to Professor du Plessis, is that if organised labour organisations are no longer able to effectively guarantee decent employment standards, then introducing a codetermination system into a country like Australia could provide one solution.

Jean du Plessis: It's different from our model where the shareholders play the dominant role, there is codetermination between labour, which brings in labour and the shareholders that bring in capital. I would just like to explain the German model in order to explain to our listeners where the employees will be involved in the German two-tier board system. So first of all the Germans have got a supervisory board and they have a management board. The supervisory board is responsible for supervising or overseeing the business of the corporation, and on that supervisory board up to half of the members of the supervisory board consist of employees.

The supervisory board is responsible for appointing the management board and the management board is the board that would do the day-to-day management. So what is quite unique is that in the German law the managerial activities and the managerial powers are exclusively powers of the management board, whereas the supervisory powers or governing powers are exclusively the powers of the supervisory board. They cannot interfere with each other's powers. But you can imagine if the supervisory board with up to half of the board consisting of employees, if they appoint the management board immediately, from that first moment the employees have some input as to who will manage the business of the corporation. So in that sense, at the highest level their interests are in actual fact represented, and they get an influence over matters laid on. They can't interfere with the management board's powers, but the management board would hardly ignore wishes or guidance from the supervisory board, as they would know that first of all they need to be reappointed by the supervisory board, with half of it employee representatives and the other half shareholder representatives.

And then the two boards under normal circumstances work together very collaboratively. The management board will even attend supervisory board meetings if things are not too sensitive or confidential, but they will also meet independently to keep an independent governance or supervisory role or have supervisory powers over the management board.

Antony Funnell: So does codetermination not just give employees a say in the culture I guess of the organisation or company, but does it actually decrease the amount of tension between management and also the workers because the workers are involved at this higher level?

Jean du Plessis: Antony, without any doubt it does. And the way in which I would like to explain this is the contrast with the unitary board, a model that we have. Our negotiations in our unitary board system would normally be by way of enterprise agreements, or EBAs as they were called in the past. So these enterprise agreements are normally concluded every three years, so there's a period of massive conflict between management, the unions, to get an enterprise agreement sorted out. They normally say that CEOs last about two or maximum two and a half enterprise agreement sessions and then they step down because it's massively stressful for all parties.

In the two-tier board system, there is constantly…not every three years, but there is constantly the interaction between the employees on the supervisory board and the management board who would attend sessions of the supervisory board. So it is a continuous process of collaboration, of testing the waters, of taking into consideration the interest of the employees. And then of course there are also enterprise agreements, but it is being done on a continuous basis, refining it and looking after the needs of the employees. And in that way once again it's a codetermination between the shareholders and the employees, with the interest of the employees almost constantly taken care of, rather than just once every three years through enterprise agreement negotiations in a very combative form through the unions.

Antony Funnell: Given that there is so much conflict within the industrial relations landscape, with countries like Australia and the UK, is it realistic to see this kind of codetermination coming into favour because of that sort of entrenched system of conflict?

Jean du Plessis: Well, if we start off with the entrenched system of confrontation…I mean, I think we should not necessarily say that is a good thing, even though it is entrenched we should not say, well, that is the sort of model that we should continue having. But the other important point of course is we are moving away from the idea that all companies should just strive to make profits for shareholders. And that concept or that idea in itself, that companies are no longer there only to maximise profits for the shareholders, that in itself dictates that we need to think about other ways to look after the interests of other stakeholders. And one of the most important other stakeholders groups is indeed the employees. So in that sense it would dictate that this model will get more and more attention.

This is one of the only ways in a gradual way in which we can move away from what is, as I said, the shareholder primacy model, to a more stakeholder-based model. And that's what the company lawyers and corporate governance specialists, that's what we are struggling with at the moment, how do we get the interest of other interest groups like employees, like creditors, like customers, also recognised in the formal company law model that we have? Because the model is broken at the moment.

Antony Funnell: Jean du Plessis, Professor of Corporate Law at Deakin University.

Karin Zsivanovits is my co-producer here at Future Tense. Our sound engineer this week Steve Fieldhouse.

I'm Antony Funnell, until next time!
 The same conditions that originally gave rise to unions are back because unions were eviscerated intentionally by business and governments who claimed to be on different sides of the spectrum but were just different depths of neoliberalism. Conservatism enacted it and liberals continued to allow it. The first speaker mentions "liberalization", but it is "neoliberalization", and FDR repaired the Taft thing he talked about only to have Reagan pervert it.

Economists Debate If Tax Cuts Pay For Themselves

May 9, 20175:03 AM ET
Heard on Morning Edition

A decades-old economic theory is making a comeback. The theory: tax cuts can pay for themselves. Trump administration advisers have repeated this mantra to explain their corporate tax rate cut.

President Trump's administration is pushing a business tax cut. And to promote that tax cut without corresponding cuts in government spending, the administration is pushing an old idea - that tax cuts finance themselves. Ailsa Chang from NPR's Planet Money podcast found where that notion comes from.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: The story starts with a napkin. That's where economist Arthur Laffer first sketched the so-called Laffer curve more than 40 years ago.

Can I call you Art?

ARTHUR LAFFER: Oh, yes you may but not poop head. Please don't call me poop head.

CHANG: (Laughter)

Seventy-six years old and 12 grandchildren later, Laffer and his curve are back in the limelight.

LAFFER: I've been to this barbeque many, many times in many, many countries.

CHANG: This time, it's the Trump White House resuscitating his theory. And here's what the Laffer curve says, that cutting taxes may encourage businesses to invest more, hire more people. And all those new workers will pay taxes. That will mean more money for the government, so the original tax cuts end up paying for themselves.

Has there ever been any evidence in history in the United States where a tax cut has actually paid for itself?

LAFFER: Oh, tons of them.

CHANG: Which examples?

LAFFER: Whether you go back to Harding and Coolidge, or whether you look at Kennedy, or whether you look at Reagan.

CHANG: Let's take the first two. It's true, there were deep tax cuts in the 1920s and 1960s followed by economic booms, but no one can definitively prove the tax cuts were what caused those booms. As for Reagan, many economists say that's actually a great example of where Laffer was wrong.


RONALD REAGAN: Join me in this dramatic but responsible plan to reduce the enormous burden of federal taxation on you and your family.

CHANG: When Ronald Reagan took office, the top tax rate was 70 percent. He got Congress to slash it to 50 in 1981. Laffer was one of Reagan's advisers, and he was in the camp saying the steep tax cuts would pay for themselves. Others in the White House were not buying that.

DAVID STOCKMAN: I never believed that. And there was always a split within the church - the supply-side church, so to speak.

CHANG: That's David Stockman, Reagan's budget director. Just a few days after the cuts were signed into law, Stockman noticed something.

STOCKMAN: There was a horrific hole in the budget. In other words, the deficit had exploded or was projected to explode to levels never seen before in peacetime.

CHANG: Stockman convinced Reagan the tax cuts went too far, so over the next few years, there were some tax hikes. They had to stabilize spending. It was a lesson for future Republican administrations. Doug Holtz-Eakin was the Congressional Budget Office director under President George W. Bush.

DOUG HOLTZ-EAKIN: I'm a very conservative economist. I would love it if tax cuts paid for themselves, but I'm also someone who looks at the numbers. And there's just no evidence that the tax cuts actually pay for themselves.

CHANG: No question Trump's corporate tax cut could boost the economy. Businesses would invest in new plants, create jobs but probably not enough to cover the entire cost of that tax cut.

HOLTZ-EAKIN: It's just unlikely that you can move an economy that is approaching $20 trillion in size so much, so fast with a tax cut, that it will turn around and generate even more revenue.

CHANG: There is one other problem. What is the perfect corporate tax rate? Trump says 15. Laffer? Well, he advised Trump, but his answer's a little different.

How do you know that 15 percent is the magic point?

LAFFER: I don't know that it is, but I do know it's a heck of a lot less than 35 percent.

CHANG: Less is a concept most conservative economists can agree on, but no one seems to be able to prove exactly how less will amount to more. Ailsa Chang, NPR News.


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Sunday October 16, 2016

Canada's cowardly CEOs are sitting on billions, rather than investing in the economy - Michael's essay

In 2012, Mark Carney, then the governor of the Bank of Canada, chastised Canadian companies for sitting on "dead money." (Reuters) Listen 3:58

In August 2012, Mark Carney, then governor of the Bank of Canada, made a speech to the Canadian Auto Workers about corporate Canada. Mr. Carney, as you know, is now governor of the Bank of England, hence one of the most important people in the UK.

What he had to say was a kick to the delicate undercarriage of Canada's big businesses.

Governor Carney said that companies were sitting on huge piles of cash, what he called dead money. They weren't investing the money, just sitting on it.
It turns out Carney was being polite when he said the caution by Canadian CEOs might be excessive. It turns out that they are in fact scaredy cats. Chickens. Nervous Nellies. Cowards, even. - Michael Enright

"Their job," he said, "is to put money to work and if they can't think of what to do with it, they should give it back to their shareholders."

Stats Can reported that at the time of the governor's speech, companies were hoarding nearly half a trillion dollars in cash, an increase of 43 per cent since the end of the recession in 2009.

Canadian firms weren't doing enough to drive economic growth and create new jobs because the level of caution of CEOs was, in his words, "excessive."

It turns out Carney was being polite when he said the caution by Canadian CEOs might be excessive. It turns out that they are in fact scaredy cats. Chickens. Nervous Nellies. Cowards, even.

Last month, Deloitte published the results of a survey of big business which showed that fully 90 per cent of business leaders lack courage. As a result, the Canadian economy is suffering mightily, stuck in neutral, as Deloitte says. The report is entitled "The future belongs to the bold."

Now, this allegation isn't coming from some upstart startup run by nerds in linty sweaters and sneakers without socks.

Deloitte is the largest business services network in the world, with revenues this year of $36.8 billion. It works like the internal affairs division of a police department. It looked at 1,200 businesses across the country and discovered that 90 per cent lacked what the report calls courage.

The irony is that Deloitte found that the 10 per cent of so-called courageous companies did better at the bottom line than the chicken-hearted. Nearly 70 per cent of the courageous companies had rising revenues and fully 17 per cent increased their work forces. In other words, having guts pays off in terms of profits and in the doing, actually creates jobs. - Michael Enright

This is from the report: "At a time when Canada needs its businesses to be bolder and more courageous than ever before, almost 90 per cent aren't up to the task."

It found that Canadian executives are far more risk averse than those in other countries, especially the United States.

The bad news gets worse. Canadian firms invest less in machinery and equipment than those in comparable industrialized nations. Moreover, investment in training has dropped 40 per cent in the last 20 years.

The irony is that Deloitte found that the 10 per cent of so-called courageous companies did better at the bottom line than the chicken-hearted.

Nearly 70 per cent of the courageous companies had rising revenues and fully 17 per cent increased their work forces. In other words, having guts pays off in terms of profits and in the doing, actually creates jobs.

The report points out that executives may have some legitimate concerns, as the projected growth for the country next year is only 1.3 per cent — much less than other countries. It does not offer that as an excuse for hyper caution of business leaders.

In the end, Deloitte's findings can serve as a warning for Canadian CEOs to find a little courage somewhere and get the economy moving again.

Incidentally, the compensation for the top CEOs in this country is 159 times that of the average worker.

Wednesday May 10, 2017

Surviving Post-Capitalism: Coping, hoping, doping & shopping

An excerpt from How Will Capitalism End? by Wolfgang Streeck 1:34 Listen to Full Episode 53:59

The signs are troubling: the ever-widening chasm between the ultra-rich and everyone else. Mass protests. Political upheaval and social division. It looks as though the rocky marriage between capitalism and democracy is doomed, at least according to Wolfgang Streeck, who directs the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany, where he is also a professor of sociology. In conversation with Paul Kennedy about his book How Will Capitalism End?, he makes the unnerving case that capitalism is now at a point where it cannot survive itself. **This episode originally aired February 9, 2017.

(Verso Books, 2016.)

According to Streeck, capitalist societies are entering an interregnum -- a pause or suspension of normal governance -- as the system of capitalism collapses in on itself. In the absence of countervailing forces to keep it afloat, capitalism has essentially devoured itself. One consequence is a loss of state solidarity citizens in western countries have become used to. Streeck points to Italy, Greece and Spain, countries where young people can't get find jobs; where fewer people can live on their own; and where marriage and birth rates are declining. People everywhere are now trying to protect what little they have left.

Wolfgang Streeck sees day-to-day life in the interregnum in stark terms: coping, hoping, doping, and shopping. He says that when it comes to the harsh realities of the interregnum, those who cope well will wear their stress as a kind of badge of honour. Those who cope poorly will mask their inability with drugs and mindless consumerism.

Democracy vs. Capitalism

"Democracy was always a problem in a capitalist society. There's an enormous inherent tension between the two. Democracy is inherently egalitarian because every citizen has one vote. And the rich also have one vote but the rich are only five percent. Whereas in the market, every dollar has a vote. And the capitalist economy in particular functions according to -- I think it's [the Gospel of] Matthew -- where it says he who has will be given [more]. And he who has [little] will have even what he has taken away...

And where you have capitalism and democracy at the same time, you have a contest between these two principles of distribution: egalitarian versus inegalitarian. This is why democratic politics have always tried to intervene in the markets and tried to contain the "Matthew effect". You can also call it cumulative advantage if you want a more elevated term. So, where you have democracy in the form of trade unions, centre left political parties, sometimes centre right political parties, Catholic parties, and so on -- they look at the market and what comes out of the market and then they become concerned both about their capacity to get re-elected and about principles of justice which, in a democracy, are principles of social justice, not market justice."

Coping to Death

"Coping is an attitude or an activity whereby people who lack traditional support -- either from families or from social services -- work very hard to cope with increasing pressures on their everyday life.

And you can observe this in lots of studies on family life in the United States and Europe, where two people work full-time, they try to raise two children, they live a very sort of regulated, exhausting life in order to meet all the contingencies that hang together with competing in the labour market -- caring for others, caring maybe also for their parents, in a world in which external help is increasingly less available.

Now what I observe in ethnographic studies is that people actually can become proud of their ability to exhaust themselves in this struggle. So that they say we are coping, we're good, and others are less good or bad at coping. So it becomes a matter of pride to subject yourself to this rigid discipline imposed on you by the market."

Nuclear-Proof Apartments

"[In] The New Yorker, there was an article on survivalism among the American very, very rich. In my book, I envisage a situation in which inequality becomes so big that something happens that has never happened in society before in the history of human societies. That is, that the elites of society lose interest in the society as a whole because they can survive on their own.

Someone, for example, buys the silo of an intercontinental missile which is hardened against nuclear attack, and deep in the ground builds apartments that he sells within a matter of a few weeks to New York financial billionaires, tech billionaires from California, who all buy one of these apartments because they are afraid of the breakdown of social order, and of people taking guns and trying to go after them.

I think these people are not so unrealistic. I don't think they are obsessed. They see better than most others the decaying body of a system that can no longer keep itself together. I take this as a very interesting example of what I thought when I looked at the increase in inequality in our societies that we could be facing the moment when those who absorb and extract all the resources from these societies begin to think that they can dissociate themselves from it and live their own lives."

**The New Yorker article: "Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich"

The Coming Age of Uncertainty

"As a sociologist, I think we have to think very seriously about transitions in the structure of our societies. I happen to have come to the conclusion that we are facing a fundamental transition in modern societies, modern capitalist societies. And I feel that these societies have exhausted the capacity to build a framework, a social framework, around the hot core of capitalist profit-making -- so that we will see signs of social disintegration all over the place in unexpected, surprising ways, in a period in which we lose control and governance and orientation, and we'll live in an era of great uncertainty."

Further reading:
How Will Capitalism End? by Wolfgang Streeck, published by Verso Books, 2016.

PostCapitalism: A Guide to our Future by Paul Mason, published by Allen Lane, 2015.

The End of Alchemy: Banking, the Global Economy and the Future of Money by Mervyn King, published by W.W. Norton, 2016.

Related websites:
Wolfgang Streeck

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies

**This episode was produced by Naheed Mustafa.

Capital and corporate flight is a false threat, most having already happened or ongoing through tax avoidance.  It could have been eliminated in the 1980s through trade agreements and the WTO, if they had wanted to.  Capital flees to tax havens. Companies flee to countries with lower wages, environmental regulations, and labour standards. Then both gets to come back in and profit anyway. Apple makes its phones in China then profits from selling in North America. You wouldn’t need to put tariffs, 3ebargoes, or sanctions on China, just Apple, or just the phones. If you make it cheaper elsewhere, sell it cheaper there or more expensive here. The only actions taken against countries would be against tax havens. Financial and trade sanctions and embargoes could make under-cutting tax rates too expensive to be worthwhile.  Targeted punishment not trade wars could have slowed if not prevented the mutation from Liberal International Order to Neoliberal Investment Order.  Proper taxes would reduce the power of investors, especially the 8 who own half the world’s wealth, and help those displaced. When they commit offences, particularly those a s severe as 2008, investors need to be fined, imprisoned, or barred from investing, and financial institutions need to be sanctioned, fined, broken up, or nationalized. Freeze their accounts and seize their assets just like any other racketeers.  

If there was any inkling of real accountability in business, politics, trade, policing, or economics, people wouldn’t be so pissed-off and frustrated, willing to throw grenades at their own houses just to get someone to pay attention.  And most of the media treat it like a dramatic movie they are presenting, focusing on disagreement, conflict, extremes, and other tabloid areas.  Compromise, reasoned debate, and good-faith negotiation to achieve a common good may not be good for ratings, but it is essential for democracy. Not everything is dramatic conflict. Boring facts matter.
Trump is thought to keep Spicer on because he gets good ratings.  This is where the Neoliberal Investment Order has led us.  The left and right parties and media are too bust fighting over being right and being in power to actual serve their roles in the governing of their countries. 

30 years of inequality increasing with GDP as half the world’s wealth concentrated in the hands of 8 male investors. Sure hope the trickle starts soon. We’ve been performing the voodoo since the 1980s.

At U.N., Obama offers a defense of a liberal world order under siege

By Greg Jaffe and David Nakamura September 20, 2016

UNITED NATIONS — President Obama, in his final speech to the United Nations Tuesday, made an impassioned plea on behalf of a liberal world order that he admitted was under growing threat from wars in the Middle East and rising nationalism at home and in Europe.

Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly for the eighth and last time as president, Obama sought to rise above the conflicts of the moment and outline a future of international cooperation, stressing the importance of the global liberal institutions formed after World War II, including the United Nations.

“The world is by many measures less violent and more prosperous than ever before,” Obama said. But he acknowledged a growing global unease, fueled by terrorism and economic anxiety, which has led some Western politicians, including Republican nominee Donald Trump, to call for tough, new restrictions on immigration and global trade.

Obama often seemed to be speaking simultaneously to history and to an American electorate facing a historic choice.

The problems plaguing the world called for a “course correction,” the president said. He then catalogued the crises that have exposed “deep fault lines in the existing international order,” describing the financial disruptions caused by globalization, chaos in the Middle East and the massive refu­gee flows into Europe.

President Obama called on several nations with which he's had contentious relations to abide by international rules and do more to improve cooperation on a global level, while speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 20. (Reuters)

“Our societies are filled with uncertainty and unease and strife,” he said. “Despite enormous progress, as people lose trust in institutions, governing becomes more difficult and tensions between nations become more quick to surface.”

Obama rejected the strongman, top-down model pushed by many of his international rivals, including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. In the same breath he criticized those who push religious fundamentalism, aggressive nationalism and a “crude populism” that promises to return citizens to a “better and simpler age free of outside contamination” — a not-so-veiled reference to Trump’s campaign promise to “Make America Great Again.”

“We cannot dismiss these visions,” Obama said. “They are powerful.”

[Clinton stresses U.S. ‘resolve’ in terrorism fight while Trump promises to get ‘tough’]

Throughout his presidency, Obama has stressed the importance of diplomacy and international organizations, such as the United Nations. From his earliest days as a presidential hopeful he has preached the importance of reaching out to long-standing enemies.

Obama used his speech Tuesday to try to cement that legacy, pointing to his administration’s efforts to restore relations with Cuba and Burma, and its historic agreement with Iran last year.

“When Iran agrees to accept constraints on its nuclear program, that enhances global security and enhances Iran’s ability to work with other nations,” Obama said.

The days leading up to Obama’s last United Nations address, like much of his presidency, were dominated by concerns about war and terrorism. Obama’s remarks came one day after a manhunt led to the capture of a suspect linked to bombings in New York and New Jersey and hours after a tenuous cease-fire in Syria seemed to have collapsed. There were reports that Syrian or Russian aircraft had struck an aid convoy near Aleppo, just days after planes from the U.S.-led alliance mistakenly struck Syrian troops.

Obama steered clear of these topics in his speech, focusing on his broader vision for preserving the international order.

The president spoke of the economic unease caused by globalization, which has manifested itself during the presidential race in widespread opposition to international trade deals. Such agreements, Obama said, could bolster labor unions in the developing world and ensure that profits of the global economy are more evenly distributed.

“A world in which 1 percent of humanity controls as much wealth as the other 99 percent will never be stable,” Obama said.

He called for more vigilance to eliminate tax havens, fight climate change and curb the “excesses of capitalism.”

“A society that asks less of oligarchs than ordinary citizens will rot from within,” he said.

At times, Obama’s remarks were directed at his rivals in Russia and China who have in recent years forcefully pressed an alternative to his vision.

Obama dismissed suggestions by Russia that the West had played a role in the uprisings in Ukraine, insisting that the Ukrainians were fighting for universal principles and a more responsive government.

“They took to the streets because their leadership was for sale and they had no recourse,” Obama said.

He called for more work to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict, an unfulfilled goal of his presidency, and for more diplomacy to try to halt the bloodshed in Syria. He insisted China’s buildup in the South China Sea — which he dismissed as the “militarization of a few rocks”— could not provide a lasting solution to the territorial disputes there.

In other moments, Obama seemed to be addressing the American electorate and the deep divisions that have been revealed by the presidential election. He rejected the idea that a border wall could block the spread of disease, in the form of the Zika virus, or terrorism.

“The world is too small for us to be able to build a wall and prevent it from affecting our own societies,” Obama said. The president’s references to the futility of walls drew some chuckles in the General Assembly hall among world leaders who picked up the reference to Trump.

Near the end of his remarks and in a U.S.-sponsored refu­gee summit following his speech, Obama challenged his fellow leaders to do more to help the growing diaspora of refugees across the globe.

“We are facing a crisis of epic proportions,” Obama said. “I am here today, I called this summit because this crisis is one of the most urgent tests of our time.”

Many of the world’s refugees come from three countries — Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia — besieged by long wars with no end in sight. “The mentality that allows for violence with impunity is something we cannot excuse, and collectively we continue to make excuses,” Obama said. “We all know that what is happening in Syria, for example, is unacceptable and we are not as unified as we should be in pushing to make it stop.”

The White House said it had secured $650 million in pledges from the private sector and Obama has promised to boost the number of refugees the United States accepts next year to 110,000, a 30 percent increase from 2016.

The president concluded his U.N. General Assembly speech by returning, as he often did in the earliest days of his presidency, to his remarkable personal story. “My own family is made up of the flesh and blood and traditions and cultures and faiths from a lot of different parts of the world,” Obama said.

Obama cited his story as evidence of the existence of universal ideals and principles that are increasingly under assault in a globalizing world.

“I can best serve my own people; I can best look after my own daughters by making sure that my actions seek what is right for all people and all children,” Obama said.

See these related posts where I explore our grievances further, using examples from people far more expert than I.  The initial paragraphs are provided for reference.

The Reason Exploitative Precarious Work is Growing

Precarious work is not the new normal; it’s the old normal that we fought to end coming back, the self-imposed slavery of fear.  It has been normalized by neoliberal political and economic theory and a lack of Employment Standard moderation and protection, particularly in Alberta. 

Retail Banking is a Destructive Conflict of Interest

Banks aren't in the retail industry; they are essential services you can't function without. They should be non-profit to avoid the inherent conflict of interest and they need to be to actively regulated.
The main reason banks tells us we need a credit card is to establish a credit rating. The main reason for establishing a credit rating is for getting loans from banks who give out the credit cards. Notice a problem? It’s a vicious pressure cycle of debt for profit. 

Consumption Kills More People Today Than Ever Before

Around the same time Reagan and Thatcher unleashed their neoliberal poison based on a corrosive disbelief ion the existence of society, only individuals and family (nepotism anyone?), corporations decided exploitation of the customer was a better strategy than creating quality products. It was about the time that shares into the universal corporate product, shareholders the central concern and their profit a business’s highest legal obligation. “Planned obsolesce” legitimized the idea of selling cheap, disposable, irreparable crap for a huge markup. Many companies stopped selling parts and started designing their products not only to become useless and inoperable at a profitable time, but to be impossible to repair, even to open.  And then they build in required basic software, like a seat sensor that shuts down a tractor, that they own the rights to forever like a soul.  If it breaks, just buy a new one, right?

Executive Compensation is a Central Driver of Inequality

The reasons for growing inequality and wage stagnation are not mysterious. Automatic is playing a factor, as are unregulated, exploitative “free” trade agreements that put corporations ahead of nations. Also, the present financial system, or at least the so-called financial industry (an industry that produces nothing), is proven to damage an economy in proportion with its size, like a leech, and banks, as profit-earning, gambling, rate-setting institutions have an inherent and corrosive conflict of interest.

The Global Civil War: The Enlightenment, Nationalism, Anger, Inequality, IS, and Trump

Why is the world so angry?
These three programs from CBC Ideas help weave together the threads that reveal the answer.

Globalized Anger: The Enlightenment's Unwanted Child

Drone Warfare: Is Killing Terrorists Legal?

Surviving Post-Capitalism: Coping, hoping, doping & shopping 

The Neoliberal Promised Land: "The Return of History", "The Market as God" and "Democracy on Trial"

The following are from CBC's Massey Lectures, CBC Radio's Tapestry, and the TED Radio Hour. They detail and explore the problems were are facing today. Specifically the competition between capitalist economics and democratic politics.

One thing Jennifer Welsh doesn't mention is that the defeat of the Soviet Union was viewed as a triumph not of democracy over authoritarianism but of capitalism, particularly Reagan/Thatcher neoliberalism, over communism. (new comment: Reagan said he could bomb or spend the Soviets out of existence, he spent) So capitalism became the ruling system not democracy. Neoliberalism is almost treated as sacred by parties on all sides. Neoliberalism expanded the equality divide and that is threatening to turn democracy into oligarchy or raw authoritarianism. It is the dominant economic and political ideology.
Thatcher claimed that there was no such thing as society, only individuals and families. She was wrong but she has manged to create those very conditions. We are living in the a world where society is or has broken down down into competing individuals and families of interest. This is the Golden Age of Neoliberal Capitalism where the compassion required to help others and work together for the greater good has been deregulated to death and sold. Profit has replace true progress as a goal. This is Thatcher's dream made real.

The Cancer in the Heart of Modern America

With a fortune created serving Stalin and Hitler, critical to the German war machine, the Koch brothers have gripped America tightly in their tentacles. Drawing deep on the Tar Sands, they have gathered the American oligarchs and are changing the country to suit their desires, to service them.

Science Helps Study Reality, It Isn't Reality

Perception isn't reality, it helps shape it. Science is the measuring of perception. Blind faith in science is a religion.

Science is a method of skeptical investigation, experimentation, and repeated verification of observable evidence applied to applied to philosophical questions, theories, and principles regarding the nature of our reality. It uses the language of mathematics when words fail in accurate description. It never produces 100% certainty, just probability of prediction nearing 99.9%. Accurate measure is the key.

The Zombie Economy

Labour, defined by time and effort, is valuable. Barter enables the direct exchange of the physical products of labour. Currency is a medium to allow labour's value to be  stored and exchanged when direct products aren't possible or desirable. Rarity doesn't create value, it increases the labour involved.

Slavery: An Important and Informative Interview

 What do the shrimp on your plate, the cell phone in your pocket and the rising pollution levels in the developing world have in common? Kevin Bales says, in a word: slavery. Paul Kennedy talks with the author of Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide and the Secret to Saving the World.

An Interesting Look at Economics and Inequality

This is a re-post of a piece from Facebook by Nancy CM that describes the history of modern economics and conservative ideology that has caused depression after depression.

So what to do? 

The Mainstream act like we're on a train-track with no option but forward, that certain ideas are political suicide or economic, and that we can't stop and go backward without crashing. But we're not a track, it's an unruly ocean and we can alter course. We need to before another rogue wave capsizes the entire thing. 

We can't go back in time, but we can change the regulations, lack of regulation, laws, practices, assumptions and attitudes that produced and continue this widening disaster.  We have to stop treating economic guesses as scientific predictions and theoretical assumptions as facts. We have to stop sacrificing society to the unholy investor priests of the market god, to the 1% and the 8 highest among them. We have a WTO we need a WFO, a World Financial Organization that pressures economies into equal taxation and labour rights rather than unregulated trade in goods and money at the expense of these things. To end the competition to the bottom that benefits those at the top. To break up massive multinational conglomerates so that the investors of a few companies don't own everything. To separate investment and banking, arms production and industrial chemistry from healthcare and agriculture. To require that products be repairable and not designed to be addictive and need replacement every two years. 

Here are some other suggestions:

A universal basic income is becoming a more realistic and cost-effective idea, potentially vital to the new economy as well as society. It should be the only tax-free income, ideally indexed to inflation or cost of living. It would enable the consolidation of many social programs reducing costs involved in the separate supports and rebates while allowing lower taxes, as well as the elimination of some. While equalizing the playing field by providing a truly universal safety-net that also functions as a launcher for opportunity instead of dependence. It would increase productivity while decreasing  health, legal, and labour costs along with the general level of stress.

The Compassion Project, Only Compassion Defeats Dehumanization

Regardless if you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, animist, druid, or atheist, when you call for the harm of innocents, you commit to the satanic faith in terror and control. Calling for purity of ethnicity, nationality, ideology, or religion, is a cornerstone of evil. The only truly pure thing is compassion. Only compassion defeats dehumanization, stemming the flow of bodies fuelling the death in search of meaning, purpose, and purification.
Different from empathy and sympathy compassion is the strength to be willing to try and ease someone's suffering, to help them hold on and eventually stand up, or to let go at the end, yourself included. Equality, love, forgiveness, and peace, all require compassion to be real and lasting.

 Rewarding the Long-term View

It seems to me that the easiest way to change corporate thinking and influence from quarterly to looking ahead decades would be to only pay out executive bonuses upon retirement after a minimum term of service, instead of immediately.
This guy is bang-on. Arguments aren't defined by enemies yelling personal insults and inflammatory language at each other, but by opposite points of view debating the validity of ideas and the  potential mistakes in the reasoning involved. The attack upon the debater as a person is the lowest form of argument with no intelligence required. You can literally fling mud. We're living in a world of manipulation not persuasion. Popularity doesn't make things right. The base instincts are the easiest buttons to push.
Below are perfect examples of social capitalism and the true sharing economy. The first is a business model designed to generate half its profits for charity. Te second is an information sharing service giving strength and independence to traditional small farmers. They say the farmers provide answers for altruism but the sharing economy is based ion the idea that when these farmers do need information, they will find it in the same way in which they gave it. Paying it forward. What goes around comes around. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours when it gets itchy, or someone else will. A circular sharing web.
Young animals, of many species, play games to learn  and develop physically and mentally for the real work of survival of self and species. 
If you spend all your time competing in games, political or any other type, you have no lee to accomplish real work of lasting value
You can't see the entire mountain of truth from one point of view, particularly if it's the one that your feet are planted upon.
Life without defined meaning has no clear purpose and little potential for happiness, just survival.
This is an attempt to establish a stable foundation acceptable to both religion and philosophy simple enough to not pose inherent conflicts and to allow no room for equivocation or misinterpretation, yet applicable to all ethical situations and questions as part of an ethical framework.
If a free press engaged in journalistic investigation in pursuit of the public’s right to know is a vital part of modern democracy, then shouldn’t it be like the Judiciary, an independent branch of government with constitutionally guaranteed funding from the people rather than unpredictable corporate investors and advertising revenue?
Businesses always hoard cash and divest themselves of labour and a equipment in a downturn, usually hampering their recover when the inevitable, cyclical, upturn comes along. It also likely extends the downturn for a longer period of time. Confidence weakened or lost is hard to restore quickly, like a tree.
Beyond language, one of the biggest problems with immigration and accepting refugees is the refusal to accept credentials or a lack of accreditation evidence. This could be easily fixed with a little upfront investment.

Reforming the United Nations

First one important question, which body has the ability to reform the United Nations? Is it the General Assembly? If not it should have that ability as the closest thing to a world parliament. The members should be able to improve the institution to prevent petrification.
The UN will never be a calm, orderly place because no large council representing sovereign states or provinces can be. That’s the cost of allowing divergent ideas.  It will also always suffer from the inevitable bureaucracy of large institutions, which sometimes serves to put the brakes on haste, bad decisions.  However, there are three things that could be done to greatly progress it toward effectiveness at its stated purposes.

It was not impossible to get here. It's not impossible to get back. If we force the political will. Otherwise we only get political won't. We need a good, uniting, progressive, meaningful vision for our society or the those with evil ones will win. 

The Mainstream treat the idea of change as madness while wondering why we live in increasing insanity. The madness is here, it has been destroying the economy and tearing society apart for thirty years with toxic individualistic capitalism that denies the existence of society, grants morals and wisdom to casino-like manipulated markets and glorifies greed. Insane to try something different, perhaps something that was working pretty well until redirected?  Einstein's definition if insanity would disagree. 

Everything is Always in Process
Only Compassion Defeats Dehumanization