The trade agreements currently being negotiated by the Obama Administration are potentially enormously important in their possible impact on the United States. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being negotiated by 12 Asian-Pacific nations, and, if agreed to by Congress could be expanded in membership later on under the President’s sole authority. The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will encompass 29 nations, including the United States. And the third agreement, the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), perhaps the most dangerous of the three, will likely encompass 52 nations, if agreed to by all.
Local Left-wing Climate Denial and Climate Defeatism
I live in the Bay Area and am active in some local groups nominally committed to fighting climate change. California’s state government has stated its commitment to climate action and has recently passed a raft of measures that certainly express good intentions with regard to reducing emissions, though lack specific and binding mechanisms to achieve those goals. Local activists seem to want to maintain a certain level of ignorance about state policy and politics, though some of them, I have heard, slip away to lobby state government. There is no direct “street” pressure on state government to do more on climate other than a general “anti-fossil fuel” message, which in Sacramento politics is at least the stated intention of many Democratic lawmakers. As I noted a recent piece of mine critical of the climate movement’s genteel approach to climate action, climate action is defined as saying “NO” to various fossil fuel industry practices (fracking, oil trains, and now coal trains) but leaving out mention of the fundamental switch, from fossil to non-fossil energy sources and government’s role therein. How to stop in the most realistic and shortest time-frame California’s fossil fuel addictions in the areas of transport, heating and electricity generation are left mostly on a different “track” than the anti-fossil fuel industry message and the local dangers of oil or coal trains that captivate local activists. There is no public dialogue about further-going policies between Sacramento and the climate movement that involve HOW to transition to a non-fossil fuel dependent society; this is seemingly left to insiders or self-selected or hired policy wonks with the time and means to lobby government.
Defeatism, Climate Denial, and Climate Insouciance
The sources of climate defeatist attitudes are and will be diverse though one vast supply of defeatist sentiment will originate from those in the climate denial camp who must now concede that the climate has been changed, probably for the worse, by human activity. For instance, Rex Tillerson, Exxon CEO has attempted to spread an attitude of climate defeatism in some of his public utterances, when he is not acting as if climate change doesn’t exist in his role as Exxon CEO. It is perhaps not completely accurate to apply the “defeatist” label to those who have always worked for the defeat of climate action for a variety of personal, economic, and political reasons. “Defeatism” suggests that the person has in some way struggled on the side of the good and righteous and then decided to give up; those in the climate denial camp have always been against climate action. Still there are many in this camp and they can insert themselves into the broader discussion as “honest brokers” who pedal a message of defeat that reinforces their pre-existing worldview.
In the next few years, human beings will have the choice whether, on the one hand, to preserve the better shreds of current civilizations or hold onto the possibility to found entirely new, hopefully better civilizations, or, on the other hand, to destroy the possibility for human civilization to continue and head towards human self-extinction. We possess then an awful and, for many, unwanted power at this time. We will be facing opportunities for growth and advancement while at the same time facing compromises that will leave a good number of people dissatisfied and unhappy, as happiness is now conceived. To opt for the first choice, humanity will need to set itself within a very few years upon a new evolutionary course that some may resist and that others may embrace.
Julie Verhage and Alex Balogh have published a piece over at Bloomberg about 9 people who saw the Greek Crisis many years before everyone else did. Several names you will recognize from NEP. Three are from UMKC plus Warren Mosler. They warned about the euro system and crises like Greece. You can read the article here.
Pavlina Tcherneva discusses Greece’s Bailout with Richard Aldous on American Interest. You can listen here. She describes a deal that seems to contain more austerity than was initially proposed, and calls some of its economic incentives perverse. She discusses why the economic situation in Greece today is in some ways worse than was America’s Great Depression, and compares the decision to bail out Greece to Ireland’s austerity experience.
Now that Pope Francis’ visit to South America has ended we can reflect on the Rupert Murdoch’s effort to slam Pope Francis and Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa using the pretext of the Pope’s recent visit here. The Wall Street Journal warned “Ecuador’s Correa Wants to Co-Opt Pope Francis: The pontiff risks leaving the impression on his visit that the church condones repression.” Given that Pope Francis is Argentine, the idea that the Murdoch’s minions needed to inform and warn the Pope about President Correa is very funny.
Murdoch’s minions are always reaching for a thesaurus of insults when they write about Correa, and this article is no exception. The title: “condones repression” gets the verbal assault going quickly. But the minions are only warming to their task and are a bit repetitive, warning in the second paragraph that “the visit is likely to leave the impression that the church is in solidarity with the repressive Correa machine.” Note the addition of “machine” at the end of that agitprop.
I read a BBC story about the LIBOR criminal trial in the UK and was going to write to criticize its woeful analytics. In preparation I checked the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to see how they reported the devastating testimony in the trial. I could not, however, find any coverage in my electronic searches and viewing their web pages.
To review the bidding, the LIBOR bid rigging cartel was the largest cartel in history, manipulating the prices of an estimated $300+ trillion in assets. That is a figure considerably larger than the world’s combined GDP. Here are typical statements by the Department of Justice (DOJ) about the LIBOR cartel.