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Go Bernie Go! Stop TTIP, TPP and TiSA!

How bizarre that Trump becomes an authority on trade and economic populism! The “non-issue” media seems like the Homo Oeconomicus, only interested in profit maximization even while cutting down the branch on which it sits. The corporate media subverts the will of the people by putting Trump at the head of Yahoo and Facebook most days and repressing or forgetting Bernie Sanders.

The parallel private arbitration system in the TPP, TTIP, and TiSA endangers democracy and the constitutional state by giving foreign investors special rights, allowing corporations to sue states and chilling the public sector and all labor and environmental protections if anticipated profits are threatened. When decisions are rendered in hotel rooms, the public is excluded and appeals are prohibited. Only the 600 corporate trade representatives read and discussed the documents.

Here are links to four new pamphlets on the TTIP from the German Union Alliance (DGB):

CETA and Labor Standards


CETA and Public Services


CETA and Democracy


CETA and privileged rights to sue states for corporations


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Bernie is the electable one!

Investor Rights Agreements are not trade agreements and governments that don’t allow agreements to be read by officials or the public should be shamed into economic democracy. Transparency should not be made a nonsense word. If it is made a nonsense word, public spirit vanishes along with trust between the generations. Suspicion takes the place of trust. The one who can complete a sentence becomes president!

Ulrich Thielemann, a Swiss-German critical economist, emphasizes profit making is different from profit maximizing which is even self-destructive and perverse. Life is full of paradox and scandal since it is ambivalent and dialectical. What is rational from a micro-economic perspective (e.g. competition) can be disastrous from a macro-economic perspective (e.g. countries upended by mass unemployment). Thielemann wrote the article “Studying Economics Today is Like Brainwashing” and pleads for pluralist economics and economic ethics. An Austrian Economist Nicholas Krowall insists that profits explode while investments stagnate in late stage capitalism.

The state has a public nature though private interests often seem in the driver’s seat with privatization, deregulation, liberalized markets, tax havens and tax evasion. Bill Moyers grieves that the state has become an “errand boy” for the banks. Wall Street banks have three times as many lobbyists as there are political representatives and spent billions in the last decade to prevail in Congress. The corporate share in federal revenue has fallen from 40% in the 1960s to 8% or 9% today according to www.foreffectivegov.org.

The 159-page eBook anthology “Alternative Economics: Reversing Stagnation” is available from Smashwords.com. There is even a 50% discount for July! The appendix “Myths of the Economy” explains 29 state myths, labor myths, business myths and social myths. Enjoy the feast! 725 free movies are ours on www.openculture.com. 800 of my translations await you at www.freembtranslations.net. Don’t become listless or oblivious as neoliberal economic darkness becomes bipartisan!


Posted in Alternative Economics, Financial Market Capitalism, Reducing Working Hours | Leave a comment

Thanks Bernie for Running an Issues-Based and Justice-First Campaign!

Neoliberalism sets corporate profit above labor and environmental protection. The poor and unemployed are blamed for their misery. Problems are ascribed to government intervention and regulation since the market is held to be self-healing and sacrosanct raising all boats and leading ultimately to equilibrium. Corporations have rights without responsibilities and normalize tax evasion and tax havens as “business as usual.” The injustices and darkness in our taxation, investment and forever war policies are ignored or repressed as an “envy debate.”

The security state is a perversion of the constitutional state marked by generalized anxiety, apolitical people and susceptibility to rightwing myths. The state should represent the public interest and yet special interests seem to be in the driver’s seat with privatization, deregulation, liberalized markets, financial speculation, tax havens and corporate tax evasion. In the 1960s the corporate share in federal revenue was 40% and now is only 8% or 9% (cf. www.foreffectivegov.org). The state has become the “errand boy” of the banks (Bill Moyers).

Finance capitalism is an inequality machine, French economist Thomas Piketty explains in his best-selling “Capital in the 21st Century.” Simplistic solutions address symptoms and ignore causes, systemic and structural criticism. The Walton family has more wealth than 40% of Americans. The top 1% have more wealth than 99%. Tax havens, corporate tax evasion and neoliberal mythology are causes of exploding inequality.

Our society becomes a mirror of corporate feudalism where the luck of wealthy parents determines access to education. In Orwellian doublespeak, corporations are called people and money is called free speech. Corporations have rights and not responsibilities. All personal and corporate achievement was based on state investment in roads, schools, hospitals, water quality, food safety, air waves and community centers and nevertheless the “state evil business good” mantra resounds.

Thanks Bernie for running an “issues based” and “justice first” campaign, for emphasizing the social contract and MLK’s revolution of a “person-oriented” society instead of a “think-oriented society! Thanks Bernie for focusing on the injustices and darkness in our taxation, investment, and forever war policies! Thanks Bernie for being a truth-teller and pleading for the social interest and long-term necessities instead of special interests! Thanks Bernie for trying to bring our country into the 21st century and resisting the despair and hopelessness of corporate feudalism!

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Risk managers were risk creators

Hillary said “It’s time to think of Iraq as a business opportunity.” Yesterday or today according to a clip on Facebook, Obama campaigning said “there has never been a more qualified man or woman who ran for President in America’s history than Hillary.” Didn’t he ever hear of FDR? Do modesty and truth-telling fall by the wayside for hucksters obsessed with winning at any price?

Trump is not the first to do away with comedy. The neoliberal system, oligarchy, plutocracy, vulgar materialism, instrumental rationality, narcissism, nihilism, xenophobia, homophobia and war mongering can undermine truth-telling and love of life. Language and democracy are threatened by Newspeak as George Orwell warned.

Secret trade agreements, drone warfare, selective perception and bright-sided thinking (cf. Barbara Ehrenreich) lead people to be non-voters. The super-wealthy including the Clintons, Obama, the Bushes, and King Midas can live in a claustrophobic 2-inch world when they make criticism and alternatives into taboo realities.

Culture shock and critical thinking can open new worlds. To the instrumental rationalist or vulgar materialist, only what puts money in his pocket is real. System theory and theory in general explore how changing assumptions changes world views.

725 free movies, 700 free eBooks and 450 free audio books (including “1984”) are ours on www.openculture.com. Enjoy the feast! How can you be “hard-nosed” with 725 free movies?

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Propaganda: Making Alternatives Disappear

Propaganda: Making Alternatives Disappear by Rainer Mausfeld, 4/22/2016

The main responsibility of a government in a “democracy” is protecting the minority of the ownership class against the majority of the non-owners… Our bombing Arab countries is not terrorism but a struggle for freedom and human rights…There was a time of mutual symbiosis between democracy and capitalism. That was the New Deal.

The neoliberal indoctrination systems serve an industrial-scale manufacture of ignorance… The US strives for a full spectrum dominance in water, air, outer space and in the opinion market.

Double standards are part of our human nature. We see moral offenses of others very well but are remarkably tolerant with ourselves… We have pessimism of the intellect but optimism of the will. Go Bernie Go!

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Bertolt Brecht Testifies Before the House Un-American Activities Committee (1947), 2 min

Bertolt Brecht Testifies Before the House Un-American Activities Committee (1947)

from openculture.com who gives us 725 free movies


German poet, playwright, and theoretician, Bertolt Brecht—author of such famous works as The Threepenny Opera (1928) and Mother Courage and Her Children (1938)—was a committed Marxist who proposed a new theater to shatter what he saw as the comfortable middle-class conventions of both tragic and realist drama. His theory of “epic theater” underlay his practice, an attempt to shock audiences out of complacency through what he called Verfremdungseffekt (“defamiliarization” or “distancing effect”).

Brecht’s enormous influence was felt not only throughout Europe, but also in the United States, where he settled for a short time along with many other German artists and intellectuals fleeing Nazi persecution. In 1943, Brecht collaborated with fellow exiles Fritz Lang and composer Hanns Eisler on the film Hangmen Also Die!, his only Hollywood script, loosely based on the assassination of number-two leader of the SS, Reinhard Heydrich.

Despite Brecht’s anti-Nazi activities, in 1947 he was nonetheless called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and accused of writing “a number of very revolutionary poems, plays, and other writings.” HUAC, fueled by postwar Communist and subversive paranoia, investigated dozens of artists and provided the model for Senator Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunts of the 1950s. Brecht’s friend Eisler was also called to testify, having been denounced by his own sister. Brecht was criticized by many for his appearance. As part of the “Hollywood Nineteen,” a group of screenwriters subpoenaed by HUAC, he was one of eleven who actually appeared, and the only member of the group who chose to answer questions. The remaining ten, including eventually blacklisted writers Dalton Trumbo and Ring Lardner, invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. But Brecht was also the only foreigner in the group, as he put it, a “guest” in the country, and feared that his return trip to Europe would be delayed if he didn’t cooperate. After his testimony, Brecht wrote in a letter to Eisler:

“I see from some newspaper clippings that certain journalists thought I behaved arrogantly in Washington; the truth is that I simply had to obey my six lawyers, who advised me to tell the truth and nothing else. Not being a citizen either, I could no more refuse to testify than you could.”

Brecht’s testimony (excerpt above) has become somewhat legendary. The man who invented the theater of alienation turns this hearing into something of a piece of theater. Brecht did not lie to the committee; he denied official membership of any Communist Party, which was true. But his politics were decidedly problematic for HUAC. Instead of discussing them directly, Brecht gave answers that were often equivocal, ironic, or seemingly evasive, turning (like Bill Clinton’s post-Lewinsky testimony) on small matters of definition, or making use of the ambiguities of translation. For example, Chief Investigator Robert Stripling asks Brecht about a song entitled “Forward We’ve Not Forgotten” (from his play, The Decision) then reads an English translation of the song. Asked if he had written it, Brecht responds, “No, I wrote a German poem, but that is very different from this thing,” provoking laughter among the audience. In response to the question about his “revolutionary” writings, Brecht cleverly responds: “I have written a number of poems and songs and plays in the fight against Hitler, and of course they can be considered therefore as revolutionary, ‘cause I of course was for the overthrow of that government.”

The complete transcript of Brecht’s testimony is available here, and an audio excerpt is online here. Brecht’s testimony is a fascinating historical document of a time when censorship and political persecution were very much American activities.

Josh Jones is a doctoral candidate in English at Fordham University and a co-founder and former managing editor of Guernica / A Magazine of Arts and Politics.

Posted in Anti-militarism, Human Rights, Political Theory | Leave a comment

Happy Canada Day! 50% off in July

Happy Canada Day! Imagine a country without Wall Street and the Pentagon!

50% off in July on the new 159-page ebook anthology “Alternative Economics: Reversing Stagnation” from Smashwords.com.

Mainstream trickle-down economics is helpless in reversing exploding inequality and precarious jobs. Austrian, Swiss, Polish and German economists could show us the way to future-friendly economics respectful of human dignity and the rights of nature. Access, not excess and enough not more!
Unlike a chair, an idea can be shared by a whole people!


Posted in Alternative Economics, Financial Market Capitalism, Neoliberalism | Leave a comment

“We can change the status quo”

“We can change the status quo if we have a vision and think big,” said Senator Sanders. A political revolution is necessary, changing priorities, policies and assumptions to avert exploding inequality, a corporate plutocracy and an all-pervasive mistrust in pay-to-play government. The Walton family has more wealth than 40% of America. The richest 1% have more wealth than 99% thanks to tax havens, corporate tax subsidies and tax evasion.

All personal and corporate achievement is and was based on state investment in roads, schools, hospitals, water quality, food safety, airwaves and community centers. Unless we accept the combination of cooperation and competition, we set the cart before the horse and mistake the goat for the gardener and the arsonist for the fire-fighter! The state should represent the public interest – in a world where private opulence allows public squalor (John Kenneth Galbraith).

The state has become the “errand boy” for the banks (Bill Moyers). Pay-to-play (cf. Tom DeLay) was normalized along with revolving doors as checks and balances and regulations fell as profit barriers. Deregulation, privatization and liberalization of markets (The Washington Consensus) are increasingly seen as the causes of stagnation and the end to an open dynamic future. Bernie keeps us from confusing public interest and private interests, peace-making and warmongering.

60 minutes with Bob Dylan


Hear Young Bob Dylan, Before Releasing His First Album, Tell Amazing Tales About Growing Up in a Carnival
in Music | June 28th, 2016

Back in 2012, we featured a young Bob Dylan talking and playing on The Studs Terkel radio show in 1963. Open Culture’s Mike Springer prefaced the interview with these words, “Dylan had just finished recording the songs for his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, when he traveled from New York to Chicago to play a gig at a little place partly owned by his manager, Albert Grossman, called The Bear Club. The next day he went to the WFMT studios for the hour-long appearance on The Studs Terkel Program. Most sources give the date of the interview as April 26, 1963, though Dylan scholar Michael Krogsgaard has given it as May 3.” In talking with Studs, Dylan told some tall tales (scholars say) about his youth, ones that would have made Huckleberry Finn proud. And that tendency to create an alternative biography is on display again in an even earlier interview, dating back to March 11, 1962.

Animated by Blank on Blank above, the (excerpted) interview lets us hear Dylan, only 20 years old, before the release of his eponymous debut album, and before achieving any kind of fame. Young Dylan tells Cynthia Gooding, host of the “Folksinger’s Choice” radio program in NYC, about the six years he spent with the carnival.

I was with the carnival off and on for about six years… I was clean-up boy, I used to be on the main line, on the ferris wheel, uh, do just run rides. I used to do all kinds of stuff like that… And I didn’t go to school a bunch of years and I skipped this and I skipped that.

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Social Inequality in the Descent Society


Social Inequality in the Descent Society
by Oliver Nachtwey and Gerrit Bartels, June 2016

The elevator effect is not true any more. This changed from the 1990s. People no longer move up together. A society of descent, precariousness and polarization has come out of the society of ascent. The metaphor of the escalator describes this process. Ascents and descents have a collective and an individual dimension.

The gainful life has lost its former structure; careers and vocational paths have become intermittent.

Normative insecurities grow in a society that still sees itself as an ascent society where life in “reality” is no longer looking up. Many probably know the experience from their childhood of running up a down escalator. That seldom worked. In the descent society, many people constantly see themselves on a down escalator. They have to run up to keep their position.

Posted in Neoliberalism, Political Theory, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution | Leave a comment

30 minutes with Matthew Fox


Paul O’Brien interviews Matthew Fox on his Pathways program broadcast on KBOO.fm.

Matthew Fox is the author of the new book, A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey. Thomas Merton was an American Catholic writer and mystic, a poet, social activist, student of comparative religion, and a proponent of interfaith understanding. Merton’s marriage of mysticism and prophecy, contemplation and action closely paralleled that of Meister Eckhart, the thirteenth-century mystic. Fox creates a methodology for understanding the vast and deep contributions that Merton made to the history of spirituality. He is an internationally acclaimed theologian and spiritual maverick who has spent the past forty years revolutionizing Christian theology, taking on patriarchal religion, and advocating for a creation-centered spirituality of compassion, justice, and resacralizing of the earth.

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