As the United States imposes sanctions on Russia and moves to do likewise to Venezuela, it’s essential to keep in mind which country it is that’s the most destructive and dangerous in the world today. When such questions have been posed in international polls in recent decades, the answer overwhelmingly is the United States. Not Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia or any of the many other nations the ruling class and corporate media here regularly demonize, but the United States.
“The real question to me is not whether private banks should be allowed to create money through the lending process, but whether – and to what extent – there should be private banking at all. Nationalized banking, at least the nationalization of big banking, should be considered, in my opinion.”
A few days ago, we published a podcast-interview with Ben Dyson, of Positive Money. After sharing it on Facebook, Dmytri Kleiner suggested the following article, written by Peter Cooper and originally published in heteconomist.com, which criticises some of Positive Money’s proposals. Aside from his suggestion to stop playing nice with private banking altogether (which I agree with), Cooper states, “The biggest problem is the notion of an undemocratic, independent committee determining the government’s capacity to create new money”. Conversely, Positive Money argues that “… the MCC (Monetary Creation Committee) is a democratically accountable transparent public body with the remit to work in the public interest.”
Now, to me, “democratically accountable” isn’t the same thing as democratically elected, even if it arguably is, by proxy. Nor do I think that representative democracy is all that democratic, but I understand Positive Money’s choice to keep their narrative within mainstream ideology, even if a lot of it is quite subversive. They’re certainly doing a good job of opening Pandora’s box in exposing money creation, and it’s my hope that this will serve as a gateway drug to the work of Silvio Gesell or Charles Eisenstein, among others.
We’ve long known that life isn’t fair and that the world’s wealth is unevenly distributed. But the latest factoid from Oxfam on global poverty and inequality is breathtaking. In a new report, the nonprofit reports that just 85 people—the richest of the world’s rich—hold as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion. That’s half the world’s population.
In other words, the top 0.00000001 percent are worth as much as the bottom 50 percent combined. The top 1 percent, meanwhile, control nearly half the world’s wealth, or 65 times as much as the world’s less-fortunate half.
This kind of report should engender outrage. We can not feed little children nor care properly for the poor and disabled. But welfare for corporations knows no bounds. It is absolutely mad, and it is destroying us. Most of us are aware that the government gives mountains of cash to powerful corporations in the form of tax breaks, grants, loans and subsidies–what some have called “corporate welfare.” However, little has been revealed about exactly how much money Washington is forking over to mega businesses. Until now.
A new venture called Open the Books, based in Illinois, was founded with a mission to bring transparency to how the federal budget is spent. And what they found is shocking: between 2000 and 2012, the top Fortune 100 companies received $1.2 trillion from the government. That doesn’t include all the billions of dollars doled out to housing, auto and banking enterprises in 2008-2009, nor does it include ethanol subsidies to agribusiness or tax breaks for wind turbine makers.
What Open the Book’s forthcoming report  does reveal is that the most valuable contracts between the government and private firms were for military procrument deals, including Lockheed Martin ($392 billion), General Dynamics ($170 billion), and United Technologies ($73 billion).
Trade agreements are a subject that can cause the eyes to glaze over, but we should all be paying attention. Right now, there are trade proposals in the works that threaten to put most Americans on the wrong side of globalization.
The conflicting views about the agreements are actually tearing at the fabric of the Democratic Party, though you wouldn’t know it from President Obama’s rhetoric. In his State of the Union address, for example, he blandly referred to “new trade partnerships” that would “create more jobs.” Most immediately at issue is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which would bring together 12 countries along the Pacific Rim in what would be the largest free trade area in the world.
Negotiations for the TPP began in 2010, for the purpose, according to the United States Trade Representative, of increasing trade and investment, through lowering tariffs and other trade barriers among participating countries. But the TPP negotiations have been taking place in secret, forcing us to rely on leaked drafts to guess at the proposed provisions. At the same time, Congress introduced a bill this year that would grant the White House filibuster-proof fast-track authority, under which Congress simply approves or rejects whatever trade agreement is put before it, without revisions or amendments.
Controversy has erupted, and justifiably so. Based on the leaks — and the history of arrangements in past trade pacts — it is easy to infer the shape of the whole TPP, and it doesn’t look good. There is a real risk that it will benefit the wealthiest sliver of the American and global elite at the expense of everyone else. The fact that such a plan is under consideration at all is testament to how deeply inequality reverberates through our economic policies.
Worse, agreements like the TPP are only one aspect of a larger problem: our gross mismanagement of globalization.
Fifty years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Central Intelligence Agency is refusing to release classified documents in CIA Officer George Joannides’ file that could perhaps determine what really happened in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
Moreover, if you think the CIA’s recent secret searches of computers and its deletion of documents that were used by Senate committee members in their investigation of a controversial interrogation program, as U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., charges, is appalling, if not unconstitutional and a perversion of justice, consider what the CIA has done regarding congressional JFK assassination inquiries.
In court filings, the CIA contends that at least 295 documents in Joannides’ administrative file can never be released in any form, due to “national security.” However, the CIA’s national security claim has never been independently verified.