Friday, February 21, 2014

Honey, I Need To Stop By The Post Office And Make A Deposit

First posted on DelawareLiberal on 2/21/2014 by ProgressivePopulist

Imagine that.  Swing by the Post Office and do your banking.  Deposits, not by mail, though you could from home or the Postal box down at the corner.  But actually do your banking when you send the kids a care package.  A really great idea with no downsides.
"No, too new, too radical", some naysayers say.  But wait.  They're doing it all over the world.  In crazy places like Great Britain, Japan, Germany, Israel, and Brazil.  Seems to work for them.  Why not for us?  Wait, we once did it here, from 1910 until 1966 you could do savings through the post office, in many dozens of locations across the country where there were few banks and always a post office.  The creation of the FDIC eliminated the natural advantages post office saving banks held against private  banks back then.
So, imagine this.  Small business micro-lending in communities banks, maybe tied to the SBA, the biggies  won't touch with a ten foot pole.  Pay-day loans with non-userious, obscene interest rates. Yes, to put these predatory lenders, financed by the biggies, out of business.   Checking with modest, fair fees, electronic transfers including to foreign countries for immigrants.  ATM's with reasonable fees.   Savings accounts.  Hey, and how about student loans and fair and reasonable rates?
Just go crazy thinking up banking services you aren't getting now from the mega-bank chains, at least at a fair and reasonable price.  Especially in communities, both urban and rural, where there are few or no banks.
And maybe these services and the expertise are contracted through local, community banks by the USPS, not the mega-chains.  This would give them and the USPS fresh cash flow and new outlets they might not be able to finance.  From brick and mortar already up and running.
Senator Warren, thank you for creative thinking outside the box.  And thank you for thinking about the people at the grassroots.  Senators Carper and Coons, will you get on board and get imaginative with her?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Corportations Reign Supreme

Originally published on 2/15/2014 in DelawareLiberal by ProgressivePopulist

You might have read that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, developed under the auspices of the Obama Administration is currently stymied, bottled up in both the House and the Senate, with lots of opposition.  Let's count our blessings while we can on this one.  Here's why, in a nutshell.
This agreement has many characteristics similar to NAFTA, according to experts who have taken a hard look at the actual letter of the NAFTA agreement.  First problem with comparing the TPP to NAFTA?  It is secret.  That's right.  Your government, even Congress does not have all the details of this new trade plan because it's authors won't release it for full examination.  In a democratic society, one has to wonder why such secrecy?  I'll tell you why.  The crafters of such agreements are corporate pimps whose agenda is enrichment of their sphere and that is best accomplished under the cover of darkness from public scrutiny.  The public interest is not under consideration with these rouge characters.
But, bits and pieces have been revealed over the past months by insiders who are alarmed by its potential damage to our very fragile economic recovery.  These revelations have seeped out mostly since the departure last year by Ron Kirk, the Administration's trade czar.  He's Obama's buddy who was once the mayor of Dallas and a Texas oligarch much favored by Tory Democrats.  Kirk started his political career as Secretary of State of Texas, a position appointed by the governor.   A lawyer, his career  background is corporate law and lobbying for corporate interests.  He's totally connected in that sphere, including with venture capital firms.  He's  back  in the influence peddling business  now following his retirement from the trade czar position held from the earliest days of the Obama administration.
So what did Ron Kirk and is minions put together in years of development and negotiation in the Pacific region?  Cost free investment opportunities for corporate investors with tax incentives to move money from U.S., British and E.U. based coffers into what have been characterized as "slave factories" in the Pacific region.  Analysts who look at this historically observe that what happens is what happened, for example,  to Spain with 25% unemployment in some demographic cohorts.  Boom to bust.  I suspect that the collapse of Greece was at least in part caused by similar scenarios. Money comes in, factories go up, cheap labor is hired and goods made.  But when cheaper labor or better deals on factory sites are offered in other geographic regions, the businesses move and the local economies go bust.  That's the scenario trade analysts with a critical eye see with the TPP information revealed to them.
But if this economic scenario isn't bad enough, these corporate moves are protected under the TPP with immunity  from that pesky inconvenience of government sovereignty.  These agreements trump government sovereignty, protecting them from external litigation.  Built into their deals are trade "courts"  immune from any engagement by government courts.  Example.  NAFTA "court" proceedings, which are secret, cannot be overturned by  U.S. courts, including the Supreme Court.  Pretty slick, eh?
The leaked information thus far is bad enough that the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have fast tracking currently bottled up.  We'll see what moves the corporate pimps make to shake it loose.   In the meantime, TPP skeptics and opponents are trying to get daylight shown on the agreement to reveal its full ugliness and potential damage to our nation and people.  Stay tuned on this.
Full disclosure.  I long ago worked with other  activists fighting to expose the damage NAFTA was doing to our economy and that of Mexico.  And, I have no love for Ron Kirk. After being honored  with an at large appointment to a 2008 DNC Convention Committee by the Texas State Democratic Executive Committee in 2008 for my work in party reforms and precinct organizing training I did for the Obama campaign, Ron Kirk derailed me.  When he was appointed Chair of the Texas DNC delegation and Obama campaign, he saw fit to unappoint me and replace me with a high dollar Dallas  contributor to both Republican and Democrat candidates, who was a member of his north Texas cabal.  I was replaced along with a few other loyal party activists.  When he was challenged by supporters in my camp he defended the dual contribution crowd as just good bipartisanship in the midst of a heated Texas campaign to restore the Democratic party.   Yes, while I'm long over this, I'm still not an admirer of Kirk who went onto show his true allegiances to big money.
The TPP is bad for America and needs full scrutiny and much debate.  Secrecy is a dead giveaway that more economic damage is hidden in the fine print and overarching protection of the corporate class.