Because the world is so extraordinarily interconnected today – economically, technologically, militarily, in every way imaginable – instability anywhere can be a threat to stability everywhere.
John Kerry, three days before the Paris attacks
I ask him whether the American business community is naïve about its role in China, and he squints at me, as if I’d asked the wrong question. Then he half-smiles. “We are at a tipping point where we are no longer in control.” Given America’s almost moribund federal authority over trade, China is largely free to manipulate the greed and cowardice of our corporate leaders, in ways that every day concentrate more control in their own hands. The national interest? Only a cacophony of interests manipulated from afar, like France… just before Vichy.
Barry C. Lynn, The American Prospect, Fall 2015
THE CAPITALIST FREE MARKET CORRECTIONS ACT (CaFMaC)
* * CaFMaC Fixes [almost] Everything * *
Section 81. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) The USA hereby withdraws from all those dozens of damned so-called free trade agreements and bad deals that ever since 1980 have been closing down our good American jobs and sending them to foreign countries that pay slave wages. Nuts to all so-called free trade agreements that establish trade which is not free. 2) The USA hereby STOPS all payments to and support of the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund that we’ve been allowing to steadily erode our national sovereignty. We hereby declare we are free and independent of their decisions which we will no longer allow to control our internal national affairs. Nuts to them too. 3) And we already took care of those multi-national mega-corporations in our midst that really liked selling their foreign-made stuff in every American city and village, worshipping only wealth, and caring not a whit for the best interests of the USA or any other sovereign nation. Biggest nuts of all to their memory. 4) The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is hereby abolished summarily, its staff are summarily fired, and its furniture and file cabinets are summarily given to the National Pork Board, which won’t be abolished for another year or two yet. If you think you can stomach the awful details, try reading the blather.
The Congressional blather version: Acknowledging that past actions of this Congress in cahoots with various Executive Branch appointed fifth columns from Wall Street’s high-finance chieftains have essentially castrated the United States federal government’s authority over international trade by the giant multinational corporations including even our own, and have inanely handed that authority gratis to extra-governmental international trade institutions with corporate members and motives having no (NO) commitment to the best interests of United States citizens, which international trade institutions we ourselves helped to create, the Congress hereby summarily reverses itself by declaring that United States financial contributions to and involvements with the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund, and all their agencies and affiliates of every nature whatsoever, are hereby terminated sine die. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is hereby abolished summarily, its functions are discontinued in their entirety, its staff are terminated and barred from federal reemployment for not less than twenty (20) years, and its furniture, computers and file cabinets are hereby given to the National Pork Board.
United States worldwide commitments to a veritable host of standing, in-process and overlapping misnamed “free trade” agreements with other countries and blocks of countries, including but by no means limited to AFTA, CAFTA, DR-CAFTA, GAFTA, NAFTA, SAFTA, TAFTA, SHAFTA, APTA, MEFTA, CEFTA, COMESA, SICA, SADC, MERCOSUR, TPP, GCC, FTAA, G-3, US-SAUC, EFTA-SACU, and EU-ACPS, are hereby abrogated utterly and in their entirety. Except for the few severely limited imports and exports by co-ops permitted under strict governmental supervision and regulation as provided for in this Act, U.S. withdrawal from the globalized financial economic system shall be accomplished as rapidly as possible, and shall be as complete as practicable for a period of not less than ten (10) years. After ten years have passed, and with understanding that the United States shall never return to a sovereignty-robbing system like the existing globally-integrated one-worlder financial/economic system, a national assessment shall be conducted pursuant to determining whether to continue, or to provisionally relax, complete and total United States withdrawal from such global integrated financial system as may exist at that time
With this measure it is the intent of Congress: 1) to recognize the role of the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and so-called free trade agreements, in promoting and advancing a tightly integrated international economic model which is extremely corporatized and monopolistic while fostering a globalized economic system that is fundamentally harmful to genuine free trade and to the prospect of democracy in every country on earth; 2) to recognize that these powerful international organizations, founded for noble reasons, have become antithetical to the very sovereignty and independence of whole nations and to the economic wellbeing of the citizens of all democratic nations; …
…3) to repudiate increasing impoverishment of world citizens and increasingly gross inequality in the distribution of wealth in every nation everywhere on earth, which intolerable conditions are directly caused by untrammeled disproportionate mega-growth of corporatization, monopolization, globalization and extra-governmental rules of grossly misnamed “free trade” agreements in direct contradiction of the stated humanitarian purposes for which these institutions and agreements were originally set up; and …
…4) to terminate United States participation in these moral wrongs, while acknowledging that participating nations’ compliance with free trade “rules” was from the beginning a strictly voluntary decision in any case – enforceable only if the participating national governments permitted themselves to be seduced and subordinated to corporate power – this all being led and advocated primarily by the multinational corporations which are uncommitted to the interests of the United States or of any other nation and which profit greatly from such rules after causing the rules to come into being with little or no public notice or debate. Congress hereby acknowledges that they do it for the money.
Congress also calls attention to the example of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Even while the TTIP was under negotiation by the U.S. and European Union in 2015, there was wide recognition that it will deeply violate sovereign rights of the signatory nations. The TTIP’s stated purpose is “to remove barriers to market access” and to secure “restriction of national regulation.” In plain language this means corporations may go around national laws (“barriers”) which, by protecting consumers from corporations’ predatory and harmful tactics, may restrict the fullest possible attainment of corporations’ potential profits. As Britain’s Sir Anthony Atkinson explains, what the TTIP calls barriers are in fact some of our most cherished social standards and environmental regulations, such as labor rights, food safety rules, limits on toxic chemicals, and banking safeguards against a repeat of the 2008 financial disaster.
Atkinson continues, “A key element in the proposed agreement is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement procedure, which allows corporations to bring cases [lawsuits] against national governments, challenging national regulation,” but does not allow those same governments – or trade unions, or consumer organizations, or individuals – to bring [lawsuits] against the corporations. The TTIP “agreement” protects the corporations, but protections for consumers and workers are not mentioned. As with most other trade agreements, the corporations may sue governments to overturn laws legally enacted by the peoples’ elected representatives, but there is no vice versa for the governments, their citizens or anybody else. And they call this “free trade.” Thus do so-called free trade agreements propagated by corporations and their lackeys infringe trade that is genuinely “free” while robbing sovereign nations of their sovereignty and their citizens of their economic security.
Horror stories of corporations successfully suing to overturn American laws and legal regulations abound, but always out of sight – in international non-governmental courts set up for the purpose – and thus unnoticed by the citizens who, naturally abhorring economics, read only newspapers and the occasional magazine. Or inform their intellect by watching Fox News on TVs that are never turned off.
We the members of Congress further note that those of us who were conscious in the late 1940s and 50s well recall the derision heaped upon those who assisted in the birth and early establishment of the United Nations, dedicated to basic human rights and an end to the terrible ravages of modern warfare. Those humanitarian souls, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, were derisively called “one-worlders” and worse, out of ignorance and fear that the United Nations would grow into a world government which might infringe the sovereignty of nations. Those casting the biggest stones and with the loudest mouths were those selfsame chieftains of corporate gigantism and their toadie Chambers of Commerce, all intent on so-called “free trade” with endless corporate mergers, takeovers and unimpeded growth, who today press in every way for interlocking global financial systems which increasingly trump and infringe the sovereignty of nations. Even that long ago they recognized that a United Nations committed to civil justice, human rights and economic fairness constituted an impediment to the control they wanted for themselves.
Capitalism won’t fall at all the way Karl Marx predicted. As a product of his times Marx was way off the mark. The way it will fall is, it will succeed. Its self-defining inevitable growth toward hugeness and monopoly guarantees its own inevitable demise. A skyscraper five miles tall grounded on a single city block is an absurdity, it has to fall. When free-market capitalism vanquishes everything and everybody, it will fall. Count on it. The sad part is how many innocents it will take down with it when it goes. And it will all have been so damn unnecessary. Those in charge could change this awful trajectory – if they only had the moxey. And why do they not see what’s blatantly right in front of their noses? Why because of the money – that’s where they get their reelection campaign money.
Section 82. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) The USA will teach other nations how to set up nice smart non-profit co-ops like ours and thereby get rid of their own predatory corporations – even Basque Spain and Argentina which started the job but failed to carry it through. 2) We’ll show the whole world how to have truly free trade and real competition that holds prices down to levels their poorest citizens can afford. 3) We’ll also show them how to get along, economically independent, without kowtowing to a globalized economic system that rigs everything in favor of giant corporations.
The Congressional blather version: There is hereby established in the Department of State a Foreign Cooperatives Development Agency (FCDA) to assist other nations that may wish to implement cooperative-based non-profit commerce in ways comparable to the U.S. experience with cooperative-based competition. The FCDA shall ensure that subsequent U.S. trade agreements, if any, with other nations shall protect the sovereign and inherent right of both parties to set their own rules governing their own national economies in their own self interest, without reference to or fear of rules of non-governmental organizations, such as the World Bank, World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund, which have no commitment to the natural internal interests of any nation and have come to serve only the profit-making interests of international corporations.
With this measure it is the intent of Congress to reduce and minimize international economic dislocations which may temporarily arise and be potentially problematic to some nations upon U.S. withdrawal from the interlocking global financial system. The many previously nonexistent problems that system has created include, and are not limited to, making whole nations vulnerably dependent on a single export commodity, the price of which they can no longer set themselves; issuing condition-laden loans which increase hardship on debtor nations’ citizens and especially their poorest citizens; degrading sovereignty and democracy while increasing inequality of income and wealth in every nation which participates in the globalized system; placing the entire United States population at financial risk from the extreme complexities and computerized vulnerabilities of the digitized virtual global financial system in which money becomes less real with every technological advance; and making American interests of every nature vulnerable to unknowable and unpredictable disruptions within that virtual global economic system.
It is the express intent of Congress that the United States shall conduct, promote and advocate truly competitive cooperative-based economic exchange, everywhere under local (decentralized) control subject to national (centralized) oversight, to the common good of the men, women and children of the United States and of all other nations, and to the advancement of peace among all humankind.
[T]he way some people used the term “development…implied that there was only one way for a country to succeed – and that was to become like the developed world, with its cars and its air conditioning and its secularism and its nuclear power and its shopping malls. It implied that the developed world got that way through “industrialization,” a largely benign matter of improving technology. There was no reminder, in the optimistic and apolitical notion of “development,” that industrialization had depended upon slavery and colonial plunder in the past, or that it might lead to environmental disaster in the future.
Larissa MacFarquhar, The New Yorker
Section 83. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) The traditional United States national policy to defend the nation against foreign aggressors – after which the Department of Defense is named – is hereby restored. We don’t have a Department of Offense and we don’t want to start any wars and we don’t want anybody else’s country – we just want them all to leave ours alone and mind their own business. 2) And we will mind our own business by bringing home to the USA all our troops now deployed everywhere overseas (except southern Korea). All our foreign bases will be sold if we own them or rendered useless and abandoned if we don’t. 3) You want a meaningful tax cut? – pay attention now. At latest count (nobody is able to actually count), we had “somewhat more” than a thousand military bases in “about” 130 nations around the world (nobody’s really sure where and how many), and they are costing us “more than” $1.2 million tax dollars every minute. Yes – every minute of every day. There is some potential for saving money here. Nobody – most certainly not the Pentagon – is able to provide exact definitions of the terms “bases,” “troops” or “deployed.” The only thing everybody agrees on is “worldwide.” As if we were the world’s cop, which – most decidedly – we aren’t. In a grown-up world, all nations are on their own. Aggression and dependency are obsolete.
More Plain English
4) The thousands of returning military units will stimulate thousands of new American jobs to build and equip new bases for them, and will greatly boost the nation’s renewable energy initiatives. 5) Most new domestic bases will be built along our northern and southern land borders. Troops will be ordered to enforce U.S. laws against illegal immigration across those borders, and to teach detained illegal border crossers our rules on legal immigration before sending them home. 6) The seven major principles of U.S. defense policy are spelled out in the blather below, and you really ought to read them.
The Congressional blather version: The Congress hereby enacts the Defense Restoration Initiative (DRI). The Department of Defense and Department of State, and associated agencies of every nature who shall not all be named but expressly including the separate services’ intelligence arms, shall, under the unimaginable dread of being reorganized, RIFd, merged or abolished, collaborate with truly unprecedented fullness of cooperation in implementing the DRI by taking all necessary and appropriate actions to restore the historical United States national policy of a militarily defensive posture, in pointed distinction to the phenomenon of militarily offensive posture which, though not without precedent in United States history, has so creepingly evolved into prominence since 1945 and most notably since the ill- and ignoramously-rationalized preemptive multi-nation attacks by the U.S. after the year 2001 which have contributed so momentously to the growing blight of worldwide terrorism and terrorist attacks down to the present moment.
Any person who, either independently or as an employee of these named and unnamed agencies of government, may demonstrate failure to recognize and support the United States tradition of civilian control over the military by in any way acting, actively or passively, in such a manner as to subvert or impede expeditious implementation of the DRI, shall be sentenced to life imprisonment in Poverty School and Gambling School, alternating every other year in each until dead, the enforced departure and permanent fix rules being suspended in this case and this case only. With these matters established, here is exactly what shall be done and done with all due speed.
Within three (3) years after enactment of this Act, that same three (3) years being this Act’s allotted deadline for all federal government agencies and contractors to achieve not less than eighty percent (80%) renewable energy independence, all military personnel of all military units presently deployed to locations outside the United States shall be permanently returned home to military bases in the continental United States, its territories and possessions, with the sole and notable exception of southern Korea which must continue to be protected with physical military presence because of the multigenerational insanity prevailing in that country’s northern provinces. The foreign bases thus evacuated by U.S. troops shall be closed and 1) sold at fair local market value, if owned by the United States, or, 2) if not so owned, rendered substantially useless for military purposes and then abandoned.
The Congress hereby acknowledges certain counting problems encountered in preparing this Section, hereby attesting that such counting problems, as Ronald Reagan would affirm, Are The Problem. At latest count, “latest” being uncertain, U.S. military-occupied foreign bases are somewhat more than one thousand (1,000) in number, more or less, are located approximately as noted below, and account for a substantial fraction of current military-dedicated spending at a known rate of more than $1.2 million tax dollars each and every minute of every hour of every day (which is $20,000 per second). All other quantities and terms associated with this topic are “approximate” because the best minds Congress employs or contracts with cannot pin down the exact numbers of U.S. troops deployed to foreign bases, the exact numbers of the bases themselves, the exact definitions of the terms “bases,” “troops” or “deployed,” or anything else whatsoever concerning this matter. In broad perspective there would sorta seem to be more or less about:
Year 2010: 900 bases in 130 nations worldwide.
or 2011: 1077 bases, unless it’s 1088, or perhaps 1,169 or 1,180 in “many” or “most” countries worldwide. All parties remarkably agree on “worldwide.”
Figures later than 2011 prove exceedingly difficult to nail with any veracity, nor do the numbers above represent veracity. Numbers of military personnel assigned to these bases may be thought of as numbering in all about 255,000, but should probably be thought of as at least one-third to one-half million when clandestine operatives are added to the alleged “count” (and not counting non-clandestine U.S. civilians and locally hired foreign staff). These more-than-1,000 bases contain in aggregate at least 845,441 buildings and “equipments” – a term of unclarifiable meaning – occupying some 30 million acres of planetary land surface. The Pentagon’s official “Base Structure Report” presents much lower numbers, suggesting that the generals know even less than this Congress’ staff were able to ascertain.
In all of this subject, notably excepting the per-minute spending rate, the only number ascertainable with certainty is the number “zero.” Congress therefore directs that this very clear and unarguable number shall be the number of United States military bases to be maintained hereafter on foreign soil, with the noted and deserving exception of southern Korea. Congress expressly directs that U.S. military forces shall be withdrawn with deliberate dispatch:
1) from all western Europe, because three-quarters of a century after World War II our wealthy European allies are under no imminent threat and are perfectly able to defend themselves;
2) from eastern Europe and Asia for the same visceral reason that we don’t like the idea of the large and powerful nuclear-armed governments whose homelands are in those areas putting their troops out to foreign bases close by our own home borders;
3) from all of the Middle East and almost all of Africa because peace, civil order and especially democracy can be neither imposed nor expected in socially non-modern societies dominated by tribes with exclusively tribal allegiances steeped in and controlled by various deeply fundamentalist religious mindsets all dating from the first millennium and devoid of our own unique political/philosophical historical background, and further because vain hopes of transplanting sophisticated modern democracy of the Western type into the anomalously primitive post-colonial pseudo-nations of the Middle East and Africa where slavery and violence are considered normal can be entertained only by the most grievously uninformed minds soaked in credulity and ignorance; and
4) from Latin America where the memory and resentment of petty U.S. meddling and corporate-military interventions will not diminish for generations yet to come.
This substantial influx of returning military units, and the great need for new home bases generated thereby, shall be regarded as an unprecedented incentive and opportunity to speed the nation’s initiatives toward renewable energy and energy independence, and, in like manner, as a quite large stimulus to the domestic labor market in terms of hundreds of thousands of new civilian jobs required for building the new bases and maintaining them in relative perpetuity thereafter, not to mention then influx of new veterans needing civilian employment.
The Congress hereby reiterates and clarifies unequivocally the seven basic guiding principles of United States military policy, that all persons and foreign nations may be fully cognizant thereof:
1) The U.S. Constitution charges the federal government to provide for the common defense. Being clearly directed to protect U.S. citizens from threats which may arise from outside the United States, this Constitutional charge is the basis on which standing military forces are maintained. United States armed forces therefore exist only to defend the nation from foreign military aggression, their purpose being neither to defend nor advance any particular economic model or political exigency other than by declaration as may from time to time be sought by the People, enacted by the Congress and signed by the President. Congress hereby acknowledges the truth of the statement by former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, to wit, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraq War is largely about oil.” Preemptive war and preemptive military initiative by United States armed forces, being inherently offensive, are hereby forbidden under pain of the severest penalties. The Department of Defense (DoD) is hereby renamed the Department Of Defense Only.
2) Civilian control of the nation’s military forces is as dominant today as when the republic was established, and shall not be diminished.
3) An exclusively defensive posture shall not preclude the nation’s right to establish and maintain geopolitically expedient alliances and treaties with other nations which share common interest with United States, to support U.S. scientific interests in Antarctica, or to maintain intelligence functions essential to the nation’s defense. U.S. armed forces, though based domestically, shall at all times maintain full capability to respond quickly and in strength to any place on the earth with troops, nuclear and conventional weaponry. Congress hereby authorizes immediate construction of ten (10) new state-of-the-art aircraft carriers. Unless directed otherwise by the Commander In Chief on an emergency basis, the standing first-priority defensive duty of these aircraft carriers shall be to prevent any nation from disturbing the volatile clathrates on the ocean floors because of the great risk to humankind and to all life on earth represented by the clathrates, by potentially catastrophic releases of their methane, and the unknowable consequences of such vast releases into the worldwide atmospheric commons. The Department of Defense Only shall enforce unconditionally this provision unless and until the science of ocean clathrates and risk-free extraction technology is adequately, if ever, understood and this order is changed or rescinded.
4) The U.S. military deterrent of nuclear weapons shall be maintained in full readiness at all times in the belief that its presence does in fact deter latent aggressive urges of militarily powerful others who, in the absence of such deterrent, might on any given day be tempted, for ideological motives or for sheer greed, to invade, seize or destroy United States land, wealth and lives, as was the Japanese Empire at Pearl Harbor, as was the barbarian Hitler in many sovereign European nations, and as demonstrably are countless other pathological outlaws throughout the world in all historical times to the present day including, and not limited to, religious/ideological terrorists both foreign and domestic.
5) Most of the new domestic bases on which the returning military units are to be stationed shall be constructed along our northern and southern land borders, and those units shall be substantially engaged hereafter in enforcing U.S. laws against illegal immigration across those borders, as directed elsewhere in this Act. The resulting new bases are to constitute de facto a defensive military presence along our land borders, along our coastlines, and nearby all U.S. ports and international airfields.
6) Excepting only temporary deployments, as could be needed in a defensive war or military action declared by Congress on behalf of the United States and/or its allies, total and complete return of the United States military from foreign bases to U.S. soil shall be permanent. Any exception to this permanency that might be requested in the future shall be decided in an emergency referendum submitted to the citizens of the United States.
7) The Congress hereby acknowledges that the perennial tension between United States foreign policy grounded in geopolitics, whereby policies and actions are pragmatic and expedient to the unforeseeable exigencies of each unique situation, versus foreign policy grounded in principle, whereby policies and actions invariably reflect a “right and moral high ground,” is unlikely to be resolved within the lifetimes of persons living today.
And while we’re at it, the U.S. weapons establishment in its vast entirety, from input supplies for manufacturing to final retail sales, is hereby nationalized and sales, if any, of military weaponry and ammunition to other nations shall be hereafter decided and administered jointly by the Department of State and the Department of Health and Human Services with advice and consultation from the Department Of Defense Only, and the sale of civilian rifles, shotguns and pistols, where permitted, shall be hereafter administered and controlled by state and local governments in like manner as are ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) retail stores in some states, with proviso that if a state or local government which permits civilian gun sales declines to take on this role for such sales then the federal government shall operate the retail outlet(s) in that state or locale.
Also, coincidentally, the Congress hereby directs that the customer service departments of all U.S. co-ops, not-yet-abolished corporations and other businesses of every nature, without exception whatsoever, whose duty is claimed to be to communicate verbally and to solve the problems, issues and complaints of U.S. citizens who telephone customer service departments in expectation of receiving helpful service, shall be removed from India and from all other foreign places to which corporations have malevolently moved them in the name of cutting salary costs, and that such services, along with the great pile of in-America jobs they represent, shall be returned home to the United States where they shall be staffed by United States citizens capable of speaking comprehensible English without a super-speed clipped accent and who shall be paid at the prevailing living wage rates mandated by this legislation. Any person hereafter convicted of moving or trying to move one or more customer service jobs from the United States to India or to any other foreign nation, or even just thinking about it, shall be sentenced to one hundred (100) days in Gambling School.
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MAJOR FIXES ARE ON THE WAY
READERS COMMENT: Your ideas are invited for dealing with the issues addressed here. These posts present new perspectives – THIRD OPTIONS – to move beyond the conservative-liberal divide that is so poisoning our national sense of shared community. New and wiser options are always available to make life in America better for all the people. What are yours?