by Tyler Durden
Sep 6, 2016 6:30 PM
Why does it seem like almost everything is made in China these days? Yesterday I was looking at some pencils that we had laying around the house and I noticed that they had been manufactured in China. I remarked to my wife that it was such a shame that they don’t make pencils in the United States anymore. At another point during the day, I turned over my television remote and I noticed that it also had “Made In China” engraved on it. With Labor Day just hours in the past, I think that it is quite appropriate to write about our transition from an industrial economy to a paper economy today. Since the year 2000, the United States has lost five million manufacturing jobs even though our population has grown substantially since that time. Manufacturing in America is in a state of stunning decline, our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted, and our formerly great manufacturing cities are in an advanced state of decay. We consume far more wealth than we produce, and the only way that we are able to do this is by taking on massive amounts of debt. But is our debt-based paper economy sustainable in the long run?
Back in 1960, 24 percent of all American workers worked in manufacturing. Today, that number has shriveled all the way down to just 8 percent. CNN is calling it “the Great Shift”…
In 1960, about one in four American workers had a job in manufacturing. Today fewer than one in 10 are employed in the sector, according to government data.
Call it the Great Shift. Workers transitioned from the fields to the factories. Now they are moving from factories to service counters and health care centers. The fastest growing jobs in America now are nurses, personal care aides, cooks, waiters, retail salespersons and operations managers.
No wonder the middle class is shrinking so rapidly. There aren’t too many cooks, waiters or retail salespersons that can support a middle class family.
Since the turn of the century, we have lost more than 50,000 manufacturing facilities. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of gleaming new factories have been erected in places like China.
Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?
At this point, the total number of government employees in the United States exceeds the total number of manufacturing employees by almost 10 million…
Government employees in the United States outnumber manufacturing employees by 9,932,000, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Federal, state and local government employed 22,213,000 people in August, while the manufacturing sector employed 12,281,000.
The BLS has published seasonally-adjusted month-by-month employment data for both government and manufacturing going back to 1939. For half a century—from January 1939 through July 1989—manufacturing employment always exceeded government employment in the United States, according to these numbers.
You might be thinking that government jobs are “good jobs”, but the truth is that they don’t produce wealth.
Government employees are really good at pushing paper around and telling other people what to do, but in most instances they don’t actually make anything.
In order to have a sustainable economy, you have got to have people creating and producing things of value. A debt-based paper economy may seem to work for a while, but eventually the whole thing inevitably comes crashing down when faith in the paper is lost.
Right now, the rest of the world is willing to send us massive amounts of stuff that they produce for our paper. So we keep producing more and more paper and we keep going into more and more debt, but at some point the gig will be up.
If we want to be a wealthy nation in the long-term, we have got to produce stuff. That is why the latest news from Caterpillar is so depressing. In addition to the thousands of layoffs that had been previously announced by the industrial machinery giant, it appears that a fresh wave of layoffs has arrived…
Hundreds of mostly office employees received layoff notices at one of the largest Caterpillar Inc. facilities in the Peoria area this week, just as the company announced plans to close overseas production plants and eliminate thousands more positions.
A total of 300 support and management employees at Building AC and the Tech Center in Mossville this week received job loss notifications that included severance packages, 60 days notice and mandated Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letters.
During this election season, you will hear many of our politicians talk about how good “free trade” is for the global economy. But that is only true if the trade is balanced. Unfortunately, we have been running a yearly trade deficit of between 400 billion dollars and 600 billion dollars for many years…
When you have got about half a trillion dollars more going out than you have coming in year after year that has severe consequences.
Let me try to break it down very simply.
Imagine that I am the United States and you are China. I take one dollar out of my wallet and I give it to you and then you send me some stuff.
After a while, I want more stuff, so I take another dollar out of my wallet and send it to you in exchange for more products.
But that stuff only lasts for so long, and so pretty soon I find myself taking another dollar out of my wallet and giving it to you for even more stuff.
Ultimately, who is going to end up with all the money?
It isn’t a big mystery as to how China ended up with so much money. And when we can’t pay our bills we have to go and beg them to let us borrow some of the money that we sent to them in the first place. Since we pay interest on that borrowed money, that makes China even richer.
This is why I am so obsessed with these trade issues. They truly are at the very heart of our long-term economic problems.
But most Americans don’t understand these things, and they seem to think that our debt-based paper economy can just keep rolling along indefinitely.
In the end, history will be the judge as to who was right and who was wrong.
By David Dayen
The Obama administration’s desire for “fast track” trade authority is not limited to passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In fact, that may be the least important of three deals currently under negotiation by the U.S. Trade Representative. The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would bind the two biggest economies in the world, the United States and the European Union. And the largest agreement is also the least heralded: the 51-nation Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).
On Wednesday, WikiLeaks brought this agreement into the spotlight by releasing 17 key TiSA-related documents, including 11 full chapters under negotiation. Though the outline for this agreement has been in place for nearly a year, these documents were supposed to remain classified for five years after being signed, an example of the secrecy surrounding the agreement, which outstrips even the TPP.
TiSA has been negotiated since 2013, between the United States, the European Union, and 22 other nations, including Canada, Mexico, Australia, Israel, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, and others scattered across South America and Asia. Overall, 12 of the G20 nations are represented, and negotiations have carefully incorporated practically every advanced economy except for the “BRICS” coalition of emerging markets (which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).
The deal would liberalize global trade of services, an expansive definition that encompasses air and maritime transport, package delivery, e-commerce, telecommunications, accountancy, engineering, consulting, health care, private education, financial services and more, covering close to 80 percent of the U.S. economy. Though member parties insist that the agreement would simply stop discrimination against foreign service providers, the text shows that TiSA would restrict how governments can manage their public laws through an effective regulatory cap. It could also dismantle and privatize state-owned enterprises, and turn those services over to the private sector. You begin to sound like the guy hanging out in front of the local food co-op passing around leaflets about One World Government when you talk about TiSA, but it really would clear the way for further corporate domination over sovereign countries and their citizens.
Reading the texts (here’s an example, the annex on air transport services) makes you realize the challenge for members of Congress or interested parties to comprehend a trade agreement while in negotiation. The “bracketed” text includes each country’s offer, merged into one document, with notations on whether the country proposed, is considering, or opposes each specific provision. You need to either be a trade lawyer or a very alert reader to know what’s going on. But between the text and a series of analyses released by WikiLeaks, you get a sense for what the countries negotiating TiSA want.
First, they want to limit regulation on service sectors, whether at the national, provincial or local level. The agreement has “standstill” clauses to freeze regulations in place and prevent future rulemaking for professional licensing and qualifications or technical standards. And a companion “ratchet” clause would make any broken trade barrier irreversible.
It may make sense to some to open service sectors up to competition. But under the agreement, governments may not be able to regulate staff to patient ratios in hospitals, or ban fracking, or tighten safety controls on airlines, or refuse accreditation to schools and universities. Foreign corporations must receive the same “national treatment” as domestic ones, and could argue that such regulations violate their ability to provide the service. Allowable regulations could not be “more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the service,” according to TiSA’s domestic regulation annex. No restrictions could be placed on foreign investment—corporations could control entire sectors.
This would force open dozens of services, including ones where state-owned enterprises, like the national telephone company in Uruguay or the national postal service of Italy, now operate. Previously, public services would be either broken up or forced into competition with foreign service providers. While the United States and European Union assured in a joint statement that such privatization need not be permanent, they also “noted the important complementary role of the private sector in these areas” to “improve the availability and diversity of services,” which doesn’t exactly connote a hands-off policy on the public commons.
Corporations would get to comment on any new regulatory attempts, and enforce this regulatory straitjacket through a dispute mechanism similar to the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process in other trade agreements, where they could win money equal to “expected future profits” lost through violations of the regulatory cap.
For an example of how this would work, let’s look at financial services. It too has a “standstill” clause, which given the unpredictability of future crises could leave governments helpless to stop a new and dangerous financial innovation. In fact, Switzerland has proposed that all TiSA countries must allow “any new financial service” to enter their market. So-called “prudential regulations” to protect investors or depositors are theoretically allowed, but they must not act contrary to TiSA rules, rendering them somewhat irrelevant.
Most controversially, all financial services suppliers could transfer individual client data out of a TiSA country for processing, regardless of national privacy laws. This free flow of data across borders is true for the e-commerce annex as well; it breaks with thousands of years of precedent on locally kept business records, and has privacy advocates alarmed.
There’s no question that these provisions reinforce Senator Elizabeth Warren’s contention that a trade deal could undermine financial regulations like the Dodd-Frank Act. The Swiss proposal on allowances for financial services could invalidate derivatives rules, for example. And harmonizing regulations between the U.S. and EU would involve some alteration, as the EU rules are less stringent.
Member countries claim they want to simply open up trade in services between the 51 nations in the agreement. But there’s already an international deal governing these sectors through the World Trade Organization (WTO), called the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The only reason to re-write the rules is to replace GATS, which the European Union readily admits (“if enough WTO members join in, TiSA could be turned into a broader WTO agreement”).
That’s perhaps TiSA’s real goal—to pry open markets, deregulate and privatize services worldwide, even among emerging nations with no input into the agreement. U.S. corporations may benefit from such a structure, as the Chamber of Commerce suggests, but the impact on workers and citizens in America and across the globe is far less clear. Social, cultural, and even public health goals would be sidelined in favor of a regime that puts corporate profits first. It effectively nullifies the role of democratic governments to operate in the best interest of their constituents.
Unsurprisingly, this has raised far more concern globally than in the United States. But a completed TiSA would go through the same fast-track process as TPP, getting a guaranteed up-or-down vote in Congress without the possibility of amendment. Fast-track lasts six years, and negotiators for the next president may be even more willing to make the world safe for corporate hegemony. “This is as big a blow to our rights and freedom as the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America in a statement, “and in both cases our government’s secrecy is the key enabler.”
Obama’s Secret Treaty Would Be The Most Important Step Toward A One World Economic System
By Michael Snyder, on November 12th, 2014
Barack Obama is secretly negotiating the largest international trade agreement in history, and the mainstream media in the United States is almost completely ignoring it. If this treaty is adopted, it will be the most important step toward a one world economic system that we have ever seen. The name of this treaty is “the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and the text of the treaty is so closely guarded that not even members of Congress know what is in it. Right now, there are 12 countries that are part of the negotiations: the United States, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These nations have a combined population of 792 million people and account for an astounding 40 percent of the global economy. And it is hoped that the EU, China and India will eventually join as well. This is potentially the most dangerous economic treaty of our lifetimes, and yet there is very little political debate about it in this country.
Even though Congress is not being allowed to see what is in the treaty, Barack Obama wants Congress to give him fast track negotiating authority. What that means is that Congress would essentially trust Obama to negotiate a good treaty for us. Congress could vote the treaty up or down, but would not be able to amend or filibuster it.
Of course now the Republicans control both houses of Congress. If they are foolish enough to blindly give Barack Obama so much power, they should all immediately resign.
And it is critical that people understand that this is not just an economic treaty. It is basically a gigantic end run around Congress. Thanks to leaks, we have learned that so many of the things that Obama has deeply wanted for years are in this treaty. If adopted, this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, healthcare, copyright and patent protection, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more. This treaty includes many of the rules that alarmed Internet activists so much when SOPA was being debated, it would essentially ban all “Buy American” laws, it would give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and it would force even more domestic manufacturing offshore.
In other words, it is the treaty from hell.
In addition to imposing Obama’s vision for the world on 40 percent of the global population, it is also being described as a “Christmas wish-list for major corporations”. Of the 29 chapters in the treaty, only five of them actually deal with economic issues. The rest of the treaty deals with a whole host of other issues of great importance to the global elite.
The following list of issues addressed by this treaty is from a Malaysian news source…
• domestic court decisions and international legal standards (e.g., overriding domestic laws on both trade and nontrade matters, foreign investors’ right to sue governments in international tribunals that would overrule the national sovereignty)
• environmental regulations (e.g., nuclear energy, pollution, sustainability)
• financial deregulation (e.g., more power and privileges to the bankers and financiers)
• food safety (e.g., lowering food self-sufficiency, prohibition of mandatory labeling of genetically modified products, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease)
• Government procurement (e.g., no more buy locally produced/grown)
• Internet freedom (e.g., monitoring and policing user activity)
• labour (e.g., welfare regulation, workplace safety, relocating domestic jobs abroad)
• patent protection, copyrights (e.g., decrease access to affordable medicine)
• public access to essential services may be restricted due to investment rules (e.g., water, electricity, and gas)
Why can’t we get this type of reporting in the United States?
And if this treaty is ultimately approved by Congress, we will essentially be stuck with it forever.
This treaty is written in such a way that the United States will be permanently bound by all of the provisions and will never be able to alter them unless all of the other countries agree.
Are you starting to understand why this treaty is so dangerous?
This treaty is the key to Obama’s “legacy”. He wants to impose his will upon 40 percent of the global population in a way that will never be able to be overturned.
Of course Obama is touting this treaty as the path to economic recovery. He promises that it will greatly increase global trade, decrease tariffs and create more jobs for American workers.
But instead, it would be a major step toward destroying what is left of the U.S. economy.
Over the past several decades, every time a major trade agreement has been signed we have seen even more good jobs leave the United States.
And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this is happening. If corporations can move jobs to the other side of the planet to nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, they will make larger profits.
Just think about it. If you were running a corporation and you had the choice of paying workers ten dollars an hour or one dollar an hour, which would you choose?
Plus there are so many other costs, taxes and paperwork hassles when you deal with American workers. For example, big corporations will not have to provide Obamacare for their foreign workers. That alone will represent a huge savings.
Any basic course in economics will teach you that labor flows from markets where labor costs are high to markets where labor costs are lower. And at this point it costs less to make almost everything overseas. As a result, we have already lost millions upon millions of good jobs, and countless small and mid-size U.S. companies have been forced to shut down because they cannot compete with foreign manufacturers.
Later this month, consumers will flock to retail stores for “Black Friday” deals. But if you look carefully at those products, you will find that almost all of them are made overseas. We buy far, far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us, and that is a recipe for national economic suicide.
We consume far more wealth that we produce, and anyone with half a brain can see that is not sustainable in the long run. The only way that we have been able to maintain our high standard of living is by going into insane amounts of debt. We are currently living in the largest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and at some point the party is going to end.
Please share this article with as many people as you can. We need to inform people about what Obama is trying to do.
If Obama is successful in ramming this secret treaty through, it is going to do incalculable damage to what is left of the once great U.S. economy.
First Congress Member Allowed to Read Secret Treaty Says:
“There Is No National Security Purpose In Keeping This Text Secret … This Agreement Hands The Sovereignty of Our Country Over to Corporate Interests”
We reported last year:
Democratic Senator Wyden – the head of the committee which is supposed to oversee it – is so furious about the lack of access that he has introduced legislation to force disclosure.
Republican House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is so upset by it that he has leaked a document on his website to show what’s going on.
What is everyone so furious about?
An international treaty being negotiated in secret which would not only crack down on Internet privacy much more than SOPA or ACTA, but would actually destroy the sovereignty of the U.S. and all other signatories.
It is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Wyden is the chairman of the trade committee in the Senate … the committee which is supposed to have jurisdiction over the TPP. Wyden is also on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and so he and his staff have high security clearances and are normally able to look at classified documents.
And yet Wyden and his staff have been denied access to the TPP’s text.
Indeed, the decision to keep the text of TPP secret was itself classified as secret: Video
(I have also received a tip from a credible inside source that TPP contains provisions which would severely harm America’s national security. Specifically, like some previous, ill-conceived treaties, TPP would allow foreign companies to buy sensitive American assets which could subject us to terror attacks or economic blackmail.)
Yesterday, Congressman Alan Grayson (who knows how to read legislation … he was a successful lawyer before he was elected to Congress, and has written and co-sponsored numerous bills himself including the bill to audit the Federal Reserve and – most recently – the “Mind Your Own Business Act” to stop NSA spying) announced that he had been allowed to read the text of TPP – and that it is an anti-American power grab by big corporations:
Last month, 10,000 of us submitted comments to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), in which we objected to new so-called free trade agreements. We asked that the government not sell out our democracy to corporate interests.
Because of this pressure, the USTR finally let a member of Congress – little ole me, Alan Grayson [anyone who’s seen Grayson in action knows that he is formidable] – actually see the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a large, secret trade agreement that is being negotiated with many countries in East Asia and South America.
The TPP is nicknamed “NAFTA on steroids.” Now that I’ve read it, I can see why. I can’t tell you what’s in the agreement, because the U.S. Trade Representative calls it classified. But I can tell you two things about it.
1) There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret.
2) This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.
3) What they can’t afford to tell the American public is that [the rest of this sentence is classified].
I will be fighting this agreement with everything I’ve got. And I know you’ll be there every step of the way.
Congressman Alan Grayson
Grayson also noted:
It is ironic in a way that the government thinks it’s alright to have a record of every single call that an American makes, but not alright for an American citizen to know what sovereign powers the government is negotiating away.
Having seen what I’ve seen, I would characterize this as a gross abrogation of American sovereignty. And I would further characterize it as a punch in the face to the middle class of America. I think that’s fair to say from what I’ve seen so far. But I’m not allowed to tell you why!
Remember that one of the best definitions of fascism – the one used by Mussolini – is the “merger of state and corporate power”. Our nation has been moving in that direction for a number of years, where government and giant corporations are becoming more and more intertwined in a malignant, symbiotic relationship. TPP would be the nail in the coffin for free market economics and democracy.
Note to progressives who support public banking: This is a key battle.
Note to those who oppose to what they call “one world government” or a “new world order”: This is the big fight.