TTIP: Deregulation, Attack on Jobs and End to Democracy, 42 pp, February 2014

to read the 42-page booklet by John Hilary published in February 2014, click on

http://rosalux.gr/sites/default/files/publications/ttip_web.pdf

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a comprehensive free trade and investment treaty currently being negotiated – in secret – between the European Union and the USA. As officials from both sides acknowledge, the main goal of TTIP is to remove regulatory ‘barriers’ which restrict the potential profits to be made by transnational corporations on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet these ‘barriers’ are in reality some of our most prized social standards and environmental regulations, such as labour rights, food safety rules (including restrictions on GMOs), regulations on the use of toxic chemicals, digital privacy laws and even new banking safeguards introduced to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. The stakes, in other words, could not be higher.

This booklet, written by John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want, explains in short what TTIP is and how it will affect the lives of all of us if it comes into force. The Rosa-Luxemburg foundation tries to cast some light into this secretly negotiated treaty and to encourage resistance, by bringing together experts, civil society and politicians in workshops and conferences in Europe and the USA.

more information at http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=183
and
http://www.alternativetrademandate.org/

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Free internet Book: The Triumph of Failed Ideas – European models of capitalism in the crisis, 286 pp

to read “The Triumph of Failed Ideas,” edited by Steffan Lehndorff, click on

http://www.etui.org/content/download/5164/51374/file/12+A+triumph+of+failed+ideas+WEB.pdf

Table of contents
Steffen Lehndorff
Introduction – The triumph of failed ideas ……………………………………………………………… 7
Dominique Anxo
From one crisis to another:
the Swedish model in turbulent times revisited …………………………………………………… 27
Damian Grimshaw and Jill Rubery
Reinforcing neoliberalism: crisis and austerity in the UK…………………………………. 41
James Wickham
After the party’s over: the Irish employment model and the paradoxes
of non-learning …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 59
Steffen Lehndorff
German capitalism and the European crisis:
part of the solution or part of the problem? …………………………………………………………. 79
Florence Jany-Catrice and Michel Lallement
France confronts the crisis:
economic symptoms exacerbate social inequality…………………………………………….. 103
Christoph Hermann and Jörg Flecker
The Austrian model and the financial and economic crisis …………………………….. 121
András Tóth, László Neumann and Hortenzia Hosszú
Hungary’s full-blown malaise …………………………………………………………………………………. 137
Maria Karamessini
Sovereign debt crisis: an opportunity to complete the neoliberal project
and dismantle the Greek employment model …………………………………………………….. 155
Annamaria Simonazzi
Italy: Chronicle of a crisis foretold ………………………………………………………………………… 183
Josep Banyuls and Albert Recio
Spain: the nightmare of Mediterranean neoliberalism…………………………………….. 199
Hans-Jürgen Urban
Crisis corporatism and trade union revitalisation in Europe ………………………….. 219
Janine Leschke, Sotiria Theodoropoulou and Andrew Watt
How do economic governance reforms and austerity measures affect
inclusive growth as formulated in the Europe 2020 Strategy?……………………… 243
List of contributors …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 283

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Political Myths and Elite Misanthropy by Herbert Schui

Political Myths and Elite Misanthropy by Herbert Schui, May 2014

In his new book “Political Myths and Elite Misanthropy,” Professor Herbert Schui explains the myth of the achiever, the myth of state indebtedness, the myths of competition and the market and the myth of market-conforming democracy. Clinton used New Testament themes like “the new covenant” and created demeaning workfare and the activating state while encouraging banksters and fraudsters to speculate and create money out of thin air. The economy should be a part of life, not a steamroller crushing self-determination and creativity.

to read the reading sample of “Political Myths and Elite Misanthropy” published in May 2014 and translated from the German on the Internet, click on

http://la.indymedia.org/news/2014/06/264457.php

RELATED LINKS:

On the Myth of the Achiever

Andreas Exner, “The State as a Human Cage,” March 20, 2013
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/02/03/18750233.php

On the Myths of State Indebtedness, Market and Competition

Hans-Jurgen Urban, “The Tiger and its Trainers,” 2013

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/01/06/18748818.php

Konstantin Wecker, “Inhuman Capital,” February 6, 2015

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/02/25/18751525.php

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Tax Extenders Cost Billions by Deborah Field, May 31, 2014, www.oregonlive.com

Tax Extenders Cost Billions
by Deborah Field

Fifteen years as an accountant in corporate America taught me that big multinational companies think they can play by their own rules. That’s especially true when it comes to taxes: Some corporations take pride in paying close to nothing in federal income taxes. Now that I run my own small printing and stationery businesses, I’m paying my fair share along with the rest of the middle class.

Too many big companies avoid taxes by lobbying Congress to riddle the law with loopholes. Some lawmakers aid their efforts – then complain that the law has holes like Swiss cheese. How big are those loopholes? Large enough that 26 large, profitable U.S. corporations paid absolutely nothing in federal income taxes from 2008 to 2012, according to the watchdog organization Citizens for Tax Justice. Verizon, Boeing and General Electric combined paid less in federal income taxes over five years than your family or my small business paid in taxes in one year. There is something deeply wrong with that.

I’m proud to pay my fair share of taxes. Most of us realize that it’s the price of sustaining our public infrastructure, schools, legal system and other things essential to making America an excellent place to do business. Corporations that take advantage of all America has to offer and then refuse to pay their fair share in taxes are shirking their civic responsibilities.

Small businesses like mine don’t have bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. But big corporations use offshore tax havens to dodge billions of dollars in taxes every year. When big corporations use tax havens to avoid paying taxes, the rest of us end up paying more. Oregon taxpayers will have to pay $1,022 this year on average to make up for the combined losses in federal and state tax revenues from tax havens, according to a report by U.S. PIRG. Oregon small businesses will have to pay $3,125 on average.

The good news is some of the loopholes that enable large corporations to hide their profits offshore recently expired. The bad news is Congress is on course to bring them back.
One of the expired tax loopholes, known as the “active financing exception,” enables banks and other companies with financing operations to make it appear that U.S. profits were earned in offshore tax havens. General Electric depends on this loophole to lower its tax bill, and so has put four dozen lobbyists working to keep it alive, according to a recent study by Americans for Tax Fairness and Public Campaign.

Thanks to the “GE Loophole” and other tax dodging tricks, GE hasn’t paid a dime in federal income taxes over the last five years even though it’s made $27 billion in profits. Instead, it’s gotten $3 billion in refunds.

The GE Loophole isn’t just unfair to small businesses; it’s a burden to us all. If the loophole is renewed, it will cost $62 billion over the next decade. That’s money we won’t have to fix roads, build schools, or find medical cures—the kinds of investments that strengthen our communities and boost small business.

Even in Washington, expired corporate tax breaks wouldn’t stand much of a chance of being renewed through stand-alone legislation. But they’ve been cleverly bundled with scores of other tax changes that mostly benefit businesses into an innocuous sounding package known inside the Beltway as “tax extenders.” The total cost is $86 billion for two years, but none of it is paid for meaning it will get added to the budget deficit.
The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on this measure soon. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the bill’s chief sponsor, recently declared this would be the “last extenders bill on my watch.” It should be the last package of corporate tax giveaways, period.

When the recession hit in late 2008, our sales suddenly fell 50 percent. My customers didn’t have as much money to spend on our products. We had to lay off most of our staff. Those are the kind of problems small businesses have to face and overcome. They can’t be fixed by sweetheart deals for large corporations like the GE Loophole.

Congress should let corporate America know it has to play by the same rules as everybody else. Let’s end tax breaks that favor giant corporations and focus on supporting our small businesses in local communities and their customers.

Deborah Field co-owns Paperjam Press in Portland and serves on the executive committee of the Main Street Alliance of Oregon, a coalition of over 2,200 small business owners.

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Video: Capital in the 21st Century, 1hr 30min

to watch the 1hr 30 min presentation by Thomas Piketty, click on

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=heOVJM2JZxI#t=0

Joe Stiglitz And Paul Krugman On ‘Capital In The Twenty-First Century’

The French economist Thomas Piketty (Paris School of Economics) discussed his new book ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ at the City University of New York Graduate Center. In this landmark work, Piketty argues that the main driver of inequality — the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth —threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. He calls for political action and policy intervention.

Joseph Stiglitz (Columbia University), Paul Krugman (Princeton University), and Steven Durlauf (University of Wisconsin–Madison) participated in a panel moderated by LIS Senior Scholar Branko Milanovic. The event was introduced by LIS Director Janet Gornick, professor of political science and sociology at the Graduate Center.

Posted in Thomas Piketty | Leave a comment

Video: Ha-Joon Chang on Economics, 26min

Ha-Joon Chang is a professor of politics and economics at Cambridge University.

to hear Prof. Chang on “What is Economics? A User’s Guide,” 26 min from 5/23/2014, click on

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yZAfLIKrp9A#t=0

In his talk, Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang provides the fundamental tools that every responsible citizen needs to understand – and address – our current economic woes.

The talk was chaired by Guardian columnist Zoe Williams and draws on Ha-Joon Chang’s latest book: Economics: The User’s Guide: A Pelican Introduction, in which he explains how the global economy works, and why anyone can understand the dismal science. Unlike many economists who claim there is only one way of ‘doing economics’, he introduces readers to a wide range of economic theories, from classical to Keynesian, revealing how they all have their strengths, weaknesses and blind spots.

more at www.nextnewdeal.net, www.foreffectivegov.org, www.therealnews.com, www.steadystate.org, www.worklessparty.org, www.onthecommons.org, www.progressive-economics.ca, and www.social-europe.eu

Posted in Alternative Economics | Leave a comment

Financial Bubble Inflammation by Tomasz Konicz

Bubble formation covered up a period of long-lasting stagnation… Former US Treasury secretary Larry Summers even spoke of stagnation as a “new normality”… Crisis consequences are shifted to other subjects… Unemployment and indebtedness are exported.

Shrinking the financial sector and expanding the public sector are vital lessons from the 2008 financial crisis to avert future crises.

to read Tomasz Konicz’ article “Financial Bubble Inflammation” published on May 9, 2014, click on

http://la.indymedia.org/news/2014/05/264365.php

Posted in Financial Market Capitalism | Leave a comment

Tax man’s gloomy message: the rich get richer

to read the article about Thomas Piketty and his “Capitalism in the 21st Century” by Eliot Marshall, click on]

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6186/826.full

Despite Piketty’s popularity, his message is harsh. He labels as “a fairy tale” the long-accepted idea that wealth and income will be more evenly distributed within nations as they develop, and suggests that even the best run capitalist economies concentrate riches at the top. The reason: In the long run, he says, the return paid to owners of capital is higher than the rate of economic growth.

These provocative conclusions are based primarily on a huge database of tax records that Piketty and a team of 30 researchers around the globe have assembled from more than 20 countries, including the United States. From atop this mountain of data, Piketty is able to offer a 2-century retrospective view of capitalism and make predictions about its future. The database is, Piketty writes, “the largest historical database concerning the evolution of income inequality.”

“In 1900,” he said, “most people would have said a progressive income tax would never happen.” But it happened.

more at www.nextnewdeal.net, www.foreffectivegov.org, www.steadystate.org, www.storyofstuff.com, www.climateandcapitalism.com, www.onthecommons.org, www.therealnews.com, www.worklessparty.org and www.submedia.tv

Posted in Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution | Leave a comment

Surveying Utopia by Elmar Altvater and Raul Zelik, 2012

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/01/03/18704055.php

Raul Zelik and Elmar Altvater discuss the nature of utopia, economics, how growth and work became fetishes, how what is rational in micro-economics can become irrational in macro-economics, time prosperity, how the financial crisis shows the self-destructiveness of capitalism and how Marx recognized the contradictions in capitalism. Alternatives are possible and necessary. Viva Occupy!

SURVEYING UTOPIA

A Conversation about the Myths of Capitalism and the Coming Society

By Raul Zelik and Elmar Altvater

[The following chapter on economics published in: Surveying Utopia (“Vermessung der Utopie,” 2010) is translated from the German on the Internet.]

Raul Zelik, b.1968, works in the border area of literature, social sciences and political activism. Zelik was a guest professor for politics at the National University in Bogota. Elmar Altvater, b.1938, is an emeritus professor for political economy at the Free University of Berlin. His books on globalization have been bestsellers. Altvater is a member of the academic advisory council of Attac Germany.

The Book

The “free market” seems unable to solve basic social and economic problems – whether climate change, industrial over-capacity, unemployment or distribution of wealth. Is a society beyond capitalism even conceivable? In their conversation Raul Zelik and Elmar Altvater give a critical analysis of the present. Their common attempt to develop a utopian model of society starts from an idea of the economy that is based on reason and includes ecological and social public interest

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“Believing without Seeing” by Margot Kassmann, December 2003

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/12/277205.shtml

“Faith is a gift. But faith is also sought and gained by struggling with doubt. For the disciples or the people who want to follow Jesus today, faith is based on the venture of entrusting oneself.” Margot Kasemann is a national Lutheran bishop in Germany.
Believing without Seeing

By Margot Kassmann

[This sermon by the national Lutheran bishop Margot Kassmann is translated from the German in: Evangelische Zeitung Online on the World Wide Web,

http://www.evlka.de/extern/ez/archiv/kaesm-pred.html.

]

May God teach us to hear his word and preserve it in our hearts. Amen.

Dear community,

What a beautiful time together! Community and feast times strengthen our faith for everyday life.

Everyday faith is certainly not simple today! A rabbi who journeyed through Palestine, preached impressively, healed people but still was executed as a seducer of the people. Was the one who died, resurrected and overcame death God’s Son? Can that have a meaning for me 2000 years later? How hard it is to believe! Some say they don’t need this faith as enlightened persons of the postmodern. Others make fun of backwoods Christians” You in the church, do you really need that? Still others attack sharply: the church has too many privileges in the state. And what about us in the church? We withdraw all too often, wounded, despondent, reproachful and not attractive. We must speak of faith today to critically accompany and form the future of the world. This future must be built on faith and reason. We urgently need both.

The Johannine community had to struggle with the phenomenon of unbelief almost 2000 years ago. The story of unbelieving Thomas is a good example. In the 20th chapter of the Gospel of John, we read:

(24) Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
(25) So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
(26) Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you”.
(27) Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless but believing.”
(28) Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God.”
(29) Jesus said to him “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Thomas overcame doubt and found faith. How is faith possible? Perhaps we can best approach John’s answers by considering the protagonists of the narrative more closely.

Thomas belonged to the close circle of the disciples. He was not present when Jesus appeared to the disciples and sent them into discipleship, authorizing them to forgive and retain sins. Self-confidently they declared: We have seen the Lord. Thomas must have felt excluded. You were not there when the most important event occurred. You did not experience like… Thomas doubted or as we say pretended to be a scientist. I do not believe what I have not seen and experienced myself. He wanted more than to see; he wanted to probe and grasp, to put his hand in the open wound. Thomas could not forget the suffering. He saw it himself. Jesus really suffered and died on the cross. What was central to the evangelist John was that the resurrected was the earthly. Christ was none other than Jesus himself. This is centrally important for discipleship.

As Thomas could not simply accept the faith of others, he also could not gain his certainty himself. For eight days, he had to wait until Sunday the first day of the week. This time he did not miss the chance of understanding the meaning of his life… Remember Thomas could have just gone shopping…

What then convinced him? His answer to the appearance of the Resurrected was “My Lord and my God”. There are moments in life when immediate trust or presented faith happens. Anxiety tightens my neck and suddenly I find words to pray. A child is born and I can be thankful because I see. That is a miracle, more than I understand. None of us can create, achieve or attain such a faith. However such faith needs open hearts and open doors, attention for God. Thomas waited and hoped for this encounter. He stayed in the community and did not leave with his first doubt and his first disappointment. His questions of faith were existentially important to him. His own wrestling which could not be diverted by what is sometimes annoying in the church was also part of faith.

Thus faith is a gift. But faith is also sought and gained by struggling with doubt. For the disciples or the people who want to follow Jesus today, faith is based on the venture of entrusting oneself.

Thomas was not the only one who doubted. The others also first started moving when they had seen themselves. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Our story deals very critically with all the described wounds and appearances. God’s word visible in Jesus is in the center as at the beginning of the gospel: In the beginning was the word. We emphasize this in the Lutheran tradition. Faith is the starting point for the renewal of the church. We must retell the experiences and stories of faith in our time and turn again to the Bible. Too often we speak about every possible subject but not these texts. As a woman from the Pacific said, I don’t know what problems you Germans have with faith. Even the dullest person in my village understands the stories that Jesus told of the mustard seed, the leaven and the sower.

Christian faith is not suspended somewhere in the air but refers to the Bible as the foundation and critical counterpart of one’s faith experience. The faith of the church still rests on the faith experience of the first witnesses. However these are not proofs that make faith superfluous. We encounter the Resurrected today in word and sacrament, in meditation, prayer and other persons. That must be proclaimed in our time and language. We can bear witness to our children, our fellow-persons and the world.

In this hearing and narrating, Jesus calls men and women to discipleship. All the baptized are authorized persons according to our evangelical understanding, not only pastors and bishops. Each and every one can testify from his or her own faith. Priestly existence to one another is turning to one another. According to John, Mary Magdalene was the first. She directly received the commission to go and report to the brethren. She was the first who said: I have seen the Lord. Thus she was an apostle. If John later only spoke of the male apostles, that reflects the fact that full power and authorized persons in the early church are reflected in our text. Women were the first recognized as witnesses of the resurrection. However envisioning women as leading the church would have demanded too much in 100 or 300 A.D.

What is central is hearing and speaking the word of God. The word became flesh and did not remain abstract, intellectual and top-heavy. Dear protestants, let us relearn the material reality of the word with celebrating and dancing, laughing and crying, mourning and praising, meditating and singing!

Faith must stand on its biblical foundation and be attested and made alive in word and praise.

Finally Jesus comes with the greeting of peace. Jesus appears through closed doors and exclaims “Peace be with you”. This is his leitmotif that he repeats again and again. What does it mean that peace is actually promised us? God knows we are unpeaceful, each and every one of us! Malice is poured out when someone breaks down or rails at another or when a government struggles around the right way. Fear of all foreigners and exclusion of others persist. Hatred can be sown quickly and easily on all this discord. We all have seen that phenomenon in the last months in Kosovo and beyond Kosovo, in Ruanda and Burundi, in Ethiopia and Eritrea, in China and Taiwan, in Indonesia, east Timor and northern Ireland. We make no boasts about our own land. God knows this world is full of discord. Can we, dear community, promise peace in a world torn apart by discord in little things and great things? That we as Christians existing in many countries and cultures can promise peace to one another and contribute to local peace and the peace of the world is always my great hope.

Peace be with you! The peace greeting creates community. Dear assembled, we are a kind of crowd thrown together today, here inside the church and outside on the plaza, people from the Hannover church circle and invited guests, members of the family of archbishop Hirschler and my family, foreigners and friends. Let us become a community here today through God’s spirit. So I ask you, look at your neighbor and say: Peace be with you. Whether a television broadcast intrudes or not, we should take these few moments.

Jesus does not say: Thomas, I am disappointed with you. You should have believed right off! Then the beatitude of those who do not see but believe would be a true preaching of the law. No, Jesus has an incredible patience with unbelief and doubt, far greater than his church. He lovingly approaches Thomas. Jesus in his lifetime went to people, to the woman at the well, the tax collector. Following Jesus means for me today turning to people in their fears and distresses. This is part of the greeting of peace: openness, attention, tolerating, seeing, tenderness, understanding for others up to love of the enemy.

How does faith arise? Not through seeing! In the last week, I have had some talk show experience. What would happen, it occurred to me, if we could see the Resurrected there? He would be the new sensation… If he showed his wounds, what an event that would be! And how quickly the fame would fade and this sensation be replaced by others! Faith does not arise through proofs! Faith only occurs through a trustful relation, a relation with one whom I can say my Lord and my God, my mother, my brother and my friend.

Thomas was convinced that Jesus would show him his wounds and injuries. Touching wounds and sharing pain is a very sensitive and intimate process. I only show my wounds and my vulnerability to a person whom I deeply trust. Then the protective layer is taken away. (Jesus appears to Thomas in the vulnerability of life. He overcomes the basic human experience of reserve and creates an encounter that opens up trust. Doubt is removed since touching the painful becomes possible.) In this contact, Thomas wants to feel something of the shock of a very different life, something that goes beyond our time and world. Whoever relies on God knows that what we see is only patchwork.

The Evangelist John shows us three approaches to faith. Faith is presented but also is gained through struggle. Faith is constantly grounded on God’s word. This is possible because Jesus Christ promises us peace. What follows from that promise for faith today? For the Christian community, beholding and listening are vital. The school anxieties of the little girl and the loneliness of the old man, the overstrain of the single mother and the pride of the successful entrepreneur, the joy in the ascent of the businessman and the election victory of the politician are realities. My hope is that the church is the place where they hall know themselves welcome with their anxiety and care and also with their joy and success, where they find the community of trust which is often lost in our time.

Seeing and listening do not only boost people’s ego or confidence. In the last weeks, I was admonished not to lose sight of sin, guilt and offense. The one whom we follow confirms and encourages people in the middle of their little petty conditions. Still people feel their forlornness, loneliness and meaninglessness in all their satiety as soon as they turn off the diversions from life. The church has to help people up and not keep them small. We need people with dignity, backbone and powers of resistance. Is the church the place where people first know themselves accepted and develop the freedom to speak of their own failure? A protective space arises in which my mourning and tears are not embarrassing to me. Injuries and open wounds can become visible. We are transposed into the position of confessing. Where faith is, there is also doubt and temptation as well as joy, will to live and courage to face life.

(The Resurrected is known in that he opens uncommunicativeness by showing his injuries and making possible faith and trust. Jesus is approachable, attentive and merciful in the best sense of this old-fashioned word for those who follow him, Christians and the church. We can give up our fears of physical contact! Christians have a treasure and a great inner freedom through their faith. We can joyfully radiate this outwards and invite people to wrestle for faith. We can be attentive for the situation of people and the world, inviting and capable of dialogue. We can put our hands in the open wounds. Prophetic testimony is one of our challenges. Let us be the church with others, with those who seek and doubt. Whoever struggles resolutely is ultimately in the truth.)

In the commission of his messengers, continue what Jesus lived himself. On the foundations of the biblical tradition, we are strong in faith and joyful in hope in the midst of our time and world. We can walk through closed doors and say: Peace be with you. Faith as I learned from Heinz Zahmt is the wholehearted trust in God as the answer to the fear of the world.

May God help us today and tomorrow to such faith.

May the peace of God that is higher than all our human reason keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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