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Wednesday READ – 6 November 2013

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart


An obsession with growth has eclipsed our concern for sustainability, justice and human dignity. But people are not disposable – the value of life lies outside economic development

By Vandana Shiva, CommonDreams

Limitless growth is the fantasy of economists, businesses and politicians. It is seen as a measure of progress. As a result, gross domestic product (GDP), which is supposed to measure the wealth of nations, has emerged as both the most powerful number and dominant concept in our times. However, economic growth hides the poverty it creates through the destruction of nature, which in turn leads to communities lacking the capacity to provide for themselves.

The concept of growth was put forward as a measure to mobilise resources during the second world war. GDP is based on creating an artificial and fictitious boundary, assuming that if you produce what you consume, you do not produce. In effect , “growth” measures the conversion of nature into cash, and commons into commodities.

Thus nature’s amazing cycles of renewal of water and nutrients are defined into nonproduction. The peasants of the world,who provide 72% of the food, do not produce; women who farm or do most of the housework do not fit this paradigm of growth either. A living forest does not contribute to growth, but when trees are cut down and sold as timber, we have growth. Healthy societies and communities do not contribute to growth, but disease creates growth through, for example, the sale of patented medicine.

Water available as a commons shared freely and protected by all provides for all. However, it does not create growth. But when Coca-Cola sets up a plant, mines the water and fills plastic bottles with it, the economy grows. But this growth is based on creating poverty – both for nature and local communities. Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine. Women are forced to walk longer distances looking for drinking water. In the village of Plachimada in Kerala, when the walk for water became 10 kms, local tribal woman Mayilamma said enough is enough. We cannot walk further; the Coca-Cola plant must shut down. The movement that the women started eventually led to the closure of the plant.

In the same vein, evolution has gifted us the seed. Farmers have selected, bred, and diversified it – it is the basis of food production. A seed that renews itself and multiplies produces seeds for the next season, as well as food. However, farmer-bred and farmer-saved seeds are not seen as contributing to growth. It creates and renews life, but it doesn’t lead to profits. Growth begins when seeds are modified, patented and genetically locked, leading to farmers being forced to buy more every season.

Nature is impoverished, biodiversity is eroded and a free, open resource is transformed into a patented commodity. Buying seeds every year is a recipe for debt for India’s poor peasants. And ever since seed monopolies have been established, farmers debt has increased. More than 270,000 farmers caught in a debt trap in India have committed suicide since 1995. […]




Source: Moyers and Company

A cornerstone of President Obama’s plan to create more American jobs is a new agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), referred to by some as “NAFTA on steroids.” While negotiations are being carried out in secret and very little about the terms has been leaked, enough is known to worry about its possible effect on trade unions and our copyright and patent laws, not to mention environmental, health and safety regulations.

This week on Moyers & Company, Bill discusses the TPP with two perceptive observers of the global economy. Yves Smith is an expert on investment banking who runs the Naked Capitalism blog, a go-to site for information and insight on the business and ethics of finance. Dean Baker is co-director of the progressive Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC.




By Michael Collins, The Agonist

According to a leaked draft of the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), the world as we know it is over.  The report presents substantial and well documented predictions of global suffering and massive social disruption resulting from the impact climate change on the water supply, food, and natural resources, and successively mounting human loss.  (Image 11/2013 eclipse)

Oddly enough, the recipient of the leak, the New York Times, acted like it was a story about the “food supply.”  In fact, the totality of the draft  makes it clear that we’ve gone too far for too long to avoid the dire consequences of man made climate change.

The documented risks presented include (Climate Change 2014:  Impacts, Adaptations, Vulnerability, IPCC, here or here, pp. 6 & 7):

? Food insecurity linked to warming, drought, and precipitation variability;

? Death injury and disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones … due to sea level rise, coastal flooding and storm surges;

? Severe harm for large urban populations due to inland flooding;

? Systemic risk due to extreme events leading to break down of infrastructure networks and critical services;

? Loss of rural livelihoods and income due to insufficient drinking and irrigation water and lower agricultural productivity particularly in poorer regions; and,

? Loss of marine and terrestrial ecosystems and the services and livelihoods that they provide

What’s left? […]




80,000 gallons per day of radioactive water, for 942 straight days, dumped into the Pacific — and counting.

By John LaForge, Alternet

Distracting the public from the 300 tons of highly radioactive water (80,000 gallons) spreading into the Pacific Ocean every day from the triple reactor melt-through at Fukushima-Daiichi, is news of the plan to build an underground “ice wall” to damn up the poisoned water before it leaks to the sea. The project is reportedly a better plan than the failed concrete wall that Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) first decided to build.

This frozen finger-in-the-dike won’t be completed until 2015, and it will then fail. Even if it were to work as planned, there is a risk of reversing the water flow, forcing highly radioactive water to seep out from the reactor buildings to the aquifer. Meanwhile, nothing is slowing the relentless radioactive contamination of the Pacific — the world’s largest ocean which covers about a third of Earth.

What we’re being distracted from is the threat to the fishery caused by Fukushima’s ongoing radioactive gusher. At least 300 tons of cesium- and strontium-contaminated water is still spewing into the Pacific every day. Tepco admitted in August that this massive carcinogenic hemorrhage has been going on since March 11, 2011. It amounts to about 85 million gallons — 80,000 gal. per day, for 942 days, dumped into the Pacific — and counting. […]




Source: youtube




By Thomas Coutrot, Patrick Saurin, Eric Toussaint, CADTM

On the occasion of the publication of two major works, Le Capital au XXIe siècle and the French translation of Debt The First 5000 Years, Mediapart organized a meeting between the authors, namely Thomas Piketty and David Graeber. It is available on the Mediapart website |1|.

How can we escape the snare of the debt? This crucial question that was raised at the start is also at the core of our activist actions and deliberations. We have therefore wished to carry on this fruitful exchange through the following collective text, which comments on and questions the respective points of view and arguments which the two authors put forward.

Cancelling the debt or taxing capital?

Piketty and Graeber’s dialogue revolves around the respective merits of taxing capital and canceling public debt. Relying on an extensive historical and anthropological erudition Graeber stresses the fact that canceling all or part of public or private debts has repeatedly occurred in the history of class struggles over the past 5,000 years. Considering that debt is a central instrument in capitalist domination today, he does not see why it should be any different in the coming years.

Piketty considers that the burden of the debt can be significantly relieved through taxing large fortunes, this would be socially more appropriate since it would not hit the small savers who are holders of a large part of public debt (via mutual funds run by banks and insurance companies).

Though it was not made explicit by either of the two, we can probably trace their different approaches to different political and philosophical assumptions. Belonging as he does to an anarchist tradition Graeber sees cancellation as preferable because it does not rely on the action of a national State and even less on some supranational institution: it can result from the debtors’ direct action (see the ‘strike debt’ project |2| put forward by Occupy Wall Street), or from popular pressure on governments. Piketty, who belongs to a social-democrat tradition, sees a global taxation of capital as a necessary move and national tax measures taken by reformist governments as a first step forward.

In the light of the two authors’ arguments, we suggest that there is no need to choose between taxing capital and cancelling debts. The two measures can and should be carried out simultaneously. […]


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