On the quality of being “Human”…
by Marv Christensen - Feb. 16, 2016
Democrats believe respect for human dignity is critical and essential. Many also believe our society is at the tipping point of survival because our government seems to be acting without regard to balancing competing interests and needs. The world is undergoing revolutionary changes in the way we live resulting from exploding technology. We should be concerned that the divisive behaviors of those who govern our country – and the world – seem to ignore the basic truths of what it means to be human.
Human beings are unique because they can make decisions based on knowledge and learning. Therefore, they have the ability to think long-term, see relationships and, and to some extent, control events. However, the quality of those decisions depends on the ability to understand others and build collaborative networks. It is essential that government preserves he rights and dignity of all humans.
It has been said that being “human” means having a brain, a heart and a soul. Technology has empowered us to extend the power of the brain. However, technology cannot replace the heart function which provides passion, compassion, and purpose in our lives. Nor can it provide a soul that enables us to have values and hold beliefs and the ability to believe in something.
What has this to do with “politics” and “elections”? Perhaps we need to place the “human-ness” of our candidates as the highest priority as we make decisions and cast our ballots. Let us take care that we do not choose a robotic ideologue that provides “robotic” solutions and makes judgements and decisions without heart and soul. Being smart and having a brain is not enough.
TPP - Trans Pacific Partnership
from Marv Christensen - June 7, 2015
I have been following the conversation about TTP. Bravo Foothills Democrats – this is exactly the kind of dialogue we need to share with many people outside the Board and friends. There has to be a way – using our website or social media to engage hundreds of people in learning more about TTP, its pros and cons. Perhaps one of our members could create a process to share this information with many others on the internet.
I have followed the national conversation for many months now. Initially, I was persuaded by the argument that TTP was just NAFTA on steroids and would ultimately result in the US engaging in fair trade with partners who do not adhere to the agreement. Being aligned with the union fear of unfair competition and loss of jobs and wages, I came to the conclusion that TTP was a bad idea.
Now that I have a better understanding and appreciation for the real purpose of TTP (force China to improve its citizenship in the global world of economics) I think there might be some value in signing the treaty. I abhor the secretive procedure, and have never believed that “fast track” was appropriate. I generally support transparency in processes of legislation, but having spent a fair amount of time negotiating agreements, I am inclined to allow the opacity of the process for developing the details of a potential agreement.
I too am inclined to trust the opinions of Warren, Sanders, – and especially Krugman. However, it is difficult for me to oppose an issue when I do not fully understand the implications. I am fearful of the legislative process, and would like to trust those charged with responsibility for establishing treaties. However, if the goal is to bring China into compliance with the “greater good” of the people, I don’t think the TTP approach, as I understand it, will make that happen. We also need to look carefully at the strategies US corporations use to play the “trade” game using Chinese rules to the detriment of American interests. Moving jobs, money, and production out of the US appears to be short-term beneficial for the “bottom line” and profitability while destroying the middle class of America.
Bottom line for me is that I am skeptical about TTP and its probability to improve our trade balance, I can see the need for something to check China’s efforts to control the world marketplace. However, I can not support the “fast-tracking” of the legislative process. If it is good – put it all on the table!
From: Michael Sills - June 6, 2015
A lot of politicians and economists I tend to trust oppose TTP, or at least fall on the side of skepticism. This includes Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Paul Krugman. And there are reasons to be cynical about a treaty that can be perused by members of Congress but not discussed openly, analyzed by the media, or openly debated. If it is as good as its promoters say, it should stand the test of close scrutiny.
On the other hand, recognizing that President Obama has always been a centrist democrat and never portrayed himself as the scourge of big business and Wall Street, I have little reason to think that he is now betraying the American people by his embrace of this trade pact, or that he would deliberately mislead us into buying a bag of beans sight unseen. He has exercised wisdom in the past, so why should I think him a fool at this juncture? Additionally, why should he be denied fast track authority while his predecessors were free to wheel and deal as they could?
Anyway, I don’t pretend to fully comprehend the pros and cons, which would be impossible for anyone who has not poured over the treaty (just about everyone). But interestingly, it seems like China is making noises like it eventually wants in on the deal too, at least in some limited form. Makes me wonder if that is the unspoken end game (and the reason for much of the secrecy up to this point): to gently force China’s hand to become part of a multinational trade agreement — on their own volition — with many treaty terms set by us — that may serve to reduce or eliminate some of the excesses and unfair practices China currently practices. If the final result of TTP were to even somewhat rebalance our trade with the #1 country to whom our wealth and jobs have been transferred over years of unregulated free-market excess, then that would be a good thing.
From : Larry Bernasky - June 6, 2015
I also have struggled with trying to get objective information on TPP and NAFTA. The best sources I found were the Congressional Budget Office and Congressional Research Office. What I did get from these sources is that the negative hype about NAFTA - from both sides - is way overblown. The economic forces were already in play. Below are some excerpts from a CRS Study ten years after NAFTA went into effect.
I am in favor of giving the prez fast track authority:
The Labor Advisory Committee (LAC) was established to provide information and advice with respect to negotiating objectives and bargaining positions before the United States enters into a trade agreement with a foreign country or countries. The committee advises, consults with, and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Labor and the United States Trade Representative, on issues and general policy matters concerning labor and trade negotiations, operation of any trade agreement once entered into, and other matters arising in connection with the administration of the trade policy of the United States. The LAC is responsible for providing reports on trade agreements to the President, the Congress, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative at the conclusion of negotiations for each trade agreement.
from Barb Dillon - June 6, 2015
I've read more about TPP and in the process learned less and less. I also understand less and less about why the opposition is so against this. All of their objections are about things that are going on without the TPP. They say they are against it because passing it will speed up what is taking place anyway. They admit that rejection will not stop what they call "the race to the bottom" but will only slow it. We live in a global economy and we (5% of the world's population) can't change that, but as part of the trade treaties we can have a say, one would think. I also can't fathom how negotiations that take place with eleven other countries can be transparent. Congress is transparent and gets nothing done. Then there is the trust or no trust in our president. Backing away from him did not help us in the last election and I can't see how opposing him on this will help in the next election. Also, I believe there is some controversy over how much damage NAFTA actually was responsible for. Mexico is doing much better and Canada is not exactly hurting either. What I'm sensing as well and I don't like is the fear of TPP that is being generated. When have we acted based on fear that proved to be correct? Still, when all is said and done, I'm glad I don't have to vote on this one. Barb