Closing Thought–14Feb17

I, Robot

I recall many years ago when the news of the first robots being used by the auto industry was all the talk…..of course the pro side was that they would do hazardous work and thus would cut down on injuries and days lost…the co side pointed out that these machines were replacing good paying jobs for workers….

Since those early days the debate has continued to rage on and on….who benefits from all the automation?

We are at a crossroads that will determine our economic future. There is hope, but also the possibility of a turn into a state of oligarchical barbarism, Frase postulates. The following is an excerpt from the introduction to Four Futures.

Why, the reader might ask, is it even necessary to write another book about automation and the postwork future? The topic has become an entire subgenre in recent years; Brynjolfsson and McAfee are just one example. Others include Ford’s Rise of the Robots and articles from the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson, Slate’s Farhad Manjoo, and Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum. Each insists that technology is rapidly making work obsolete, but they flail vainly at an answer to the problem of making sure that technology leads to shared prosperity rather than increasing inequality. At best, like Brynjolfsson and McAfee, they fall back on familiar liberal bromides: entrepreneurship and education will allow us all to thrive even if all of our current work is automated away.

Source: Will Automation Benefit Humanity and the Planet, or a Tiny Elite?

And the debate will continue……..

My day is done……I pass on to a more restful stage…..be well, be safe….I shall see everyone tomorrow.

They Always Need More

We hear that all is well in Afghanistan…..well here on IST I have been trying to give my readers the “rest of the story”……

And that story is that things are going to crap in Afghanistan…..

When he took over as commander of the ongoing US war in Afghanistan late last year, Gen. John Nicholson was seen as opposed to the drawdown, and there was even speculation he’d seek increases in troop levels there, though he initially said levels should just remain flat.

Today, however, during his testimony to Congress, Nicholson is starting to push a major new military buildup for Afghanistan, complaining to Congress that the war is in a “stalemate,” and that several thousand more US troops need to be sent to break that stalemate.

The assessment of a “stalemate” is not new, and is a very generous interpretation of the state of the Afghan War, over 15 years in, as the Afghan government has actually been losing ground left and right, holding less territory now than at any time since the occupation began.

It is always the need for “more troops”…..has anyone considered the possibility that that will not help?

Here is a unique concept……stop all ops in Afghanistan and bring everyone home……if things get worse or out of control we can always re-invade….

After all we have troops in 70% of the world……

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Although US elite troops typically only appear in the media when an event of particular relevance (such as the capture and murder of Osama bin Laden in 2011), this does not mean that they are not active. As this infographic above shows, elaborated by Statista, these forces were present in 138 States last year or 70 percent of the world’s countries according to official Special Operations Command data published by TomDispatch. 55.29 percent of deployments were in the Middle East, a 35 percent decease since 2006. In Africa, deployments of elite US forces skyrocketed 1,600 percent during the same timeframe.

Like I said…”we are everywhere!”

Don’t Bury TPP Just Yet

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Trump was vocal on his opposition to NAFTA and TPP….so vocal that he probably got him some votes from labor…..he promised to re-negotiate NAFTA and end the TPP….(and the peasants danced)…..

Most Americans are all in favor of free trade…..but are they?

Free trade is the economic policy of not discriminating against imports from and exports to foreign jurisdictions. Buyers and sellers from separate economies may voluntarily trade without the domestic government applying tariffs, quotas, subsidies or prohibitions on their goods and services. Free trade is the opposite of trade protectionism or economic isolationism.

Politically, a free trade policy may just be the absence of any other trade policies; the government need not positively do anything to promote free trade. This is one reason it is sometimes referred to as “laissez-faire trade” or “trade liberalization.” Governments with free trade agreements (FTAs) do not necessarily abandon all control of taxation of imports and exports. In modern international trade, very few so-called FTAs actually fit the textbook definition of free trade.

Now that we have talked about “free trade”….shall we talk about the future of TPP?
There was a sigh of relief when Trump was elected….for now the TPP is dead and soon buried.
Think again!

One can hear the cry ringing through the boardrooms of capital: “Free trade is dead! Long live free trade!”

Think the ideas behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the so-called “free trade” regime are buried? Sadly, no. Definitely, no. Some of the countries involved in negotiating the TPP seeking to find ways to resurrect it in some new form — but that isn’t the most distressing news. What’s worse is the TPP remains alive in a new form with even worse rules. Meet the Trade In Services Agreement, even more secret than the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And more dangerous.

Source: TPP is Not Dead: It’s Now Called the Trade In Services Agreement

Take a closer look at TiSA…..

Here is where things gets scary. Team TiSA – a consortium of multinational financial, logistics, and big data corporations – are looking to set severe limits on how governments can regulate economies domestically while providing strict investor rights provisions. Deborah James outlined ten aspects of TiSA that have been accepted by all parties or are under negotiations that could have significant consequences:

  1. Companies are expanding the category of “services” in order to make it all-encompassing so that the agreement could apply as broadly within the economy as possible.
  2. Offshoring and outsourcing of jobs and downward pressure on wages could greatly accelerate as TiSA would lock in labor, tax, and regulatory arbitrage.
  3. Not only would TiSA promote offshoring of jobs, but it would also greatly expand domestic “inshoring.” Foreign contractors (say from Japan) would be able to bring in workers (say from Philippines) to conduct work inside a consumer country (say the United States) on terms well below the minimum local pay and standards.
  4. The TiSA does not include a labor chapter, and in fact the draft texts only mention labor rights once.
  5. Preventing governments at the national, state, and even municipal levels from supporting local business and local employment.
  6. The principle of “technological neutrality which TiSA negotiators take as a given would have immeasurable job impacts particularly with regard to the “gig” economy. So if a country opened its market to passenger transport services, it could not apply new and different rules to Uber than to traditional taxicabs.
  7. Job loss as a result of privatization would increase as publicly owned utilities would have to compete under the same rules as private companies, reducing the benefits of public ownership, resulting in the elimination of jobs that inevitably follows privatization.
  8. The financial services text of the TiSA is the closest thing imaginable to a guarantee of another job-killing financial crisis. If the draft texts were accepted, the TiSA would constrain governments from implementing most of the regulations that are recognized, both domestically and internationally, as essential to prevent another global financial crisis.
  9. Workers would have to shoulder even more of the tax burden as corporate tax evasions would accelerate.
  10. The TiSA could potentially be used as the basis of a foreign company’s claim against the United States

Where are all the yells and cheers now?  I am waiting!

Who Da Boss?

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

There has been a debate among some of us here in the Blogosphere about the Trump presidency…..some think that our prez is nothing more than a puppet of some of his advisers and cabinet…like Bannon and/or Pence are the ones most pointed to as the problem.

Recent problems within his, Trump’s, closest advises have been brewing for a few days now, in the media that is, over a phone call that National Security adviser, Gen. Flynn, had with the Russian ambassador over US sanctions.

Like a black head all that back and forth came to a head last night….Flynn resigns!

Michael Flynn has stepped down as national security adviser less than a month into the Trump administration. Flynn abruptly resigned Monday night after coming under increasing pressure over his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US while Trump was president-elect, CNN reports. “I inadvertently briefed the Vice President-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology,” Flynn said in his resignation letter, adding that he has performed his duties “with the utmost of integrity and honesty” in his White House role and during his 33 years in the military.

Sources tell the New York Times that Pence told others in the White House that he believed Flynn had been lying when he said he hadn’t discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador in a conversation that would have broken the law as well as protocol. The Washington Post reports that President Trump accepted Flynn’s resignation and appointed retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg as acting national security adviser. An insider tells the Post that Flynn’s resignation after 24 days in the job was his own decision, and that Trump had been planning to wait at least a few days before deciding whether to fire him. “I think Flynn just figured, if it’s imminent to the boss, then let’s make it immediate,” the source says.

Flynn was one of Trump’s first supporters so I feel that the resignation was the plan from Pence and others…..

First “loyal soldier” falls on his sword!

I have the feeling that Flynn will NOT be the last.

Is this a newer version of the Valentine’s Day massacre?

It’s Not Foreigners

In the last couple of weeks there has been an uptick in blog posts on the Right….especially after the EO issued by Trump…..about stopping all those terrorists from entering into the US to carry out their devilish plans for death and destruction.

As usual these posts do NOTHING to prove their claims other than  “I believe therefore I am right”….Trump and supporters credo…..

But it seems that there is a lot of misunderstanding about the attacks and plots that have been uncovered in the US….even a couple of massacre/attacks that did not occur….Bowling Green and Atlanta……

A site, Lawfare, has done some amazing research and I wanted to give a brief synopsis of the article but there is too much info included…..it is a lengthy piee but well worth the read for a better understanding of just how WRONG some people can be……

In this post, I want to follow up on and flesh out an aspect of the piece that has gotten a lot of attention but much of it in the vein of repetition, not elucidation. Specifically, Ben pointed to some of the most compelling empirical evidence on the issue of ineffectiveness: the EO wouldn’t have blocked the entry of any of the individuals responsible for recent terrorist attacks on American soil. Other media organizations have elaborated on the theme, with various news outlets running stories showing that no one from any of the seven countries included in the Executive Order has carried out a fatal attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. But there’s more to say on this subject and more data to share on it, and I suppose I’m as good a person as any to shed some light.

Source: It’s Not Foreigners Who are Plotting Here: What the Data Really Show – Lawfare

I am sure that there will be some otherwise dullard that will try to dispute the research…..or try to explain it away with the usual mindless banter……

The research is there….do with it as you see fit……