Articles on the subject of democracy.

Governments Exist to Further the Interests of "Favored Groups"

"We the People" are Never the Favored Group

Comment by HealthWrights Administration:

The problems humanity faces cannot be solved in the context of the predatory, global capitalism that rules the earth. Unregulated capitalism is itself the problem that needs to be solved. It is pointless to lament the moral and intellectual short-comings of the 1% who rule. If they did not have precisely the shortcomings that they do, they would never have risen to the top of the banking and corporate systems that are destroying us. The problem is systemic. Whether we are ruled by the Democrats or the Republicans makes little difference. The names of our leading politicians even less. The multinational banks and corporations are the favored groups whose interests our government exists to support and expand. Given this conflation of government and business, we can expect neither health nor freedom nor peace.


The article:

Global Research, July 13, 2012
Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmer, liquidate real estate. It will purge the rottenness out of the system."—Herbert Hoover’s treasury secretary Andrew Mellon

 Governments have never existed to solve problems domestic or international. Governments and their institutions exist merely to further and secure the interests of favored groups, but We the People are never the favored group.

Paul Krugman recently wrote that

the fact is that the Fed, like the European Central Bank, like the U.S. Congress, like the government of Germany, has decided that avoiding economic disaster is somebody else’s responsibility.

None of this should be happening. As in 1931, Western nations have the resources they need to avoid catastrophe, and indeed to restore prosperity — and we have the added advantage of knowing much more than our great-grandparents did about how depressions happen and how to end them. But knowledge and resources do no good if those who possess them refuse to use them.

And that’s what seems to be happening. The fundamentals of the world economy aren’t, in themselves, all that scary; it’s the almost universal abdication of responsibility that fills me, and many other economists, with a growing sense of dread.

Krugman and most other Americans are fond of blaming social problems on the personal failings of individuals rather than on the systemic failings of institutions. It is people borrowing more than they can afford rather than banks lending too loosely or consumers saving too little rather than businesses paying too little to enable consumers to save that causes all of the problems. But borrowing and lending and saving and income are not independent variables. People are persons with personal failures but banks are institutions with systemic failures, and the systemic failures can entice people to engage in activities that may look like personal failures but are not. Krugman and many others assume that governments and their institutions exist to solve the problems peoples face. When the problems persist, these people again assume that it is because those in government just aren't doing their jobs. But there is very little historical evidence to support this view.

The government of Louis XVI made scanty attempts to solve the problems of the French people which ultimately led to the French Revolution. The various governments in the United States in the early 1800 made few attempts to resolve the problems raised by slavery in American society and the Supreme Court made any resolution of them impossible which led to the Civil War. Emperor Franz Joseph of Austro-Hungary made no effort to resolve the ethnic problems his empire faced in the Balkans which ultimately led to the First World War. Great Britain and France made no attempts to ameliorate the problems Germany faced as a result of the conditions imposed on it by the Treaty of Versailles which then resulted in the Second World War. No government has made much of an attempt to resolve the problems created in the Levant by the creation of Israel, and instability, slaughter, and war have prevailed ever since. Now a third world war, an atomic conflagration, may be in the offing.

Domestic and international conflicts are being exacerbated world-wide by similar failures at problem resolution. The Western nations and Israel are not making any serious attempts to resolve their problems with Iran. The only possibility of resolving the problems in Western minds is for Iran to merely conform to what the Western world wants. Western European nations are treating the debt crisis similarly. There is only one resolution: the Southern European states must merely do what the Northern ones say regardless of how it affects the peoples of Southern Europe. And the American Congress is paralyzed by each party's insistence that its way is the only way.

So what is really going on? What are Krugman and others missing? The answer is as plain as sunlight on a cloudless day.

Governments have never existed to solve problems domestic or international. Governments and their institutions exist merely to further and secure the interests of favored groups. For instance, each nation's foreign policy always consists of "protecting our interests" somewhere or other. Whose interests are "our interests"? Why the favored group's, of course. And who are the favored groups? Well, it all depends.

The favored group of European governments is international investors, not the common people of a single European nation. The Greeks can be damned so long as the investors get repaid even though the common people of Greece did not borrow one euro from international investors, the Greek government, which has no income it doesn't take from ordinary Greeks, did, and the investors were not only willing but anxious to lend. The favored group of the Mubarak government in Egypt was the Egyptian military that even after the overthrow of Mubarak is still trying to secure its interests. The favored group in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen is a royal family. In Iraq and Iran, a religious sect is favored. Every one of these governments except, perhaps, Iceland has shown a willingness to kill those common people who are never the favored group.

The United States of America is an extreme case. The Democrats in Congress have their favored groups; so do the Republicans. But the common people is not the favored group of either party, although the politicians pay homage to it. America is comprised of a mass of groups, some favored, some not. Even though the nation's founders warned the Colonists about the danger of factions, every issue in America attracts a faction, and sometime or other, government favors one or more of them. Americans have pro and an anti-immigration factions. Within these, there are pro and anti-Asian factions, pro and anti-Latino factions and within these, Central and South American and Cuban factions. There are pro and anti-gun control factions, abortion factions, contraception factions, labor factions, business factions, healthcare factions, free and regulated market factions, free trade and protectionist factions, global warming and anti-global warming factions, more and less taxation factions, big and small government factions, federal and states' rights factions, imperialist and anti-imperialist factions, religious and anti-religious factions. Factions here; factions there; disagreement everywhere! Where Americans once believed united we stand, divided we fall, today they believe division secures our group's special interests. And the moneyed groups have made this work by using raw power and bribery.

But the nation? Oh, well, its seams are all coming apart. The nation doesn't matter to factions; only the interests of the favored group does. And that is why American society does not work. It is a nation whose people do not live together; they merely live side by side, where neighbors who have lived side by side for years break into violent conflict over the most trivial of things: a barking dog, a crowing rooster, a loud party, a minor inconvenience as, for instance, a parked car, children playing in someone's yard, a tree-limb extending over a property line, a sign or even an American flag on a pole, the color of a house, the height of a lawn and the kind of plants in it—just some of the recent neighborly conflicts I have observed.

America is a nation comprised of people who revel in conflict. Even the legal system is adversarial. Our cities, or at least parts of them, are war zones. More people are killed daily in America than in Afghanistan. Since Americans can't get along with each other why would anyone expect them to get along with the rest of the world? What makes anyone believe Americans care if Sunni and Shi'as get along?

The human condition will never improve until governments everywhere begin governing for the people, all the people, and none but all the people. So long as governments govern for the benefit of special groups, antagonisms, dislikes, and hatred will prevail; the Earth will seethe with conflict.

Some will say it's just human nature, that human beings have a dark side rooted in greed that cannot be extirpated. If so, we are just like ants where workers and soldiers live merely to provide for queens and their entourages of drones who exist merely to produce more ants, where common people are but beasts of burden that exist for the sake of the greedy. Perhaps this view is accurate, but the best of humanity has never thought so. Only Machiavelli's The Prince among thousands of works is renowned for this view (although Ayn Rand may be catching up). Religious and humanitarian works that contest it abound.

The trouble is we have too many people like Paul Krugman. Generally his heart seems to be in the right place; he seems to genuinely care about what happens to people, but he never goes far enough. He and those like him seem never to be able to mine an argument deep enough to find the source of its lode. They stop digging when they get to something that fits their preconceptions, as, for instance, personal human failures.

During an interview on Internet radio, I was once asked, being a veteran, why soldiers fight. The host, I am certain, expected some profound response such as for God and country, for human dignity, for the rights and freedoms our people enjoy. But I merely answered, because they're there!

When we take perfectly normal young Americans off the street and send them into battle, we do not presume that they are inherently killers. After all, killers are bad people. Yet we send these good young men and women off to kill and they do. When they return, we again do not assume they are killers. We expect them to return to being perfectly normal young men and women. So do bankers do what they do because they're bad people or because they're bankers and banking requires it? Are politicians corrupt because they are bad people or are they corrupt because politics requires it?

People, ask yourselves this question. Do our institutions make us what we are? If our institutions promote greed, will we be greedy, if our institutions promote killing will we be killers, if our institutions promote bribery, will we be bribed, if our institutions promote corruption, will we be corrupt? What will we be when our institutions promote goodness and how can we build such institutions?

The Romans had an expression—cui prodest?—meaning “who stands to gain?" Who advocates a specific view isn't important; what is important is who stands to gain from it. Only then can who the view favors be known. But in today's world, cui prodest? is too general a question. It is too easy to conjure up arguments that purport to show that many or even all gain. That everyone gains from tax cuts for the rich can be argued ad infinitum.

But who stands to gain the most financially can't. It always has a specific answer, and if you want to know who the government's favored group is at any time, that is the question that must be answered. When the answer is some group other than the common people, the view must be rejected; otherwise, the human condition is mired in the mud of hate and will never improve, conflict will persist, and the human race will very likely exterminate itself and perhaps life itself.

Jefferson knew that merchants had no country. And that the business of America is business has often been voiced by the established elite and endorsed by the Republican party. The Congress is in gridlock because the Republicans do not care what happens to America or the American people, just so long as their favored constituents' interests are preserved. That is what Paul Krugman and others like him fail to understand. That is why the models of economists, even if any turn out to work, are of no consequence. The only models that matter are those that advance and secure the interests of the favored group. Can the problem of unemployment be solved? Nobody in power really cares! Can the problem of world-wide poverty be solved? Nobody in power really cares! Can peace ever prevail between human beings? Nobody in power really cares! The dead require no benefits, and a very small government will suffice.


Since drafting this piece, I have discovered that three political scientists, Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole, and Howard Rosenthal, have provided empirical evidence for my thesis in Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches. Their views are summarized in a piece by Daniel Little:

"What is really interesting about this analysis is that it implies that the sizzling rhetoric coming from the right -- personal attacks on the President, anti-gay rants, renewed heat around abortion and contraception -- is just window dressing. By the evidence of voting records, what the right really cares about is economic issues favoring the affluent -- tax cuts, reduced social spending, reduced regulation of business activity, and estate taxes. This isn't to say that the enraged cultural commentators aren't sincere about their personal belief -- who knows? But the policies of their party are very consistent, in the analysis offered here. Maybe the best way of understanding the extremist pundits is as a class of well-paid entertainers, riffing on themes of hatred and cultural fundamentalism that have nothing to do with the real goals of their party."

There you have it. The people are viewed by the establishment as chickens to be broiled for lunch.


John Cozyis a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found on and he can be emailed from that site's homepage.


Someone You Love: Coming to a Gulag Near You

Note by Healthwritghts Staff

Recently a friend of mine died from cancer. It all happened too fast for anyone to keep up with. We were discussing how to arrange for chemotherapy when clinical tests had already shown that the cancer was inoperable and untreatable. We were discussing how to get him to dialysis when it was already clear that this procedure would only make his last days less comfortable. We were discussing how to get hospice care into the situation when it was already plain that the family did not have either the physical or the emotional resources to care for him at home. Perhaps because of denial we were always discussing issues that no longer had any relevance. In his case all that was relevant was making him comfortable and helping him say goodbye.


A similar thing seems to be happening with regard to global health. The unraveling of the earth's living systems is happening too fast. Many of our discussions are no longer relevant. Take the question, "How shall we preserve and strengthen democracy in the US?" for example. There is nothing left to preserve. We are already a police state. Or the question, "How shall we reform capitalism so that it becomes sustainable?" That tipping point was crossed quite some time ago. The capitalist elite is destroying the earth and it can't be stopped. The system is irreparable. It's that simple. So long as profit is the sole bottom line collapse is inevitable. You can take your pick. Will it be ecological collapse, the Third World War, a humanly engineered pandemic, an economic melt down, or some combination of these possibilities? It seems quite impossible to avoid them all.


In speaking of the current "security and surveillance state" in the US, Chris Hedges, in the article below, says, "now that we have created this monster it will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to free ourselves from it." I am thinking it will be impossible, at least until it begins to self destruct under the weight of its own contradictions.


So what is to be done? That brings us back to the issue of our being a police state. It is clear that law abiding protest will not turn things around. Civil disobedience, on the other hand, will be labeled as terrorism and that will be used to justify draconian punishments without due process. With Big Brother's eyes everywhere, who will be able to be able to mobilize a defense? Perhaps another tipping point has come and gone. We have to ask ourselves whether the time for effective protest and civil disobedience is past. It would appear that Stalin has re-incarnated himself in America. The gulags have already been constructed.


The world, at least as we have know it, is terminally ill. We have run out of treatments for it.


So again, we must ask: What is to be done? First, we can bide our time and watch. As the old structures collapse, new possibilities will open up. Crises will be points of opportunity. Second, we can teach. People need to be told why the collapse is happening so when they see it they will understand the reasons for it. Writing articles, talking to neighbors and doing teach-ins still seem like options. Emphasis needs to be given to bad systems, not bad people. And the system that most needs to be targeted is corporate capitalism. In this context, protests and demonstrations may have some relevance, but primarily for creating opportunities for teaching. Third, we can hope that the collapse will be big enough to awaken the still sleeping masses to the reality of their situation, but not so big as to leave no remnant. If we do these things, then next time perhaps we can put together a real democracy and a sustainable system that is in harmony with the larger ecology. At that point a lot will depend on how well we have done our teaching. I can see nothing more than this to hope for in the present moment.


The Article By Chris Hedges

Apr 2, 2012

Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche

Note by HealthWrights staff

A number of important points are made in this fine review of Ethan Watters' book: That our simplistic, reductionist ideas about “mental health” are perhaps disease producing. That when big multinationals get into the act, profit trumps all other concerns and values. That diversity is connected to health. The number of people in prisons plus the number of people in mental hospitals provides a good indication of the general health of a society. By this criteria we should not be exporting our culture. Rather we should be learning from those who have a more holistic and humanistic understanding of mental health.

From Karen Franklin's Blog on forensic psychology and criminology, In The News.

A successful virus is adaptive. It evolves as needed to survive and colonize new hosts. By this definition, contemporary American psychiatry is a very successful virus. Exploiting cracks that emerge in times of cultural transition, it exports DSM depression to Japan and posttraumatic stress disorder to Sri Lanka.

Journalist Ethan Watters masterfully evokes the heady admixture of moral certainty and profit motive that drives U.S. clinicians and pharmaceutical companies as they evangelically push Western psychiatry around the globe. On the ground in Sri Lanka following the tsunami, for example, hordes of Western counselors hit the ground running, aggressively competing for access to a native population "clearly in denial" about the extent of their trauma. Backing up the foot soldiers are corporations like Pfizer, eager to market the antidepressant Zoloft to a virgin population.

Watters has done his homework. Each of his four examples of DSM-style disorders being introduced around the world is rich in historical and cultural context. Despite their divergences, each successful expansion hinges on the mutual faith of both the colonizers and the colonized that Western approaches represent the pillar of scientific progress.

It is ironic that Americans are so smugly assured of the superiority of our cultural beliefs and practices, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. Do we really want others to emulate a country with skyrocketing levels of emotional distress, where jails and prisons are the primary sites of mental health care? Does our simplistic cultural metaphor of mental illness as a "chemical imbalance, " with human minds reduced to "a batter of chemicals we carry around in the mixing bowls of our skulls," represent true enlightenment?

Our implicit condescension is made explicit if we imagine the converse, one of Watters' interview subjects points out: "Imagine our reaction if Mozambicans flew over after 9/11 and began telling survivors that they needed to engage in a certain set of rituals in order to sever their relationships with their deceased family members. How would that sit with us?"

Not only is our missionary zeal condescending, it may be harmful. Watters provides evidence to suggest that the "hyperintrospective" and "hyperindividualist" model of Western psychiatry can be destabilizing to time-worn, tried-and-true indigenous healing practices, in some cases even producing the problems we naively believe we are combating.

"What is certain," Watters cautions in his conclusion, "is that in other places in the world, cultural conceptions of the mind remain more intertwined with a variety of religious and cultural beliefs as well as the ecological and social world. They have not yet separated the mind from the body, nor have they disconnected individual mental health from that of the group. With little appreciation of these differences, we continue our efforts to convince the rest of the world to think like us. Given the level of contentment and psychological health our cultural beliefs about the mind have brought us, perhaps it's time that we rethink our generosity."

Perhaps it is already too late to turn back the tide. Thanks to the exportation of Western diet and lifestyle, 19 out of 20 inhabitants of the tiny island of Nauru in the Pacific Islands are now obese. Previously hardy islanders are stroking out in their 20s and 30s. The globalization of the American psyche is more insidious, but perhaps in the end it will prove equally catastrophic.

Reading Crazy Like Us left me with a nightmare image of a homogeneous future world with McDonald's and Starbucks (see my review of Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture) on every corner, obesity gone wild, and Western psychiatry reigning supreme

Police State USA

Comment by HealthWrights staff:  All we can do is ask which of the horsemen are the 1% preparing to unleash on us today: A global nuclear war, A total economic collapse, A new ecological disaster, A new pandemic...? Whatever it is, you can be sure it won't be good for our health.

New Obama Executive Order Seizes U.S. Infrastructure and Citizens for Military Preparedness
Brandon Turbville

scientistsGlobal Research

In a stunning move, on March 16, 2012, Barack Obama signed an Executive Order stating that the President and his specifically designated Secretaries now have the authority to commandeer all domestic U.S. resources including food and water. The EO also states that the President and his Secretaries have the authority to seize all transportation, energy, and infrastructure inside the United States as well as forcibly induct/draft American citizens into the military. The EO also contains a vague reference in regards to harnessing American citizens to fulfill “labor requirements” for the purposes of national defense.

Not only that, but the authority claimed inside the EO does not only apply to National Emergencies and times of war. It also applies in peacetime.

The National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order exploits the “authority” granted to the President in the Defense Production Act of 1950 in order to assert that virtually every means of human survival is now available for confiscation and control by the President via his and his Secretaries’ whim.

The unconstitutionality of the overwhelming majority of Executive Orders is well established, as well as the illegality of denying citizens their basic Constitutional and human rights, even in the event of a legitimate national emergency. Likewise, it should also be pointed out that, like Obama’s recent Libyan adventure and the foregone conclusion of a Syrian intervention, there is no mention of Congress beyond a minor role of keeping the allegedly co-equal branch of government informed on contextually meaningless developments.

As was mentioned above, the scope of the EO is virtually all-encompassing. For instance, in “Section 201 – Priorities and Allocations Authorities,” the EO explains that the authority for the actions described in the opening paragraph rests with the President but is now delegated to the various Secretaries of the U.S. Federal Government. The list of delegations and the responsibility of the Secretaries as provided in this section are as follows:

(1) the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;
(2) the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;
(3) the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;
(4) the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;
(5) the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and
(6) the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.
One need only to read the “Definitions” section of the EO in order to clearly see that terms such as “food resources” is an umbrella that includes literally every form of food and food-related product that could in any way be beneficial to human survival.
That being said, “Section 601 – Secretary of Labor” delegates special responsibilities to the Secretary of Labor as it involves not just materials citizens will need for survival, but the actual citizens themselves.
Obviously, the ability of the U.S. government to induct and draft citizens into the military against their will is, although a clear violation of their rights, not an issue considered shocking by its nature of having been invoked so many times in the past. Logically, this “authority” is provided for in this section.
However, what may be shocking is the fact that Section 601 also provides for the mobilization of “labor” for purposes of the national defense.  Although some subsections read that evaluations are to be made regarding the “effect and demand of labor utilization,” the implication is that “labor” (meaning American workers) will be considered yet one more resource to be seized for the purposes of “national defense.” The EO reads,
Sec. 601. Secretary of Labor. (a) The Secretary of Labor, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the heads of other agencies, as deemed appropriate by the Secretary of Labor, shall:
(1) collect and maintain data necessary to make a continuing appraisal of the Nation's workforce needs for purposes of national defense;
(2) upon request by the Director of Selective Service, and in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, assist the Director of Selective Service in development of policies regulating the induction and deferment of persons for duty in the armed services;
(3) upon request from the head of an agency with authority under this order, consult with that agency with respect to: (i) the effect of contemplated actions on labor demand and utilization; (ii) the relation of labor demand to materials and facilities requirements; and (iii) such other matters as will assist in making the exercise of priority and allocations functions consistent with effective utilization and distribution of labor;
Notice that the language of the EO does not state “in the event of a national emergency.” Instead, we are given the term “purposes of national defense.” This is because the “authorities” assumed by the President have been assumed not just for arbitrary declarations of “national emergency” but for peacetime as well. Indeed, the EO states this much directly when it says,
The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 107(b)(1) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2077(b)(1), to take appropriate action to ensure that critical components, critical technology items, essential materials, and industrial resources are available from reliable sources when needed to meet defense requirements during peacetime, graduated mobilization, and national emergency.
Presidential Executive Orders have long been used illegally by Presidents of every political shade and have often been used destroy the rights of American citizens. Although history has often come to judge these orders as both immoral and unconstitutional, the fact is that the victims of the orders suffered no less because of the retroactive judgment of their progeny. It is for this reason that we must immediately condemn and resist such obvious usurpation as is currently being attempted by the U.S. government.
Nevertheless, some have no doubt begun to wonder why the President has signed such an order. Not only that, but why did he sign the order now? Is it because of the looming war with Iran or the Third World War that will likely result from such a conflict? Is it because of the ticking time bomb called the economy that is only one jittery move or trade deal away from total disintegration? Is it because of a growing sense of hatred of their government amongst the general public? Is there a coming natural disaster of which we are unaware? Are there plans for martial law?
Whatever the reason for the recent announcement of Obama’s new Executive Order, there is one thing we do know for sure - “It wouldn’t happen here” has been the swan song of almost every victim of democide in modern human history.

Read other articles by Brandon Turbeville here

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Mullins, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of three books, Codex Alimentarius -- The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, and Five Sense Solutions. Turbeville has published over one hundred articles dealing with a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville is available for podcast, radio, and TV interviews. Please contact us at activistpost (at)

One World -- One Governance System

Note by HealthWright Staff

"The task before us is to create a coherent system of global governance under the auspices of the United Nations--provide the UN with the human and financial resources to fulfill its original mandate, purge it of corporate influence, and introduce the reforms needed to strengthen its function as a democratic governing body."

In this article David Korten calls us to that task.

The Article

UN Yes! -- Bretton Woods No!

The United Nations was founded in 1945 with a mandate to secure a long standing human dream of peace, justice, and prosperity for all people. The UN's founders chose to open the UN charter with the prophetic words, "We the peoples of the United Nations...." Perhaps they anticipated that where governments might fail, one day the world's people would join in unity, as we are joined in unity here to day, to carry forward this dream.

Everywhere, we the peoples are rising to the challenge. A globalizing civil society, rudely awakened by the excesses of corporate tyranny, is unifying around the vision of the UN's founders -- a democratic world of peace, justice, and prosperity for all.

In the protest actions of Seattle '99 some 70,000 people from all over the planet faced the rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray of America's police state to protest the violence and injustice of the world that is and to celebrate the peace, justice and prosperity for all of the world that can be. As many as a million others participated in simultaneous demonstrations in cities elsewhere as the global movement for democracy announced itself to the world. Millions more have participated in protests against corporate globalization--both before and since--in India, France, Thailand, England, Bolivia, Switzerland, Brazil and many others. The global movement for democracy grows out of the national democracy movements that played a critical role in the breakup of the Soviet empire, the fall of apartheid in South Africa and the other great progressive social movements of our time, including the labor, civil rights, environmental, peace, women's, and gay rights movements. Together we have learned that in an interdependent world, until peace, justice, and prosperity are secured for all people, we are all at risk.

Our focus this evening is on the institutions that govern the global economy. Currently these governance functions are divided at the global level between the United Nations system and the Bretton Woods system. The UN system is comprised of the United Nations secretariat; its specialized agencies, such as the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the UN's various development assistance funds such as UNDP, UNIFEM, UNFPA, and UNICEF. The Bretton Woods system is comprised of The World Bank, the IMF, and the World Trade Organization. The UN system has by far the broader mandate, is more open and democratic, and in its practice has demonstrated a far greater commitment to human, social, and environmental priorities. By contrast, the secretive and undemocratic Bretton Woods institutions have consistently aligned with the interests of money, banks, and global corporations.

The founders of the United Nations intended that responsibility for managing global economic affairs--including the overall supervision and policy direction of the Bretton Woods institutions--would fall under the jurisdiction of the United Nations General Assembly and its Economic and Social Council. At least since 1981, however, the U.S. government has actively undermined the UN's ability to fulfill this mandate. It has instead supported the Bretton Woods institutions in acting as global governments unto themselves, imposing their will on nation states in disregard of both the democratic will of their own people and the terms of UN conventions and treaties.

The reasons are clear. The U.S. government prefers that the World Bank and IMF take their marching orders from the U.S. Department of Treasury, which in turn marches to the tune of Wall Street banks and investment houses. The WTO functions under the guidance of the U.S. Trade Representative's office, which functions as an extension of the U.S. Business Roundtable--a lobbying arm of the largest U.S. based transnational corporations.

We live in one world. Dividing the governance of its affairs between two competing governmental systems--one responsible for labor, health, food, human rights and environmental concerns and the other for trade, investment, and development--has resulted in a grotesque distortion of human priorities. The need for a more holistic approach to addressing human needs is now more evident than in 1945--the need for global cooperation more urgent.

The choice before us is either to expand the power and mandate of the Bretton Woods triumvirate to cover labor, health, food, human rights, and environmental affairs--thus limiting the UN's role to matters of military security, refugees, and emergency relief--or, reaffirm the original mandate of the United Nations and build its capacity to fulfill its intended function.

Judged by their actions the Bretton Woods institutions dream of a world in which all public services are run for profit by private corporations; all goods and services for domestic consumption are imported from abroad and paid for with money borrowed from foreign banks; and all productive assets and natural resources are owned and managed by global corporations producing for export to generate the foreign exchange needed to repay the foreign loans. This economic absurdity is the dream of global financiers and corporations. It most certainly is not the dream of the world's people.

Not only do the Bretton Woods institutions consistently subordinate social and environmental concerns to corporate profits, they aggressively use their power to block or preclude national and local governments from giving preference to public interests over private corporate interests. To further expand their powers and mandate would be rather like giving the fox the keys to the chicken coop. Our goal must be to reclaim from these institutions the political and economic spaces they have colonized so that people may act through their local and national governments to create vibrant economies, cultures, and governing processes responsive to their needs and values.

Corporate rule can be imposed from the top down--from the global to the local. Democracy must be built from the bottom up--from the local to the global. Our need is not for global institutions with the power and the mandate to dictate local behavior. We need global institutions that assure the right and freedom of local people everywhere to fully express their creative capacities toward the creation of a world responsive to their values, their needs and their aspirations.

In the course of human affairs we find from time to time that by their nature certain institutions are so inherently at odds with human freedom and well-being and so far beyond reform that they must be dismantled and replaced with more responsive and accountable institutional forms. As our forebears eliminated the institutions of monarchy in favor of the institutions of democracy, we must now eliminate the institutions of Bretton Woods--the World Bank, the IMF, and the World Trade Organization--in favor of the United Nations.

For all its evident faults and deficiencies, the United Nations--in stark contrast to the Bretton Woods institutions--is sound in concept and mandate. It is relatively open and democratic. Its institutional structures are reformable. Redirecting to the United Nations the public funding now so badly misused by the Bretton Woods institutions would quickly eliminate the UN's financial and human resource deficits.

Perhaps the greatest barrier to building a United Nations with the capacity to fulfill its necessary role is the increasingly successful corporate initiative to co-opt the UN's resources, policies, and even its logo and to preclude any action by the UN to hold corporations accountable to the public interest. The eagerness with which the UN leadership has responded to this intrusion threatens to seriously erode the UN's legitimacy and credibility with the very citizen groups whose support it most needs.

The UN is properly an institution of the world's governments and of all the people they represent. Corporations, by their nature, represent only the short-term financial self-interest of a small and wealthy elite. They have no legitimate place in the deliberations and decision processes of the United Nations--nor of any other public governing body. If the UN is to be effective in the essential role of advancing the reform and democratization of economic relations among and within nations, it must be freed from corporate influence.

We must hold the UN and our own governments accountable for creating an institutional and policy framework for a planetary system of locally rooted, globally cooperative, just, sustainable, and compassionate economies based on the principles of authentic development and responsive to the needs of all. The magnitude of the task is compounded by the need to rebuild a United Nations suffering from decades of neglect, to dismantle the institutions of Bretton Woods and undo the enormous damage they have wrought, and create new institutions with more appropriate mandates and structures within the UN system.

By its every action the World Bank has increased the foreign indebtedness of low income countries. It is time to replace it with a United Nations International Insolvency Court to which indebted countries can turn for assistance in freeing themselves from the chains of international debt and IMF conditionality without sacrificing their ability to provide essential public services.

The International Monetary Fund forces countries to give up control over the flow of money and goods across their borders, leading to massive trade imbalances, international indebtedness, exploitation, and financial instability. It is time to replace it with a United Nations International Finance Organization responsible for:  
* Monitoring national trade and current account balances, and facilitating negotiations toward agreement on corrective action where there are consequential and persistent imbalances between imports and exports.
* Helping national governments establish capital controls that strengthen domestic employment, domestic investment, domestic ownership, and domestic technical capability; and discourage financial speculation.
* Coordinating international action to prevent money laundering by international and offshore banks and tax evasion by individuals and corporations using off shore tax havens.  

The World Trade Organization regulates national and local governments to prohibit them from regulating transnational corporations, trade, and finance in the public interest. Let us replace it with a United Nations Organization for Corporate Accountability that would facilitate:  
* International anti-trust actions to break up global concentrations of corporate power, with special attention to banking, media, and agribusiness.
* Dechartering procedures against transnational corporations with repeat convictions for criminal behavior.
* Legal action by those harmed by a corporate subsidiary in one country to collect damages from the parent company based in another country.
* The ratification of an enforceable code of conduct covering all corporations with operations in more than one country, including a strict prohibition on corporate political participation.  

The WTO has consistently given priority to trade over concerns for labor, health, food safety, food security, and environmental standards. We must be clear that trade is a means, not an end. Responsibility for matters relating to employment, food safety and security, human and environmental health, and other aspects of human and planetary well-being properly rests not with trade lawyers, but with the relevant specialized UN agencies, such as the World Health Organization, the International Labour Office, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the United Nations Environment Programme. The mandates and capacities of these agencies to deal with trade related issues should be clarified and strengthened--always giving human and natural interests priority over corporate interests.

Though I've focused here on needed political and institutional reforms at the global level, equally serious reforms are needed at local and national levels. No where is such reform more urgent than here in the United States. Our government has been the chief architect of the destructive policies of the Bretton Woods system and the weakening of the United Nations. Time after time it has acted to undermine democracy and authentic development in Southern countries. It now stands as the chief barrier to the reform of the destructive structures of corporate globalization. Those of us who hold U.S. citizenship have a special obligation to the world to end this travesty through the deep reform of our political system.

The task before us is to create a coherent system of global governance under the auspices of the United Nations--provide the UN with the human and financial resources to fulfill its original mandate, purge it of corporate influence, and introduce the reforms needed to strengthen its function as a democratic governing body.

We have long waited passively, confident that our institutions would fulfill for us our dreams of peace, justice, and prosperity for all people. Now we know the truth. Our institutions have no such magical powers. The creative energies of humanity reside within people--people like us. Our dreams will become reality only through our own commitment and creative effort. If our institutions block our creative expression, we--the peoples of the United Nations--can change them. That is our right. That is our responsibility--to ourselves--to one another--and to the earth that sustains us all.

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