Anger, pacifism, responding

Crazy shit going down. It is getting worse.

The Trade In Services Agreement could make us nostalgic for TTIP- which is not dead yet. To rival Investor-State Dispute Settlement, with the unaccountable judges private accountancy firms which have the investor-claimants as their clients, there is the Ratchet clause: once a service is privatised, it cannot be taken back into public control.

My friend also shared this article on gentrification sterilising London neighbourhoods. In Swanston there is a housebuilding programme, carefully worked to go with making the town London commuter territory and so make house prices increase. In around 1970, a lot of Londoners were taken out and dumped in the town, so that there are Nuptonshire accents and older London accents co-existing: and now, perhaps, they will be dumped further out.

People get angry about housing costs. When someone mentions housing costs I feel my hackles start to rise; and if they express stress distress or anger I go off on one. I have to leave to calm down. Like many emotional reactions, this does me no good. Someone said I should reflect on my expression in tranquility, and not show the envy, elation, disappointment, obsession that I felt so much, but I love my ardent, passionate side, and toning it down is fighting myself. If I were uncomfortable with my emotional expression, it is tempting to blame oestradiol, thinking if I were on my natural testosterone rather than synthetic hormones I would be more sensible; but this is me, and I doubt changing to T injections would improve me.

But when angry like that it might be better not to get whirled away in the feeling of the moment. They are angry, I think of my opportunities to buy a house, cheaper than it would be now, which I missed because I have never felt safe enough or sufficiently able to contemplate decades rather than weeks ahead, to commit. And I am fearful. That is the time to recognise and permit the emotion, and keep a part of consciousness aware of it- not suppressing it- but not overwhelmed by it, for I need conscious awareness of what is going on now, and a thoughtful response. I would rarely be angry with the people I am with, and if I were expressing it would rarely do good.

When I did tribunals, I would try so hard to get evidence for the claimant- but if I had tried, and got nowhere, I would give up and go on to the next one. Torquil was delighted that the professor of InterRel seemed so interested in him, and hurt that he was so dismissive when Torquil got too low a mark to enter the second year. Where may my ardour make a difference? I survey the wall, and if there is a crack in it I will try to break through there. This is precise and difficult work for a cool head. The ardour must be used as fuel, not ignited by random sparks.

“The UK shall become the global leader in free trade,” said Theresa May. She believes and desires that. This is truly terrifying. The main threats to humanity now are climate catastrophe, war-mongering, and the untrammelled power of multinationals to pay no tax, trample employment rights and cost-cut consumer safety. They will not take action when their ways of making money cause harm, unless they are held to account. The answers are publicly owned public services and international co-operation, as in the EU, to regulate large companies. What she calls “Free Trade” tramples on everything we need to save humanity.

St Paul: Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Quartz suggests empathy as an answer to anger and violence, and non-complementary behaviour, meeting anger and fear with an attempt to understand grievance, and compassion.


MP bothering

The house with the cracked walls, Paul CĂ©zanne

I have never contacted my MP about a personal difficulty, but I emailed him twice recently, about TTIP and Iraq. He replies in a reasonable fashion, with standard paragraphs put together by an assistant.

My Tory father used to bemoan “ratchet socialism”: under each Labour government more power would be arrogated to the State, and Conservatives would not undo it. TTIP seems to ensure ratchet capitalism. A Tory government could put health services out to tender. A Labour government could not then bring those services back into State provision without opening itself up to claims to compensation under Investor-State Dispute Settlement. It would be a restraint of trade legally indistinguishable from nationalising the Suez Canal. The UK government will not seek to exclude health services from the scope of TTIP.

The TUC wants to exclude ISDS from the treaty. Frances O’Grady’s inclusion of this possibility in a consultation exercise is not such a great achievement as she suggests.

Dispute settlement procedures are the wrong target. Without them, a treaty becomes a pious hope, broken with impunity. The previous Labour government in Australia under Julia Gillard promised to exclude ISDS from future trade agreements, but this carries risk to Australian commerce as well: If Australian Paul CĂ©zanne, Seated peasantbusinesses are concerned about sovereign risk in Australian trading partner countries, they will need to make their own assessments about whether they want to commit to investing in those countries.

That Labour government also promised the Government will not support provisions in trade agreements that constrain our ability to regulate legitimately on social, environmental or other similar important public policy matters. Such as plain packaging of cigarettes, a social policy matter. Philip Morris Asia argues that the Australian law is in breach of its intellectual property rights. Was it foreseeable that such a challenge could be made to a public health initiative?

Though the case started in 2011, it is not yet resolved. Pleadings, submissions and evidence are kept confidential on the orders of the Singapore tribunal. Justice will not be seen to be done.

What does Mr Sawford say? “I am worried that ISDS would give corporations the power to sue our government if they thought that a national law would hurt their profits.” What sort of national law? Is this a treaty which would allow no restraint of trade at all? In the EU, a “single market”, there is a great deal of restraint of trade: Champagne must be made in Champagne, and Melton Mowbray pork pies in Melton Mowbray. In the EU, there are procedures for such restraint across the whole market. The parties seek to bridge the gap between their respective approaches: perhaps this is the high water mark of such restraint, and the US will veto any further law.

Might there be such procedures under TTIP? The State of Play document from the Commission does not tell me. On most provisions, including dispute settlement, the parties are still negotiating.

My MP’s letter echoes concerns about TTIP without helping me understand what it might do. This document from the EU says it is Wonderful. Should I trust it?

38 Degrees

38 degrees 1To the TTIP protest. I went to Nupton, as it was organised by the Green Party there, the best organised local protest in easy bus reach. I have never been to the main town in my constituency. And I wanted to check them out: I want a political party which I can respect, and feel good about.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated between the US and EU will make consumer protection, employment protection and environmental protection legislation illegal. Corporations will be able to sue governments for damages in shadowy, unaccountable international courts, for damages for restraint of trade. The Australian government legislated that cigarette packets should be plain, with only a health warning, and was challenged by the WTO. It is apocalyptic. The NHS will be privatised. But people’s anger is diffused, channelled by UKIP against immigrants and the EU.

We need that anger, directed against the real problems; and we also need to give people hope. But standing in Aldershot street, I found that we were talking to ourselves. We collected six signatures, and some may have been our own. “Power to the People Corporations” said our leaflets, which is a good slogan: I wondered how to express the enormity of TTIP. The protection of employment tribunals has already been taken away, because of the huge charges to the Claimant for using them. “Power to the Corporations!” I said, holding out my leaflets, as people walked by, shaking their heads. They have their own problems. They do not want inveigled into others’ enthusiasms. Some took my leaflets, and put them in the bin ten yards down the road. Some looked.

It is hard work. Acceptance of What Is, was my mantra- this is not a judgment on me, rejecting my leaflets- but I found it upsetting, as when I am unable to communicate. 38 degrees 3UKIP gives them something simple to hate.

No wonder that we talked among ourselves. I told a man I had come from Marsby. “A ‘Black Bitch’,” he said knowingly. I would rather say Martian, being a science fiction fan. He is a science fiction fan too. “It’s Doctor Who tonight,” he said excitedly. (Oh, no.) “And it’s the Daleks!” (Here it comes-) “EXTERMINATE!!” I don’t think anyone noticed. Really. I moved away.

I had one conversation with The Public. A man with that sheep-like vacuous slogan, spouting self-righteously and resentfully. It’s all the fault of the EU, apparently. “They took us in, without a referendum.”

An American now living here, protesting with us, wanted to tell me how bad private medicine is. They won’t insure you for “pre-existing conditions”. If you have diabetes, you need health care for diabetes, but can’t get it. He had some condition, and was landed with a $14,000 bill. He came round after an operation, and had a $300 bill from the anaesthetist pinned to his shirt. So he said he would declare himself bankrupt, and the hospital made claims on various charitable funds, to pay their bill for him. This was the Seventies, and he is still angry, still needs to tell me. I think we should be talking to other people, but don’t see how we can.

38 degrees 2