Voter, you are a lost soul and a dreamer if you have any faith that voting actually dictates policy in America. The whole entire thing is very fake and gay.
This really happened. In a historically left-leaning, liberal state known for electing democrats, vox populi elected a republican for governor. This governor had a political career as a staunch conservative, a business career in the cut-throat upper echelon of capitalism known as private equity. The governor passed into law the nation’s first state-subsidized health care mandate (at the state level, before ObamaCare took effect at the federal level). The bill, known as RomneyCare, was authored by a self-described Marxist, a man who shares credit in the creation of what is known as the Democratic Socialists of America (yes that DSA). The bill provided comprehensive health insurance (at no cost) to the low/no-income class. Health insurance carriers now provided coverage to these recipients – yet the health insurance carriers still had to maintain their revenue streams (to run profitable business operations). In order to do so, the health insurance costs to the working class skyrocketed stratospherically. Finally, special caveats written into the bill that required the costs of behavioral health care (therapy, substance abuse treatment) be included in all insurance plans. And by enabling this caveat, the private equity firm the governor co-founded, which owned investments in substance abuse treatment centers, profited enormously through both a dramatic surge in revenues earned by the substance abuse treatment centers and through the eventual sale of the investment – with a monstrous capital gain earned on that liquidation.
Politics in America is nothing more than bombastic orchestrated hyperbole – truly – the consequences of our dystopian post-truth fact-checked democracy: ordinary working people that vote get fucked.
His grandfather was a locally-based politician, his father served in Nixon’s cabinet. Prerequisites met – political legacy. This man went to elite schools like Harvard and earned a JD/MBA. He found cut-throat white collar success in the private equity realm. He entered into politics. He is a right-wing conservative Republican. Very religious. A devout Mormon. He ran for governor in a left-leaning state. “Taxachusetts” it’s called, with excessive sales & use, excise, payroll and real estate taxes – in aggregate – compared with other states.
He won the election. A Republican governor in Ted Kennedy’s state. His name is Mitt Romney. He is the quintessential Republican. He was a bona fide conservative of that time; platform with built in expectations for::
Tax cuts (one would assume)
Smaller government (slash spending)
Laissez faire old school conservative politics (right?)
The conservative governor – a conservative right-wing, republican – and the bullshit that entails – and yet: he onboarded a Marxist (a fellow Harvard man who is one of the original Democratic Socialists of America) to concoct policy that once passed, it has significantly altered the economic framework of Massachusetts, then the country over – for he authorized the enactment of state subsidized health insurance in Massachusetts.
It was dubbed “RomneyCare.” – aka the test-run for ObamaCare – the Affordable Care Act.
The Marxist John McDonough (author of RomneyCare):
The RINO passed what truly was the most economically far-left, economically radical, socialist piece of policy in the modern era of Massachusetts.
McDonough is a former chair of the Boston local of Democratic Socialists Organizing Committee, (since 1982, known as Democratic Socialists of America), the U.S.’s largest Marxist organization. He is a Harvard graduate, like Romney.
D.S.A. has used this gradual approach for decades, setting up numerous front groups and using subservient labor unions and secret supporters in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress to put forward several versions “single” payer legislation.It was only with the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, however, that D.S.A.’s long held dreams began to be realized at the Federal level.
The policy dubbed RomneyCare, was the first “universal healthcare” mandate passed in the United States. So in Massachusetts, radical changes came to the economic lanscape, which had and has had, extremely unfavorable circumstances for the working class that receives health insurance as part of their compensation from their employer. These are the pillars of the RomneyCare:
For all individuals that can afford health insurance, it is now law they must have health insurance. The method to substantiate the level of income is determined via an individual’s annual income tax return.
For individuals that cannot afford health insurance – low-income, which is determined using the Federal Poverty Level guidelines, individuals in this tier will receive comprehensive health insurance at the expense of the state.
For businesses of 10+ employees, the employer must offer health insurance as part of the basic compensation package for employees.
Working Class – Financial Torpedo:
Premium and Co-pays: The impact was quite staggering. First of all, for the working class that already had employer sponsored health insurance, this is where the brunt of the health insurance carriers adjustments to their profitability models hit hardest most. Prior to the enactment of RomneyCare, health insurance was a benefit (in both a figurative and literal sense) for a small portion of one’s salary went towards medical coverage. This coverage extended to include dependants (spouse and children). When one would go for an eye exam, or their child to a pediatrician for an annual physical, or their wife to fill a prescription – copays were the really the only additional cost to having traditional medical insurance coverage. What I mean when I say traditional, I mean essential, critical, non-elective – “doctor’s orders” – medical protocols vital to maintaining health. Copays would range from $5 to $20 per scheduled doctor appointment/medication refill/ER visit/etc. This depended upon both which carrier one had (ie Tufts, Harvard Pilgrim, etc) and the expansiveness of the coverage of the premium paid via employment.
But really, copays were manageable, they were reasonable, it (speaking anecdotally) was fair enough.
Well, once RomneyCare took affect, the premiums materially did not change, nor did co-pays. We were all introduced to the deductible.
Deductible: Premiums still applies, copays still applies but now – before the benefit of paying for the health insurance even takes affect, now a deductible would have to be paid. Simply stated, from $2,000 to $5,000 would be paid out of pocket before coverage from premiums applied. This is how the carriers recovered their costs for having to handle the administration of state-subsidized health insurance plans. This is definitively a socialist redistribution of wealth. Put into affect by a so-called conservative politician.
The pain did not end there.
Penalties for Being Uninsured: RomneyCare provisions also made it mandatory that anyone who could afford health insurance – according to financial affordability metrics penned by the Marxist – would have to pay for it. The reporting method of proof of having paid for health insurance came through a new level of regulatory compliance, enforced by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. On one’s individual annual income tax return now included mandatory reporting of this health insurance proof. For each month an individual (and their joint-filer and dependants) did not have paid health insurance, the penalty imposed was about $80/month. This penalty, if applicable, would go dollar for dollar to any state refund, or liability payment owed, upon filing.
Carrier Chicanery: Pre-existing conditions. This got complicated, all I can say is that anyone with a pre-existing condition before acquiring health insurance via a carrier would have to crawl through bureaucratic chutes and ladders to have services approved for payment. A fucking nightmare for many. Disenchantment is a great method to remove the motivation to dedicating time and effort to satisfy the bureaucratic protocols.
Businesses of 10+ Employees: small businesses, working class businesses, now had to offer these deductible-plagued health insurance plans to their employees if the company had more than 10 employees. Another financial uppercut, right to the face.
Capitalism for the Win (sale of CRC):
Mitt Romney joined Bain & Company around 1980. He demonstrated his strong abilities for the realm of private equity and was the co-founder of Bain Capital, a dedicated private equity arm of Bain & Company. Private equity is a highly complex economic operation, incorporating a multitude of complex variables, of which my personal professional background affords me the ability to explain this simply.
Bain has typically high net-worth clients. Those clients invest their money into Bain’s investment operations. The investment operations involve acquisitions, mergers, divestitures, etc of various privately held businesses, injecting money into venture capital, placing money in hedge funds, etc. Let us call the resulting ownership in various investment operations holdings.
The holdings are not all pooled into one giant oversight scheme by the holding company, Bain Capital. There are multiple subsidiary operations; limited partnerships, limited liability companies, trusts, etc that portions of the holdings are funneled into and managed. We can call the subsidiaries pools.
One holding, which was carved up from ownership perspective into various pools, was a company called CRC Health. Bain Capital agreed to acquire the CRC Health Group for about $720 million, in late 2005. CRC Health owned and operated various substance abuse treatment centers, rehabs, clinics, etc – including operations in Massachusetts. With the passing of RomneyCare, many people with access to the state-subsidized health insurance – which provided coverage for behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, as mandated by the Marxist author – now could enter into various levels of treatment for substance abuse disorders – and it is all covered by the state.
CRC saw it’s profit margins dramatically rise while under the ownership of Bain, which made it a highly attractive holding that could be liquidated for a killing – in terms of a net gain on the sale of CRC.
Bain ultimately sold CRC in 2015 for $1.2 billion. Remember, they purchased it in 2005 for $720 million. The $400 million gain is quite substantial, not to mention the annual net income earned from owning the business operations of this particular holding. Those annual net incomes fed the pools. Very lucrative.
Lucrative and also very suspicious. The man that is the co-founder of the very beneficiary of this nature of business Bain undertakes, passes legislation that handsomely benefits the profitability of the holding – for people in need of the service provided by CRC (substance abuse treatment) – now have seamless access and mobility to utilize the service. First Massachusetts has RomneyCare – then ObamaCare passes nationwide – with the same provisions regarding coverage of substance abuse treatment.
Ironically, Romney lost to Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Romney’s campaign had an odd time conveying Romney being the man responsible for RomneyCare, the leftist socialist policy – to the nation of conservative, right-wing republican voters. And swing voters.
Oh yeah – the Marxist McDonough is credited with authoring ObamaCare too.
No Solutions to Problems in Rules-Based Democracy:
Romney’s legacy as governor is antithetical to the structure of the political ideology shared with those that voted him in …his loyalties were to the private equity circle, to the major donors to his campaigns, to the promised donors of his eventual presidential bid.
Marxist types scored a victory in the fact Romney’s RomneyCare was an actual implementation of a system to accomplish the redistribution of wealth. First in Massachusetts – adapted nationwide via ObamaCare.
So voter? How does this make you feel? Do you believe your vote, your milquetoast ideology, your owning the libs, or shaming the MAGA-pedes – does anything beneficial to your comfortable struggle come about?
No – it doesn’t.
Not only does he shit on your head ….you’re expected to say thanks for the hat.
In school, physics class, we completed exercises and it was commonly noted these laws of physics exist “in a vacuum“.
An example; an object that falls through a vacuum is subjected to only one external force, gravity, so be it a cotton ball or marble, the free fall is only determined by gravitational force. Both objects will have equal acceleration – 9.8 meters per square second – in the vacuum.
Outside the vacuum, weight, size, shape, friction, elevation levels, mass/density, etc – of course will affect the rate of acceleration in free fall of the cotton ball vs the marble.
Politics Does Not Take Place in a Vacuum
American leadership is plagued, beyond redemption, by outside factors: elections, policy enactment, partisanship, “special interests”, ideological frameworks, current events, social issues, media pressure, economic conditions, geopolitical matters, disinformation, misinformation, bias, hyperbole, rumors, speculation, lies, ugly truths – there is no vacuum.
Alot of us have been left with the notion political theatre is indeed “fake and gay” – some of us feel the two-party system is a smoke screen for that both parties at the end of the day work in concert with one another. The Establishment, it is indeed. This malfeasance that is our reality gets depressing so I will utilize the vacuum concept to state my case for why Ronald DeSantis is a meritoriously fit candidate for president.
In this hypothetical vacuum, meritocracy is the one force.
Real Commander in Chief: Military Service Required
The President serves as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. The boss. The boss must have the experience when it comes to the nature of the work at hand of his subordinates. This goes for any profession. A real boss knows how to run that shit for he did it himself. Think of the expanse of the military population – they take a fellow comrade seriously and deem them on the same page versus a civilian that has zero military experience. We can pose this question to soldiers. I am confident they would agree. It has been said there is an irrevocable sense of respect, dignity, honor, loyalty that soldiers have for one another. Again, this may occur in a vacuum. Military authority must be delegated by a supreme commander who is a military man.
DeSantis served in the US Navy and this began in 2004. He earned the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He fulfilled various duties within his service with the Navy. He was deployed to Iraq in 2007. There are accolades he earned that I am not qualified to expand upon, regardless, he is an accomplished military man. He is a soldier. He is initiated.
Lt. Commander DeSantis, in this vacuum, is meritoriously qualified.
Mechanics of Law: Executive Orders & Veto Power – Juris Doctorate & Bar Certification Required (Attorney)
Amongst other executive functions, the President has two – again, in a vacuum – carte blanche powers.
One of these is the capacity to enact Executive Orders. Executive orders are issued by the President of the United States, acting in his capacity as head of the executive branch, directing a federal official or administrative agency to engage in a course of action or refrain from a course of action. They are enforceable to the extent that the represent a valid exercise of the President’s power (i.e. the action must be within the president’s constitutional authority).
The other is Veto Power. The President of the United States of America has the power of the veto, which means he can stop legislation from becoming law. The president’s veto power is just one of the many separations of power, or “checks and balances” of the United States government. The legislative, judicial, and executive branches make up our government’s separation of power.Both the House of Representatives and Senate (collectively known as Congress) vote on bills to become law. When the House of Representatives proposes and then passes a bill, it continues on to the Senate. If the Senate also passes the bill, then the bill continues on to the president, who either signs it into law, or does not sign and vetoes the bill.
Governor DeSantis earned his Juris Doctorate and was also accepted to the bar as a practicing attorney. The reason why this merit is essential is that executive orders, veto power – the application of these functions – remember in a vacuum – it is absolutely essential that the person with this magnitude of decision making authority understands the language of the law. This is what the entire government, three branches of government is all about – under the Constitution:
Legislative—Makes laws (Congress, comprised of the House of Representatives and Senate)
Executive—Carries out laws (president, vice president, Cabinet, most federal agencies)
Judicial—Evaluates laws (Supreme Court and other courts)
The keyword here is LAW. I hold the belief that in order to craft, propose, assess, examine, evaluate, author, interpret, pass, veto the law – the individual must be equipped with the education with which laws are written (for the notion of enacting policy is literally activating legislation – bringing something into law). Beyond the education, which occurs in a two-dimensional setting in essence (books, exams, writing papers, etc) – practical experience as a bar certified attorney is necessary. This is the same notion that a person aspiring to be a rocket scientist must first pass core science classes (physics, organic chemistry,etc) before they are launching rockets thru the stratosphere.
Ronald DeSantis, Esquire, in this vacuum, has satisfied the called for basis of merit.
Real World Governmental Experience: Prior Posts as a Statesman
The President is the chief of the military and has certain authorities to take actions immune to governmental dissent , in a vacuum remember.
The federal government has alot, an awful lot of moving parts. There are the three branches, Legislative, Executive and Judicial. The innards of each branch are complex. We have the Cabinet, committees, agencies – pretty massive.
In summary, Ron DeSantis is a former Congressman. In 2012 he was elected as a member of the House of Representatives from Florida. Within this realm, he gained first hand exposure to the legislative process – to the mechanics of passing law. At the federal level. It goes without saying that this experience calls for partisanship; loyalty to party will consequentially collide with “what is best for everyone” – but that is the very divisive aspect of “rules based international order of democracy” of which my disdain will be saved for later blog entries. Right now I am focusing on the vacuum.
Ronald DeSantis worked in the House of Representatives, he was on various congressional committees, he did the work.
Ultimately, this paved a path to his gubernatorial candidacy and inevitable election to Governor of Florida. It is here in his role as governor, he is enacting masterful policy. Yes, this is my opinion. He is able to do so for no one can call into question his meritorious statecraft.
This nation has huge fucking problems. Bleeding resources into the bankers wars. ZOG. Radical black blocs (not real anarchists) bringing ruin to small businesses. Quantitative easing. Conservatives drawn to the Qanon psyop which directs their angst into the “satanic baby eating cabal” which conveniently redirects them from any semblance of their own racial awakening. Malicious vaccines being pushed for the batflu – with a $25 CVS gift card as incentive. Fuel costs are out of control and the (((speculators))) benefit. We are on the verge of the real World War Three. The Deep Fakes are coming. Politicians are rotten.
Yeah, it’s political theatre. Yes. However I believe in the power of a vacuum. It can come and clean alot of shit up real quick. DeSantis could be the man we need.
Mathew Kahn discusses the ramifications of the major transportation spending recently passed by the US Congress. Of course, as the pie chart shows, infrastructure as many people think of it—construction or improvement of bridges, highways, roads, rail and subways, ports, waterways, and airports—accounts for only $157 billion, or 7%, of the plan’s estimated cost. Still that is a lot of money (“A billion here, a billion there, and soon it adds up to real money”–US Senator), and Kahn provides a list of concerns in his article What Insights Does Economics Offer About the Nascent Biden Administration Transport Infrastructure Investment Program? Excerpts in italics with my bolds and images.
The Washington Post has published a piece stating that the Secretary of Transportation, Peter Buttigieg, is the big winner of the Biden Infrastructure Bill as he will be attending many ribbon cutting ceremonies as grateful local mayors shake his hand.
NATURE: Abrupt and widespread discontinuities exist in the fossil record of fauna and are considered evidence of widespread mass extinction of species. These low frequency events have been attributed to fluctuations in sea level, reversals of the geomagnetic fields (exposing the earth’s surface to lethal radiation), impacts of the earth by very large meteors (putting tons of dust into the atmosphere cutting off photosynthesis) and supernovae (causing catastrophic but temporary climate changes). There are also a range of potential man-made ecocatastrophes, such as triggering an earthquake with a an underground nuclear explosion. In addition, there are other more fantastic possibilities. The sun will expand into a red star engulfing Mercury and Venus and melting lead on the Earth. The moon can fall to earth, a comet, a swarm of meteorites or a black hole could collide with the earth. The earth will eventually loose its atmosphere. A life form might evolve destroying all of humankind.
This is the source material for the United Nations Agenda 2030 – the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The carrying out of the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is the partnership formed between the United Nations and the World Economic Forum known as “The Great Reset”…
The UK government’s Behavioural Insights Team helped to push the public towards accepting the COVID narrative, restrictions and lockdowns. It is now working on ‘nudging’ people towards further possible restrictions or at least big changes in their behaviour in the name of ‘climate emergency’. From frequent news stories and advertisements to soap opera storylines and government announcements, the message about impending climate catastrophe is almost relentless.
Part of the messaging includes blaming the public’s consumption habits for a perceived ‘climate emergency’. At the same time, young people are being told that we only have a decade or so (depending on who is saying it) to ‘save the planet’.
Setting the agenda are powerful corporations that helped degrade much of the environment in the first place. But ordinary people, not the multi-billionaires pushing this agenda, will pay the price for this as living more frugally seems to be part of the programme (‘own nothing and be happy’). Could we at some future point see ‘climate emergency’ lockdowns, not to ‘save the NHS’ but to ‘save the planet’?
A tendency to focus on individual behaviour and not ‘the system’ exists.
But let us not forget this is a system that deliberately sought to eradicate a culture of self-reliance that prevailed among the working class in the 19th century (self-education, recycling products, a culture of thrift, etc) via advertising and a formal school education that ensured conformity and set in motion a lifetime of wage labour and dependency on the products manufactured by an environmentally destructive capitalism.
A system that has its roots in inflicting massive violence across the globe to exert control over land and resources elsewhere.
In his 2018 book ‘The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequalities and its solutions’, Jason Hickel describes the processes involved in Europe’s wealth accumulation over a 150-year period of colonialism that resulted in tens of millions of deaths.
By using other countries’ land, Britain effectively doubled the size of arable land in its control. This made it more practical to then reassign the rural population at home (by stripping people of their means of production) to industrial labour. This too was underpinned by massive violence (burning villages, destroying houses, razing crops).
Hickel argues that none of this was inevitable but was rooted in the fear of being left behind by other countries because of Europe’s relative lack of land resources to produce commodities.
This is worth bearing in mind as we currently witness a fundamental shift in our relationship to the state resulting from authoritarian COVID-related policies and the rapidly emerging corporate-led green agenda. We should never underestimate the ruthlessness involved in the quest for preserving wealth and power and the propensity for wrecking lives and nature to achieve this.
Commodification of nature
Current green agenda ‘solutions’ are based on a notion of ‘stakeholder’ capitalism or private-public partnerships whereby vested interests are accorded greater weight, with governments and public money merely facilitating the priorities of private capital.
A key component of this strategy involves the ‘financialisation of nature’ and the production of new ‘green’ markets to deal with capitalism’s crisis of over accumulation and weak consumer demand caused by decades of neoliberal policies and the declining purchasing power of working people. The banking sector is especially set to make a killing via ‘green profiling’ and ‘green bonds’.
According to Friends of the Earth (FoE), corporations and states will use the financialisation of nature discourse to weaken laws and regulations designed to protect the environment with the aim of facilitating the goals of extractive industries, while allowing mega-infrastructure projects in protected areas and other contested places.
Global corporations will be able to ‘offset’ (greenwash) their activities by, for example, protecting or planting a forest elsewhere (on indigenous people’s land) or perhaps even investing in (imposing) industrial agriculture which grows herbicide-resistant GMO commodity crop monocultures that are misleadingly portrayed as ‘climate friendly’.
FoE states:“Offsetting schemes allow companies to exceed legally defined limits of destruction at a particular location, or destroy protected habitat, on the promise of compensation elsewhere; and allow banks to finance such destruction on the same premise.”
This agenda could result in the weakening of current environmental protection legislation or its eradication in some regions under the pretext of compensating for the effects elsewhere. How ecoservice ‘assets’ (for example, a forest that performs a service to the ecosystem by acting as a carbon sink) are to be evaluated in a monetary sense is very likely to be done on terms that are highly favourable to the corporations involved, meaning that environmental protection will play second fiddle to corporate and finance sector return-on-investment interests.
As FoE argues, business wants this system to be implemented on its terms, which means the bottom line will be more important than stringent rules that prohibit environmental destruction.
The envisaged commodification of nature will ensure massive profit-seeking opportunities through the opening up of new markets and the creation of fresh investment instruments.
Capitalism needs to keep expanding into or creating new markets to ensure the accumulation of capital to offset the tendency for the general rate of profit to fall (according to writer Ted Reese, it has trended downwards from an estimated 43% in the 1870s to 17% in the 2000s). The system suffers from a rising overaccumulation (surplus) of capital.Reese notes that, although wages and corporate taxes have been slashed, the exploitability of labour continued to become increasingly insufficient to meet the demands of capital accumulation. By late 2019, the world economy was suffocating under a mountain of debt. Many companies could not generate enough profit and falling turnover, squeezed margins, limited cashflows and highly leveraged balance sheets were prevalent. In effect, economic growth was already grinding to a halt prior to the massive stock market crash in February 2020.
In the form of COVID ‘relief’, there has been a multi-trillion bailout for capitalism as well as the driving of smaller enterprises to bankruptcy. Or they have being swallowed up by global interests. Either way, the likes of Amazon and other predatory global corporations have been the winners.
New ‘green’ Ponzi trading schemes to offset carbon emissions and commodify ‘ecoservices’ along with electric vehicles and an ‘energy transition’ represent a further restructuring of the capitalist economy, resulting in a shift away from a consumer oriented demand-led system.
It essentially leaves those responsible for environmental degradation at the wheel, imposing their will and their narrative on the rest of us.
Between 2000 and 2009, Indonesia supplied more than half of the global palm oil market at an annual expense of some 340,000 hectares of Indonesian countryside. Consider too that Brazil and Indonesia have spent over 100 times more in subsidies to industries that cause deforestation than they received in international conservation aid from the UN to prevent it.
These two countries gave over $40bn in subsidies to the palm oil, timber, soy, beef and biofuels sectors between 2009 and 2012, some 126 times more than the $346m they received to preserve their rain forests.
India is the world’s leading importer of palm oil, accounting for around 15% of the global supply. It imports over two-thirds of its palm oil from Indonesia.
Until the mid-1990s, India was virtually self-sufficient in edible oils. Under pressure from the World Trade Organization (WTO), import tariffs were reduced, leading to an influx of cheap (subsidised) edible oil imports that domestic farmers could not compete with. This was a deliberate policy that effectively devastated the home-grown edible oils sector and served the interests of palm oil growers and US grain and agriculture commodity company Cargill, which helped write international trade rules to secure access to the Indian market on its terms.
Indonesia leads the world in global palm oil production, but palm oil plantations have too often replaced tropical forests, leading to the killing of endangered species and the uprooting of local communities as well as contributing to the release of potential environment-damaging gases. Indonesia emits more of these gases than any country besides China and the US, largely due to the production of palm oil.
The issue of palm oil is one example from the many that could be provided to highlight how the drive to facilitate corporate need and profit trumps any notion of environmental protection or addressing any ‘climate emergency’. Whether it is in Indonesia, Latin America or elsewhere, transnational agribusiness – and the system of globalised industrial commodity crop agriculture it promotes – fuels much of the destruction we see today.
Even if the mass production of lab-created food, under the guise of ‘saving the planet’ and ‘sustainability’, becomes logistically possible (which despite all the hype is not at this stage), it may still need biomass and huge amounts of energy. Whose land will be used to grow these biomass commodities and which food crops will they replace? And will it involve that now-famous Gates’ euphemism ‘land mobility’ (farmers losing their land)?
Microsoft is already mapping Indian farmers’ lands and capturing agriculture datasets such as crop yields, weather data, farmers’ personal details, profile of land held (cadastral maps, farm size, land titles, local climatic and geographical conditions), production details (crops grown, production history, input history, quality of output, machinery in possession) and financial details (input costs, average return, credit history).
Is this an example of stakeholder-partnership capitalism, whereby a government facilitates the gathering of such information by a private player which can then use the data for developing a land market (courtesy of land law changes that the government enacts) for institutional investors at the expense of smallholder farmers who find themselves ‘land mobile’? This is a major concern among farmers and civil society in India.
Back in 2017, agribusiness giant Monsanto was judged to have engaged in practices that impinged on the basic human right to a healthy environment, the right to food and the right to health. Judges at the ‘Monsanto Tribunal’, held in The Hague, concluded that if ecocide were to be formally recognised as a crime in international criminal law, Monsanto could be found guilty.
The tribunal called for the need to assert the primacy of international human and environmental rights law. However, it was also careful to note that an existing set of legal rules serves to protect investors’ rights in the framework of the WTO and in bilateral investment treaties and in clauses in free trade agreements. These investor trade rights provisions undermine the capacity of nations to maintain policies, laws and practices protecting human rights and the environment and represent a disturbing shift in power.
The tribunal denounced the severe disparity between the rights of multinational corporations and their obligations.
While the Monsanto Tribunal judged that company to be guilty of human rights violations, including crimes against the environment, in a sense we also witnessed global capitalism on trial.
Global conglomerates can only operate as they do because of a framework designed to allow them to capture or co-opt governments and regulatory bodies and to use the WTO and bilateral trade deals to lever influence. As Jason Hickel notes in his book (previously referred to), old-style colonialism may have gone but governments in the Global North and its corporations have found new ways to assert dominance via leveraging aid, market access and ‘philanthropic’ interventions to force lower income countries to do what they want.
The World Bank’s ‘Enabling the Business of Agriculture’ and its ongoing commitment to an unjust model of globalisation is an example of this and a recipe for further plunder and the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few.
Brazil and Indonesia have subsidised private corporations to effectively destroy the environment through their practices. Canada and the UK are working with the GMO biotech sector to facilitate its needs. And India is facilitating the destruction of its agrarian base according to World Bank directives for the benefit of the likes of Corteva and Cargill.
The TRIPS Agreement, written by Monsanto, and the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, written by Cargill, was key to a new era of corporate imperialism. It came as little surprise that in 2013 India’s then Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar accused US companies of derailing the nation’s oil seeds production programme.
Powerful corporations continue to regard themselves as the owners of people, the planet and the environment and as having the right – enshrined in laws and agreements they wrote – to exploit and devastate for commercial gain.
Partnership or co-option?
It was noticeable during a debate on food and agriculture at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow that there was much talk about transforming the food system through partnerships and agreements. Fine-sounding stuff, especially when the role of agroecology and regenerative farming was mentioned.
However, if, for instance, the interests you hope to form partnerships with are coercing countries to eradicate their essential buffer food stocks then bid for such food on the global market with US dollars (as in India) or are lobbying for the enclosure of seeds through patents (as in Africa and elsewhere), then surely this deliberate deepening of dependency should be challenged; otherwise ‘partnership’ really means co-option.
Similarly, the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) that took place during September in New York was little more than an enabler of corporate needs. The UNFSS was founded on a partnership between the UN and the World Economic Forum and was disproportionately influenced by corporate actors.
Those granted a pivotal role at the UNFSS support industrial food systems that promote ultra-processed foods, deforestation, industrial livestock production, intensive pesticide use and commodity crop monocultures, all of which cause soil deterioration, water contamination and irreversible impacts on biodiversity and human health. And this will continue as long as the environmental effects can be ‘offset’ or these practices can be twisted on the basis of them somehow being ‘climate-friendly’.
Critics of the UNFSS offer genuine alternatives to the prevailing food system. In doing so, they also provide genuine solutions to climate-related issues and food injustice based on notions of food sovereignty, localisation and a system of food cultivation deriving from agroecological principles and practices. Something which people who organised the climate summit in Glasgow would do well to bear in mind.
Current greenwashed policies are being sold by tugging at the emotional heartstrings of the public. This green agenda, with its lexicon of ‘sustainability’, ‘carbon neutrality’, ‘net-zero’ and doom-laden forecasts, is part of a programme that seeks to restructure capitalism, to create new investment markets and instruments and to return the system to viable levels of profitability.
Colin Todhunter, independent writer and analyst specialising in development, food and agriculture based in Europe/India, Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)
Administrative complexity in the US health system has been identified as the source of enormous spending and potential cost savings.1 In a new report, Sahni and colleagues2 provided a detailed evaluation of administrative cost-savings opportunities, including an estimated $175 billion that could be addressed without new laws or regulatory changes.
Health care is complicated because complexity is profitable. In the US health care system, payers, health systems, physicians, other clinicians, drug companies, pharmacies, and pharmacy benefit managers all earn more revenue because of administrative complexity. Moreover, unlike virtually any other sector of the economy, except higher education, health care can raise prices annually faster than inflation.3 This means that revenues, margins, and profits can all improve without addressing administrative efficiency. In most other sectors, organizations can only improve margins if they improve labor productivity or simplify administration.4
That administrative spending is greater in health care than other service industries is not new. Of the $3.8 trillion spent in 2019, an estimated $935 billion was on administrative spending.1 This percentage, approximately 25%, has been roughly constant for more than a decade.5 This Viewpoint explores the misaligned incentives that have made it difficult to make progress in reducing administrative spending and suggests potential changes necessary for administrative simplification to occur.
The Economic Incentives of High Administrative Spending
First, the current health care administrative system is the natural byproduct of economic forces rewarding payers, health systems, physicians, other clinicians, drug companies, pharmacies, and pharmacy benefit managers to maximize their profits. For example, payers profit from administrative complexity, using prior authorization and claims processes to reduce medical costs and designing custom benefit designs to achieve a specific premium price. Health systems profit from administrative complexity such as through opaque pricing, differential prices based on insurance coverage, and coding or risk adjustment activities to increase revenue.
The way health care services in the US are most often reimbursed with the fee-for-service payment system fuels this wasteful administrative give-and-take between payers and health entities. For instance, health care organizations are motivated to spend money on more sophisticated billing strategies to capture more revenue from payers, and payers are motivated to spend money on sophisticated review strategies to avoid paying claims to health care organizations and clinicians. These equal and opposite forces increase each year while canceling each other out and creating no aggregate value. While organizations innovate to improve the productivity of these billing or claims review activities, productivity improvements generally drive more activity rather than reduce total expense. For example, as offshore labor made medical claim reviews and denial appeals less expensive, payers have used this approach to review more claims, and health care organizations and clinicians have appealed claim denials more frequently. At times, the same business-process-outsourcing firm may provide services (such as call centers) for payers as well as services (such as call centers) for health care organizations.
Second, regulators (such as state departments of insurance and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) add administrative complexity as they act to protect patients from harm, ensure access and fairness, and protect public health. To achieve these goals, regulators collect data and quality metrics, formalize appeal and grievance processes, monitor payment accuracy, and conduct audits. Even regulations that require insurers to spend 85% of premiums on medical care—intended to cap administrative costs plus profits at 15%—decrease insurers’ incentive to reduce medical expenses, which in turn weakens the incentive for health care organizations to reduce their administrative costs.
Third, the US health care market structure blocks attempts to standardize. Payers are governed and organized at the state and county levels, whereas many health systems are primarily local organizations with concentrated market power in a single medical service area. Health plans need local health systems to join their networks to create marketable insurance products and do not have much leverage to force health care centers and clinicians to adopt processes or technologies that could lower administrative spending.
Aligning Technology With Economic Incentives to Help Lower Administrative Costs
Against these challenges, health care organizations are applying new technologies like remote process automation and artificial intelligence to address administrative processes and costs. Remote process automation is an approach for automating recurring processes, and because it is inexpensive to set up, it could be applied to many different processes. A common use is to manage prior authorization requests across many different payers. Artificial intelligence is also frequently deployed against complex administrative processes because it can iteratively solve problems and “learn.” A common administrative use for artificial intelligence is to assist with coding because the software can learn from payment and denial experiences that codes maximize revenue. Still, these technologies are ultimately workarounds, automating how the structural complexity is handled but not simplifying health care.
Although both artificial intelligence and remote process automation technologies have received much attention, another approach for addressing administrative complexity involves building technology-enabled customer service organizations. For example, in Medicare Advantage, some companies like Humana are offering one-stop patient “navigator” service functions that can handle nearly any question or problem. These approaches attempt to buffer patients, health care centers, and clinicians from insurance benefit design, network, and payment complexity. Even with these approaches, the underlying complexity persists, and the navigator services may increase administrative spending on customer service in exchange for higher satisfaction scores.
Reducing administrative spending will require changes in the regulation of and payment for health care. Actions to limit price increases, perhaps by indexing health care prices to the consumer price index, could also substantially increase motivation to reduce administrative spending. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation could pursue programs to test all-payer prices, hospital price oversight (such as adopted in Maryland), or Medicare–indexed hospital price caps based on local market dominance to drive margin pressure, motivating health care organizations to manage administrative expenses.6 Another policy lever could be enhanced Federal Trade Commission–Department of Justice enforcement and surveillance of hospital mergers at the local level, which would make it more difficult for health systems to raise prices.
Because incentive alignment is an effective mechanism for large and rapid change, one of the most important actions is to coordinate and accelerate the move away from fee-for-service payment models. Multipayer coordination could create an even stronger incentive. If payers adopt model contracts with the same quality metrics and definitions, data extraction and reporting could be automated. Standard prior authorization lists mandated electronic prior authorizations, and standardized payment denial and appeal protocols could all enable technology to automate these labor-intensive processes and reduce cost and complexity. Another cost-saving approach would be to reduce from 1400 the number of quality metrics reported.7
The US health care system is complicated but can be made simpler. To achieve this goal, the most important contributing factor is to make simpler, less expensive administration a profit imperative. All payers need to be enlisted in support of standardization around payment models, payment rules, and reporting metrics. Additionally, policies that limit price increases to the rate of inflation could create the profit margin pressures that have led to ongoing labor productivity and administrative simplification in other sectors.
Article Information Corresponding Author: Bob Kocher, MD, Venrock, 3340 Hillview Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94304 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: October 20, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.18292
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Kocher reported being a partner at Venrock, which invests in technology and health care companies including Devoted Health, and serving on the boards of Devoted Health, Premera Blue Cross, and several other companies. Mr Chigurupati reported being an employee of and holding stock options in Devoted Health.
Kocher RP. Reducing administrative waste in the US health care system. JAMA. 2021;325(5):427-428. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.24767
Paul Antonopoulos, independent geopolitical analyst
The New Development Bank (NDB) was created by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) in 2015. The BRICS bank, as it is more commonly known, invests mainly in developing economies in areas such as transportation, water and sanitation, clean energy, digital infrastructure, social infrastructure and urban development. On September 2, NDB President Marcos Troyjo announced that the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and Bangladesh were the first members of the bank’s expansion.
“New members will have in NDB a platform to foster their cooperation in infrastructure and sustainable development,” said NDB President Marcos Troyjo in a statement. “We will continue to expand the bank’s membership in a gradual and balanced manner.”
The UAE, Uruguay and Bangladesh will become fully fledged members once internal processes of the NDB is complete. However, the NDB’s ambitions do not end there, and according to Brazilian newspaper Estadão, a fourth partner, likely from Africa, should be announced by the end of the year. In fact, the Shanghai-based bank anticipates three to four new members per year, reaching up to 20 members in the coming years.
Although BRICS is obviously already represented in South America and South Asia by Brazil and India respectively, the accession of Uruguay and Bangladesh into the NDB allows the bank to act on a regional scale. It also opens the possibility for future membership in BRICS. With NDB members neighboring each other in South America and South Asia, the bank has the possibility to finance binational projects that promotes regional economic and transportation integration.
For his part, Emirati Minister of State for Financial Affairs, Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, said: “The United Arab Emirates membership in the New Development Bank represents a new step to enhance the role of the UAE economy on the global stage, especially in light of the great capabilities and expertise that the country possesses in supporting infrastructure projects and sustainable development. This monumental step would not have been achieved without the vision and direction of the UAE leadership, who believe in the importance of supporting development projects around the world, especially in emerging economies.”
The UAE has undergone a massive transformation in the past quarter of a century, turning desert wastelands into thriving economic hubs and progressing from reactionary Salafi ideology to one of tolerance and open-mindedness. As recently as the beginning of the Syrian War in 2011, the UAE was backing jihadist groups, but in a matter of only a few years reverted from this policy and became far more moderate and independent in their decision making and pursuit of partnerships.
Originally a major oil exporter, and still is, the UAE has now diversified its economy so that it is in line with the UN 2030 agenda to end poverty and hunger, protect human rights and gender equality, and protect the planet from degradation. The UAE has immense resources that can be directed towards projects that are in line with not only the UN’s vision, but also the NDB’s.
BRICS signed an agreement on Tuesday involving 28 projects in the fields of computer programming, technical services, culture, art, economy, commerce, logistics and transportation – with a total value of more than $2.1 billion. The UAE’s contribution to such projects will be fundamental in deciding whether the mega-rich Arab country should ascend into BRICS and not only the NDB.
The selection of the UAE, Uruguay and Bangladesh as the first three non-founding partners of the NDB indicates the intentions of BRICS – regional expansion with a focus on economic and transportation cooperation. This cooperation, as well as integration, is especially crucial as the world struggles to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic fallout. Because of this, the NDB will likely focus in the short to medium term on the rejuvenation of member countries following the pandemic, particularly in transitioning to a digital economy and green energy.
It was estimated that emerging economies needed about $2 trillion in infrastructure investments per year for the next 20 years to maintain growth rates, however, commercial banks have refused to meet the gap. Essentially, the NDB partly fills the gap that Western financial institutions refuse to do.
By positioning itself to take advantage of a unique opportunity to project a new vision for financing, the NDB is challenging the dominance of Western financial institutions and also progressing the prestige of BRICS in its endeavour to advance a multipolar world order. The accession of the UAE sees one of the Middle East’s most influential countries join the NDB, whilst Uruguay and Bangladesh open the path for regional integration under the context of BRICS, something that has not occurred since the group was established in 2006.
Lebanon is under unprecedented economic and social pressure, paying the price for Hezbollah’s military capability that causes a threat to “Israel”. The options offered by those (US, EU and “Israel”) effectively participating in cornering Lebanon -notwithstanding decades of domestic corruption and mismanagement – are limited to two: either disarm Hezbollah or push Lebanon toward a failed state and civil war. However, the “Axis of the Resistance” has other options: Iran has responded to the request of Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah by regularly sending to Lebanon food supplies and medicine. It is now sending oil tankers, which are expected to reach the country in the coming weeks via the Syrian port of Tartous. Iran is rushing to support one of its strongest allies in the “Axis of the Resistance”, Hezbollah, which is suffering severe domestic pressure, as are the entire Resistance Axis members in their respective countries. Hezbollah’s supporters of all persuasions are affected by the acute socio-economic crisis. But will Hezbollah succeed in overcoming the inevitable result of the current long-term crisis? How serious are the challenges?
In one of his private meetings, Sayed Nasrallah said: “Israel considered that Hezbollah’s military capability constituted a “vexing danger” at the first years of its existence. The level of danger moved up to “challenge” in 2000 when “Israel” withdrew from Lebanon, to the “serious menace” level after the 2006 war, and to “existential danger” after the wars in Syria and Iraq.”
In line with what the Secretary-General of Hezbollah believes, it is common knowledge that “Israel” possesses nuclear weapons. Therefore, no other power in the Middle East can be considered an “existential threat” to “Israel”. However, according to the Israeli military leadership, Hezbollah possesses accurate missiles carrying hundreds of kilograms of explosives each. Thus, Hezbollah needs only ten missiles – not hundreds – to hit 6 electric stations and 4 water desalination plants over the entire geography to render life impossible for a vast number of Israelis. The Israeli leadership stated that there is no need to count the precision missiles that could hit any oil platform, ship or harbour and destroy any airport control tower in any future war.
Consequently, there will be not many Israelis willing to stay, and it is conceivable to believe that a considerable number of Israelis would leave. This scenario constitutes an existential threat to “Israel”, indeed. In this case, as the military command says, “Israel” will never be able to coexist with such an existential threat looming over its head generated from the other side of the Lebanese border. Hezbollah possesses hundreds of precision missiles spread over a wide area in Lebanon, Syria, and mainly along the fortified eastern mountainside that offer ideal protection for these missiles. So what are “Israel’s” options?
Following the failure to subdue Hezbollah in 2006 in the 3rd war, the victory of the “Axis of Resistance” in the Syrian conflict, the prevention of the division of Iraq and the fall of Yemen under Saudi Arabia’s control, the area of influence of the Resistance Axis expanded, as well as its theatre of operations. Consequently, the danger to “Israel”, to the US’s goals and hegemony in West Asia, significantly increased.
The nuclear dossier is not that far away from the threat the “Axis of the Resistance” is confronted with. By increasing its nuclear capability, Iran forced President Joe Biden to put the nuclear negotiation at the top of its agenda during (former) President Hassan Rouhani’s mandate. Whatever has been said about the possibility of future progress in the nuclear talks in Vienna, lifting sanctions on Iran – while Iraq is labouring under heavy financial debt, Syria is subjected to a severe economic blockade, and Lebanon faces a becoming degraded state -seems unrealistic to the US.
To the west and “Israel”, releasing Iran’s frozen funds – which exceed $110 billion – at a time of maximum financial pressure and heavy sanctions, is not logical. Moreover, allowing Iran to sell and export its oil and lifting the maximum pressure means that all the previous US efforts to curb Iran’s will and progress are due to fail just when the results of these sanctions are turning in favour of the US in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
Consequently, maintaining economic pressure on the “Axis of Resistance” has become a US necessity and strategy. With this in mind, the US failed to comply with the nuclear agreement, to improve the leverage of the US negotiator and impose its conditions over Iran to include, above all, its relationship with its allies and the maintenance of hundreds of sanctions in place.
With the arrival of President Ibrahim Raisi to power and his plans to give little time for the nuclear negotiation, the US sees itself faced with two very bitter choices: either allowing Iran to become a nuclear power or removing all sanctions so as to persuade Iran to delay its entire nuclear capability. Both decisions are impossible choices and inconvenient for the US administration. Thus, the US needs to hit Iran’s allies without negotiating with Tehran, because it refuses to include it – as well as Iran’s missile program – in any nuclear talks.
Suppose the maximum pressure on Lebanon fails to weaken Hezbollah. In that case, Washington needs to evaluate future steps to choose between the nuclear threat or the “Axis of the Resistance” threat to “Israel”. And if the US opts for the 2015 nuclear agreement –which is unlikely – then “the Axis of Resistance” will experience a strong revival, recovering from the extreme US pressure. Whatever America’s choice is, it has become more than evident that Iran will eventually become a nuclear power and offer more than adequate support to its allies to keep them strong enough to face whatever challenges.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah cannot provide and has no intention of replacing the services provided by the state. Nevertheless, it is involved in the food supply through “al-Sajjad” cards delivered to families needing to buy food at a sharply reduced price, which raised the number from 150 000 to 200 000. It is supporting thousands of families who have reached the level of extreme poverty. Moreover, Hezbollah brought medication from Iran (more than 500 types) to cover some of the country’s needs when pharmacies are closing their doors and lacking essential medical supplies.
Furthermore, in the coming weeks, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah have agreed on delivering Iranian oil to Lebanon. Hezbollah will receive the gasoline from the supply to its forces and for covering its daily movements. Hospitals are at the top of the list of those expected to receive the Iranian oil distributed by Hezbollah to prevent their shutting down. Many hospitals closed more than half of their departments. Other medical facilities transferred their patients to hospitals that still have fuel to generate electricity for the next few days. In various parts of Lebanon, hospitals are asking many patients to leave due to the lack of diesel fuel for electricity. The American University of Beirut Medical Centre stopped ventilators and other lifesaving medical devices for the lack of fuel oil.
Also, Hezbollah is expected to deliver Iranian oil to the owners of tens of thousands of private electric generators. The lack of electricity in the country boosted the presence of thousands of privately-owned generators who, for decades, offer their paid services to compensate for the lack of electricity. These are expected to benefit from the oil delivered by Hezbollah to secure electric power supply for people. The shortage of diesel fuel for the owners of generators reached a critical degree in the current hot summer, raising the level of discontent among the population.
Also, diesel fuel will be provided to some municipalities to secure waste removal from the streets for fear of the spread of disease. Al-Amanah Company is also expected to distribute the Iranian oil and diesel to dozens of stations approved by it and other local gasoline stations spread throughout the Lebanese territory.
But Hezbollah will not satisfy everyone in the country and is not able to prevent internal deterioration within the Shia society (-the majority of Shia stand with Hezbollah, but there are others in the Amal movement under the control of Speaker Nabih Berri and not Hezbollah) in the first place and among its allies in the second place. The social decline is at a peak, and Iran’s support is insufficient unless Iran fully achieves its own recovery – if sanctions are fully lifted – and its domestic economy recovers. As far as it concerns Iran, the consent to its allies is mandatory because the “Axis of the Resistance” is united and all share the same vocation.
However, it is not in Iran’s capability to take on the entire burden of Syria and Lebanon’s economy. Iran supported Syria financially throughout the decade of war but is in no position to finance all the needs of the state. Also, Hezbollah started as a popular resistance force against the Israeli occupation, intending to impose deterrence and protect the state from Israeli violations and ambitions. It has been heavily involved in social support to the deprived Shia sect and managed to cover many infrastructure and service holes left by the incapability of the state. But the challenge faced in the last couple of years is beyond Hezbollah’s competencies and probably beyond the means of the state itself.
It should be borne in mind, though, that the flow of the Iranian oil into Lebanon carries with it several potential risks:
First: The risk of an Israeli strike on the supply lines. This will require Hezbollah to strike back “Israel” to maintain the balance of terror and deterrence equation. The tension in the military situation between “Israel” and Hezbollah will reach its climax without going to an all-out war because “Israel” prefers “campaigns between wars” to control the damage that may result from the confrontation. However, if “Israel” strikes the Iranian oil tankers or other countries try to stop the oil from reaching Lebanon, Iran would reply and it is not expected to stop sending its tankers to Lebanon.
Second: The supply route passes through areas not controlled by Hezbollah. What will the other anti-Hezbollah groups do? Will Hezbollah find a solution to convince the (hostile) Druze, Sunni and Christians spread along its supply road to avoid intercepting its trucks, or would it be forced to face groups and be dragged into an internal battle? How will Hezbollah guarantee the cohesion of its areas from the Beqaa to the southern suburbs of Beirut and even to the South of Lebanon so that its environment would be safe from the sectarian incitement the US manipulates and drags the country toward it?
There is no doubt that Lebanon is heading toward the dissolution of the state in a fast-paced manner. This will lead to the security forces’ weakness in general and push each sect or party to provide the necessary support to the membership of its society. Lebanon is expected to live again in the 1980s era when social services were reduced, waste spread in the streets, health and education levels declined, security forces were inefficient and hopeless, and warlords were emerging out of it.
From a specific aspect, the US-Israeli blockade is relatively in the interests of Hezbollah because it receives its financial support in foreign currency. Hezbollah is a regular and coherent organisation, and it will increase its revenue from the sharp devaluation of the local currency, the selling of medicine, oil and food. Hezbollah is expected to sell gasoline and diesel at prices relatively lower than the market price. Furthermore, it is also expected to allow other areas in Lebanon to have access to all the reached products. That will permit Hezbollah to expose greedy Lebanese merchants who monopolise and stockpile medicines and gasoline to starve the market and increase prices. These Lebanese merchants will be forced to sell their goods if these are no longer a rarity in the market. The goods are currently sold on the black market at prices unaffordable to the majority of the inhabitants.
What Lebanon is suffering from is the result of decades of corruption conducted by the US friends who held the political power in the country. The downgrading of Lebanon is primarily due to the US and Israeli interventions and influence in this country: It has lost the name “Switzerland of the East” forever. The disadvantage for Hezbollah will be the security chaos, the fragmentation of the security forces and their inability to impose their authority, and the spread of poverty to hit all walks of life. It is also expected to see the country suffer different sabotage acts, bribes, further corruption- and to become a fertile platform for the Israeli intelligence to operate in. A possible and potential scenario will force Hezbollah to “clean up” the roads to ensure the continuity of its supplies, link all Shia areas together and impose “self-security” to reduce their vulnerability.
Time’s arrow cannot be reversed, and Lebanon will not return to what it was before, not for the next ten years at least. There is a possibility to create Lebanese cantons with different warlords without engaging in a civil war. Each Lebanese party would end up arming its group to support its people and area, not to engage in a battle with other parties, but to defend itself.
The collapse is the master of the situation. The US has prevented Lebanon from benefiting from Chinese and Russian offers to rebuild the country and stop it from deteriorating further. Moreover, the US forbad Europe and the oil-rich Middle Eastern countries from helping Lebanon in this crisis as they used to in the past. After all, Lebanon needs 3 to 4 billion dollars to stand on its feet and regain some of its strength after halting subsidies on various items that gobble up its cash resources.
But the challenge remains for the “Axis of Resistance” members, struggling to survive and resist the US hegemony and confront the US projects to dominate West Asia. Unless the “Axis of Resistance” members take the initiative and move from a defensive to an offensive position and impose new equations that prevent starvation of the population, this pressure will remain and even increase with time. However, supposing the US pressure is maintained, and the “Axis of the Resistance” adopts only survival mode: In that case, Lebanon’s people and the country’s stability will pay an increasingly heavy price, both now and in the years to come.
An overconfident America risks going down same path as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, warned Russian President Vladimir Putin at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
In addition to Putin, the Russian Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Neo-Eurasianism founder Aleksandr Dugin, and other witnesses of the former Soviet Union, and the former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, Russian-American scholar Rebekah Koffler have all talked about the US going down the Soviet Union’s old path.
Symptom I: Interest groups
In the USSR, the self-proclaimed dignitaries of a large bureaucratic class were parasitic on all aspects of Soviet society. They took advantage of their privileges and welfare. Under the highly centralized planned economy of the Soviet Union, the number of commodities that ordinary people could consume were strictly limited, but the dignitaries had privileges to obtain all kinds of scarce commodities such as TVs and cars.
Today, the American ruling class have become new dignitaries. For example, during the lockdown, “politicians went to expensive restaurants, got haircuts, and traveled on luxury vacations, while the rest of us hunkered down, grew long hair and tried to pacify our kids, who were bouncing off the walls during online ‘education.'” Besides, the military industrial complex, intelligence agencies, and Wall Street giants manipulate the US national machinery and deeply influence national policies, and become the shadow cabinet of the US.
Symptom II: abusing military force
The Soviet Union’s intervention in foreign countries was unrestrained. It not only sent troops to Hungary, but also to Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan and others, engaging in an arms race with the United States. It led to soaring military spending and severe restriction of the economic and social development of the Soviet Union. The Brezhnev style expansion policy led to the Soviet society’s stagnation, and war in Afghanistan became an important factor in its dissolution.
Since the 21st century, the US military has launched numerous wars such as the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War, which not only cost a lot of money, but also led to serious strategic failures. Unfortunately, America has not learned its lesson at all, and its military expenditure reached new highs again and again. Its military expenditure in 2020 reached $778 billion, accounting for 39 percent of global military expenditures, which tightened American investments in infrastructure and the American people’s livelihoods.
The irony is that with such hefty spending, American military superiority over other major powers has declined systematically. The ensuing strategic anxiety causes American military expenditure to increase in turn, resulting in a vicious circle.
Symptom III: Totalitarianism
The Soviet Union once practiced chauvinism and advocated for limited sovereignty, which eventually led to the disintegration of the socialist camp.
Today, the United States believes in neoliberalism, the survival of the fittest, and winner takes all. America turned into a liberal totalitarian state, sprinkled with traits of an oligarchy elite, an ideology and media monopoly, and a police state. This is in full compliance with the standards of a totalitarian regime expounded by the former US National Security Assistant Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Symptom IV: Political correctness
The Soviet Union once vigorously suppressed “dissidents.” Neoliberalism in the US has now also become extreme and absolute. The rights of ethnic minorities have become the absolute standard of political correctness. Any speech that does not conform to liberal ideology is presumed guilty. Even Trump, who won 75 million ballots in the general election, is silenced by the media and internet giants at their convenience.
However, numerous requests for political correctness and diversified political identities have not bridged gaps in American society. Instead, it has created more dissidents. Anti-intellectual populist movements such as QAnon and the Proud Boys are spreading like wildfire in the US, further pulling apart the already fragmented social map. According to a CBS poll in January 2021, half of Americans said that other Americans and domestic enemies pose the greatest threat to democracy and their way of life.
Symptom V: Intensified surveillance
The Biden administration strengthened private speech and text message monitoring, and the FBI encouraged citizens to report any “violent extremism” from relatives and friends, just like the Soviet authorities did. This is a new era of the American government seeking full control of American society.
“Don’t believe everything you see on TV; don’t trust everything your teachers say; don’t talk to strangers about your family’s views.” What Americans teach their children now is nothing new to the Soviets.
Like the former Soviet Union, the United States is currently in great trouble. Its causes are not external but internal. In an internal structural crisis, the US has no choice but to pass the buck to other countries. America has to wake up and realize that holding a grudge against China will not lead to better conditions but allow oligarchic power to further oppress the American people’s interests. In the end, it is the Americans themselves who are at the helm to ultimately cure the country’s disease and avoid it becoming a USSR 2.0.
The author is a current affairs commentator. email@example.com
STRATEGIC AUTONOMY ISN’T JUST DEFENSE, IT’S ALSO TECHNOLOGY
Over the past two decades, the impact of new and emerging technologies and increased digitalization have become the prime drivers of globalization and international competition. States around the world are making digital autonomy, technological supremacy, and innovation the cornerstones of their diplomatic, security, and economic efforts. The European Union (EU) is no exception.
The coronavirus pandemic and its broader implications have further highlighted the importance of digital transformation in all aspects of society, as well as the need to reduce strategic dependencies in key, high-end technology areas, value and supply chains, and critical infrastructures. Against the backdrop of a deteriorating geopolitical and security environment, it comes as no surprise that European digital and technological sovereignty are at the center of current EU policy discussions.
There are indeed signs of a new and yet conceptually ambiguous narrative taking shape around building the EU’s technological innovation power. What exactly are the practical and policy implications of a new “technological sovereignty” narrative? And more importantly, what EU tech sovereignty efforts have been made in line with broader European strategic autonomy objectives?
The concept of European strategic autonomy is certainly not new. It initially emerged in discussions related to the EU’s space and security and defense policy strategies, as well as in terms of upping the EU’s game in military capability building. Political discussions about European strategic autonomy indeed have a long and controversial history.
The term has deep historical roots in French strategic culture and thinking, and since the 1990s, it has typically referred to the notion that the EU should be able to carry out modest-size, out-of-area, and militarily well-equipped crisis management operations, especially in its own neighborhood, and independently of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
While the publication of the EU’s Global Strategy (EUGS) in June 2016 is credited for putting the concept of strategic autonomy on the EU’s foreign and security policy agendas, the reality is that various EU institutions and member states have long been discussing the need to upgrade the EU’s defense technological and industrial portfolio and crisis management capabilities. Key to such debates was the preservation of a competitive European Defence Technological and Industrial Base.
In the words of Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission, the concept of strategic autonomy is indeed not new, as it has been extensively used in the military realm and for a long time was limited to issues related to European security and defense. According to Borrell, strategic autonomy is also a “process of political survival” for the EU, and its logic should be expanded to other sectors.
This narrow security and defense focus has been recently expanded by the geopolitically focused European Commission under President Ursula von der Leyen and under the stated ambition to revamp the European power agenda in various strategic sectors. The underlying logic behind strategic autonomy has started to increasingly encompass discussions about technological protectionism and capacity building in new domains related to digitalization, data, space, energy, and new and emerging technologies.
The new technological sovereignty narrative is meant to build EU-wide consensus around the need to preserve European leadership and autonomy in various key technological areas. It is the EU’s attempt to put forward a pragmatic and autonomous approach to avoid dependencies and geopolitical coercion in critical technological sectors.
The stakes could not be higher. Indeed, the incumbent commission has started to actively circulate various notions of sovereignty derived from discussions on strategic autonomy and defense sovereignty by populating the discursive landscape with related concepts such as technological, digital, and data sovereignty.
This expansion is revealing increasing fears that more protective autonomy in other policy areas than security and defense is needed to safeguard the EU’s economic and strategic interests and European values. Hence, the impact of terms such as sovereignty, power, and strategic autonomy floating around the technology, digitalization, and data spheres should not be easily disregarded.
These terms give strategic meaning to EU action and institutionalize different sectoral approaches to sovereignty building. They are also indicative of recent EU-led policy, regulatory, and funding efforts in the industrial, technological, and digital domains. But which are the most significant initiatives designed to consolidate the EU’s quest for various sovereignties, and do they amount to a coherent and integrated approach?
EU TECHNOLOGICAL SOVEREIGNTY IS IN THE MAKING
Behind the EU’s recent multiple sovereignty agendas is the need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation. The very label of a geopolitical European Commission implies a new level of engagement for the EU in the global balance of power. Technological and digital sovereignty are at the heart of such ambitions.
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated the urgency to shore up technological, digital, and regulatory responses to preserve the EU’s economic clout, industrial competitiveness, and geopolitical influence, as well as to reduce dependencies in critical technology areas. What has the EU done so far, and what must it still do to meet that goal of technological sovereignty?
Four cross-cutting dimensions can help unpack the concept of technological sovereignty and better structure the discussion about EU initiatives, programs, and instruments:
DEFENSE CAPABILITY DEVELOPMENT
According to Arnout Molenaar, the head of division in the European External Action Service, dealing with security and defense policy is also related to “a learning curve for the Union to develop a ‘hard power’ mentality.” Technology plays a fundamental role in terms of making possible the EU’s hard military power ambitions—not only to act in a tense geopolitical setting but also to defend the EU’s interests in areas related to technology, security, and defense matters.
In this regard, collaborative EU defense research and development (R&D) initiatives have been prioritized at the EU level for some time now to support the competitiveness of the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base.
EU institutions and agencies have made considerable efforts to preserve Europe’s edge in key areas, including emerging and disruptive security technologies and infrastructures such as cybersecurity, drones, secure networks, space technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), and quantum technology.
Indeed, recent EU initiatives such as the European Commission’s European Defence Fund (EDF) as part of the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), 2021–2027—as well as its precursor programs, the Preparatory Action on Defence Research and the European Defence Industrial Development Programme—are intended to financially empower the EU’s autonomy in defense technology and industry and its research and innovation capacity in future-oriented and disruptive defense technologies.
Such initiatives have been framed as timely catalysts and potential game changers for increasing collective European action and for fostering cutting-edge defense research and innovation in Europe. The commission funded the Preparatory Action on Defence Research as a test case of defense-related research and technology projects, pulling directly from the EU budget line rather than from member states’ joint initiatives. This scheme was a concrete step designed to demonstrate the added value of EU-supported defense technology research and innovation.
If successfully implemented, the EDF is expected to bolster more lucrative and joint research and capability-driven investment schemes in defense technologies across Europe and to increase the EU’s global leadership position in strategic tech sectors. The commission has already pledged a relatively small percentage of up to 8 percent of the EDF funding to disruptive technology actions.
However, with the initially proposed amount of 13 billion euros ($15.4 billion) now reduced to about 8 billion euros ($9.5 billion), the EDF’s real potential to create value added and to incentivize technological and industrial cooperation and competitiveness in Europe is unclear.
Indeed, this reduction could be accounted for by the fact that some member states either took a budget-restrictive approach to the entire 2021–2027 MFF or judged that on balance, they would benefit less from the EDF than their contribution to it and thus opted for reducing the overall funding.
What is certain is that the EDF marks an important paradigm shift in consolidating the EU’s increased supranational activism in the field of defense technology and industry as a basis for building the EU’s military hard power and defense portfolio. The fund also consolidates the European Commission’s increasing role and strong interventionism in the EU security and defense policy fields that have traditionally been the exclusive preserve of member states’ decisionmaking.
There is also a clear message that developing the defense industry and technology base in Europe is key to strategic autonomy. Hence, logic dictates that defense-related technological sovereignty is central to the EU’s strategic autonomy. Nonetheless, it remains to be seen whether the reduced funding dedicated to the EDF and the small percentage of it that is flagged for disruptive military technologies are sufficient to foster high-risk, high-reward technological innovation in the European defense sector.
CROSS-DOMAIN APPROACH TO INNOVATION
The swift operationalization of the EDF, coupled by fostering synergies with other EU initiatives in terms of civil-military R&D cross-fertilization, might very well be what Europe needs to maintain its innovational and technological edge.
To this end, the commission’s Action Plan on Synergies Between Civil, Defence and Space Industries from February 2021—the so-called Three-Point Belt Plan—is one way ahead to propose a more horizontal and cross-domain approach for boosting research, technology development, and the EU’s overall innovation power.
Announced in the Industrial Strategy for Europe from March 2020, the commission’s 2021 Three-Point Belt Plan aims to establish a structured approach and create new opportunities for innovation synergies among relevant EU-funded programs and instruments, especially in the case of emerging and disruptive technologies. It defines critical technologies as relevant across the defense, space, and related civil industries and as essential to Europe’s technological sovereignty by reducing risks of overdependence on external players.
To make this happen, the commission will set up within its services an EU Observatory of Critical Technologies, which will be in charge of regular monitoring and analysis of key technology areas with a view to closing existing gaps and dependencies. It will also use technology road maps and forecasting to identify emerging technologies.
This undertaking will ostensibly facilitate spin-off from EU funding for space and defense R&D and spin-in from civil-driven innovation. The seventeen-page-long action plan mentions the term “technological sovereignty” no less than eight times, while the word “synergies” appears thirty-one times.
This is significant as the document puts forward a more comprehensive civil-military approach to innovation, especially in the case of critical technologies, with a view to scaling up the existing EU toolbox by streamlining various initiatives such as the EDF, the EU Space program, and other EU instruments.
The real challenge is how to foster innovation and facilitate coordinated action between programs and sectoral instruments such as the Digital Europe Programme, which is focused on building the strategic digital capacities of the EU and on facilitating the wide deployment of digital technologies; the Horizon Europe program for research and innovation; the Connecting Europe Facility; the European Innovation Council; InvestEU; and NextGenerationEU, the temporary instrument designed to boost Europe’s post-pandemic recovery.
Yet the relatively low numbers allocated for research and innovation in the EU’s key funding programs for research and innovation, such as Horizon Europe, might suggest the contrary. There is also the question of differing and sometimes conflicting research and innovation cultures in Europe’s unevenly distributed civil, defense, and space industries.
Another related issue is that of digital sovereignty, a term sometimes used interchangeably with technological sovereignty. Without going into theoretical debates about the two concepts, by and large digital sovereignty is yet another iteration of technological sovereignty from external players in cyberspace. It rests, according to EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, on three inseparable pillars: “computing power, control over our data and secure connectivity.” This means that, in the case of digital sovereignty, Europe wants to free itself from its hardware and software dependencies either from third countries or Big Tech players.
In doing so, Europe aims to foster its growing digital infrastructure and economy, while making sure the union’s core democratic values also apply in the digital era. Furthermore, according to the European Commission, a secure and sovereign, European-based, resilient, and sustainable digital infrastructure is vital to this transformation.
In this respect, the Digital Europe Programme also aims to boost the EU’s innovation power. It is meant to up the investment stakes in supercomputing, AI, and cybersecurity, including via a network of Digital Innovation Hubs across Europe.
Complementarity with other EU programs and strategic plans is yet again key to achieving digital sovereignty, especially in high technology areas such as AI. For instance, the European Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence identified the need to develop a comprehensive policy and governance approach to AI for the EU to “become a global leader in innovation in the data economy and its applications.”
According to the document, one of the main building blocks to achieve this goal is an “ecosystem of excellence” as well as public-private partnerships that will leverage up to 20 billion euros of private and public sector resources along the entire value chain, from research and innovation to accelerating the deployment and uptake of AI-based solutions benefitting public services and businesses.
First published in 2018, the new and updated 2021 Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence further consolidates collaboration between the commission and member states to enable joint actions, public-private partnerships, and research and innovation networks. Funding will be allocated via the Digital Europe Programme and Horizon Europe program, the Recovery and Resilience Facility that foresees a target goal of 20 percent of expenditure on digital goals, and the Cohesion Policy program.
The overall goal is to improve Europe’s competitiveness in the global digital economy, support digitalization, and build innovation capacity in new digital technologies. It also comes as no surprise that the EU’s new Cybersecurity Strategy in the Digital Decade from December 2020 identifies key technologies like AI, quantum computing, and future generation networks as essential to Europe’s digital future and cybersecurity.
DIGITALIZATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE RESILIENCE
Several initiatives have also been aimed at strengthening and rationalizing the EU’s resilience in the case of critical infrastructure, including in terms of digital infrastructure connectivity. The EU’s Critical Information Infrastructure Protection from as early as 2009 aimed to strengthen the security and resilience of vital information and communication technology infrastructures.
There are growing risks associated with the increased digitalization of societies, critical infrastructure resilience, and the security of supply chains, especially in terms of managing critical dependencies. Related to this, the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF2) Digital program aims to support investments in digital connectivity infrastructures during the period of the 2021–2027 MFF. Among foreseen actions are the deployment of and access to very high-capacity networks, including 5G systems, and the significant upgrade of existing backbone networks including submarine cables.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the issue of European sovereignty over supply chains has also received a renewed sense of urgency. The 5G joint toolbox endorsed by the commission in January 2020 plays an important role as a major enabler for critical infrastructure resilience that will help mitigate the main cybersecurity risks of future generations’ mobile networks and leverage a robust set of cybersecurity measures in Europe.
Thanks to the new toolbox, the EU and member states can now more effectively protect critical infrastructure connectivity. At the heart of EU and member states’ concerns around 5G is the interference by foreign states, in particular China, providing 5G equipment via state-controlled companies and high-risk vendors that present immediate security threats against increasingly digitalized economies and societies in Europe.
This may indeed jeopardize Europe’s critical infrastructure resilience. Similar concerns have been expressed regarding the need to promote and protect sensitive technologies with the potential for dual-use applications. These concerns also come up in relation to the common framework for screening foreign direct investments and the EU regulation on such screening that became operational in October 2020.
Similarly, the commission’s approach to modernize the EU’s export controls on sensitive dual-use technologies is intended to strengthen the EU’s response to evolving security risks and to the impact of new and emerging technologies by better addressing the risks of human rights violations associated with trade in sensitive cyber surveillance technologies.
Other challenges could impact the EU’s innovation resilience, such as potential geopolitical disruptions to critical supply chains like in the case of critical raw materials or semiconductors. This has already been played out in the technological war between the United States and China and the growing weaponization of trade policies.
Accordingly, Europe risks becoming exposed to global tech wars if it does not promote homegrown solutions and address geopolitically risky dependencies in critical technology domains. This has been made clear in the case of the global semiconductor value chain on design, materials, and advanced manufacturing.
The design and production of processor semiconductors are one key area where coordinated plans from twenty-one member states are encouraged under the NextGenerationEU funding scheme. Yet the expense and level of technological sophistication required in creating a chip design ecosystem in Europe imply that it will take years before Europe can develop cutting-edge capabilities.
The European Commission has also taken steps to address risks related to critical raw materials and supply chains, having released in September 2020 an Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials accompanied by an updated List of Critical Raw Materials and a foresight study examining dependent sectors and strategic technology areas for the 2030 to 2050 horizon.
TECH-RELATED REGULATORY ACTIVISM
Equally, the rush to regulate and set technological standards brings about new geopolitical tensions. Considering that new and emerging technologies are becoming a crucial element in great power competition, their regulation is becoming increasingly politicized. Consequently, the EU has taken a global lead concerning the creation of a regime of international norms and standards governing emerging disruptive technologies.
As shown by the General Data Protection Regulation, the EU’s strategic edge primarily resides in its market, normative, and regulatory power—what has been described as the Brussels effect. Yet in the current international climate of a so-called technological war being waged by the United States and China, there is still a long way to go for Europe to become a leader in socially responsible and sustainable high-tech industries.
For this to happen, the EU should reinforce the ethical development and deployment of new and emerging technologies, as well as strengthen its strategic autonomy in critical technology areas. In a nutshell, for the EU to become a global leader in regulation and standards setting, it should also invest heavily in research and innovation so that it becomes a source of cutting-edge technology, not just regulation.
EU leaders have argued that technological sovereignty is also about protecting European culture and values, in which human-centered autonomy is prioritized by emphasizing individual citizens’ sovereign rights to their own data and in their interactions with AI.
With the new strategy for a Europe fit for the digital age, the European Commission wants to deliver on the promise of human-centered and risk-based new tech regulation, together with a comprehensive regulatory packaging including the European Digital Strategy, the European Data Strategy, the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act, as well as the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence and the EU’s latest AI regulation package.
Now more than ever, the devil is in the details. The Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence already proposed creating an “ecosystem of trust” in Europe by putting forward a legal framework that addresses the risks for fundamental rights and safety under the label of a secure, human-centered, and trustworthy AI.
In the European Commission Proposal for AI regulation on Laying Down Harmonised Rules on Artificial Intelligence (Artificial Intelligence Act) and Amending Certain Union Legislative Acts (April 21, 2021), the EU is proposing a legal framework that does not look at AI technology itself but at how AI is used and for what purposes. It also differentiates between four different categories of uses that have no or minimal risk or limited, high, or unacceptable risk.
The high-risk uses of AI are the main focus of the framework due to their huge impact on citizens’ lives and public interest. In particular, all remote biometric identification systems are considered high risk and subjected to strict requirements. If the proposed legal framework were to be adopted, it would position the EU as potentially taking a strong stance on high-risk AI systems, which would be subjected to a new set of strict obligations.
Some limited uses—for instance, the use of AI in social scoring systems or AI applications that manipulate human behavior—are prohibited outright because they are considered unacceptable. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the enforcement of these rules falls within the responsibility of national authorities to assess whether AI systems meet their obligations.
The EU has also underscored the importance of global rules, international regulatory convergence, proactive agenda setting in technological standardization, and a commitment to fundamental rights protections when it comes to new (digital) technologies in collaboration with key like-minded partners.
The draft EU AI regulation, in a sweeping stroke, associates the EU’s technological leadership with the stated ambition to become a “global leader in the development of secure, trustworthy and ethical” AI. From this perspective, only “common action at [the] Union level can also protect the Union’s digital sovereignty and leverage its tools and regulatory powers to shape global rules and standards.”
The union’s great expectations are understandable, yet they should be tempered. The EU may have a harder time in setting global rules and red lines. Also, the international influence of the EU’s AI rule book might actually be decided in a transatlantic context and under the recently announced EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council. What is more, the EU and member states need to actively engage in the ongoing international discussions on the creation of a global AI norms regime, especially in relevant bilateral, multilateral, regional, and UN fora.
The above tour d’horizon aims to address key building blocks in what potentially constitutes Europe’s quest for defense technological power. Without a doubt, in an era of global digitalization and geostrategic rivalry, technology is creating new sources of power and security in international affairs. That is why European competitiveness in innovation, research, and technology is so important for achieving strategic autonomy.
Technology has been and remains a key ingredient for global power projection. Breton stated that Europe must now lay the foundations or find the keys to its multiple sovereignties for the next twenty years. Given increasing global technological competition, the rallying call of the day in Brussels is for the EU to learn the language of power and secure its digital and economic future.
The four interconnected dimensions outlined above—cursorily mapping the EU’s various programs, strategies, and initiatives—represent key analytical entry points in understanding the EU’s recent activism toward building a more coherent European sovereignty agenda with technology at its core.
By following this reasoning, European technological sovereignty is manifested across military capacity building, innovation capacity, infrastructure resilience, or regulatory prowess. It is also a prerequisite for European strategic autonomy and the EU’s ability to act as an independent global actor.
Yet recent efforts for Europe to become more technologically sovereign can only be successful when they are coordinated and comprehensive, especially because the impact of emerging disruptive technologies is pervasive and cuts across many sectors. The challenge is to bring together and operationalize the different initiatives and instruments that comprise a complex governance structure reuniting EU institutions and agencies, EU member states, and commercial actors and industrial sectors.
In reality, most of the above initiatives are quite recent, and the EU has just begun to connect all of its financial resources and bridge its strategic and policy thinking across the four dimensions. For this to happen, there needs to be more willingness from EU institutions and member states to cooperate across interlinked political, strategic, economic, and technical matters.
While the EU is advancing in the regulation and governance of new and emerging technologies, it is not yet clear how recent and rather limited research funding initiatives will actually shore up the EU’s critical infrastructure resilience and innovation power in strategic technological domains. Only a persistent and substantial investment policy in future and emerging technologies can ensure the EU’s technological competitiveness, coupled with efforts to create a human rights–centric international norms regime for its ethical and responsible research and development.
If the EU can streamline its goals, interests, and values in such a plethora of defense and tech-related programs, harness the current transformative wave of innovation, and mitigate potential disruptions and human rights harms, it might well become more technologically sovereign in the decades to come. However, the jury is still out on what the future may hold.
This examination of the ADL is broken up into different parts that I’ve assembled based on a “internet black hole” I went on this evening.
Examination of the ADL income tax return, Form 990
Examination of affiliated ADL entities, found on Form 990
Examination of highest paid contractors, one in particular
Biographical information of key ADL Board members
Biographical information of key ADL management
The ADL’s largest contribution to society, their Hate Symbol Symbols of EuropeanHeritage database
The ADL 2018 Form 990 – Highlights
Form 990 is the tax return filed annually for entities exempt from income tax aka not for profit businesses. In order to maintain an entity’s tax-exempt status, it is required that they file this tax return annually, amongst other requirements. Below is the first page of the tax return, the name of the entity and it’s EIN (employer identification number) match that of information in the Guide Star database (the catechism of tax-exempt entity research for accountants and attorneys).
The next item of interest that came to me is the CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt’s annual income, especially since he only works 20 hours per week, as disclosed on the tax return.
The next item of interest, a required disclosure on Form 990, is Schedule R, disclosure of “Related Organizations and Unrelated Partnerships”. The tax ID number aka EIN is the unique identifier used by the IRS to pinpoint any entity. Our social security number is the equivalent of a business’ EIN. Here on this Schedule R we see two organizations that fall within IRS jurisdiction and one that is based is Israel, which does not have nexus in the United States, therefore it is outside the IRS wheelhouse.
But there are two in the US:
Anti-Defamation League Foundation
ADLF Common Fund
Now, the Anti-Defamation League Foundation files a Form 990-PF, the PF acronym for Private Foundation. The tax return itself did not raise any unexpected alarms, however, a private foundation in the State of New York is required to file an annual report with the Attorney General. The annual report includes both the Form 990-PF and a copy of audited financial statements (performed by an outside, independent CPA firm). The Notes to the financial statements disclose the guts beneath the numbers. So let’s have a look here (this is for the fiscal year end 2017):
We see the filing with the Attorney General for Charitable Organizations is made as a dual filing, between the ADL and the ADL Foundation. Standard stuff.
Next, as included with the Attorney General filing, aside from the income tax returns, are the audited financial statements. We see the audit was performed by KPMG, known as one of the “Big Four” public accounting firms.
As a qualifier, I worked in audit and attestation services for KPMG for five years, therefore I am thoroughly acquainted with the nature of this work as it is the work of Certified Public Accountants (earned my license in 2007).
Big Four firms audit Fortune 500 companies, large charitable organizations (like the American Red Cross) and other engagements that are large in scope.
Here is the standard Auditor Report that heads audited financial statements and the notes to the financial statements:
Within the notes there are two very significant disclosures …the first is the amount of money the ADL has within it’s Net Assets. There are three categorizations used for a tax-exempt entity in Net Assets (like a for-profit entity, has line items in it’s Equity section, Preferred Stock, Common Stock, Retained Earnings, etc):
Unrestricted Net Assets – this amount is available to the entity to spend at will. There have been no designations placed on the funds by the source of the grant/charitable contribution as to how the funds can be used.
Temporarily Restricted Net Assets – this amount is comprised of charitable contributions that have stipulations attached to them, per the source of the contribution. For example, a source makes a $1 million dollar donation, within the contribution letter, it states the money can only be dispersed for rent or perhaps for purchase of new technology).
Permanently Restricted Net Assets – this is known as the endowment. The principal cannot be touched, however the income generated (dividends, distributions, interest earned, rents, royalties and realized gains on the sale of marketable securities) can be funneled into supporting operating activities.
Here is the breakdown of Net Assets:
Take a look at the near $107 million dollars in assets in Investments…is the ADL in operation to stop anti-Semitism? Or are their activities from a financial standpoint at the very heart of where anti-Semitism grows? Let’s look closely…
The ADL has a near $69M endowment. Pretty handsome indeed. As I mentioned before, the notes to the financial statements disclose the guts beneath the numbers. Let’s view Note 7:
There are interesting subsections within the endowment, for instance, “International Affairs and Interfaith Programs”. Money to support propaganda on behalf of Muslims, illegal immigrants – imagine the possibilities!
The most striking disclosure within the notes to the financial statements comes here, Note 3, a breakdown of the Investments line item:
I’ve attempted to highlight “Absolute Return Funds” only however I am on a mobile device and my fingers are not skinny enough. What on earth are Absolute Return Funds? Moreover, $35 million dollars are placed with these magic funds. It is common place within the internal treasury mechanism of a company, foundation, or otherwise to keep it’s cash in various investment vehicles, outside of bank accounts alone, like Treasury Notes, stocks, mutual funds, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), etc.
I worked as an auditor for a solid decade and never did I see the usage of “Absolute Return Funds” ever. Both the connotation and denotation of “Absolute” is completely against the grain of prudent accounting.
WHAT THE FUCK AREAbsolute Return Funds?
And well – hedge funds – hedge funds are the vehicle of absolute return. There is nothing more Jewish than hedge funds. So it’s befitting of the ADL to sink their coffers into hedge funds. I suppose it would be foolish to think they would invest in a farm in Nebraska or a coal mine in West Virginia. Hedge funds and the ADL – who would have guessed?
Back to Form 990 – Part VII – FIVE HIGHEST PAID CONTRACTORS
For each of the five I did research on the internet, news articles and such and also looked up the corporate filings (Articles of Incorporation/Annual Reports/etc.) and found no gleaming conflicts of interest. However, Purpose Campaign, LLC – their website spells out why the ADL would utilize this company for advocacy:
Purpose is the go-to advocacy group for the globalist class. Bloomberg Philanthropies, ACLU, UNICEF, World Wildlife Foundation (which is a UN entity), Rockefeller Foundation, Google, Nike, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, the WHO, Amnesty International… networking amongst the donor class is at the heart of the ADL fundraising methods.
Now, a profile of Purpose’s Founder and CEO:
Globalist roots: keynote speaker at Davos, the Chatham House, the United Nations and the RSA. He also served on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Civic Participation. Finally, he worked for McKinsey & Co, a major cog in the machine called The Great Reset.
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION OF KEY PEOPLE
This examination of public filings reveals some interesting details about the ADL. During my internet browsing black hole I finally took a look at the ADL website and wanted to see it’s Board of Directors and Key Management. Some of the biographical information blew my mind:
CEO: Jonathan Greenblatt– Before ADL, Greenblatt served in the White House as Special Assistant to President Obama and Director of the Office of Social Innovation.
Greenblatt served in the White House and most certainly networked with influencial individuals that held decision making authority.
Senior Vice President, Policy: Eileen Hershenov – Directly prior to coming to the ADL, she served as General Council and head of public policy for the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, the fifth-most visited internet site. Prior to that, she was General Council at Consumer Reports and before that, General Council at the Open Society Foundations.
Wikipedia is heavily biased in favor of the Left.
Open Society Foundations in George Soros’ outfit.
Senior Advisor to the CEO: George Selim – Prior to his appointment at ADL in 2017 as Senior Vice President of Programs, George served in the administrations of Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump. He served as the Department of Homeland Security’s first Director of the Office for Community Partnerships. Concurrently, he was selected to lead a newly created Countering Violent Extremism Task Force to coordinate government efforts and partnerships to prevent violent extremism in the United States. Before assuming these roles, George served for four years at the White House on the National Security Council Staff where he focused on policy development and program implementation matters for both domestic and international security threats. Prior to his work at the White House, George served as a Senior Policy Adviser at the DHS Office for Civil Rights.
The DHS and National Security Council under the Biden administration have made it priority to target domestic White supremacist extremism.
The ADL works closely with major social media networks on the monitoring of hate speech, at a minimum.
The ADL, DHS, FBI and the Establishment at large relish the thought of a nationwide political dissident roundup.
Vice President, Law Enforcement & Analysis: Greg Ehrie – a 29-year veteran of government service. Having spent 22 years with the FBI, he most recently served as Special Agent in Charge of the Newark Field Office, managing all FBI investigations throughout the state of New Jersey. He has served in a variety of roles, including as the supervisor of the New York Office’s Domestic Terrorism squad, and later as the Section Chief of the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Operations Section, where he was responsible for all domestic terrorism investigations throughout the U.S. and oversaw the operations of the National Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The FBI has evolved into a subversive operation, entrapment of “right wing” dissidents, as seen recently with the leadership within the Proud Boys, Oathkeepers and the stunt to kidnap the governor of Michigan.
The ADL provides training on antisemitism to the FBI.
The FBI has made it priority to shut down political dissidents.
This man working at the ADL after his high level position within the FBI is very alarming.
Vice President, Technology: Larry Chertoff -Earlier in his career, Larry worked on Wall Street where he led large teams developing innovative custom software at firms including Thomson Financial, Societe Generale, Shearson Lehman Brothers, and Smith Barney. Larry Chertoff is the brother of Michael Chertoff.
Michael Chertoff was the co-author of the USA PATRIOT Act
Michael Chertoff was United States Secretary of Homeland Security to serve under President George W. Bush
Michael Chertoff served on the Board of BAE Systems, a major arms contractor that benefits from the annual defense spending budget.
VicePresident, Center for Technology and Society: Dave Sifry – Dave joined ADL in 2019 after a storied career as a technology entrepreneur and executive. He founded six companies including Linuxcare and Technorati, and served in executive roles at companies including Lyft and Reddit. In addition to his entrepreneurial work, Dave was selected as a Technology Pioneer at The World Economic Forum.
Technorati was huge in the aughts.
The World Economic Forum = the Great Reset
Conclusion on the Leadership base: globalist, one world order people completely inline with the Zionist agenda. No surprise there, yet the expanse of the penetration into so many facets of economic, legal, financial, technological and government matters is mind-blowing.
HATE SYMBOLS DATABASE – Pure Character Assassination
This hate symbols database has a recurring theme as to what constitutes a “hate symbol”. The recurring theme is many of the symbols relegated to the hate database are ancient European symbols that have been used in anecdotal scenarios in modern times. “Neo-nazi” co-opting, “Aryan” prison gangs and “White supremacists” random use of ancient European substance – means that ancient European substance is equivalent to soap and lampshades according to the ADL. Below is a sample of symbols in their database and associated reasons for appointing the hate to the symbol. The ADL themselves explain the true origin/use of the symbols AND they state that most modern use is that of “non-extremists”.
Runic alphabets are pre-Roman alphabets used widely across Europe, easily recognizable because of their angular characters. There are many different varieties of runic alphabets, of which the most well known is the so-called Elder Futhark (the name is derived from the sounds of the first six characters).
Runic alphabets are still used today in many mainstream and non-racist contexts. However, white supremacists have also appropriated the runic alphabet, in large part because Nazi Germany often used runes in its symbology. White supremacists use runes for transliterated Roman letters, creating an alternative alphabet (sometimes viewed as a code, since the vast majority of people do not know runic letters).
Because runes are still commonly used in a variety of non-racist forms, their appearance should always be carefully analyzed in context.
The Celtic Cross, as typically depicted, is a traditional Christian symbol used for religious purposes as well as to symbolize concepts like Irish pride. As such, it is a very common symbol and primarily used by non-extremists.
Today, this verson of the Celtic Cross is used by neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, Ku Klux Klan members and virtually every other type of white supremacist.
The Confederate Battle Flag – first of all, this version lacks blood stains, which calls the ADL’s credibility into question.
WP? – WordPress should look into this.
This is a perfect example of the obfuscation tactics the ADL uses in this database. This symbol means “not equal to” in mathematics.
This is called the “Anti-Antifa” symbol. Antifa, the paramilitary group for Google’s human resources policy, tranny rights and other kosher stuff. Antifa today is a group of upper middle class white kids from the suburbs that target the property of the working class. Opposing black bloc tactics means you are in favor of genocide, per the ADL.
Congress recessed for the summer passing neither the infrastructure nor spending bills that were the focus of all of Washington’s attention for weeks thanks to Krysten Sinema from Arizona. She personally torpedoed the Biden Administration’s signature piece of legislation that took months to wrangle to that point and then gave the whole thing a big […]
This foundation was created by George Soros. It’s utopian vision involves inverting reality, reason, rationale, common sense and your visceral reaction to the thought of being erased and replaced – invert these notions on their heads….clownworld is now pisseartth indeed…
First, a few quick announcements: I am honored to have been interviewed recently by Dr. Peter Howard, president of the Fulton Sheen Institute (you can find the interview here), and by Robert Colquhoun, Director of International Campaigns for 40 Days for Life (You can find the interview here). Both interviews are on — you guessed […]
Six US states have banned energy-intensive gaming PC rigs. As a result, Dell has decided not to ship energy-hungry gaming PCs to states in question – California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. This ban is due to power consumption regulations introduced by said states’ legislatures, in large part in order to meet “climate policy […]
Our Plan Below you will find our plan for a healthy, successful and prosperous United Kingdom. The below points cover a variety of areas including education, law, health, the environment, immigration and the media.
The British People The British people are made up of the English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh. These are the indigenous peoples of the United Kingdom and only they have an ancestral claim to it. The United Kingdom is the only place where the British people, and they alone, can realise their natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination. As such, we will pass a Nation State Law to enshrine this principle and ensure the British people never become a minority or second class citizens in their ancestral homeland.
There will be a government commission to identify and overturn all policy that discriminates against the indigenous people.
Immigration, Asylum and Border Control The British people have the right to protect and control their borders and control migration into the UK as they see fit. The UK is one of the most densely populated countries in the Western world and this negatively impacts the indigenous population in a number of ways. There will be a complete halt to all immigration unless under exceptional circumstances.
Exceptional circumstances would include, but not be limited to: foreign diplomats, highly skilled people in urgent demand, and people with a shared ethnic and cultural background who can prove British ancestry.
The UK has no legal or moral obligation to take any refugees or asylum seekers from nations that do not lie on her borders. As such, the UK’s commitment to taking refugees would apply only to those descended from European nations or from other parts of the world who have a shared ethnic and cultural background or who can prove British ancestry – a notable example being white South Africans.
The UK has a right to enforce its own laws – including its immigration laws. Those living in the UK illegally have broken the law and must leave the country voluntarily or be deported. Any legal migrant who commits a serious criminal offence will also be deported – with no exceptions.
Demographics of the UK Demographic trends forecast that the indigenous people of the UK will be a minority by 2060. To counter this trend, those of immigrant descent who have obtained British passports will be offered generous financial incentives in order to return to their ancestral homelands. This process will be carried out in a way that is mutually beneficial to both the British people and returnees.
The UK should be governed by the British people for the benefit of the British people. Never should a foreign power be allowed to unduly influence the way the British state conducts its affairs. Equally, no immigrant-descended person should ever be allowed to take decisions regarding the ethnic composition of the UK.
Freedom of Expression Freedom of speech will be enshrined for all British citizens. So-called ‘hate speech laws’ will be overturned immediately and all those imprisoned under such legislation will be freed and have their criminal records expunged. The only exception to this will be those who promote violence or terrorism.
Family Values The central building block of our nation is the traditional, nuclear family, which consists of a mother, father and children. The traditional family will be promoted as an ideal to be striven for and emulated. No public body will promote any alternative as either equal or superior to the traditional family. To that end, children will be protected from exposure to sexualised material or LGBT propaganda in all public institutions.
Public places should be free of nudity, sexual activity and indecent material. Pornography will only be sold in licenced establishments, which will be regulated to keep the material away from children. Internet pornography will be banned as far as is practicable.
The so-called ‘grooming scandal’ continues to be one of our greatest sources of national shame, and we will establish a full investigation to punish not only the perpetrators, but also the politicians and police who turn a blind eye as our children are abused.
National Languages All sign posts, government documents and other written information will only be printed in English and other native languages where appropriate.
Our Welfare System We propose a complete overhaul of the current state welfare system, which should be a safety net for those who have fallen on hard times, not a way of life. A new means-tested system of benefits will be created, which would only be available to those who speak fluent English or other native languages where appropriate.
Our NHS Our NHS is a cornerstone of British life and should always remain publicly owned and run. However, sweeping management reforms are necessary to improve the service to the public and maximise frontline care and support for doctors and nurses.
The NHS is funded by the British people and is therefore bound to provide health care only to British citizens; there will be an end to ‘health tourism’. Wages in the NHS must at least keep pace with inflation, and we are committed to training ever more British doctors and nurses. No one should work in the NHS unless they can speak fluent English. Those patients requiring interpreters must arrange and pay for any such services.
The Education of Our Children The state system of education needs to be drastically overhauled, with a key priority being the reduction of class sizes. British history will be restored as a central pillar of every child’s education. There will also be a shift in focus to practical skills and traditional educational methods. All education will include physical fitness and sport, in which all able children would be required to take part. Only English and other native languages will be used by teachers in lessons (except the teaching of foreign languages). Children who do not speak English (or Welsh in Wales or Gaelic in Scotland) will not be eligible for state education and state funded schools will not pay for interpreters.
It will be prohibited for any school to promote anti-white propaganda such as ‘white privilege’ and ‘systemic racism’; British children will not be taught to hate themselves or their ancestors. Teachers are there to teach, not impart their own political views.
Private schooling and homeschooling will remain options to those who want them as part of a standardised national examination system.
Religious Life in the UK The British people have the right to religious freedom, including the right to worship freely and wear religious symbols and clothing in public places. However, the UK is a Christian country and Christianity is an integral part of our cultural heritage and will continue to be promoted accordingly. The state will also acknowledge ancient, native pre-Christian influences and protect sites of cultural significance to our ancestors. Private enterprises have the right to restrict their employees’ display of any religious symbols as they see fit. Those resigning on the grounds of religious objections to working practices will no longer be instantly eligible for state benefits. Employers will no longer be forced to provide prayer rooms or special conditions for religious groups.
The right to religious freedom must never undermine the rights and safety of the British people. As a matter of public safety, full-face coverings will be banned in public and there will be no religious exception to this.
Religious beliefs do not grant parents the right to physically harm or mutilate their child; child genital mutilation will be outlawed and those carrying out such practices will be prosecuted. There will be a complete ban on the construction of any places of worship funded by foreign sources. There will also be an investigation into the funding of religious buildings established in the last ten years. Those found to have been funded by foreign sources will be closed immediately.
Animal Welfare The way we treat animals is a measure of our quality as human beings, so we commit to producing a full charter for the protection and well-being of animals living within captivity. Unnecessary testing on live animals will be outlawed, as will vivisection and other such cruel practices. There will also be a complete ban on the non-stunned slaughter of animals, including Halal and Kosher slaughter. Slaughterhouses continuing to use these methods will be shut and the owners prosecuted. The importation of such ritualistically slaughtered meat will also be banned.
We will also take measures to vastly reduce factory farming, such as promoting and subsidising traditional and natural farming methods.
We will encourage food self-sufficiency to reduce our nation’s reliance on food imports. This will include protecting British territorial waters and ensuring they are fished exclusively and responsibly by British fishermen.
Our Precious Natural Environment The UK’s beautiful and rich natural environment is part of our ancestral inheritance. A strong connection to the natural world is integral to our physical and mental health. As immigration is halted and illegal migrants are deported, this will ease the pressure for new housing. There will also be large incentives for developers to redevelop existing urban sites that are no longer in use or have fallen into disrepair, and much stricter planning laws to protect undeveloped green land. A healthy and vibrant people needs space and should never be forced into small, cramped living conditions, which only serve to crush the spirit.
Housing The demand for social housing has risen greatly due to mass immigration and the birth rate of the immigrant population. It will no longer be available to those who cannot speak fluent English or other native languages and priority for social housing will be given to those in employment or who are otherwise invested in the area in which they live. We will renew existing social housing.
House and land prices have risen drastically over the last few decades, which is again largely due to mass immigration and large amounts of land and property being purchased by foreign nationals. The government will place strict limits on foreign investors owning land or property within the UK.
Our Right to Work We believe in the importance of British jobs for British workers, because work is important for our people’s well-being and self-esteem. Not only will companies be heavily fined for employing illegal immigrants, but we will protect important British industries and companies. Companies will be encouraged to pay a fair living wage and treat workers with respect and dignity.
Large multinational corporations that operate within the UK will be incentivised to buy British goods and use British services wherever possible and will be fully investigated to ensure they are not evading tax. The days of multinational companies making billions in the UK while paying pennies in tax will end.
The Financial Extortion of Our People Huge numbers of our people now live in a never-ending cycle of debt, which often leads to depression, stress and the breakdown of families. We will regulate lenders and the financial services industry to ensure that British people are never again trapped in debt they can neither understand nor afford to service. An economy cannot be built on credit and a happy, prosperous and free people must be free of the chains of usury and debt.
The Law of Our Land The judiciary and legal system will be free of politically correct influence and cases will be dealt with on the basis of the facts and the injury caused to the victim. Judges and magistrates who are found to have used the legal system in order to push a political agenda will be relieved of their duties.
Capital punishment will be reinstated as an option for murderers and serious sexual offenders, where DNA evidence or other irrefutable evidence is presented. All foreign-born criminals or those of migrant descent who are not British citizens who have committed serious offences will be deported immediately after their sentence is completed.
‘Foreign Aid’ We will cease all so-called ‘foreign aid’ commitments immediately and spend these billions of pounds protecting our most vulnerable citizens, including the homeless, the disabled and pensioners.
The Media We will establish a government commission to look into various practices of the mainstream media, including collusion between political parties and the owners of media companies, politically motivated hiring within the industry, foreign ownership, and foreign government influence. We believe the BBC has long been failing to provide neutral content in line with its public service remit, and we will hold a public consultation concerning the abolition of the TV Licence.
Crime All British citizens have the right to defend both themselves and their property. Anyone who chooses to break into another person’s home or business does so on the understanding that the owner has the right to use sufficient force to defend themselves as they deem necessary. The police and the courts will no longer criminalise people defending themselves and their property.
Our Armed Forces We will ensure that the British armed forces are generously funded to defend both the UK’s borders and territories overseas. We will never again involve them in foreign conflicts where Britain has no direct interest. Too many precious lives have been lost in recent decades and too much money spent on conflicts that should never have been fought.
We will maintain the production of arms here in the UK to ensure we are both self-sufficient and protect the many thousands of related British jobs. We will also ensure that British service personnel are given the very best equipment to ensure they can do their job effectively.
Once British service personnel retire from active duty, we have a responsibility to ensure that they transition fully and safely back into civilian life. As such, we will fully fund organisations to help former service personnel achieve this, including any necessary physical rehabilitation and counselling. We will never forget the huge debt we all owe to our brave servicemen and servicewomen.
We will enact a policy of National Service for all young people for 12 months in either the Army, Navy, Royal Air Force or in care homes assisting pensioners or those with disabilities. There would also be options available for those with disabilities or other special requirements. Those who refuse National Service will be barred from working for the state and would lose the right to stand for election.