Discussion of the ongoing war on the poor and middle class.

The important thing to understand is that our government (in the US) is pursuing an absolutely separate, often contradictory policy via the almost unknown means of trade deals and trade policy and that that agenda is often diametrically opposed to what they are claiming to be for and against in the political theater that they show us.

To understand GATS and the WTO one needs to understand that they were put together in a process where the oligarchs from all around the world met in a closed process in cities all around the world (the process started in Punta Del Este, Uruguay, September 15-20 1986)

(See also this document)

There is also a new agreement, TISA, which may soon be actively pursued again.

The GATS should be looked at in no small part as a product of the "triumphalism" of the period immediately after the fall of the former USSR.

If not officially part of the class of "privatization agreements" which followed the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, it still must be said that in spirit it is clearly to act as a sort of One Ring above governments, that in the darkness binds them all, to a profit-centered future that excludes public services as we knew them in the past.

The WTO in GATS put together a program that likely addressed the fears of the oligarchy  that as jobs became scarcer due to automation, pressures that would inevitably rise to have governments respond in innumerable ways would be frustrated at a supranational level by it. This is described quite well by Ellen Gould in this video.

So the GATS was and remains in a great many ways a sort of preemptive strike against the people of the world, an attempt to limit the ability of governments to meet our needs, in a way more substantive than those of corporations. .

GATS's mission in a very real sense is killing hope. 

It's attempt to disempower the middle class and the pervasive power of the imagery of a prosperous, stable life, (who most desire to emulate (in poor countries) An image the wealthy likely see as presenting more of a threat to their way of life than anything else. SO GATS was much like (after the fall of the former USSR) the "privatization agreements" being hammered out in Eastern Europe. In the GATS ideology therefore, basically all the New Deal and Great Society programs - everything like public healthcare and education, everything where governments took the side of the poor going all the way back to the New Deal, -has been put on a one way street to privatization. (Yes, GATS basically disposes of the New Deal and all of the kinds of programs associated with it and makes them nearly impossible to bring back without literally leaving it and all other similar agreements).  All of this has occurred out of the peoples sight. In the US the public remains unaware that this has been done or that this is indeed what our government 'wants'  and the blogosphere by and large helps them suppress these particular facts, for reasons I can guess but don't know.

For example, GATS puts important once public services like Medicare on a fast track to privatization, paradoxically, if its expanded beyond the retired, that likely kills it's ability to receive subsidies, or help any but the poorest people.

See discussions of the Annex on Financial Services slightly modified version of this important definition -- here and in the footnotes near the end here.

Bluntly, in order to join the WTO and trade with us and the EU, countries basically had to agree in spirit to (eventually) gradually phase public services all out!

Privatization of everything, bit by bit, with a ratchet.

And because we are the ones holding the whip, it seems that we have to get the worst deal of them all here, just to show them that we mean business.

Programs are being phased out in a way that potentially makes it impossibly costly,  nearly impossibly costly, to ever bring them back. (This is not immediately obvious, so much so that even experts on these programs seem to either not know it or be actively hiding it, which I think is less likely)  

So the GATS and other FTAS which dovetail with it are nothing less than a global coup against democracy, for the very rich insiders everywhere.

In this world, the solution to every problem - with only the narrowest exclusion, is "the market".  As defined internationally.

All of the services which we do allow here, all come with hidden strings attached which further the general goal of locking in the most extreme possible interpretation of "capitalism", but its a capitalism that few of us would recognize or agree with, because its SO extreme.

Obviously its not democratic, if in the future, perhaps in some emergency, like the coronavirus one we are beginning now, if a democracy could not decide to do anything which reduced the profits of corporations that might have "invested in " a country, its not allowed.
So, right now, Its as if democracy did not exist in that respect. But we think it still can. Unfortunately, under the current regime, we're all wrong.


A thing that nobody realizes is that as GATS had locked in the regulatory ceiling as of the standstill date in financial services, that any excursion to more regulation had to be temporary.

Luckily for the oligarchs, the 2008 crash provided an excuse to temporarily regulate less, it seems that the violation of GATS is allowed for a finite period of time, in emergencies.  In that case, it was clearly the 2008 (2010) financial crisis. (Which GATS also caused)

over approximately the next ten years or so, a time which at that point they likely thought much more would have happened to globalize healthcare, locking us in to the current system permanently, so they never had to worry about single payer again.

Its goal was clearly acting as a bridge to irreversible globalization of health care and most other services for the poor. It does that by totally preventing their resolution by the most logical means.

I have read a great deal of conflicting material on subsidies and the permissible length and depth and scope of non-conforming (with GATS measures)

This is the most authoritative official WTO publication.

We know that nonconforming measures (which we also know must be "not more burdensome than necessary" are limited to a finite time, and must be revisited in constant ministerial gatherings where pressure is put on countries to privatize more.

Also, it existed in a larger global context, which the US media has totally left out, a context that's important. Which I try to give you a start on understanding here and on this entire site.

Obamacare was based on the Massachusetts health care plan, which had a mixed record. Many patients reported that they were able to afford healthcare and medicine under the previous regime, (using excellent public clinics that existed) but were unable to afford what they needed under Massachusetts Care- because the system switched its priorities to propping up the insurance and drug industries, rather than patients and  care..

Unfortunately, that is consistent for mixed healthcare systems under GATS.

It is subsidized, but only partially so, meaning it is part of the GATS trap, a very sophisticated trap to do away with democracy in GATS committed areas, and lock in the worst kinds of practices by means of its ratchets.

Another of GATS' aims is harmonization. Which means that it intends to solve virtually all of the problems it faces (which to it are framed as profitability problems, not lack of affordability problems) by globalizing care, not by making it affordable.

Because of GATS, it couldn't do that and remain a FOR PROFIT system.

We should have realized long ago, that the system would rather that people who couldn't be served under it, leave.It is not going to fix it on its own under any circumstances.

Instead, it views healthcare as an oasis of profit in a dismal economy, one that must be literally milked.

This is what I mean when I say the very rich are not like you and I.

And they are like this all around the world, and agree with one another on it.

GATS is their scheme to lock in their gains, they see the sacrifice democracy as a necessary one in this era of global capital. (Otherwise "people would just vote for the things they wanted to do and fix them". yes, people actually say this.)

Because oligarchs from the most brutal and unequal countries would feel excluded if the new world government that was being put into place demanded they improve in areas they feel are their property, the areas depend on to stay wealthy, instead the whole world must harmonize on the least common denominators (downward).

That's the core value of capitalism, the skimming off of the cream.

Its just like Jesus allegedly said, you can't serve two masters. some really do see it that way. And to them, helping anybody sets a dangerous precedent that is only going to get worse as jobs are traded away and eventually vanish. (Thats what we are heading into, if we fail to invest in our own people) And that what they want, much more so than our rising to the challenge. Because under their system it really doesn't make any sense to educate our own people because that implies a belief that their system is going to end soon.


FTAs, including GATS therefore amount to a global race to the bottom on regulation of all kinds, ending up at a global least common denominator.

That means that in countries like the US, all forms of regulation, be them wages or environmental or workplace regulations all are expected to fall greatly, basically wiping out a good portion of the laws which were hard won over the last century, and the effective nullification of the rights of voters to determine anything meaningful - a change which is hidden by a lot of dishonesty in high places. 

If it involves the profits of multinational corporations it can only go in one direction.

Please also see our pages on the governmental authority exclusion and subsidies

That is what trade agreements do, by the way.

This site is NOT about democracy, its about the hijacking of it. So please don't ask me to play along with the usual framings. My argument here is that they are quite often a sham!

The following is important!

Its my understanding (from many both in person and online discussions with trade activists from developing countries from all around the world that I've spoken with)

that subsidies used by developed countries are seen by them as deepening obligations to outsource jobs.

They think that, because its true, if you understand the GATS you'll see that is how its set up.

Some people have pointed out that many people define GATS as the agreement to privatize everything, but it does allow one thing to remain outside its scope.

Basically the government itself.

---- okay.. now..

The "governmental authority exclusion" (defines that most important exclusion)

It consists of two lines, one explains what is being defined, the legal definition of "services supplied as an exercise in governmental authority"

and the second is what is allowed to be those exempt services. Only those supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor

in competition with one or more service suppliers.

So we end up with

"For the purposes of this Agreement...

(b) 'services' includes any service in any sector except services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority;
(c) 'a service supplied in the exercise of governmental authority' means any service which is supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers."

That is the government and it itself doesn't have to be privatized.

because under our current way of doing things, (since around the same time as GATS was being drawn up) there was no competition, in terms of ideas, either. GATS makes sure its the only system in use, locking out all others.

Making it very hard for anything like the New Deal or Great Society programs its eliminated to ever be re-created again. And dismantling the ones that existed before aggressively.

For example, see page 11 of this Note.

In healthcare, even WTO member countries like the UK with its NHS, since they joined it (and especially if they join it again) are supposed to privatize their NHSs and the reason is because thats the rule, if it doesn't qualify for the exclusion.

even if the UK's NHS is not on a commercial basis (its free to end users) - It has competition!


AS the UK also sells for profit insurance!

It also now means the NHS is likely time limited. As it must have lost any grandfathering protection with Brexit.

It will have to be phased out (means testing, co-pays and deductibles, and turned into for profit, tiered system, unless they leave the GATS - and end the sales of commercial insurance.)

They should do this soon as its also likely to be more expensive to leave the longer they wait.

The same applies to us in the US.

Its also why Biden's proposals, to "expand obamacare" as Hillary Clinton famously screamed "Will never come to pass".

While its likely Bernie Sanders proposal could have successfully navigated the mine field if we had started the process to get out before Serco was hired by the US to manage Obamacare. Big mistake.

The only way we can do anything good at all in health care is from getting out of the GATS because its rules literally make everything that helps or saves money impossible. Also, they offshore allthe jobs, if foreign countries firms are cheaper, and that is their main selling point, one which WTO rulings indicate they are entitled to use.

That means they may well get the ability to pay less than the US minimum wage they are now (as of 2017 they are required to pay a legal US wage, which they hate) Also, and this is important, their numbers are being artificially limited now. Which they also hate. They perceive that many businesses would likely  replace entire departments with workers who are paid a third of what they pay now. So that is their pitch.As somebody who has received these pitches many times, I know their arguments.

Under this scenario how do we keep our workers employed?

We make them the best in the world, which means that they have to have the money to become them, as our subsidizing education more is also prohibited by GATS as long as we remain in it. TiSA too, the trade agreement we are pushing.

An alternative is making our "workers" the cheapest in the world. (automate everything, meaning very few jobs)

So what happens to our workers?

After training their replacements over a long enough period that they are not entitled to trade related benefits, they likely become free to do whatever they like. 

Foreign trade activists understand this, as when they see us subsidizing anything, they say "hold on a second, those jobs are supposed to go to us".

They see us as putting off long promised globalization, meaning offshoring, outsourcing, etc.

And they see that as being illegal. They even raise arguments to concepts like free college framing the training of a country's young people with subsidized funds, even if it pre-dated the signing of the GATS, should not be increased, because of the principle of progressive liberalization.

the argument is simple, unless education (or any other service) in a country is supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers

This is also largely dependent on if we committed it. Some services are carved out, those are pretty much our own to regulate or not as we please.

Unfortunately, the carve outs are not as large as we would hope and definitely do not encompass the economically important areas people want to regulate now. With the possible exception of primary education. Not adult education, not higher education.

It would be helpful to also keep in mind that TISA anticipates making everything like this unless its excluded in advance, and it may also look back to dates in the distant past- the 1990s for its permissible levels of regulation. That was long before the ACA so all the things added in the ACA now are challengeable and may in fact be being challenged, we would likely have no way of knowing and no right to know. .

in other words, its already going to be tremendouslky hard to get any of these things that many politicians imply are within reach. What would be called for would be a national debate where people were made aware that all these regulatory goals were snatched away at approximately the same timcivile as we were being treated to a bizarre dance in the 1990s about them.

What was really happening was the GATS, the Marrakesh Agreement, (the first revision of it) and so on.

Whatever we push for now must be completely free and noncommercial and have no commercial competition. Otherwise, it falls under the GATS and TISA which likely means the same definition and bluntly, from the day its born its already doomed as ts supposed to be gradually phased out.

So in subsidies have become more and more limited under WTO agreements.

This is to sort of create a boiling frogs situation - with the eventual goal being similar .

To clarify this a bit more, because it seems nobody seems to get this, if one reads the entire GATS one can only come to one conclusion that irregardless of the finer points, THE JOBS CURRENTLY BEING DONE BY THE MIDDLE CLASS (and eventually) poor IN DEVELOPED COUNTRIES ALL AROUND THE WORLD HAVE BEEN PROMISED TO "The lowest bidders" whomever they may be, IN LARGE NUMBERS. 

These deals were entered into in the 90s but trade deals are designed to be inlexible, thats one of the worst things about them.

In the late 90s, oligarchs were as they put it, chafing under the bit of high wages being paid to people in the new technical areas who they knew they needed but hated to pay.

So in a sense GATS was set up as their way out. By bringing in high skilled graduates from the poorest, lowest paid nations (Nations that had very limited subsidies for postgraduate study, if at all for the poor) they could lower wages and also help out the most repressive nations leading families stay on top by funneling them the precious entry level jobs and therefore also the stability in society, also, if those young people immigrated to the US, they were more likely to vote (oligarchic) (as it was becoming a tossup as to which party would be the oligarchs party, perhaps both were)  Similar changes were and are occurring all around the world. the global economic governance orgs are dominated by the people from the wealthiest backgrounds (nobody else even really understands that these organizations exist or how important they are. Something similar has occurred in the nonprofit industry, or "civil society".

the US and Western Europe, the UK, etc, where wages are high, but where there now in many cases are growing unemployment problems, are because wages are a fraction of what they are here in developing countries, and so oligarchs hate paying them.

They refuse to pay them much longer, they will volunteer without any prompting at all. They see themselves now as allied with the oligarchs from the poor countries, to put an end to this unjust system that pays people "more than they are worth" as they see it. their worth being determined by the cost of replacing them by either other workers, or machines.

This sets up an inevitable global conflict, which under the current framing the middle class and poor invariably lose.

Of course, outsourcing/offshoring jobs is done to save money on wages, so its framed as a gain, higher profits is why.

Thats how our current system works. So called "efficiency gains" are framed as a plus, not a minus.

and the taxes that fund social programs depend on those jobs. ) to deliver on these jobs, have become a bone of contention with developing countries who view those jobs as having been promised to them, so every extension of a subsidy is seen by them as a theft of jobs long promised. , and that there is a ten year limit on them now.

What this means is that there is a pressure to eliminate social programs too, turning them into market based programs. Provisions such as those in the (GATS' AND likely also TISAs') two Annex on Financial Services, (TISA's here) Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services, etc. (and sprinkled elsewhere within these agreements-) effectively serve as time bombs that are being used or can be used by governments, either voluntarily, or via a challenge from another country (and often they cooperate it seems in setting this up, see the segment in Ellen Gould's video about Ulysses being tied to the mast- to understand this!

Surely it cant be possible that we are the only people who understand how they work!)


they are put there to make it easy to get rid of them!


IS that embedded into WTO GATS and other WTO agreements like TRIPS, the agreement on drugs? If so, where?

As it does seem very plausible to me, that that is now the default period that non-conforming measures (Like the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act") are likely allowed to persist.

So, lets talk about "Obamacare" for a bit.

Obamacare was far from great or even good.

And the reason is that, like the UK's NHS, it was most certainly not- in this case, deliberately- very deliberately not intended to conform with GATS' governmental authority exclusion" (It's Article I:3 (b)+(c))

(which is borrowed upon as the definition of "services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority" for other similar agreements, all around the world.

Now, GATS is 25 years old, and well established in some ways, and still seen as on thin ice in others. (because of its lack of voter knowledge and hence buy in. In essence, a shadowy cabal led by the US and EU states (including the UK!) is trying to sneak it in under the radar, all around the world.

The story of Maine's Dirigo Health care partly laid out in Maine's Draft Report from 2006 is informative, and from a reliable source.

Note in particular the comments about the threat to any new US healthcare regulations (under GATS) posed by a "new effort" being set up by a group "Friends of Services" that met in Geneva - outside of the WTO.  That effort is now formalized as the proposed Trade in Services Agreement and its scope is very wide.  That is in fact the default agenda, and we can bet thet Biden, if elected is 100% on board with it. It would be a disaster that gives foreign countries additional rights to do virtually all jobs currently held by middle class workers - if they are cheaper.

This means foreign firms will eventually be coming to the US, in large numbers, with their workforces, in even larger numbers, to do virtually all kinds of jobs. 

They will likely get a free pass in terms of visas, because visas for immigration (coming to the US permanently, intending to live here for good) will be under Congress, and voter control, in theory, but all "TEMPORARY MOVEMENT OF NATURAL PERSONS TO PROVIDE SERVICES" for years at a time, if necessary, with no limits on time, will likely be under the control of existing (such as the WTO) or new trade bodies like the "Real Good Friends of Services" or TISA.

What this means is that tens, ore likely even hundreds of millions of Americans workers will quite suddenly find themselves with no incomes and no prospects of new income or new jobs, as well as carrying substantial debts, leaving them no way of remaining in the US.

The US is seeking to expand these "movement of natural persons" kinds of guest worker provisions  use and the scope of what kinds of services are committed by countries with TISA.


Where does Obamacare fit in?

At one point I heard from somebody in the know that  goal was to "eliminate free riding' and "prevent prices from collapsing".

It prevents people from even discussing the alternative, the only alternative that keeps the healthcare jobs for the US, and out of GATS, Single Payer. (Not Medicare for All as the name is too confusing and ambiguous because Medicare charges money making it easy to screw up. We must stop using that name because only single payer will work, if you have any doubt, look at the UK. The UK has a public option that is still free, not a single payer system like Canada's. Only Canada's kind can work, will work.

the governmental authority exclusion is why.


It was also intended to subsidize RICH PEOPLES healthcare.

because the poor people could not afford to use it and fell into debt which further prohibits them from going to doctors. Additionally they get unpredictable arbitrary fees that no poor person can afford. No poor person can afford to pay an additional $12,000 a year in co-pays and deductibles (Or more as that limit is likely togo soon if it hasnt already)

This is plain and simple genocide.

The poor peoples subsidies now subsidize rich peoples healthcare.

What is the real plan? Read the GATS, its globalization. Both importing doctors (and all other professionals and skilled workers) and "exporting patients". (Medical tourism, to the poorest countries, the only ones that increasingly disenfranchised ex-workers can afford to get healthcare - and live, in. As long as they have money, which may not be long because the Social Security system depends on a large generally well paid work force, not a very low paid one.  )

So, Obamacare's mission was as much to waste precious time and use up poor peoples limited energy, while locking them in to discussions about entirely the wrong things and preventing discussion or even knowledge of the things they needed to be discussing, a system designed to trap them, lower their wages, strip them of decent insurance coverage and insure that many didn't get to the doctor until too late when they got a serious illness - while funneling subsidies to lower the prices paid by the influential rich lowering the likelihood that they would support single payer which was good because Gats took it off the table in the 90s or maybe even 80s and the whole country was never told.then and was even less likely to be told now.

GATS ratchets were likely enforced by other countries in on the deal with all of the countries agreeing to sue each other to get the things all their oligarchs wanted.

So much of the "chilling effects" on legislatures was being done at a higher international level that despite politics no longer being able to actually fix anything, it had become so out of touch with what actually needed to be done most people were at best barking up the wrong trees but more frequently completely alienated and unwilling to vote for bad candidates and unsupportable things. Paving the way for fascism.

Meanwhile actual governance - the one that really mattered,was totally dominated by corporate countries and lobbies, totally undemocratic as well as elsewhere, on autopilot in meeting only in a faraway set of cities, where demonstrations were never tolerated, and dealing with an abstruse, superior set of laws and government that most Americans have not even heard of, also where people have no standing. We don't even exist except as markets, a thing that's bought and sold that cannot be devalued by a Member governments actions..

Subsidies when allowed, its clear must be limited to being finite in length, So Obamacare was predictably a dissolving bridge to lock in the kinds of measures that trigger irreversible provisions in the GATS,

TISA (which is more of a window on what the US likely wants) etc. just included everything, and its standstill dates referred back to the 90s if they could but if not, when it became effective. Healthcare at that point, like all other services procured by governments that is not supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers.

Obamacare or Trumpcare will likely become whatever the once great middle class can afford as they are in economic free fall, jobs outsourced and investments tanking.

the only healthcare they will afford will be purchased in Third World countries. Under deals that use a tiny amount of subsidy to make sure they NEVER get a rich mans healthcare, even should they be able to pay for it there were they not from a WTO or TISA member country.

This is to make sure that the medicolegal standard of care is not exceeded overseas - when it was in the US, a problem oftn seen when Americans go overseas. health issues magically show up that their own doctors were prohibited from telling them about or God forbid diagnosing.

Eventually, once the risk of this problem has been adequately addressed, the deals will require the outsourcing/offshoring of lower metal level patients as a condition of care, who its likely will get the hint that, having lost so much by that point, they are not only no longer wanted in the US, staying in it presents a very real risk to their survival..

Which one is the bad cop party?

they both are.

This is why we are being treated so badly by Trump. who was clearly qualified for his current job by his previous one as a reality TV personality he likely sees it as his job, in his next term, to "fire" America.

I can see wealthy people getting a laugh out of that.

"You're Fired, America!"

Where did the "import doctors, export patients" mentioned by Ellen Gould come from?

Jagdish Bhagwati is a very influential Columbia U. economist who has written extensively on trade. He wants (famously) to "import doctors" and "export patients" which basically sums it up.

Also, and this is important.

People who want to bring back Obama or Obamcare's more costly parts don't understand how the WTO's one way progressive liberalization rules work.

Its not possible to re-regulate once something has been deregulated unless we buy our way out with the GATS Article XXI procedure.

See the Article XXI page under "Recommendations"  We may have to trade huge concessions to get our jobs and policy space back. As doing what he promised is impossible, without pulling out of the WTO and Biden, of course being a neoliberal never could, I can see why Biden wouldn't want to be President.

It's been clear for decades that the US's real healthcare plan was (Columbia Us economist) Bhagwati's "import doctors, export patients" Could it be any more obvious?  The US "two parties" are play acting a good cop bad cop routine with the goal of beating down the futures of middle class and poor people. They fully intend to outsource millions of jobs because in their opinions, Americans are too expensive. If anybody does not believe this after reading this site, I challenge them to email me some kind of piece of REAL EVIDENCE that shows that the situation we see unfolding in the international economic governance organizations is somehow subsumed or deprecated by the political theater we see on TV, and is more true and I will happily provide ten that it isn't.  That provide an alternate explanation - which is that the nation and world is run by neoliberalism which prioritizes increasing the very few and increasing inequality, in fact rejoicing in increasing it. Just read the GATS. Its a binding international agreement and a legal document. the US was one of the founding members of the WTO, in fact the Clinton's Administration NARA web page seems as if it is claiming that he created it . (see image below)

Clinton Administration claimed it established WTO, The process of the creation of the WTO from GATT actually occurred over at least a decade long period. (Some others claim this process started in the early 1980s, not at its official start date, the date of the signing of the Punta Del Este Declaration, which officially put services and its jobs, 80% of many countries economies, on the table as bargaining chips, September 20, 1986)

This claim of the Clinton Administration's if indeed it is claiming that it established the WTO, is not true. Clinton signed the URAA enabling act on December 8, 1994, but nowhere have I been able to find anything in the Congressional Record which even hints with any accuracy what was to happen.

(This event, therefore, seems like it was a great deal like the "granting of corporate personhood[missing page]" to "juridical persons" by the "case notes" added by a Supreme Court clerk, not by an actual decision.)

(See Tom Hartmann's book on the subject, will add name later)

The runup to the creation of the WTO (and its GATS which was a very big change that took the right to regulate "services" - basically 80% of a modern economy - from us!) out of GATT, the previous trading regime, actually occurred over at least a decade long period. (Some Geneva-based trade activists claim this process started in the early 1980s, not at its official start date, the date of the signing of the Punta Del Este Declaration, which officially put services and its jobs, 80% of many countries economies, into GATS, September 20, 1986)