Note: My request to Board of Governors to end the relationhip with Lockheed Martin will hopefully be heard at one of the following meetings. It went to the Board on August 20, in advance of:
- October 9, 2014 (board meeting)
- December 16 (board meeting)
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Board members are listed at http://www.usask.ca/secretariat/governing-bodies/board-of-governors/profiles/index.php.
Office of the University Secretary
University of Saskatchewan
212 College Building
107 Administration Place
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A2
Phone: (306) 966-4632 Fax: (306) 966-4530; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF RECEIPT
From: University Secretary Sent: August-20-14 3:01 PM To: Sandra Finley; University Secretary Subject: RE: Submission to Board of Governors
Thank you for your correspondence. We have provided your letter to the Board of Governors, as per your request.
University Secretary’s Office
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LETTER TO UNIVERSITY BOARD OF GOVERNORS,
END THE RELATIONSHIP WITH LOCKHEED MARTIN
August 19, 2014
Qualicum Beach, BC
Board of Governors
University of Saskatchewan
Dear Members of the Board of Governors,
It will be prudent for the University to end its relationship with Lockheed Martin Corporation. I request you to consider the proposal.
Individually, you may not know about Lockheed Martin’s funding role at the University of Saskatchewan.
And you may not know about developments related to Lockheed Martin (details are appended):
- An end to their contracts at Statistics Canada
- The 20 minute Youtube documentary on SOFEX (the annual arms bazaar in Jordan, Lockheed Martin is visible)
- The connection to Project Daniel that is using 3-D printer technology to give arms back to kids whose arms have been blown off
- The strength and determination of the informed international movement to change the path we’re on
The world is rapidly evolving to a place different from the one I grew up in. There are many good and great initiatives underway. People from every country talk to each other, and help each other. Shane Smith (the SOFEX documentary), Mick Ebeling (prosthetic arms from 3D printers) are two among thousands of examples.
Regarding the strength of the movement, citizens of all nations are empowered by the arts – - think of the impact of ONE BOOK and movie, alone – - Lord of the Rings. Frodo is every one of us. We encounter allies amongst many peoples. Together we exercise moral authority. The empowerment has been on-going for decades; you will know the newer versions of the Frodo story in our theatres.
There are many benefits for the U of S Board of Governors if they adjust University policies in alignment with the changes in the world. You can project that “collaboration” with Lockheed Martin will have a detrimental effect on the University’s reputation at some point.
The propaganda of “communications consultants” is not a match for the proliferation of respected documentaries. The role of Universities in the maintenance of an unacceptable status quo has been high-lighted by films like Inside Job, narrated by Matt Damon.
he asks tough questions and elicits squirms from several participants, notably former Treasury secretary David McCormick and Columbia dean Glenn Hubbard, . . .
Their reactions are understandable, since the borders between Wall Street, Washington, and the Ivy League dissolved years ago;
Large numbers of citizens understand that same relationship in different sectors of the economy, besides the financial. The University of Sask is one example in the military-industrial-governmental-university complex.
The words of former General and President of the U.S., Dwight Eisenhower, are marshalled forth, you probably know them: President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell speech Plus Words of Wisdom from Eisenhower.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry . . .
There is sufficient awareness that a holding-to-account of universities will happen. Indeed, it is in the process of happening.
I will be appreciative if you will advise me of the outcome of your deliberations – - will the relationship between the University of Saskatchewan and Lockheed Martin Corporation enhance the reputation of the U of S? Is it defensible? If so, on what grounds?
To assist, some of the arguments that need to be refuted if the relationship continues, are contained in the appended.
Thank-you for your consideration.
U of S Senator, Elected
The following bit of elaboration makes the point of large mobilizations of people and money around moral authority.
- EJECTION FROM STATISTICS CANADA
Conscientious objection by Canadians to Lockheed Martin’s role at Statistics Canada has been sufficient to cause StatsCan to eliminate Lockheed’s role altogether by 2016. (Source: Transcript of the testimony by Yves Beland, Director of Census Operations, under oath. at the October 2013 trial of Audrey Tobias, they’re (Lockheed Martin) out of the picture totally.)
Doing good in the world is profitable. I think that Shane Smith became famous through his work to expose vice in the world. Vice is now on HBO as a documentary TV-series hosted by Bill Maher, I am told. From the internet: Vice began as a magazine founded by Smith in Montreal in 1994, now a global company operating in 30 countries. Today in his forties,Smith is worth an estimated $400 million, according to Forbes.
Smith hosted the 20 minute documentary on SOFEX. Lockheed Martin comes in near the end of it.
Number of views, SOFEX:
a million-and-a-quarter of the YouTube alone
42,000 more since July 22nd when I first noted the number. I heard about the videoby word-of-mouth, not through advertising.
Number of views:
1,248,100 as at July 22
1,262,100 views 10 days later (Aug 1 AM)
1,268,197 views by August 5th
1,279,745 by August 12th
1, 290,765 as of Aug 19
(INSERT: 1,375,347 as at Oct 05)
I tweeted Smith to thank him, the video contributes to understanding the dynamics at play with the international manufacturers of munitions.
When making a decision about Lockheed Martin, I think the Board of Governors would want to know what is informing the public debate.
- NOT IMPOSSIBLE LABS http://www.notimpossiblelabs.com/
Just before Thanksgiving 2013, Mick Ebeling returned home from Sudan’s Nuba Mountains where he set up what is probably the world’s first 3D-printing prosthetic lab and training facility. More tothe point of the journey is that Mick managed to give hope and independence back to a kid who, at age 14, had both his arms blown off and considered his life not worth living.
By the time the team returned to their homes in the U.S., the local trainees had successfully printed and fitted another two arms, proving the project will have lasting benefit beyond the team’s presence.
That Project Daniel successfully unfolded in a region where a cease-fire had expired (and where
fighting has now escalated), and that the people taught to utilize the 3D printers were barely familiar with computers, let alone the idea of 3D printers, is a milestone achievement that bears the potential for global impact. “We’re hopeful that other children and adults in other regions of Africa, as well as other continents around the globe, will utilize the power of this new technology for similar beginnings,” said Not Impossible founder Mick Ebeling. “We believe Daniel’s story will ignite a global campaign. The sharing of the prostheses’ specifications, which Not Impossible will provide free and open-source, will enable any person in need, anywhere on the planet, to use technology for its best purpose: restoring humanity.”
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Or, Listen in on Not Impossible founder Mick Ebeling’s conversation on CBC radio’s program “Q” right here:
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Aug 1st Spoke with and emailed Not Impossible. Theresa info >@> notimpossiblelabs.com 310 667 9223 Venice, CA to establish connection:
There you are helping the kids whose arms have been blown off.
Here we are, working to stop Government money from going to Lockheed Martin Corporation, makers of cluster munitions that blow off kids’ limbs.
- There is hefty mobilization around Gaza. “if this isn’t an argument for the world to act in stopping this madness, I don’t know what is” – The children of Gaza – video (3.5 minutes): http://www.channel4.com/news/the-children-of-gaza-jon-snow-video. The broadcaster also mentions the foreign aid role.
(I notified Jon Snow that his video is being used in this communication.
Sent: August-05-14 12:12 PM To: ‘news >@> channel4.com’ Subject: Jon Snow re Children of Gaza)
- LOCKHEED MARTIN MANUFACTURES CLUSTER MUNITIONS, ILLEGAL UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW
- Re THE ARGUMENT THAT “LOCKHEED MARTIN USA IS NOT THE SAME AS LOCKHEED MARTIN CANADA”, i.e., the subsidiary is independent of the parent:
In the Lockheed Martin – Census trials, the Justice Dept routinely claimed that Lockheed Martin Canada is a different company from Lockheed Martin USA. (Hence, the crimes committed by Lockheed Martin cannot be used at trial.)
In the last of the trials (Stegenga), the Prosecution did not pursue this line of argument after presentation to the Court of a screen capture of Lockheed Martin’s USA webpage that says:
Our Census Business Practice successes include . . . Canada’s 2011 and 2006 Census.
In the case of the University, the next item speaks.
- Lockheed Martin’s Collaboration Topics (CT’s), as presented to U of S in April 2012 are posted at Lockheed Martin Visit to Your Institution. Excerpts:
to turn the sensed environment into information about the target (e.g., target recognition, speed, intent, etc. via Ladar, Radar, EO, and acoustic methods)
Hardware, software, and architectures to enable uninhabited intelligent deployments of ground, sea, air or space capabilities (These are UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones for military use)
Architectures for detectors and associated hardware and software for personnel identification in a broad range of applications (e.g., authentication, surveillance, tracking)
to include methods to facilitate timely response (e.g., explosive vapor, biological agents)
At two meetings of Senate, Ernie Barber (then Acting Dean of Engineering) defended Lockheed Martin’s role at the University as one of “renewable technologies”. Yes – Lockheed Martin is heavily dependent upon fossil fuels; supply lines are often targeted during invasions, renewable technologies are attractive – - you have to spin Lockheed’s role someway.
I encourage Board Members to read the CT’s as presented by Lockheed Martin itself. How you get to “renewable technologies” is hard to fathom.
- RE the argument, The University needs the funding from Lockheed Martin.
From your perspective of Citizens Who Pay Taxes:
There are offset agreements in the contracts Lockheed Martin has with the Government, that require them to spend a percentage of the value of the contracts in Canada. The U of S receives Lockheed Martin money as a consequence.
However, Lockheed has a history of over-charging on Government contracts. If the Government money simply went directly to the University, omitting Lockheed Martin as the middle-man, you would get more money AND with no strings attached. The argument does not stand up to scrutiny.
“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.”
” A revolution is coming — a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough — But a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability.”
WHY the (R)Evolution?
2010-07-16 CHRONOLOGY: the involvement of the American military in the Canadian census set in the larger CONTEXT of American military intrusion into Canadian affairs. (Sandra Finley)
How much influence does Lockheed Martin have in the world? What kind of influence is it? Those might be good questions to ask.
The original census contracts were awarded to Lockheed Martin at about the same time as the Bush Administration was dropping bombs on Iraq in an illegal war of aggression (2003). Which of course was hugely profitable for Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed was in a position to influence, and did influence the decision that led to the destruction of Iraqi schools, hospitals, museums, water infrastructure – – everything. It is a war that is on-going eight years later with death beyond imagination, and I don’t know how many permanently injured, see the current tally at http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/.
Millions of other Iraqis are either refugees or they are homeless:
“Refugees International has observed extreme vulnerabilities among the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees living in Syria, Jordan, and other parts of the region, as well as the millions of internally displaced persons within Iraq. Most refugees have not been granted legal status and thus live in limbo, often without access to basic services and work opportunities. Many persons displaced within the country have no access to assistance, basic levels of protection, or any hope of return to their original homes.” http://www.refugeesinternational.org/where-we-work/middle-east/iraq
It has cost the American public more than 733 billion dollars to wage the Iraq War (not counting Afghanistan) http://costofwar.com/, money they have needed for their own country. They sink further into debt. The international community is asked to step in to provide humanitarian aid to Iraq after the American military-industrial-congressional complex (#1 player, Lockheed Martin) has dropped the bombs; the devastation inflicted by the war is total.
The hatred and the terrorists that have been created by that illegal war are incalculable. Lockheed Martin’s profits and its share price go up.
. . . What if those bombs had been dropped on us, from the unmanned aerial vehicles (drones, airplanes) that are Lockheed Martin’s more recent gift to humanity, following after land mines and cluster munitions which are both illegal under Canadian and International Law? Lockheed’s unmanned drone programme is now moving to Saskatoon; we sink deeper into the writhings of hell.
There are a number of issues regarding Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the Canadian census: large legal, rational and moral issues, and as a significant step of the American military into Canada. The chronology below provides the context which makes the growing military intrusion apparent.
You will see serial acts of treason by Canadian officials.
The chronology shows some of
• the military developments in Canada
• the growing “normalization” of military police presence in Canada
• Lockheed Martin’s role
• mixed in with the resistance in Canada.
I make the point in the chronology that with offset agreements in Lockheed Martin contracts, the Government is transitioning to an economy that makes money on war. Many years ago I read that 45% of the American economy is dependent upon the waging of war.
The Canada First Defence Strategy enacted in June 2008 is very clearly about transforming the Canadian economy into a war economy. Is that what we want? Because that’s what you get with Lockheed Martin.
What is the motivation behind the transformation of Canada into a puppet-state of U.S. corporate interests? We have circulated a lot of information on the situation in the U.S.. They are running out of resources (e.g. water, oil and electricity) and so they appropriate what does not belong to them.
It is like the German Nazis: their war machine ran them out of iron ore, hence the “Quisling” Government in Norway that allowed them a short run from the iron mines in northern Sweden across a narrow corridor that is Norway, to the sea for ocean transport down the Norwegian coast to German weapons factories.
The American Government dropped bombs on Iraq to secure oil. It’s a little hard for them to do that to Canada. The alternative and often-used weapon in the arsenal of the military-industrial-congressional complex in the U.S. is to set up puppet governments (petro-states), take what you want, destroy the local environment, poison the people and leave when you’re finished.
We are the creators of our own misfortunes, or not. We need to get word to people now so they can start explaining to their friends the need to boycott the May 2011 Census, as another step in the resistance that will force Lockheed Martin Corporation, the war mongers, out of Canada.
UPDATE: October 2013 trial of Audrey Tobias, they’re (Lockheed Martin) out of the picture totally at Statistics Canada, as of the 2016 Census.
The new President of Croplife Canada (lobbyist for chem-biotech companies) did not like what Larry Powell said.
Larry replied to Ted Menzies. http://www.planetinperil.ca/2014/09/blogger-responds-to-accusations-from.html
I added a Comment:
1. Revolving door? Ted Menzies was an MP until he resigned in Nov 2013. CropLife is nothing more than a lobby machine for the chem-biotech corporations. I wonder in what ways Menzies’ work as an MP prepared him to get the job as President of CropLife?
2. Where did Lorne Hepworth go when Menzies took over as president? (Hepworth was one of Grant Devine’s cabinet ministers before going to CropLife.) …
Answer: Hepworth is on the Board of Directors of the “Global Institute for Food Security” at the University of Saskatchewan. Not only has the biotech/chemical industry run the College of Agriculture for three decades, this thinly-disguised agricultural “Institute” has been set up, with Hepworth on the Board.
In the case of another new entity at the U of S, the CCNI (Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation), for example, it is claimed that the laws regarding access to information that apply to the University (transparency in public institutions) do not apply.
Hepworth is in an unconscionable conflict-of-interest that taints the reputation of the University. (And if you know of CropLife’s tactics under Hepworth, integrity is an issue. I recall when Toronto was working on a pesticide bylaw. Hepworth set up the “in name only” Toronto Environmental Coalition to send out press releases about the benign nature of the chemicals. (The bona fide organization is the Toronto Environmental Alliance.) The Chief Medical Officer for Toronto was angry, to say the least, when Hepworth’s under-handed ways became public knowledge.
Video of MP Calandra, House of Commons:
There is no reason to put up with this behaviour.
Small steps are important. They empower all of us … and then the tide turns. So…
I expressed my displeasure directly to Calandra by forwarding an email thread:
From: Sandra Finley Sent: September-24-14
To: ‘email@example.com’ (or 613 992 3640 or Fax: 613 992 3642)
Subject: FW: unreal exchange
How do we as citizens satirize this behaviour to the point that it becomes unacceptable?
MP Calandra needs to become a laughing stock of the nation.
I guess another alternative is to provide feedback to him – - in case he can’t figure out things for himself.
I appended contact information from his web page. He represents Oak Ridges – Markham.
Even before she was elected Elizabeth May tackled the problem of conduct of parliamentarians.
She can’t bring about change by herself.
Citizens are the bosses. Calandra can get away with this, only if “the bosses” allow him to do it.
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Subject: RE: unreal exchange
It’s bad enough that Calandra believes this is acceptable (and he appears to be right given the Speaker’s non-role).
But worse: his fellow members of caucus don’t have the balls to refuse to applaud.
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Subject: unreal exchange
It really is unreal ! Paul Calandra, Conservative MP, should be taken out back. Despicable behaviour.
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Political Affiliation: Conservative Caucus
Province / Territory:Ontario
Email: paul.calandra AT parl.gc.ca
Web Site: www.paulcalandra.com
Hill Office House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6 Telephone: 613-992-3640 Fax: 613-992-3642
Mail may be sent postage-free to any Member of Parliament.
- 6060 Main Street Stouffville, Ontario L4A 1B8 Telephone: 905-640-1125 Fax: 905-640-1184
© House of Commons
From: Sandra Finley
To: Gordon Barnhart, President of the University of Saskatchewan; Vianne Timmons, President of the University of Regina
Cc: ‘Elizabeth Williamson, Secretary, U of S
Subject: A note re investments
Dear Gordon Barnhart and Vianne Timmins,
I sent the following information to investment people. I would be remiss if I didn’t send it also to the Universities, at least in Saskatchewan. JUST IN CASE you did not catch it through other channels.
U of S
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From: Sandra Finley
Subject: A note re investments
Hi Tom and Marlis,
Just in case you have not seen it – I am sending these developments to you because of significance for investments.
The full story includes a group of students who started “Divest/Invest” four years ago. They made it difficult for the Ivy League Universities to hold onto fossil fuel investments in their endowment portfolios. Down to the situation today: Rockefeller heirs have joined in a pledge to divest more than $56 billion of fossil fuel investments to reinvest in clean energy on the eve of a major climate change summit in New York.
There’s an excellent interview on the developments, by Amy Goodman, Democracy Now. Click on http://www.nationofchange.org/heirs-billionaire-oil-tycoon-john-d-rockefeller-join-growing-fossil-fuel-divestment-movement-1411401
(The ABC News Report is at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-23/rockefeller-family-to-sell-oil-investments-to-reinvest-in-renew/5761966)
This all comes at the same time as the 310,000 protesters in the streets of New York (Sept 21). Joined by thousands more in various cities around the world.
The protests continued into yesterday, with people in NY arrested last night. The Guardian newspaper report:
Dozens arrested as police face off with Flood Wall Street protesters http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/22/flood-wall-street-protest-arrest-police-climate-change-new-york
Anyhow, thought you might like to know.
Wow! Good News in this interview!
If you’ve never read Gail Tverberg, she’s usually a good read and one smart cookie!
Her recent blog looks interesting:
(Sandra speaking: I recommend you go to Gail’s blog. The “comments” are also worthwhile. As usual, a back-up copy appears below, “just in case”.)
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Low Oil Prices: Sign of a Debt Bubble Collapse, Leading to the End of Oil Supply?
Oil and other commodity prices have recently been dropping. Is this good news, or bad?
I would argue that falling commodity prices are bad news. It likely means that the debt bubble which has been holding up the world economy for a very long–since World War II, at least–is failing to expand sufficiently. If the debt bubble collapses, we will be in huge difficulty.
Many people have the impression that falling oil prices mean that the cost of production is falling, and thus that the feared “peak oil” is far in the distance. This is not the correct interpretation, especially when many types of commodities are decreasing in price at the same time. When prices are set in a world market, the big issue is affordability. Even if food, oil and coal are close to necessities, consumers can’t pay more than they can afford.
A person can tell from Figure 1 that since the first part of 2011, the prices of Brent oil, Australian coal, and food have been trending downward. This drop in prices continues into September. For example, as I write this, Brent oil price is $97.70, while the average price for the latest month shown (August) is $105.27. It is this steeper, recent drop, which many are concerned about.
We are dealing with several confusing issues. Let me try to explain some of them.
Issue #1: Over the short term, commodity prices don’t reflect the cost of extraction; they reflect what buyers can afford.
Oil prices are set on a worldwide basis. The cost of extraction varies around the world. So it is clear that oil prices will not match the cost of extraction, or the cost of extraction plus a reasonable profit, for any particular producer.
If oil prices drop, there is a temptation to believe that this is because the cost of production has dropped. Over a long enough period, a drop in the cost of production might be expected to lead to lower oil prices. But we know that many oil producers are finding current oil prices too low. For example, the Wall Street Journal recently reported, “Royal Dutch Shell CEO: Can’t deny returns are too low. Ben van Beurden prepared to shrink company in order to boost returns, profitability.” I wrote about this issue in my post, Beginning of the End? Oil Companies Cut Back on Spending.
In the short term, low prices are likely to signal that less of the commodity can be sold on the world market. Commodities such as oil and food are very desirable products. Why would less be needed? The issue, unfortunately, is affordability. Affordability depends largely on (1) wages and (2) debt. Wages tend to be fairly stable. The likely culprit, if affordability is leading to lower demand for desirable products like oil and food, is less growth in debt.
Issue #2: Economic growth tends to produce a debt bubble.
Many economists believe that technological innovation is the key to economic growth. In my view, economies need a combination of the following to have economic growth of the type experienced in the last 100 years:1
(Increase in debt) + (cheap-to-extract fossil fuels) + (cheap-to-use non-fossil fuel resources) + (technological innovation)
In such a case, debt keeps increasing as an economy grows. Unfortunately, this economic growth is only temporary, because resources tend to become more expensive to use over time, making the “cheap” resources required for economic growth disappear.
The problem underlying the rising cost of resources (both for fossil fuels and others) is that we tend to use the cheapest-to-extract resources first. Technological innovation continues to occur, but as diminishing returns hit both fossil fuels and other resources, there are larger and larger demands on technology to keep costs in line with what workers can afford. Eventually, the cost of resources (net of technological improvements) rises too much, and economic growth is cut off. By this time, a huge mountain of debt has been built up.
Let me explain further how this happens. Without fossil fuels, the world is pretty much stuck with the goods that can be made with wood, or from other basic resources such as animal skins, cotton, flax, or clay. A small quantity of metal and glass goods can be made, but deforestation quickly becomes a problem if an attempt is made to “scale up” the quantity of goods that require heat in their production.2
Once inexpensive coal became available, its availability opened the door to technological innovation, because it provided heat in quantity that had not been available previously. While ideas such as the steam engine had been around for a long time, the availability of inexpensive coal made the production of metals needed for the steam engine, plus train tracks and railroad cars, available at reasonable cost.
With the ability to make steel and concrete in quantity (both requiring heat) came the ability to make hydroelectric dams and electrical transmission lines, thus enabling electricity for public consumption. Oil, as a liquid fuel, paved the way for widespread use of additional innovations, such as private passenger automobiles, mechanized farm equipment, and airplanes. Between coal and oil, many workers could leave farming and begin jobs in other sectors of the economy.
The transformation that took place was huge: from wooden tools and human or animal labor to a modern industrial society. How could such a big change take place? Before the change, the ability to generate a profit that might be used for future capital investment was very limited. Also, the would-be purchasers of products made in an industrial economy were very poor. I would argue that the only way of bridging this gap was debt. See my earlier posts, Why Malthus Got His Forecast Wrong and The United States’ 65-Year Debt Bubble.
The use of debt has several advantages:
- It allows the consumer to buy the end product made with the new resources, assuming the end product isn’t too expensive relative to the consumer’s earnings.
- It gives resource-extracting businesses the money they need to buy equipment and to hire workers, prior to the time they have earned profits from resource extraction.
- It gives the companies the ability to build factories, before they have accumulated profits to pay for the factories.
- It allows governments to fund needed infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, before having the tax revenue available to pay for such infrastructure.
- Most importantly, the “demand” generated by (1), (2), (3) and (4) raises the price of resources sufficiently that it makes it profitable for companies in the business to extract those resources.
Because of these issues, debt and cheap fossil fuels have a symbiotic relationship.
(1) The combination of debt, inexpensive fossil fuels, and inexpensive resources of other kinds allows the production of affordable goods that raise the standard of living of those using them. The result is what we think of as “economic growth.”
(2) The economic growth provides the additional income needed to pay back the debt with interest. The way this happens is indirectly, through what is sometimes described as “greater productivity of workers.” This greater productivity is really human productivity enhanced with devices made possible by fossil fuels, such as sewing machines, electric milking machines, and computers that allow workers to become more productive. Indirectly, the higher productivity of workers benefits both businesses and governments, through higher sales of goods to consumers and through higher taxes. In this way, businesses and governments can also repay debt with interest.
Higher-priced resources are a problem. Higher-priced resources of any kind tend to “gum up the works” of this payback cycle. Higher-priced oil in particular is a problem. In the United States, when oil prices rise above about $40 or $50 barrel, growth in wages stops.
With higher oil prices, the rise in the standard of living stops for most workers, and good-paying jobs become difficult to find. There are a couple of reasons we would expect wages to stagnate with higher oil prices:
(1) Competition with cheaper energy sources. When oil prices rose, countries using a very high percentage of oil in their energy mix (such as the PIIGS in Europe, Japan, and United States) became less competitive in the world economy. They tended to fall behind China and India, countries that use much more coal (which is cheaper) in their energy mix.
(2) Need to keep the price of goods flat. Businesses need to keep the total price of their products close to “flat” despite rising oil prices, if they are to continue to sell as much of their product after the oil price increase as previously. Oil is one major cost of production; wages are another. An obvious way to offset rising oil prices is to reduce wages. This can be done in several ways: outsourcing work to a lower cost country, greater automation, or caps on wages. Any of these approaches will tend to produce the flattening in wages observed in Figure 2.
Based on Figure 2, an oil price above $40 or $50 per barrel seems to put a cap on wages, and indirectly leads to much less economic growth. Even if we didn’t hit this oil price limit–for example, if we had discovered a liquid fuel that could be produced in quantity for less than $40 barrel–we would eventually hit some kind of growth limit. For example, the limit might be climate change or too much population for food production capability. Even too much debt can be a limit, if citizens’ incomes don’t rise in a corresponding manner. At some point, it becomes impossible even to make interest payments if the debt level is too high. Indirectly, citizens wages even support business and government debt, because business revenues and tax revenues depend indirectly on wages.
Issue #3: Repaying debt is very difficult in a flat or declining economy.
Once growth stops (or slows down too much), the debt bubble tends to crash, because it is much more difficult to repay debt with interest in a shrinking economy than in a growing one.
The government can hide this issue for a very long time by rolling over old debt with new debt and by reducing interest rates to practically zero. At some point, however, the system seems certain to fail.
Not all debt is equivalent. Debt that simply blows bubbles in stock market prices has little impact on commodity prices. In order to keep commodity prices high enough for producers to want to continue to produce them, the debt really has to get back into the hands of the potential buyers of the commodities.
Also, any changes that tend to reduce world trade push the world economy toward contraction, and make it harder to repay debt with interest. Thus, sanctions against Russia, and Russia’s sanctions against the US and Europe, tend to push the world toward debt collapse more quickly.
Issue #4: Rising oil and other commodity prices are a problem, especially for countries that are importers of those commodities.
Most of us are already aware of this issue. If oil prices rise, or if food prices rise, our salaries do not rise by a corresponding amount. We end up cutting back on discretionary purchases. This cutback in discretionary purchases leads to layoffs in these sectors. We end up with the scenario we had in the 2007-2009 recession: falling home prices (since higher-priced homes are discretionary purchases), failing banks, and many without jobs. See my article Oil Supply Limits and the Continuing Financial Crisis.
The reason that low oil and other commodity prices are welcomed by many people now is because the opposite–high oil and other commodity prices–are so terrible.
Issue #5: Falling oil and other commodity prices are a problem, if the cost of production is not dropping correspondingly.
If commodity prices drop for any reason–even if it is because a debt bubble is popping–it is going to affect how much companies are willing to produce. There is going to be a tendency to cut back in new production. If prices drop too far, it is even possible that some companies will leave the market altogether.
Even if it doesn’t look like a country “needs” the current high oil price, there may still be a problem. Oil exporters depend on the high taxes that they are able to obtain when oil prices are high. If they cannot collect these taxes, they may need to cut back on programs such as food subsidies and new desalination plants. Without these programs, civil disorder may lead to cutbacks in oil production.
Issue #6: The growth in oil sales to China and to other emerging markets has been fueled by debt growth. This debt growth now seems to be stalling.
Growth in oil consumption has mostly been outside of the United States, the European Union, and Japan, in the recent past. China and other emerging market countries kept demand for oil high.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports, China’s terrifying debt ratios poised to breeze past US levels. He shows the following chart of China’s growth in debt from all sources, including shadow banking:
This rise in debt now seems to be slowing, based on a Wall Street Journal report. A person wonders whether this stalling debt growth is affecting world oil and other commodity prices.
Other emerging markets also seem to be experiencing cutbacks. Since 2008, the United States, Europe, and Japan have had very easy money policies. Some of the money available at low interest rates was invested in emerging markets. Now the WSJ reports, Fed Dims Emerging Markets’ Allure. According to the article investors, investors are taking a more cautious stance on new investment because of fear of rising US interest rates.
Of course, other issues affect debt and world commodity demand as well. If interest rates rise, they many have a tendency to shrink new lending, in general, because loans become less affordable. Sanctions of one country against another, such as the US against Russia, and vice versa, also tend to reduce demand.
Issue #7: Debt bubbles have been a problem in past collapses.
According to Jesse Colombo, the Depression was to a significant result the result of debt bubbles that built up during the roaring twenties. Another, longer-term cause would seem to be the loss of farm jobs that occurred when coal allowed tasks that were previously done by farm workers to be done by either electricity or by horses pulling metal plows. The combination of a debt bubble and loss of jobs seems to have parallels to our current situation.
Many believe the subprime housing bubble crash contributed to the Great Recession. The oil price spike of 2007 and 2008 played a major role as well.
Issue #8: If we are facing the collapse of a debt bubble, it is quite possible that prices of many commodities will fall. This could possibly lead to a collapse in the supply of many types of energy products, more or less simultaneously.
Figure 8, shown below, is a very rough estimate of the kind of decline in energy use we could be facing if a debt collapse leads to very low prices of many types of fuels simultaneously. Prices of many commodities crashed in 2008, and it was only with massive intervention that prices were propped up to 2011 levels. After the beginning of 2011, prices began sinking again, as shown in Figure 1.
Clearly governments will try to prevent another sharp crash in commodity prices. The question is whether they will be successful in propping up commodity prices, and for how long they will be successful. In a finite world, fossil fuel energy production eventually must decline, but we don’t know over precisely what timeframe.
Issue #9: My steep decline contrasts with the “best case” forecast of future oil consumption given by M. King Hubbert.
M. King Hubbert wrote about a scenario where another type of fuel completely takes over, before oil and other fossil fuels are phased out. He even discusses the possibility of making liquid fuels using very cheap nuclear energy. The way he represents the situation is the following:
In such a scenario, it is possible that oil supply will begin to decline when approximately 50% of resources are exhausted, and the down slope of the curve will follow a symmetric “Hubbert curve.” This situation seems to represent a best possible case; it doesn’t seem to represent the case we are facing today. If a debt collapse occurs, much of the remaining fuel is likely to stay in the ground.
Issue #10: Our economy is a networked system. Increasing debt is what keeps the economy inflated. If wages fail to keep pace with debt growth, the system seems likely to eventually crash.
In previous posts, I have represented the economy as a self-organized networked system, consisting of businesses, consumers, governments (with laws, regulations, and taxes), financial system, and international trade.
One reason the economy is represented as hollow is because the economy loses its capability to make goods that are no longer needed–such as buggy whips and rotary dial phones. Another reason why it might be represented as hollow is because debt is used to “puff it up” to its current size. Once the amount of debt starts shrinking, it makes it very difficult for the economy to maintain its stability.
Many “peak oilers” believe that if we have a problem with the financial system, all we have to do is start over with a new one–perhaps without debt. Everything I can see says that debt is an essential part of the current system. We could not extract fossil fuels in any significant quantity, without an ever-rising quantity of debt. The problem we are encountering now is that once resource costs get too high, the debt-based system no longer works. A new debt-based financial system likely won’t work any better than the old one.
If we try to build a new system without fossil fuels, we will be really starting over, because even today’s “renewables” are part of the fossil fuel system.3 We will have to go back to things that can be made directly from wood and other natural products without large amounts of heat, to have truly renewable resources.
 This is really a simplification of the real issues. As world population grows, it is necessary to obtain an increasing amount of food from the same arable land. Thus, it is necessary to find new processes to increase food production, at the same time that soil is quite possibly degrading. Soil is in a sense a “resource other than fossil fuels,” but I have not mentioned this issue specifically.
Growing pollution problems are in some sense an indirect cost of extracting fossil fuels and other resources. These represent another growing cost that I have not specifically identified. Furthermore, there are indirect expenses that do not fit neatly into any category, such as required desalination plants to handle growing populations in areas where water is scarce. We may need to consider mitigation expenses of all types as part of the “cost of resource extraction.”
My point is that it becomes increasingly difficult to offset these many cost increases with technological innovations. Furthermore, if no changes are made, a larger and larger share of both the workforce and resources are required for maintaining the status quo, leaving fewer workers and a smaller quantity of resources to “grow” the economy.
 Wind and water are additional sources of energy, but they are sources of mechanical energy, not heat energy, so are not helpful unless they can be converted first to electricity, and then to heat. In quantity, they never were very large in pre-fossil fuel days.
 Of course, any existing “renewable” will continue to work until it needs repairs that are unavailable. Other parts of the system (such as electric transmission lines, batteries, inverters, and attached devices such as pumps) may fail more quickly than the renewables themselves.
“IDENTITY CORRECTION” – - a fun way to get a point across. To re-define.
What is it?
Andy Bichlbaum, Yes Men parodist:
Key Principle at work
Often the most revealing moment in a successful identity correction is the reaction of the target. When you identity-correct a major corporation, you force them to react.
They can’t let the lie that tells the truth stand in the media.
GE had to tell the press it was NOT returning its questionable tax refund to stand in solidarity with struggling Americans.
Dow Chemical had to issue a statement indicating it had NOT apologized for the Bhopal disaster and would NOT be compensating the victims.
Identity correction potential, Lockheed Martin?
Canadians have not been told:
Lockheed Martin has been forced out of Statistics Canada by citizen protest. (Details are in other postings on this blog)
The Yes Men explain to citizens how to use the tool of identity correction.
Wouldn’t it be fun to develop a plan to apply the win against Lockheed Martin’s role at Statistics Canada for identity correction?! http://beautifultrouble.org/principle/real-action-targets-reaction/
A parody could certainly be made of Statistics Canada’s misrepresentation of the level of non-compliance with the Census. They have claimed 98% compliance, always quoting the percentage.
But in the transcript from the trial of Audrey Tobias the numbers used by StatsCan (mathematicians?) to arrive at 2% non-compliance are provided:
- 1.6 million households out of
- 14.6 million did not comply.
- That’s non-compliance of roughly 11% , not 2% - more than 1 in 10 households did not comply.
Further potential for parody:
they ended Lockheed Martin’s career at StatsCan because of protest (and rising non-compliance, I suspect) but then continued to threaten the protesters with prosecution, jail-time and a fine. Not everyone succumbed to the threats:
- 89-year-old Audrey Tobias went to Trial, October 2013
- 79-year-old Janet Churnin, November 2013
- (younger yoga instructor) Eve Stegenga, July 2014
All of these women protested the involvement of Lockheed Martin.
WHY the prosecutions? What a colossal waste of everyone’s time and money, when the decision had already been made by the time of the Tobias trial to end Lockheed Martin’s involvement.
RELATED MORE DIRECTLY TO EVE’S TRIAL
For statistical purposes, Eve Stegenga lives below the poverty line. She cannot afford the cost of being on Trial, of defending herself against the charges. Taking the time necessary to preparing for Trial is time robbed from her self-employment, the ability to generate money to pay for basic necessities. (Eve is not “poor”. She lives a healthy, vital, connected, rich and productive life.)
Therein lies the parody. She is stacked up against the legalese and numerous senior lawyers within the Federal Department of Justice, also the resources of Statistics Canada. You could say, Eve against the whole Federal Government.
Whose interests are being served by the continued prosecutions? Where are the benefits for tax-payers and citizens?
- – - – - – - – - – - – - -
Note to self: Lockheed Martin forced out by citizens
- The International Community will be interested.
- The news will go to the dozens of Peace Groups on Facebook, including Journalists for Peace.
- It will go into the large North American networks of people working against corporate dominance, including Occupy and Idle No More.
- The International Community working to get George Bush and Associates arrested and brought before the Courts in The Hague have a direct interest because of Lockheed Martin’s role in starting the illegal war of aggression on the people or Iraq.
- People in Muslim communities will want to know of the victory against Lockheed Martin. Muslim countries have been hit hard by the illegal war and the dropping of bombs from drones.
- The international Marches Against Monsanto (many of the organizers are Moms) are now informed to the point of understanding that Corporate America is a huge problem. They will view the win against Lockheed Martin as fuel for “We can do it“.
- The news of the win will spread and travel far, whether or not mainstream media engages with the story.
(I marked the 6th last paragraph with >>>. Remedies put forth by John McMurtry.)
The University Wars:
The Corporate Administration versus the Vocation of Learning
Address to Faculty and Students
Neatby-Timlin Lecture Theatre
University of Saskatchewan
April 7, 2009
by John McMurtry Ph.D, F.R.S.C.
My experience of the university extends over almost half a century. For the first 20-odd years, I was worried the place was disconnected from the real world in self-referential guild specialties. For the next 20-odd years, I have observed the cumulative subordination of the university to corporate-market methods and to rising financial-management appropriation of public educational funds by central administrations – all with no accountability to academic standards.
This invisible occupation of the academy by a corporate agenda forwarded by central administrations within universities has been analysed by University of Saskatchewan’s own Howard Woodhouse in his forthcoming book, Selling Out: Academic Freedom and the Corporate Market.1 Tracking of this corporate invasion of the academy ultimately leads back to what is not examined – the unaccountable right of central administrations to spend public money on their own growth, privileges and salaries instead of the constitutional objectives of the university – advancement of learning and dissemination of knowledge. University presidents who once received a faculty member’s salary with a modest stipend now arrange with their business-dominated boards to be paid more than the U.S. President while incurring steeper debts and raising tuition fees for debt-ridden students.
This is why I wrote the president of my own university on March 30 a week ago as follows.
I am giving a faculty-invited lecture at the University of Saskatchewan in a few days entitled “Corporate Administration versus the Learning Vocation”. I read in the Guelph Tribune, March 27, 2009, that you “received a $47,000 increase in salary last year, making his salary near $450,000″ and that “were paraphrased as saying students “might have to work more, take on more debt, or not return to the U of G next year so they can earn more money before returning”.
I intend to cite these disclosures as exemplifying the conflict referred to in the title of my public lecture; but I seek verification first that there is nothing substantively inaccurate in this account.
I frankly hope this CEO appropriation of education funds in a time of public outrage at grossly inflated incomes of revenue administrations in times of rising debts and cutbacks elsewhere is not true at the University of Guelph under your presidency. It shames the office and the institution, and undermines the university’s shared learning vocation by a culture of irresponsible pecuniary selfishness at the top.
Critical reason without deference to established opinion or power is the right of academic freedom. Yet which university faculties have stood up for it on their own campuses as the university has been invaded by anti-academic forces for over 20 years?
How did this corporatization of the academy begin? To make a long story short, university presidents planned with corporate executives to defund the universities – I quote from their own records – “to provide a greater incentive in the university community to seek out corporate partners”.2 This early strategy was planned by the Corporate Higher Education Forum (CHEF), originally founded in 1983 to join 25 university presidents to 25 senior executives of major corporations in setting the “new direction” for universities. The acronym C-H-E-F – CHEF – reveals the CEO agenda. Corporations were thereby empowered to redirect university researchers by leverage-funding to only that research from which they could privately profit. Most academics were and are so caught up in their career micro-worlds that they collaborated to get funds.
“Bring your knowledge to market” has been the master slogan throughout. In the words of one professor promoted to deputy minister of education, and then to head of a major national research granting council at the beginning of the corporate market takeover: “I contend that the one global object of education must be for the people of Ontario to develop new services which we can offer in trade in the world market”.3 This position is incoherent in principle, but has increasingly reigned across the educational system.
The Deciding Collaboration
Few faculty penetrate the underlying contradiction in purpose and method between the market’s private exchanges for money and the university’s community of advanced learning – even as low-paid sessional teachers carry more and more of university teaching loads, multiplying fees and debt-loads for students put university out of reach of the poor, and salaries for those in privileged and management positions escalate as cutbacks on courses and programs are imposed. Yet students have been conditioned to the same program of winning pecuniary self-advantage as all that counts. When I have asked my large first-year classes in philosophy, “Who thinks the goal of a university education is to make more money?” about 95% have raised their hands. Once Ronald Reagan became popular as the US president with a credo of “American freedom is the freedom to get rich”, the value rot seemed to set in.
The results are not pretty. University presidents now conceive themselves as corporate CEO’s of hundreds-of-millions of dollars. Research is increasingly only possible with outside money backing it. Campuses are ever more pervasively festooned with corporate ads and brands in every medium. Student market surveys are the administrative measures of quality of teaching as they are made into debt slaves. Sessionals with non-living wages multiply in the university in place of research faculty. Academic spaces morph into sites for big-business commodity sales. Science and humanities buildings are renamed after leaders of the university’s marketization. And multinational corporations control the academic journal and textbook system across borders in accordance with money-first values.
Few seem to observe that this financial marketization has led the rest of the world to ecological, social and economic collapse; nor the coincidence of this profile with the academy as its knowledge servant. Even less do corporate administrations notice the contradiction of values between the academy’s purpose of critical search for truth and the corporate market’s final goal of financial self-maximization which lies behind the university’s stripping down to a commercial venture. In direct value opposition, good reasoning and research require educators and researchers to pursue the truth wherever it leads independently of money payoffs to self. To devote long hours to research and rewriting if it adds time-costs without money payoffs is irrational in the market, but what all in-depth pursuit of the truth demands.
Unfortunately, senior academic administrations now may actually assist wealthy corporate interests in the silencing of truth. In the now famous case of University of Toronto, Dr. Nancy Olivieri was censured for disclosing life-and-death information about an Apotech product’s effects. University attacks on her position occurred just as the President, Robert Pritchard, was in the midst of negotiations to receive a multi-million dollar donation from the very same corporation seeking to silence Dr. Olivieri. Administrators who presided over false attacks were promoted to more lucrative positions, including the current President of University of Toronto.
As the eminent scientist and humanist, Ursula Franklin, has memorably said from her own experience of the 1930′s era of Nazi Germany in Europe and the corporatizing academy today: “They had their collaborators, and we have ours”. On the government plane, the sell-out of research with public dollars for private corporate exploitation is made a national command. “Tripling of the commercialization of university research”, Paul Martin proclaimed as he became Prime Minister in 2004, “is not nearly fast enough”.
Giving Away University’s Research to Transnational Corporations to Exploit Students
A second level of contradiction between market and academic models is between the methods of dissemination. The control of all knowledge that corporations can copyright or patent is an ultimately regulating principle of the global market. Indeed, this right to market monopoly of ideas is pursued and extended to the utmost by 20-year patents on life-saving remedies, control of seed varieties, and corporate copyrights on journal articles and texts – all typically discovered within universities themselves. I myself have been unsuccessfully blocked from putting relevant article and chapter publications on reserve for students for their copy use although I was the author of them.
This is the extent to which university administrations have gone in enforcing the corporate agenda against students’ learning interests. It is now a general fact that academic journals themselves have become copyright-controlled by private corporations’ buying up the journals, and then multiplying the prices for their purchase and use by university libraries whose own faculties have created the material for no cost to the corporations. Indeed there is a standard copyright form required to be signed by faculty authors whose work is produced and refereed free for corporately owned journals, and these forms demand exclusive copyright in perpetuity to the private corporate proprietor for no returns to the author, the university, or the public who support both. I always add a specific condition removing this exclusive world copyright, but typically risk or am threatened with non-publication. There has been no such resistance to signing these forms, I am told, by other academic authors.
Thus the public, the students and the universities pay for faculties to research and publish and for all the university resources to support them, while private corporations buy the vehicles of publication to sell them back to the university communities who have created them – and at staggering rising prices that beggar libraries themselves. The academy’s freedom of knowledge dissemination is thus reversed, but university administrators and funders increasingly press for still more commercialization of university knowledge creation while they give most of it away to their corporate senior partners. When such hijacking of publicly-funded academic resources for external private profit at the expense of libraries and students is enforced by university administrations themselves, one wonders as to their cognitive competence even at asset trading.
The abandonment of the academy’s vocation seems to have reached into the identity of researchers themselves. Faculty and grad students conceive of their worth in terms of their money and grant revenues, and mould their work to maximize their money returns. Yet development of abilities of critical and autonomous thought is what the academy stands for and is tax supported to provide. In direct opposition, easy consumption of ready-made commodities is what the corporate market provides to those who can pay. We know that if anyone tries to buy their way into or through university, s/he is liable to expulsion as a cheat. But if the academy follows market values, why shouldn’t students buy their papers from sellers of their choice? If all that is involved is an exchange to get what you want for the least price, the free market way, why is this wrong?
Rallying in support of academic freedom and Professor Denis Rancourt of the University of Ottawa who the grading system itself, Professors David Noble and Nancy Olivieri from York and Toronto have explained the purpose of Universities very well. I quote them now:
“Universities stand alone among our social institutions in their professed and acknowledged dedication to the pursuit and dissemination of the truth. They are the public’s only presumed repository of dependably disinterested expertise, drawn upon routinely by courts, government, and the media for the facts, authoritative assessments, and legitimacy. In a universe saturated by advertisers and public relations people with spin, deceit, fraud and fabrication the universities serve as a unique resource for citizens in need of the real story. This is one of the chief reasons why the public has so generously subsidized institutions of higher education and endowed its disciplined truth-seekers and truth-tellers with extraordinary protections from censorship – academic freedom -and job insecurity – tenure. These hallmarks of academia are not perks or privileges but obligations, calling upon academics to attend to their core responsibility of providing the public with the truth.”
Yet human reason and life coherent truth seeking are now incarcerated within a get-rich-quick program which corporate administrations imitate and impose on university communities at every level. In the global market as a whole, the ultimate drive-wheel of value is to turn money into more money for money managers and possessors in which the corporate rich at the top loot the world and the public treasury for ever more in cash, perquisites and command power for themselves. Self-multiplying corporate university administrations have been an unidentified fifth column of imposing this meta-program on universities where they are at the front line of privatizing the knowledge commons for patent, proprietary and money-bearing accounts, and where their own corporate hierarchy of pay, privileges and servant positions is always growing.
Academically unaccountable to the learning purposes of the university, central administrations perpetually cut back on the teaching, learning and research front lines of the university to pay for this growth. This cancer-like pattern is then, in perhaps the greatest irony of our condition, defended against public critics under the public mask of “academic autonomy”.
Recognizing Corporate Administrations:
There are five properties by which we can recognize corporate administrations:
(1) They have exclusive hierarchical signing control of all financial expenditures, their ultimate lever of control and command which is mystified as their “leadership”;
(2) They do not perform the constitutional goals and primary functions of the academy – to advance learning and disseminate knowledge;
(3) They draw off ever more of the academy’s financial and physical resources to multiply their positions and incomes;
(4) They call themselves “the University” although they perform no function of advancing or disseminating learning;
(5) They selectively gang-attack faculty members for opposite to academic reasons [as Professor of Sociology, Ken Westhues, superbly describes in his book, The Envy of Excellence : Administrative Mobbing of High-achieving Professors4].
Where administrators do not conform to this pattern, they may become genuine academic leaders – a possibility which has looked dim, but is worth robust support wherever it occurs.
At present, we may most deeply understand the university wars of corporate administrations versus the learning vocation by laying bare their opposite structures of rationality, method and purpose. Corporate administrators and their retinues follow the meta program of
(i) self-maximizing strategies in
(ii) conditions of scarcity or conflict over
(iii) desired payoffs at
(iv) minimum costs for the self to
(v) appropriate ever more for self with no productive contribution.
In direct opposition, those in the learning vocation follow an opposite inner value code:
(i) to maximize learning advancement and dissemination by
(ii) knowledge sharing without limit for
(iii) understanding and truth as ultimate value in itself at
(iv) any cost of difficulty to
(v) develop humanity’s more inclusive comprehension of natural and human phenomena.
We may see corporate administrations warring against the learning vocation by the following practices.
- University patent hunting and corporate research displace science;
- knowledge sharing is prohibited by contract and specialty lock-in;
- research is made dependent on external money received by faculty and graduate students;
- understanding and truth are not and ends in themselves, but are warped into what products pay more;
- every decision is increasingly financialized with money gain the supreme value;
- and those who follow the search for truth where it leads against the ruling value program are besieged by bureaucratic campaigns of anti-educative isolation and destruction of academic freedom – for example, inciting students to formal complaint, closing off academic resources, published personal attacks and – perhaps, as in the case of Professor Denis Rancourt – CEO banning from campus, handcuffing and firing of the heretic.
By these practices, the academy’s shared search for truth is suffocated and euthanized from within – that is, until faculties and students collectively stand for the learning vocation against its despoliation.
Financialization of the Academy: The Totalitarian Drift
To get a sense of the academy’s increasing submergence in corporate-market values, consider the words of the past Harvard President, Larry Summers, now chief economic adviser to the Obama administration. He was interviewed by the Globe and Mail in glowing admiration after a lecture to University of Toronto. (May 24, 2003). “The essential truth”, he declared, is that all “basic value” – including “literacy” – is “linked to market growth”.
We may formalize the equation of the paradigm corporate president as follows: More/less money-value sales = more/less market growth = more/less “basic values” for the world. No substantiation of the given equations is deemed necessary. No explanation of contra-indicative evidence is conceived. Yet mind-staggering implications follow that are not seen. Whatever is without a market price is, therefore, without any value – the world’s biodiversity of species, for example. Life itself is of no value except as it sells for a market price. So too research and knowledge. If they are not marketable, they do not exist. The truth is what sells.
An unseen onto-ethic rules here. As with soaps, so with universities. Sales pitches metamorphize reality into miracles of more value added in the market, and money sequences leave ever more money in the hands of money managers. This magical thinking is, of course, the very opposite of the search for truth. But the mind has become totalitarian. Recently, the New York Times gave much page and blog space to Stanley Fish, an academic servant to money and power as Allan Bloom and Leo Strauss before him. Fish’s tirade against academics following “the inner light” – his words – required, he concluded, the use of coercive force against them. Professors need to be reduced to a master-servant relationship with “their employer” as all other employees: that is, with university CEO’s and designates who hire and fire by unilateral control of purse-strings with no ultimate accountability to academic standards.5 Fish’s prancings for the boss in the New York Times are a sign of things to come.
The seductive kudo which keeps academics feeling on top, however, is that their work is the leading edge of the “global knowledge economy”. Yet who in the academy asks what the criterion of “knowledge” is here”? I have not heard the question raised, or the answer given. The reason is that what “knowledge” means here is symbolic sequences that reduce money costs or increase money revenues for money managers and possessors. That is what “accountability” means to them. Thus teaching comes to mean only what produces graduates to make more money in the global market than without their degree, with ever higher tuition fees as the costs for sale of their skills at a higher price. At the same time, selling campus grounds as marketing sites fits the same money-value program – corporate ads, junk foods and market franchises invading space and sightlines across university schools, buildings, lecture halls, and courses.
Perhaps the deepest level of violation of the higher learning vocation has been in corporate -partner research. At my own university, most of the agricultural and veterinarian research has been channeled into high-cost input products which distort animal bodies and adulterate foods (eg., bovine growth hormones and GMO’s). In general, the mission as elsewhere is to “bring research to market”, increasingly leveraging the academy into service to large private-profit enterprises. What was once unthinkable in the free academy – research and resources for private monied interests – has come to be the norm. Consider an official booklet on the research-market connection actively distributed by V-P- Research offices in the relevant universities. “Increasing competition for research funding”, it warned, “will demand that Canada identifies its research strengths and capabilities to focus on those areas with highest value and return on investment – - Priorities for applied research are set by the marketplace via partnerships eg. industry funds research that fits their priorities. – - Augmented private sector participation in research priority setting will – - ensure scientists have access to the appropriate market signals, are aware of the technology requirements of industry, and can focus their research appropriately”.6
Note how the university researcher is reduced to a reaction formation to market price-signals. Observe that government implicitly commands the conformity of university researchers to this market-servant role. The pattern is all too clear. Senior administrations propagate this imperative to faculty to abdicate research independence to compete for external funds so that administrations can take 25% off the top or off-load graduate education costs onto faculty grants. But who stands against the reversal of the academy’s vocation? Which university’s faculty association takes up the cause of independent science and research?
In the standard “university-corporation partnerships”, university researchers must find projects which corporations are willing to co-fund for private profit. As a result, independent research in the public interest that is most urgently required is silently selected out – for example in the agricultural and food sciences, integrated pest management, organic farming for productive efficiency, management-intensive grazing, small-scale producer co-operatives, and alternatives to factory-processed livestock and to ecological contamination by genetically-engineered commodities. In fact, all of these domains of constructive research for sustainable agriculture and the public interest have been effectively defunded and attacked by conforming researchers – even as the public need for these researched alternatives becomes a matter of life-and-death significance for farmers and the world. Non-proprietary research for the public benefit does not attract corporate sponsors.
Thus at the general level, the most important scientific and rational innovations are pre-empted form the start – from unpatented low-cost pharmaceuticals to mandatory collective recycling systems, to non-profit alternatives to private-auto transit, to national public-water and energy programs, to any permitted critical reflection on values or depth research into the ruling economic system itself. What corporate or government funding agency will sponsor any in-depth research into any reigning social, political or economic practice and norm? Investigation of the causal mechanism of the ruling value system itself is out of bounds. A built-in gate-keeping against raising deep-structural problems is instituted at the money-management level.
In the humanities in many universities now, professors must bring in money from outside the university to defray the costs of their student’s graduate education, or they cannot have graduate students. Educational costs are thus downloaded onto faculty themselves who are forced to become fund entrepreneurs to stay alive in the game. Those not competing successfully at getting grants have no graduate students, a central demerit within administration’s annual rank and money reward process. Faculty are generally so wound up in getting the grant money they do not analyse what is going on, and even imagine this is what identifies original research. The entire higher learning process is thereby subjugated by financialization at another level.
Yet where is the structure of money rule resisted? Either faculty get money committed from private corporations who are structured to repel any finding against their interests, or they lose their lab space. Either they bring money into administrations’ revenues from a government or private funding body which will not fund system-critical research, or their research and graduate students are shut off. No financial mechanism for external control of postgraduate and faculty research could work better. Consider here what corporations find no profit in. It is not just preventative medicines for third-world malaria which kills over a million people a year, or diet-exercise routines to prevent epidemic diseases in our own society, or critical study of life-blind norms and social causal mechanisms. Nothing that does not pay off in more money to administrations is supported within the corporate university. This is why there may be no graduates or faculty now studying anything of what I have spoken today, or indeed any critical issue or thinker relating to the principles and reign of the total money-sequence order itself. Exceptions indicate the rule.
The ultimate assault on the university’s vocation is at the level of truth-seeking itself. The university is constitutionally committed to critically reasoned inquiry which goes wherever the quest for truth leads it. The truth is not an end state, but an open process in which partialities are continually exposed by thinking through deep assumptions, evidence and connections. This thinking through is the nature of learning and knowledge. Reason’s movement is always by a more inclusive taking into coherent account open to counter-evidence and argument. This inner logic governs all disciplines – from the problem of self and other in philosophy, to the nature of tropes in literature, to the hypotheses of subatomic waves and particles in physics. In one way or another, the critical search for more comprehensively coherent understanding leads the academy in every domain and the human condition itself. Deprived of the freedom to pursue truth independently of external money for administration to rake in, the academy’s learning vocation is blocked at the depths and at the leading edges across domains.
Yet surface images are what now rule as in Plato’s Cave where all are chained by their conditioning to see only projected illusions. In direct contradiction to the search for truth by life-coherent reason, the ruling global corporate order succeeds in all domains by one-sided conditioning of unconscious desires of buyers so as to maximize sales of products for money returns to money managers and possessors. This is today’s psychological law of motion to sell the system and its goods. This is why university managements now spin and lie as much as any other self-maximizing financial operation. Excellence is what gets more money coming in. If sales increase by imaging and commercials that merely condition unconscious desires, then these are necessary to “grow business”. The corporate university thus joins in public relations reversal of reason as its own mode of thought and communication.
Forms of Faculty and Student Action to Reclaim the Academy
The known standard of research to guard against conflict of interest and cooked results is straighforward. Any research in which the funder has a financial stake in the outcome is a conflict of interest which must be ruled out. Yet this standard of research independence and validity has been usurped by the new order. For example, when a “research integrity” clause was explicitly specified on two occasions by decision of the Medical Research Council of Canada, it was annulled with no justification by the central administration.7 If universities are not to be so subordinated to outer control, such a research integrity condition must be re-instituted on campuses to protect higher research from conflicts of interest and cooked science – with all donations to a general pool of grants funds for independent research.
Just as research biased by conflict of interest must be stopped, so too the making of graduate student supervision dependent on external revenues captured by faculty. Faculty dependency on outside money determines the topics and direction of faculty research. One must usually spend countless hours in bureaucratic lock-steps to tailor research proposals ‘on spec’ to fit gatekeeper preconceptions so as to get funds. Solicitous grantmanship and dominant academic fads of the day thus supplant original and critical inquiry. This further level of financialization is, however, itself taboo to discuss for fear of offending the granting authorities.
Yet one has to wonder, why have the most self-evident defences of the academy’s research integrity been so easily overidden over by corporate administrations? Why have faculty and faculty organizations submitted to these pecuniary inversions of academic freedom and standards of research integrity? Collective academic presence has been lacking.
>>> This why an independent Faculty Board of Academic Review (or Academic Freedom to fit current categories) – needs to bring active scholars across disciplines into one independent body on every university campus to review all administrative decisions so as to ensure against financially-led distortions and depredations of research and teaching – including by arbitrary administrative cuts of courses to claw back money to central administrations to spend on inflated executive bureacracies, self-display expenditures and corporate-management salaries. Cuts must begin at the top where they do not affect teaching, research and learning. Campus-based faculty associations and unions must in the end be willing to strike for protection of the university’s objectives against system-wide violations by corporate administrations. At the same time, such a faculty academic review body needs to institute formal evaluations of the performance of local central administrations by faculty questionnaires, just as faculty are evaluated by their students, with publication of the findings.
The faculty review committee needs also to press hard specifically for ceilings on academically wasteful balloon-salaries as an item of faculty negotiations – for starter norms, no salary higher than the provincial premier’s in public administration, and no faculty salary more than three times greater than the lowest-paid faculty. Once the facts on the systematic misallocation of public education funds are flushed into the open, corporate administration and overpaid faculty positions are made more accountable for expenditures on non-educative functions. Even right-wing politicians are shocked by the money and prerogatives unproductive administrations have increasingly showered on themselves and favorites with no teaching or research function. In fact, salary ceilings should be generalized across the campus and the saved costs applied to teaching and learning purposes. Those in the university for more money as their ruling goal would then be free to leave the academy where they do not belong.
The whip hand of financial cutback and self-serving in the hands of an unaccountable money management has terrorized long enough. Bear in mind what has already happened and lies in store. In the last week before this lecture, I have observed a distinguished research professor in the U.S. being fired for questioning Israel state policies (Joel Kovel at Barnard), been informed that a long-term professor of physics is banned and then handcuffed for showing a documentary (Denis Rancourt at the University of Ottawa), and e-mailed by a professor colleague in Britain that the administration of a London University closed down classrooms to stop discussions of the G-20 summit. In the historical background, graduates of business programs have almost doubled, while social sciences and history have almost halved since the 1970′s in the United States. Overall, any research and learning space to stand back and ask ultimate questions of meaning, values and purpose or expose ruling assumptions has been systemically abridged.
Let me conclude. If the invading corporate-money forces are not pro-actively resisted at the level of collective contract – as distinguished from last-ditch defences of a few controversial victims – there will be no end to this usurpation of the academy’s independence and free inquiry. Consider that the courts have already ruled in the U.S. that “the state must have the ability to control the manner in which university employees (ie. Faculty) discharge their duties” and that “academic freedom cannot be invoked in a judicial proceeding” (as Stanley Fish seeks to be normalized). Unless faculty stand up for accountability to academic standards of research and learning within the university, corporate administrations deploying unilateral financial levers and top-down restructuring will hollow out the academy like almost everything else on the planet – as the record already shows.
If it were not for the collapse of the wider global system of unregulated money-management, perhaps this slow-motion coup d’etat of Canada’s university system would just keep going under the radar. But it cannot go on if faculty and student bodies join in an institutional countervailing force in sustained commitment to the vocation of independent research and learning – where reasoning in the common interest, not unaccountable money control decides. In inherited daily practice, this right to seek and disseminate the truth is still alive, and no calling to account more effectively positions campus suits in their place.
Standing up for the university’s powers of reason, research and learning in everyday life and by independent faculty review is the long suppressed imperative. Collective academic monitoring, public exposing and strike where required can bring corporate financialization to ground in the academy better than elsewhere because the institutional vocation is the advance of learning, not more money control for corporate management. Reclaiming the university for higher learning is the one demand that cannot be publicly lied away.
1. Howard Woodhouse, Selling Out: Academic Freedom and the Corporate Market. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009.
2. Howard Buchbinder and Janice Newson, “Social Knowledge and Market Knowledge”, Gannet Centre Journal, 1991, 17-29.
3. Cited by William Graham, “From the President”, Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations Bulletin, 6:15, 1989.
4. Kenneth Westhues, The Envy of Excellence : Administrative Mobbing of High-achieving Professors. Lewiston N.Y.: Mellen Press, 2005.
5. Stanley Fish, “Are Academics Different?”, Stanley Fish Blog, New York Times,
6. The Canadian AgriFood Research Strategy 1997-2002, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa.
7. “On two occasions”, a senior member of the committee reports, “the MRC board moved and passed a motion that Pharma contributions of $60 million per year should be given with no strings attached i.e. added to the general pool of grant funds and not be adjudicated by committees with industry representatives. On both occasions, the motion died even though the standing committee on health also voted the same way.” “As to the assassin”, he adds, “it is not possible to say with certainty because it is done behind closed doors from the centre, likely the PMO .”(Correspondence with Dr. Robert McMurtry, May 10, 2008). It is worth noting that this testimony is given by a former Dean Of Medicine and Chief Medical Adviser to the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada (the Romanow Commission).
“Lockheed Martin is a leading provider of cyber security technology and services to the NSA”
(last paragraph of Lockheed Martin’s webpage below. A “screen capture” is appended.)
Lockheed Martin Hosts Cyber Defense Exercise Supporting NSA for 11th Year
April 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/
Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) will host emerging cyber leaders from U.S. and Canadian military service academies to test their capabilities this week against experts from the National Security Agency in the annual Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX).
(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110419/PH85737LOGO-b – - “Lockheed Martin We never forget who we’re working for”)
“Cyber Security is at the core of all we do, so each year we are inspired by these innovative students as they face challenges from veteran NSA experts,” said Darrell Durst, vice president of cyber solutions for Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions. “The students tackle the same types of threats our nation faces daily in cyber security. Whether detecting intruders, or adapting to sophisticated threats, NSA leverages this opportunity to educate the next generation of cyber professionals.”
Lockheed Martin coordinated with NSA to establish a private network for the exercise, which links all the academies with CDX headquarters at the Lockheed Martin facility in Hanover. The company is also providing technical support for CDX preparation and execution. Lockheed Martin is a leading provider of cyber security technology and services to the NSA and a number of defense and intelligence agencies.