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Comment: What 'secret' agreement? (Score 1) 97

There isn't an agreement yet - there couldn't be because Congress hadn't agreed the fast track power. WHEN the agreement exists, it will be presented to congress as a treaty and will then be public. It's unfortunate when people misunderstand what is going on, because it increases the mistrust of congress, but wrongly. When they are criticised wrongly, it merely bounces off and makes them less willing to hear right criticism.

Comment: No - this just lets the opponents kill their issue (Score 1) 97

If the lobbyists KNOW that the area where their employers are concerned with is currently under discussion, then they will harass the negotiations while this is the case. If it's all hidden, then they will be spraying their efforts less effectively, with the result that the general interest - which is what the lobbyists are campaigning against - is slightly more likely to be heard.

This is merely a particular example of the wider problem of such lobbying. If the general interest of the buying public is being set against the interests of the car manufacturers, the tendency is for the manufacturers to win. This is because they can easily corral the money required to present their case noisily, whilst the consumer has no such well financed lobbyists to present their perspective. Occasionally a Ralph Nader will come along and use the mass media in such a way that even the congress rats notice, but that's only possible on a small range of issues. Most of the time there's noone with the public interest at the table that really decides.

Comment: How can you say that? (Score 1) 97

Given that we haven't actually got to see the text yet, that is speculation combined with gross pessimism about the state of most parts of the US government - the executive doing the negotiating and the legislature that will actually agree to it. Let's wait and see, shall we?

Comment: Trust them at the vote in the end (Score 1) 97

"Unfortunately it also requires trust in government to be working in the best interest of the country and that trust simply is not present today and hasn't been for a while."

You're missing the point. The trust is demonstrated when the proposed treaty is offered and passed or rejected. There's no need for negotiations to occur in public, but they don't actually commit anyone to anything. The belief that it is possible to negotiate anything in a blaze of publicity is one of the strangest pieces of fundamentalism on the planet today; in practice it's inevitable that compromises and trade offs have to be approached cautiously, without those being disadvantaged being able to torpedo them. Otherwise nothing will happen, because both sides will resist being the one to make the first compromise proposal. If you put microphones in the negotiating room, the real negotiation will occur in the rest room etc etc.

Comment: Back in the real world... (Score 1, Troll) 97

Yes - everyone who has done Economics 101 understands why free trade is a good thing. But given that the people who lose out shout far more loudly than the vast numbers who gain - which is inevitable - it is necessary to present the entire package with some way to ease the pain for the losers and restrain the abuses that can occur. Given this, the most likely way to get a package agreed and enacted is to do the negotiations in secret until a complete package that can be sold to the people emerges. The alternative is to leave the present mess in place, and lots of people a lot poorer than they need to be.

Of course all this assumes that free trade DOES advantage the whole population. Unfortunately telling rust belt union members that the rest of the country has benefited from it is hard work. It's easier to play to their suffering.

Comment: The area is like a small European country (Score 1) 159

by Bruce66423 (#49679465) Attached to: Amtrak Train Derails In Philadelphia
So the adoption of policies appropriate to Europe FOR THAT AREA of the USA is entirely appropriate. The failure to learn those lessons, and instead to insist on spraying AMTRAK money across totally useless routes as pork for congress rats, is an example of the problems of US democracy.

Comment: The British experience is excellent (Score 1) 125

by Bruce66423 (#49622697) Attached to: I've had my current ISP (disregarding mergers) for ...
For whatever reasons the combination of regulation and competition in the UK has worked to provide effective competition and meaningful accountability. Despite the default network being owned by the former monopoly, regulation has achieved meaningful competitive access (other telecom providers can located their machinery at telephone exchanges for example). And it keeps it separate from the funds of the government, who will otherwise find the temptation to cheese pare irresistible.

Your comparison with roads is interesting. Privatising the freeway network would ensure that payments made for road use actually get to maintain the network. Historically the 19th C turnpikes were indeed maintained in the UK on that basis, but were later nationalised. I suspect that given the state of the potholes in many countries, a private body charged with road maintenance receiving specific payments from users could be a very useful way forward.

Comment: There's not a good record of public utilities (Score 1) 125

by Bruce66423 (#49616809) Attached to: I've had my current ISP (disregarding mergers) for ...
I'm pleased for you that it's working well at the moment. However the general pattern of public provision of utility type services is not good; the British sale of 'British Telecom' released a massive improvement in service because the company became free to invest without it adding to the debt of the state. The usual pattern in these situations is that the pot of money generated by your rental payments will get raided by its owner and the service will slowly tail off and the delay in getting repairs done will get longer and longer. As the infrastructure ages, there will be a need to raise the charges - but that would be unpopular with the electorate. So it won't happen - and you will be left with ever declining quality of service, with NO ALTERNATIVE. Now your country MAY be the exception - but the reality of competition in provision of as much as possible means that that sort of squeeze can't happen.

Comment: Ah - an American speaks (Score 1) 125

by Bruce66423 (#49607403) Attached to: I've had my current ISP (disregarding mergers) for ...
One of the things that amazes UK readers of Slashdot is the way that you've let your internet become monopolised at the point of access. The UK has open access to the historic telecom network, with real competition between ISPs as a result, along with a cable network that is also in competition. The result pressure on ISPs to keep prices down and quality up. I've got the cable option - without cable TV - and they've ramped the speeds up from 10 to 50Mb/s for almost no price increase - and I usually get better than the advertised 50Mb/s...

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