No Blank Check Bailout of Wall St. Financial Corporations

Call, write, vigil, demonstrate this week

– Feel free to use AFSC national toll-free # to contact your congressperson and Senators Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich: 1-800-473-6711.
Call today!
– TrueMajority will have a new website up later today permitting citizens to self-organize local actions at congressional offices, Federal Reserve banks, or other key locations. Organize an event in your own community or join one already planned.

Congress as soon as Friday will likely vote on a massive taxpayer bailout of Wall Street. The Bush administration wants “clean” legislation with few if any strings or conditions — just a $700 BILLION blank check…at least…and a massive transfer of power and authority from the legislative to executive branch. This is a historic moment to ACT!

SAY NO TO A BLANK CHECK CORPORATE BAILOUT!

Groups across the country are demanding that any package to help Wall Street must:
Help Main Street
Help those who have had their homes foreclosed
Provide a stimulus package to taxpayers who will be paying off this massive additional debt for decades
Ensure that bankers and banking institutions are held accountable for their past financial decisions
Stipulate that no CEO of Wall Street corporations to be bailed out receives “Golden Parachutes,” pay raises or bonuses. CEO pay should be capped, if not reduced.
Guarantee that power and authority not be transferred from the legislative to executive branch. Given Wall Street’s financial meltdown and lack of recent Congressional oversight, needed now is greater public control of financial affairs.
Establish that any firm to be bailed out can’t lobby politicians or make political campaign contributions/investments
Include that future profits gained from bailed out companies be returned to the government.
Audit the Federal Reserve Bank, a private corporation, which hasn’t had its books examined.

Below is an excellent letter written by Marian Lupo from Columbus.

NOTE: For those in the Akron area:
Vigil: No Blank Check Corporate Bailout of Wall Street
Thursday, September 25, Noon
1655 W. Market St., Akron
(UFCW building which contains office of US Rep. Betty Sutton)

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To: Representative Kucinich, Member, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, By Fax: 202-225-5745; 216-228-6465

Please exercise your power and influence to address the below.

To: Senators Dodd, Schumer, Shelby and Representatives Frank and Boehner.
By fax: 202-224-1083; 202-228-3027; 202-224-3416; 202-225-0182; 202-225-0704
Date: Sunday, September 21, 2008

I am writing today to you as a United States citizen regarding a matter of urgent concern. Although I do not reside in your district, I believe my letter captures the sentiments of millions of Americans who cannot write to you.

I strongly oppose bailing out the speculative, greedy, and irresponsible investment banking firms. My neighbors have lost their homes, and no one bailed them out.

I want you to audit the Federal Reserve Bank, which is a private corporation, and which has never produced their financials for audit by Congress.

I also want you to revoke the legislation, passed under President Wilson, which created the Federal Reserve Bank. Congress needs to resume their Constitutional responsibilities for the U.S. currency.

Further, I want Paulson investigated – as well as the investment bankers who, in my opinion, are at a minimum criminally negligent.

My neighborhood averages 3 to 7 foreclosures a week. These are working people. Homes are vacant and not cared for now, because the banks are negligent. The banks do not even bother to mow the lawns, and they are bankrupting the city budget for code enforcement. My whole neighborhood has declined, and now children are getting into trouble because these houses present attractive nuisances.

It is a disgrace what the banks have done to the U.S. people. There is a sign down the street from me that advertises a very nice home for $13,500.

As a taxpayer, I am willing to pay to help everyone stay in their home – but not to salvage institutions that have destroyed my neighborhood and are destroying my country, or in any way whatsoever to compensate the people whose greed led to this debacle: they should be in prison.

Thank You,

Marian Lupo

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Constitution Day

Today, September 17, is Constitution Day. It was on this day in 1787 that the United States Constitution was signed.

The Constitution has been celebrate throughout our nation’s history in our schools, civil associations, religious institutions, and media as a profoundly democratic document. Afterall, it’s about We the People. What could be more democratic than that? Right?

Elements of the Constitution are inclusive. Many are not.

Several articles previously posted here have delved into this issue. In commemoration of this day, several are linked below.

A critical understanding of the Constitution is essential in any quest for true self-governance, justice, and peace. Social change movements in other countries in other places and/or in other times have not only worked for a change of faces (via elections) and a change of laws, but also a change of defining rules (i.e. removing undemocratic impediments in national Constitutions).

This last point is often overlooked here since it is assumed and culturally reinforced that the US Constitution promotes equality, justice and fairness — and contains provisions to easily alter it in places needing revision.
Analyzing the US Constitution is an essential step to understanding and eliminating impediments to real self-governance.

Below are three articles examining the undemocratic provisions of the US Constitution and suggestions for change. It’s followed by an article describing Ecuador’s proposed constitution granting inalienable rights to nature.

A U.S. Constitution with DEMOCRACY IN MIND
Second of two articles on the U.S. Constitution Spring, 2007
By What Authority, published by the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy [POCLAD]
http://www.poclad.org/deminsurgency/DemocracyInMind.pdf

The U.S. Constitution: Pull the Curtain
First of two articles on the U.S. Constitution Winter 2007
By What Authority, published by the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD)
http://www.poclad.org/deminsurgency/PullTheCurtain.pdf

The Case Against Judicial Review
by David Cobb
From “By What Authority,” a publication of the Program on Corporations, Law and
Democracy (POCLAD), Vol. 9, No. 2 • Fall, 2007.
http://www.poclad.org/deminsurgency/JudicialReview.pdf

Published on Thursday, September 4, 2008 by The Christian Science Monitor
Ecuador Constitution Would Grant Inalienable Rights To Nature
by Eoin O’Carroll
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2008/09/04-7

Starting to get it

Read today’s New York Times editorial entited Wall Street Casualties.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/16/opinion/16tue1.html?_r=1&ref=opinion&oref=slogin

The last paragraph states:
“Making and enforcing new rules is necessary, but that will not be enough. The nation needs a new perspective on the markets, one that acknowledges the self-destructive bent of unfettered capitalism and its ability, unchecked, to wreak havoc far beyond Wall Street.”

The Times is starting to get it.

A new perspective on “the markets” is a good start, one containing these (and no doubt other) components:
capital being rooted much more to communities
people having a fundamental say in basic political AND economic decisions affecting their lives
financial structures accountable to elected officials and the public
recognition that economics, politics, society, and environment cannot and should not be treated as separate compartments to be thought about and acted upon independently from each other
acknowledgment that “the market” is not some invisible, untouchable, superior God-like force but a human-designed system which can be redesigned, refit, reshaped, remolded and recast to fit the needs of people, local communities, and the planet.

This new perspective must, of course, be followed up with new policies and practices reflecting these new perspectives. A new political movement is essential to make it happen — one focused on political and economic democracy.

Is there room in such a system for transnational, undemocratic, top-down business corporations (including financial corporations) which have been bestowed with constitutional rights to govern? The financial corpses through their First Amendment free speech “rights” made political campaign investments (some call them political “contributions” ) and lobbied public officials to gut financial controls and limits. Privatizing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae years ago proved disastrous. The current financial system is unsustainable.

The Times is right. A new perspective is sorely needed. So are new policies and practices. Leading it all, however, must be people united in a political movement independent of political parties.

Challenging Measure T is an Opportunity

In most cases a challenge to a law promoting and protecting democracy is a challenge to democracy itself. That’s not totally the case with the legal challenge to Measure T, the 2006 citizen initiative enacted by voters in Humboldt County, California prohibiting out-of-county corporate political contributions/investments. The law is unique in the United States — asserting that local communities can protect their communities by enacting laws that run counter to the Supreme Court’s determination that corporations are “people” and possess First Amendment free speech rights.

The legal challenge by the pro-corporate Pacific Legal Foundation does, in one sense, threaten Humboldt County’s right to decide to prohibit out-of-county corporations from engaging in one form of political activity —namely giving money to political candidates and issue campaigns.

In another sense, the legal challenge presents an enormous opportunity. It’s an opportunity to shed light on questions that the corporate crowd would rather keep shrouded in darkness: “Should business corporations be treated under the law as people?” “Should business corporations possess greater power (since they have unlimited money and an unlimited life-span) than individuals in elections at all levels of government?” “Is democracy furthered by permitting business corporations to donate/invest in elections?” “Wasn’t the Bill of Rights meant to protect the weak individual from the government rather than the powerful business corporation from the people?”

Thus, the legal challenge by Pacific Legal Foundation against Measure T is, in a sense, a tremendous grassroots and legal opportunity:
to educate our fellow breathing persons on the innate power business corporations possess thanks to, in large part, Constitutional bestowed rights.
to organize the legal community to defend Measure T and by doing so help them legally challenge what is currently considered legal — just as in the past prohibition against women voting, slavery, and separate but equal were all considered legal.

Stay tuned.

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News and Announcements from
Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County

~ National Press Release – Please Forward Widely! ~

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, August 29, 2008
CONTACT: Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County, (707) 362-0626

Right Wing Legal Firm Takes on Humboldt County, California Over Local Democracy Law

EUREKA, CA – A groundbreaking law forbidding out-of-county controlled corporations from making political contributions in Humboldt County, CA elections was challenged in federal court this week. The Pacific Legal Foundation, an anti-government legal organization, filed suit on behalf of O & M Industries and Mercer Fraser Corporation over a local corporate reform and election integrity law. The Humboldt County Ordinance to Protect Fair Elections and Local Democracy was passed by citizens’ initiative in June 2006 with 55% of the vote.

Known locally as “Measure T,” the initiative was run by a broad coalition of community organizations, individuals and local businesses concerned by the growing influence of corporate power in elections. Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County, a local grassroots organization, spearheaded the effort by writing the initial legislation and the Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights campaigned for the law.

Upon passage, Measure T received national attention because it includes a direct challenge to “corporate personhood,” which is the legal doctrine that allows a corporation to claim constitutional rights such as the First Amendment. Corporations have argued that the First Amendment protects their right to give political contributions.

“Money does not equal speech, and corporations should not be allowed to claim First Amendment rights – ‘We the People’ have an obligation to challenge unjust doctrines,” said Democracy Unlimited Director Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap. “Measure T follows in the footsteps of the suffragists, the abolitionists and the Civil Rights activists who fought against segregation by challenging Supreme Court precedents that held unjust laws to be Constitutional.”

“The County’s donation restriction runs the First Amendment through a shredder,” said Pacific Legal Foundation Attorney Damien Schiff in a press release. “The County’s ordinance is an outrageous assault on these free speech rights, because it targets aclass of employers to be shut out of the political process.”

“Not true,” said Sopoci-Belknap, “Measure T specifically protects an individual’s right to participate in elections. It ensures that owners of corporations will operate as individuals in the political process, just like every other citizen, rather than gaining undue influence through their corporations.”

The Pacific Legal Foundation is a Sacramento, California-based legal organization that was established March 5, 1973 to support pro-corporate causes. In recent years, it has taken a lead in pursuing anti-affirmative action policies. It is the key right-wing public interest litigation firm in a network of similar organizations funded to support big business and oppose environmental and health protection policies and government regulation.

Measure T opponents repeatedly threatened to sue to overturn the law if it passed. Billionaire financier Robin Arkley Jr., who is one of California Governor Schwarzenegger’s largest contributors, sent a memo to the County Board of Supervisors during the campaign warning them of a lawsuit after the measure qualified, and demanding they remove the measure from the ballot. Arkley’s late father Robin Arkley, Sr., served on the Board of Trustees of the Pacific Legal Foundation.

“We are not surprised by this action, but we are certainly disappointed that the Pacific Legal Foundation has so little regard for the will of the people of Humboldt County,” said Sopoci-Belknap. “Communities have the right and duty to protect our democracy. Voters enacted Measure T based on a legitimate concern that corporate influence in elections undermines the integrity of the process. Humboldt County has taken a stand for the rights of people and communities over the so-called ‘rights’ of corporations, and we ask other communities to stand with us.”

For more information: http://DUHC.org