Testimony before Ohio Senate Government and Oversight Committee on Election Reform

Here’s testimony presented today on HB 194 concerning election reform. A separate bill on voter ID, HB 159, is also under consideration by the General Assembly. Both would increase barriers to voting. Both are billed as adding “integrity” and “continuity” and reducing voter “fraud” to elections in Ohio.

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TESTIMONY BEFORE OHIO SENATE GOVERNMENT
AND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ON ELECTION REFORM
June 16, 2011

My name is Greg Coleridge. I’m the Director of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee.

I applaud the Ohio General Assembly for taking an interest in election fraud. This is an incredibly important and urgent issue requiring urgent and sweeping action.

Election fraud is rampant in Ohio. The integrity of our election system and, in fact, republican democracy, is in jeopardy if nothing is done.

Your focus, however, is misdirected. It’s not senior citizens, students, poor people or people of color who are engaged in election deceit. Instead, it’s business corporations.

The widespread, demonstrated, repeated and blatant fraud in our elections and entire political system is born from the absurd legal decision that corporations are persons possessing First Amendment Free Speech rights to lobby and engage in electioneering.

Business corporations have perverted our US and Ohio constitutions, claiming never-intended Bill of Rights protections. They perverted the 14th amendment, intended solely to free slaves, by charging in 1886 that the due process and equal protection clauses applied to artificial legal creations of the state.

The fraud that is corporate personhood has resulted in corporate lobbyists gaining access to public officials and aides that most citizens can never hope to equal.

The fraud that is corporate personhood has resulted in millions of dollars being diverted from corporate treasuries to political advertising – so-called “free speech” that drowns out the voices of real human persons with real needs.

The fraud that is corporate personhood has resulted in corporate employees writing laws under consideration by elected officials – including to corporatize schools by White Hat Management corporate employees and corporatizing the state lottery system by GTECH corporation employees.

The energy and spirit currently contained in HB 194 to document that senior citizens, students, low income persons or person of color are actually citizens and voters should be shifted. Let business corporations document they are real persons, real humans, and real beings with hearts and consciences before We the People permit these piles of legal documents to be involved in the body politic and in our elections.

This is where the real fraud in elections and politics in Ohio lies. This isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but a democracy issue. I hope and trust your primary energies in this arena will be directed to end corporate personhood and corporate rule.

Thank you.

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10 Corporate/Anti-democratic Proposals and Laws of Ohio Public Officials

It’s been nearly a half-year since the Governor and Ohio General Assembly have been in office. Many bills have been proposed and introduced. Some have already been enacted. Others, like the 2-year budget bill, must be passed by the end of June.

There are many ways to evaluate and rate our state elected officials’ six month long record. One that must be included is how they’ve done creating or expanding democracy. Specifically, have proposals or enacted laws advanced or retarded the ability of citizens to govern ourselves? Keep elected officials in check? Control the power and authority of business corporations (which were never intended by our state’s and nations’ founders to possess political rights).

The record of Governor Kasich and the Republican controlled Ohio House and Senate isn’t pretty seen through this prism. The list of assaults on self-governance is long. The proposals to expand corporate power and authority are exhaustive.

For the sake of brevity (and to provide a nice round number), here are 10 anti-democratic/pro-corporate proposals (two are already law) promoted by the Governor, passed by the Ohio House or proposed by the Ohio Senate.

1. JobsOhio

This is more than a proposal but a law passed in February to “privatize” (a more accurate term is “corporatize”) the job creation functions of the Ohio Department of Development. The private organization, composed of corporate heads appointed by the Governor, who is also on the Board, would receive state support yet is exempt from public-records and open-meeting laws. So much for the public knowing the job creation strategy of their state funded, in part, by their tax dollars. Progress Ohio is challenging the constitutionality of this law.

For a background on constitutional questions, see http://createrealdemocracy.blogspot.com/2011/02/testimony-on-ohio-house-bill-1.html

In general, privatizing/corporatizing a public asset, service or function results in greater costs, poorer service, fewer jobs, and/or greater loss of public control as decisions are shifted to private corporate leaders.

2. Corporatize Ohio liquor operations

A major state moneymaker, the Ohio Senate in their proposed budget calls for leasing the state’s liquor operations to JobsOhio. Profits would be used to fund the new private/corporate agency.

3. Corporatize Ohio turnpikes

Governor Kasich has called for leasing the Ohio turnpike, netting an estimated $2.5 billion. Many, including the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, oppose the proposal. Fears about a loss of public control will result in sharp toll increases and/or diminished upkeep is based on the record in other locals, i.e. Indiana, Chicago.

4. Corporatize Ohio prisons

Governor Kasich had originally called for corporatizing five Ohio prisons. One more was added in the House bill. The estimated take by the state is $200 million. Prisons are very profitable businesses across the country. The history of corporate prisons is a history of corners cut (i.e. reduction of staff and services) to increase profits. A former Kasich congressional chief of staff and longtime advisor, Don Thibaut, is now a lobbyist. A new client is Corrections Corporations of America (CCA), one of the major corporate operators of prisons in the nation. CCA operates one federal prison in Ohio, the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown. That facility has had a host of safety issues over the years, including murders and stabbings. The proposed Senate budget removes House budget provisions that would exempt prison corporations from state and local income, sales and use taxes and the commercial activity tax.

5. Corporatize Ohio lottery

In an blatantly and galling undemocratic move, the proposed Senate budget bill calls for turning over the state lottery to the GTECH corporation, which hopes to manage the state’s $2.5 billion daily operation. The language in the bill was drafted by the GTECH corporation, which once ran a portion of the state’s lottery system. The Senate language was virtually unchanged from the GTECH corporation draft. There was no public hearing. The proposal simply was inserted into the Senate bill.

6. Corporatize schools

The recent disclosure by the Associated Press that lobbyists for David Brennan on behalf of his White Hat Management corporation not only lobbied Ohio House speaker William Batchelder on charter schools but actually prepared legislative wording favorable to his corporation is nothing new and, more disturbing, legal. The $217,000 in political campaign “contributions” by the Brennans over the last two years to Ohio Republicans was a pretty good investment. Nine out of 11 items on Brennan’s/White Hat corporation’s “wish list” allowing for-profit corporations to operate schools without oversight from nonprofit sponsors ended up to some degree in the final House budget bill. The proposed Senate budget bill eliminates several House budget provisions, including allowing charters to launch and operate without a school sponsor and prohibiting school employees from collective bargaining.

7. Abolishing collective bargaining for public employees

Senate bill 5 was promoted originally by the Governor as saving money. It’s actually about reducing the rights and powers of people at their workplace to defend themselves against their employers. Other provisions of the bill include a restriction on public workers contributing to a political action committee through a payroll deduction, a ban on requiring “fair share” fees – union dues paid by union workers who decide not to join their union, and a provision to make it easier to decertify a union. No wonder hundreds of thousands of signatures have been gathered on referendum petitions to overturn the law.

8. Preemption of local laws

Hidden in the proposed Senate bill is one of many provisions having nothing at all to do with spending – banning local governments from barring the use of restaurants from using transfats in their food. Never mind that such laws are within the local municipalities right to protect the “health, safety and welfare” of their residents. Preemption of local laws by the state is a well-used strategy by corporations to evade local control. The state has been lobbied in recent years by the gun industry, gas drilling corporations, payday lenders and others to usurp the authority of local elected officials.

9. Restricting voting

The House passed in March what many claim was the nation’s most restrictive voter identification law. The legislation mandates prospective voters to show at the polls government-issued photo ID — Ohio driver’s license, state ID, military ID or passport. It excluded student IDs issued by state colleges. The bill was passed without any examples of voter fraud under current laws. The result is likely to be a disenfranchisement of people of color, students, seniors and the low income – all of whom national studies have shown possess lower rates of state-issued IDs. The first hearing of the Senate version of this bill, HB 194, is before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform committee this Thursday.

10. Removing consumer protection information from the public

The House budget bill calls for eliminating from customer bills and notices contact information for the Ohio Consumer’s Counsel. Consumers gouged by utility corporations or having other complaints about any actions by any corporation may not know about the existence of the Counsel without included information. Interestingly, the House bill also included a gag order on the agency taking positions “contrary to the development of competitive markets in Ohio, including state policies pertaining to natural gas.” So much for government checks and balances.

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Not all these proposals are yet law. Some, in fact, that passed the Ohio House have been removed in the proposed Ohio Senate budget bill. This doesn’t mean, however, the anti-democratic provisions won’t end up in the final bill – only that they will be reconciled when representatives of both chambers sit down and negotiate a final budget bill.

A final Senate vote is scheduled for this Wednesday. Contact your State Senator and weigh in with your views (go to http://www.ohiosenate.gov/ for a list). Corporate agents and lobbyists certainly have.

MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR June 13-19

JUNE 15

1836 – CHARTER (LICENSE) FOR SECOND NATIONAL BANK OF THE UNITED STATES REPEALED
This was the third quasi national bank of the US — following the Bank of North America (1781-1785) and Bank of the United States (1791-1811). While called a “national” bank, it was not public but actually a commercial/corporate bank with the power to issue money directly (just like its two predecessors). Early on, it issued a huge amount of money (more than 20 times its reserves) as loans that led to financial speculation and large corporate profits. A year later, it stopped providing loans, resulting in a severe contraction of the money supply — which led to massive bankruptcies and the Panic of 1819. When President Andrew Jackson threatened to repeal its charter, the Bank’s leaders used its power to restrict money circulation to cause another depression. Bank President Nicolas Biddle wrote, “Nothing but widespread suffering will produce any effect on Congress…Our only safety is in pursuing a steady course of firm restriction – and I have no doubt that such a course will ultimately lead to restoration of the currency and the recharter of the Bank.”

President Andrew Jackson said this about the bank, “The immense capital and peculiar privileges bestowed upon it enabled it to exercise despotic sway over the other banks in every part of the country. From its superior strength it could seriously injure, if not destroy, the business of any one of them which might incur its resentment; and it openly claimed for itself the power of regulating the currency throughout the United States. In other words, it asserted (and it undoubtedly possessed) the power to make money plenty or scarce at its pleasure, at any time and in any quarter of the Union, by controlling the issues of other banks and permitting an expansion or compelling a general contraction of the circulating medium, according to its own will.”

JUNE 16

1929 – DEATH OF VERNON PARRINGTON, HISTORIAN
The only safe and rational currency is a national currency based on the national credit sponsored by the state, flexible and controlled in the interests of the people as a whole.

1933 – PASSAGE OF GLASS-STEAGALL ACT
Actual title was Banking Act of 1933. Considered one of the most important post Depression laws, the legislation created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which protected bank deposits. It also instituted several bank reforms to curb speculation that caused the Depression. One important provision was to create a firewall between Main Street depository banks and Wall Street investment banks. The Act was repealed by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999

JUNE 19

1843 – DEATH OF LORD ACTON, ENGLISH HISTORIAN, POLITICIAN, AND WRITER
The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later, is the people versus the banks.

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Why this calendar? Many people have questions about the root causes of our economic problems. Some questions involve money, banks and debt. How is money created? Why do banks control its quantity? How has the money system been used to liberate (not often) and oppress (most often) us? And how can the money system be “democratized” to rebuild our economy and society, create jobs and reduce debt?
Our goal is to inform, intrigue and inspire through bite size weekly postings listing important events and quotes from prominent individuals (both past and present) on money, banking and how the money system can help people and the planet. We hope the sharing of bits of buried history will illuminate monetary and banking issues and empower you with others to create real economic and political justice.
This calendar is a project of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee. Adele Looney, Phyllis Titus, Donna Schall, Leah Davis, Alice Francini and Greg Coleridge helped in its development.
Please forward this to others and encourage them to subscribe. To subscribe/unsubscribe or to comment on any entry, contact monetarycalendar@yahoo.com For more information, visit http://www.afsc.net/economiccrisis.html

Reason # 387,000 to abolish corporate personhood and end money = speech constitutional doctrine

The recent disclosure by the Associated Press that lobbyists for David Brennan on behalf of his White Hat Management corporation not only lobbied Ohio House speaker William Batchelder on charter schools but actually prepared legislative wording favorable to his corporation is, sadly, nothing new and, more disturbing, legal. The $217,000 in political campaign “contributions” by the Brennans over the last two years to Ohio Republicans was a pretty good investment. Nine out of 11 items on Brennan’s/White Hat corporation’s “wish list” allowing for-profit corporations to operate schools without oversight from nonprofit sponsors ended up to some degree in the final House budget bill.

Is this the route to a healthy and sustainable democracy? It’s no wonder a recent Harris poll shows large majorities feeling that big companies, PACs, banks, financial institutions and lobbyists have too much power and influence in Washington.
http://www.harrisinteractive.com/NewsRoom/HarrisPolls/tabid/447/ctl/ReadCustom%20Default/mid/1508/ArticleId/790/Default.aspx
The same can be said in Columbus.

The real solution goes way beyond stripping the self-serving White Hat corporation “wish list” provisions from the House bill as the problem transcends issues, political parties and state government. We must end the constitutional doctrines that money equals speech and that corporations possess first amendment free speech rights.

It’s time we declare our independence from corporate rule and big money in elections by joining 111,000 Americans in the national Move to Amend (www.movetoamend.org) campaign.

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House cozy with charter school lobby
Magnate’s agents had frequent input in state budget, wrote some provisions
SUNDAY, JUNE 5, 2011 03:12 AM
BY JIM SIEGEL AND DARREL ROWLAND
http://www.dispatchpolitics.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/06/05/house-cozy-with-charter-schoollobby.html?adsec=politics&sid=101

MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR June 6-12

JUNE 6

1934 – CHICAGO PLAN INTRODUCED IN THE US CONGRESS
The “Chicago Plan” was a proposal developed by several prominent economists directed at President Roosevelt to end the Great Depression. The Plan was signed by 157 academic economists, another 40 approved it with reservations. Main features: 1. Only the government would create money. 2. The Plain separated the loan-making function, which can belong in private banks, from the money-creation function, which belongs in government. 3. The proposal recognized the distinction between money and credit. The Plan was introduced in Congress (S. 3744) by Senator Bronson Cutting (R, NM). In several respects, the Chicago Plan was the precussor to the National Emergency Employment Act (H 6550) introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich in 2010.

JUNE 8

1042 – REIGN OF KING EDWARD OF ENGLAND BEGINS
Taking any interest on loaned money was considered a sin in early England. Under King Edward’s reign, those who charged interest (usurers) were declared outlaws and banished from the country.

1809 – DEATH OF THOMAS PAINE, COLONIAL REVOLUTIONARY
Commenting on the value of colonial-issued money, the “Continental”…
“Every stone in the Bridge, that has carried us over seems to have a claim upon our esteem. But this was a corner stone, and its usefulness cannot be forgotten.”

1845 – DEATH OF ANDREW JACKSON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
“The bold effort the present (central) bank had made to control the government … are but premonitions of the fate that await the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it.”

“If Congress has the right under the Constitution to issue paper money, it was given to be used by themselves, not to be delegated to individuals or corporations.”

JUNE 10

1932 – QUOTE OF LOUIS MCFADDEN (R- PA), CHAIRMAN OF THE US HOUSE BANKING AND CURRENCY COMMITTEE
“We have in this country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks. Some people think the Federal Reserve Banks are U.S. government institutions. They are private credit monopolies; domestic swindlers, rich and predatory money lenders which prey upon the poeple the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers. The Federal Reserve banks are the agents of the foreign central banks. The truth is the Federal Reserve Board has usurped the Government of the United States by the arrogant credit monopoly which operates the Federal Reserve Board.”

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Why this calendar? Many people have questions about the root causes of our economic problems. Some questions involve money, banks and debt. How is money created? Why do banks control its quantity? How has the money system been used to liberate (not often) and oppress (most often) us? And how can the money system be “democratized” to rebuild our economy and society, create jobs and reduce debt?
Our goal is to inform, intrigue and inspire through bite size weekly postings listing important events and quotes from prominent individuals (both past and present) on money, banking and how the money system can help people and the planet. We hope the sharing of bits of buried history will illuminate monetary and banking issues and empower you with others to create real economic and political justice.
This calendar is a project of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee. Adele Looney, Phyllis Titus, Donna Schall, Leah Davis, Alice Francini and Greg Coleridge helped in its development.
Please forward this to others and encourage them to subscribe. To subscribe/unsubscribe or to comment on any entry, contact monetarycalendar@yahoo.com

Seriously Dealing with the National Debt

It’s way past time to get serious – and prophetic — about the $14 trillion-plus national debt. The two major political parties, for different reasons, have been neither.

Republicans in general rail against deficits and debts until it comes time to spend trillions on wars and occupations, Pentagon weapons, bank bailouts, and tax breaks to corporations and the super rich. Debts and deficits are often simply pretexts to slashing social and economic programs benefiting people and communities without having to debate their merits. They point correctly, however, to the current explosion in the debt as economically unsustainable.

Democrats, in general, look at deficits and debts as necessary evils to hire people and prime the nation’s economic pump – especially in times of recessions and depressions. Their claims that the debt isn’t serious, though, by comparing it to the GDP are misleading. The two have little to do with each other. More accurate would be to compare the debt with the US annual income of $2.4 trillion. On a personal level, this would be akin to a person with $50,000 in annual income burdened with nearly $300,000 (and growing) in debt. That’s serious.

The forced vote this week in the US House of Representatives to raise the debt limit without additional spending cuts was pure grandstanding. Calls by Republicans for spending cuts at least equal to the amount Congress would raise the country’s debt ceiling is opposed by many, if not most, Democrats. This isn’t serious.

There is a serious and prophetic path for both parties to confidently strive down together that will eliminate the debt and establish fiscal and political accountability. That path is to affirm the Constitutional authority (Article 1, Section 8) of the government to issue and circulate its own money.

Congress should pass legislation authorizing the government to fund any outstanding expenditure with US money (i.e. electronic and paper notes) – rather than borrowing from banks.

Banks create money currently out of literally nothing as debt when they provide loans to people or the government – the later when they acquire US Treasury bonds. We the People are on the hook not only for the principle but also the hundreds of billions of dollars annually in interest to bankers. This is a loss of fiscal and political independence.

Here’s how it would work. When US Treasury bonds come due, they aren’t renewed or rolled over but rather paid off with US issued debt-free money. This gradually “monetizes” the debt – removing one Treasury bond at a time from the debt anvil off our backs. If additional funds are needed that Congress doesn’t want to pay for via taxes, additional US money is simply spent into circulation.

Thomas Edison clearly understood this solution.
“If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good… If the Government issues bonds, the brokers will sell them. The bonds will be negotiable…Why? Because the government is behind them, but who is behind the Government? The people. Therefore it is the people who constitute the basis of Government credit. Why then cannot the people have the benefit of their own gilt-edged credit by receiving non-interest bearing currency… instead of the bankers receiving the benefit of the people’s credit in interest-bearing bonds?”

What would prevent Congress from flooding the economy with US money? We the People through direct vigilance as well as a checks and balance system established to ensure that US money creation causes neither inflation nor deflation. President Lincoln created debt-free US money during the Civil War – called Greenbacks. The time has come to once again issue US money.

US Representative Dennis Kucinich proposed last year an excellent bill calling for:
1. Moving the private Federal Reserve System under the US Department of the Treasury,
2. Eliminating the ability of banks to create money out of nothing, and
3. Authorizing the US government to issue US debt free money to fund $3 trillion in infrastructure.

Republicans and Democrats need to stop pointing fingers at each other and jointly focus their aim at the root problem of our economic system – private/corporate issuance of money by banks.

Claiming democratic control of our money system is a profound and prophetic means to eliminating our national debt and creating real political independence.

Multiple Corporatization Assaults in Ohio

It’s bloody hard, in fact darn near impossible, to keep up with the multiple efforts to privatize/corporatize Ohio’s assets and services promoted by the Kasich administration. While the issues are different, they all share the same general features connected with converting something from the public to the private/corporate realm:
Reduction of service
Increase in cost
Reduction in public transparency and control

Here goes…

Overall (OK, not only about Ohio but the whole nation)…

How Our Government Has Merged With Corporations
The government of the United States is largely rented to corporations
http://www.alternet.org/economy/151101/how_our_government_has_merged_with_corporations/

Privatization/corporatization of the state lottery

Ohio Senate gets proposals on privatizing state lottery
http://www.cleveland.com/naymik/index.ssf/2011/05/ohio_senate_gets_proposals_on.html

Privatization/corporatization of the state liquor operation (to fund the new privatized/corporatized JobsOhio outfit)

Is $1.2 billion too low for the state’s liquor operation? GOP lawmaker and public policy group both think so
http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2011/06/is_12_billion_too_low_for_the.html

Privatization/corporatization of education

UNWARRANTED FAVOR \
WILL STATE SENATORS ALSO DO THE BIDDING OF DAVID BRENNAN?
http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_docid=1379D702AC1DD6A8&p_docnum=2

SENATE BUDGET PLAN WOULD EASE CUTS \
THIS VERSION DROPS MERIT PAY SYSTEM FOR OHIO TEACHERS, TRIMS LANGUAGE GIVING POWER TO CHARTER SCHOOL OPERATORS
http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_docid=1379D702F4E031A0&p_docnum=1

Privatization/corporatization of drilling in state parks

State House passes parks-drilling bill
http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/05/25/house-passes-parks-drilling-bill.html

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Ohio Move to Amend Monthly Statewide Conference Call
Saturday, June 4, 9:00 AM
Call in #: 1-218-862-7200
Access Code: 744213

No matter the problem associated with increasing privatization/corporatization and corporate power, the solution is more real democracy — which can only be achieved if corporate constitutional rights is abolished. That’s what Move to Amend seeks to accomplish. Help us. Join us on the call this Saturday!