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MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR November 24 – 30

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NOVEMBER 25

1874 – GREENBACK PARTY FOUNDED

The Greenback Party was founded on this day at a convention in Indianapolis. Many of its members were farmers hurt by the financial Panic of 1873 (also known as the “Crime of ‘73”). The party supported “Greenback” paper money (U.S. notes) issued and spent into circulation by the Lincoln administration. They opposed all money systems backed by any precious metal, believing that those who owned gold or silver (banks and corporations) would possess the power to define the value of products and labor. Government control of the US money system would also ensure sufficient quantity of money was in circulation to help small businesses and farmers. Twenty-one independent congressmen, mostly Greenbackers, were elected in 1878.

2008 – QUANTITATIVE EASING (QE) PROGRAM ANNOUNCED BY THE US FEDERAL RESERVE

The Fed announced that on December 1 it would create money and use it to purchase $500 billion in toxic mortgage backed securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and an additional $100 billion of debt from both entities. This phase of QE (called QE1) extended until March 2010. Two additional rounds, QE2 and QE3, followed it. A total of $4.4 trillion from the Fed was issued. It went disproportionately to financial corporations (Wall Street), not “Main Street” (for small businesses) or to “Side Streets” (to bail out homeowners facing foreclosures). QE money was also spent to purchase US Treasury bonds (debt) following the decline of purchases by other nations as a means to stimulate the economy. At its peak, $85 billion per month in Treasury debt and mortgage backed securities was purchased. Many within the financial industry have since admitted that QE contributed to the rising gap between rich and poor and the rise and size of too-big-to-fail banking corporations.

NOVEMBER 29

1820 – DEATH OF WILLIAM RICHARDSON DAVIS, GOVERNOR OF N. CAROLINA AND DELEGATE TO THE 1787 US CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

“So low and hopeless are the finances of the United States, that, the year before last Congress was obliged to borrow money even, to pay the interest of the principal which we had borrowed before. This wretched resource of turning interest into principal, is the most humiliating and disgraceful measure that a nation could take, and approximates with rapidity to absolute ruin: Yet it is the inevitable and certain consequence of such a system as the existing Confederation.”

NOVEMBER 30

1835 – BIRTH OF MARK TWAIN “Beautiful credit! The foundation of modern society. Who shall say that this is not the golden age of mutual trust, of unlimited reliance upon human promises? That is a peculiar condition of society which enables a whole nation to instantly recognize point and meaning in the familiar newspaper anecdote, which puts into the mouth of the speculator in lands and mines this remark: — ‘I wasn’t worth a cent two years ago, and now I owe two million dollars.’ “ Classic Twain!

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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, Deb Jose 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

Our Swiss Cheese Democracy

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Any person who is remotely aware of the state of our political system knows we’re in deep trouble.  One doesn’t need a PhD in political science to believe that the “representatives” part of our “representative democracy” increasingly do the bidding for the wealthiest 1% of the wealthiest 1%, as well as for corporate entities that flood elected official’s offices with lobbyists, political campaigns with cash, and our sensibilities with insulting negative political ads that are paid for but, in many cases, don’t have to be disclosed.

A majority of the 99% are political PhDs in their own right – well schooled and experienced in having their political voices drowned out by the political voices of those with money who use the first amendment’s “free speech” provisions as a constitutional titanium shield.

If money is speech, then those with the most money have the most speech. This isn’t just a slick saying, but devastatingly documented recently by formal PhDs from Princeton and Northwestern. Their report “Testing Theories of American Politics” concludes the U.S. is more an oligarchy than a democracy. “[T]he preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy,” the authors conclude after examining the public’s role in 1779 issues from 1981-2002. This was eight years before the Citizens United vs FEC Supreme Court decision, which expanded the ability of the wealthy and corporate entities to contribute to political causes.

The lack of authentic democracy, representative or otherwise, precedes Citizens United and even 1981. It goes back to day one of this nation – to the undemocratic U.S. Constitution and the many laws since passed insulating a political and economic power elite.  For evidence, see this, this and this.

Further proof of our undemocratic political system is unmistakable – at least in terms of elections — when comparing it to that of Switzerland.
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The Swiss are going to the polls next week.The election is next Sunday, as in a weekend when more people are off work. Not so in the U.S. when elections are always on Tuesdays.

Swiss voting procedures are much more convenient and democratic than in the “Land of the Free. “Every Swiss voter can cast a ballot if (s)he prefers by mail, which is done by a majority. There are no voting machines. All votes, whether in person or by mail, are counted by hand by citizens who are randomly chosen by each municipality.

The real democratic difference, however, concerns the voting subject matter. This is where our so-called “democracy” is Swiss cheese with holes galore comparatively.

Nation-wide voting in the US is strictly for officials – President, Senators and Representatives. Check that. Technically, we don’t directly elect the President. Only members of the “Electoral College” choose the President.

Swiss voters elect people to represent them at different levels, but they also vote on issues. Many issues. Several times a year. Since 1848, in fact, they’ve voted on more than 550 issues. Since 1798, there have been roughly three times as many referendum elections (voting on issues) as there have been Parliamentary elections (voting for people and parties).

That’s direct democracy!

The issues are of two types:
–    Legislative referendums – to overturn a law passed by their legislature.
–    Constitutional referendums – to modify or amend their constitution.

Initiating a national legislative referendum to repeal a law requires the collection of 50,000 signatures of Swiss voters within 100 days after the law becomes official. That would be the equivalent of 2 million signatures in the U.S. For a constitutional modification, 100,000 valid signatures are needed – the equivalent of about 4 million signatures here.

If a simple majority of voters support the legislative referendum, it passes. A constitutional referendum requires both majority support from all voters and a majority of voters from a majority of the 26 Swiss “cantons” (the equivalent of our states).

Imagine if such a system existed in the U.S. Amending the Constitution to end corporate “personhood” and money as speech would be infinitely easier. Rather than circulating a symbolic organizing petition or working to pass local and/or state council resolutions or ballot initiatives as vehicles to pressure 2/3rds of both Houses of Congress to pass a constitutional amendment, which if passed, would still have to be ratified by ¾ of state legislatures, We the People could completely eliminate “the middle man” – Congress and state legislatures – and solicit signatures directly from fellow citizens.

Additionally, national policy questions like climate change or the proposed trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership could be put up for a national vote.

We could do democracy directly.

That may be exactly why our constitution is not like Switzerland’s. It wasn’t designed to empower people. All three branches of government were meant in their own way to shield the power elite directly from the populace.

Referendums are, of course, insufficient by themselves to achieving a real democracy – even if our own Constitution permitted them.  The power and/or rights of elected officials, of the Supreme Court, of zillionaires, of corporate behemoths and of our constitutional rigged ground rules are major democratic hurdles.

While not permitted at the federal level, populists and progressives more than a century ago amended state constitutions to supply citizens with these direct democratic tools – as well as the recall to throw elected officials out of office before the end of their terms. They have permitted citizens to do an end run around corrupt elected officials and judges.

Like any tool, popular initiatives and referendums can be harmful rather than helpful in the quest for justice, peace and self-governance – depending on the cause.

Still, these few direct democratic tools at the state and local levels remain threats – despite their limited effectiveness in the face of an entire tool shed of the power elite. Efforts are periodically made to slice away these powers in various ways (i.e. raising signature requirements, reducing the time for signature gathering, restricting who can gather signatures, how petitions are to be certified, etc.).

These constant threats by the power elite indicate why they are so important to protect and expand. In the course of doing so, we should be obligated to plant the educational seeds for federal equivalents. A federal initiative and referendum are constitutional ground rules that would dramatically expand our democratic tool kit.

NEO AFSC November 21, 2014 Podcast

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Click to listen to podcast: http://afsc.org/audio/neo-afsc-november-21-2014-podcast

We summarize last week’s activities; announce upcoming events for next week; and comment on a report showing that 3 out 10 of the largest economies in the world are already in recession (and counting); the Akron City Council proposal to raise political contribution limits; the historic UK Parliament debate on money creation and its impact on society; and an article by a corporate anthropologist comparing the perils of the corporate strategy of changing ground rules for ALL games to activist strategy of working on only ONE GAME AT A TIME.

[Note: There will be no PODCAST next Friday]

Akron council delays vote on raising campaign finance limits after residents raise objections

Council listened…at least for now.

Residents speak out against boosting amounts by $100 for mayoral, at-large, ward candidates
By Stephanie Warsmith
Akron Beacon Journal staff writer / November 17, 2014
http://www.ohio.com/news/break-news/akron-council-delays-vote-on-raising-campaign-finance-limits-after-residents-raise-objections-1.541893

MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR November 17 – 23

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NOVEMBER 19

1831 – BIRTH OF JAMES GARFIELD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
“Whosoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce, and when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.”

2013 – JP MORGAN CHASE PAYS $9 BILLION TO U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO SETTLE MASSIVE SECURITIES FRAUD CASE
The settlement was to avoid further investigation into what former JP Morgan Chase bank corporation employee and whistleblower Alayne Fleishman called “massive criminal securities fraud.” The Justice Department clearly didn’t want to pursue the investigation. US Justice Department Secretary Eric Holder said, “Federal prosecutors conducting these investigations must go the extra mile to coordinate closely with the regulators who oversee these institutions’ day-to-day operations.” Translation: You have to keep these institutions in business. They are too big to fail. In defending the lack of action against the bank’s top officials, Holder said: “Responsibility remains so diffuse, and top executives so insulated that any misconduct could again be considered more a symptom of the institution’s culture than a result of the willful actions of any single individual.”

NOVEMBER 20

1910 — DEATH OF LEO TOLSTOY, RUSSIAN WRITER AND SOCIAL REFORMER
“Money is a new form of slavery, and distinguishable from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal, there is no human relation between master and slave. ”

2014 –     WORLD PHILOSOPHY DAY [3rd Thursday in November every year]
“Are you not ashamed of heaping up the greatest amount of money and honour and reputation, and caring so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul?” – Socrates (469-399 B.C.) Greek philosopher
“The trade of the petty usurer is hated with most reason:  it makes a profit from currency itself, instead of making it from the process which currency was meant to serve.  Their common characteristic is obviously their sordid avarice.” — Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher

2014 – UK PARLIAMENT SET TO DEBATE MONEY CREATION FOR FIRST TIME IN 170 YEARS
From a press release from the UL group, Positive Money.
“Parliament places huge scrutiny on how taxpayers’ money is spent. But for the last 170 years, parliament has ignored the question of how money is created in the first place. This will change on Thursday 20th November when MPs will attend a debate on money creation and society.
Money creation affects almost every aspect of our lives and is directly connected to almost all public policy, including public and private debt levels, house prices, and rising inequality, but it’s very poorly understood. A recent poll found that 7 out of 10 MPs believed that only the government can create money, when in fact 97% of money is created by banks when they make loans, as recently confirmed by the Bank of England.
There is cross party support calling for a debate on money creation. The problems resulting from private money creation have not been debated in Parliament since 1844, when Sir Robert Peel brought in the Bank Charter Act, forbidding the private banks from printing paper money. In light of the financial crisis, we welcome this debate to discuss the foundations of the economy: the monetary system.”
[NOTE: Lack of basic understanding of money creation is no doubt as much a reality of U.S. Senators and Representatives as English MP’s. Needed is a similar debate in the U.S. Congress to increase their monetary literacy and raise the issue for wider public discussion.]

NOVEMBER 21

1939 – BIRTH OF MARGRIT KENNEDY, AUTHOR OF “OCCUPY MONEY”
“But we humans, not God, created our monetary system. And we are the ones who can change it. We must go beyond blaming the greedy bankers and investors whom we hold responsible for the ongoing financial disaster. Our own ignorance, comfort, and insecurity are part of the problem. To awaken from our slumber, we must expand our knowledge and shake off our fears.”

1944 – BIRTH OF DICK DURBIN, US SENATOR, ILLINOIS
“And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”
Interview on WJJG 1530 AM’s “Mornings with Ray Hanania,” April 2009
[NOTE: The FIRE sector — Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate — is the #1 sector of political campaign investments (mistakenly called “contributions” or “donations”) to federal political candidates. They also employ hundreds of lobbyists who often write the laws and regulations on financial issues.]

NOVEMBER 22

1879 – BIRTH of RALPH HAWTREY, FORMER SECRETARY OF TREASURY, ENGLAND.
“Banks lend by creating credit. They create the means of payment out of nothing.”

NOVEMBER 23

1910 – JEKYLL ISLAND MEETING TO PLAN FOR US PRIVATE CENTRAL BANK
Attending this secret meeting were US Senator Nelson Aldrich; A. Piatt Andrew, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury; Frank Vanderlip, president of the National City Bank of New York; Henry P. Davison, senior partner of J.P. Morgan Company; D. Norton, president of the Morgan-dominated First National Bank of New York; Benjamin Strong (a lieutenant of J.P. Morgan); and Paul Warburg, connected to the banking house of Kuhn, Loeb. The meeting would lead to the Aldrich bill, which eventually led to the Federal Reserve Act, passed in 1913.

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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, Deb Jose 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

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