Greg Coleridge interviews Jennifer Toles who is president of the board for Radio Free Akron as well as organizer for the Akron and Ohio Organizing Collaborative.
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We summarize last week’s activities; announce upcoming events for next week; and comment on a report showing top 1% in Ohio and US reap most of gains in economic recovery, the richest 1%’s concern about inequality, the economic impact on Ohio of declining oil prices, the Koch brothers plan to spend $900 million on the elections, and the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision anointing money as “free speech.” We also interview Jennifer Toles, President of the Board of Akron’s community low-power radio station – Radio Free Akron
Today is the 39th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court Buckley v Valeo decision, decided on January 30, 1976.
Of course, 1976 was the year of the 200th anniversary of the American Revolution from Great Britain. That independence was supposed to provide liberation for people from a single all-powerful source – the King of England and his military arm (i.e. Red Coats) and economic/political arm (i.e. “Crown” corporations, such as the Massachusetts Bay Company, Carolina Company, Virginia Company, etc.). It was a very imperfect independence, to say the least, with only white, male property owners possessing inalienable constitutional rights. Nevertheless, the Revolution shifted sovereignty from a King to We the People. Leadership was no longer determined by God or by birth.
The Buckley decision contributed to the shifting back from self-governance by the many (at least on paper) to the few – namely to the very wealthy. The decision anointed that money was not property, but speech — as in free speech, as in having the right to donate or invest in political campaigns.
There could be no limits on how much of one’s own money could be spent on elections, no limits on how much money could be spent in election campaigns (and, by extension, efforts to limit campaign seasons), and no limits on so-called “independent expenditures” by so-called “outside groups” (corporations, unions, etc.), which often in reality coordinate their strategies with candidates.
The decision left on the books limits on individual contributions to candidate campaigns, Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions to candidate campaigns and political party contributions to candidate campaigns. Corporate contributions made directly to candidate campaigns remained prohibited. But the “money = speech” mantra and doctrine was a pivotal win. It has served as a beacon for the power elite to continue to challenge limitations of money being spent in any way – what dwindling limits remain. And it has opened the floodgates to money into political campaigns by the wealthiest 1% and mega corporations.
Kings and Queens from their graves tipped their crowns to the Supreme Court for Buckley — as it is a means to ensure that those who own the country rule it.
Move to Amend believes We the People are the real sovereigns – and should possess the power and rights to rule. That’s why it’s working to not only overturn the Citizens United decision of 5 years ago, the Buckley vs Valeo decision of 39 years ago, and numerous corporate constitutional rights spanning more than 100 years ago – since the power elite have also used never-intended corporate constitutional rights to rule.
Make this day one to commit or recommit to ending all forms of corporate rule and the power of the 1%. Become involved or more active in Move to Amend.
The power elite is pulling out all the stops to convince the public to support the anti-democratic Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. The latest technique is to emphasize a provision in the corporate governance agreement that would reduce wildlife trafficking, as reported in a gruesome story this morning on NPR.
Tiger Skins And Rhino Horns: Can A Trade Deal Halt The Trafficking?
Call it the “Poster Cub” for the super secret agreement that would usurp democratic laws and regulations protecting consumers, workers and the environment.
Wildlife trafficking is a sickening problem. Using it as a shield to peddle the real skinning of self governance is far worse.
The NPR story would be fine to air if it was placed in context — i.e. if it was aired after many other equally in-depth stories explaining the negatives of the TPP were first reported. This hasn’t happened. Therefore, NPR is shilling for transnational corporations that will profit economically and politically by usurping national laws and regulations by taking disputes before corporate-friendly “Tribunals” mandated in the proposed agreement.
Don’t be fooled. Other avenues can be found other than the TPP to address wildlife trafficking. The poachers of our self-determination over corporate rule are the greater threat.
Cleveland Heights City Council, January 22, 2015
Princeton and Northwestern university researchers in a study published this past September concluded, after extensive analysis of 1,779 policy issues from 1981-2002, that the U.S. is in fact an oligarchy and not a democracy. The study, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” states “Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance,” however “majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts.” “’When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
This was 8 years before the Citizens United vs FEC decision; 12 years before the McCutcheon vs FEC Supreme Court decision eliminating aggregate contribution limits by individuals and 12 years prior to congressional action upping contribution limits 800% by individuals to political parties.
Political contributions in the 2014 mid-term elections followed the long standing trend of being greater than all preceding mid-terms. What was different was that for the first time while the total contribution amount increased, the total number of contributors decreased.
“Democracy” at the federal and state levels is an illusion
The problems associated with this reality not only affect us (citizens) but you (local elected officials). State budget cuts to municipalities like Cleveland Heights make your jobs much more difficult. Reasons for these budget cuts include political pressure from corporations (which benefit from austerity in the form of privatization/corporatization of public services) and political contributions from wealthy individuals who don’t like to pay taxes.
There is, however, good news. Awareness is rising of the connection between problems and that fundamental change can only happen through mass social movements.
Changing players (elections) or plays (laws and regulations) of the game isn’t enough. We must change the rules of the game.
We wish there was an easier way to bring change than through a constitutional amendment. Other nations that supposedly have inferior democracies to ours in Europe and elsewhere have national referendums. We don’t.
We’re doing our part at the grassroots to amend the constitution to end corporate personhood and money as speech. You, as elected officials, aren’t completely in the grass on the outside. Some of you are in the lobby or on the porch.
We ask that you do your part to educate and advocate for Move to Amend to your peers in other communities in Cuyahoga County where MTA campaigns are underway: Shaker Hts., S. Euclid, Lyndhurst, Cleveland, Berea and Parma. Also to County Council. And to our state and federal elected officials when you see them.
We need friends inside the political system to advocate for change, but this is no substitute for what must be mass grassroots social movements, which are ultimately the only way we can recapture our nation.
Call ASAP — 888-804-8311
President Obama in his State of the Union address last week once again advocated that Congress pass “Fast Track” legislation. Fast Track would allow proposed international agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP, between the US and Asian nations) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, between the US and European countries) to be rammed through Congress with very little debate and deliberation and no opportunity for amendments.
The TPP, TTIP and other so-called “trade” agreements are not at root about trade of goods or services at all. Debate shouldn’t be about whether trade should be “free” vs “fair.” These trade deals are about governance — about who rules and who decides. Should it be elected representatives in the US and other countries or should it be corporations? They are corporate governance agreements.
Call Congress — 888-804-8311
The TPP, TTIP and other similar agreements bypass democratically enacted laws, rules and regulations ensuring food safety, worker safety and environmental protections by claiming that these democratically enacted laws, rules and regulations are “barriers to trade,” and “limit corporate profits.” Corporations are able to directly challenge these laws, rules and regulations through an “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” process, which involves taking nations before an unelected and unaccountable international “Tribunals.” Guess which way these Tribunals will rule?
Corporations know that these blatant pro-corporate agreements could not pass Congress on their own, even as captured by corporations and the 1% as Congress has become. That’s why corporations are pushing hard for Fast Track.
No to side tracking democracy. No to Fast Track. Call Congress ASAP 888-804-8311
2007 – DEATH OF H.L. BIRUM, FINANCIAL COMMENTATOR
“The Federal Reserve Bank is nothing but a banking fraud and an unlawful crime against civilization. Why? Because they ‘create’ the money made out of nothing, and our Uncle Sap Government issues their ‘Federal Reserve Notes’ and stamps our Government approval with NO obligation whatever from these Federal Reserve Banks, Individual Banks or National Banks, etc.”
1738 – BIRTH OF ROBERT YATES, POLITICIAN AND JUDGE
“I can scarcely contemplate a greater calamity that could befall this country, than be loaded with a debt exceeding their ability ever to discharge. If this be a just remark, it is unwise and improvident to vest in the general government a power to borrow at discretion, without any limitation or restriction.” — Brutus pseudonym, probably Robert Yates (1738-1801)
2009 – WILLIAM DUDLEY BECOMES 10TH PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE NEW YORK FEDERAL RESERVE BANK
“We don’t understand fully how large-scale asset purchase programs work to ease financial market conditions.”
That’s comforting Mr. Dudley. The head of THE most powerful of the regional reserve banks in the USA admits he doesn’t know the full financial impact of injecting trillions of dollars created by the Fed into the economy. Well, the evidence is in. Wall Street banks made out like bandits, while main street businesses and side street homeowners suffered.
2010 — DEATH OF HOWARD ZINN, HISTORIAN
“The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth. Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age-old lesson – that everything we do matters – is the meaning of the people’s struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think. When we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back.”
2013 – THE CHICAGO PLAN REVISITED, LIVE WEBCAST OF A THE DEBATE INVOLVING MICHAEL KUMHOF OF THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
“At the height of the Great Depression a number of leading U.S. economists advanced a proposal for monetary reform that became known as the Chicago Plan. It envisaged the separation of the monetary and credit functions of the banking system, by requiring 100% reserve backing for deposits. Irving Fisher (1936) claimed the following advantages for this plan: (1) Much better control of a major source of business cycle fluctuations, sudden increases and contractions of bank credit and of the supply of bank-created money. (2) Complete elimination of bank runs. (3) Dramatic reduction of the (net) public debt. (4) Dramatic reduction of private debt, as money creation no longer requires simultaneous debt creation. We study these claims by embedding a comprehensive and carefully calibrated model of the banking system in a DSGE model of the U.S. economy. We find support for all four of Fisher’s claims. Furthermore, output gains approach 10 percent, and steady state inflation can drop to zero without posing problems for the conduct of monetary policy.” – “The Chicago Plan Revisited,” IMF Working Paper Research Department, Prepared by Jaromir Benes and Michael Kumhof
1737 — BIRTH OF TOM PAINE, US 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.”
1956 — DEATH OF H.L. MENCKEN, US JOURNALIST
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace in a continual state of alarm (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
1835 — ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT AGAINST US PRESIDENT ANDREW JACKSON
In 1832, Jackson called on Congress not to renew the charter of the Second National Bank of the United States. He vetoed a bill to renew the bank’s charter, saying the bank was guilty of fraud, corruption and controlling the money supply (expanding and contracting the supply of money to economically and politically benefit the bank). He stated, “beyond question…this great and powerful institution had been actively engaged in attempting to influence the elections of the public officers by means of its money.” Jackson ordered the US government to move its money out of the Second Bank. In response, the bank called in all its loans and ceased issuing new loans. An economic panic followed. In 1835, Richard Lawrence fired two guns at Jackson but both misfired. He claimed his assassination attempt was because, in part, “money would be more plenty.”
1882 — BIRTH OF PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
Roosevelt missed a chance to fundamentally improve our economy, if not democracy, during the Great Depression when he chose to go into debt to pay for his many “New Deal” programs. A group of prominent economists from across the nation had urged him in what was known as “The Chicago Plan” to pay for his programs by issuing debt-free money, based on the previously issued Greenbacks during the Lincoln Administration. Instead, FDR added to the government debt, which enriched bankers and all others who purchased U.S. Treasuries.
1934 – PASSAGE OF GOLD RESERVE ACT
The US government ended minting and circulation gold coins. The bill required all holders of gold coins and certificates to surrender them to the US Treasury – at the price of $20.67 per ounce. Collectors and a few others were exempted. Federal Reserve Notes were no longer convertible (or backed) by gold coins.
1948 – ASSASSINATION OF MOHANDAS GANDHI
‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” One of his “7 Deadly Sins” was “wealth without work.” He also said “[a] small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”
1609 – FIRST CENTRAL BANK IN WORLD ESTABLISHED
The first central bank in history, which was publicly owned, was established in Amsterdam.
1934 – PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT INCREASES VALUE OF GOLD
A day after the Gold Reserve Act is passed; President Roosevelt issued an executive proclamation, which resulted in the value of gold increasing to $35 per ounce. This would yield a windfall profit for the US government and those who retained possession of gold.
1913 – NATIONAL CITIZENS LEAGUE FOR THE PROMOTION OF A SOUND BANKING SYSTEM SENDS LETTER TO MEMBERS
Backed by bankers and other businesspersons, the League was established to promote a national private central bank. Their letter to their members on this date stated:
“Congress is wavering over the question of banking reform. The Democratic leaders are undecided whether to bring in a currency bill at the special session in the Spring or defer action until the regular session next December …
President-elect Wilson has been quoted as holding the view that public sentiment as to banking reform has not yet crystallized.
Write to Mr. Wilson if you know him. If you don’t know him, it is a good way to get acquainted.
The National Citizens’ League has 10,000 members and a million friends. If every member of the League and every friend of banking reform does his duty, Congress will have substantive evidence that the business world is not indifferent…”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org