NEO AFSC February 27, 2015 Podcast

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Listen to podcast here

We summarize last week’s activities; announce upcoming events for next week; and comment on how Governor Kasich’s proposed income tax cuts would further inequality; the FEC Net Neutrality victory; the 5 most toxic energy corporations and their political influence; the power and influence of financial corporations; and how the rise of resistance against austerity should also include the rise in support for national democratic money creation.

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What corporations get away with

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Letter to the Editor
Akron Beacon Journal, February 25, 2015
http://www.ohio.com/editorial/vop/letters-to-the-editor-testing-students-and-corporate-power-feb-25-1.569531

Corporate officials have used the same strategies to escape democratic control from the public and its elected representatives for more than a century.

One strategy is to shift decision making from one level of government to a “higher” level. Supported by mega corporations, the Obama administration is aggressively pushing for passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. These so-called “trade agreements” are less about trade, be it free or fair, than they are about sovereignty and democracy.

Both contain investor-state dispute resolution provisions permitting corporations to directly sue and trump national governments over what corporations consider “trade barriers” — what citizens would call protective labor, consumer and environmental laws.

FirstEnergy’s proposal to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to raise its rates to subsidize archaic nuclear and coal plants is an example of shifting decision making from legislatures to regulatory agencies. Regulatory agencies can be more easily captured by corporate entities than legislatures, and serve as effective shields to absorb citizen time, energy and resources.

Another strategy is to shift decision making from legislatures to the courts. The Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in favor of oil and gas drilling corporations to frack in home rule communities supersedes local councils and zoning boards that wish to protect citizens’ health and safety. Because judges are either appointed or, where elected, are fewer in number than legislators, they are easier to influence through campaign donations.
As Justice William O’Neill said in his dissent: “What the drilling industry has bought and paid for in campaign contributions they shall receive.”

Corporations will continue to use the same strategies until we remove their bogus constitutional rights. That needs to be the people’s strategy

Greg Coleridge
Director, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee
Cuyahoga Falls

Testimony at Brecksville Democracy Day

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February 23, 2015
Human Services Center, Brecksville, Ohio

I bring greetings from the Move to Amend Ohio Network. Thousands of Ohioans have signed the Move to Amend national petition calling for a constitutional amendment to declare that only human beings, not corporate entities, possess inalienable constitutional rights and that We the People should have the right to regulate money in elections. There are 16 Move to Amend affiliate and partner groups in Ohio. Six communities have passed city council resolutions. Five other communities besides Brecksville have passed ballot measures, including Newburgh Heights, Cleveland Heights, Mentor, Defiance and Chagrin Falls. More than a dozen other Ohio communities are in the process of taking similar action. This is a growing movement across the nation.

Why is it growing? Simple. More and more people of all beliefs, parties, places and races understand that our government is broken because the system is fixed – fixed as in rigged to benefit the super duper wealthy and corporate entities.

A recent Harpers Index documents that the percent of Americans who believe their government is “on the side of average citizens” is 12, while “on the side of corporations” is 73.

An academic study this past fall examining 1779 public policy issues from 1981-2002 concluded our government is more of an oligarchy than a democracy.

Sixty-five per cent of Americans are dissatisfied “with the U.S. system of government and its effectiveness”.  That is the highest level of dissatisfaction that Gallup has ever recorded.

Our government has been captured. You don’t need a PhD in political science to know this. The voices of average people who aren’t super rich or aren’t at the APEX of a corporate entity are drowned out. If money is speech, then those with no money have no speech.

But yet, the madness continues. The Supreme Court ruled last year in the McCutcheon case that federal laws limiting aggregate political contributions/investments to $117,000 is a violation of that person’s free speech. Not to be outdone in the oligarchy department, Congress passed legislation last December raising individual contribution/investment limits to political parties by 800% from a measly $194,000.

One could focus on any number of arenas to demonstrate how corporate personhood and money equals speech not only devastates our democracy but our communities.

Take banking.

The FIRE (Finance, Insurance & Real Estate) sector is #1 of all sectors in federal political contributions/investments – totaling $499 million according to the Center for Responsive Politics in 2013-2014 – far and away the leader. Lawyers and Lobbyists were chumps at only $148 million, the Health sector totaled $138 million, Labor $137 million. It’s been this way for some years.

What have the mega banks received for their political investments over the years?

√ Elimination of regulations separating commercial and investment banks – which triggered explosive financial speculation, the 2008 financial implosion and widespread housing foreclosures – negatively affecting communities across the countries

√ Bail outs with out tax dollars – despite massive political opposition across the political spectrum. Main Street, Side Streets and community banks were not bailed out.

√ Use of taxpayer bail out money to purchase other banks to become even larger and even more too big to fail

√ Avoidance of Justice Department indictments and criminal prosecutions – unlike the period following the collapse of Savings & Loans.

√ The continued ability to print money out of thin air and loan it to the government at interest – try doing that in your basement and see how long that lasts

√ Weak regulations following the 2008 financial collapse

√ And legislation passed last December guaranteeing that if trillions of speculative derivatives by the mega banks go belly up, you and I will bail them out thanks to FDIC insurance. If that means there’s not enough FDIC money to cover our own insolvent bank accounts — too bad.

Self-rule, self-determination, a representative democracy, and direct democracy are all mere illusions so long as corporate entities are deemed persons and money speech.

It’s way past time We the People take back our country. It’s way past time to amend the Constitution to end corporate personhood and money as speech.

MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR February 23 – March 1

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FEBRUARY 23

1744 –    BIRTH OF MAYER AMSCHEL ROTHCHILD, FOUNDER OF THE BANKING DYNASTY
Purported quote: “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws. ”

FEBRUARY 24

1809 – BIRTH OF ELBRIDGE SPAULDING, US LAWYER, BANKER AND POLITICIAN
“Why then should we go into Wall Street…begging for money? Their [private bank] money is not as secure as Government money…I am unwilling that this government should be left in the hands of any class of men, bankers or moneylenders, however respectable or patriotic they may be.
The Government is much stronger than any of them. All the gold they possess would not carry on the Government for ninety days. They issue promises to pay, which, if Congress does its duty, are not half as secure as United States Treasury notes based on adequate taxation upon all the property of the country.”

FEBRUARY 25

1791 – CREATION OF THE FIRST BANK OF THE UNITED STATES
The federal government issued a 20-year charter (very unusual at the time since most corporate charters, or licenses, were issued by states) to create the first national private bank. The bank’s paper money was accepted for taxes. Eighty percent of its shares were privately owned, among these 75% were foreign owned (mostly by the English and Dutch). The bank was modeled on the Bank of England. It’s main proponent, Alexander Hamilton, argued in support: “Suppose that the necessity existed…for obtaining a loan; that a number of individuals came forward and said, we are willing to accommodate the government with this money (which we have or can raise) but in order to do this it is indispensable that we should be incorporated as a bank…and we are obliged on that account to make it a consideration or condition of the loan.” In other words, Hamilton was saying the private/corporate bank would be more than happy to give the government loans if the government grants the private/corporate bank the power to create money! Jefferson, Madison and others opposed it. Jefferson said, “This institution (the Bank of England) is one of the most deadly hostility against the principles of our Constitution…suppose an emergency should occur…an institution like this…in a critical moment might overthrow the government.” The bank had an enormous impact on the economy early on. Within 2 months of its creation, it flooded the market with loans and banknotes and then suddenly called in many of its loans. The result was the first US securities market crash — what became known as the “Panic of 1792” – the first of many panics, recessions and depressions due to the private/corporate control of our money system.

1862 – LEGAL TENDER ACT PASSED
A bill authorizing the issuance of $150 million non interest-bearing United States notes (commonly referred to as Greenbacks). Congress would later grant $300 million more in US notes. This was interest free US money. The administration of Republican President Abraham Lincoln wanted to avoid the nation going into debt borrowing money from private/corporate bankers to pay for the Civil War. Greenbacks were not bonds or notes or any other promises to pay “money” at some future time. They were money. Since they were not borrowed, they didn’t add to the national debt. What later made them inflationary was they were used to pay for war  – which didn’t produce or add anything productive to the economy to offset the added money supply. The bill contained an “Exception Clause”, which stated that Greenbacks could not be used to pay the interest on the national debt, or to pay taxes, excises or import duties.

1863 – NATIONAL BANKING ACT PASSED
It provided for the national chartering of banks by the federal government. This replaced state charters – many of which contained much more rigid and democratic provisions. The Act in numerous ways standardized banking across the country. The act established National Banking Associations, the office of the Comptroller of the Currency and a system of national chartered banks with control over all of them coming from Washington. The new banks were given virtually tax-free status. In doing so, it entrenched what some have called “structural fraud” of the banking system – creating money out of thin air and charting interest on it.

FEBRUARY 26

1913 – CONCLUSION OF PUJO COMMITTEE HEARINGS IN CONGRESS
A committee of Congress, headed by House Banking and Currency Committee Chair Arsene Pujo, investigated the Wall Street banking “Money Trust” from 1912-1913. The Committee’s report identified a financial network of Wall Street bankers connected by 341 interlocking directorships held in 112 corporations valued at more than $22 billion connected to the Morgan and Rockefeller empires, which exerted identifiable control over the US monetary system and economy.

Paradoxically, the report resulted in the push for a Federal Reserve Act, which, of course, legitimized and shielded control of the money system and economy by the financial elites.

FEBRUARY 27

1844 – DEATH OF NICHOLAS BIDDLE, PRESIDENT OF SECOND NATIONAL BANK
Biddle threatened to cause a depression if President Andrew Jackson did not re-charter the Bank. The privately owned Second Bank was chartered in 1816. President Jackson did not sign the bill to renew the charter. “This worthy President thinks that … he is to have his way with the Bank. He is mistaken…[opposition] can only be broken by the actual conviction of exiting distress in the community… Our only safety is in pursuing a steady course of firm restriction [of the money supply] – and I have no doubt that such a course will ultimately lead to restoration of the currency and the re-charter of the Bank.” The result of the contraction of the money supply was a financial panic followed by a deep depression. (Edward Kaplan, The Bank of the United States and the American Economy)

1867 – BIRTH OF IRVING FISHER, MATHEMATICAL ECONOMIST
“If two parties instead of being a bank and an individual, were an individual and an individual, they could not inflate the circulating medium by loan transaction; for the simple reason that the lender could not lend what he didn’t have as banks can do … Only commercial banks and trust companies can lend money that they manufacture by lending it.” 100% Money (1935)

FEBRUARY 28

1856 – BIRTH OF WOODROW WILSON, 28th PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
“A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men who, even if their action be honest and intended for the public interest, are necessarily concentrated upon the great undertakings in which their own money is involved and who necessarily, by very reason of
their own limitations, chill and check and destroy genuine economic freedom.” (1911)

MARCH 1

1781 – RATIFICATION OF ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION, THE FIRST US CONSTITUTION
“The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union” of the thirteen States was ratified and in force on this date. The Articles was the first Constitution of the United States, preceding our current constitution by several years. The Articles granted the Federal Government the authority to issue money and determine its value if nine states agreed.

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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, email monetarycalendar@yahoo.com

NEO AFSC February 20, 2015 Podcast

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Listen to podcast here

We summarize last week’s activities; announce upcoming events for next week; and comment on the formation of a new SuperPAC to support U.S. Senator Rob Portman; $1 billion to Ohio charter schools and the prospect for “reform,” comparing high taxes and economic success and social needs in the US to other nations; the Ohio Supreme Court decision in favor of oil and gas drillers and against Home Rule; and upcoming Fast Track legislation in Congress.

Corpses Escape Democratic Control…Again

Corporations have for more than a century escaped democratic authority in several ways. One of them is to shift decision making from one level of government to another — from the local to state, state to national, national to international. Another is to shift decision-making from the legislative arena to the courts. Both tactics were used by corpses here…and will continue to be used forever and ever and ever on issue after issue after issue until we change the rules of the game and abolish never-intended corporate constitutional rights.

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North Royalton, Broadview Heights, Gates Mills react to Ohio Supreme Court ruling in favor of oil and gas drillers
http://www.cleveland.com/north-royalton/index.ssf/2015/02/north_royalton_broadview_heigh_2.html#incart_river