Government is corrupt because it’s been captured

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A recent survey by researchers at Chapman University reveals that the #1 fear of Americans is corruption of government officials. A random sampling of 1541 adults weighed in on their level of fear for 88 different choices. Corruption of government officials (at 58%) ranked at the pinnacle, ahead of cyber-terrorism (44.8%), corporate tracking of personal information (44.6%), terrorist attacks (44.4%), government tracking of personal information (41.4%), bio-warfare (40.9%), identity theft (39.6%), economic collapse (39.2%), running out of money in the future (37.4%), credit card fraud (36.9%)

The findings were certainly not shocking. A Gallop poll last month concluded that 75% of Americans believe corruption is widespread in government (up from 66% percent in 2009).

While a large percentage of citizens agree that government is corrupt, there are different reasons for the belief. Many believe governments are inherently corrupt no matter the era, location, officials or any other variable. Government is the enemy, something distinctly apart from its citizens. It can never do much good, with the possible exception of providing “defense”/“security” — but even then only necessary to defeat external threats.

Government is incapable, according to this ideology, of providing positive results, of serving the common good, of addressing collective needs, of supplying basic rules, laws and regulations that are fair, just and/or which promote freedom or liberty.

But that’s not the only perspective. Many believe government is meant to be an extension of us, We the People — intended to not dictate and control, but be subordinate to our demands. While no institution is or will ever be perfect, none can ultimately provide real democracy and no public official is completely representative of his/her constituents, our governments (from the local to the national — including executives, legislatures and judges) are certainly worth having — if for no other reason than these public structures serve as a counterweight to ever-growing power of private structures. These specifically are for profit corporations.

This perspective asserts the reason for a major part of government corruption is that private/corporate institutions have become so powerful that they have profoundly influenced public/government institutions. This influence has resulted in the perversion of laws, rules and regulations (i.e. spending, tax and monetary policies, as well as regulations and court decisions) that unduly favor corporations and the super wealthy — the 2 largest entities contributing/investing in political campaigns.

Government corruption, therefore, is a result of government capture — to benefit a few at the expense of the many.

The increasing belief that governments are corrupt coincides with the increasing political influence of corporations and the super wealthy. The solution is not per se less government (though there are certainly examples where government interference has became antidemocratic). It’s reducing the ability of corporations and the super wealthy to influence governments.

There is no one antidote to reduce the influence of the super wealthy and corporations. Ending corporate personhood and money as speech via a constitutional amendment, however, is a pretty decent start.

NEO AFSC October 16, 2015 Podcast

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Listen to podcast here

We summarize last week’s activities; share upcoming events for next week; and comment on the violence and injustices in the Middle East (Afghanistan, Syria and Israel/Palestine), global economic inequality, why government corruption tops list of Americans’ fears, and the 158 families who are the biggest investors in the Presidential campaign.

MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR October 12 – 18

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OCTOBER 12

1977 – PASSAGE OF THE COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT ACT
Advocated by a movement of neighborhood activists across the nation, Congress passed the Act that outlawed “redlining” or ”blackballing,” the common practice by banking corporations to discriminate by race and income in loans to individuals and small businesses.

OCTOBER 13

1879 – DEATH OF HENRY CAREY, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Carey was the major proponent in the Lincoln Administration of issuing debt-free US money, Greenbacks. In referencing the US economy under the Greenback system, he said, …”for the first time, too, in the history of the world, there has been presented a community in which nearly all business was done for cash, and in which debt has scarcely an existence…there has been a large and general diminution of the rate of interest…traders have therefore become more independent of the capitalist, while the country at large has become more independent of the ‘wealthy capitalists’ of Europe.”

OCTOBER 14

1644 – BIRTH OF WILLIAM PENN, EARLY QUAKER, FOUNDER OF THE PROVINCE OF PENNSYLVANIA – THE ENGLISH NORTH AMERICAN COLONY (FUTURE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA)
Penn’s colony becomes one of the first to issue its own currency in 1723 as a means to become more economically independent from the British crown. The money backed by peoples’ land assets, not by gold or silver. Benjamin Franklin, who in 1731 secured the contract to print Pennsylvania’s money, noted that after the colonial legislature first issued paper money, economic conditions in the colony improved – as measured by internal trade, employment, new construction and number of inhabitants.

2008 – US TAXPAYERS BAILS OUT NINE US BANKS
US injects $250 billion of $700 billion available in public money from the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act into the US banking system. The US takes an equity position in banks that choose to participate in the program in exchange for certain restrictions such as executive compensation. Nine banks agreed to participate in the program: 1) Bank of America, 2) JPMorgan Chase, 3) Wells Fargo, 4) Citigroup, 5) Merrill Lynch, 6) Goldman Sachs, 7) Morgan Stanley, 8) Bank of New York Mellon and 9) State Street.

OCTOBER 15

1908 – BIRTH OF JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH, U.S. ECONOMIST
Two quotes. “The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is one in which complexity is used to disguise or evade truth, not to reveal it.” “The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled.”

1913 – ADDRESS OF NELSON ALDRICH (FORMER SENATOR OF RHODE ISLAND AND CHAIR OF THE NATIONAL MONETARY COMMISSION) BEFORE THE ACADEMY OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
In commenting on the proposed bill that would become the Federal Reserve Act passed later in the year, Aldrich said, “If the attempt is successful it will be the first and most important step toward changing our form of government from a democracy to an autocracy. No imperial government in Europe would venture to suggest, much less enact, legislation of this kind.”

1982 – U.S. CONGRESS PASSES GARN – ST. GERMAIN DEPOSITORY INSTITUTIONS ACT
The act deregulated savings and loan associations and allowed banks to provide adjustable rate mortgage loans. Many believe it contributed to the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s.

OCTOBER 16

1962 – BIRTH OF MICHAEL KUMHOF, GERMAN ECONOMIST AND CO-AUTHOR OF “THE CHICAGO PLAN REVISITED,”
From the paper:
“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.”

OCTOBER 17

1785 – FIRST GATHERING OF DELEGATES OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Private bank notes are barred from circulation following the passage of a law passed by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was unlawful “for any person to offer in payment a private bank bill or note for money.”

2014 – TALK BY YVES MERSCH, MEMBER OF THE EXECUTIVE BOARD OF THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK AT CORPORATE CREDIT CONFERENCE ON MONETARY POLICY AND ECONOMIC INEQUALITY
“More generally, inequality is of interest to central banking discussions because monetary policy itself has distributional consequences which in turn influence the monetary transmission mechanism…For example, by boosting – first – aggregate demand and – second – employment, monetary easing could reduce economic disparities; at the same time, if low interest rates boost the prices of financial assets while punishing savings deposits, they could lead to widening inequality.
Note: US monetary policy has produced the later – which has contributed to the substantial widening of inequality.

OCTOBER 18

1790 – BIRTH OF EDWARD KELLOGG, BUSINESSMAN AND ECONOMIST. HIS IDEAS INFLUENCED THE POLICIES OF THE POPULIST AND GREENBACK PARTIES
“Legal value belongs to anything which represents actual value, or capital. Its existence depends upon actual value. The worth of things of legal value depends upon their capability to be exchanged for things of actual value.” Since money is our monetary system is created as debt, the “legal value” of money includes both the principal debt and interest — which exceeds the “actual value” of a nation’s real wealth or claims on collateral at any point in time. The only means to close this gap and cover interest payments is to create additional collateral (goods and services) via economic growth. Of course, this additional debt-based money used to pay the previous interest has its own interest. Thus the downward debt cycle never ends until it collapses.”

1931 – DEATH OF THOMAS EDISON, U.S. INVENTOR
This is one of the best statements ever on the ease and legitimacy of the government creating its own money.
“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; they will be considered as gilt edged paper. 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?”

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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/uns

NEO AFSC October 9, 2015 Podcast

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Listen to podcast here

We summarize last week’s activities; share upcoming events for next week; and comment on the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) corporate rule deal; the 10 Reasons to Vote NO on State Issue 2; and the ongoing economic non-recovery…as well an invitation for ideas and strategies to work together to react and proact to the coming financial crisis.

Pro-Democracy Citizen Initiative Groups Oppose State Issue 2

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NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release — October 9, 2015

Contacts:
Carla Rautenberg,  Move to Amend Ohio Network, 216-932-5618, Carla@Simmertildone.net
Greg Coleridge, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee, 216-255-2184, gcoleridge@afsc.org

Pro-Democracy Citizen Initiative Groups Oppose State Issue 2

The Move to Amend Ohio Network and Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee have joined the growing number of organizations which oppose State Issue 2.

The two organizations, which have helped organize multiple municipal citizen initiatives against corporatization of public assets, and for self-determination and democracy by ending constitutional rights of corporations and money as speech, issued a joint statement today: “10 Reasons to Vote NO on State Issue 2.”

The Move to Amend Ohio Network is part of the national Move to Amend campaign, which seeks a constitutional amendment to affirm that only human beings, not corporate entities, possess inalienable constitutional rights and that money is not equivalent to political speech and, therefore, can be regulated in elections. The Network is exploring organizing a statewide initiative campaign calling on Congress to end corporate personhood and money as speech. Many of the Network’s local affiliates and supporters have organized successful local citizen initiatives on the same issue, including those in Brecksville, Cleveland Heights, Defiance, Newburgh Heights, Mentor and Chagrin Falls. Kent and Toledo will have similar issues on their ballot in the coming months.

The Northeast Ohio AFSC, a Quaker related social action organization, supports the Move to Amend Network and has helped organize local citizen initiative campaigns in Akron against corporatization/privatization of the city’s sewer system and for campaign finance reform.

The entire statement can be read at https://movetoamend.org/move-amend-ohio-network-opposes-state-issue-2 and http://afsc.org/story/news-release-afsc-opposes-state-issue-2

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10 Reasons to Vote NO on State Issue 2

1. Issue 2 was fast-tracked through the Ohio legislature with limited public discussion, debate and deliberation. While so many other measures take months to work through both chambers of the state legislature, the legislation that became Issue 2 took just two weeks.

2. Issue 2 is advertised as preventing “monopolies” and other economic concentrations of wealth from being created and protected by the Ohio constitution. Besides Robber Barons, who can possibly be for monopolies, oligopolies and cartels? The reality, however, is that the ballot measure will prohibit much more.

3. Issue 2 is linked at the hip with State Issue 3 – the top-down plan to legalize marijuana by the group “Responsible Ohio.” The critique of the “monopoly” plan of Responsible Ohio to create just 10 marijuana growing sites has provided cover to Issue 2 advocates to offer their own top-down plan that would control what citizen initiatives can be voted on by Ohio citizens.

4. Issue 2 would prohibit amendments to the Ohio Constitution that would, “grant or create a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel, specify or determine a tax rate, or confer a commercial interest, commercial right, or commercial license to any person, nonpublic entity, or group of persons or nonpublic entities, or any combination thereof, however organized, that is not then available to other similarly situated persons or nonpublic entities.” This language is undefined, confusing and vague, leaving wide latitude for political and legal interpretation. For example, “commercial” has been defined by courts at the federal level to mean almost anything when interpreting the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause – with virtually all of the interpretations favoring corporations at the expense of citizens, working people, communities and the environment.

5. Issue 2 specifically addresses how to pass citizen initiatives in Ohio, the process permitting citizens to directly create laws or amendments to the state constitution. Citizen initiatives are examples of direct democracy that bypass politicians and the courts. This tool of voter empowerment, dating back to the 1912 Progressive Era, is challenging enough for citizens to wield to create or amend laws or constitutional amendments. Issue 2 would make economic-related, if not all, proposed amendments to the Ohio Constitution much more difficult, time-consuming and expensive to enact by creating a two-step process: (1) asking voters if they want to vote on an amendment deemed “monopolistic,” and then, (2) voting on the actual amendment. Common Cause Ohio calls this a “poison pill for direct democracy in Ohio.”

6. The group that would rule on the constitutionality of the first step of the two-step process under Issue 2 would be the Ohio Ballot Board, an appointed 5-member body made up solely of representatives of the two major political parties. The Secretary of State’s political party would be the party with the majority of votes on the Board. There are no third party representatives or independents. Proposed amendments challenging the political duopoly would obviously face extreme opposition. It’s unclear whether decisions could be appealed to the courts. The Board would be its own concentrated “monopoly” in deciding what amendments it deems “monopolistic.”

7. One collective effect of points 3-5 above is a further political consolidation of power and authority toward a small number of state elected officials. It also limits the number of decision-makers that need to be influenced by corporate entities for or against proposed amendments according to their own economic interests.

8. By raising the bar to pass certain citizen initiatives, Issue 2 will deter individuals and groups from even attempting to organize such campaigns. The citizen initiative, an historically important tool of direct democracy and grassroots involvement in the political process, would become much less effective as a counterweight to  career politicians and the courts.

9. Issue 2 advocates may be hoping it becomes as ineffective and misapplied as the Sherman (named after Ohio Senator John Sherman) Anti-Trust Act became. The 1890 Sherman Act was supposedly intended to prevent “monopolies and trusts.” While it was somewhat effective in the short term, it become increasingly ineffective in preventing massive corporate mergers in every field — right up to the present time. It was also repeatedly misapplied by corporations in court to attack unions — by claiming people who came together for their own benefit were a “Trust.” Issue 2 advocates may have plans for the same effect given its undefined and vague language — to be used as a corporate battering ram against Ohioans organizing themselves to amend the constitution (including challenging corporate rule) for their own collective betterment.

10. Issue 2 is part of a current broad trend at every level of government by the power elite to strip authority and rights from people – from local efforts to eliminate Home Rule to international efforts like the Trans Pacific Partnership’s “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) process permitting corporations to directly challenge sovereign governments before unelected and unaccountable “Tribunals.” Do not be fooled.

Vote NO on State Issue 2!

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Reflections on the United States Social Forums, 2015

http://poclad.org/BWA/2015/BWA_2015_Sep.html

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Temple University’s Student Center hummed with activity from June 25-28 with registration, tabling and meet-ups associated with the Philadelphia US Social Forum (USSF) 2015. The Philly Forum, organized by members of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and Disabled in Action, was driven by the “understanding that people’s movements are what create social change… and a commitment to reaching far and near to lift up all community voices so that they can be heard and know they are not alone.” The gathering drew approximately 2000 people.

And on the West Coast, approximately 1800 people gathered at the Washington United Youth Center in San Jose, Ca. The anchor groups were Move To Amend, Hip Hop Congress, San Jose Peace & Justice Center, Human Agenda, Right To Survive, and Community to Community.

The third USSF differed from previous social forums in Atlanta and Detroit. It wasn’t the only Forum taking place at that time – in addition to the simultaneous event occurring in San Jose, CA there were also satellite events taking place in Jackson, MS and Tijuan, Mexico. Another change was the greater emphasis on grassroots movement building and the need to change not simply certain policies and laws but political and economic systems at the root of worsening human injustices and environmental calamities. More urgent was the need for people’s movements to counter the rapidly growing failures of political and economic power elites. Those who must assume greater leadership roles in independent but coordinated movements are those who’ve been most harmed by policies favoring the super wealthy, corporate entities and the national security state.

POCLADers Greg Coleridge and Virginia Rasmussen (in Philly) and David Cobb (in San Jose) joined folks from Move to Amend, the American Friends Service Committee and other groups to frame a number of programs related to defining democracy, building community through anti-oppression organizing, and denying constitutional rights to corporate entities. A People’s Movement Assembly (PMA) on “The People vs. the Corporations: Whose Constitution Is It?” assumed a valuable role by posing a collective challenge to the expanding economic, political, ecological and legal crises. Together participants came to realize the path to sane, humane, democratic and sustainable change must include, yet go beyond, a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood and money as speech.

Essential in working for any change is imagining something better and laying out the required steps to make that vision real. We left this engaging session convinced that “We the People” are capable, indeed, of envisioning new systems for living our lives together. But until we claim the legal authority to govern ourselves so that we can put those visions in place, they will remain just that, visions.

Participating in the USSF reminded Greg of Gandhi’s statement, “The means are the ends in the making.” We can only control how we act, the steps we take in the path we are on. Precisely where it ends is impossible to determine. Don’t let that deter you. Do what you can when you can. Attend your needs when required but commit a part of your life to working in some way for fundamental change. It’s needed now more than ever.