Even the weak Dodd-Frank was too much for financial corporations. The FIRE (Finance, Insurance & Real Estate) industry is near the top of those that spend/contribute/invest $ in lobbying and political campaigns. Another fine example of their investment royally paying off…and why we need the We the People Amendment.
“Rogue One” is not simply the title of the latest Star War film due out this week. It’s also a dead-on accurate description of the institution being suggested as the go-to source to fund President-elect Trump’s $1 trillion proposal to repair, modernize and expand our nation’s infrastructure. The institutional Rogue, Darth Vader, Death Star or Dark Side (take your pick among Star Wars metaphors) that some are seriously suggesting to provide the stimulus to our economy are super duper big banking corporations directly responsible for the financial implosion a few years ago, instead of We the People and our public power to create debt-free and interest-free money to meet our basic needs.
There’s no debate on the following:
- Our roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, public transit systems, schools and other basic physical public structures are rapidly crumbling,
- Bi-partisan political will exists to address infrastructure needs across the country, and,
- President-elect Trump and his advisors, specifically Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and chief advisor Stephen Bannon say they are open to exploring literally all solutions to fund the program over 10 years — an approach described by Bannon as “We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks.”
Many claim, including the prestigious American Society of Civil Engineers, that $3.6 trillion (as estimated in 2013) is needed by 2020 to serious address our infrastructure needs. Whatever the amount, the question of how it’s going to be paid for is central.
No one supports raising taxes. This is a political non-starter.
Several of Trump’s economic advisors proposed several months ago providing tax credits to private investors. This and other ideas fall into the category of Public-Private Partnerships, which have a demonstrated history of being ineffective and expensive.
Ellen Brown in a recent article commenting on Trump’s infrastructure plan correctly asserts, “net new spending requires net new money.” There simply isn’t enough money in the current money or monetary system to fund even $1 trillion without taking it from somewhere else and, thus, causing economic pain — a “robbing Peter to pay Paul” dilemma.
The question is who, or what, should create the needed new money? That would be money created “out of this air,” which is how most new money in our society is created — not simply by printing paper notes, but by crediting a sum to a borrower in their account by computer key strokes (97% of our nation’s money is created in this way).
The U.S. Constitution allows for the public creation of money. President Lincoln took this very step to pay for the Civil War. Several hundred prominent economists urged the same strategy in their “Chicago Plan” during the 1930’s to President Roosevelt as a means to stimulate the economy out of the depression/recession (sound familiar?).
A more up-to-date and complete version of the Chicago Plan was introduced twice in Congress over the last few years — the National Emergency Employment Defense (NEED) Act, which has three critical and inter-related components:
- Making the Federal Reserve a public agency and no longer influenced by banking corporations,
- Ending the ability of banks to create money “out of thin air” — only able to lend what they have in their vault or able to borrow (called “fractional reserve lending”),
- Empowering the federal government as affirmed in Article I of the U.S. Constitution to create and distribute U.S. money — specifically several trillion dollars to repair, modernize and expand our nation’s physical and human infrastructure, which would result in the employment of millions of people and paid with interest- and debt-free money.
Brown assesses in her Trump’s infrastructure article the public money option the following:
“But the current conservative Congress is likely to balk at that solution. A more acceptable alternative in that case could be to borrow from banks. Ideally, this would be the central bank, since the loan would be interest-free and could be rolled over indefinitely. But borrowing from private banks would also work, since they too simply create the money they lend on their books.”
Of course Congress is going to balk at creating public money. Banking corporations have hijacked for decades the political process via lobbyists galore and campaign contributions/investments as high as the Washington Monument. It’s a major part of the political “swamp” that Trump railed against during his campaign and that his supporters applauded.
Instead, what’s proposed is the “more acceptable alternative…to borrow from banks,” which also creates money out of thin air as debt and which, by the way, also charge interest. It’s acceptable to banking corporations all right. It should be unacceptable, though, to the millions of Americans whose futures, neighborhoods and communities were killed by the too-big-to-fail Death Star banking corporations that became even too-bigger-to-fail by profiting from home foreclosure schemes and from all taxpayers who bailed them out. There would be nothing more to the liking of the big banks that to come across as the white knights that came to the rescue of the U.S. economy when We the People could have saved ourselves.
Thomas Edison once said:
“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?”
Needed are the vision, energy and commitment to resist the current corrupt and undemocratic financial and monetary institutional rogues as hard, long and deeply as possible. We shouldn’t give up or give in to the financial Dark Side when the struggle has barely begun. Needed is a positive, potent and diverse economic and political movement to demand that the NEED Act be “thrown against the wall.” Any bill that is just, sensible, practical and all-inclusive like the NEED Act should certainly stick.
We the People should alone possess the authority to create and distribute our nation’s money as we collectively decide, not banking corporations.
Keep the fictional Darth Vaders on the movie screens and financial ones out of our monetary system.
You’ve seen them I’m sure. Storefronts in largely low-income neighborhoods with flashing signs saying get quick cash or something similar. They’re companies that provide a one-time “quick fix” consumer loan to those short on cash. They’re called Payday lenders and they often are the only financial entities around in otherwise financial deserts of inner cities. Because of this monopoly, they exploit low-income borrowers and manipulate the law. Call them loan sharks.
One of the big problems with Payday lending corporations is that they’re not required to determine whether borrowers can actually afford the loan. Most of the time, they can’t. There’s no credit check. Seventy percent of Payday borrowers end up taking out a second loan. About 20% of borrowers end up taking out ten or more loans — caught in a debt trap and racking up interest and fees on top of each other. Annual percentage rates (or APR’s) can end up over 300%. This is a major scam.
The Ohio Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) issued a report this week, which analyzed close to 10,000 recent complaints made to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the federal agency responsible for regulating Payday lending corporations.
The PIRG researchers found that 91 percent complaints involved aggressive debt-collection practices, bank account closures, and/or long-term cycles of debt.
The PIRG report also found that about 15 corporations accounted for more than half the complaints. The biggest offenders are doing business under the names of CashNetUSA, NetCredit, Check ‘n Go, and ACE Cash Express.
Ohio voters approved tougher standards for payday lending in 2008, but the Payday loan shark corporations used loopholes to work around them. They still do.
There are proposed rules being considered by the CFPB that would require Payday lenders to determine if borrowers can afford the loan. The CFPB needs to hear from us. The deadline for comments is October 7. Now is the time to act to stop the targeting of low income communities and communities of color. The current head of the CFPB is Richard Cordray, former Ohio Attorney General.
The Payday corporate crowd is doing all they can lobby-wise to keep their exploitative scam of low-income people going. It’s up to us to make sure the CFPB hears loud and clear that we need to stop the exploitative debt trap once and for all.
Go to http://stopthedebttrapohio.com and weigh in. Sign your name as an Ohioan. And spread the word.
We can’t seriously address income and wealth inequality if the only democratic tool we use are tax policies. We simply can’t ignore monetary policies — the creation and circulation of our own money.
Currently, the vast majority (estimated as high as 97%) of our money is created not by our government — as authorized in the Constitution (Art 1, Sec 8 giving Congress the power to coin, or create money) — but by private financial corporations. It is the penultimate privatization/corporatization of any public assets.
Worse, the financial corporations create this money via loans — meaning money is created as debt, which of course must be paid back at interest.
There are numerous economic…not to mention political…problems with this scam. One of the problems is its contribution to inequality. As the above image from Positive Money in the UK describes, each time a person pays the interest to the financial institution is each time wealth is transferred from the bottom to the top. Ten percent of the population benefit from this set up, 90% gets stiffed. Inequality is built into our monetary system.
There are numerous worthy proposals to address inequality through tax measures. A new report issued just this week, “Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us” by the Institute for Policy Studies, is the latest example. The report, which documents that the richest 20 people in the US own more than the bottom half of all Americans (i.e. 152 million people), presents several recommended tax changes. These include closing various tax loopholes and increased direct taxes on wealth, not just income.
Instituting these tax changes would certainly provide an economic relief to the majority of people and to society as a whole. Failing to change the design of our monetary system, however, guarantees that inequality via interest payment on bank loans will continue.
Our money should be conceived of as a public utility. It should be publicly created and determined publicly how it is spent — as an asset, not a loan/debt.
There are proposals to end the ability of banks to create money as debt. Just as we educate ourselves on the nuances of tax policies, it’s time to get serious about monetary literacy. That’s the only way we can get serious about solving wealth inequality.
Boy do I wish I had been exposed to this in 12th grade…however, it’s never too late to become monetarily literate. it’s imperative to try to get on the other side of the learning curve ahead of the next soon-to-come (and much more severe) economic collapse — to understand and counter the PR blather that will be rolled out by the power elite and be in a position to offer and organize around fundamental change to democratize money creation.
“Without knowing how money is created and managed, all other topics concerning money are out of context. This is crucial: regarding trillions of dollars of economic power, you have no idea where money comes from.”
“When you understand the power of creating credit out of nothing, your mind will eventually take the next logical step and ask: why don’t we create money out of nothing to pay for public goods and services directly rather than surrender this awesome power to the banks? You’ll wonder: why doesn’t government create money to hire unemployed workers for all the infrastructure work that needs to be done?”
Debt-damned economics: either learn monetary reform, or kiss your assets goodbye
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.
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.