Break Up the Big Banks

Video of debate on breaking up the big banks from Fora.tv site.  This seems to be fairly well presented.

Unfortunately, this video is 1 hour and 43 minutes in length and discusses topics which are not well understood by normal people. And IMHO the topic is not well understood by the people engaging in the debate either.  There are, however, some high points that are quite informative.  One such instance occurs at 6:33 into the debate where the chairman of the Dallas Fed states the policy of the Fed as being to create economic growth without creating inflation.  That same person then goes on to explain that the side of the debate seeking a break up of the big banks is not talking about taking a meat cleaver to the banks or setting some arbitrary capitalization above which the large banks would be broken up as AT&T was busted up in the past.  The Dallas Fed chairman is arguing for a return to a version of Glass Steagall in which only the depository institutions have any form of government protections.  The team on the side of breaking up the big banks is saying that such a regulatory policy would force the large banks (which are actually not in the banking business, but are instead into speculation on real estate and in the brokerage and insurance businesses) to be much more  risk averse.  Such a functional “break up the big banks” is, of course, not a  meat clever arbitrary capitalization approach.

The opposing team at 34 minutes points out that the debate was supposed to be about busting the big banks as in AT&T (the arbitrary meat clever approach) and that the team for “break up the big banks” is changing the topic.  Then begins their defence of big banks based on the need for these banks to be competitive in world trade and world finance. From that point on the debate is simply two versions of how to best insure the continued prosperity of the 1%.

Neither side bothers to raise the question as to WHY it is good for Americans if the US banks finance factories in China or anywhere else.   It is fine well and good to say that the banks must be large in order to compete with other large foreign banks.  But how do the profits of these large banks serve rank and file Americans? That is not discussed or even broached.

The other slight of hand occurs as the Dallas Fed Chair keeps yapping about how the “taxpayers” are harmed by the bailouts.  The reality is that the $600B tarp has been repaid.  The 10 TRILLION  in loan grantees and monetary assets furnished by the FED to stabilize AIG and others came from the Money Fairy and is NOT a debt of the American taxpayers or anyone else.  The fat cats that should be in jail or living pretty low on the hog are still the proud owners of 3 mansions, two yachts, and at least one Leer Jet.  But that money DID NOT COME FROM AND IS NOT OWED BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE (TAXPAYERS).  Some of us would really like to ask the Fed how much MONTHLY INTEREST and DEBT SERVICE is being paid by WALL STREET on the 10 TRILLION supposedly LOANED to the Financial Weenies to bail them out.  HMMMMMMMMMMMMMM????

According to the rules of the debating contest the side against breaking up the banks won the debate.  See the results at 1 hr and 41 minutes.  The “against breaking up the big banks team” won the debate, but the majority of the audience still favors breaking up the big banks.  Perhaps there is yet hope for rationality.

 

The Promise of General Assembly

General Assembly was (and still is) a major part of the “Occupy” movement. And the promise of that idea was that it would grant equal opportunity and status to all persons in regard to the direction of government. Mostly it was aimed at the overthrow of government of by and for the 1%.  In the opinion of this author,  the idea morphed into a government of, by, and for the rule makers and governors of the general assembly process. Many people seeking to “do good” in the name of the 99% took control of the general assemblies and thus destroyed the egalitarian nature of the promise.

For some inspiration click here and play the video
Continue reading The Promise of General Assembly

More On Corporate Personhood

The rightarded are constantly attempting to false frame the issue of corporate personhood.  A notable salvo appears in an article in the Huffingtom Post penned by Kent Greenfield. The article was posted in January as Why Progressives Should Oppose A Constitutional Amendment to End Corporate “Personhood”‘.

“Though Citizens United was about free speech rights, and the main concern of its opponents is about the power of large, for-profit corporations, the People’s Rights Amendment would end all constitutional rights for all entities that are not natural persons. So a private university — not a natural person — could be required to start classes with a prayer. The government could prohibit The Huffington Post — not a natural person — from printing columns critical of the president. The FBI could seize the servers owned by Google — not a natural person — without a warrant. Each of these would be a clear constitutional violation under current law, but would be permitted under the People’s Rights Amendment.”

The lie by lie is as follows:

“Though Citizens United was about free speech rights, and the main concern of its opponents is about the power of large, for-profit corporations, the People’s Rights Amendment would end all constitutional rights for all entities that are not natural persons”

There are at least two lies in this one sentence: (1) The PRIMARY CONCERN of many of the realistic members of “Move To Amend” is the destructive behaviour of “NON-PROFIT” organizations dedicated to smearing all candidates for office who do not “suck up” to the 1%.  ‘For profit’ corporations do not normally want to become embroiled in elephant versus donkey electoral wars because they will lose market share by doing so. If they cannot act through other associations such as lobbyists, non-profits, or Political Action Committees then they are far less likely to do so.

And (2) the first amendment SPECIFICALLY protects the church and the press and ‘the people assembled to seek redress of grievances’. Speech directly attacking individual candidates or individual elected officials is not protected by this clause concerning redress. According to “statutory interpretation”, NONE of these SPECIFIC protections in the First Amendment would be repealed by the McGovern amendment — see the actual proposed amendment as a PDF. The Specific clause of the wikepedia article that protects First Amendment rights is as follows:

Generalia specialibus non derogant (“the general does not detract from the specific”)
Described in The Vera Cruz (1884) 10 App. Cas. 59 as: “Now if anything be certain it is this, that where there are general words in a later Act capable of reasonable and sensible application without extending them to subjects specially dealt with by earlier legislation, you are not to hold that earlier legislation indirectly repealed, altered, or derogated from merely by force of such general words, without any evidence of a particular intention to do so.” This means that if a later law and an earlier law are potentially—but not necessarily—in conflict, courts will adopt the reading that does not result in an implied repeal of the earlier statute. Lawmaking bodies usually need to be explicit if they intend to repeal an earlier law.

Therefore, the constitutional guarantees specifically accorded the church, the press, and the people assembled to seek redress are still perfectly intact and valid even with the “McGovern Clarification”.  It should also be said that these statutory interpretations (Common Law) extend to section one of the amendment drafted by “Move To Amend” and introduced in the US House of Representatives February 11, 2013

The next illustration of lies says:

“So a private university — not a natural person — could be required to start classes with a prayer.”

And, of course, that sort of crap is prohibited by the first amendment — “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.  BUT!!! PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS can do whatever they or their benefactors want with regard to religion.  People are free to sign on or not.

Then we have:

“The government could prohibit The Huffington Post — not a natural person — from printing columns critical of the president.”

The Huffington post is an on-line NEWS source, not to be confused with the “Faux Noise” TeeVee propaganda channel or even the MSNBC channel.  Articles critical of the amendment are posted at Huffington (like this one) as are supportive articles.  Huffington post is “The Press” and often posts articles criticizing the president. The claim that “The Press” will be stifled by this amendment is total crap.

Then we have:

“The FBI could seize the servers owned by Google — not a natural person — without a warrant. Each of these would be a clear constitutional violation under current law, but would be permitted under the People’s Rights Amendment.”

What is remarkable is that the judiciary could have interpreted the US Constitution in such a way as to ensconce constitutional protections for institutions CREATED BY OR ALLOWED BY THE LEGISLATURES. Incorporated entities are not specifically nor generically mentioned in our US Constitution and these entities are CREATIONS of the CONSTITUTIONALLY AUTHORIZED LEGISLATURES.  Most normal, well adjusted, human beings would probably agree that the creators of these entities are responsible for their regulation. And returning now to “Statutory Interpretation”, we have:

Expressio unius est exclusio alterius (“the express mention of one thing excludes all others”)
Items not on the list are impliedly assumed not to be covered by the statute or a contract term.[3] However, sometimes a list in a statute is illustrative, not exclusionary. This is usually indicated by a word such as “includes” or “such as”.

I don’t see “such as” in the First Amendment.  The “Church”, “The Press”, and “The People assembled to seek redress” are SPECIFICALLY mentioned.  Other _GROUPS_ are not.

It seems to me that if the corporatists want constitutional protections for corporate rights then they will need to amend the constitution to include such provisions. Because those provisions do not currently exist.

But on that score let us understand that the right of a spouse to be free from compelled testimony regarding the other spouse is NOT a constitutional right (see here).  It is a LEGAL right created by common law.  Attorney-client privilege, on the other hand, is based on statutory law enabled by acts of the legislature. Common law is the basis for any currently SUPPOSED corporate rights. There is no constitutional prohibition that would stop the legislature from enacting statutes that overrule common law. That is why legislatures exist. But since a legislature is empowered by the people we are not in danger of losing spousal privilege or attorney-client privilege. There is also nothing that would stop the legislature from extending the search and seizure protections of the 5th amendment to corporate bodies in such a way as to insist on a warrant.  I have NO doubt that such legislation would be immediately forthcoming when it becomes clear that an amendment clarifying the constitutional facts will be presented and passed. Sorry, conservatives. All of the laws are not IN the Constitution. We have constitutionally defined and authorized bodies for that purpose, and the legislative body is superior to the judicial. In the normal course of events, should the legislature, on behalf of the people, decide that current “common law” is lacking or inappropriate, then the legislature creates statutory law to correct the problem. And the judiciary is bound by constitutional construct to abide by the legislated statutes.

Social Democracy Correlates With Representation

Because titles are limited to 55 characters in the Assembly Tacoma system, and because the phrase “Social Meritocracy” is not defined in the wikipedia, I had to leave it out of the title of this article. But as I am committed to the concept of Social Meritocracy and a very strong believer in the concept of representative democracy it seems fitting to draw the very real similarities between what is called “Social Democracy”, “Welfare Capitalism”, and what I want “Social Meritocracy” to be.

I am of the opinion that the primary signifying link that binds all of these ideas is the degree of representation the people have in their government. So I have endeavoured to produce a table that illustrates the number of people sharing one vote in the law making body of each government. My position is that the smaller the number of people forced to share one vote, the more “socialized” the nation will be. The nations with the strongest “safety nets” or higher degree of what most would call “socialism” seem to be the nations in which the 99% have a very loud voice in their law making bodies.

Sovereignty Population Legislative Seats People per Vote
India 1.2B 810 1.5M
USA 319M 535 596K
Japan 127M 722 176K
Canada 35M 413 84K
UK 64M 1430 45K
Denmark 5.5M 179 31K
Norway 5.1M 169 30K
Sweden 9.7M 349 28K
Finland 5.2M 200 26K
Iceland .3M 63 5K

(Numbers for the table above are from “The World Factbook – CIA”)

The people of the United States are not well represented in their government. There is much history to this, and several reasons why we have regressed to this degree of plutocracy. But I believe that the original representation of one representative for every 30K was adequate. I also believe that the major obstacle to increasing the number of seats in the legislature to more adequately represent the people has been the two major political parties. The Supreme Court continues to rule that the Constitution gives the prerogative of determining the number of seats in our House of Representatives to these political parties. To me that is no different than the plumbing companies or the electrical companies deciding the number of licensed plumbers or electricians there will be, or the taxicab companies deciding how many taxi cab permits will be issued. By limiting the number of seats, the parties and their members become more and more powerful and the people become peons hustled by the big money ad campaigns and the gerrymandering.

“These are _*MY*_ opinions and _*YOU*_ can’t have em. But I’ll rent em cheap.” — Bart Simpson

On Line General Assembly and Anonymity

If you haven’t heard the news then let me be the local informer: Current consensus within the “in person” general assembly is that Occupy Tacoma will be bringing forth an On-Line General Assembly. The facility will provide equal access and equal opportunity for all breathing persons of 18 years of age and older to express themselves and to have their opinions tested in the caldron of democracy. This ideal of equality was the heart and soul of Occupy General Assembly.

Occupy General Assembly was put forth as a way to implement “direct democracy” and it failed because too much “control” was established by the “leaders” and because the isolated groups were, within themselves, much too small. In the On-Line version we do all we can possibly do to insure that this “control” does not happen and to expand the membership to levels that prevent “group-think”. The rules and the methods are well defined and enacted in the software itself (which is an open source “plugin” to WordPress). The software will brook no direct control by editors or administrators concerning content. All participants are treated equally; all posts, ideas, and comments are placed before the community, essentially in the order they are received, and given their shot at recognition and support by the community. As such, the system works very much like Face-Book with its “like” concept. The assembly concept adds the dimensions of “categories” for those who want it while not insisting on categorization. The number of categories is restricted and it is possible to use the facility (create, locate, and comment on articles) without stumbling through a maze of categories. We have found that typical “forums” are rejected because of this over categorization that temnds to bury people’s ideas. And the ability to express ones opinion or to join in various efforts is much improved. (much more than a yes/no or like/unlike).

The “community” is all breathing persons 18 years of age and older who will attest to the fact that they do not already have a “voting” account in the system. New voting accounts are offered by invitation codes only because that is the only way we have to assure all of the people participating in our on line assembly that they are interacting with real live PEOPLE. We MUST assure our members that they are not being overrun by a bunch of “sock puppets” stuffing the ballot box or by the manipulations of the administrators. We will add more and better ways to “join up” in the future or perhaps even before the facility opens. But our (the administrators) primary function is to assure that each “ballot” in our system represents one individual person and that each individual person controls only one “ballot”. We have no other function other than to maintain the integrity of the facility and to try to “present” other people’s ideas in a reasonably clean and pleasing and intelligent way (colors, fonts, page arrangement, etc.).

It is intended that the new facility will have a much closer relationship with our Face Book page and with other organizations who chose to participate in this open democratic process. As such, the facility _MAY_ become accessible directly as “AssemblyTacoma.org” as well as through OccupyTacoma.org. From the inception of On Line General Assembly forward into the future new accounts at AssemblyTacoma.org and perhaps OccupyTAcoma.org can only be gained by using an invitation code. We are hopeful that we will be able to authorize other organizations to act as “trusted agents” issuing “invitation codes” to people who they _KNOW_ are real live adults.

We _MAY_ make this facility a separate site under the AssemblyTacoma.org name. Other organizations can chose to issue invitation codes to their members to access the AssemblyTacoma.org facility without allying with or appearing to be allied with Occupy Tacoma. This decision has not yet been reached. “I” DO NOT wish OWNERSHIP or BRANDING of this facility. But “I” do want it to be realized in one way or another..

In no way will the software allow the current membership of Occupy Tacoma to control what is placed on any web site (or our own site for that matter) except by using invitation codes on our site for account creation and by insisting on SSL to protect passwords. In no way will the current “General Assembly” of Occupy Tacoma edit, censor, modify, or choose that which is to be posted in the on-line General Assembly(ies) except through the design of the plugin software. That software allows all members to choose what appears on the front page(s) of the web site. The software will be made available to all administrators of all WordPress sites who wish to examine it or use it in their own facilities. This “strategy” software is not controlled by Occupy Tacoma in that it is “Open Source”. e.g other organizations may want to develop a democratic system on their on by using our “strategy” plugin for wordpress as is or by modifying it.

There are two current instances of this software: One instance is located at “TacomaTest.org” and there is a “Demo” version located at “TacomaTest.org/v1″. The v1 instance can be used for a “test drive” by logging in as “demo” with password “demo” and using the single ballot located there. The other instance located at TacomaTest.org is a test bed using 6 or 7 real persons. It is currently intended that membership at this TacomaTest.org site will be seeded by current members of Occupy Tacoma represented on our OccupyTacoma sign up list. That list is the “driver” for initial membership. It was created by real live people showing up at in person General Assemblies. The current plan is to grant membership to these persons at TacomaTest.org and all of the data created in that site will then be used to seed an instance of On Line General Assembly at AssemblyTacoma.org. These plans are fluid and decisions will be guided by the limited On Line General Assembly at TacomaTest.org. But no matter what happens the plugin software will be available to all.

Ongoing development:

A new button will be added to the “Ballot” presentation to allow an individual member to “lock” and abandon his/her current account and thus opt out of the general assembly. In this way people can cut all ties to any past opinions they may have expressed. These individuals may then apply for new membership under a new login name. We evolve. The old name can never be used again for balloting but posts that were created under the old name will remain in the system. This is not an oversight. The author of the posts (the member deciding to opt out) can remove the posts prior to opting out or not. Some members may want to do this sort of thing in order to get a NEW login identity that is less indicative of their real name. e.g. they may want a greater degree of anonymity.

Login identities and user and screen names are NOT anonymous in this system. Every ballot is connected to a Login identity (the “name” used when you apply for an account). Each name has an associated “profile” in which the individual may or may not divulge information about the self. Our current policy is that if you wish to remain anonymous then we advise that you do not put personal information in your profile. All individuals are identified internally by an associated email address, but that address is not revealed to anyone other then the admin people. The email address is used to allow people to recover from forgetting their password or their login identity. It may also be used to send out email advisories but we do not currently do that very often. The membership will be polled about how often such emails are to be tolerated (my own vote is like quarterly at a maximum and if no big changes are being anticipated then we would send no mail at that time either). We all get more than enough crap in our mail boxes already. My own opinion is that we WILL NOT send emails about EVENTS. We will not allow our email list to be used to further the desires of various organizations and factions; even our own. It seems to me that other organizations might be the right place for that sort of thing. We are going to be very protective of our email list just as we have been in the past.

Can a Non-Existent Right be Abridged?

OLGA-thumbThis article discusses the details concerning the wrongfully decided Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case. And with that wrongful decision the Roberts court struck down the most important provisions of the “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act”, also known as “McCain Feingold”. Our position is that the Roberts court abused previous common law to create a “right to free speech” for incorporated entities that did not actually exist. The Roberts court then abused this fabrication to assert a breach of the First Amendment.

(in depth notes on this subject can be found in Judicial interpretation and Statutory interpretation).

Continue reading Can a Non-Existent Right be Abridged?

Economic Betterment versus Growth

After reading this  article about economic growth in the Washington Post, my reaction was as follows:

You can’t just say “grow the economy” because that does not specify what you want to grow. If “grow” means “let’s all use more energy”, which is typically what it has meant for the last 100 years, then that is not such a good idea.

But if it means to work to:

  1. make new sustainable technologies,
  2. reduce our consumption creating more and more lifestyles that consume much less energy than what is typical for an American household today, and
  3. create a society of transparency so that these above behaviors will be maintained through social pressures

then we can grow that.

Until we make that kind of paradigm shift, “growing” will not do anything but exacerbate our situation. That is why when you see the economy go up too much right now, people start filling up the freeway, and then a few weeks later it again takes a nosedive. That is also why places like Switzerland are looking at paying people not to work, because if your job, in the net, causes you and the society to increase energy consumption, then the society may find it a better move to pay you to stay home, not work, and use less.

 

Neglected Resource for Economic Justice

A SERIOUSLY NEGLECTED FORCE FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE

Addressing Today’s Grossly Unjust Distribution of Wealth

Part 1

Vince Hart

December 2013

“THIS IS A CHRISTIAN NATION!” a great many of the wealthy and “Conservative” members of United States society like to declaim. Some of the most influential members of the Congress on “the right” also make that claim as they defend the taxation and spending policies they vigorously advocate. We often hear the same claim of implementing “Christian values” when we encounter almost worshipful attitudes toward the “free market” or the very negative views of the “welfare state.” Continue reading Neglected Resource for Economic Justice

The Critical Urgency of Informed Dissent

I watched the emerging of the Occupy movement from afar for ten months, wondering if it might have any such success in toppling entrenched centers of power, control and exploitation as had been happening in the “Arab Spring.” My interest was driven, above all, by my awareness that the 2012 Election was not addressing with any focus or seriousness the fundamental issue identified in the “1% and 99%” cry of the “occupiers.” Behind that awareness was one further source of my interest and concern: years of serious Bible study as a United Methodist pastor. Continue reading The Critical Urgency of Informed Dissent

People’s Constitutional Convention II

NOTE!! This page has not been reviewed by the members of Occupy Tacoma or the smaller group of members that regularly attend the General Assemblies. The post does not necessarily reflect the views of Occupy Tacoma as a group. The ideas presented here are my own presentation of the realities with which we must deal in our quest for justice in regard to the 99%. I/We do not infer that the organization described in these articles actually exists or that it is intended to exist at the hand of “Occupy” or “Move To Amend” or any other know organization. — TruthMerchant

This is the second in a short series of articles to explore the possibilities of a People’s Constitutional Convention, which would be a national general assembly for the purpose or repairing our crippled and dysfunctional national government.

A Statement Of Purpose

The People’s Constitutional Convention exists to insure that the elected national government actually is representative of and operating on behalf of the people. This purpose is achieved by correcting decisions of the Supreme Court that tend to disenfranchise the people of the United States. Continue reading People’s Constitutional Convention II