Government stimulus, not WWII, got us out of the Great Depression
Government stimulus, not WWII, got us out of the Great Depression
A Cooperative form of Capitalism in the U.S.A. is Not Just a Pipe Dream
Those of you who know me are already aware that I seldom if ever write for blogs and dislike pontificating in general, so the following statement is rare for me. I am compelled, however, to write an opinion piece at this time to clarify certain values that I hold dear and which I believe are also consistent with not only Occupy Tacoma’s but also Occupy Wall Street and the worldwide Occupy movement. Please consider the following as a proposed item for adoption by Occupy Tacoma.
NOTE: If you hate reading lengthy articles and already “get it” you can skip to the HOW DO WE FIX THIS
portion of the piece.
The Past as Prologue
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that the U.S. is in deep trouble economically and politically as a result of many different factors that you, as readers, are already well-aware of. First there was the systematic deregulation of safeguards put in place on banks and Wall Street after the Great Depression . This, of course, resulted in rampant speculation using ever-more sophisticated “tools” to develop “creative” financializing of our entire economy by Wall Street and the banksters. To make matters worse, our elected officials decided to bail out these banks when they failed, thinking that they could regulate them back into sound fiscal health. They did this on the backs of the general taxpayers (us), and by cutting needed social , education and jobs programs. Then, there was the Supreme Court decision in the case of Citizens’ United, which ruled that corporate dumping of money into campaigns was free speech and just dandy. Well, folks, we all know this is NOT SUSTAINABLE. When the workers cannot buy the products created by capitalism, capitalism fails, miserably.
We see the current model’s values in practice when we look at war profiteering and empire-promotion, the foreclosure epidemic, massive layoffs and the total disregard for protecting our environment from rape. Just look at the Keystone XL Pipeline, Artic drilling, the proposed Coal Train shipments from Montana’s mountaintop removal massacre, fracking to get at the natural gas and on and on. If maximum profits to the absentee shareholders is God, then who cares about the workers or the communities affected by corporate greed? The result is an absolutely rotten system, denial of the fact of global climate change and an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth in our economy. You, readers, know the problems it has created for the 99%: unemployment, homelessness etc. That is not the point of this article, however. The point is:
How do we fix this and what can Occupy Tacoma do?
(1) We need to start now to take power away from openly traded limited liability corporations by refusing to support them financially. We need to “out” the slimiest of them so that everyone knows what not to buy, even with our little dollars. Although our divestment in these corporations doesn’t matter all that much to the big players, sunlight does, and it puts pressure on our elected officials to distance themselves from these corporations. They don’t want to look dirty to the voters.
(2) We need to promote cooperative businesses as a viable form of capitalism. I am talking about cooperative ventures that have written into their mission statements and articles of incorporation such values as: not being able to sell the business without approval of the shareholders who are the workers themselves and valuing the businesses’ contribution to the community in which they are located over maximizing profits. The current corporate model is mandated to maximize profits above all else, which legitimizes mergers, moving companies overseas etc. This current model is NOT the only way to go.
(3) We need to work in Washington State (this is the Occupy Tacoma part) to encourage Olympia to pass legislation that is friendly to cooperative forms of business, whether for communities setting up their own alternative energy companies or for small start-ups. Cooperative ventures are currently at a disadvantage for obtaining loans and for obtaining energy grants because of beaurocratic requirements and the reluctance of banks to make these loans because of an unfriendly banking environment.
(4) Of course we need to support our local credit unions and…
(5) We need to work to convince our legislators that we need a State Bank, dedicated to keeping the money in state and helping cooperative ventures get started.
Nobody said this was going to be easy, but it is doable, is working very well in Spain with their Mondragon cooperative system which employs thousands and is making a profit in hard times. Cooperative businesses are already starting up in hundreds of communities throughout the U.S., such as in Cleveland, Ohio, California and Oregon. Occupy Tacoma, let’s start here, too!
For an informative read, please check out Marjorie Kelly’s book, Owning our Future, which not only is readable to a lay person like myself, but is also succinctly explains the arcane world of economics.
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.
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.
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.
(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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
If there are but two classes of law, with one being the COMMON LAW (decisions of the judiciary), and the other being the STATUTORY LAW (laws created by a legislature), then the United States Constitution would be correctly classified as STATUTORY LAW. The United States Constitution was created by a legislative body unfettered by previous law. Our constitution was not created by judges determining new law from old. This distinction is important as we will see below.
Much has been made of the power of the Supreme Court Of The United States (SCOTUS). But the word “Supreme” seems to fool a great many people into believing that the SCOTUS was instituted to be all powerful in the United States legal system. Not so. While the SCOTUS has the power to define all COMMON LAW that guides the decisions of the courts within the US government (the opinions of judges)., the SCOTUS does not have authority to overrule STATUTORY law or to assert COMMON LAW in primacy of STATUTORY LAW. In the United States, STATUTORY LAW, created by the legislative branch of the government (including the ratified constitution), is superior to COMMON LAW asserted by the judiciary.
When the sitting legislative branch of government creates STATUTORY LAW, the judicial branch of government is constitutionally obligated to judge in accordance with the STATUTES regardless of what the judicial branch might think about the fairness, or equity, or morality of the STATUTORY LAW. The very soul of a republican government rests upon the maxim that legislatures are a better judge of what is right, than any source of isolated authoritarianism, including a tribunal of unelected judges. The supreme law of the land in a republican form of government is controlled by a legislature.
The primacy of STATUTORY LAW proceeds from Magna Carta onward through the English “House of Lords, to the “House of Commons” and thence to the United States with its Senate and House of Representatives. In our democratic republic it is the legislative branch of the government that makes law; not the judicial. In historical terms since Magna Carta, the legislature is superior to the king’s magistrates, the church’s canons, and the current judiciary.
When the SCOTUS “strikes down” a statute created by the legislative branch of the current government, the SCOTUS is making a choice between two or more conflicting STATUTES. And in its constitutional role as interpreter of law, the judicial branch of the government, headed by the SCOTUS can refuse to recognize current legislative STATUTES that conflict with constitutional STATUTES. Otherwise, the constitution would be a meaningless piece of paper. However, this was not to be taken (as it seems to be at present) as a power of the judiciary to make COMMON LAW superior to STATUTORY law, or to “make up” constitutionality in order to assert what is, in the opinion of the judiciary, in the best interest of the society. The OPINION of the SCOTUS aside from conflicts with the actual written language in the constitution are of less weight than the OPINION of the legislature and where conflict arises, it is the legislature that is meant to prevail.
In our constitutional form of government, exceptions to the primacy of the legislature should be of limited duration. This is so because the legislature can, through the article V process, reassert primacy by clarifying the constitution so as to remove any supposed impediment. It is essential, however, to understand that this must be done through a ratification process that includes either the direct voice of the people in ratifying conventions (in today’s world this would probably be a state wide referendum put forth by the legislature) or a decision of the state legislatures as direct representatives of the people in each state.. For all intents and purposes in these united states, STATUTORY LAW, created by the current legislature(s), or by a Constitutional Convention of state legislatures, and through the ratification process is superior to the COMMON LAW created by the judiciary. The legislature is the representative of the people, and the people are sovereign. And when this is not the case it is due to the failure of the legislative branch of the government and the people themselves to protect and defend our republican form of government. The SCOTUS cannot “check” itself.
In our co-equal arrangement of the 3 branches of government, the people are supreme in that the legislature can and should employ the state governments and the people to repair any damage done by an ambitious judiciary. With a two thirds majority in both houses of the legislature, an amendment clarifying the constitution can be placed before the people and ratified by them in such a way as to remove or vacate any COMMON LAW. Alternatively, the people can demand that their state governments participate in a Constitutional Convention to amend the constitution in order to correct the damage. It is not the responsibility of the judiciary to “check” itself. The fault lies in us.
“In this nation, the fat lady never sings. We evolve.” — Me
That the judiciary is the arbiter of what is right and righteous, rather than the duly elected representatives of the people is a throw back to a concept of justice and jurisprudence predating Magna Carta . That the magistrates are instructed by the divinely appointed king and the priesthood so as to thence dispense law according to the “cosmic plan” is a concept obliterated in The Enlightenment. And a “republican form of government” precludes such a concept, just as it precludes monarchy and aristocracy. In a “republican form of government” the legislature, being the representative of the people, is morally superior to the judiciary. No ruling king and no ruling priesthood.
Historical analysis tells us that unless the legislature attempts to rewrite or violate a specific mandate of the entrenched constitution, deference is to be to the legislature and not to the opinions of the judiciary. The courts are constitutionally obligated to comport themselves with due regard for current statutory law. Judges are not constitutionally empowered to alter or strike down such laws on the basis of their own opinions and beliefs concerning intent, or meaning of the founders, or the meaning of those who ratified, or their opinions concerning a “compelling interest” of the state. The compelling interest of the state is the province of the legislature.
In the United States there is an assumed power of the judiciary to indulge in what is called “judicial review“. And what that means in the United States is that the judiciary, and specifically the supreme court, can and should ignore or “strike” legislated statutes or portions of statutes that are in conflict with the written constitution. The historical incident that supposedly “sets precedent” for the current sophistry of “judicial review” as practiced in the United States was a supreme court ruling entitled Marbury v. Madison. This decision is the supposed “precedent setting justification” for the current decisions of the Supreme Court in which the court “strikes” certain legislation. But when we examined that Marbury decision we found that it does not provide any basis for the current activities of the SCROTUS (The Supreme Conservative Roberts of the United States).
In Marbury, the Marshall Supreme Court found that the legislature had attempted to change the written constitution, expanding the power of the Supreme Court, through a simple act of legislation. The Marshall court rightfully proclaimed that such alteration must be done through the Article V amendment process involving the people and the states in an act of ratification (just as the constitution itself had to be sanctified by the people). There is no moral opinion being rendered in that decision. The finding is based entirely on the textual content of the entrenched existing constitution and the undeniable attempt by the legislature to alter that text. There is little, if any, similarity in what the SCROTUS has done during its tenure and that which was done by the Marshall court. The crowning cherry on the top of the malfeasance sundae is the Citizens United strike down. There is no written language in the constitution that defines PERSONHOOD or that recognizes any constitutional rights for general incorporated entities other than the possible “right of assembly”. And the right of assembly is a protection from individual or joint prosecution by government when, as a group, the assembly is seeking redress from government. And here again “plain language” rears its head in that seeking redress from government is what we would call issue advocacy. Assemblies can and do seek legislation or the repeal of legislation regarding various issues. THAT!!!, is “seeking redress”, and it is directed at government as an institution and _NOT_ at an individual. The right of assembly is not a grant of anonymity or limited liability for the individuals of the group while attacking and defaming an individual. And it is irrelevant as to whether the particular individual is a public figure seeking office, a celebrity, or a private citizen. The right of assembly is not a government sanctioned lynch mob license.
The judicial branch of government should not be using the concept of “judicial review” to circumvent or deny the people their rights to create law in the common good through their elected representatives when there is no direct prohibition of such acts in the written constitution. In its Citizens United ruling the court is asserting moral primacy of Common Law over Statutory Law while our constitutional government is designed to operate in the opposite way. The following anecdotal “story” may be helpful:
If the representative government of Mississippi decides that PERSONHOOD begins at conception, and that abortion is a case of depriving such person of constitutional rights (such rights of persons being clearly defined in the U.S. Constitution), then the state of Mississippi has the power to legislate accordingly. Other states have the right to legislate likewise or otherwise. And this is the true because there is no written constitutional imperative regarding the matter of PERSONHOOD. Ergo, such decisions are a matter for the people, through their elected elected legislatures to decide. But, constitutionally speaking, we observe that the primacy of law as defined in the U.S. Constitution dictates that federal law is superior to state law and so the national legislature can overrule the state laws and the state constitutions. It is then the province of the national legislature to determine the definition PERSONHOOD. In every case, the determination of what is “right and holy” is the purpose of the elected representative legislatures and such determinations are not left to the judiciary unless there is an ACTUAL constitutional infringement. The judicial branch of the government is to interpret statutory law as created by the legislatures. It is not the province of the judicial branch of the government to decide what is “right and holy” and thence to renounce the laws created by the representatives of the people.
The question of abortion, and the question of “right of free speech” both depend upon the recognition of PERSONHOOD. And such decisions are CONSTITUTIONALLY the province of the legislative as opposed to the judicial branch of a republican form of government. The United States Constitution gives us no explicit definition of PERSONHOOD. And because of that unassailable fact, there is no constitutionality involved in this determination. The definition of “PERSON” or “PERSONHOOD” does not lie within the purview of the judiciary.
“In this nation, the fat lady never sings. We evolve” — Me
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