The “Saving American Democracy Amendment” Needs Our Support

Right on the heels of the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voting to support a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood, Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ted Deutch today introduced a proposed constitutional amendment to the Senate and House, respectively.

This is fantastic news. This amendment would explicitly state that corporations do not enjoy the same status as actual living people. This will effectively reverse the Supreme Court Citizens United ruling, and will go a long way to helping root out the corrupting influence of big money from our electoral process. We need to pressure our lawmakers to see to it that this amendment passes.

Contact Senator Sanders (phone 202-224-5141 or fax  202-228-0776) and Representative Deutch (phone 202-225-3001 or fax 202-225-5974) and let them know you stand behind them. Contact your member of Congress and your Senators, and let them know you want this to pass. Sign the petition linked below, and add your voice to this movement.

Limiting corporate power and influence in our political process is one of the main goals of the Occupy movement, and today we are starting to see action being taken to make this happen. It needs our support!

Additional Information:

Letter to The Honorable Martha Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts

Dear Madam Attorney General,

I wanted to thank you for standing up for the rule of law in our country by filing a lawsuit against Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Ally Financial and the Mortgage Electronic Registration System for their fraudulent and irresponsible business practices. There is no way we will be able to return our country to prosperity so long as we are continuing to let illegal acitivities slide for those powerful enough to buy a pass.

In a time when most of us are steadily losing all hope in our elected officials, it is so heartening to see someone in public office stand up for what is right, not just what is right for their largest donors.

Please, keep up the fight for the citizens of your state, and for all of us out here in America. So long as you are acting in the interests of the 99%, you will have our support.

Brian Haigh
Los Angeles, CA

Was the mortgage crisis Clinton’s fault?

There is a constant push in the media to simplify the Occupy movement into a single catchphrase, then to either jump on board or vilify it based on an equally simple notion. Enter Michael Bloomberg:

“It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp. Now, I’m not saying I’m sure that was terrible policy, because a lot of those people who got homes still have them and they wouldn’t have gotten them without that.”

This is one of the points the right likes to jump on from time-to-time, the “Blame Clinton” thread, which pins our entire mess at his feet in the 1990s. Investors Business Daily recently dived into this, with an article breathlessly titled Smoking-Gun Document Ties Policy To Housing Crisis (echoing some of Michael Bloomberg’s comments). It just came out yesterday, and I can bet it will be all the rage on right-wing radio and blogs.

I won’t even argue that what it describes wasn’t a contributing factor (I’ll leave that to this excellent piece), BUT it does conveniently ignore the fact that while the housing boom was on, NOBODY on the left or the right was complaining. I personally remember very vividly that one of George W. Bush’s re-election themes was how a record number of people were homeowners during his term.

And while lending standards were being relaxed, how did the industry react? I suppose the banks were all dragged kicking and screaming into this because the government forced it upon them? That they were forced to give out all these loans, then forced to package them and resell them at a profit to other institutions? To extend extra credit to people based on the inflated value of their home they knew they couldn’t afford? All the while raking in greater and greater profits while becoming increasingly leveraged out to the precipice?

I would argue that the mortage crisis is the culmination of 30 years of government policy. The deregulation started under Reagan removed the safety valves from our economy, leading to the middle class stalling out while the 1% did better and better. With the middle class stuck, the only way to increase purchasing power (even against inflation) was to use credit. This was ultimately unsustainable as we all found out.

So should the Occupy movement really be about protesting government policy?

In part — this movement is about fighting the collusion between large corporations and government against the best interests of the general population. Government policy has been geared to benefit a small sliver of the American public for too long, under the guise that the benefits they reap will somehow spread to the rest of us. It has resulted in a corrupted, skewed system where the voices of the vast majority of people are no longer being heard.

For our part, we were complicit in our silence. That has changed, and people are waking up now and realizing that the only way to change the system is to stand up to it.

Occupy Wall Street Demands Life Without Hardship, and Other Nonsense

The lead story was about Occupy Wall Street — a group that seems to consist of mostly young, able-bodied, able-minded people with their well-honed sense of entitlement “protesting” against a country that much of the world would lie, cheat, steal and kill to enter.  They finally issued their list of 13 demands. These included, but were not limited to, a “guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.” Such a life would provide the Occupy folks plenty of time to think up more demands — while sitting around all day.

– “Occupy Wall Street Demands Life Without Hardship

This is Larry Elder writing on his site, reflecting his views of the Occupy movement (a view shared by many on talk radio it seems).

Let’s set aside the idea that he seems to have a problem with young people protesting something they sense is terribly wrong with this country (while his radio job essentially entails him standing on a soapbox doing the exact same thing). If this country were as perfect as he suggests, he would be out of a job.

This insane demand he drummed up – a “guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment” – is not part of any list of demands I’ve seen. I even tried googling it, and only right-wing websites were coming up in the results.

It’s so typical, and it’s one of the reasons why people like Larry Elder are part of the problem. Why any true conservative would be in favor of corporations gaming the system to advance their profits at the expense of the people they serve is beyond me. He, and others like him, should be THRILLED that young people across the country are finally becoming politically active. If you get past the fringe opinions (and every movement has them, just look at the kooky wing of the Tea Party), you’ll see that people are just looking for the system to be FAIR again. That’s not a liberal agenda. The free market system will only work if the playing field is level for all participants. 

The 53% is really part of the 99%

There has been a meme floating around the Internet in reaction to the 99% movement, called “We are the 53%”, based on the factoid floating around that only 53% of Americans pay income taxes. This backlash plays upon the the idea that people supporting the Occupy movements are leeches on society looking for more handouts.

The problem of course, is that none of this makes any sense.

So who are the 47%? There’s an excellent article on Slate that goes into greater detail than I ever could. The bottom line is, some people are too poor, while others claim enough deductions to wipe out their taxes (almost half are elderly), and yet others benefited enough from the Bush tax cuts that their deductions erased their income tax obligations.

But even deeper than that, this movement tries to pretend that income taxes equals all taxes, which is ludicrous. Every single person in America (whether a citizen or not), pays into the system. Every. Single. One. There are taxes for Social Security, Medicare, roads, payroll, the list goes on and on. Some people may get more from the system than they pay into it, but everybody pays (just like with any kind of insurance, when you think about it).

One of the core ideas of this movement is that the 53% are the hard-working ones pulling themselves up by their own hard work, and are now being expected to subsidize everyone else. And yet the statistics are quite clear (see this NY Mag article with the pretty graphs) — the middle class that these people identify themselves with are slowly being squeezed to death by the 1% who are continuing to use the system to further their own goals at the expense of everyone else. The anger from these “53 percenters” is misguided — maybe they should be asking why so many people can’t find jobs, or why they’re paying a mortage worth more than their house.

I can appreciate conservatives not wanting to jump on what is largely seen as a left-wing movement. But we are fighting for a level playing field. We are fighting for the American Dream, where hard work is rewarded. We expect our government to respond to the people who elect them, not to the people who pay them the most money to do their bidding.

This is not about being a liberal or a conservative. This is about common sense, and about restoring the balance to this country.

Support H.R. 1489: Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2011

As the Occupy movement has taken hold, we have been searching for concrete changes we can stand up for. Despite what many in the MSM (mainstream media) would have you believe, it is not the job of Occupy protesters to come forward with solutions to problems. THAT job belongs to politicians (who have been hired to write laws on our behalf). One of the goals of this movement is to get those in power to stop listening to lobbyists and talk radio hosts, and start listening to the 99%.

However, there is one, simple demand many of us have: a return to the regulations that kept commercial banking and investing banking separate – ie, return many of the Glass-Steagall provisions that were repealed in 1999 (and which lead to this unregulated mess we found ourselves in less than 10 years later). Fortunately, a little googling, and lo and behold, there is a bill floating around to do just that. As the title of this post suggests, it’s called The Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2011, and one of its goals is to get Glass-Steagall protections back on the books.

You can read the text of the bill here: H.R. 1489 (
Here is a page listing its status:  H.R. 1489: Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2011 (

As of May 2nd it was going through the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises.

This bill is vitally needed to help put a stop to insanity that financial deregulation has caused, and everyone reading this should do something to help persuade our members of Congress that they need to listen to the 99% and support this.

I will begin compiling action items here we can all do to help push this bill through Congress. And of course, if you have any resources you have found (petitions, etc) please post them in the comments below. And please get the word out!

Restoring Balance to Free Enterprise

There is absolutely nothing wrong with capitalism – it is the greatest tool for spreading wealth amongst the greatest number of people our recorded history has known.

BUT, every system needs to exist in balance. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s what makes the world go round.

The founding fathers of the USA recognized this, and built in a number of checks and balances in the government they developed with the US Constitution. There are two houses of government, an executive branch, and a judicial branch, all working together to ensure that no one body accrues too much power and upsets the balance of government.

Why wouldn’t it be different in the free market? As we’ve witnessed over the past thirty years, without regulation corporations will only grow larger and larger, and gain power until they swallow up everything in their path. It lead to the worst recession since the 1930’s. And yet still, there are voices calling for LESS regulation. Regulation is the safety valve that keeps the system running!

The system is completely out of balance. With the Occupy movement we are trying to restore balance, and really help save the system from itself.  Again, this doesn’t mean everything has to have 10 levels of bureaucracy attached to it (that’s just an imbalance of a different kind), but we HAVE to start re-regulating in our economy if we want to save it, and if we want the American Dream to actually start meaning something again.