|From:||J.A. Myerson <email@example.com>|
|Sent time:||Thursday, September 22, 2011 9:48:33 AM|
|Subject:||Re: [september17discuss] Five demands and banks|
Hi Free Folks,
This is a pretty radical proposal but I am gonna put it out there.
No demands. Instead, we will live and practice and be the change we want to see. Our only "demand" is an invitation to all New Yorkers, all US citizens, and perhaps all peoples around the world living under corrupt, exploitative, violent and oppressive political or economic systems to JOIN US. Anyone who feel dis-enfranchised, voiceless, or lacks basic human rights or liberties should JOIN US. Anyone who wants to have a planet that will continue to sustain life should JOIN US.
Liberty Plaza, quite simply, is a liberated zone, and we are forming a new government in opposition to the dominant systems. We are practicing direct participatory democracy, and we INVITE YOU TO JOIN US!
The logical conclusion is admittedly a polarizing, but if Libyan "rebels" can claim to be legitimate government of that state, why can't we lay claim to a new legitimacy? We are a new state that explicitly rejects violence.
I appreciate any responses or feedback on this suggestion.
On Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 9:48 AM, gail zawacki <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I loved the chant at Copenhagen - System Change not Climate Change.Growth is not sustainable on a finite earth. We need to find new measures of quality of life if we are going to survive.
On Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 9:22 AM, grimwomyn <email@example.com> wrote:
Yeah, I don't know that we even need to get too specific on the demands as the OWS effort has started people from all over the country talking about corporate control in their lives, and they are starting to wake up and recognize how it is inherently injurious. If we are truly here for the people, I think that informing on all the reasons corporate influence is damaging to society is a great start -- and it is not necessarily up to us to frame what the answers should be, we do have elected officials, we just need to shout and scream until they start examining options that will really help us.The lowering of interest rates by the Fed is useless to the rest of us. It is not systemic, what we really need to be pushing is the language of systemic change, what is being offered presently is business as usual to help the usual. I'm not sure we would even know what real change looks like... so reaching out to visionaries like Bernie Sanders and others will help that conversation along.The one demand? Try something like: ending corporate control, leave it open, not specific, so it can be debated by all.IMHO of course-- happy rainy thursday
On Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 11:30 AM, gail zawacki <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Bravo Snafu for this:corporate funding and the two-party system should be the two main targets of a campaign for real democracy.On Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 11:02 AM, Lisa Fithian <email@example.com> wrote:
Hope all are well –
on the questions of demands. Things suggested in the other email below require congressional action. It might be great to ask the GA some questions like – do you know anyone who has lost their home, or do they come from a city that is losing needed services or do they know anyone in debt. These might get you to some other possible demands…. Things that Wall Street can do immediately if there was political will…
- stop foreclosure keep millions in their homes
- stop bankrupting states and cities renegotiate debt at lower interest rates save public services
- drop student debt, forgive all loans
- stop excessive fees, et
Banks touch every aspect of our lives. From student loans to housing morgages, from banks to credit cards to debt cards, to food stamps,
Just some thoughts
1: draft old flier
2: JP Morgan fact sheet
This is a draft of a flier I once worked on but never finished. Wanted to show how the big banks affect us. With a bit more research you can tell a compelling story why the things above should happen
JP MORGAN CHASE BANK AFFECTS:
· Home owners: through mortgages and loans, refusing to negotiate on foreclosures, redlining in communities, leaving communities vacant and blithe, refusing to reduce principle, dealing with homes worth less now then is owed aka “underwater”
· Renters: if a house is foreclosed and you rent, you are out, you have no rights
· Military Personal:. More than 20,000 veterans, reservists and active-duty troops lost the homes to foreclosure in 2010, the highest number since 2003. JPMorgan Chase illegally overcharged 4,000 active service members for their mortgages improperly foreclosing on a number of them.
· Students: college loans are now from banks not the government, high interest rates, loading kids out with credit cards, monopolizing debt card use, fees for card use and the list goes on….
· Consumers: Credit card offers, new deals, hidden fees and high interest rates, penalties
· Poor People: JP provides the debit cards for 43 million Americans on food stamps and gets a cut for each use
· Bank Workers: opposing the right to a union
· Small Businesses: Charging high fees for credit card use.
· Utility Users: JP lobbyist are working hard to drive up the cost of home heating fuel to up their investments in dirty energy. Public Citizen has a campaign
· Health: Funding the Tobacco Industry, funding, investing in fossil fuel extraction
· Community Development:
· War – JP invests in munitions http://www.banktrack.org/show/bankprofiles/jpmorgan_chase
Profits for the years 1996-2010: $153.5 billion[ii]
Profits since bailout (2009-2010): $29.1 billion[iii]
2010 bank account fees: $4.7 billion[iv]
2010 credit card fee income: $5.9 billion[v]
2010 CEO Jamie Dimon total pay: $20.8 million[vii]
2010 CEO Jamie Dimon bonus: $19.2 million[viii]
Projected annual dividend for CEO Jamie Dimon: $6 million[ix]
2010 bonuses and compensation: $28.4 billion[x]
Homes in foreclosure in lending or servicing portfolio: $74.0 billion[xii]
Lobbying expenses since bailout (2009-2010): $15.7 million[xiv]
· Foreclosure Leader. As of June 2010, JPMorgan Chase had $19.5 billion worth of foreclosed homes on its books—more than any other bank in the country. Another $54.5 billion of mortgages that the bank services for other lenders was also in foreclosure.[xvi]
· Foreclosure Fraud. JPMorgan Chase employees admitted to signing 18,000 foreclosure documents per month without reviewing the information in each file to ensure that the bank had a legal right to proceed with foreclosure.[xvii] The bank was forced to stop foreclosures in 41 states as a result of the robo-signing scandal,[xviii] which also led Attorneys General in all 50 states to launch investigations into foreclosure fraud.
· Subprime Lending. JPMorgan Chase had a hand in the worst of the subprime lending excesses, providing financing to the nation’s two largest subprime lenders, Countrywide and Ameriquest, which allowed them to originate subprime loans. JPMorgan Chase also owned a major subprime lender and has acquired two banks that had large subprime operations. Together, these firms issued over $295.3 billion in subprime loans from 2005-2007.[xix]
· Loan Modifications. Despite large incentives from taxpayers, as of January 2011, JPMorgan Chase had given permanent mortgage modifications to only 42% of its homeowners who are still eligible for the Obama Administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The bank had rejected 354,822 families from HAMP, almost as many as Bank of America (193,231) and Wells Fargo (172,278) combined.[xx]
· Exploiting Military Members. JPMorgan Chase overcharged 4,500 military members on their mortgages and improperly foreclosed on 18 of them. Once the issue came under Congressional scrutiny, the bank announced it would take steps to correct the problems.[xxi]
· Predatory Lending. From 2006 through 2009, JPMorgan Chase (and mortgage lenders it has since acquired) was more than twice as likely to put African-American and Latino borrowers into higher-cost, subprime loans than white borrowers. Furthermore, while mortgage lending to white borrowers only dropped 11% between 2006 and 2009, it dropped 51% for African-American borrowers and 63% for Latinos.[xxii]
PUBLIC BUDGET CRISES
· Interest rate swaps. JPMorgan Chase had to pay a $722 million fine to settle charges that it illegally paid off officials in Jefferson County, Alabama to secure interest rate swap deals that drove the county to the brink of bankruptcy.[xxiii] Across the country, the bank is gouging state and local governments for more than $200 million a year on swap deals.[xxiv] JPMorgan Chase sold governments these deals as a way to save money, but instead they have become a goldmine for the bank following the bailout, which is able to rake in millions at taxpayer expense.
· Letters of credit. JPMorgan Chase is squeezing state and local governments by making it tougher for them to renew letters of credit, a form of bond insurance that many cities and states need to keep bond interest rates from spiking up.[xxv]
· Predatory loans to government. JPMorgan Chase is making a profit by lending taxpayers their own money. Even though the bank has access to ultra-cheap loans from the Federal Reserve, speculated to be as low as 0.5%, JPMorgan Chase is manipulating government budget processes and charging local and state governments much higher interest rates. For instance, when Philadelphia was in a budget pinch in fall 2009, instead of passing the 0.5% interest rate onto taxpayers, the bank offered the city a 3% bridge loan that would reset to 8% if it wasn’t paid off in a few months.[xxvi]
· Auction-rate securities. After promoting auction-rate securities to local and state government borrowers as a low-risk, low-cost source of financing, JPMorgan Chase and other banks pulled their support for the market in early 2008, causing auctions to fail and leading to interest rates as high as 20% for government borrowers. Then the banks charged local and state governments at least $1 billion in fees to convert their auction-rate bonds to safer forms of debt, “enriching JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and the rest of Wall Street that let the market fall apart,” according to Bloomberg.[xxvii]
· Small business lending. Even though the bailout was intended to get banks to start lending again to stimulate the economy and spur job creation, JPMorgan Chase’s bailout did not translate into new credit for small businesses. In fact, the bank made 18,699 loans through the Small Business Administration’s flagship 7(a) program in the two years before the bailout, and made only 4,636 loans into the two years since—a 75% decline. Meanwhile, the bank had $1.48 billion in outstanding insider loans to bank directors and their companies as of March 2009, more than any other bank.[xxviii]
· Unemployment debit cards. Several states use JPMorgan Chase debit cards to pay out unemployment and/or TANF benefits. The bank takes advantage of Americans who have fallen on hard times by skimming fees off of their accounts. For example, in Michigan benefit recipients have to pay $4 if they go to a bank teller to withdraw money from their accounts more than once per pay period or $1 if they check their balance more than once per period.[xxix]
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Doug Singsen
Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 7:23 PM
Subject: Re: [september17discuss] Five demands from the NYCGA: how to link the struggle for democracy to the struggle for social and economic justice
This is exactly what we need. Who wants to propose this in the GA? Unfortunately I'll be out of town for a week starting tomorrow so I can't do it myself.
On Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 7:52 PM, Snafu <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I apologize for being off-list and off-the-streets for a few days, but I was lucky enough to become a father on September 17!
I personally believe that the obstination of some members of the NYCGA on not having demands has proved disastrous and resulted in a PR debacle. Invariably, almost all mainstream media accounts of the protests note that the demonstrators have confused ideas and are probably motivated by merely ideological motives.
Further, this refusal of having demands has nothing to do with the current movements in the Middle East, Spain and Greece all of which have clear and loud demands. In the case of Arab countries and Middle Eastern autocracies the demand cannot be but one (remove the dictator). In Greece and Spain the situation is more complex but the movements there have been able to develop specific analyses and requests. In particular the Joint Economics Working Group of Syntagma Square and Puerta del Sol have drafted a document (http://bit.ly/npCWkg) that lists a specific set of demands, such as the request of nationalizing the banks, withdrawing the EU/IMF Memorandum imposed on Greece, make the accounting records transparent, and so forth.
As I have previously suggested, the three simple demands that the NYCGA should have raised in the call to Occupy Wall Street should have been:
1) Reintroduction of the Glass-Steagall Act, a law regulating the bank system that separated investment banks from commercial banks. This law, originally approved in 1933 and signed into law by FDR has been repealed in 1999. As Wikipedia simply states it, "Most economists believe this repeal directly contributed to the severity of the Financial crisis of 2007–2011 by allowing Wall Street investment banking firms to gamble with their depositors' money that was held in commercial banks owned or created by the investment firms." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass–Steagall_Act
2) Immediate introduction of a Tobin Tax or Robin Hood Tax on all financial transactions both at a national and international level. On a national level, it would be sufficient for Congress to pass it. On an international level, the IMF could subordinate loans to countries in debt to the introduction of a Tobin Tax instead of requiring massive privatizations as it ordinarily does through the notorious structural adjustment programs. In Europe, Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy have officialized their support to the introduction of such tax in the EU about three weeks ago. Last June over 1,000 economist submitted a letter by 1,000 economists to the G20 last April that explains why the idea of a global Robin Hood Tax has “come of age.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/apr/13/robin-hood-tax-economists-letter) Robinhoodtax.org, a web site run by a British NGO that explains in very simple terms how it works and how much revenue it could generate. The NGO also has a Facebook page.
3) Raise taxes on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains by pairing the long-term capital gains tax rate (which applies to financial assets held for more than a year) to the ordinary income tax rates. At the moment, thanks to the Tax Reconciliation Act signed by Bush into law in 2006 and extended by the Obama administration to 2012 and beyond, capital gains cannot be taxed more than 20% whereas income tax is taxed up to 35%. This means that if your wage falls for example in the $35,000-83,000 bracket your income tax is 25% whereas if you make 1, 10, or 100 million dollars on the stock market your pay 20% only. Even Warren Buffett says that this system is openly unjust and that the current taxation system is profoundly unbalanced and skewed towards financial profit. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html)
These three proposals are far from revolutionary yet they could begin raising specific questions and help bring a variety of subjects into the conversation. The notion that a movement is defined by its demands is ridiculous. A social movement is much more than a set of demands yet demands help those who are not on your side understand who you are and where you come from.
Two other critical points that should be discussed in the GA are the public funding of political campaigns and the two-party system. A paramount political objective should be to get corporations to stop funding political candidates. You cannot have real democracy with the current system of fundraising. A truly democratic system would give each citizen a tax bonus of the SAME AMOUNT and enable each one of us to decide how to allocate such money. A truly democratic society should also not rely on forms of political representation based on a majoritarian (first-past-the-post) electoral system. If we are the 99% of the country, then we ought to be able to convince the rest of the nation that the 99% counts in fact nothing. And corporate funding and the two-party system should be the two main targets of a campaign for real democracy.
To sum up, the question of the redistribution of wealth and democratic control over the financial system cannot be disconnected from the question of political representation. Organizing a movement that fights "against representative politics" does not mean in my opinion to fight against *any* form of representation, but certainly against the current system of representation. We are over 6 billions on this planet. Thinking that each individual should have the right to decide on every issue in every part of the world at all times may sound fascinating but it is simply unrealistic and unrealizable. Whether we like it or not, we constantly delegate to others the understanding of issues and execution of tasks we simply do not have the time to understand and care about. (The worldwide professionalization of national armies and the advanced specialization of knowledge in scientific and academic research are just two notable cases in point).
Thus the question is not how to abolish authority and representation per se but how to produce forms of representation that are truly representative, renewable and non-ossified. The NYCGA could be such a body, once we live behind the rather childish notion that demands define us and by defining us trap us in some blind alley from which we'll be unable to move forward.
 Includes bailouts that the bank has paid back.
 25th percentile is $9.98 per hour and 75th percentile is $11.55 per hour. $10.77 per hour is average of the two.
 Includes 50 JPMorgan Chase subsidiaries and 3 Washington Mutual subsidiaries.
 Includes contributions made by the bank's political action committee and its employees in the 2008 and 2010 federal election cycles. Includes JPMorgan Chase and Bear Stearns.
[ii] Capital IQ.
[iii] Capital IQ.
[iv] http://www.ffiec.gov/nicpubweb/NICDataCache/FRY9C/FRY9C_1039502_20101231.PDF, Item 5(b), Service Charges on Deposits.
[v] Capital IQ.
[x] Capital IQ.
[xi] Capital IQ.
[xiii] GAO-09-157, INTERNATIONAL TAXATION: Large U.S. Corporations and Federal Contractors with Subsidiaries in Jurisdictions Listed as Tax Havens or Financial Privacy Jurisdictions, Government Accountability Office, Dec 2008.
[xxii] Based on data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Database.
[xxiv] Based on SEIU analysis of Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports of more than 75 public entities across the country.
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