Focus: A Political Agenda

There is a growing populist rage in America. This first became obvious with the Tea Party movement, but it has been brewing since the Savings and Loan scandals of the 80’s, and fomented by the accounting swindles, collapse, and analyst scandals of the 90’s. Only recently has this rage grown to a level where people are taking notice. Not only are they taking notice, but they are standing up in solidarity with one another and decrying the injustice of the growing economic inequality in this country.

This country was created as “the Great Experiment” in democracy. It was conceived as a representative democracy, which means that the citizens use their votes to influence the course of their own governance. Due to many negative influences (the power of the political parties, the development of a two-party system, ineffective and incompetent leadership in Washington and subsequent apathy and hopelessness bred and allowed to fester in the electorate), we have slipped into a “corporatist” democracy. Only now are people waking up (finally) and fighting back against the corporations and the money that controls politicians and the government.

In order for this movement to have an impact and create the change the World is crying-out for, we need to have an implementable political agenda. That agenda must be clear and focused, and most importantly it must NOT be able to be co-opted by either political party. Political parties only have one true agenda – building their own wealth and power. If they see an agenda they can stand behind, they then co-opt that agenda and take-over the populist movement (as witnessed by what happened to the Tea Party), effectively knocking-down the voice and intent of the protest. The changes we implement must be big and dramatic. We need to implement changes to the political process matters that have been changed, bent and skewed so much over the last 30 years that they are unrecognizable.  If we do not change the bastardized process matters, any change that comes is likely to only be temporary.

1) Take back our elections:

Over the past 30 years, the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly on campaign finance reform, finding against voters and in favor of corporate interests (most recently with the Citizen’s United case). The only way to take our elections (and subsequently our government) back is through a Constitutional Amendment. Under our current system of corporate fascism, our officials are bought and sold to the highest bidder. This is a system in which corporate profits are privatized and their losses are socialized., yet supporters of universal health care are decried as “socialists” or worse. We have to take the power back! We must become a true representative democracy again, where one man one vote matters. In order to do that, Wall Street money must be taken out of the process. The only way to accomplish this goal and have it withstand Supreme Court review is a Constitutional Amendment, mandating the public financing of Congressional elections and criminalizing the purchase of politicians. A national campaign calling for a Constitutional Convention to get that amendment on every ballot in every state must be the objective. Corporations are NOT people!

2) Take back the Congress:

We also need to implement term limits in Congress. Washington was RIGHT! The real problem in our government is the growth in power and influence of the political parties. The political parties wealth and power grow in a government of the “professional politician.” We find it offensive that both the GOP and the Democratic Party have expressed their intent to raise “at least $1 Billion” each to secure victories in the 2012 election. The parties only serve to drive wedges between the electorate with institutionalized “divide and conquer” platforms. They use emotional, social agendas to their advantage and have only served to make politics so divisive, vitriolic and ineffective that the result is an apathetic and hopeless citizenry who have become disengaged from the political process. Only the parties benefit from a political environment in which a) people don’t even want to talk about politics with their friends, family and neighbors and b) only 50% of eligible voters turnout  for Presidential elections, and 10-20% of registered voters show-up for state and local elections (which are arguably more important than the presidential election). The founder’s of our great nation imagined a government of citizen legislators. They felt that politics was an essential part of everyday life and believed it was a citizen’s civic duty to get involved in our government. Implementing term limits and thus eliminating the “career” politician is essential to bringing back our pride in governance and accountability to the governed.

3) Take the markets back

We must immediately repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (also known as the “Citigroup Exception”) and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, while reinstating the full protections of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. This will allow the breaking-up of the financial monopolies and end the “too big to fail” financial conglomerates that caused the catastrophe that led to the global economic meltdown and the TRILLIONS of dollars in bailouts from Congress and the Fed at the taxpayers expense. The bailout of the TBTF Wall Street entities has created an environment that has only served to reduce economic competition, concentrate risk, and raise costs for consumers. The bailouts have also made the top 10 financial conglomerates an even bigger, less competitive oligarchy. We also need to call on our Representatives and Senators to force the CFTC to begin enforcing the new regulations called for in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. This will effectively end the blatant speculation by the gamblers on Wall the commodities markets responsible for driving-up prices (of oil for instance) by creating false demand.

4) Take back REAL capitalism

The United States was once a capitalist system. Companies lived and died on their own successes. “Corporate Welfare” – the term coined by Wisconsin senator William Proxmire – came into being in 1971 with the bailout of Lockheed Aircraft. Thus began a run of corporatism and bailouts of connected companies, NOT capitalism. Some firms, less than successful in a competitive marketplace, chose instead to suckle at the teat of the public trough. Innovation, execution and hard work were replaced with lobbying, crony capitalism and bailouts of failure. Of course, all paid for by taxpayers. “Socialize losses, privatize gains” has been the rallying cry of crony capitalism ever since. This is what the US has morphed into. America needs to end this system of spoils. There should be no more bailouts, no more crony capitalism, no more government determined winners and losers!

These four goals are issues that both the Left and the Right — Libertarians, Conservatives and Liberals — should be able to agree upon. These are all doable measurable goals, that can have a real impact on legislation, the economy and taxes. But amending the Constitution to eliminate dirty money from politics is an essential task. Failing to do that means backsliding from whatever gains are made. Whatever is accomplished will be temporary without campaign finance reform . . .


Tipping Point

You say that you “don’t know what these people want?” You say we are disorganized, chaotic, and lack a clear message? The overarching problem with the beginnings of this movement was that there is so much that everyone involved is just pissed-off about and fed-up with. It’s the problem of where to start.

There is so much to change, that a “tipping point” has been reached, that some easy to apply band-aids just are not going to be enough — the commentators, the politicians, and their moneyed interests that do not come to understand the scope of what must change will be without influence, and without power before they realize that the change has happened.

So with that as preamble, here is formerly and finally, what Occupy Wall Street says and wants. It is, in essence, their special comment:

“As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies. As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members. That our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors. That a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people, and the Earth, and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.

We come to you at a time when corporations — which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality — run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here as is our right to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in workplaces based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is, itself, a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut worker’s health care and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams, but look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products, endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives, or provide relief in order to protect investments that have

already turned a substantial profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully kept people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners, even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City general assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble, occupy public space, create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard.”

The statement was issued from Zuccotti Park by the general assembly at Occupy Wall Street on October 5, 2011.

Washington was RIGHT!

And by “Washington” we mean GEORGE Washington, of course. The genius of Washington was that he had a keen understanding of human nature, looking back, this made him very prophetic. In fact, some have called him a sort of political Nostradamus. Along with announcing his plans for retirement “after 45 years of my life dedicated to it’s (America’s) service,” and laying-out his arguments against running for a third term as president he also has a foreboding message for future generations of American’s. In his farewell address he:

  • Extolls the virtues of unity in government- “The unity of government… is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence… of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize.”
  • Warns against accumulating national debt- “…cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible…avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt….it is essential that you…bear in mind, that towards the payments of debts there must be Revenue, that to have Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised, which are not…inconvenient and unpleasant…
  • Stresses the importance of TRUE patriotism“Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.”
  • Warns against an over-powerful military establishment- “…avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.”
  • Yet his most stern warning comes against partisan politics and the creation of political parties- “In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties… One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations… To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute… They are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government… I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State… let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally…”  And now for the real kicker:

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.”

It’s a fair assumption to say that he saw this coming. All of the problem’s that we are experiencing today stem from the political parties. The parties have become incredibly wealthy and powerful. The parties are directly responsible for the creation of an entirely new class of citizen, the “political class.” This political class is comprised entirely of career politicians. Think about that for a minute. It has become so personally profitable to be a politician that many, if not most of them tend to make a career of it (both at the state and national level), something that would have been beyond comprehension to our forefather’s!

The political class has been voting pay raises for themselves, padding their already cushy pensions (which the Congress receives for the rest of their lives after only serving 5 years, and many state governments receive after serving 1 day in office), voting themselves into the “Cadillac” of all health care plans (one that IS single-payer), and fighting every attempt at real campaign finance reform for the past 20-30 years. It is simply offensive that both parties are already speaking of the need to raise $1 Billion to be adequately funded for the 2012 campaign. CRAZY!

Our problems are not with Wall St. Our problems lie with the political class and the parties that support them, who have allowed Wall St. unfettered access to our political process. The politicians have allowed Wall St. money to influence our entire political process from our elections to the actual authoring of legislation (so much of which is actually written by lobbyists, even President Obama’s cherished health care “reform” bill was written by Karen Ignagni, the chief lobbyist for the AHIP who also wrote the MA plan for Mitt Romney). We cannot expect corporations to NOT pursue profit at all cost, after all, it is what they are built to do. It is up to the politicians to set-up proper regulation of industry. When the politicians we elect refuse to do so, we get the results we deserve.

We are living in a state of corporate fascism, not a representative democracy. The current state of our government has been allowed to evolve through a concentrated effort of the political parties and their well-executed agendas. It has been a top priority of the political class to make politics so distasteful that the electorate would turn apathetic toward Washington and just continue to let them govern in their own best interests. They’ve carried-on the biggest most, disgusting soap opera in Washington for so long that most citizens truly believe that you should “never talk politics” with friends and family members. It is this attitude that has let the partisan extremists of both parties highjack the news cycle, the elections and the political process.

In our founding father’s days it was unheard of that a citizen would not discuss politics. It was oft-said by many of the framer’s of our Constitution that “politics is in the very fabric of our lives as American’s.” In fact, talking about politics and being actively involved in governing was considered our civic duty! The only way we can change our government is to wake-up and start working on real solutions. We all need to do our duty, absent of party affiliation, as American’s first.

The wonderful thing about the Occupy Wall Street movement (and even the Tea Party movement before they were co-opted by the GOP) is that it is a sign that the electorate is finally waking up! Everyday people are FINALLY looking closely at our government and it’s broken processes and promises and they are fed up! Extremist activism is always a bad idea. It tends to bring out the worst in people and doesn’t truly accomplish anything. The “Occupy” Movement may have seemed like an extremist movement when it got started, but it is no longer! It is a genuine organic populist movement that is growing leaps and bounds every day. Today it became a GLOBAL movement as witnessed by Occupy protests in 1500 cities and 82 countries today!

We have a long way to go to take our government (neigh our World) back from the political class and the corporations whose troughs they are feeding at. We can and will do it. We have the knowledge. We have the technology. We have the will. But most importantly we have the numbers! We are the 99%! Stay tuned to this blog for the posting of our agenda.

– I.M. Folks

The Political Arm of the Revolution

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