Have We Not Learned That Bigger Is Not Better When It Comes to Banking?

10 largest banks

How can this be a good thing?

The very people who legally crashed our economy – and those who did it illegally and still haven’t gone to jail – and have kept their bonuses are now even bigger than before.

This is when our government needs to – HAS TO – step in and say….

“You are a danger to the rest of society. You are no longer going to operate in this manner. You have abused the rights and privileges afforded to you in the law, and now the law is changing. You will be broken up, and you will be regulated such that your actions cannot threaten the global economy and the financial well-being of all of the rest of us ever again.”

If there was ever an industry that has repeatedly proven that it is populated with and largely led by people incapable of policing themselves, it’s the financial services industry. This isn’t a personal attack. It’s just the facts, and it’s just history.

There can’t be opportunity and protection without a balance between the private sector and the government. There is no balance today. The scales have been tipping for far too long toward Big Money. This is why it’s so important that we strike at the root of all of our problems – money in politics.

Caseyoncampaigning

We must change campaign finance laws in order to get the influence of Big Money out of our political processes and out of the halls of government. It’s the only way we can expect to have any influence as ordinary citizens over our elected officials.

What can we do? Plenty.

Join up with other concerned citizens who have come together to make their voices heard.

Here are some of my favorites. Please feel free to share this and to add others.

 

https://movetoamend.org/
https://movetoamend.org/
http://anticorruptionact.org/
Join the fight. Become a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act at http://bit.ly/CitizenCoSponsor
http://www.wolf-pac.com/
http://www.wolf-pac.com/
https://represent.us/
https://represent.us/
Support MAYDAY.US Together we can end the corruption of money in politics. Pledge now: https://mayday.us/pledge
Support MAYDAY.US Together we can end the corruption of money in politics. Pledge now: https://mayday.us/pledge
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The Tea Party and Move On: Finding Common Ground? No, Not Where It Matters

This was an interesting conversation. (The audio kicks in correctly at 1:30, so be patient)

First, I applaud the idea of not losing sight of the fact that we’re all human beings. As National Tea Party Patriots co-founder and Citizens for Self Governance founder, Mark Meckler, points out toward the end of the conversation, we shouldn’t objectify each other. I agree, and I humbly admit that I need to keep reminding myself about that.

He and Joan Blades, the co-founder of MoveOn and MomsRising.org, say they agree that there’s common ground on the PROBLEM of crony capitalism.

Unfortunately, it seems that we can add the SOLUTION of campaign finance reform to the list of things that are NOT common ground.

If you don’t want to listen to the whole discussion, go to the 38:50 mark. Listen to the question asked plus the one that follows. Listen to what Meckler says in response to both.

He says that he, like Lawrence Lessig, wants an Article V convention to amend the Constitution. He says he wants it, however, for completely different reasons than Lessig.

Meckler blames crony capitalism not on the people, corporations, and organizations buying our government today. He blames it on the size of government. He posits that private money is basically being driven by self-interest. He says they are motivated to corrupt government because government is so big and so ubiquitous that private money can hardly be blamed for wanting to influence it. This becomes especially apparent when the conversation turns to his belief in the “rational actor theory” and to a basic investment and business principle: return on investment.

He says (and I’m paraphrasing) that if we just shrink government – and I assume he means primarily the federal government – that we’ll see less corruption because the incentives for big money interests to funnel millions and even billions of dollars into the coffers of our elected officials will be diminished because the returns will be smaller.

This sounds to me like he’s exonerating Big Money. He seems to be saying that the government is just too big and too tempting a place not to “invest” in because the returns from those investments are just too attractive to resist.

That is a stunning position to take. It strikes me as blaming the victim instead of the criminal, and it reveals how Meckler presumably distinguishes between right and wrong.

Meckler also says that reforming campaign finance laws is futile. He says the money will just go further underground. So like David Brooks, Meckler doesn’t see the need to reform our campaign finance laws. And while he doesn’t make the distinction, one must conclude that Meckler thinks it’s futile regardless of the size of government.

Which brings me to the question I struggle with endlessly when it comes to finding common ground.

It’s what I call “the morning after” quandary. Now that we have common ground on the PROBLEM, what about the SOLUTION?

Let’s assume for a minute that everyone agrees that crony capitalism is a problem – the problem – that needs to be solved. Great. We now have common ground from which to work.

Now let’s assume we agree that the required action is to get 2/3 of the states to call for an Article V convention to amend the Constitution. We’re not at the solution yet, mind you, but we’ve agreed on an action.

Now here’s where principles, purposes, and goals begin to diverge.

People like Lawrence Lessig (and Move To Amend, Wolf-PAC, I, and lots of others) want to amend the Constitution to reverse Citizens United and McCutcheon in order to get big money and its corrupting influence out of government no matter the size of government.

Lessig (along with Represent.Us and lots of us) also want to significantly reform campaign finance laws through legislation like the American Anti-Corruption Act.

Mark Meckler disagrees. He says so himself.

So, we all work together to get to an Article V convention only to find ourselves in opposition as to what amendments are needed. Some of us want to take the corrupting money out of government, while others want to shrink government and its role in overseeing and regulating how that money is made.

It’s the morning after.

How am I supposed to consider Meckler an ally if we’re this far apart? Hasn’t there been enough conversation and debate yet to come to conclusions with certainty on both the problems and the solutions?

Meckler disagrees with Lessig. That’s his prerogative. Perhaps the question to ask is, “Which of them knows more about the fundamentals of the problems and which one of them has the solutions that will benefit the most Americans?”

They both can’t be right when they’re this far apart.

Joan Blades deserves only our admiration and respect for her approach and her work. She’s an inspiration. But, I’m getting more than a little tired of the left always being the ones who must listen and who must keep moving to the right just to try to find some kind of center or common ground. It’s time for the right to move to their left.

Bernie Sanders recently reminded us about just how radical the right and the GOP have become since the days when Charles Koch was a Libertarian vice presidential candidate who criticized Ronald Reagan for being too liberal. The dangerous ideas and ideology espoused back then have evolved into mainstream conservative and Republican dogma.

Meckler strikes me as simply a kinder, gentler face on it, and I hope people will see and understand that.

Agreeing on the problem is great, but it isn’t enough. There also has to be agreement on how to solve the problem; otherwise, the cure could easily end up being worse than the disease.

As for open dialog and civility, I’d be glad to have a living room conversation with Mark Meckler. He seems from the video to be a nice enough guy. I’d be happy to sit on his deck, have some wine, and look out over his neighbor’s vineyard.

Until the invitation arrives, I’ll just keep doing what I can to support people like Lawrence Lessig who are far more qualified to understand the problems and to know how to solve them than Mark Meckler.

You Do Know That’s an Anchor – the Lie of Supply-Side Economics

I was raised by people born before The Great Depression. Their parents were part of the great migration from Europe at the turn of the 20th century. They rose from hardscrabble and meager beginnings to become the prototypical hard-working, high school educated, American middle class suburbanites who made the Golden Age of America post-World War II so Golden.

All things being equal, their lives followed an arc that worked out to be just about as good as any middle class citizen anywhere could hope to have.

They were not “makers”, nor were they “takers.” Make no mistake, though, it was they who built this country, not the rich, and it will be the middle class who rescues it and rebuilds it again.

Our chances go way up and our recovery will come much faster if some of us in the middle class stop buying into the lie of supply-side economics.

It is not just some failed economic theory. It is a lie perpetrated on Americans by those who stand to benefit from it – the rich and powerful who run our corporations and our government.

Robert Reich spells out again – for the umpteenth time – in his blog, “Why The Three Biggest Economic Lessons Were Forgotten.”

But don’t let the title mislead you. The lessons have not been forgotten, at least not by everyone. Not to put too fine a point on it, the only people who might be fairly accused of having forgotten these lessons are those allowing themselves to be duped by the precious few who benefit by having us forget important economic lessons.

The “precious few” to whom I refer are, of course, the oligarchs in both the private and public sectors. They have duped some of us into believing that trickle-down economics is anything but one incredibly big lie.

To those of you in the 99% who continue to buy into and to perpetuate the lie of supply-side economics, I’d like to ask you a few questions:

Why do you insist on selling yourselves and all of the rest of us in the 99% short by not acknowledging that it is we, not the rich, who are the true engines of capitalism?

Is it not our prosperity and our wealth that improves our economy and allows it to work to everyone’s benefit?

Is it not our purchasing power and our demand for goods and services that makes us and not the rich the true job creators?

Why do you persist in insulting yourselves and the rest of us by believing that all that we deserve in a capitalist economy is what trickles down as overflow from the rich?

It was 33 years ago last month when Ronald Reagan used his inaugural address to vilify the very government he had just been elected to lead. Are three decades not enough time to learn a lesson? Can we not yet conclude that he was wrong? Isn’t it time to abandon supply-side economics and go back in some ways to what we know has worked before?

What’s needed now and more than ever is for the private and public sectors to be brought back into balance in ways that resemble 1946 to 1974 more than 1980 to 2014.

It cannot be denied. The rich have gotten richer while most of us have either stagnated or fallen backward thanks to trickle-down economic theory. We have endured it long enough. If it actually worked, we would now be absolutely swimming in an ocean of opportunities buoyed up for everyone as the economic tide rose.

Anchor-submergedExcept for the very well off, all of our boats have remained tied to the dock while the water has risen up and over our heads. It’s time we all realized that those folks above us on their yachts are not concerned about us. We won’t be floating to the surface to join them if we don’t work together.

Some of you need to stop defending them and understand that the line they’ve thrown you has an anchor attached to it.

Remember when we were kids and we were taught that when we made a mistake the right thing to do was to admit it and to learn from it? Well, here’s your chance. Besides, what do you have to lose? The economic theory you like just hasn’t worked. It was a mistake, and now it’s time for you to admit that and learn from it. It’s time for you to join us Keynesians. History proves that approach works. Supply-side never has and it never will.

The first thing we do is work together on a common goal – getting money out of politics.

When (not if) we get the big and secret money out of our politics, our elected officials in both parties will actually have no choice but to represent us instead of their wealthy donors. Think about it. We still have a voice in our politics. It’s a voice that can be much, much louder in government than any voice most of us will ever hope to have at any corporate shareholder meeting, right?

Once we take back control of government from the rich, then we’ll have representatives with real power to control and contain the corporatists and to end crony capitalism. No, this is NOT Socialism in the scary-red-menace-under-the-bed sense. It’s about doing away with corruption and bringing fairness and balance that benefits all of society.

How and where to begin?

There are lots of grass-roots groups working hard out there to #GetMoneyOut of politics. Pick a few, or pick just one, but do something.

As Kathleen, a Coffee Party friend, advises us, “Get Engaged!”

Check out Coffee Party USA.

http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/

I no longer support or advocate for Coffee Party USA. Click here to read why, and please Comment if you find posts on this site that I missed with this update. Thanks.

They’re a bunch of volunteers keeping Americans informed, and they’re doing a better job of it than the 1% media channels. They are also focused on getting Americans to engage in civil, fact-based dialog meant to find solutions to our social and political challenges. You can find them and join the conversation at their web site, Facebook page, Twitter, and Scoop.it pages. They pride themselves on being inclusive, so you’ll find lots of voices with lots of different perspectives.

https://represent.us/
https://represent.us/
http://anticorruptionact.org/
http://anticorruptionact.org/

There’s also Represent.Us. They are led by some really, really smart people who are working to reform campaign finance laws and to put elections back in our hands instead of in the hands of wealthy donors and super PACs. Their work is focused on the American Anti-Corruption Act which would make reform possible tomorrow if more of us demanded it from our elected leaders.

https://movetoamend.org/
https://movetoamend.org/

Wolf PACThere’s also Move To Amend and WolfPAC who are calling ordinary citizens to actions in their state capitols and all around the country. Their work is directed toward ultimately amending the Constitution in order to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that opened the money floodgates into our elections.

History doesn’t lie. It might get written by the victors, but we live in an age now where it’s easy to vet it and to discover and understand the truth. The truth is that supply-side economics does not work.

It’s time some of us let go of the anchor.

UncleSamWantsYou

Unhappy Anniversary, Citizens United

Today is the 4th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s infamous “Citizens United” decision.

Why should you care?

Watch the 2 1/2 minute video at…

http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/
http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/

http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/ to get a sense of what money in politics is doing to us and to our government. I hope you’ll then decide you want to add your name as a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act. I hope you’ll want to tell everyone to do the same.

After that, visit…

https://movetoamend.org/
https://movetoamend.org/

https://movetoamend.org/ to understand what a bunch of concerned citizens are doing to push for an amendment to our Constitution, “… to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.”

You can sign their petition, too.

Sounds pretty easy, right? It doesn’t take a lot, and every voice counts.

Look, if you don’t do something, who will?

And if you decide to do nothing? That’s your choice, of course.

The way I see it, though, is people who won’t take action – any action – really don’t get to complain about money in politics or the Democrats or the Republicans or the size of government or the size of the military or voter ID laws or how the 2-party system keeps independents from running and winning or fracking or climate science or Roe v Wade or the minimum wage or right-to-work states or class warfare or corporate welfare or Wall Street bonuses and bail outs or George Soros or Sheldon Adelson or Donald Trump or Fox News or MSNBC or Glass-Steagall or the Gilded Age or Obamacare or the NRA or immigration reform or lots of other things that corrupt our representative democracy.

Ask Your House Rep & Senators to "Be A Leader" on Overturning Citizens UnitedIt all boils down to money, and unless and until we – you and I and everyone we know – does something – ANYTHING – to get money out of politics while we get out and vote in every election, well then we shouldn’t expect much to change for the better.

We can do this. You can do this. Why not do it right now?

 

We’re Supposed to Believe These Guys?

I am a huge fan and active supporter of the good and important work being done by Represent.Us to promote and gather true grassroots support for the American Anti-Corruption Act.

It’s why I’m having such a hard time with their recent choice of media in this:

DC ISN’T ABOUT RED VS. BLUE — IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GREEN

Why would Represent.Us choose to use the Government Accountability Institute, an ALEC-supporting, Citizens United-loving 501(c)3 led by Peter Schweizer and Stephen Bannon as proxies for their movement, and why would they choose the interviews these extreme right-wingers did while they played up to and got all cozy with Fox News talking head, Sean Hannity?

Aren’t there plenty of activists and actual experts working tirelessly to make the real case for campaign finance reform?

Perhaps this is this how Represent.Us hopes to win support from the right – by showing clips of Fox interviews of people who run organizations with documented ties to Citizens United and the American Legislative Exchange Council attempting to appear concerned and reasonable when it comes to the corrupting influence of money in politics.

I will give Represent.Us credit for a quixotic quest to penetrate the impenetrable. I just don’t get it.

I still support Represent.Us and I will continue to do so, but I just don’t get this move. Anyone who can help me to understand this is invited to do so in the Comments section.

Who is the GAI?

I’ll let SourceWatch.Org answer that question.

From http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Government_Accountability_Institute

Government Accountability Institute

The Government Accountability Institute (GAI) is a “a new conservative investigative research organization.”[1] The GAI states as its mission “to investigate and expose crony capitalism, misuse of taxpayer monies, and other governmental corruption or malfeasance.”[2]

The GAI has several ties to right-wing groups such as Citizens United, the American Conservative UnionYoung America’s Foundation, and the Hoover Institution, through its key staff and board members:

Hoover Institute fellow, Andrew Breitbart associate, Reagan worshipper, and Sarah Palin has a new foreign policy adviser, Peter Schweizer (image and some text courtesy of http://progressivealaska.blogspot.com/2011/05/palin-fires-scheunemann-hires-breitbart.html)
Hoover Institute fellow, Andrew Breitbart associate, Reagan worshipper, and Sarah Palin foreign policy adviser, Peter Schweizer (image and some text courtesy of http://progressivealaska.blogspot.com/2011/05/palin-fires-scheunemann-hires-breitbart.html)

Peter Schweizer, president of the GAI, is a researcher for the Hoover Institution in Stanford, California.[3] Mr. Schweizer is also on the Research Advisory Council of the James Madison Institute,[4] a member of the State Policy Network, which itself is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Writer, producer, director and collaborator with Citizens United founder David Bossie on films such as “The Hope & the Change,” as well as Palin-worship, "The Undefeated" and many other right-wing propaganda films. (See http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0052442/; image courtesy of http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2011/07/15/director-stephen-bannon-talks-sarah-palins-undefeated)
Writer, producer, director and collaborator with Citizens United founder David Bossie on films such as “The Hope & the Change,” as well as Palin-worship, “The Undefeated” and many other right-wing propaganda films. (See http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0052442/; image courtesy of http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2011/07/15/director-stephen-bannon-talks-sarah-palins-undefeated)

Executive Chairman and co-founder of the GAI, Stephen Bannon, is the Executive Chairman of Breitbart News LLC, the parent company of Breitbart.com, a conservative news and opinion website, founded by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart[5][6].