In Liberty Plaza in Lower Manhattan, in Oakland’s Oscar Grant Plaza, and at other parks and public squares across the nation (and the world), Occupiers are daily creating the more perfect democracy they’d like to see. As part of that process, groups and individuals and intellectuals and pundits have put forth proposed “demands,” to address the myriad problems laid out above. From Occupy Wall Street’s principles of solidarity to the General Assembly’s proposed New New Deal to Robert Reich’s list of essential progressive reforms to the Working Group of the 99 Percent’s Petition of Grievences, we’ve read the proposals and humbly offer our own, for ways to begin to make the richest nation on the planet fair for those of us who can’t afford a congressman.
Our list is meant to be the beginning of a conversation, not a final product.
1. Debt relief Total household debt in America is $13.3 trillion — 114 percent of after-tax income. That millions of working Americans owe every penny they make to hugely profitable financial institutions is absurd and grotesque.
We demand immediate relief for the 99 Percent, particularly the poor and young students and college graduates. The Debt Jubilee is an ancient idea, and an attractive one in an era of growing economic feudalism, as the poor increasingly devote all their labor to repaying the rich. It is not in the national interest to force the impoverished to become wage slaves to pay off insurmountable debts owned to payday lenders and hugely profitable bankers.
Every other rich nation on earth heavily subsidizes higher education. We force mere kids to mortgage their futures, then ensure that the debt follows them the rest of their lives, regardless of their living circumstances. Student loan debt hurts not just the graduate but everyone else in society, too: The cost of healthcare would surely decrease, and the availability of primary care for disadvantaged populations increase, if new doctors were not regularly graduating school $200,000 in the red.
And real and widespread relief for homeowners in crisis is urgent. Even millions of homeowners who “did everything right” find themselves underwater, or illegally foreclosed upon by banks running roughshod over the rights of homeowners by robo-signing fraudulent foreclosure documents by the thousands. Banks servicing mortgages are (rightfully) more worried about getting sued by the owners of securities made up of Americans’ debt than they are about getting in any sort of trouble for bullying or illegally seizing the homes of regular people. Everyone should get a shot at a renegotiation of their mortgage, at fair rates, and with support from the government.
2. A substantial jobs program Most American cities are filled with beautiful old buildings and monuments and parks dating back to the recovery programs of the New Deal, as well as increasingly decrepit bridges and roads and structures that have been neglected by the last couple of decades of shrinking infrastructure investment. A real, direct jobs program, done in the WPA style, would rebuild our cities and towns in addition to putting thousands of people back to work.
3. A healthcare public option Medicare is probably the single most popular government program in the country, which is no surprise, because government-subsidized healthcare tends to be the most popular government program in every nation that has implemented it.
If a true single-payer system would be too disruptive, we can put the building blocks in place by giving people a public option. Expanding the pool of Medicare recipients to include healthy younger people paying into it would instantly improve the program’s fiscal outlook. Nationalizing the underfunded Medicaid system would instantly reduce the deplorable inequity of our healthcare system, too. If this new Medicare could negotiate drug prices — like the Veterans Administration, our wonderful, totally socialized healthcare program for one group of Americans — it would save even more. (Hey, why not combine the proposal with debt relief for young doctors?)
4. Reregulate Wall Street Taking the “unsophisticated” broad view, it seems painfully obvious that Wall Street deregulation undid the stabilizing effects of 1930s-era Wall Street regulation. We’re on a boom-and-bust cycle, and a shrinking number of growing megabanks now regularly threaten the entire world economy. It’s hard to imagine that we wouldn’t be better off with a worldwide network of small, independent credit unions than massive financial institutions daily innovating new and more arcane methods of shifting vast sums of imaginary capital around, but in lieu of smashing the banks with brickbats why not just reinstate the rules that effectively limited their behavior for 40 years or so? Bring back Glass-Steagall. Pass the Volcker rule, too. Ban banks from trading derivatives. Limit their behavior and tax their earnings.
6. Repeal the Patriot Act
Speaking of expensive wastes of resources that are also in direct violation of the nation’s founding principles, let’s dismantle the expansive domestic surveillance state, hurriedly established at a panicky period of national crisis and then enshrined as permanent without a word of serious debate.
The extra-constitutional “delayed-notice search warrants” given to law enforcement by the Patriot Act have been used far more for fighting the war on drugs than the war on terror, which is to be expected from a law that was essentially a massive laundry list of tools and privileges that prosecutors and FBI agents had wanted for years that had thus far been denied to them by pesky constitutional checks on their powers. The government even has its ownsecret legal readings of the act, allowing it to do secret things we can know nothing about.
The government now has vast powers to track and spy on us for whatever reasons it chooses, and both parties are mostly fine with that. When the NSA was found to be engaging in illegal domestic wiretapping and data mining, Congress responded by granting them more domestic wiretapping and data mining powers. As we’ve moved further from those panicky days that birthed the Patriot Act, the law and its associated unaccountable domestic surveillance state have, perversely, become more normalized. Those in favor of limited government should be the most alarmed at this.
7. Tackle climate change We may be rapidly approaching the catastrophic point of no return when it comes to preventing major, devastating climate change. To keep warming below “dangerous levels,” one recent study says, we’d need to “reverse the rise in emissions immediately and follow through with steep reductions through the century.” Immediately — like now.
Frustratingly, even half-measures have found no support in Congress, where the industries doing the polluting have far more clout than mere scientists or human beings who’ll be alive in a future period of mass extinctions, hunger, flooding and drought. At the very least — and this is literally the very least the government should be doing right now to combat climate change — a price should be put on carbon emissions, either in the form of a direct tax or as part of a cap-and-trade scheme. This is a policy so self-evidently beneficial to the vast majority of mankind — it taxes a bad thing, so that corporations do less of the bad thing, while also giving the government revenue to spend on good things — that cap-and-trade’s defeat in Congress says just about all there is to say about the corrupting power of industry money on the government process.
10. Fix the tax system
There are a million ways the tax code could be made fairer, simpler and more progressive, and most of those ways are opposed by powerful entrenched interests. But it is an inescapable fact that for most of the 20th century, federal income tax rates were very high on the wealthy — very, very high, in fact — and most of that period also happened to be a time of widespread prosperity for rich and middle-class Americans alike. The experiment in slashing taxes on the rich seems to have failed everyone but the rich.
The system as it currently stands forces states to fund essential services with the most regressive taxes possible, mainly sales taxes, in order not to scare businesses elsewhere. The current system allows hugely profitable transnational corporations to get away without paying anything, to make killings “overseas” while operating at imaginary losses domestically. Warren Buffett, as we all know, is paying less than his secretary.
So let’s create a millionaire’s tax bracket, and a financial transactions tax. Let’s close the carried interest tax loophole and raise the estate tax and taxes on capital gains. Let’s get the highest marginal tax rate back up to, at the least, Reagan-era levels. Let’s stop all being held hostage, as a nation, to the fanatical anti-tax doctrine of the 1 Percent.
Bank of America had impeccable timing when it decided recently to charge a $5 monthly fee for the privilege of using its debit cards. The notorious bailout baron, having just announced 30,000 job cuts, decided to stick it not to the platinums, not to the golds, but to the debit card masses.
Occupy Wall Streeters could not have asked for a more perfect target. They’ve melted the bank’s debit cards, organized “mass account closures” and rallied outside numerous branches around the world.
So thanks, Bank of America, for making one of the costs of Wall Street greed so crystal clear.
But wouldn’t it be illuminating if we got a monthly bill tallying up all the ways the financial industry makes the 99 percent pay for the pleasures of the 1 percent?
I’m not even talking about the incalculable costs of the 2008 meltdown, the bailouts and the ongoing crisis. I’m talking about the less conspicuous ways the financial industry picks our pockets. Here are just a few examples:
§ Oil speculation: $82 per month. Ordinary Americans pay extra at the pump because of high-roller gambling in oil futures markets. When gas was nearly $4 per gallon in May, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, professor Robert Pollin estimated [seePDF] the monthly cost of this speculative premium at $82 for the average two-car family. A new report by Better Markets finds that excessive speculation on food commodities also inflates our grocery bills.
Americans for Financial Reform, Maryknoll, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and other groups are fighting for regulations that could end such brazen price manipulation. Among the proposals: strict limits on how much of the market a single speculator can corner.
§ Tax breaks for wealth creation: $65 per month. When the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes, it’s the 99 percent who have to fill the gap—or face painful spending cuts.
One of the most absurd loopholes allows gazillionaire hedge-fund chiefs to pay only a 15 percent capital gains tax on “carried interest,” the profit share they get as a management fee. The White House estimates this loophole costs the Treasury around $20 billion over ten years, about $1.50 per household every month.
But let’s look at the broader cost of this preferential tax treatment. By favoring those who make money from money, even if it’s from high-speed gambling with no social value, the tax break for capital gains keeps the Wall Street roulette wheels spinning. The estimated cost of the capital gains discount: $88 billion per year, or $65 per household every month.
§ Tax haven abuse: $74 per month. US financial firms use tax havens to avoid paying their taxes, and they help clients do the same by setting up their offshore accounts. Gains from such tax dodging pad the wallets of the 1 percent. Prudential Financial, for example, has lowered its tax bill [see PDF] by establishing thirty-six subsidiaries in tax-haven countries. CEO John Strangfeld made $16.2 million last year, while the firm received a $722 million refund on its federal corporate income taxes.
Tax havens overall cost Americans an estimated $100 billion per year [see PDF]—or $74 per month per household. Senator Carl Levin and Representative Lloyd Doggett have introduced bills to close numerous loopholes that facilitate such tax dodging.
But it’s not enough for the 99 percent to stop paying the costs of Wall Street greed. The Occupiers have shined a brighter spotlight on the need for our financial sector to actually serve, rather than bilk, the rest of the economy.
[Read The Ful Story Here]:
THE BAY CITIZEN
Occupy Protests Test the Mayor of Oakland
When Jean Quan was an undergraduate, she once sat for 10 hours inside Sproul Hall at the University of California, Berkeley, demanding better treatment for minority students. As a community activist, she helped unionize hospital workers and organized parents in a poor neighborhood of West Oakland.
At another time, Ms. Quan, the mayor of Oakland, might have joined the hundreds of protesters who have camped out near City Hall as part of Occupy Oakland. Instead, she is now a focus of their wrath. Late Thursday night, protesters chased her from a rally, shouting “Go home,” and refusing to let her speak. The protesters were reacting to her decision to shut down the encampment, which led to a night of street violence on Tuesday, with police unleashing tear gas on the demonstrators. Ms. Quan said the area had become unsanitary and unsafe.
Ms. Quan’s transformation from one of the more progressive mayors in the country into an object of Occupy Oakland’s scorn has left her isolated and weakened politically. Even her closest friends and supporters questioned her judgment. Dan Siegel, Ms. Quan’s legal adviser who has known her since her days at Berkeley, said he briefly considered resigning over the raid.
On Thursday, Ms. Quan had reversed herself and allowed the protesters to resettle in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, despite the fact that Oakland, facing a $76 million budget deficit, spent an estimated $1 million on cleanup costs and police overtime during the Occupy protest, according to finance officials.
Three-dozen tents were spread across the plaza on Friday morning; there were 150 before Tuesday’s raid. Phil Horne, a San Francisco attorney, was handing out yellow leaflets asking people to sign a petition to recall Ms. Quan as mayor. Her actions last week erased her accomplishments as an activist, he said.
4 Key Questions About the Future of Occupy Wall Street
After a little more than a month of explosive growth, there’s a sense that Occupy Wall Street is at a crossroads.
October 27, 2011
After a little more than a month of explosive growth, there’s a growing sense that Occupy Wall Street is at a crossroads.
“The first phase of this movement has peaked. And now it gets interesting,” says Kalle Lasn, editor of Adbusters, the magazine that issued the original call for a Sept. 17 protest on Wall Street. “The original magic of some of those general assemblies is wearing a little thin in some — though not all — places. And winter is coming. People are wondering whether they want to hang around for three hours talking about protocol.”
Can the movement move from tactic to strategy?
Michael Kazin, a historian of left movements, argued in an interview with Salon this week that the occupation of public spaces to bring attention to economic injustice and corruption on Wall Street is at heart a tactic – one that has been remarkably successful. Can Occupy now shift to a broader strategy for effecting change?
The answer to that question depends on what sort of change Occupy wants to accomplish, which is itself not a settled issue. Adbusters’ Lasn predicts the movement will go in a variety of directions. “I believe the movement will break up into components and there will be myriad projects bubbling up from the grass roots,” he says. He imagines campaigns centering on a variety of legislative goals designed to address economic injustice — or even the creation of a third party in America.
“The first thing to say is, and it needs to be repeated and articulated well, is that something has already been accomplished that is very important. Three months ago these conversations were not happening,” Kelly says. “Suddenly our corporate world starts to look a little more vaporous than it did a few months ago.”
Going forward, one key thing to watch is how well existing progressive groups — especially labor unions — can partner with Occupy to pursue existing goals. These partnerships are already beginning to form, for example in the campaign to extend the millionaires’ tax in New York.
In New York, there is also an Occupy demands working group that bears watching. It continues to engage in intense discussions about potential demands that will ultimately be brought before the general assembly for a vote.
Can Occupy’s decentralized structure be effective in the long term?
There are already concerns in New York that the model of a general assembly — composed of anyone who happens to be present in the park on a given night and making decisions by consensus — does not scale up. Occupiers spend many hours every night on sometimes trivial decisions like whether to appropriate a few hundred dollars to an art project.
There is a structure working group and a proposal for a so-called spokes council that would complement the general assembly (see the proposalhere). If it is adopted — and there’s no certainty that it will be given the hostility of some occupiers to anything that smacks of representation — it could streamline the movement’s decision-making process, at least in New York.
Kazin, the historian, also argues that leaders, in one form or another, will have to emerge if Occupy is to become a real, sustained political force.
More Naked Women Protests!! More Naked Women Protests!! #Occupy: Lead By Their Example! (Hot Women Only, Please!)
750 Women Go Nude in Protest
HUNDREDS of women bared all in a visual anti-war demonstration on a hillside near the northern NSW beach town of Byron Bay.
More than 750 female protesters shed their clothing during the protest, lying naked end to end on a grassy knoll on a private property, to form a heart shape around the words “No War” for an aerial photograph.
"I needed at the very least 67 women and I prayed for 250, and we got more than 750.
"What that tells me is that 750 women came and took the opportunity to get quite uncomfortable in a field - I know I felt quite uncomfortable - because we thought that was the only way we could get the federal government’s attention."
[This Is What #Occupy Must Do!!! LOL!!!]
[this protest actually Happened on February 8th, 2003 in response to possible Australia Troops being sent to Iraq.]
“They don’t want to cooperate. They don’t want to help. Even on measures to help the economy that they traditionally have supported before, like a payroll tax cut, like infrastructure, rebuilding our roads and bridges and surface transport. These — so you have to ask a question, are they willing to tear down the economy in order to tear down the president or are they going to cooperate?”—David Axelrod, basically (and correctly) saying this morning that the GOP is sabotaging the economy’s recovery in order to beat Obama in 2012. (via ryking)
Parent Alienation is A Crime. The Alienating Parent Is Proof Functional Mental Illness Exists!
Parental Alienation - FOUR GENERATIONS IN A ROW!
Featured Hostin Family11/2/11 7:00PM
In 1973 Mike Krukiel’s parents were among the first to be divorced under Connecticut’s new no-fault divorce laws. Mike saw plenty of fights between his parents leading up to the divorce. His father had moved out of the house and had been given the typical “visitation schedule” of Saturday overnight into Sunday every other weekend that included himself and his sibling. He was 7 years old. Time with his father was reduced from daily time together to every other weekend.
Mike’s mother began a campaign of denigrating his father and projecting her feelings of hatred for him onto Mike. He was always grilled by her when returning from visits with his father. He remembers she would always make him wait by the door when his father came to pick the kids up for visitation. She would require Mike’s dad to knock on the door to their house, she’d come downstairs and start an argument often resulting in her denying the visitation in its entirety.
Telephone contact with his father between visits was never allowed. If his father did call to talk to the kids, Mike’s mother always intercepted the calls and questioned the children, start an argument or just plain hang up and not allow them to ever speak to him. Many times she would bring Mike and his sister with her late at night as she drove around his house, his neighborhood and places he frequented. She would stake him out and spy on him. For years, Mike’s mother convinced him that his father had started another family and had other children that he cared about more than he cared for Mike & his sister. In time, Mike would learn that his father had a vasectomy while still married to his mother (that she had authorized). There was no other family. There were no other children. The stories were all lies.
#OccupyDenver Under Unconstitutional Attack To Incite Violence By Protesters!
Denver Police Move Into Occupy Protest Encampment
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: October 29, 2011 at 11:52 PM ET
DENVER (AP) — The simmering tension near the Colorado Capitol escalated dramatically Saturday with more than a dozen arrests, reports of skirmishes between police and protesters and authorities firing rounds of pellets filled with pepper spray at supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Officers in riot gear moved into a park late in the day where protesters were attempting to establish an encampment, hauling off demonstrators just hours after a standoff at the Capitol steps degenerated into a fight that ended in a cloud of Mace and pepper spray.
Denver police spokesman Matt Murray said 15 people were arrested in the evening confrontation, where authorities were moving to prevent protesters from setting up tents in the park, which are illegal. Officals say the demonstrators had been warned several times that the tents would not be allowed and those who attempted to stop police from dismantling the camp gear were arrested. Protesters have been staying in the park for weeks, but tents have repeatedly been removed.
"We showed great restraint," he said. "We were calm. We went in and did what we had to do. There’s a group of very committed people who believe in a cause, and then there are a few people who just want to cause trouble."
A group of the marchers advanced toward the building and some tried to make their way up the steps. About eight officers scuffled with a group of protesters and police confirmed that they used Mace and fired pepper balls — hollow projectiles filled with the chemical irritant — to break up the crowd. Protesters told the paper at the time that they believed police used rubber bullets.
Psychological Take on Candidate Choice! (Excerpts)
Why Our Candidates Disappoint Us
By DREW WESTEN
Published: October 29, 2011
AS a psychotherapist for more than 25 years, I’ve never been fond of boilerplate formulations. But if there’s one aphorism I’ve repeated to patients many times, it’s one that applies as much in politics as it does in daily life: Our strengths and our weaknesses tend to flow from the same wells.
Understanding that about ourselves can help make life easier. And understanding that about our politicians can help explain why, after more than 30 million people have tuned in to the Republican debates, the most popular political figure or institution in the country remains “none of the above.” ……..
…….. Similarly, a tendency to value reason and intellect in decision-making is invaluable, but its flip side can be a discomfort with emotion that can interfere not only with intimacy in close relationships but, paradoxically, with good decision-making.
Making good decisions requires an ability to anticipate the emotional consequences of one course of action or another, often by listening to “gut-level” rumblings that provide an early warning signal that something is amiss. And so it is in politics, as the wellsprings of hope are so often laced with the contaminants of despair. ……..
……. Conservatism is by its nature concerned with preserving tradition, and with tradition comes agreater emphasis on obedience and hierarchy. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” rolls off the lips of many of my fellow Georgians, but it’s not among the top proverbs in Manhattan. Because of their attitude toward authority and hierarchy, Republicans in Congress are more likely to follow their leaders (although the tea in the Tea Party has added some libertarian spices for which some Republican leaders are still trying to develop a taste). This aptitude for synchronized swimming can lead to Olympic victories, but also to Pyrrhic ones.
Democrats on the other hand react so strongly against taking “marching orders” that they can scarcely stay on message even if their political lives depend on it (which they often do). Whether because he wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do or because he took the laissez-faire attitude toward leadership that bedevils the Democratic Party, President Obama let a Democratic Congress craft his signature legislation on health care. The result was a patchwork quilt that took 15 months to sew, and was stitched so sloppily that it left the average American cold.
Computer Chip Design: That design will see two types of processor core in the same device, one powerful and one less so, and uses the most power-appropriate device for the task at hand. The idea of entire subsystems takes that a step further.
ARM CTO predicts chips the size of blood cells
The chip design company is on its way to making chips no bigger than a red blood cell, its CTO says
In less than a decade, that smartphone you’re holding could have 32 times the memory, 20 times the bandwidth and a microprocessor core no bigger than a red blood cell, the CTO of chip design company ARM said on Thursday.
ARM has already helped develop a prototype, implantable device for monitoring eye-pressure in glaucoma patients that measures just 1 cubic millimeter, CTO Mike Muller said at ARM’s TechCon conference in Silicon Valley Thursday. The device includes a microprocessor sandwiched between sensors at the top and a battery at the bottom.
Strip away those extra components, rearrange the transistors into a cube and apply the type of advanced manufacturing process expected in 2020, and you’d end up with a device that occupies about the same volume as a blood cell, Muller said.
ARM designs the processor cores used in most of today’s smartphones and tablets, and smaller cores are generally more energy efficient, he said. That helps to extend battery life.
That’s a good thing, because battery technology is advancing much more slowly, and Muller expects only twice the improvement in battery performance by the end of the decade. ………
……….. The bandwidth gains in 2020 will come mostly from advances in topology, according to Muller — basically increasing the number of cellular base stations. Spectrum, and the technologies used to send bits across that spectrum, won’t advance much, he predicted.
That’s okay for people in cities, where it can make financial sense to install more base stations. “If you’re out in the middle of nowhere, I’m sorry, there’s not going to be much big change for you,” Muller said.
Social deprivation led to UK riots, figures show
By Julie Hyland 29 October 2011
Social deprivation was the main factor in the disturbances that broke out in London and other cities in August, government statistics confirm.
The figures released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), based on those arrested as a consequence of the disorder, only cover the period up to mid-October. The overwhelming majority were male (90 percent), and more than half were aged below 20 years of age. The figure are based on some 5,000 recorded crimes—including disorder and burglary—the majority in the capital, Birmingham and Manchester.
Among the adults arrested in the disturbances, 35 percent were in receipt of some form of unemployment benefit, compared with 12 percent of the working age population.
The MoJ states, “Young people appearing before the courts came disproportionately from areas with high levels of deprivation as defined by the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Indices, 2010. 64 percent of 10-17 year olds for whom matched data were available lived in one of the 20 percent most deprived areas whilst only three percent lived in one of the 20 percent least deprived areas.”
Some 42 percent of young people arrested received Free School Meals (FSM)—only available to the poorest section of the population. This compares to 16 percent of all secondary school pupils.
“This pattern can also be seen in London, where 40 percent of young people appearing before the courts were in receipt of FSM compared to 26 percent of all London pupils in secondary schools, and the North West (50 percent and 18 percent respectively).”
The report makes clear that government assertions that the disturbances were the product of a “gang culture” were a lie. The overwhelming majority were not members of gangs, the report states. In most of the areas affected, less than 10 percent of those arrested could be identified as belonging to gangs, it says.
Only in London was the figure of gang membership among those arrested estimated at 19 percent. There is no agreed definition of what constitutes gang membership, the MoJ states. Even so, “the great majority of arrestees” in the capital were not gang members and “Most [police] forces perceived that where gangs were involved, they generally did not play a pivotal role.”