Good News!

Posted 03/04/2019 by demovrcorps
Categories: Uncategorized

As you may have seen in either the Athens News or Athens Messenger a lawsuit has now been filed in federal court on behalf of the residents of several Ohio counties, including Athens and Meigs, challenging the rejection by county boards of election of duly-signed citizen petitions from being placed on the ballots. If the case is successful it will put the Athens and Meigs county charter proposals on the ballot and roll back the attempt of the oil and gas industry to prevent citizens from passing laws to protect their own property and health. The Bill of Rights Committee (BORC) under the leadership of Saraquoia Bryant, Sally Jo Wiley, and Greg Howard have been leading this effort, with legal help from the Community Environmental Defense Fund. Our thanks go to them.

The lawsuit filed locally in state district court to get the Athens charter proposal on the ballot is still in process. It was bounced back to the Athens Common Pleas court by the District Court, because the Common Pleas Court had mishandled the case, making it unappealable at the district level. The Common Pleas Court has been asked to correct its action, so the case can, at least, be appealed. It seems like a lot of judicial foot-dragging.

What is the role of our current system of money creation by banks in contributing to the world’s current problems?

inequality of wealth and income distribution,

economic instability and insecurity

the unsustainable plundering of the earth’s resources

How much of this is driven by our current monetary system?

In 2017 a small group met as the Athens Monetary Literacy Group to educate ourselves about this question. After several meetings the group published the attached article in The Athens Messenger, entitled “Who creates money and where does it go?” (https://www.athensmessenger.com/blogs/guest_columnists/who-creates-money-and-where-does-it-go/article_5f286f42-7287-5a23-ba4c-38cb5e0d22c0.html)

A follow-up article appeared this year. (https://www.athensmessenger.com/blogs/guest_columnists/money-creation-is-an-international-issue/article_b90fb282-201c-5f39-afc4-52b7a29fd563.html)

The present monetary system is a human creation; it can be changed. There are alternatives that can serve us all better. Short of dealing with fundamental aspects of how our system works, well-intended efforts to regulate and reform may amount to “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Wondering about what judicial candidates to vote for, and what State School Board candidate to vote for?

Posted 10/17/2018 by demovrcorps
Categories: Uncategorized

 

Here is some information and suggestions. My personal choices, for what it is worth, are bolded.

Ohio Supreme Court – two seats

Melody Stewart vs. Mary Degenaro

Degenaro, in her short term on the Ohio Supreme Court, has voted three times against Community Rights efforts to get citizens initiatives on the ballot in cases involving Youngstown, Columbus and Toledo. Stewart voted against the Broadview Heights Community Rights group at the Appellate level, but only on the basis of a technical consideration. I think that Stewart will be more open than her opponent to consideration of Athens County efforts to get a charter on the ballot.

Michael Donnelly vs. Craig Baldwin

I don’t know much about Donnelly, but his opponent styles himself as an “originalist” in the mode of US Supreme Court justice Alioto. I wonder if being an “originalist” means being committed to allowing voting only by white males, as the originators of the Constitution were.

District 4 Court of Appeals (includes Athens County and most of southern Ohio) – two seats

Marie Hoover vs. Jason Smith

Hoover is the incumbent. She pitches herself as being faithful to the law. Smith advertises himself as a conservative. Being a conservative should neither qualify or disqualify anyone as a candidate for the  court, but because someone holds a particular political view isn’t a reason to support election to a judicial seat. It is inappropriate advertising from my point of view.

Valerie Gerlach

Gerlach seems well qualified, although she hasn’t responded to LWV requests for information about herself for the League Voter Guides. Her opponent advertises himself as a conservative.

Additional information about the judicial candidates can be found at  https://blogs.uakron.edu/judicialvotescount/athens-county-judicial-elections-2018/.

Ohio School Board- district 8 reaches from Meigs County north to Stark and Mahoning Counties, including Athens County

(See an interesting article about this race at http://www.wfmj.com/story/39248990/canfield-teen-runs-for-state-board-of-education

Kathleen Purdy – seemingly a good candidate. Certainly more experienced than Dahman! My reservation is that she wants to lure companies into the district to increase the tax base, but to do so means giving the companies tax breaks, which contributes to the downward spiral of taxation and support for education. In other words, give the well-paid company management a tax break so their underpaid employees can pay the taxes. (See http://www.vindy.com/politics/politicians/kathleen-purdy/).

Melissa Dahman – an 18 year old. Responding to the Parkland School shooting, “The teen says a group of students instead took their concerns to state senators, crafting a House Bill and Senate Bill 314, which requires schools to hire a school psychologist and intervention specialist. The bill is sponsored by State Senator Joe Schiavoni.” (from the article cited above) That’s better than hiring more policeman or arming teachers, but it is another unfunded mandate for schools.

John Hagan – a former Republican member of the Ohio House, who was term-limited, tried to get back into politics with an unsuccessful run for county commissioner, is now trying for the state school board

I do have a concern in this race about splitting the vote between the two best candidates, Purdy and Dahman, allowing the least desirable candidate to win. 

If you have additional information about these candidates which I should share, please let me know.

Additional information about candidates for other offices can be found at the League of Women Voters site, www.vote411.org.

However you vote, be sure to vote. Don’t let democracy die through your apathy.

John Howell, Coordinator of Democracy Over Corporations

FROM OUR FRIENDS and INSPIRATIONAL COMMUNITY RIGHTS ACTIVISTS in YOUNGSTOWN

Posted 10/17/2018 by demovrcorps
Categories: Uncategorized

Ohio Community Rights activists concerned about protecting our WATER and our democratic right to self-govern,
The Youngstown Drinking Water Protection Bill of Rights is the ONLY initiative that the Board of Elections and the Ohio Supreme Court “allowed” on the ballot this year. This is our 10th attempt if you count 2 initiatives that were also kept off the ballot in 2017. WE NEED YOUR HELP to finally pass this law to protect our water and our water funds from corporate state plundering!
You can help us in many ways:
1. Distributing literature at Early Voting.

2. We can really use help on Weekend of November 3 and on the 4th which is “Souls to the Polls” Day from 1 – 5!

3. On Election Day – 6:30 AM – 7:30 PM followed by Election night party.
WE NEED LOTS OF PEOPLE.  There are many polling locations throughout the city and the local group will assign you to a polling location beforehand if you volunteer for that day.
4. If you cannot help by getting to Youngstown, we can really use donations to help with printing cost of literature and postage to mail absentees a postcard. You can find a GoFundME set up if you want to donate through that or there is also mailing information on our website. Any amount is appreciated.
To volunteer please contact one of the following people: (calling is the preferred way but I have also included emails)
John Williams – 234-232-0545  wearenotexpendable@gmail.com
Randy Younkin – 330-727-1617   randyyounkin@hotmail.com
Lynn Anderson – 330-792-0428    artistelynn@sbcglobal.net
The group can house students and other state activists Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night,  Monday Night and Tuesday Night.
Thank You So Much.
We are going to win this time.

 

The Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Community Group
From: Tish O’Dell <tish@celdf.org>
CELDF Ohio Organizer
OHCRN Board Member www.ohiocrn.org
440-838-5272

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Alice Walker 

“Laws should be made to serve the people. People should not be made to serve the laws.”  Huey P. Newton

Money creation – an international issue

Posted 07/04/2018 by demovrcorps
Categories: Uncategorized

Published in the Athens Messenger
June 16, 2018

By John Howell

As Messenger readers will know from an earlier guest editorial (“Who Creates Money and Where Does it Go,” Jan. 28, 2017), the bulk of the money circulating in our economy is in the form of account money which is created by banks as they make loans.  The fact that banks create new money when they make loans has not been widely acknowledged by bankers or economists, but—thanks to a citizen-initiated national referendum in Switzerland—the ability of banks to create money with just a few keystrokes when making loans is now readily admitted and out in the open.   The Swiss referendum, the Vollgeld Initiative, called for a vote to change the way Swiss money is created.   It would have brought to an end the standard bank practice of creating money through loans and transferred the power to create money to the Swiss National Bank.  The referendum brought international attention to the issue of money creation.  A major article entitled appeared in the June 2 Wall Street Journal entitled “A Shocking Challenge to the Banking System.”

Every growing economy needs a continuous supply of new money to operate.  The Vollgeld Initiative proposed that new money be created by the national bank and distributed to the Swiss federal government, and to the Cantons (Swiss states), presumably to be spent directly into the economy in support of public goals and domestic programs. Some of the money created would even have gone directly to Swiss citizens.  The powerful Swiss banking system and Swiss Parliament campaigned fiercely against the initiative, but it still garnered 25% of the Swiss vote.  While the referendum did not pass this time around, it succeeded in raising fundamental questions about how money does—and should—work in an economy.   Monetary reform movements are growing in countries around the world.

Many reasons for reform can be cited. For the Swiss, the major issue was economic stability and the use of “fake” money created by banks. The banking system has not significantly changed since the meltdown of 2007-8, and many recognize the potential instability of the current system, and feel that a repeat is likely, if not inevitable. The instability comes from the banks creating too much money, i.e., easy credit in good times, producing debt levels, both personal and governmental, that cannot be managed. Banks have an incentive to lend as much as they can, within the limits imposed by risk, because loans are the product from which banks profit. When lending produces real economic growth, matching the growth of the money supply, there is no problem. But lending has always tended to outstrip real economic growth, through lending for speculative, non-productive purposes, such as buying houses only for resale when prices rise. As a result, we have increasing debt levels and continued devaluation of our currency, reflected by rising prices.

The current system, in which all new money is created by commercial banks as they make loans, allows these banks to direct where new money goes. It doesn’t go for roads, bridges, water systems, education, healthcare, etc. It goes to where banks can make secure loans. If that new money were created by the federal government, as Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution calls for, it could go toward support of our physical and social infrastructure. Or, because the monetary system should be regarded as belonging to all of us, that is, part of the commons, at least part of all new money could go directly to citizens.

Because our money is currently created as debt (as credit), interest payments flow on every dollar in circulation from the many, the users of money, to the few, the lenders who are given the privilege to create it. This is a major driver of the concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands, largely into the financial sector. This concentration of wealth erodes democracy as the wealthy few come to control elections, government, and everything else. The fact that government is not creating money, as the Constitution directs, leads to public austerity and crumbling infrastructure. Extreme concentration of wealth coupled with weakening public institutions is a recipe for social collapse.

Perhaps the most compelling argument for monetary reform is that the current system depends upon growth for its own stability. On a finite planet growth can’t continue forever. An economy that uses resources faster than they can be replenished by nature and produces waste faster than nature can absorb it is not sustainable. We need to reject the current system which demands growth and adopt one that can provide stability both in times of growth and in times of no-growth.

The system must give way to change. It is time for us to come together to work out how this change can be implemented in ways that will avoid collapse, provide a smooth transition, and leave a future for our children. Proposals are available. They have been formulated in this country as well as in Switzerland, England and The Netherlands, and are being promoted in many other countries as well. They need to be topics for discussion, for political dialogue and for further research.

Follow the Money

Posted 04/24/2018 by demovrcorps
Categories: Uncategorized

In the April 17 Messenger, Kleinbard of the LA Times argues that the recent tax reform bill adopted by Congress worsens the nations finances. Lowering tax revenues and increasing the federal deficit by about 50%, to about $1 trillion, appears to be an intentional effort by the Republican Congress to “asphyxiate the working class” by forcing a decrease in federal spending on Medicare and Social Security. When that happens, except for the very wealthy, we all lose.

Kleinbard suggests several very reasonable changes that would increase government revenues. We should be electing representatives to Congress who will enact these measures. At present, that means electing Democrats, independents or minority party candidates.

But the problem runs deeper. The deficit problem was with us long before this tax “reform.” It arises because Congress outsourced its Constitutional authority to create money. Instead of borrowing, by creating Treasury bonds, government could create money. Such money would be spent into circulation on infrastructure and Medicare and stay in circulation; but that’s not the way money is created today. Congress outsourced money creation with the Federal Reserve Act, giving banks the authority to create the money we use.

Banks create money as they lend it. Since all our money is created in the form of loans, no wonder both government and private sectors have record levels of debt. Without debt there would be no money, except for the coins which the government does produce! This massive debt systematically transfers money in the form of interest from the many, most of us, to the few (0.01%?) who are the creators and lenders of the money.

The total money supply is currently about $14 trillion. Multiply that by the average interest rate. You get a very big number, which is the wealth that is being sucked out of the economy by the financial sector.  Only a small fraction of goes back into the economy to increase production of goods and services. Driven by lending, the money supply increases faster than the production, and our money is devalued by inflation, another way we all suffer.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Congress could reclaim its authority to create money. It would fund infrastructure, social and physical, and reduce debt, both public and private. Ask your congressional candidates about that.

If you want to understand our current fiscal problems, follow the money – back to its creation.

Letter to Les Leopold, author of Runaway Inequality

Posted 05/07/2017 by demovrcorps
Categories: Uncategorized

Dear Les Leopold,

Thanks very much for your excellent book, Runaway Inequality. I agree that there is no issue more central to survival of democracy than that of runaway inequality.

My question to you is about responses to the problem. You cite a number of things which must be done, such as returning to a progressive income tax structure and refocusing federal expenditures, all of which are important.

But with regard to monetary policy you stop short of the real reform that is needed, namely to revoke the special privileges of banks to create money and return that authority to the people through their government where it constitutionally belongs. That, as I am sure you must know, offers a way to make the investments needed in infrastructure that will boost the economy, providing jobs, without increasing the tax burden and without increasing federal debt.

It also stems the tide of wealth concentration into the hands of the few. The process of wealth concentration acts in many ways, but two of the most fundamental are 1) that interest payments go to banks for every dollar that is created and 2) that interest payments on the government debt go to those wealthy enough to loan to the government. These are both systematic transfers of wealth from the many, the borrowers and the taxpayers, to the few, the lenders.

Even under the enlightened fiscal times after the depression and WWII, wealth was accumulating into the hands of the few. It was just accumulating more slowly than it has with the trickle-down economics that has been in place since 1980. This is starkly shown in two figures from Elizabeth Warrens’ new book, This Fight Is Our Fight, on pages 106 and 146.

State banks are fine, but they simply do not address the problem on which you focus. State banks don’t solve the problems of debt-money creation by private banks and of the rip-off of taxpayers via the national debt. If you nationalized the entire banking system, then at least all of the profits from money creation could go to the public sector. That would be equivalent to nationalizing the creation of money, like the NEED Act proposes, plus nationalizing all banking. But just creating state banks doesn’t do it, and I doubt that you are prepared to propose nationalizing the entire banking system. The conservative solution is to nationalize money creation, as the Constitution calls for, and let the banks remain private, lending money they actually have, like other lenders currently do, rather than creating it out of nothing.

Thanks again for your good work on this important matter.

Sincerely yours,
John N. Howell

Who Creates Money and Where Does It Go?

Posted 01/30/2017 by demovrcorps
Categories: Uncategorized

According to the Federal Reserve $1.5 trillion in newly created money was added to our money supply between 2014 and 2016.  With so much money around, why isn’t it available for better streets, roads and bridges? Why isn’t it available to city and rural school districts to provide their children with good schools?  Why isn’t it available to maintain Medicare and the Social Security system without the threat of their running out of money?

This lack of availability of money for such things is especially puzzling because money is simply information.  95% of our money exists only as numbers stored in computer accounts.   Even though we often think of money as cash, bills and coins make up less than 5% of the money in circulation.  We aren’t paid with cash and we don’t pay our bills with cash.  We use debit or credit cards, or checks or online debits, not cash.  Nearly all spending is an information transaction: it moves numbers between accounts in computers.

What is the source of this information that makes up most of our money?  Where does 95% of all money out there come from?  Most people think the government creates money, but that is true, at most, only of the 5% of our money that is made up of bills and coins.  Where did the rest—all this information in accounts—come from?  How was it created?

It comes from banks.  Money is created when a bank adds numbers to an account in the process of making a loan (see, for instance, Modern Money Mechanics, The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, available on-line).

We typically think that when a bank makes a loan, it transfers funds from its own deposit accounts to the borrower’s account, simply moving money from one place to another, rather than creating new money. But this is not what happens.  Instead, there is an accounting trick that only banks are permitted to use.  In making the loan, the bank simply enters the amount of the approved funds into the borrower’s checking account just as we would update a computer file. By increasing the balance in the borrower’s bank account by the amount of the loan, the bank creates a deposit equal to the money loaned. It does this simply by typing numbers into a computer.  The bank’s own assets are not reduced by the loan.  This accounting maneuver enables the bank to create new money out of nothing.  This is how new money enters our economy.  It is through this process that most of $1.5 trillion in new money created between 2014 and 2016 entered the economy.   It was created as debt or, as the banks like to call it, as “credit.”

The system of creating money as debt when banks make loans means that all of the money circulating in the economy is on loan.  Interest is being paid to the financial sector on every dollar in circulation.  This results in a systematic transfer of wealth from the many (the borrowers) to the few (the lenders).  This transfer is a primary contributor to the concentration of wealth in the financial sector.

This helps us understand why money isn’t available for so many needed projects despite there being so much of it circulating in the economy.

Because new money is generated by banks, banks get to determine where the money goes. It goes toward their profit-making.  Banks only fund projects capable of generating returns in the form of principal and interest payments back to the banks.  It doesn’t go to building or repairing roads, unless the government borrows the money from the bank or from another source. The loan, plus interest, then has to be repaid to the lender out of the pockets of taxpayers now and in future generations.

Article 1, Section 8, of the US Constitution gives Congress the authority to create new money.  Congress has failed to use this authority and instead has given it to banks. Instead of creating new money to be spent on roads, schools, or other needed projects—which it has the authority to do—government borrows the money and pays it back plus interest. The payment of interest on the federal debt is the third largest expenditure in the federal budget.  Wouldn’t we be better off having the government create the money it spends rather than borrowing it, and then taxing us to pay the lenders principal plus interest?  The existing debt-based method of government spending, like debt-money creation itself, constitutes a systematic transfer of wealth from the many, the borrowers (taxpayers), to the few (lenders).

If the monetary system worked as most people think it works, things would be radically different.

Most people think that the government does create the money.  But it doesn’t. If the government did create the money it spends, then there would be no federal debt.  If the government created the money it spends, then there would be funds available for the projects we want it to undertake.  If the monetary system worked as most people think it works, banks would loan only the money they actually have, like other lenders do today, rather than create new money as they make loans. New money created by government, would go to the physical and social infrastructure required for a healthy and sustainable economy.  Under the current system, new money created through lending by banks, especially the large, Wall Street banks, often goes into speculative investment instead of productive projects.  Newly created money has to go into our growing economy in some fashion.  Right now, banks perform that function despite the fact that our Constitution assigned it to the federal government.

It is time to make our monetary system work the way we actually think it works.

A system of money created by government served well in colonial America and during the Civil War. It can work now to meet the country’s acute needs of a decaying infrastructure, the lethal threat of climate change, the rising costs of health care, Social Security, and quality education, and many other pressing needs.   Legislation, the National Emergency Employment Defense Act, was introduced into Congress in 2012 to reform the monetary system and needs to be reconsidered at this time, in order to put us on a course to real recovery, security, and a sustainable future.

From the Athens Monetary Literacy Group: John Howell, John Glazer, Warren Haydon, Dick McGinn, Jim Phillips, and Candida Stamp.