Archive for May 2013

DOC meeting notes 5/8/13

05/20/2013

Attending: Lois Whealey, Bob Whealey, Richard Hogan, Gini Coover, John Howell, Jeff Reisner, Randall Gabriel, Arlene Sheak, Rick Zielinski, Greg Howard, Joanne Dodd, Bill Safranek

1. John showed a short video on monetary policy. It can be seen at http://www.positivemoney.org/. There are four short videos on the website. We watched the one called “Debt.”

In the brief discussion which followed, our attention was brought to an article in May 20 issue of The Nation by Gary Rivlin, entitled “How Wall Street Defanged Dodd-Frank.” Dodd-Frank was the legislation that was supposed to change the way banks operate so a financial crisis like that of 2007-8, which was precipitated by banking practices, could never happen again.

2. Dick McGinn reported on the Bill of Rights Committee’s activities directed toward getting an initiative on the November ballot to prohibit shale gas and oil extraction activities from Athens and its jurisdiction.
Dick and Rob Wiley spoke to the Athens County Commissioners, presenting the case for banning fracking. Dick has also gotten on the agenda of the Townships Association of Athens County, and on the agenda for The Mayors Partnership for Progress, a conference at the OU Voinovich Center. The League of Women Voters has agreed to sponsor a watershed summit to look at protection of water supplies in the face of possible fracking activities. CELDF (Community Environmental Defense Fund) is pursuing efforts to foster home rule for Townships in Ohio, so they could make laws protecting their water supplies.

3. DOC planning – 3 small groups considered topics for future meetings, coupled with possible resource people to invite and questions to be asked. These are to be collated by the Steering Committee to move toward a schedule of meetings. A summary of the group reports is attached as an Excel file and as a PDF file.

a. We need another planning meeting. We will use the June meeting in that way.
b. Suggestions as to meeting content should go to John; suggestions as to advertising should go to Greg Howard.
c. Meeting place. Can we use the University Buildings?

4. The CELDF Democracy School, May 17 & 18 in Yellow Springs. Dick McGinn and Jane Richter will be attending.

5. The next Steering Committee meeting will be held on Saturday, May 18 at 2 p.m. in small conference room in the Athens Public Library. (Steering Committee meetings are open to anyone interested.)

6. The next DOC meeting will be Wednesday, June 12, 7 p.m. at UCM, 18 N. College Street

MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR May 13-19

05/20/2013

MAY 15

1915 – BIRTH OF PAUL SAMUELSON, ECONOMIST (FIRST AMERICAN TO WIN THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR ECONOMICS)
“Few understand that all our money arises out of debt and IOU operations. The banking system as a whole can do what each small bank cannot do: it can expand its loans and investments many times the new reserves of cash created for it, even though each small bank is lending out only a fraction of its deposits.” Economics, An Introductory Analysis by Professor Paul A. Samuelson. (Best selling college economics textbook of all time, c1948.)

1931 – “QUADRAGESSIMO ANNO” LETTER ISSUED BY POPE PIUS XI
The Pope discusses the ethical implications of economic and social order in this letter, warning of the dangers of unrestrained capitalism.
“Economic dictatorship is being most forcibly excercised by the few who hold the money and completely control it, control credit and the lending of money.  Hence they regulate the flow of the life-blood whereby the entire economic system lives, and have so firmly in their grasp the soul of economics that no one can breathe against their will.”

MAY 16

1876 – SECOND GREENBACK NATIONAL CONVENTION OPENS IN INDIANAPOLIS
May 16–18, 1876 — Academy of Music, Indianapolis, Indiana. There were 239 delegates present from 17 states. Peter Cooper was nominated for President of the Greenback Party (calling for the creation of debt-free national money) with 352 votes to 119 for three other contenders.

1912 – PUJO COMMITTEE HEARINGS BEGIN
A special subcommittee of the House Banking and Currency Committee began hearings under its Chairman, Arsene P. Pujo. Its purpose was to investigate the powers of the nation’s “money trust.” Its final report, issued in 1913, concluded that the power over the nation’s money and credit was concentrated in a small group of Wall Street bankers. The report created a climate for reform. Unfortunately one of the reform advocated for was the misnamed Federal Reserve Act, which provided the appearance that finances would become a public function.

MAY 17

1787 – LAUNCH OF SHAYS’ REBELLION
A revolt of farmers in Western Massachusetts, spread to other states, fueled by the rise of personal and public taxes and debt and the collapse of any legitimate federal currency.

1901 – FINANCIAL PANIC
The first stock market crash in the US was caused by large investors speculating on railroad stocks. Thousands of small investors were ruined.

1930 – BANK OF INTERNATIONAL SETTLEMENTS ESTABLISHED
This is the central bank of all central banks, established as an international financial institution to “foster international monetary and financial cooperation.” Its headquarters are in Basel, Switzerland. The BIS serves to strengthen the international private banking system, not national economies. The BIS advocates the establishment of a global currency, building on the International Monetary Fund “Special Drawing Rights” – a quasi currency which has a value based on a basket of 4 major currencies (the dollar, euro, pound and yen).

2002 – TALK BY WILLIAM HUMMEL, AUTHOR, MONETARY RESEARCHER
“Banks are not ordinary intermediaries, like non-banks, they also borrow, but they do not lend the deposits they acquire. They lend by crediting the borrowers account with a new deposit… The accounts of other depositors remain intact and their deposits fully available for withdrawal.  Thus a bank loan increases the total of bank deposits, which means an increase in the money supply.”

MAY 18

1846 – STATE OF IOWA ADOPTS CONSTITUTION – PROHIBITION OF PRIVATE BANKS
Article IX of the original constitution of the State of Iowa prohibited banking by individuals or corporations. Preceeding statehood, the Territorial legislature passed an act in 1838 banning the issue of bank bills or notes by individuals or firms with a penalty of $1000 for each offense. From the History of Banking in Iowa, Howard Preston, 1922

1951 – DEATH OF JACOB COXEY
Jacob Coxey, a businessman from Massillon, Ohio organized a 500-strong “Coxey’s Army” march from Massillon (beginning on March 25, 1894) to Washington, D.C. (ending April 30) to promote federal intervention for job creation. The primary demand of this “petition in boots” was unique — the direct printing and issuance of $500 million by the Federal Treasury to employ 4 million people. Coxey’s Army proposed two bills. The first, a “Good Roads Bill”, would help farmers through $500 million issued by the federal government in legal tender notes, or greenbacks, to construct rural roads. The second, a noninterest-bearing bonds bill, would empower state and local governments to issue noninterest-bearing bonds to be used to borrow legal tender notes from the federal treasury. This money would be used to build urban libraries, schools, utility plants and marketplaces. Millions of jobs would have been created — debt-free.

MONETARY HISTORY CALENDAR May 6 – 12

05/07/2013

MAY 7

1873 – DEATH OF SALMON P. CHASE, US TREASURY SECRETARY
“My agency, in procuring the passage, of the National Bank Act, was the greatest financial mistake of my life.  It has built up a monopoly that affects every interest in the country. It should be repealed.  But before this can be accomplished, the people will be arrayed on one side and the banks on the other in a contest such as we have never seen in this country.”

Note: The National Bank Acts of 1863 was known originally as the National Currency Act and was updated the following year. The Act established chartered national banks that could issue bank notes which were backed by the United States Treasury. These notes existed side by side to public “Greenbacks” (directly issued by the government). Bankers supported the Bank Acts as a means to eventually supplant Greenbacks and once more gain full control of the US money system.

MAY 10

1729 – PENNSYLVANIA PASSES A PAPER CURRENCY ACT
Pennsylvania was one of the first colonies to issue their own paper money to facilitate exchange to offset the lack of British pounds in circulation. By 1755, all 13 colonies had issued some form of colonial currency.
On colonial issued currency, Benjamin Franklin said,
“This effect of paper currency is not understood in England. And indeed the whole is a mystery to the politicians how we have been able to continue a war for four years without money and how we could pay with paper that had no previously fixed fund appropriated specifically to redeem it.  This currency…is a wonderful machine.  It performs its office when we issue it and when we are obliged to issue a quantity excessive, it pays itself off by depreciation.”

1775 – CONTINENTAL CONGRESS ISSUES “CONTINENTALS”
The Continental Congress voted to issue $200 million in paper money, “continental currency” or “continentals”, to finance the American Revolution. The money was essential since British pounds were in short supply. The currency lost much of their value during the war due to the flooding of British counterfeit “continentals” as a means to destroy the colonial economy. Inflation was also due to continentals being used to fund war purchases rather than socially and economically useful goods and services. Nevertheless, the colonial currency served its purpose in allowing the colonies to economically and militarily resist and defeat the most powerful nation on earth.

1837 – US FINANCIAL PANIC
Banks limited credit and starting calling on debtors to repay. This ignited the Financial Panic of 1837.  Urban worker faced rising unemployement and food prices. A prolonged economic depression followed, including hundreds of bank failures. The economic depression that followed lasted nearly five years. This is the inevitable result of a debt-based money system – the lessons of which we never seem to learn.

1915 – BIRTH OF ROBERT HEMPHILL, CREDIT MANAGER, FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF ATLANTA
If all the bank loans were paid, no one could have a bank deposit, and there would not be a dollar of coin or currency in circulation. This is a staggering thought. We are completely dependent on the commercial Banks. Someone has to borrow every dollar we have in circulation, cash or credit. If the Banks create ample synthetic money we are prosperous; if not, we starve. We are absolutely without a permanent money system. When one gets a complete grasp of the picture, the tragic absurdity of our hopeless position is almost incredible, but there it is. It is the most important subject intelligent persons can investigate and reflect upon. It is so important that our present civilization may collapse unless it becomes widely understood and the defects remedied very soon.

DOC meeting 7 p.m. at Wednesday, May 8, at UCM (basement), 18 N. College St., Athens

05/06/2013

Some encouraging things:

1. Pennsylvania Court Deals Blow to Secrecy-Obsessed Fracking Industry: Corporations Not The Same As Persons With Privacy Rights (http://www.alternet.org/fracking/pennsylvania-court-deals-blow-secrecy-obsessed-fracking-industry-corporations-not-same).

The judge ordered the opening, i.e., making public, of a settlement between a fracking corporation and a family suffering damages from the fracking. The corporation had insisted that the settlement be kept confidential. This is the way oil & gas corporations suppress information about the harmful effects of fracking. The judge concluded that corporations have no privacy rights under PA law.

She writes, “If businesses had natural rights like people, the chattel would become the co-equal to its owners, the servant on par with its masters, the agent the peer of its principles, and the legal fabrication superior to the law that created and sustains it.”

This will be an opening to crack the secrecy around fracking by permitting scientists and activists to gather more systematically information about the effects of fracking on the environment and public health.

2. The state of Maine became the 13th state to call for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and permit legislatures to regulate and limit campaign expenditures. (http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/billtexts/SP054801.asp)

The list of discouraging things is unfortunately longer. There is much work to do. Someone pointed out that George Washington didn’t actually win any battles until the end of the war. We have to keep up our efforts.

Agenda

1. Update on the Bill of Rights campaign – Dick McGinn
2. Proposal for a 6 month schedule of programs including DOC meetings and public meetings sponsored by DOC – John Howell
3. Proposal for collating information from various economic areas, information which illustrates the need for a constitutional amendment to limit human rights to humans and restore the ability of “We the People” through our elected representatives to regulate campaign spending.
3. Other updates, issues and announcements from people in the group
4. A video on banking (time permitting)
See you at the meeting.

John

P.S. The notes from the Steering Committee are below. They flesh out items 2 and 3 above .

Notes from the Doc Steering Committee Meeting 4/20/13 1:30 p.m. at the Athens Public Library
Gini Coover, Dick McGinn, Richard Hogan, Greg Howard, Joann Dodd, John Howell
 General discussion
1. Greg told us about Allan Savory’s TED talk in which he argues that desertification and climate change can be reversed by heavy grazing (rotated) mimicking natural conditions
2. Dick posed the question as to why is it that the Supreme Court has final say in government decision-making(called judicial review), as in deciding the Bush–Gore contested election.
3. Dick suggested pursuing the use of home rule in Athens to address issues like healthcare and escalating utility costs, emphasizing local and regional steps that can be taken – imagining what “the republic of Athens” could do to address any particular issue.
4. Richard suggested the Transition Town model as appropriate for what we are trying to do. (See http://www.transitionnetwork.org/)
A proposal regarding structure of DOC meetings – John

1. As part of the education portion of our meetings over the next few months we accumulate a list of court cases and legislative actions at federal or state levels that illustrate why the corporate role in government decision-making must be checked. Here are some examples:
1) the court decision to strike down the Vermont law requiring the dairy industry to label its products as to reveal that the dairy animals had been treated with hormones to boost production, (based on free speech for corporations to limit information to the public)
2) the AgGag acts pushed by ALEC in states to prevent photojournalists from taking picturea in meat processing facilities to show how animals are handled (restricting the press so as to limit information to which the public has access).
3) the PA law that required challenges to permits released by the EPA for commercial enterprises like drilling or factory farms to be filed by lawyers (so private citizens of small towns couldn’t challenge these permits).
4) Repeal of the federal Glass-Steagall Act, passed in 1933 after the stock market crash, the act which required investment banking to be kept separate from commercial banking (to protect people’s savings from being jeopardized by banks using them for high risk investments).

These lists are then to be made available to present to the public, asking in each case,
Is this fair? Is this in the public interest? What needs to be done to change the situation? Constitutional amendment? Legislative action? Protests? Other? This builds the case for amendment.

2. John also proposed setting up a schedule of topics for the meetings for the next 6 months. Identifying the topic and a DOC member to leadership for the meeting, and, where appropriate the name of someone from outside of DOC to be invited to participate in the discussion.

Gini pointed out that it will be important to make clear to invited guest speakers that it is not sufficient to tell people how bad things are; people must also be given a way to change things.

Recommendations – (not written in stone!)
1. The May meeting will be a primarily a planning meeting to put these ideas into action.
A short video on monetary policy; making better use of media outlets; consideration of the schedule suggested below
2. The June meeting will be on energy and the environment. Names of people to invite were put forward, e.g., William Beale, Greg Kremer, Izzi Urieli. Could a local plan for sustainable energy be generated?
3. July – Topic will be agriculture. Greg Howard will host. Rich Tomsu was mentioned as someone to consider inviting.
4. August – Monetary – John Howell, host
5. September – Political front, home rule, local solutions – Dick McGinn, host.
6. October – Healthcare

Additional activities possible
A panel discussion of monetary policy – in the fall?
A CELDF Democracy School