Category Archives: Wall Street

Usurious Credit and Debt as Our Prison Cages

Breaking the Chains of Debt Peonage

By Chris Hedges
Truthdig.com

Feb 3, 2013 – The corporate state has made it clear there will be no more Occupy encampments.

The corporate state is seeking through the persistent harassment of activists and the passage of draconian laws such as Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act—and we will be in court next Wednesday to fight the Obama administration’s appeal of the Southern District Court of New York’s ruling declaring Section 1021 unconstitutional—to shut down all legitimate dissent.

The corporate state is counting, most importantly, on its system of debt peonage to keep citizens—especially the 30 million people who make up the working poor—from joining our revolt.

Workers who are unable to meet their debts, who are victimized by constantly rising interest rates that can climb to as high as 30 percent on credit cards, are far more likely to remain submissive and compliant.

Debt peonage is and always has been a form of political control. Native Americans, forced by the U.S. government onto tribal agencies, were required to buy their goods, usually on credit, at agency stores. Coal miners in southern West Virginia and Kentucky were paid in scrip by the coal companies and kept in perpetual debt servitude by the company store. African-Americans in the cotton fields in the South were forced to borrow during the agricultural season from their white landlords for their seed and farm equipment, creating a life of perpetual debt. It soon becomes impossible to escape the mounting interest rates that necessitate new borrowing.

Continue reading Usurious Credit and Debt as Our Prison Cages

Exporting Gas And Oil Will Not Erase The Trade Deficit

Western PA as a Case in Point

US trade deficit 2012

By EMS News
Beaver County Blue via Culture of Life News

The US continues the program of selling commodity raw materials while importing manufactured goods.  This futile trade deal is also not working because always, the value-added labor that goes into production is lost when a country trades this way.  If a country has a small population and lots of raw materials, it can get rich doing this but not a country with 350 million people.  Even Saudi Arabia, due to making birth control illegal, has a rapidly growing population that is eating into oil export values and soon will erase it entirely.  Japan, with half the population of the US, is seeing its trade decline, too.  While importing energy due to Fukushima.

The trade deficit was hardly mentioned during the last election.  It is as if it doesn’t exist.  Even though it is the core problem within our economy, one that has been papered over, literally, by the US printing trillions of extra dollars.  Inflation has been kept down due entirely to trade partners holding excess US dollars in FOREX accounts overseas.  But the US is desperate to generate some funds to cover the river of red ink flowing through our economy so of course, we do this by exporting lumber, gasoline, gas and oil as well as other primitive commodity products.

Naturally, this doesn’t plug the giant hole in our economy! Nonetheless, DC pundits and politicians tell us gravely, we must do this more and more and eventually it will fix things. Here is the latest delusional story from DC misleading people about the trade deficit: Natural gas exports: A boon to the economy – The Washington Post

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A Solid Debate between a Progressive Democrat and a Top GOP Rightwinger

Virginia Democrat Wayne Powell came out swinging Monday and remained on the offensive throughout the first debate in the race for Virginia’s 7th congressional district seat, accusing U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of abdicating his role as a leader of Congress and repeatedly slamming him for his lack of military service, while the visibly agitated six-term incumbent labored to furiously fend off the flurry of attacks.

Mr. Powell’s campaign has vowed to frame Mr. Cantor to both his constituents and the entire country as an unapologetic partisan irrevocably beholden to large corporations and special interest groups — and the former Army colonel wasted no time in lobbing grenades at the Republican incumbent Monday evening in Richmond before a national audience on C-SPAN2.

“He never talks about working people — he only talks about business people,” Mr. Powell said in the hour-long forum hosted by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “These people are suffering — I’ve seen them all the time … you’re so far removed from reality, I don’t think you even know what a small business is except for a hedge fund.”

We’re All in the Same Boat?

On the Topic of Obama, the

GOP Can’t Even Blush Anymore

By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin’ On!

If Hollywood gave Oscars for shamelessness, the Republican responses to President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night, Jan 24, would have swept the field.

Take Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels, who gave the official GOP response:

"No feature of the Obama presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others," he said. "As in previous moments of national danger, we Americans are all in the same boat."

Amazing. One top GOP candidate, Newt Gingrich, is running around the country attacking Obama as the ‘Food Stamp President,’ while the other, Mitt Romney, whose newly released tax returns show he takes in more in a day than a well-paid worker does in a year, critiques Obama’s business skills using a shuttered factory as a stage prop.

Obama, of course, never shut down a single factory, yet that was precisely the business Mitt Romney and his outfit, Bain Capital, was famous for, including shutting down a factory in Florida, where his video message was being recorded.

"All in the same boat" and ‘castigating others’ indeed. Governor Daniels uttered these words as the state he presides over is currently engaged in a notorious ‘right to work for less’ battle to strip Indiana’s workers on their ability to bargain collectively.

Like many Americans, I watched the President’s speech with a critical eye. As he detailed a number of manufacturing and alternative energy industrial policies, I thought, finally, he’s giving some voice to his ‘inner Keynesian’ and forcing a crack in the neoliberal hegemony at the top. I cheered when he took aim at Wall Street and declared, "No more bailouts, no more handouts, and no more cop outs." On the other hand I winced more than once at the glorification of militarism and the defense of Empire-I’m one quick to oppose unjust wars and who has long believed a clean energy/green manufacturing industrial policy needs to trump a military-hydrocarbon industrial policy.

This speech was also Obama in campaign mode. One thing we’ve learned over the last four years is that his governing mode is not the same thing, and requires much more of us in terms of independent, popular and democratic power at the base to make good things happen.

But one thing is clear. My critical eye has nothing in common with what’s coming from the GOP and the far right. The first Saturday of every month, the pickups trucks from the local hills and hollows, growing numbers of them, fill the parking lot of the church on my corner, picking up packages from the food pantry to help make ends meet. In these circumstances and lacking better practical choices, I’ll go with the ‘Food Stamp’ President any day of the week.

Structural Reform: The Case for Public State Banks

Meet Occupy Wall Street’s Favorite Banker

By Ryan Holeywell
SolidarityEconomy.net via Governing Magazine

Jan 4, 2012 – Try to find a bank president that’s beloved by supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It’s not impossible. You’ll just have to travel to North Dakota.

Meet Eric Hardmeyer, who bears the unlikely distinction of being perhaps the only banker in America who, in addition to being embraced by Wall Street protesters, has been exalted by the likes of Michael Moore, Mother Jones magazine, and the Progressive States Network, among other progressive stalwarts.

That’s because Hardmeyer heads the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the country’s only publicly-owned state bank. The institution, located ironically enough in a solidly red state, has become the darling of progressives who have become frustrated with corporate banks they say helped cause the financial crisis and resulting credit crunch.

Now, state lawmakers nationwide are pushing for the North Dakota model to be replicated in their home states. Since 2010, state lawmakers in at least 16 states have introduced bills to create a state bank, something similar, or study the issue, according to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures. So far, momentum is slow. The movement has yet to produce another Bank of North Dakota, but advocates are hoping to raise the issue again in 2012 legislative sessions. Their pitch: publicly-owned banks can help create jobs, generate revenue for the state, strengthen small banks, and lower the cost of borrowing for local governments by offering loans below market rate.

 

Hardmeyer, who was named bank president in 2001, hasn’t always been such a well-known figure. But his profile has been raised over the last year – including in Bloomberg BusinessWeek — and now he regularly fields calls from state lawmakers and other officials inquiring about his institution. “There hasn’t been a big push anywhere that I’m aware of until recently,” said Hardmeyer in a late December interview with Governing.  “They’re interested in how it works, why it works, [and] what the roadblocks are.”

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Every Picture Tells a Story: Labor Solidarity and OWS

Unions and Immigrants Join Occupy Movements

 By David Bacon
Progressive America Rising via Truthout | Photo Essay

Dec 6, 2011 – Oakland, California – When Occupy Seattle called its tent camp "Planton Seattle," camp organizers were laying a local claim to a set of tactics used for decades by social movements in Mexico, Central America and the Philippines. And when immigrant janitors marched down to the detention center in San Diego and called their effort Occupy ICE (the initials of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency responsible for mass deportations),people from countries with that planton encampment tradition were connecting it to the Occupy movement here.

Photo Above:Southern California janitors block the streets to protest the firing of immigrant workers. (Photo: David Bacon)

This shared culture and history offer new possibilities to the Occupy movement for survival and growth at a time when the federal law enforcement establishment, in cooperation with local police departments and municipal governments, has uprooted many tent encampments. Different Occupy groups from Wall Street to San Francisco have begun to explore their relationship with immigrant social movements in the US, and to look more closely at the actions of the 1 percent beyond our borders that produces much of the pressure for migration.

Reacting to the recent evictions, the Coalition for the Political Rights of Mexicans Abroad recently sent a support letter to Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and the other camps under attack. "We greet your movement," it declared, "because your struggle against the suppression of human rights and against social and economic injustice has been a fundamental part of our struggle, that of the Mexican people who cross borders, and the millions of Mexican migrants who live in the United States."

The banners at Occupy Seattle. (Photo: David Bacon)

Many of those migrants living in the US know the tradition of the planton and how it’s used at home. And they know that the 1 percent, whose power is being challenged on Wall Street, also designed the policies that are the very reason why immigrants are living in the US to begin with. Mike Garcia, president of United Service Workers West/SEIU, the union that organized Occupy ICE, described immigrant janitors as "displaced workers of the new global economic order, an order led by the West and the United States in particular."

Continue reading Every Picture Tells a Story: Labor Solidarity and OWS