Our Common Good
thewalkinghyperbole:

UPDATE: as of December 01, 2012

Currently unemployed, but I donated a little  - figured I was not driving 60 miles round trip for work, I could give some from my fuel budget.  And it was the right thing to do.

thewalkinghyperbole:

UPDATE: as of December 01, 2012

Currently unemployed, but I donated a little  - figured I was not driving 60 miles round trip for work, I could give some from my fuel budget.  And it was the right thing to do.

Capuchin monkeys reject unequal pay (by happy moment)

vicemag:

Occupy’s Rolling Jubilee Wants to Give Americans Money for Nothing
Walking the streets of New York City this spring, you would have been hard-pressed not to come across posters promoting the Occupy Wall Street-led May Day general strike. “A day without the 99 percent,” is how it was billed. With the strike, the group was attempting to light a fire that might bring down capitalism and launch the US into an American Spring. However, Occupy’s rallying cry fell on deaf ears, as the rally had poor attendance and limited impact. Looking back, it seems like that was the moment that the pied pipers of political and economic discontent’s critical mass finally dissipated. The group’s momentum seemed to have run its course, and the fickle media’s attention turned to the sideshow that was the 2012 presidential election.
After May Day, Occupy had to find itself all over again. Call it an identity crisis. But in an organization as decentralized as OWS, where individual efforts and actions are constantly emerging as branches and nodes of a shape-shifting whole, identity is a fluid concept anyway. The post-May Day breakdown was a chance for rebirth—a function of Occupy Wall Street’s built-in eternal recurrence mechanism. It was in this ferment that Occupy forged its next project: Rolling Jubilee, a plan to buy anonymous medical debt, thus offering relief to Americans burdened by exorbitant healthcare costs.
“From the very beginning of Occupy Wall Street, the question of crippling debt that people are forced to carry has always been part of the agenda,” says Yates McKee, a member of Occupy’s Strike Debt team, which is leading the Rolling Jubilee project. “Student debt, mortgage debt, medical debt, and municipal debt—all of that has been a part of Occupy from the very beginning.”
Activists within Occupy Student Debt, an early sub-group of Occupy focused on the debt crisis, had the idea of using Occupy’s I Am The 99 Percent Tumblr to present real people who were debtors and break the silence around debt. It was a issue that was close to their hearts, as  many of the original Occupy campers were debtors of all stripes.
As Yates explains it, Occupy Student Debt went on to create the Pledge of Refusal, which many Occupy participants signed. “It wasn’t about forgiveness,” Yates emphasizes. “It didn’t say, ‘Let’s come up with a piece of legislation that forgives our debt.’ Rather, it noted that going into debt is systematic. In order to live, you have to enter into this predatory debt. So the Pledge of Refusal was non-compliant with the debt system. It was similar to a debt strike.”
Originally, the debt strike concept gained a lot of traction within the Occupy movement, but people across the country weren’t ready for such an idea and conditions across the country couldn’t support a mass default. So in the post-May Day void, where Occupy’s idealism finally gave way to reality, they knew they had to take another approach to fighting debt. Luckily, the Occupy Student Debt movement still had a great deal of enthusiasm behind it, even after May Day.
“The only campaign that still had a lot of energy was the Occupy Student Debt campaign,” observes Yates. “So over the summer, we decided to have what we call ‘thematic assemblies,’ where in one assembly we talked about the environment, and in another assembly we talked about labor. And then we did one on debt. And we made sure to invite everyone from Occupy Student Debt, Occupy Universities, Free University, and Occupy Labor.”
The larger assembly then got together and discussed what would it mean to build a political movement around debt in all its forms and not just on certain types of debt in isolation, like student loans. This ultimately lead to the transformation of Occupy Student Debt into Strike Debt, the sub-group which now healms the Rolling Jubilee.
“One phrase we started to use was ‘Debt is the tie that binds the 99 percent’” says Yates. “There is something structural about the debt economy we’re forced to go into in our lives. And this was when we flipped the idea of a debt strike to Strike Debt. What would it mean to strike debt, to attack debt from all these different angles and metaphorically cross it out?”
Occupy describes the vast swaths of America’s debtors as “an invisible army of defaulters.” What if this invisible army were to come out of the shadows and become a political force? Out of this thought experiment came debt memes like “You are not alone” and ultimately the Rolling Jubilee program.
Jubilee, as laid out in the Bible’s book of Leviticus, was a time when debts were forgiven. Strike Debt appropriated the concept in a symbolic way and used it as the namesake for its first major project, in which a fund—financed by donations—buys debt.
Continue

vicemag:

Occupy’s Rolling Jubilee Wants to Give Americans Money for Nothing

Walking the streets of New York City this spring, you would have been hard-pressed not to come across posters promoting the Occupy Wall Street-led May Day general strike. “A day without the 99 percent,” is how it was billed. With the strike, the group was attempting to light a fire that might bring down capitalism and launch the US into an American Spring. However, Occupy’s rallying cry fell on deaf ears, as the rally had poor attendance and limited impact. Looking back, it seems like that was the moment that the pied pipers of political and economic discontent’s critical mass finally dissipated. The group’s momentum seemed to have run its course, and the fickle media’s attention turned to the sideshow that was the 2012 presidential election.

After May Day, Occupy had to find itself all over again. Call it an identity crisis. But in an organization as decentralized as OWS, where individual efforts and actions are constantly emerging as branches and nodes of a shape-shifting whole, identity is a fluid concept anyway. The post-May Day breakdown was a chance for rebirth—a function of Occupy Wall Street’s built-in eternal recurrence mechanism. It was in this ferment that Occupy forged its next project: Rolling Jubilee, a plan to buy anonymous medical debt, thus offering relief to Americans burdened by exorbitant healthcare costs.

“From the very beginning of Occupy Wall Street, the question of crippling debt that people are forced to carry has always been part of the agenda,” says Yates McKee, a member of Occupy’s Strike Debt team, which is leading the Rolling Jubilee project. “Student debt, mortgage debt, medical debt, and municipal debt—all of that has been a part of Occupy from the very beginning.”

Activists within Occupy Student Debt, an early sub-group of Occupy focused on the debt crisis, had the idea of using Occupy’s I Am The 99 Percent Tumblr to present real people who were debtors and break the silence around debt. It was a issue that was close to their hearts, as  many of the original Occupy campers were debtors of all stripes.

As Yates explains it, Occupy Student Debt went on to create the Pledge of Refusal, which many Occupy participants signed. “It wasn’t about forgiveness,” Yates emphasizes. “It didn’t say, ‘Let’s come up with a piece of legislation that forgives our debt.’ Rather, it noted that going into debt is systematic. In order to live, you have to enter into this predatory debt. So the Pledge of Refusal was non-compliant with the debt system. It was similar to a debt strike.”

Originally, the debt strike concept gained a lot of traction within the Occupy movement, but people across the country weren’t ready for such an idea and conditions across the country couldn’t support a mass default. So in the post-May Day void, where Occupy’s idealism finally gave way to reality, they knew they had to take another approach to fighting debt. Luckily, the Occupy Student Debt movement still had a great deal of enthusiasm behind it, even after May Day.

“The only campaign that still had a lot of energy was the Occupy Student Debt campaign,” observes Yates. “So over the summer, we decided to have what we call ‘thematic assemblies,’ where in one assembly we talked about the environment, and in another assembly we talked about labor. And then we did one on debt. And we made sure to invite everyone from Occupy Student Debt, Occupy Universities, Free University, and Occupy Labor.”

The larger assembly then got together and discussed what would it mean to build a political movement around debt in all its forms and not just on certain types of debt in isolation, like student loans. This ultimately lead to the transformation of Occupy Student Debt into Strike Debt, the sub-group which now healms the Rolling Jubilee.

“One phrase we started to use was ‘Debt is the tie that binds the 99 percent’” says Yates. “There is something structural about the debt economy we’re forced to go into in our lives. And this was when we flipped the idea of a debt strike to Strike Debt. What would it mean to strike debt, to attack debt from all these different angles and metaphorically cross it out?”

Occupy describes the vast swaths of America’s debtors as “an invisible army of defaulters.” What if this invisible army were to come out of the shadows and become a political force? Out of this thought experiment came debt memes like “You are not alone” and ultimately the Rolling Jubilee program.

Jubilee, as laid out in the Bible’s book of Leviticus, was a time when debts were forgiven. Strike Debt appropriated the concept in a symbolic way and used it as the namesake for its first major project, in which a fund—financed by donations—buys debt.

The Rolling Jubilee could influence economic policy as a model for a very different kind of bailout in response to the next financial crisis. The problem of unpayable debts bedevils every corner of our financial system – public, corporate, and personal. So far, the response of the monetary and fiscal authorities to nearly every financial crisis has been to bail out the creditors but not the debtors. Governments and central banks purchase all kinds of shoddy loans from the private sector, but rather than reduce interest or principal on those loans, they merely become the new creditor. The underwater homeowner, the indebted university graduate, the laid-off worker juggling credit cards … they get no relief at all.

The Rolling Jubilee brings a different kind of solution into the public consciousness. The next time a systemic crisis breaks, central banks can rescue the banking system by once again buying the delinquent loans – and then cancel them or reduce the amount borrowers owe. Central banks, with their unlimited capacity to print money, have the power to do this at no cost to the taxpayer. The result would be a release of pent-up consumer purchasing power that had been stuck in debt service. Rising demand would fuel employment, wages, and a broad-based economic expansion.

Would this solution be inflationary? Yes. But a little inflation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as wages rise as fast as prices. Then it is an equalizer of wealth, as the relative value of hoarded wealth shrinks.

Debt cancellation, whether a “people’s bailout” or government policy, is only part of the solution to our economic woes. Deep systemic reforms are necessary, especially given the reality that we are operating a growth-dependent system on a finite planet. But right now, debt is the issue staring us in the face. As always, the most innovative solutions rise from the margins. The Rolling Jubilee may be showing us a glimpse of what is to come.

The People’s Bailout

howtosharpenpencils:

This is a long post but it’s about something pretty interesting so I hope you’ll indulge …

Like many folks, Occupy Wall Street has been some doing good work in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, helping people on the ground.

Now OWS is launching the ROLLING JUBILEE, a program that has been in development for months. OWS is going to start buying distressed debt (medical bills, student loans, etc.) in order to forgive it. As a test run, we spent $500, which bought $14,000 of distressed debt. We then ERASED THAT DEBT. (If you’re a debt broker, once you own someone’s debt you can do whatever you want with it — traditionally, you hound debtors to their grave trying to collect. We’re playing a different game. A MORE AWESOME GAME.)

This is a simple, powerful way to help folks in need — to free them from heavy debt loads so they can focus on being productive, happy and healthy. As you can see from our test run, the return on investment approaches 30:1. That’s a crazy bargain!

Now, after many consultations with attorneys, the IRS, and our moles in the debt-brokerage world, we are ready to take the Rolling Jubilee program LIVE and NATIONWIDE, buying debt in communities that have been struggling during the recession.

We’re kicking things off with a show called THE PEOPLE’S BAILOUT at Le Poisson Rouge on Thursday, November 15. It will also stream online, like a good ol’-fashioned telethon!


Friends, the line-up is insane. Performers include:

- JEFF MANGUM (Neutral Milk Hotel)

- JANEANE GAROFALO

- GUY PICCIOTTO (Fugazi)

- LIZZ WINSTEAD

- HARI KONDABOLU

- TUNDE ADEBIMPE and KYP MALONE (TV on the Radio)

- members of DAS RACIST

and other great talents including a group of radical nuns! I’ll be playing the role of JERRY LEWIS, emceeing in my tuxedo from MEN’S WEARHOUSE.

This will be a joyful, positive night about people banding together and subverting a predatory financial system in order to help each other. BOOM! That’s a movie pitch right there, goddamn why am I not a Hollywood mogul?!

Anyway, HERE IS THE INFORMATION about THE PEOPLE’S BAILOUT:

- The LIVE SHOW is at Le Poisson Rouge on THURSDAY 11/15, 8 - 11 PM. Tickets are $25 (each ticket buys $500 of distressed debt).

- The LIVE STREAM will be at http://rollingjubilee.org (you’ll be able to donate online)

- Here’s the FACEBOOK PAGE

- The HASHTAG is #peoplesbailout

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

- Spread the word! Share this info with your friends, family, and followers
- Donate money via http://rollingjubilee.org

$25 abolishes an estimated $500 worth of debt
$50 abolishes an estimated $1000 worth of debt
$100 abolishes an estimated $2000 worth of debt
$250 abolishes an estimated $5000 worth of debt

- Host a live-stream party! Get together with folks in your town and watch the show online and donate money and maybe even drink a beer if you’re feeling crazy.

- If you are Jerry Seinfeld or Bill Cosby: Call me about doing a set at the live show! We’ll fit you in.

Okay, that was a really long tumblr post. I feel very vulnerable right now. Thanks for reading.

Bye!
—David Rees

That last thing I would say is probably appropriate, except for the fact that hundreds of thousands of poor (and mostly black and Hispanic) kids get tossed by cops every year (would you believe 684,000 street stops in New York alone in 2011?) in the same city where Wall Street’s finest work, and those kids do real time for possession of anything from a marijuana stem to an empty vial. How many Wall Street guys would you think would fill the jails if the police spent even one day doing aggressive, no-leniency stop-and-frisk checks outside the bars in lower Manhattan? How many Lortabs and Adderalls and little foil-wraps of coke or E would pop out of those briefcases?
Many of the costs and benefits of financial regulation simply cannot be quantified. How do you quantify the human costs that all the economic wreckage has inflicted? Searching and not being able to find work for years…lost retirements, educations and dreams. How do you quantify that? You don’t.
Dennis Kelleher, head of advocacy group Better Markets, in a speech on Monday at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Wall Street is demanding precise cost benefit analyses for rules in the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, but many of the benefits to preventing another financial meltdown are difficult to quantify. Read more at The Washington Post. (via govtoversight)

cameronblazer:

There are too many good grafs in the post linked above to pull just one. I hope that if you think the Occupy Wall Street movement is a joke, or just the rumblings of a lazy band of social misfits, you will take a few minutes to read Taibbi’s piece. I don’t always agree with him, but here I think he’s spot-on, and he focuses on specific acts of corporate misfeasance that have not gotten proper attention in the news.

So, since you didn’t ask, here is my contribution as a member of the 99%:

I believe in capitalism, in the benefits of hard work and the benefits and uncertainties of taking big risks. But capitalism where the capitalists keep their hand on the scale; where capitalists risk big, get bailed out, and continue to preside over the decimation of the middle class isn’t capitalism: it’s corporate socialism.

My husband and I work a combined 100+ hours per week most weeks. We have taken 2 brief vacations in the seven years we’ve been married. I have paid off my undergrad student loans, and I didn’t get a dime in federal loans for law school. In spite of my significant private loan debt burden, I work as a lawyer in the public interest, in which capacity I don’t make as much as my private counterparts but I feel a great sense of personal satisfaction; and in which capacity I encounter the crippling effects of educational and social inequities every day. We live in a house that is worth 2/3 the face value of the mortgage (though we’ve made payments equal to 1/2 the face value of that mortgage over the life of the loan), thanks to the devastating effects of real estate speculation and unsound mortgage practices at every big bank in America over the last 10 or so years. We have watched our small retirement accounts be decimated since 2007, even as we continue to contribute because we don’t know what else to do. We have never missed a mortgage payment, and we don’t intend to, despite the fact that in today’s dollars we make less than we did four years ago. In spite of these challenges, we still manage to be active participants in our community, donating our time to arts organizations and to public school children. Because that’s how we were raised.

I support the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Not because I want the government to subsidize my wealth the way it does the banks’. Not because I begrudge wealthy people the enjoyment of the fruits of hard work. Not because I am a utopian naïf who believes we can live in a world full of only winners with no losers. I support it because I believe that if you enjoy the rights of corporate personhood, you owe the responsibilities attendant to that personhood. As I grew up understanding it, the central premise of capitalism is that corporations (or partnerships or individuals, really any market participants) are amoral actors, driven by market forces to achieve success through efficiency and innovation. Well, that’s fine, until you say, “Corporations are people, too, my friend.” You can’t have it both ways. You can have soulless pursuit of profit or you can have personal accountability, just like I do. Meaning, if you don’t pay your bills, you lose your stuff, just like I would. If you cheat or steal from people, you go to jail, just like I would. One set of rules for every PERSON. If, on the other hand, you want to go about your business as an amoral actor, that’s fine, but you can’t expect the same free speech and other rights I enjoy as an accountable, real person; you can’t expect to enjoy the benefits of American citizenship while being organized under the laws of some Carribean tax haven.

Now, look. There plenty of middle class folks who don’t support OWS because they don’t believe (or at least they think they don’t) in wealth redistribution. Well, I do. I accept that the redistribution of wealth means that sometimes those who receive the benefits of my hard work may fritter away or misuse those benefits. God knows, I came of age in the 1980s when every time you turned around there was another politician squawking about welfare mothers or some such shibboleth of allegedly endemic socialist graft. And that squawking had the ring of truth because it was rooted in anecdotal, if not systemic evidence. But you know what? I’m willing to risk a little individual misuse of my tax dollars by people who have less than me, because the benefits to the many outweigh the misdeeds of the small few. Where I live, poverty and racial and educational inequality are still alive and well. If a few of the hours I work every week go to programs designed to attack those problems, I’m happy to put in those hours. (And I’ll still be happy to volunteer my non-work time, too, as I do on a regular basis.) Does that mean I will mindlessly support any program with a name that conjures social action? No. But I am happy to support those that innovate to improve the lives of individual people, one person, one community at a time. Whether that’s in the form of government subsidies to non-profits or government programs that replicate the successes of non-profits; whether that’s in the form of government subsidies to schools that serve the public interest (and education, pure education, is the essence of the public interest) or subsidies to individual students who demonstrate need and/or ability; whether that’s in the form of aid to artists and arts groups or in the form of subsidized public art; whether that is in the form of aid to small businesses willing to hire local workers or in civilian corps-style programs; I am happy to work a few hours a week to make government and communities work better for everyone.

But what I am not happy to do is work extra hours every week to support failed businesses whose only successes seem to lie in preying on individual failure and political power to “make” money. I don’t accept that my tax dollars should be redistributed to entities who don’t need my money and yet still manage to waste (ahem, I think they prefer the term “invest”) it on risky investments, shadowy off-book frauds, and political influence. What I don’t accept is that I should work extra hours in every week to pay for bankers and equity companies and hedge fund managers to make wagers that would make a horse-betting junkie blush. What I don’t accept is that my voice should be drowned out in the political process by their dollars (which is to say, my tax dollars) arguing for policies and perks that benefit fewer than 1% of the population. Sure, if their innovations and efficiencies were helping America back on its feet, I might reconsider, but everyone knows that isn’t what is happening. We all know that the large financial institutions are sucking the American treasury dry and doing nothing to aid the people—the tax base—that makes their greedy feeding possible. Even if you don’t support OWS, you have to recognize that this is an untenable arrangement that has to be re-aligned. There simply is not enough money or energy being reinvested in actual goods and services in this country to sustain such supports.

We subsidize every significant activity of multinational corporate finance in this country. Aren’t we owed at least a modicum of accountability in exchange? Aren’t we at least owed the same amplification of our concerns? This is what OWS asks. This is what I’m asking.

govtoversight:

The Dodd-Frank reforms turned 2 this week. Check out what they have been up to.

govtoversight:

The Dodd-Frank reforms turned 2 this week. Check out what they have been up to.

losangeleno:

“The American people understand that they did not cause this recession. Teachers did not cause this recession. Firefighters and police officers did not cause this recession. Construction workers did not cause this recession. This recession was caused by the greed, the recklessness and the illegal behavior on Wall Street.”
-Bernie Sanders

losangeleno:

“The American people understand that they did not cause this recession. Teachers did not cause this recession. Firefighters and police officers did not cause this recession. Construction workers did not cause this recession. This recession was caused by the greed, the recklessness and the illegal behavior on Wall Street.”

-Bernie Sanders

novenator:

I marched with tens of thousands of protesters yesterday in Montreal. In the second photo, I’m the one in the wearable tent. The People United, Will Never Be Defeated.

oldenough2burmom:

I just read a statement from another occupier that there could be “riot action” tomorrow. Please God, no. One of the strengths of this movement early on was the commitment to non-violence. Civil disobedience works. Just look at the people in this photo set if you don’t believe me. I watched the 60s movement suffer an early demise precisely because people became so terrified of the protest tactics that they lost the central point. That could easily happen again. If we want a society that is centered on love for one another and justice, let’s behave accordingly.

theriverwanders:

There’s is no occupational or social equivalency between a professional parent and the wife of a 200-times-over millionaire.  The ability to make any problem, chore, or issue disappear with your checkbook changes the game in ways that 99% of us will never know.