The 12-member congressional “Super Committee” failed, as we all knew it would, when Republicans stood firm in their craven, lickspittle fealty to the wealthiest Americans. Everyone knew, everyone paying even the slightest bit of attention to these clowns—and their Democrat “enablers”—that it was going to fail. No one was surprised. No one at all. Failure WAS the expectation from day one (Is there even a single dissenter to that opinion, on the right or left out there? Anyone? I didn’t think so).
The Occupy Movement has been criticized by small-minded types for “having no plans” etc, but what did they expect after merely a few weeks, anyway?
Today a full page ad appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle that led readers to this text online with the Occupy Movement’s plan for reducing spending, creating jobs and mitigating the wealth divide.
And then there is this extraordinary document (below) in which the Occupy Washington, DC peeps throw down the gauntlet in style. Reproduced here in full. I encourage you to read them both carefully and then share these documents with everyone you know, on FB, on Twitter and everywhere else.
[Note, I am not putting this in block quotes, it would be 4ft. long if I did, but to make it clear in case it’s not: I did not write this. I agree with it wholeheartedly, and I very strongly endorse it, but I did not write it and I don’t want to confuse anyone that I did, okay?]
WHEREAS THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION PROVIDES THAT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
WE, THE NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in order to form a more perfect Union, by, for and of the PEOPLE, shall elect and convene a NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY the week of July 4, 2012 in the City Of Philadelphia to prepare and ratify a PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES on behalf of the Ninety-Nine Percent of United States citizens.
I. Election of Delegates:
In or about March 2012, the People, consisting of all United States citizens who have reached the age of 18, regardless of party affiliation and voter registration status, shall elect Two Delegates, one male and one female, by direct vote, from each of the existing 435 Congressional Districts to represent the People at the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY. The office of Delegate shall be open to all United States citizens who have reached the age of 18.
No candidate for Delegate to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY will be permitted to run on a party line or use any party label while running for or serving as a Delegate. No candidate or Delegate may take private money from any source except to fund his or her trip to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Election Committees in the 435 voting districts, consisting of volunteers, shall organize, coordinate and transparently fund this election. The voting process shall be free from the corrupting influence of corporate money and all funds raised by the Working Group on the 99% Declaration shall be used for the purpose of funding the election of Delegates and providing a venue for the Delegates to meet in Philadelphia.
II. Meeting of the National General Assembly and Approval of a Petition for a Redress of Grievances:
In addition to ensuring a free and fair election of the Delegates to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, the Working Group on the 99% Declaration shall be responsible for raising sufficient funds to secure a venue wherein the 876* Delegates may convene, deliberate and ratify a PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES. The ratified PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES will be signed by the Delegates and presented to all 535 members of Congress, the 9 members of the Supreme Court, the President of the United States and each of the political candidates seeking to be elected to federal public office in the November 2012 general election. Because the time in Philadelphia will be limited, between March 2012 and July 2012, the elected Delegates shall meet electronically, or in person if possible, to confer and write the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES. Subject to the voting procedure regarding the final vote for ratification of the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES as set forth in section III, the Delegates of the National General Assembly shall implement their own rules, procedures, agenda, code of conduct, internal elections or appointments of committee members to efficiently and expeditiously accomplish the People’s mandate to present a PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES to all three branches of the government of the United States of America and political candidates before the 2012 general election.
III. Content of the Petition for a Redress of Grievances:
The PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES ratified by the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY shall be non-partisan and specifically address the critical issues now confronting the People of the United States of America. The PETITION shall be a product of the 876 elected Delegates who will confer with the American People during its creation. While attending the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in July 2012 the Delegates shall deliberate and vote upon grievances, proposals and solutions to be included in the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES and, if necessary, adjourn for further consultation with the American People as our founding fathers did during the first two Continental Congresses. The final vote ratifying the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES shall be by a simple majority vote of the 876 delegates. A duly elected chairperson of the National General Assembly shall determine the outcome of the final vote on ratification in the event of a tie. Upon ratification, all of the Delegates shall affix their signatures to the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES so it may be served upon all candidates running for national political office in the 2012 general election and the seated members of the three branches of the United States Government.
IV. Suggested Content of the Petition for a Redress of Grievances.
In order to facilitate the timely election of the 876 Delegates to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY by July 4, 2012 and submission of the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES before the 2012 general election, the Working Group on the 99% Declaration, shall include with this Declaration a suggested list of grievances to be submitted to the Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY no later than April 30, 2012. The final version of the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES, to be written and ratified solely by the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, may or may not include the following issues currently suggested by the Working Group on the 99% Declaration:
1. Elimination of the Corporate State. The merger of the American political system of republican democracy with the economic system of capitalism has resulted in the establishment of a corporate government of, by and for the benefit of domestic and multi-national corporations. Therefore, the 99% of the American People demand an immediate ban on all direct and indirect private contributions of any thing of value, to all politicians serving in or running for federal office in the United States. This ban shall extend to all individuals, corporations, “political action committees,” “super political action committees,” lobbyists, unions and all other private sources of money or things of value, including but not limited to, promises of employment. Private funding of political campaigns from concentrated sources of wealth have corrupted our political system. Therefore, all private funding of political campaigns shall be replaced by the fair, equal and TOTAL public financing of all federal political campaigns.
We, the 99% of the American People, categorically REJECT the concepts that corporations are persons and that money is equivalent to free speech because if that were so, then only the wealthiest people, corporations and entities possessing concentrated wealth would have a meaningful voice in our society. We demand the immediate and complete elimination of all private political contributions through the enactment of new campaign finance laws and Constitutional amendment if necessary. It has become clear that politicians in the United States cannot regulate themselves and have become the exclusive representatives of corporations, unions and the very wealthy who indirectly and directly spend vast sums of money on political campaigns to influence the candidates’ decisions when they attain office and ensure their reelection year after year despite historically low disapproval ratings by the American People. It has been estimated that 94% of all federal political campaigns are won by the candidate who spends the most money on the campaign. As a result, our elected representatives spend far too much time fundraising for the next election rather than doing the People’s business. This constant need for more and more money, causes our politicians to labor under obscene conflicts of interest that make it impossible for them to act in the best interests of the American People. Indeed, the current system’s propagation of legalized bribery and conflicts of interests has reduced our democracy to a greed driven corporatocracy run by oligarchs who represent .05 to 1% of the population but own 38% to 40% of the wealth. Through their exclusive control of politicians, the incomes of the top 1% have increased 275% since 1979 while most other salaries have remained virtually flat or declined.
2. Abrogation of the “Citizens United” Case. The immediate abrogation, even if it requires a Constitutional Amendment, of the outrageous and anti-democratic Supreme Court holding in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and its progeny. This heinous decision proclaimed by the United States Supreme Court in 2010 equates the direct and indirect payment of money to politicians by political action committees, corporations, wealthy individuals and unions with the exercise of protected free speech. We, the 99% of the American People, demand that this institutional bribery never again be deemed protected free speech and all direct and indirect private payments to politicians end immediately.
3. Elimination of All Private Benefits and “Perks” to Public Servants. The 99% of the American People demand the immediate prohibition of special benefits to all federal elected officials, public employees, officers, public servants, officials or their immediate family members including a corrupt “revolving door” in and out of our government. Elected and unelected public officials and their immediate families shall be banned from ever being employed by any corporation, lobbying firm, individual or business that the public official specifically regulated while in office. No public employee, officer, official or their immediate family members shall own or hold any stock or shares in any corporation or other entity that the elected or unelected public official specifically regulated while in office until a full 5 years after their term or employment is completed. There shall be a complete lifetime ban on the acceptance of all gifts, services, money or thing of value, directly or indirectly, by any elected or appointed public official or their immediate family members, from any person, corporation, union or any other entity that the public official was charged to specifically regulate while he or she was in office.
The term “specifically regulate” shall mean service or employment on a committee or sub-committee or service within any agency or department of the federal government responsible for the regulation of the person, union, corporation or entity in question. To root out corruption and restore integrity to our political system, all elected politicians and public employees must ONLY collect their salary, generous healthcare benefits and pension. To enforce these policies, Congress shall immediately pass new criminal laws banning the aforementioned private benefits to politicians and public officials. Any person, including individuals connected directly or indirectly to corporations, lobbyists, or unions who violate these new criminal laws shall be sentenced to a term of mandatory imprisonment of no less than two years and not more than ten years. Special benefits shall include the use of insider information by elected and unelected public officials to profit in financial markets or investments.
4. Term Limits. Members of the United States House of Representatives shall be limited to serving no more than four two-year terms in their lifetime. Members of the United States Senate shall be limited to serving no more than two six-year terms in their lifetime. The two-term limit for President shall remain unchanged. Serving as a member of Congress or as the President of the United States is one of the highest honors and privileges our culture can bestow. These positions of prominence in our society should be sought to serve one’s country and not provide a lifetime career designed to increase personal wealth and accumulate power for the sake of vanity and hubris. The lengths that today’s politicians will go to for the sake of clinging to power demonstrate the critical need for term limits and making career politicians the exception rather than the rule.
5. A Fair Tax Code. A complete reformation and simplification of the United States Tax Code to require ALL individuals and corporations to pay a fair share of a progressive, graduated income tax by eliminating loopholes, unfair tax breaks, exemptions and unfair deductions, subsidies and ending all other methods of evading taxes. The current system of taxation unjustly favors the wealthiest Americans, many of whom pay fewer taxes to the United States Treasury than citizens who earn much less and pay a much higher percentage of their incomes in taxes. Any corporation or entity that does business in the United States and generates income from that business in the United States shall be fully taxed on that income regardless of corporate domicile or they will be barred from earning their profits in the United States. This will allow honest companies and individuals who pay their fair share in taxes to take over those markets in the United States economy. Businesses that pay taxes in other countries will no longer be permitted to use that excuse to justify their failure to pay federal income tax in the United States.
6. Healthcare for All. Medicare for all or adoption of a universal single-payer healthcare system. The broken Medicaid program will be eliminated as redundant. Affordable healthcare shall be a human right.
7. Protection of the Planet. Human greed, exponentially magnified by corporations, is destroying the only habitable planet known to humanity. Multinational corporations have purchased so much influence in Congress (and other governments in the world) that they can secure the passage or blockage of regulations to maximize profits and minimize conservation of the environment. The evidence of climate change due to human activity can no longer be denied by rational people. New comprehensive laws and regulations must be immediately enacted to give the Environmental Protection Agency, and other environmental protection regulators, expanded powers and resources to shut down corporations, businesses or any entities that intentionally or recklessly damage the environment, and to criminally prosecute individuals who intentionally or recklessly damage the environment. No corporate veil should protect any employee, officer or director of a corporation who is directly or indirectly engaged in the intentional or reckless decimation of the planet for profit. The amount of profit a corporation can make must be balanced (by conflict-free regulators) with the inevitable damage that human activity inflicts on the environment. The 99% of the American People demand the immediate implementation of new and existing programs to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels to reusable or carbon neutral sources of energy and higher greenhouse gas emission standards so that something will be left for our children and grandchildren. The rights to clean air, water, and conservation of the planet for future generations shall no longer be infringed by greed-driven corporations and selfish individuals.
8. Debt Reduction. Adoption of an immediate plan to reduce the national debt to a sustainable percentage of GDP by 2020. Reduction of the $15 trillion national debt to be achieved by BOTH fair progressive taxation and cuts in spending that benefit corporations engaged in perpetual war for profit, inefficient healthcare, pharmaceutical exploitation, over-prescribing medications for profit, the communications industry, the prison and military industrial complexes, banking and finance, the oil and gas industry, and all other entities that have used the federal budget as a private income stream resulting in our $15 trillion debt. We agree that spending cuts are necessary but those cuts must be made to facilitate what is best for the People of the United States of America, not corporations who care for nothing except profit.
9. Jobs for All Americans. Passage of a comprehensive job and job-training act like the American Jobs Act to employ our citizens in jobs that are available with specialized training. The American People must be put to work now by repairing America’s crumbling infrastructure and building other needed public works projects. In conjunction with a new jobs act, reinstitution of the Works Progress Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps and similar emergency governmental agencies tasked with creating new projects to provide jobs to the 46 million People living in poverty, the 8.6% unemployed and 16.2% who are underemployed.
10. Student Loan Forgiveness. Our students are more than $1 trillion in debt from education loans and have fewer employment prospects due to the financial collapse directly caused by the unbridled and unregulated greed of Wall Street. Banks receive virtually interest free loans from the Federal Reserve Bank and then charge upwards of 6% interest to our students for profit. Because education is the only way to ensure our future success as a nation, interest on student debts must be immediately reduced to 2% or less and repayments deferred for periods of unemployment. Subject to the provisions of point five herein, the tax code will be amended so that employers will receive a student loan repayment tax deduction for paying off the loans of their employees. Moreover, to reduce the principal on all outstanding student loans, a financial transaction surcharge, similar to those fees charged by banks on consumers, will be introduced. This surcharge will serve as restitution and reparations for Wall Street’s intentional and reckless conduct leading to widespread unemployment after the economic collapse in 2007-2008. This economic crisis, the worst since the Great Depression, resulted in the $1.5 trillion dollar bail out of Wall Street, secret Federal Reserve loans, and unknown losses to the economy estimated to be in the trillions of dollars. Banks and the financial institutions they are permitted to own (see point 16 infra) have caused the current worldwide recession, debt crisis and ongoing turmoil in the international markets.
11. Immigration Reform and Improved Border Security. Immediate passage of the Dream Act and comprehensive immigration and border security reform including offering visas, lawful permanent resident status and citizenship to the world’s brightest and most highly skilled People to come, stay and work in our industries and schools after they obtain their education and training in the United States.
12. Ending of Perpetual War for Profit. Recalling all military personnel at all non-essential bases including but not limited to Europe, South Korea, Japan, Australia and Cuba and refocusing national defense goals to address threats posed by the geopolitics of the 21st century, including terrorism and limiting the large scale deployment of military forces to those instances where Congressional approval has been granted. New laws must be enacted to counter the Military Industrial Complex’s mission of perpetual war for profit. The United States has engaged in war after war only to later to discover that the pretexts relied upon to enter these wars were false or exaggerated to generate profits for the Military Industrial Complex and other corporations and individuals. The annual savings created by updating our military posture and ending perpetual war will be applied to the social programs outlined herein to improve the quality of life for human beings rather than facilitating and assisting corporations engaged in mass-murder for profits distributed to the top 1% of wealth owners.
13. Emergency Reform of Public Education. The education system in the United States is a resounding failure. New educational goals to train the American public to perform jobs in a 21st century economy, particularly in the areas of technology, infrastructure repair, water and resource conservation and green energy must be mandated as national security issue. These reforms must be accomplished by taking into consideration the redundancy caused by technology and the inexpensive cost of labor in China, India and other developing countries. Tenure should be eliminated in primary public education in favor of merit performance and paying our teachers a competitive salary commensurate with the salaries in the private sector. These salaries must be based upon similar skills found in the private sector because without highly-skilled teachers, there will never be a highly-skilled workforce and the United States will fall further and further behind its competitors.
14. End Outsourcing. Subject to the elimination of corporate tax loopholes and exploited exemptions and deductions as stated in point five, limited tax incentives will be permitted to entice businesses to hire our citizens rather than outsource jobs. Conversely, an “outsourcing tax” should be introduced to discourage businesses from sending jobs overseas and tax incentives should be offered to companies that invest in reconstructing the manufacturing capacity of the United States. This country must again competitively produce everyday products in the United States rather than importing them from countries like China and India. To do business in the United States, corporations must make slightly less profit by hiring American workers and paying them a living wage rather than maximizing every penny of profit to the detriment of our society.
15. End Currency Manipulation. Implementing immediate legislation (see e.g. H.R. 639) to encourage China (which undervalues its currency by an estimated 25% to 40%) and our other trading partners to end currency manipulation, reduce the trade deficit and end clearly identified unfair trade practices.
16. Banking and Securities Reform. Immediate reenactment of the Glass-Steagall Act and increased regulation of Wall Street and the financial industry by the SEC, FINRA, CFTC, the Justice Department and the other financial regulators including the recently established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We further demand an immediate investigation by the Justice Department into the potential criminal practices of the Securities and Banking industry that directly led to the collapse of markets, bank bail-out and firm failures in 2007-2008. To facilitate the aforementioned student loan debt relief, banks and securities firms shall pay a small financial transaction fee, also known as the “Robin Hood Tax”, on each and every stock trade and other financial transactions without passing these costs onto consumers. Uniform regulations will be enacted to specifically limit what banks may charge consumers for ATM fees and/or the use of debit cards and other so-called miscellaneous fees. There will be an end to the $4 billion a year “hedge fund loophole” which permits certain individuals engaged in financial transactions to evade graduated income tax rates by treating their income as long-term capital gains which are taxed at a much lower rate (approximately 15%) than income tax.
17. Foreclosure Moratorium. Adoption of a plan similar to President Clinton’s proposal to end the mortgage crisis. The privately owned Federal Reserve Bank shall not continue to lower interest rates for loans to banks that are refusing to loan to small businesses and consumers. Instead, the federal government shall buy all mortgages in foreclosure and refinance these debts at an interest rate of 1% or less because that is the interest rate the Federal Reserve charges the banks who hoard the cash despite ample liquidity. These re-financed debts will be managed by the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and an independent foreclosure task force appointed and overseen by Congress and the Executive Branch to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether foreclosure proceedings should continue based on the circumstances of each homeowner and the propriety of the financial institution’s conduct when originating the loan
18. Ending the Fed. The immediate formation of a non-partisan commission, overseen by Congress, to audit and investigate the short-term and long-term economic risks in eliminating the privately-owned Federal Reserve Bank and transferring all its functions to the United States Treasury Department.
19. Abolish the Electoral College and Enact Uniform Election Reforms. The 99% demand the abolishment of the Electoral College in favor of the Popular Vote in presidential elections to avoid situations where the Electoral College elects a candidate who does not receive a majority of the popular vote. Subject to the above-referenced ban on all private money and gifts in politics, Congress shall immediately enact additional campaign finance reform requiring the Federal Communications Commission to grant free air-time to all federal candidates; total public campaign financing to all candidates who obtain sufficient petition signatures and/or votes to get on the ballot and participate in the primaries and/or general election; implementation of nationwide uniform election rules applied to all voting districts requiring equal access to third parties to appear on ballots; abolition of “gerrymandering” by utilizing non-partisan public commissions so that third parties may fairly compete in elections, shortening the campaign season to three months; allowing voting on weekends and holidays; issuance of free voter registration cards to all citizens who are eligible to vote so that they cannot be turned away at a polling station because they do not have a driver’s license or other form of identification; a review of the exclusion of voters with non-violent criminal records, and expanding the option of mail-in ballots and verifiable internet voting.
20. Ending the War in Afghanistan and Care of Veterans. An immediate withdrawal of all combat troops from Afghanistan and a substantial increase in the amount of funding for veteran job training and placement. New programs dedicated to the treatment of the emotional and physical injuries sustained by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Our veterans are committing suicide at an unprecedented rate of one person every 80 minutes and we must help now.
21. Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). Immediate passage of Senate bill, S. 598, and House bill, H.R. 1116, to repeal the Defense Of Marriage Act because all human beings have the right to love and marry another human being regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
22. No Censorship of the Internet. The Internet and its related technologies foster free speech, innovation, and a global human consciousness. We believe that the Internet and its related technologies are the joint property of humanity, and as such, it must not be censored or regulated in any manner without the consent of the people who utilize and contribute to its vitality. We therefore demand the immediate withdrawal of the Stop Online Piracy Act or “SOPA” (H.R. 3261) and the Protect IP Act (S. 968). These bills, if enacted into law, would grant the government broad new powers to curtail speech on the internet, block domain names, track internet protocol (“IP”) addresses, dramatically increase the cost of using content on the internet, chill innovation and creativity of web entrepreneurs in favor of media corporations that already own or control most online content. Furthermore, any future action by the government to censor, dismantle or interfere with, any other future technology that promotes communication between human beings, will be deemed by the people as a violation of the First Amendment and the universal human right to free speech and assembly. We also call upon the United States government to vociferously condemn any country that represses the speech of its people including the censorship of the Internet and related technologies.
V. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that IF the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES approved by the 876 Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in consultation with the NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE, is not acted upon within a reasonable time and to the satisfaction of the Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, said Delegates shall reconvene to utilize the grassroots network established in the election of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY to organize a new INDEPENDENT POLITICAL PARTY to run candidates for every available Congressional seat in the mid-term election of 2014 and again in 2016 until all vestiges of the existing corrupt corporatocracy have been eradicated through the power of the ballot box.
[signed] ★THE NINETY-NINE PERCENT★
Please SIGN THE PETITION in support of the “99%‘s Deficit Proposal”