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Petitioning the Government for a Redress of Grievances in the Modern Day

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From Petitioning is hard work...
Petitioning is hard work...
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The history of petitioning the government goes back to Imperial China.   It continued with petitions to the House of Commons in England.   Probably the best-known petition of all time is the Declaration of Independence -- a petition to then King George to free the colonies.   The Declaration of Independence, however, is not law.   Legally, the right to petition is perhaps most well-known for being enshrined in our own constitution's First Amendment, which:


guarantees the right of the people "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The right to petition has been held to include the right to file lawsuits against the government.


Note that the common phrase "You can't sue the Government" is flat-out wrong.   You can and it's guaranteed in the constitution.

One such lawsuit, Johnson v. Department of the Treasury of the United States, et al.,   case No. CV11 6684   (NJV), "alleges suppression of debate re great benefits that the government would automatically gain from replacing Federal Reserve notes with new issues of United States notes."

You can read more about it here:

In the modern age, it is unusual for a group of people to march up the steps of City Hall, or the Capitol, with thousands of signatures on a petition, and attempt to hand-deliver it to their representative -- though if you can get past the security (blocking you from your constitutional right to redress) and long lines, you will probably get noticed!

But today, mostly petitions are done on-line.   If done with the proper organization, and well-publicized, these can be effective.   Unfortunately, the optimum process keeps changing and what worked before does not work as well today.

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For example, I have a long-standing petition to reintroduce United States Notes -- aka Lincoln Greenbacks -- as a sovereign debt-free currency -- on, one of the older, and previously, most popular, e-petition sites.   Recently, the number of signatures passed 500, thanks in part to a recent surge in Twitter support of retweets from a Twitter account I set up - @NewThinking2 - about 6 months ago, which is only now beginning to gather strong support.   It takes a while to build support on the Social networks, and it's better to do this before launching a petition, particularly if it's going to be on one of the sites that has a time deadline for gathering signatures, like, which requires 100,000 signatures in 30 days in order to get an Administration response.     This can be a very high bar to hurdle, particularly if there are other e-petitions similar to yours out there already; on the other hand, the Administration may respond to a set of similar petitions all at once.

The shifting landscape of successful e-petitioning has another problem.   What happens if you've already gathered a lot of signatures and another, better, platform, comes along, or in the real-world case of, which dropped features like automatically addressing all members of Congress and the Senate from its petition options?   Then, you are left with either using a hobbled product and keeping the base of signatories you already have, or having to start all over again, perhaps contacting all the people who signed your original petition, to sign the new version somewhere else.

(image by Petition2Congress)

I've taken a dual approach -- restarting a petition that only had 26 signatures and wasn't going anywhere, on, on the much better site for Congressional petitions: Petition2congress -- and keeping an older, somewhat more successful petition to re-issue United States Notes, on (for some reason, this particular petition still reaches out to Congress, the Senate and the President whenever someone signs it, though my less successful one mentioned above, does not.   My inquiries to on this issue have gone unanswered, yet another problem with petition sites, that often operate on business model long on idealism but short on cash).

I used's e-messaging function to send out the following to all previous signers, and then also left a shorter message on the page (you are restricted to 1,000 characters there):

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Our petition to produce debt/interest-free U.S. Notes recently passed 500 signatures!   Keep it up and let your friends, colleagues and especially political allies, know about this essential step in monetary reform.  

People often ask, "Sovereign money not coming from the banks sounds like a great idea, but won't the government just print money endlessly, resulting in inflation?"

First, historically, and with rare exceptions like Zimbabwe, which has many, many other problems, the case has been just the opposite: Government has produced too LITTLE money on its own.   It is the private banks, lately the Central Bank, that has produced trillions of excess dollars, mostly based on land speculation and derivatives.   The government is not in that business and never will be.

Second, if you want to know how much money the government should produce on its own, a good place to start is the $1 Trillion/year Output Gap.   This is what the Fed itself and the CBO say we have lost in productivity since the 2008 crash.   That's $6 Trillion!   It's also a loss in infrastructure and job skills that will be very hard to get back in this competitive world (China is not standing still!).

Support Sovereign Money.   Support United States Notes.

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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is President of Common Ground-NYC (, a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens (more...)

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"A Sovereign Nation does not need to borrow its o... by Ad Du on Thursday, Mar 6, 2014 at 12:43:49 PM
Well, first of all, does anyone still believe the ... by Scott Baker on Thursday, Mar 6, 2014 at 5:24:47 PM
Scott, Thanks for plugging my lawsuit against the... by Clifford Johnson on Thursday, Mar 6, 2014 at 1:48:44 PM
The commemorative Lincoln $5 United States note i... by Clifford Johnson on Thursday, Mar 6, 2014 at 2:22:22 PM
So long as our actions are aimed at just reducing ... by Paul Krumm on Thursday, Mar 6, 2014 at 11:28:13 PM