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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/29/11

Economic Reform Newsletter: Ways Forward Against the Opposition

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Hello Fellow Economic Reformers:

"Capital must protect itself in every possible way, both by combination and legislation. Debts must be collected, mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible. When, through the process of law, the common people lose their homes, they will become more docile and more easily governed through the strong arm of government applied by a central power of wealth under leading financiers. These truths are well known among our principal men who are now engaged in forming an imperialism to govern the world. By dividing the voter through the political party system, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting for questions of no importance. It is thus by discreet action we can secure for ourselves that which has been so well planned and so successfully accomplished."
American's Banker Association, 1924

"If government becomes 'independent of politics' it can only mean that that sphere of government becomes an absolute self-perpetuating oligarchy."
Murray Rothbard, The Case Against The Fed

"Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is
the master of all its legislation and commerce."
President James A. Garfield

"A private central bank issuing the public currency is a greater menace to the liberties of the people than a standing army...We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt."
Thomas Jefferson
"Central banks were supposedly the guardians of money. Yet, they have created the biggest liquidity bubble in history."
The Economist
"Regarding the Great Depression, you're right, we did it."
Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Chairman

"Once the government reclaims the power to create money from the banks, it will no longer need to sell its bonds to investors. It will not even need to levy income taxes... government-issued money would actually be less inflationary than the system we have now; and it is precisely because power and money corrupt that money creation needs to be done by a public body, exercised in full view and with full accountability... what has allowed government to be corrupted today is that it is actually run by the money cartel. Big business holds all the cards, because its affiliated banks have monopolized the business of issuing and lending the national money supply, a function the Constitution delegated solely to Congress."
Ellen Brown, Web Of Debt

-- All quotes above from PUBLIC CENTRAL BANK website, dedicated to ending the federal reserve and promoting public banking.
Now, I don't agree with everything on this site, but the reading list can't be beat, for understanding true economics, and if they'd only include the practice of using land as collateral as one of the causes of our multiple recessions and depressions, they'd have a pretty good grasp on what's going on. 

The Debt-Ceiling Crisis Implodes!
As of this writing, we are just a short weekend from Armadebton (thanks, Jon Stewart), when the United States will be unable to pay all its bills.  If anything, the two sides are further apart than they were a week ago, with speaker of the House John - the "weeper" - Boehner essentially sidelined by his own rabid Tea Party faction (more on them below).

I've written before about the falsity of the current debt-ceiling crisis (which could be postponed by a Ron Paul idea to lop off 1.6 trillion in money we owe ourselves), and how it may even be unconstitutional (the 14th Amendment calls for paying all debts owed by the Federal Governmen t, without exception).
But perhaps these solutions are not to Congress' liking (is anything?).  Here, then is a new solution, along Zarlingist lines to make money creation a function of Government, not the private banks: Produce debt-free United States Notes.  See my new petition to do exactly that here:
click here

Now, I have my problems with plans to centralize the function of money creation as Zarlenga proposes, but at the very least, the Federal Government should be re-allowed to produce its own money, not only to avoid the debt limits, but to put it to use putting people to work in the infrastructure industries (currently in deflation, while the American Society of Civil Engineers says America's infrastructure rates a D).  Do we NOT need stronger bridges, repaired roads, a new energy grid?  As Zarlinga points out, the failure to pay for these is a searing indictment of our monetary system and it needs to be addressed now.

Teed off at the Tea Party

I've been criticized for criticizing the Tea Party recently.  Here, in brief, are my problems with the Tea Party.

- From a recent Tea Party website:

A one-time limited GAO audit of the Federal Reserve that was mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has uncovered some eye-popping corruption at the Fed and the mainstream media is barely even covering it.
It turns out that the Federal Reserve made $16.1 trillion in secret loans to their bankster friends during the financial crisis.
These loans only went to the "too big to fail" banks and to foreign financial institutions. Not a penny of these loans went to small banks or to ordinary Americans. Not only did the banksters get trillions in nearly interest-free loans, but the Fed actually paid them over 600 million dollars to help run the emergency lending program. The GAO investigation revealed some absolutely stunning conflicts of interest, and yet the mainstream media does not even seem interested. Solid evidence of the looting of America has been put right in front of us, and yet hardly anyone wants to talk about it.
The Tea Party Needs Your Help To Stop The Obama Regime

Well, now, this is really the height of deception.  The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform they are quoting from so approvingly, was mandated by Democrats, including its two leaders for whom it is named - former Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Barney Frank (who also happens to be openly Gay, something else many "social values" Tea Party types often rail against).  The Consumer Protection Act they are talking about also came out of the need to protect consumers against Wall Street lies, tricks and outright fraud - and Tea Party backed Republicans have been fighting against it ever since, especially lambasting the now pushed aside originator of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren.  With a little less resistance from Tea Party folks and Republicans, Obama would certainly have appointed Elizabeth Warren as the head.  Which leads me to my first objection...

1.  The Tea Party isn't a party at all.   It's really a bunch of disgruntled folks (at most, apx. 1/4 of the electorate, but probably much less for reasons I'll list here) who are mad about the money being squandered in Washington on everything from Bailouts (right on!) to Social Security (right off!).  Some want to end the drain form the foreign wars (Ron Paul).  Some think that's the ONLY thing government should spend money on.  A recent posting on points favorably to the Federal Reserve audit initiated by Senator (I-VT) Bernie Sanders, uncovering fraud and mismanagement of some $16 trillion by the fed.  Well, yes, that is so, but we wouldn't know that except for the very government oversight Tea Party types want to eliminate !  One cannot have it both ways.  Oh, and Bernie Sanders considers himself a Socialist.  The merits of Socialism can be debated, but one thing Socialist are not , is Tea Party conservatives.  Again, one cannot have it both ways.  They also quote Thomas Jefferson, even while many conservatives are trying to reduce his place in Texas school textbooks, perhaps because Jefferson was a non-theistic deist

2.  My second objection is who is backing the Tea Parties - mostly the power-mongers (I resisted saying "far right" but only barely) who already own Congress and the Administration.  
Well, on this point I will concede there is little difference on the ownership issue between the Democrats and Republicans, so it's perhaps understandable how such muddle-headed "parties" as the Tea Party could get traction.  I suppose videos like this reach to a certain population that acts on a gut level, not a thinking level, too.  What, exactly, is this video montage proposing we actually do ?  Being "Mad as Hell" is just the start, not the end, of political activism.  I would point out that Howard Beale's 1976 classic, albeit fictional speech, included in the video, called for ending pollution, inflation, as well as crime.  Which of those does the Tea Party have an actual plan to fix ?  Beale also shouted "My life has value!"  Well, Beale would have loved Henry George, once he calmed down a little, but just a little, George shouts off the page for human rights too.

3.  My last, but perhaps most important objection, is that the Tea Party wants to enshrine Darwinian* "Dog-eat-Dog" as the law of the land.  Well, rights don't happen without some rule of law to enforce them.  See Andy Cobb's Libertarian riff on "free" Somalia here
And Dog-eat-Dog doesn't scale.  It creates a thugacracy, nothing more.
And getting money is not the same as earning money (or else Blackbeard would be pre-revolutionary history's Thomas Edison).

Times, whether the Tea Party, or anyone else, choose to acknowledge it, are changing...

* Ironically, the Tea Party is full of folks who believe in Social Darwinism, but not the theories of Darwin!  BTW, Social Darwinism was a creation of Herbert Spencer (though not known by that term in his lifetime), not Charles Darwin, who would would have been as likely to say cooperation is key to survival as competition, depending on the species. 
How many loner, uncooperative, ants do you find?  And do wolves hunt alone or in packs?  And, it's hard to think of a more cooperative arrangement than modern humans living in a city of 8 million people.
You get the idea.

A Census of the Land
Rural America is disappearing , says the latest Census
Rural America now accounts for just 16 percent of the nation's population, the lowest ever.
The latest 2010 census numbers hint at an emerging America where, by midcentury, city boundaries become indistinct and rural areas grow ever less relevant. Many communities could shrink to virtual ghost towns as they shutter businesses and close down schools, demographers say.
More metro areas are booming into sprawling megalopolises. Barring fresh investment that could bring jobs, however, large swaths of the Great Plains and Appalachia , along with parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and North Texas, could face significant population declines.
Henry George talked about the value of location, focusing especially on where the values were highest - the cities.  Now, over 100 years later, it seems that value has only grown, in spite of trains, planes and automobiles - the second two of which were unknown in George's time, in spite of a crisscrossing national highway system that allows us to drive for hours at speeds unimaginable in George's day, and even in spite of the increasingly ubiquitous internet.  Why then, do we still not tax the value of the land, which would only encourage development where it is needed most, in the rundown sections of our cities, instead of subsidizing sprawl that Americans are increasingly showing they do not want, in spite of misincentives? 

Clearly, change is in the air, and people are beginning to coalesce around certain principles of monetary and fiscal reform.  On the issue of the national debt, a solid majority, probably due to increase as the crisis deepens, want compromise on a debt solution according to a recent Gallup/USA poll.  One way to lessen spending, say an increasing majority of Americans in two recent polls, is to end American involvement in both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. 
Now, how do we get our leaders, so heavily influenced by the corporate-banking lobby, to listen?  Maybe we don't.  Maybe we have to start over....

What would a third party look like?
We live in an age where not only are the two major parties distrusted, but the very voting process itself is in serious doubt, as evidenced by gerrymandering that
  counts prisoners but not their votes, and by anomalies in presidential elections of both 2000 and 2004. 

A new story in Truthout today describes specifically how the voting results for Ohio - without which Bush would have lost a second term - could have been fraudulently swung in his direction in the depths of election night:
A new filing in the King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell case includes a copy of the Ohio Secretary of State election production system configuration that was in use in Ohio's 2004 presidential election when there was a sudden and unexpected shift in votes for George W. Bush.
The filing also includes the revealing deposition of the late Michael Connell. Connell served as the IT guru for the Bush family and Karl Rove. Connell ran the private IT firm GovTech that created the controversial system that transferred Ohio's vote count late on election night 2004 to a partisan Republican server site in Chattanooga, Tennessee owned by SmarTech. That is when the vote shift happened, not predicted by the exit polls, that led to Bush's unexpected victory. Connell died a month and a half after giving this deposition in a suspicious small plane crash.
As you can see, there is a LOT that has gone unanswered since 2004, and the trail gets colder every day.  But, just think how different things would have been if Kerry had been elected in 2004, or Gore in 2000 (wait!  Gore was elected!  But, then SCOTUS let the clock run out, forcing the controversial Florida count to stand.
Shades of Henry George's first run for mayor on NYC, when Tammany Hall possibly counted him out.  What has changed?).
Of course, there are always efforts to draft new voices: Draft Bernie Sanders:, for example.

Cutting through all the fraud and gerrymandering is a new social network effort, to get a candidate on the ballot who will represent issue positions chosen by the electorate first and then allow users to pick a candidate who supports them second - Americans Elect 2012 (  When I took the survey, I was surprised how much other people agreed with my, other way around, I guess
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Will this provide a viable, publicly funded, alternative to the corrupt two-party system?  Time will tell.

Speaking of rot....

  Should there be a Junk Food tax?
I got to discuss this a bit with Professor Mason Gaffney (whose articles are also on this site) when he gave an 8-day seminar at the Henry George school recently.  He, like a lot of people I suppose, basically accused me of being a killjoy, and there's some merit to that, but what are we to do when obesity and diabetes continue to soar, threatening not only to overwhelm our healthcare system, but the Federal budget itself (recent reductions in Medicare will do nothing to stop the actual cost of ill-health, just shift the burden, and perhaps even discourage people from seeking needed medical help).
A New York Times article discusses the issue here: Bad Food? Tax It, and Subsidize Vegetables
Is a junk food tax Georgist?  Well, suppose we compare it to a pigovian tax on pollution, which most economists (including Gaffney) agree is a modern Georgist way of discouraging pollution.  Then, suppose we consider excessive sugar, salt, and empty calories a form of "body pollution."  Shouldn't we discourage people from destruction to themselves just as we would discourage them from polluting the environment?  We already do this, as Gaffney reminded me, on cigarettes and alcohol.  And, as the article states, we could use the tax to subsidize fresh and wholesome foods that too many people - especially the relatively more junk-calorie consuming poor - don't get enough of.  Of course, as I also discussed with Gaffney, we should use Georgist solutions to discourage factory farming, processed food, etc. by placing a tax on their effluence and whatever other harm they do to the environment; this alone should shift the national diet in healthful ways, as would Gaffney's prescription to tax land, thereby encouraging relatively more efficient small farms.  However, says Bitman of the Times:
"Currently, instead of taxing sodas and other unhealthful food, we subsidize them (with, I might note, tax dollars!). Direct subsidies to farmers for crops like corn (used, for example, to make now-ubiquitous high-fructose corn syrup) and soybeans (vegetable oil) keep the prices of many unhealthful foods and beverages artificially low. There are indirect subsidies as well, because prices of junk foods don't reflect the costs of repairing our health and the environment. ...
The need is dire: efforts to shift the national diet have failed, because education alone is no match for marketing dollars that push the very foods that are the worst for us. (The fast-food industry alone spent more than $4 billion on marketing in 2009; the Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion is asking for about a third of a percent of that in 2012: $13 million.) As a result, the percentage of obese adults has more than doubled over the last 30 years; the percentage of obese children has tripled. We eat nearly 10 percent more animal products than we did a generation or two ago, and though there may be value in eating at least some animal products, we could perhaps live with reduced consumption of triple bacon cheeseburgers. "
So, will you have a healthy, wholesome productive life with your meal, or would you like the unhealthy, shortened, expensive, degraded life?

Until next time....

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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a former 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 a former and current President of Common Ground-NY (, a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens of (more...)

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