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And now for something completely different ... AN EXCERPT

It seems like something out of a Monty Python routine. The boards that govern the Federal Reserve, the publicly-created central bank that dispenses money to bankers, are all dominated by ... the bankers who receive that money. Picture it if you can:

Fed Board room, 2008:

ECONOMIST: This is serious! The global economy is collapsing because of your reckless gambling!

LONE CITIZEN BOARD MEMBER: That is serious. What can we do? We could break up our banks and fire their executives, or ...

BANKER: Wait! I've got it! Give us more money!

(Nods all around the table)

Six months later:

ECONOMIST: This is serious! We've given you money but you're not lending it out to get the economy moving!

LONE CITIZEN BOARD MEMBER: That is serious. What can we do? Perhaps there could be rules and conditions about lending that ...

BANKER: Or they could give us more money!

OTHER BANKERS: Good one! Let's go with that!

Three years later:

ECONOMIST: This is serious! Joblessness is still at record highs. Poverty has soard. Too-big-to-fail banks are bigger than ever. And you guys are still breaking the law and skirting the rules.

LONE CITIZEN BOARD MEMBER: Hmm. That is serious. The Fed could use its regulatory authority to ...

BANKER: (aside) I hate that guy. (to all) Let me see ... hmmm ... how about giving us more money?

Three and a half years later:

ECONOMIST: This is serious! The country -

BANKERS (in unison): More money!

Why Building Community Wealth is a Key Challenge to Corporate Power Steve Dubb


As our political system sputters, a wave of innovative thinking and bold experimentation is quietly sweeping away outmoded economic models. In 'New Economic Visions', a special five-part AlterNet series edited by Economics Editor Lynn Parramore in partnership with political economist Gar Alperovitz of the Democracy Collaborative, creative thinkers come together to explore the exciting ideas and projects that are shaping the philosophical and political vision of the movement that could take our economy back.


As resistance has grown to America’s widening gulf between the “1 percent” and the rest of the population, something new has exploded in America’s communities; “community wealth building” is an explicit strategy to democratize the ownership of wealth from the ground up. With traditional regulatory and tax-and-spend approaches faltering at every level, the notion that we should create new democratic economic institutions to build wealth, community by community, is quietly gaining traction. We now have the potential for larger and longer-term transformation throughout the nation.

Power for the People

The central idea is simple: people join together through some form of public, community or employee-owned business to meet local needs and thereby regain a measure of local economic democracy and control. Partly self-help, partly community mobilization, and partly sketches for future system-wide expansion, community wealth-building efforts can be found in virtually every region of the country. The range of efforts is vast. Community wealth-building institutions include community development corporations, community development financial institutions, social enterprises, community land trusts, employee-owned enterprises, and cooperatives. All pool capital in ways that create new jobs and anchor jobs in communities.

The efforts also define a new approach to challenging corporate power— a strategy that changes who owns, controls and benefits from the underlying economic wealth of the system. It involves not merely replacing private capital, but displacing it through developing community ownership of business. In other words, profits should flow to workers, consumers or the community—rather than outside investors. And these businesses need to succeed! Increasingly, too, ecological concerns are structured into the very core of many models.

Transformation Everywhere

Examples of the new approach are evident around the world, including worker-cooperatives in Argentina; the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh (which, with its founder, Muhammad Yunus, won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize); and the Mondragón cooperative network in northern Spain, which employs nearly 85,000. Non-profit social enterprise is a community wealth building strategy through which nonprofits independently secure resources to meet their missions in the absence of adequate government support.

  • In San Francisco, a group known as REDF (formerly the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund) has helped boost the business activity of 50 social enterprises that have employed 6,500 people and earned revenues of more than $115 million. Three-fourths (77 percent) of social enterprise employees interviewed two years later were still working. Average employee wages had increased by nearly one-third (31 percent) and monthly incomes had almost doubled (90 percent). One of the enterprises in REDF’s portfolio is Buckelew Programs, a mental health agency with 220 employees that provides a continuum of services to roughly 7,000 clients each year and operates three social enterprises, including a green café and a green cleaning service, as well as a staffing service. This year, it intends to open a fourth social enterprise, a fresh-cut produce processing business.

  • In Grayland, Washington, Coastal Community Action—a nonprofit agency that operates a range of housing, food, healthcare, and employment programs—has built a 6 MW wind farm consisting of four wind turbines. The wind farm, which sells energy to the electrical grid, generates enough power to satisfy the energy needs of more than 1,500 households. The nonprofit estimates that its ownership of the $14-million wind turbine project generates $720,000 in unrestricted income each year, enabling it to increase service delivery options, lessen its local dependence on outside funding, and supplement the community's ongoing projects and to meet more of the community's needs.

  • In Seattle, Pioneer Human Services, founded in 1963, offers drug- and alcohol-free housing, employment, job training, counseling, and education to recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. It employs a total of 1,000 people and finances 99 percent of its $70 million budget through fees for services and earnings generated in the manufacture, distribution and sale of products. Businesses include retail cafés, sheet metal fabrication, aerospace precision machining (it's a contractor for Boeing), wholesale food distribution, and contract packaging. Not only do these enterprises build community wealth and provide independent resources that finance social services, the businesses themselves are central to Pioneer's mission of helping “people on the margins of society” stay out of prison and off the streets, enabling Pioneer to employ more than 700 men and women drawn from the ex-offender, homeless and drug-recovery populations it serves.

  • Community development corporations (CDCs), formed initially in the 1960s in a crucible of urban riots and rural neglect, now perform important community wealth-building and planning roles in cities and counties across the United States. CDCs can be found in virtually every major city. A Massachusetts study found that between 2003 and 2011, Massachusetts-based CDCs created or preserved over 9,000 homes and 14,000 jobs, while supporting more than 8,000 businesses and 160,000 families, generating nearly $2 billion of economic activity. A 2005 survey found that nationwide an estimated 4,600 CDCs help create 75,000 jobs per year.

  • Community development financial institutions (CDFIs), first given federal recognition in the 1990s, have the explicit aim of building wealth in low-income communities through providing financing where conventional lenders fear to tread. Even in the face of contracting conventional finance, assets in community investing institutions rose more than 60 percent--from $25.0 billion in 2007 to $41.7 billion--in 2010. In 2008 alone, credit unions financed and assisted businesses and microenterprises that created or maintained 35,624 jobs, financed the construction or renovation of 60,205 units of affordable housing, and provided 16,405 responsible mortgages to first-time and other homebuyers.

  • Community land trusts provide still another powerful illustration of community wealth building. Beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, pioneers like Bob Swann in western Massachusetts and Charles Sherrod in Georgia struggled against huge odds to develop modest land trusts efforts, often also involving other concerns, like respect for environmentally sound land use practices and rural community development. Today hundreds exist; in Irvine, California, the city’s strategic plan calls for 5,000 units of housing to be developed using land trust strategies. Trusts of this kind keep the ownership of land underlying housing in non-profit or public ownership. Appreciation in land values is split via a formula between the homeowner and the trust, thereby avoiding gentrification. A study of a community land trust in Burlington, Vermont — the nation’s largest — also found that during its first two decades, 61.9 percent of residents who sold their land trust home after an average residency of six years were able to “step up” to traditional homeownership. Meanwhile the equity gain that the trust retains enables it to continue providing affordable housing to future generations. In a down market, community land trusts are even more important. Simply put, community land trusts keep people in their homes. A 2011 study found that land trust homeowners were 10 times less likely to be in foreclosure proceedings than conventional homeowners.

  • Employee ownership is another powerful community wealth-building strategy. The National Center on Employee Ownership (NCEO) estimates that in 2009 there were 9,800 companies owned in whole or part by workers through their pension contributions through a form of ownership known as an employee stock ownership plan or ESOP. As of 2009, there are 10.3 million employee-owners of companies own in whole or part by ESOPs, with net assets of $869 billion. In other words, the average ESOP employee-owner has an ownership stake of over $84,000. NCEO estimates that since 2009 the number of ESOPs has climbed over 10 percent to 10,900 companies. Employee ownership also has powerful economic stabilizing effects: between 2000 and 2008, while the number of manufacturing jobs fell 29 percent in the state of Ohio, employee-owned manufacturing jobs held steady, dropping only 1 percent. Nationally, in 2010, 12.1 percent of all workers—nearly one in eight—had faced a lay-off in the previous 12 months; by contrast, only 2.6 percent of workers who were employee-owners were laid off.

    Sharing the Wealth

    Perhaps the most visible form of a community wealth building is the cooperative. More than 130 million Americans are currently members of a co-op or credit union. Because many Americans own shares in more than one co-op or credit union, the total number of co-op memberships in the United States exceeds 350 million. Overall, a 2009 University of Wisconsin study found that nearly 30,000 cooperatives in the U.S. account for more than $3 trillion in assets, $514 billion in total annual revenue, and provide 856,000 jobs. Credit unions are governed by the core cooperative principle of one-member, one-vote. Importantly, they make their loans directly to their members – member-owners of credit unions can be confident that their deposits will be reemployed productively through loans that help finance local consumer purchases, create jobs and build wealth at home.

    Another powerful community wealth-building mechanism is the state-owned bank. In North Dakota, a state-owned bank has operated since 1918, earning the state more than $300 million over the past decade, while helping support local banks and local community investment. Legislation exploring or creating such banks has been introduced this past year in more than a dozen states, including Arizona, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington.

    As experience with the various democratized forms has become increasingly enriched over time, innovative strategies of collaboration among enterprises and/or with local governments have also begun to emerge. In California, a comprehensive, community-owned development project consciously links individual and collective wealth building in the diverse working-class Diamond neighborhood in southeast San Diego. With the support of the Jacobs Family Foundation, the community raised philanthropic and government funding to develop a commercial and cultural complex, anchored by a shopping center. A key element was the community public offering, which provided community residents and employees an exclusive opportunity to buy shares (valued at $200 and capped at $10,000) for a total 20 percent ownership stake in the project. As one community owner noted, “That we own stock, and that we have an opportunity to make a difference in what type of business goes in the community [is unbelievable]. We have some say-so in the community environment.”

    The Neighborhood Unity Foundation also has a 20 percent ownership share that provides it with a sustainable source of funding for its community wealth building efforts. The Jacobs Family Foundation, which retains 60 percent ownership, intends to turn over its share to community owners by 2018. Ultimately, area residents will own 50 percent of the project and the neighborhood foundation the other 50 percent, retaining the profits generated to benefit the community rather than outside investors.

    In Cleveland, Ohio, an integrated group of worker-owned companies, supported in part by the directed purchasing power of large hospitals and universities, has opened a major new vector of urban strategy. The first of Cleveland’s planned network of cooperatives opened its doors for business in September 2009. The co-op industrial scale laundry is a state-of-the-art, ecologically green, commercial facility capable of handling 10 million pounds of healthcare linen a year. Its sophisticated business plan provides all employee-owners a living wage and health benefits. If current projections are realized after seven years on the job each employee will have a $65,000 equity stake in the enterprise.

    In October 2009 a second employee-owned, community-based energy company began large-scale installations of solar panels for the city’s largest nonprofit health, education and municipal buildings. (Additionally, it provides home weatherization services.) A third business scheduled to start operations this year is a year-round hydroponic food production greenhouse capable of producing three million head of lettuce and approximately 300,000 pounds of basil and other herbs a year.

    More to Come

    Many other enterprises are in the planning stage. Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson praised the co-ops for being "a model for how we can put our people back to work and rebuild our community." A growing number of economic development officials, tired of chasing corporations with public subsidy dollars, like the idea of creating anchored, community-owned enterprises that won’t get up and move. Already, the Cleveland co-ops have inspired efforts in other cities to develop similar networks, including Amarillo, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Washington, DC.

    Community wealth-building strategies offer powerful possibilities for longer-term change. First, in most instances, the new wealth-democratizing approaches provide responses (or suggestive directions of response) to economic dislocation and social pain where traditional political approaches have failed. Second, in many instances, they involve quite unusual local alliances, frequently including small business and religious leader support. Third, often the institutional trajectories have also begun to define (and secure) new supportive measures from local, state and national policy makers, thereby also beginning to define new directions for potential ongoing and more expansive policy and political action. Finally, that they are based in local, everyday experience may also lead to changes in the foundations of political and democratic cultural development over time.

    Together the above suggest a long, slow developmental arc left in the wake of the failure of conventional politics and economics. And already, a growing number of Occupy activists are looking to worker-owned cooperatives as a way to self-fund the movement, displace corporate economic space, and develop an economic base that can support alternative economic and political formations. The path to building a truly democratic economy may be long, but the growing base of community wealth building institutions provide some building blocks that, over time, suggests the quiet development, potentially, of the basis for a community-sustaining economy that serves the interest of all Americans, rather than our current system which disproportionately benefits the wealthiest at the expense of the 99 percent.


    Steve Dubb is research director of the Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland.


  • Capitalism Has Failed: 5 Bold Ways to Build a New World IMPORTANT READ--THEORY OF CHANGE



    The problem, in a nutshell, is this: The old economic model has utterly failed us. It has destroyed our communities, our democracy, our economic security, and the planet we live on. The old industrial-age systems -- state communism, fascism, free-market capitalism -- have all let us down hard, and growing numbers of us understand that going back there isn't an option.

    But we also know that transitioning to some kind of a new economy -- and, probably, a new governing model to match -- will be a civilization-wrenching process. We're having to reverse deep and ancient assumptions about how we allocate goods, labor, money, and power on a rapidly shrinking, endangered, complex, and ever more populated planet. We are bolding taking the global economy -- and all 7 billion souls who depend on it -- where no economy has ever gone before.

    Right now, all we have to guide us forward are an emerging set of new values and imperatives. The new system can't incentivize economic growth for its own sake, or let monopolies form and flourish. It should be as democratic as possible, but with strong mechanisms in place that protect the common wealth and the common good. It needs to put true costs to things, and hold people accountable for their actions. Above all, it needs to be rooted in the deep satisfactions -- community, nature, family, health, creativity -- that have been the source of real human happiness for most of our species' history....

    Many people imagining our next economy are swept up in the romance of a return to a localized or regionalized economy, where wealth is built by local people creatively deploying local resources to meet local needs. Relocalization is a way to restore the autonomy, security and control that have been lost now that almost every aspect of our lives has been co-opted by big, centralized, corporate-controlled systems. By bringing everything back to a more human scale, this story argues, we'll enable people to connect with their own creativity, their communities and each other. Alienation and isolation will dissipate. We'll have more time for family and friends, really free enterprise and more satisfying work. Our money will be our own, accumulated by us and re-invested in things we value. And it'll be a serious corrective to our delusional ideas about what constitutes real wealth, too. This vision is deeply beloved. It's front and center in both the resilience and Transition Towns movement. You hear it from foodies who extol the virtues of local food, Slow Money investors who back local banks and businesses instead of Wall Street, community gardeners, and 10 million Makers. David Korten argues that capitalism is actually the enemy of truly free markets -- the kind where anybody with ideas and initiative can make a tidy living working for herself, doing something she loves. And that kind of freedom is, very naturally, small in scale. This vision is also seductive. It holds out the promise that if people dare to let go of what they have and reach out to the future, there's a better life waiting within their grasp -- a core piece of any effective change story. However, this model also has a few problems that haven't yet been engaged by most of its proponents, but which compromise its ability to serve as a global framework....


    Weekend Economists: WEE Can Fly! May 25-28, 2012

    Yes, well, the fairies made me do it. And Tansy Gold, the dominatrix of the Stock Market Watch.

    You know that Walt Disney made millions ripping off authors whose work either had never been copyrighted, or whose copyrights had expired? But god forbid you should do anything to his stuff! There's been a concerted effort to extend those copyrights indefinitely by corporations like Disney...so the Mouse can never die or be ripped off...

    But that's another story.

    Today's story is about a boy who never grew up. Pan's the name, Peter Pan....


    But we have modern-day versions which we call Psycopaths, Sociopaths, or Capitalists. Peter Pan was a case of arrested development...the Capitalists are simply begging to be arrested. ALONG WITH THEIR CRONIES IN PUBLIC OFFICES...LEGISLATIVE, EXECUTIVE, AND JUDICIAL!

    Have at it, all!

    John Brennan’s new power By Glenn Greenwald


    President Obama's counter-terrorism chief has "seized the lead" in secretly determining who will die by US drone...In November, 2008, media reports strongly suggested that President Obama intended to name John Brennan as CIA Director. But controversy over Brennan’s recent history — he was a Bush-era CIA official who expressly advocated “enhanced interrogation techniques” and rendition — forced him to “withdraw” from consideration, as he publicly issued a letter citing “strong criticism in some quarters” of his CIA advocacy.

    Undeterred by any of that unpleasantness, President Obama instead named Brennan to be his chief counter-Terrorism adviser, a position with arguably more influence that he would have had as CIA chief. Since then, Brennan has been caught peddling serious falsehoods in highly consequential cases, including falsely telling the world that Osama bin Laden “engaged in a firefight” with U.S. forces entering his house and “used his wife as a human shield,” and then outright lying when he claimed about the prior year of drone attacks in Pakistan: “there hasn’t been a single collateral death.” Given his history, it is unsurprising that Brennan has been at the heart of many of the administration’s most radical acts, including claiming the power to target American citizens for assassination-by-CIA without due process and the more general policy of secretly targeting people for death by drone.

    Now, Brennan’s power has increased even more: he’s on his way to becoming the sole arbiter of life and death, the unchecked judge, jury and executioner of whomever he wants dead (of course, when Associated Press in this report uses the words “Terrorist” or “al-Qaida operative,” what they actually mean is: a person accused by the U.S. Government, with no due process, of involvement in Terrorism)...





    The Great Vatican-Jesuit Global Depression 2009-2012

    ...What then does either the Catholic Church and/or the Jesuits have to do with any of this? At this stage, the events discussed so far all point to the hallmarks of good old "greed" and "incompetence" on behalf of people like President Bush and his financial cronies. So how is the Catholic Church and the Jesuits involved with this? and what proof is there? To answer, we need to ask as simple question - how wealthy is the Roman Catholic Church?

    ...the Vatican and Catholic Officials quote two important arguments: the first being that the Catholic Church considers its subsidiaries as "independent" entities when it comes to financial disclosure --a contradiction against both Church law and practice which states all organs and subsidiaries are sworn to obedience to the central power of the Holy See in Rome. The second argument when all else fails is to state that the Vatican is politically an independent sovereign state and so may choose to accept or reject calls for open global transparency of its financial accounts. To date, this claimed "true Church" has steadfastly refused to cooperate with any kind of global accounting of its wealth. Regardless of continuing refusal by the Catholic Church to declare its global wealth for its Catholic faithful and all the world to see, the stark anomaly of how a multi-billion dollar entity can manage to stay off every published list of wealthy entities remains a mystery.

    Prior to the appearance of mainstream "entertainment" based news and media, if you were to ask an educated person 100 years ago what single entity was the largest and wealthiest in the world, they would have told you without question the Roman Catholic Church. The clear, unmistakable and uncontestable truth concerning the Roman Catholic Church is that for 1,000 years it has been the most dominant organization on the planet, during which time it virtually owned directly or indirectly the whole or the majority of wealth of Europe. For the four hundred years up until the last century, it was well recognized that the Roman Catholic Church also owned and controlled vast wealth and people of the Americas including large parts of South-East Asia and Africa....How then did something so dominant suddenly appear to drop in asset value to a corporation of only a few billion dollars, that it would not even rate in the top 1,000 economic entities of the world today? Simply through creative history and creative accounting.

    ....To hide the massive assets of the Catholic Church, a decentralized system with safeguards and controls were invented. Whereas it would have been unthinkable even 200 years ago to place such wealth in the hands of bishops. However thanks to modern communication, modern finance and accounting, the task was much easier. The major investments of property, fixed assets were transferred under the control of the dioceses around the world. In turn, all non-visible church property was hidden via complex shelf companies and trusts. Major classes of assets such as shares, gold bullion, diamonds and other precious resources were transferred for direct control under the banks owned and controlled by the Vatican. Using the cloaks of secrecy in such states as Switzerland and even the Vatican itself, the true ownership and identity of these massive treasures could be hidden. The Vatican depends upon these laws of secrecy to maintain the lie of its true wealth. Without the secret banking laws and lack of uniform, proper and transparent disclosure laws around the world, the great fraud that the Catholic Church is no longer No 1. could not be maintained. Thus in the end, the single largest economic entity the world has ever seen disappeared from the radar of people’s minds and returned as a poor and impoverished church in desperate need of funds.


    Did the White House Direct the Police Crackdown on Occupy? by DAVE LINDORFF


    A new trove of heavily redacted documents provided by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) on behalf of filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild makes it increasingly evident that there was and is a nationally coordinated campaign to disrupt and crush the Occupy Movement.

    The new documents, which PCJF National Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard insists “are likely only a subset of responsive materials,” in the possession of federal law enforcement agencies, only “scratch the surface of a mass intelligence network including Fusion Centers, saturated with ‘anti-terrorism’ funding, that mobilizes thousands of local and federal officers and agents to investigate and monitor the social justice movement.” Nonetheless, blacked-out and limited though they are, she says they offer clues to the extent of the government’s concern about and focus on the wave of occupations that spread across the country beginning with last September’s Occupy Wall Street action in New York City.

    The latest documents, reveal “intense involvement” by the DHS’s so-called National Operations Center (NOC). In its own literature, the DHS describes the NOC as “the primary national-level hub for domestic situational awareness, common operational picture, information fusion, information sharing, communications, and coordination pertaining to the prevention of terrorist attacks and domestic incident management.”

    The DHS says that the NOC is “the primary conduit for the White House Situation Room” and that it also “facilitates information sharing and operational coordination with other federal, state, local, tribal, non-governmental operation centers and the private sector.”

    A better description for a fascist police state network could not be written.


    about the Leader of the "Free World"

    Please read this, and only distribute selectively.



    Greece Must Exit Nouriel Roubini TODAY'S MUST READ


    The Greek euro tragedy is reaching its final act: it is clear that either this year or next, Greece is highly likely to default on its debt and exit the eurozone.

    Postponing the exit after the June election with a new government committed to a variant of the same failed policies (recessionary austerity and structural reforms) will not restore growth and competitiveness. Greece is stuck in a vicious cycle of insolvency, lost competitiveness, external deficits, and ever-deepening depression. The only way to stop it is to begin an orderly default and exit, coordinated and financed by the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund (the “Troika”), that minimizes collateral damage to Greece and the rest of the eurozone.

    Greece’s recent financing package, overseen by the Troika, gave the country much less debt relief than it needed. But, even with significantly more public-debt relief, Greece could not return to growth without rapidly restoring competitiveness. And, without a return to growth, its debt burden will remain unsustainable. But all of the options that might restore competitiveness require real currency depreciation...


    Justice Dept. defends public’s constitutional ‘right to record’ cops


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