Special Investigation: How America’s Biggest Bank Paid Its Fine for the 2008 Mortgage Crisis — With Phony Mortgages!

Alleged fraud put JPMorgan Chase hundreds of millions of dollars ahead; ordinary homeowners, not so much.

James “Jamie” Dimon, chairman, president and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., during testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in Washington, DC, on Jan. 13, 2010. (Photo by Jay Mallin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

This post originally appeared on The Nation.

You know the old joke: How do you make a killing on Wall Street and never risk a loss? Easy — use other people’s money. Jamie Dimon and his underlings at JPMorgan Chase have perfected this dark art at America’s largest bank, which boasts a balance sheet one-eighth the size of the entire US economy.

After JPMorgan’s deceitful activities in the housing market helped trigger the 2008 financial crash that cost millions of Americans their jobs, homes and life savings, punishment was in order. Among a vast array of misconduct, JPMorgan engaged in the routine use of “robo-signing,” which allowed bank employees to automatically sign hundreds, even thousands, of foreclosure documents per day without verifying their contents. But in the United States, white-collar criminals rarely go to prison; instead, they negotiate settlements. Thus, on Feb. 9, 2012, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced the National Mortgage Settlement, which fined JPMorgan Chase and four other megabanks a total of $25 billion.

JPMorgan’s share of the settlement was $5.3 billion, but only $1.1 billion had to be paid in cash; the other $4.2 billion was to come in the form of financial relief for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. The settlement called for JPMorgan to reduce the amounts owed, modify the loan terms and take other steps to help distressed Americans keep their homes. A separate 2013 settlement against the bank for deceiving mortgage investors included another $4 billion in consumer relief.

Nation investigation can now reveal how JPMorgan met part of its $8.2 billion settlement burden: by using other people’s money.

Here’s how the alleged scam worked. JPMorgan moved to forgive the mortgages of tens of thousands of homeowners; the feds, in turn, credited these canceled loans against the penalties due under the 2012 and 2013 settlements. But here’s the rub: In many instances, JPMorgan was forgiving loans on properties it no longer owned.

The alleged fraud is described in internal JPMorgan documents, public records, testimony from homeowners and investors burned in the scam and other evidence presented in a blockbuster lawsuit against JPMorgan, now being heard in US District Court in New York City.

JPMorgan no longer owned the properties because it had sold the mortgages years earlier to 21 third-party investors, including three companies owned by Larry Schneider. Those companies are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit; Schneider is also aiding the federal government in a related case against the bank. In a bizarre twist, a company associated with the Church of Scientology facilitated the apparent scheme. Nationwide Title Clearing, a document-processing company with close ties to the church, produced and filed the documents that JPMorgan needed to claim ownership and cancel the loans.

If the allegations are true, JPMorgan screwed everybody.


JPMorgan, it appears, was running an elaborate shell game. In the depths of the financial collapse, the bank had unloaded tens of thousands of toxic loans when they were worth next to nothing. Then, when it needed to provide customer relief under the settlements, the bank had paperwork created asserting that it still owned the properties. In the process, homeowners were exploited, investors were defrauded and communities were left to battle the blight caused by abandoned properties. JPMorgan, however, came out hundreds of millions of dollars ahead, thanks to using other people’s money.

“If the allegations are true, JPMorgan screwed everybody,” says Brad Miller, a former Democratic congressman from North Carolina who was among the strongest advocates of financial reform on Capitol Hill until his retirement in 2013.

In an unusual departure from most allegations of financial bad behavior, there is strong evidence that Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s CEO and chairman, knew about and helped to implement the mass loan-forgiveness project. In two separate meetings in 2013 and 2014, JPMorgan employees working on the project were specifically instructed not to release mortgages in Detroit under orders from Dimon himself, according to internal bank communications. In an apparent public-relations ploy, JPMorgan was about to invest $100 million in Detroit’s revival. Dimon’s order to delay forgiving the mortgages in Detroit appears to have been motivated by a fear of reputational risk. An internal JPMorgan report warned that hard-hit cities might take issue with bulk loan forgiveness, which would deprive municipal governments of property taxes on abandoned properties while further destabilizing the housing market.

Did Dimon also know that JPMorgan, as part of its mass loan-forgiveness project, was forgiving loans on properties it no longer owned? No internal bank documents confirming that knowledge have yet surfaced, but Dimon routinely takes legal responsibility for knowing about his bank’s actions. Like every financial CEO in the country, Dimon is obligated by law to sign a document every year attesting to his knowledge of and responsibility for his bank’s operations. The law establishes punishments of $1 million in fines and imprisonment of up to 10 years for knowingly making false certifications.

Dimon signed the required document for each of the years that the mass loan-forgiveness project was in operation, from 2012 through 2016. Whether or not he knew that his employees were forgiving loans the bank no longer owned, his signatures on those documents make him potentially legally responsible.

The JPMorgan press office declined to make Dimon available for an interview or to comment for this article. Nationwide Title Clearing declined to comment on the specifics of the case but said that it is “methodical in the validity and legality of the documents” it produces.

Federal appointees have been complicit in this as well. E-mails show that the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight, charged by the government with ensuring the banks’ compliance with the two federal settlements, gave JPMorgan the green light to mass-forgive its loans. This served two purposes for the bank: It could take settlement credit for forgiving the loans, and it could also hide these loans — which JPMorgan had allegedly been handling improperly — from the settlements’ testing regimes.

“No one in Washington seems to understand why Americans think that different rules apply to Wall Street, and why they’re so mad about that,” said former congressman Miller. “This is why.”

Lauren and Robert Warwick were two of the shell game’s many victims. The Warwicks live in Odenton, Maryland, a bedroom community halfway between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and had taken out a second mortgage on their home with JPMorgan’s Chase Home Finance division. In 2008, after the housing bubble burst and the Great Recession started, 3.6 million Americans lost their jobs; Lauren Warwick was one of them.

Before long, the Warwicks had virtually no income. While Lauren looked for work, Robert was in the early stages of starting a landscaping business. But the going was slow, and the Warwicks fell behind on their mortgage payments. They tried to set up a modified payment plan, to no avail: Chase demanded payment in full and warned that foreclosure loomed. “They were horrible,” Lauren Warwick told The Nation. “I had one [Chase representative] say, ‘Sell the damn house — that’s all you can do.’”

Then, one day, the hounding stopped. In October 2009, the Warwicks received a letter from 1st Fidelity Loan Services, welcoming them as new customers. The letter explained that 1stFidelity had purchased the Warwicks’ mortgage from Chase, and that they should henceforth be making an adjusted mortgage payment to this new owner.

The alleged shell game put JPMorgan hundreds of millions of dollars ahead — with federal permission.

Lauren Warwick had never heard of 1st Fidelity, but the letter made her more relieved than suspicious. “I’m thinking, ‘They’re not taking my house, and they’re not hounding me,’” she said.

Larry Schneider, 49, is the founder and president of 1st Fidelity and two other mortgage companies. He has worked in Florida’s real-estate business for 25 years, getting his start in Miami. In 2003, Schneider hit upon a business model: If he bought distressed mortgages at a significant discount, he could afford to offer the borrowers reduced mortgage payments. It was a win-win-win: Borrowers remained in their homes, communities were stabilized and Schneider still made money.

“I was in a position where I could do what banks didn’t want to,” Schneider says. In fact, his business model resembled what President Franklin Roosevelt did in the 1930s with the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, which prevented nearly 1 million foreclosures while turning a small profit. More to the point, Schneider’s model exemplified how the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama could have handled the foreclosure crisis if they’d been more committed to helping Main Street rather than Wall Street.

The Warwicks’ loan was one of more than 1,000 that Schneider purchased without incident from JPMorgan’s Chase Home Finance division starting in 2003. In 2009, the bank offered Schneider a package deal: 3,529 primary mortgages (known as “first liens”) on which payments had been delinquent for over 180 days. Most of the properties were located in areas where the crisis hit hardest, such as Baltimore.

Selling distressed properties to companies like Schneider’s was part of JPMorgan’s strategy for limiting its losses after the housing bubble collapsed. The bank owned hundreds of thousands of mortgages that had little likelihood of being repaid. These mortgages likely carried ongoing costs: paying property taxes, addressing municipal-code violations, even mowing the lawn. Many also had legal defects and improper terms; if federal regulators ever scrutinized these loans, the bank would be in jeopardy.

In short, the troubled mortgages were the financial equivalent of toxic waste. To deal with them, Chase Home Finance created a financial toxic-waste dump: The mortgages were listed in an internal database called RCV1, where RCV stood for “Recovery.”

Unbeknownst to Schneider, the package deal that Chase offered him came entirely from this toxic-waste dump. Because he’d had a good relationship with Chase up to that point, Schneider took the deal. On Feb. 25, 2009, he signed an agreement to buy the loans, valued at $156 million, for only $200,000 — slightly more than one-tenth of a penny on the dollar. But the agreement turned sour fast, Schneider says.

Among a range of irregularities, perhaps the most egregious was that Chase never provided him with all the documentation proving ownership of the properties in question. The data that Schneider did receive lacked critical information, such as borrower names, addresses of the properties, even the payment histories or amounts due. This made it impossible for him to work with the borrowers to modify their terms and help them stay in their homes. Every time Schneider asked Chase about the full documentation, he was told it was coming. It never arrived.

As CEO, Jamie Dimon is potentially legally responsible for JPMorgan’s apparently phony mortgages.

Here’s the kicker: JPMorgan was still collecting payments on some of these loans and even admitted this fact to Schneider. In December 2009, a Chase Home Finance employee named Launi Solomon sent Schneider a list of at least $47,695.53 in payments on his loans that the borrowers had paid to Chase. But 10 days later, Solomon wrote that these payments would not be transferred to Schneider because of an internal accounting practice that was “not reversible.” On another loan sold to Schneider, Chase had taken out insurance against default; when the homeowner did in fact default, Chase pocketed the $250,000 payout rather than forward it to Schneider, according to internal documents.

Chase even had a third-party debt collector named Real Time Resolutions solicit Schneider’s homeowners, seeking payments on behalf of Chase. In one such letter from 2013, Real Time informed homeowner Maureen Preis, of Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, that “our records indicate Chase continues to hold a lien on the above referenced property,” even though Chase explicitly confirmed to Schneider that it had sold him the loan in 2010.

JPMorgan jumped in and out of claiming mortgage ownership, Schneider asserts, based on whatever was best for the bank. “If a payment comes in, it’s theirs,” he says; “if there’s a code-enforcement issue, it’s mine.”

The shell game entered a new, more far-reaching phase after JPMorgan agreed to its federal settlements. Now the bank was obligated to provide consumer relief worth $8.2 billion — serious money even for JPMorgan. The solution? Return to the toxic-waste dump.

Because JPMorgan had stalled Schneider on turning over the complete paperwork proving ownership, it took the chance that it could still claim credit for forgiving the loans that he now owned. Plus the settlements required JPMorgan to show the government that it was complying with all federal regulations for mortgages. The RCV1 loans didn’t seem to meet those standards, but forgiving them would enable the bank to hide this fact.

The Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight gave Chase Home Finance explicit permission to implement this strategy. “Your business people can be relieved from pushing forward” on presenting RCV1 loans for review, lawyer Martha Svoboda wrote in an e-mail to Chase, as long as the loans were canceled.

Chase dubbed this the “pre DOJ Lien Release Project.” (To release a lien means to forgive the loan and relinquish any ownership right to the property in question.) The title page of an internal report on the project lists Lisa Shepherd, vice president of property preservation, and Steve Hemperly, head of mortgage originations, as the executives in charge. The bank hired Nationwide Title Clearing, the company associated with the Church of Scientology, to file the lien releases with county offices. Erika Lance, an employee of Nationwide, is listed as the preparer on 25 of these lien releases seen by The Nation. Ironically, Schneider alleges, the releases were in effect “robo-signed,” since the employees failed to verify that JPMorgan Chase owned the loans. If Schneider is right, it means that JPMorgan relied on the same fraudulent “robo-signing” process that had previously gotten the bank fined by the government to help it evade that penalty.

On Sept. 13, 2012, Chase Home Finance mailed 33,456 forgiveness letters informing borrowers of the debt cancellation. Schneider immediately started hearing from people who said that they wouldn’t be making further payments to him because Chase had forgiven the loan. Some even sued Schneider for illegally charging them for mortgages that he (supposedly) didn’t own.

When Lauren and Robert Warwick got their forgiveness letter from Chase, Lauren almost passed out. “You will owe nothing more on the loan and your debt will be cancelled,” the letter stated, calling this “a result of a recent mortgage servicing settlement reached with the states and federal government.” But for the past three years, the Warwicks had been paying 1st Fidelity Loan Servicing — not Chase. Lauren said she called 1st Fidelity, only to be told: “Sorry, no, I don’t care what they said to you — you owe us the money.”

JPMorgan’s shell game unraveled because Lauren Warwick’s neighbor worked for Michael Busch, the speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates. After reviewing the Warwicks’ documents, Kristin Jones, Busch’s chief of staff, outlined her suspicions to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. “I’m afraid based on the notification of loan transfer that Chase sold [the Warwicks’] loan some years ago,” Jones wrote. “I question whether Chase is somehow getting credit for a write-off they never actually have to honor.”

After Schneider and various borrowers demanded answers, Chase checked a sample of over 500 forgiveness letters. It found that 108 of the 500 loans — more than 1 out of 5 — no longer belonged to the bank. Chase told the Warwicks that their forgiveness letter had been sent in error. Eventually, Chase bought back the Warwicks’ loan from Schneider, along with 12 others, and honored the promised loan forgiveness.

Not everyone was as lucky as the Warwicks. In letters signed by vice president Patrick Boyle, JPMorgan Chase forgave at least 49,355 mortgages in three separate increments. The bank also forgave additional mortgages, but the exact number is unknown because the bank stopped sending homeowners notification letters. Nor is it known how many of these forgiven mortgages didn’t actually belong to JPMorgan; the bank refused The Nation’s request for clarification. Through title searches and the discovery process, Schneider ascertained that the bank forgave 607 loans that belonged to one of his three companies. The lien-release project overall allowed JPMorgan to take hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement credit.

Most of the loans that JPMorgan released — and received settlement credit for — were all but worthless. Homeowners had abandoned the homes years earlier, expecting JPMorgan to foreclose, only to have the bank forgive the loan after the fact. That forgiveness transferred responsibility for paying back taxes and making repairs back to the homeowner. It was like a recurring horror story in which “zombie foreclosures” were resurrected from the dead to wreak havoc on people’s financial lives.

Federal officials knew about the problems and did nothing. In July 2014, the City of Milwaukee wrote to Joseph Smith, the federal oversight monitor, alerting him that “thousands of homeowners” were engulfed in legal nightmares because of the confusion that banks had sown about who really owned their mortgages. In a deposition for the lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase, Smith admitted that he did not recall responding to the City of Milwaukee’s letter.

If you pay taxes in a municipality where JPMorgan spun its trickery, you helped pick up the tab. The bank’s shell game prevented municipalities from knowing who actually owned distressed properties and could be held legally liable for maintaining them and paying property taxes. As a result, abandoned properties deteriorated further, spreading urban blight and impeding economic recovery. “Who’s going to pay for the demolition [of abandoned buildings] or [the necessary extra] police presence?” asks Brent Tantillo, Schneider’s lawyer. “As a taxpayer, it’s you.”

Such economic fallout may help explain why Jamie Dimon directed that JPMorgan’s mass forgiveness of loans exempt Detroit, a city where JPMorgan has a long history. The bank’s predecessor, the National Bank of Detroit, has been a fixture in the city for over 80 years; its relationships with General Motors and Ford go back to the 1930s. And JPMorgan employees knew perfectly well that mass loan forgiveness might create difficulties. The 2012 internal report warned that cities might react negatively to the sheer number of forgiven loans, which would lower tax revenues while adding costs. Noting that some of the cities in question were clients of JPMorgan Chase, the report warned that the project posed a risk to the bank’s reputation.

Reputational risk was the exact opposite of what JPMorgan hoped to achieve in Detroit. So the bank decided to delay the mass forgiveness of loans in Detroit and surrounding Wayne County until after the $100 million investment was announced. Dimon himself ordered the delay, according to the minutes of JPMorgan Chase meetings that cite the bank’s chairman and CEO by name. Dimon then went to Detroit to announce the investment on May 21, 2014, reaping positive coverage from The New York TimesUSA Today and other local and national news outlets. Since June 1, 2014, JPMorgan has released 10,229 liens in Wayne County, according to public records; the bank declined to state how many of these were part of the lien-release project.

Both of Larry Schneider’s lawsuits alleging fraud on JPMorgan Chase’s part remain active in federal courts. The Justice Department could also still file charges against JPMorgan, Jamie Dimon or both, because Schneider’s case was excluded from the federal settlement agreements.

Few would expect Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department to pursue such a case, but what this sorry episode most highlights is the pathetic disciplining of Wall Street during the Obama administration.

JPMorgan’s litany of acknowledged criminal abuses over the past decade reads like a rap sheet, extending well beyond mortgage fraud to encompass practically every part of the bank’s business. But instead of holding JPMorgan’s executives responsible for what looks like a criminal racket, Obama’s Justice Department negotiated weak settlement after weak settlement. Adding insult to injury, JPMorgan then wriggled out of paying its full penalties by using other people’s money.

The larger lessons here command special attention in the Trump era. Negotiating weak settlements that don’t force mega-banks to even pay their fines, much less put executives in prison, turns the concept of accountability into a mirthless farce. Telegraphing to executives that they will emerge unscathed after committing crimes not only invites further crimes; it makes another financial crisis more likely. The widespread belief that the United States has a two-tiered system of justice — that the game is rigged for the rich and the powerful — also enabled the rise of Trump. We cannot expect Americans to trust a system that lets Wall Street fraudsters roam free while millions of hard-working taxpayers get the shaft.


David Dayen is the author of Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud, winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize. Follow him on Twitter: @ddayen.


October 5, 2017 (Occupy.com)

At 9am at Girona’s old train station building, doors open. Voting begins. A crowd of hundreds cheer “Votarem”: “We will vote!”

Girona is less than an hour’s train’s journey north of Barcelona, and people here have stayed up the whole night to guard the polling station from the Guardia Civil, Spain’s paramilitary police, who have been ordered to crush the democratic process the Catalan Parliament initiated. Many others arrived at 5am.\

Organizing community by community, the Catalan people have showed a remarkable resolution and determination to hold their referendum. The mood is calm, a positive scene repeated at other polling stations I later see. This tranquillity is often neglected in the violent images that dominate news broadcasts around the world covering Sunday’s vote.

In fact, violence from Spanish state police is not far away. Before 10am, I receive a message from one of the citizens helping organize the vote: “Come to the school Bruguera, Guardia Civil are trying to storm the building, they have broken someone’s arm. There is a lot of violence. They are kicking down the door,” it reads.

By the time I get there the violence is over. Paramedics are treating injuries. A photographer shows me what happened. In one image, a heavily armoured riot cop is seen carrying away a ballot box.

At another nearby polling station at Eiximenis School, an old woman is clearly shaken. She shows me her glasses, broken by the police. The school stands at the edge of Girona’s Constitution Square, where hundreds of people have amassed. Tensions increase when a convoy of nine armoured Guardia Civil vans drive by. But the old woman is not giving up. Her generation survived General Franco, she says.

The riot vans leave and calm returns. People who came from other polling stations that were shuttered form a queue to vote here. Old people are clapped in to vote first; they are said to go early for their own protection. The Guardia Civil are expected to try to steal the ballots with heavy violence later in the day. It is evident to everyone: the paramilitary’s barrage is relentless.


By now, videos have gone viral globally, showing Guardia Civil and Spain’s national police force shooting rubber bullets, unleashing tear gas, battering and kicking and sexually assaulting Catalans just for attempting to vote. Over 800 citizens were injured on Sunday.

Following the violence, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy denied the referendum had happened and praised his state forces. “We have done what was required of us. We have acted, as I have said from the beginning, according to the law and only according to the law.”

This fascist undertone – praising your paramilitaries for beating up peaceful civilians trying to vote – connects to Spanish history in profound and disturbing ways.


Both Mariano Rajoy and the older generation of Catalan voters were born during General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, which lasted from 1939 – when his forces defeated the democratic Republic of Spain in the country’s bloody Civil War – until his death in 1975. In 1978, Spain officially underwent a democratic transition, but many of the old “casta,” or ruling elites families, continued in positions of power. The accusation goes right up to Rajoy.

The current PM started his political career in 1981 with Alianza Popular (AP), a pro-Franco party formed after the transition and led by the dictator’s former Minister of Interior Manuel Fraga. AP became the Partido Popular (PP) in 1989, the party Rajoy still leads.

Many of the hardest battles in the Civil War were fought over Catalonia, which is still scarred by this past. For example, the Guardia Civil, Spain’s paramilitary force that assisted the national police in Sunday’s crackdown on the referendum, is rarely present in Catalonia due to its provocative image as a holdover from the Franco years.


“I cannot believe this has happened in a democratic European Union,” Marta Madrenas, the Mayor of Girona, tells me on the afternoon of the referendum. Madrenas has spent the day protecting her local polling station at Eiximenis School.

“The international community cannot ignore what has happened here. We Catalans are calling for help from democratic people of the world.”

Later in the day, Madrenas and a member of the European Parliament lock themselves inside the polling station in order to protect it. Outside, thousands of people gather. Reports suggest convoys of Guardia Civil are moving around Girona’s outskirts. At attack is expected at any moment.


Standing on concrete steps, firefighters wearing helmets lead a brief assembly. Their message: how to passively resist the police, how to shield your vital organs, and how to form human chains. More than a thousand people are listening.

Afterwards the crowd chants “No Pasaran” – a slogan from the 1930s war, telling fascists They Will Not Pass. What is different now is that Catalonia’s weapon has become the ballot box, in addition to their solidarity and skills in self-organisation.

The short assembly is just one example of Catalans’ autogestión, or bottom-up self-organising. On the night before the vote, autonomous groups gave out flyers and trainings detailing people’s legal rights. Every polling station was arranged autonomously, and differently. The one where I spent most of the day was using Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, to cast the ballots.

At another polling station, cars blocked the streets and wheelie bins were lined up with teenagers sitting on top. Thousands stood in the car-park of a sport centre polling station. Again, firefighters were the final line of defence. The mood in these places was calm. For most of the referendum day, the people of Girona controlled their streets. The autogestión demonstrated these people could run their own country as a community.

The Catalans’ commitment to non-violence on Sunday was impressive. In other countries where I have seen police attack people, often riots start. The mood here was, for the most part, like a peaceful Sunday in a town square.


Preliminary results show that 90 percent of the 2.3 million Catalans who voted chose independence, out of a total voting population of 5.3 million. An estimated 700,000 votes were confiscated by Spanish police.

On Tuesday, Catalonia staged a general strike against the violence. Catalonia’s government is expected to issue a statement of unilateral independence if a Yes vote is confirmed.

Rajoy’s government in Madrid is expected to respond by issuing Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to try and impose direct rule on Catalonia. This would escalate state violence and oppression.

So far, Spain has received overwhelming international condemnation in the press. However, it has not yet been sanctioned by its European or global allies despite swathes of evidence showing that Spanish forces broke national and international laws. The question is how long Rajoy can continue to support tactics of overt state violence while maintaining the facade that Spain has, in fact, broken from its fascist past.

Catalan referendum, Catalan independence, Spanish state repression, Mariano Rajoy, Spanish Civil War, General Francisco Franco, Barcelona protests, Catalonia protests



October 5, 2017 (Occupy.com)

More than 40 Catholic institutions are to announce the largest ever faith-based divestment from fossil fuels, on the anniversary of the death of St Francis of Assisi.

The sum involved has not been disclosed but the volume of divesting groups is four times higher than a previous church record, and adds to a global divestment movement, led by investors worth $5.5 trillion.

Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who helped negotiate the Paris climate agreement, hailed Tuesday’s move as “a further sign we are on the way to achieving our collective mission”.

She said: “I hope we will see more leaders like these 40 Catholic institutions commit, because while this decision makes smart financial sense, acting collectively to deliver a better future for everybody is also our moral imperative.”

Church institutions joining the action include the Archdiocese of Cape Town, the Episcopal Conference of Belgium and the diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, the spiritual home of the world’s Franciscan brothers.

A spokesman for the €4.5 billion German Church bank and Catholic relief organisation Caritas said that it was committing to divest from coal, tar sands and shale oil.

In a symbolically charged move, the Italian town of Assisi will also shed all oil, coal and gas holdings the day before a visit by the Italian prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, to mark St Francis’s feast day.

Assisi’s mayor, Stefania Proietti – a former climate mitigation professor – told the Guardian: “When we pay attention to the environment, we pay attention to poor people, who are the first victims of climate change.

“When we invest in fossil fuels, we stray very far from social justice. But when we disinvest and invest in renewable and energy efficiency instead, we can mitigate climate change, create a sustainable new economic deal and, most importantly, help the poor.”

The origins of the latest church action lie in last year’s climate encyclical by Pope Francis – himself named after St Francis of Assisi – although the project was advanced by the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

Originally published by The Guardian


October 5, 2017 (Occupy.com)

Spurred on by the hope that Labour is a “government in waiting”, tens of thousands congregated last week in sunny Brighton, eager to be part of Britain’s brave new political chapter led by Jeremy Corbyn and his promise to move the center ground in U.K. politics to the left.

Little in the way of protests or antagonism stifled the euphoric mood of the four-day Labour Party Conference conference. Meanwhile this week, as the Tories descend on Manchester, chaos has unravelled in the streets. Theresa May, her cabinet and Conservative Party members arrived at their annual conference on Sunday and were greeted by thousands of demonstrators demanding the government put an end to austerity, and calling for a second E.U. referendum.

All week, protestors have been marching through Manchester waving “Stop Austerity” banners and chanting “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn.” With around 30,000 demonstrators gathered in the city center, Greater Manchester Police were forced to bring in 1,000 extra officers as part of a £2 million security operation at the Conservative conference venue.


This much is clear: Labour and its members are still riding high after quashing Theresa May and the Tory majority in June’s snap General Election. The stark contrast – between the triumphant, optimistic temperament felt in Brighton during the Labour conference, and the chaotic anti-Tory anger unfolding in Manchester for the Conservative conference – is an poignant symbol of the national resentment people feel towards a government that continues to make life more difficult for the poorest while boosting conditions for the better off.

The upbeat mood in Brighton last week got a further lift from the pro-Corbyn group Momentum, which ran its annual fringe event alongside the Labour conference. The four-day World Transformed festival held by Momentum, the social movement that formed after the election of Jeremy Corbyn, drew more than 5,000 attendants.

With an energetic mix of politics, culture, art and music, the festival hosted some 150 talks, workshops, exhibitions and gigs across Brighton, where the public mingled with Labour conference attendees, sharing their thoughts on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn’s vision of a more progressive Britain. Some of the biggest names in politics as well as inspiring grassroots voices participated in the many fringe events.

For example, I went to a pub quiz hosted by the former Labour leader, Ed Miliband. Labour and Momentum enthusiasts young and old battled it out to answer Miliband’s questions focusing on Labour and politics in general. These relaxed, cheerful, collaborative events reflected the escalating support for Corbyn and Labour’s move to the left – with the aim of removing politics from the clutches of privileged political elites and putting decision making power in the hands of everyday people.

And Corbyn’s keynote speech, the party conference highlight, didn’t disappoint as the Labour leader mapped out a vision of Britain as a fairer, more equal country for all.


At the beginning of his speech, Corbyn noted that over 4 million children now live in poverty in the U.K. Official figures show that around 30 percent of children in Britain are living in poverty – numbers that are at their highest levels since 2010. Around two-thirds of children living in poverty are from working families.

Additionally, the Institute for Fiscal Studies reports that income for working age adults today is no higher than what it was eight years ago, despite rising inflation.

Growing poverty among working families in Britain has been a core feature of the government’s biggest – and one of its most controversial – public-sector reform programs, the roll-out of Universal Credit. The aim of Universal Credit was to encourage people to work a greater number of hours by allowing them to keep their low-salary benefits even if their income rises.

However, research has shown that the poorest families are worse off under the working benefits reform. A study by The Guardian revealed eight out of 10 social housing tenants moved on to Universal Credit are unable to pay their rent. Many of the poorest families are unable to manage on the 42-day regulatory wait until they receive their first payment, and are being forced to rely on food banks as a result.


Corbyn in his speech also pledged to scrap the public sector pay cap, saying the cap is not “an act of charity” but “a necessity”. His comments came just weeks after Education Secretary Justine Greening confirmed that key sector workers such as teachers would have an overall 1 per cent pay rise this year.

“Year after year the Tories have cut budgets and squeezed public sector pay, while cutting taxes for the highest earners and the big corporations,” said the Labour leader. “You can’t care for the nation’s health when doctors and nurses are being asked to accept falling standards year after year.”

Anger at the miserly 1 per cent pay rise granted to public sector workers was a dominant feature at the anti-austerity protests outside the Tory conference in Manchester. In fact, in direct contrast to the pro-Corbyn Momentum festival that ran alongside the Labour Party conference in Brighton, the Tories conference coincided with the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, promoting its own huge “Tories Out” political and cultural festival.

Speaking at the People’s Assembly, Public and Commercial Services Union boss Mark Serwotka urged a general strike in response to the outlandish public sector pay rise, to “bring the Tories down.” Tory policies are “literally killing people,” said Serwotka.


With Brexit negotiations ongoing and seemingly getting nowhere, the British people are yearning to see more concrete plans relating to Brexit and immigration. One of the most poignant moments of Corbyn’s speech regarded immigration.

“Labour will never follow the Tories into the gutter of blaming migrants for the ills of our society. It isn’t migrants who drive down wages, but the worse bosses, in collusion with the Tory government. Labour will address this, not pander to scapegoating or racism,” Corbyn said to a standing ovation in the conference auditorium.

While the Tories pledge to cut net migration to below 100,000 a year, Labour promises “fair rules and reasonable management of migration” and to stop scapegoating migrants for the country’s economic failures, he added.

Pro-Corbyn, left-leaning Labour voters may be feeling optimistic for now, but the argument still remains among those less sympathetic to Corbyn’s policies and his intentions to move the middle ground to the left: how will a Labour government pay for ending austerity?

On the train back to Manchester from Brighton, one traveler asked me this question exactly. But Corbyn and his allies’ answer is simple: Get big businesses and the rich to pay more tax, and let Labour roll out plans from its 2017 manifesto, which will define taxation according to one’s ability to pay. The Tories’ repeated answer – increased austerity that hinders poor people’s ability to pay for food, housing and other basic living necessities – clearly is not the answer.

Finally, to end the Tories’ lackluster conference in Manchester, Prime Minister Theresa May gave a disastrous speech that she spluttered through with a tickly cough. The PM’s questionable leadership was epitomized when a prankster handed May her P-45 mid-speech and said: “Boris, tell them you told me to do this,” as he was dragged out.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party, People’s Assembly Against Austerity, UK austerity cut, Tory policies
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party, People’s Assembly Against Austerity, UK austerity cut, Tory policies
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party, People’s Assembly Against Austerity, UK austerity cut, Tory policies

Updates & Announcements (from Adrienne Fong)

Check Indybay for other listings: https://www.indybay.org/calendar/?page_id=12


A.  DA’s office declines to file charges against officers in three shootings (October 6, 2017)


B.  US approves $15bn THAAD missile system sale to Saudi Arabia (October 6)


C. California Gov. Brown signs “sanctuary state” bill expanding protections for undocumented immigrants (October 5)


D.  The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Wins Nobel Peace Prize (October 6, 2017)



~ San Francisco ~

Occupy San Francisco Bulletin Board



Saturday, October 7 – Tuesday, October 10

Friday, October 6 – Wednesday, October 18

~ Mothers on the March For Justice ~

From San Francisco to Sacramento

All are welcomed to join and walk – even if it’s for a few blocks! This is a 14-day march for 95miles.

Members of the Black & Brown movement from the community of San Francisco have come together to march from San Francisco to Sacramento.

This action is taking place to bring awareness to the countless murders by the San Francisco Police Department without any accountability or consequences, we are demanding that Attorney General Xavier Becerra does what District Attorney George Gascon is having such a difficult time doing, while that is him having difficulty in charging the police officers that have taken the lives of our brothers and sisters with murder!

Mill Valley 10/6                 Napa 10/11

San Rafael 10/7                Fairfield 10/12

Petaluma 10/8                  Vacaville 10/13 & 10/14

Novato 10/9                     Dixon 10/15

Sonoma 10/10                  Davis 10/16 & 10/17

Sacramento 10/18

Info: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/267411830437867/   

For info, concerns, questions etcEmail: info@marchforjusticesf.org   Phone:510.449.3655

Saturday, October 7

  1. Saturday, 10:00am – 5:00pm, 1.5Y Life of Luis Commemoration and Thank You Picnic


10:00am at alter

    Shotwell & 19th Streets

Saturday October 7th will be one year and a half since Luis was killed by Sgt. Nate Steger and Ofc. Michael Mellone.

We want to mark this occasion with a prayer at the altar at 10am, a procession through the Mission to Dolores Park. We should be there around 11:30am. At the Park the family will have prepared a picnic to thank supporters

Please RSVP on the event page if  you can stay for lunch so that we can have a headcount.

October 7th is also the 3rd year anniversary of the murder of O’Shaine Evans by the SFPD.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/188511985024893/

  1. Saturday, 10:00am – 6:00pm, Counter-Presence to Fleet Week – Tabling by Veterans For Peace & Iraq Veterans Against  War

Base of Pier 41, by the Marine Terminal Building
Corner of Jefferson & Powell Sts.

IVAW & VFP will have tables, banners, signs, literature to hand out, a sun canopy (maybe), boots on display, etc.  We will again be at the base of Pier 41 – by the Marine Terminal Building (white w/ blue trim) where we have been EVERY YEAR SINCE 2011. 

All along The Embarcadero, San Francisco waterfront will be:
< military recruiters and displays
< the Blue Angels overhead, 
< war ships docked, etc.,

Info: VFP SF Chapter 69 – Nadya (415) 845-9492 or Jim (415) 505-4791

  1. Saturday, 1:00pm – 3:00pm, Defend Our Spaces: Understanding the Threat (Round 2)

2501 International Blvd.

Intro to White Nationalism: Past Present & Future workshop. If you missed the first one, this is your chance to get caught up and plugged into anti-fascist organizing work!

Community Ready Corps (CRC) is organizing to protect Black spaces & communities from racist intimidation, harassment, and violence, and to provide security & self defense trainings.

Emboldened by the election of Donald Trump, White Nationalists with genocidal aspirations against Black people, Muslims and Immigrants are organizing in the Bay Area.

This presentation grows out of a deep and comprehensive understanding of White Supremacy and White Nationalism, designed to help you make sense of the Alt-Right no matter what your current level of knowledge.

Join CRC and CRC (Allies & Accomplices) for a community teach-in about the Alt-Right and how you can participate in resistance their White Nationalist agenda.

Host: Community READY Corp

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/365102173924549/

  1. Saturday, 7:00pm – 9:30pm, Book Launch Party for the War and Environment Reader

Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists’ Hall
1924 Cedar St.

Wheelchair accessible

Suggested donation: $5 – $10 No one turned away.

Gar Smith’s new book examines Permawar (the culture of war), Terracide (war’s impacts on nature), and Ecolibrium (paths to a world in balance with nature).

Sponsor: BFUU Social Justice Committee

Info: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2017/09/13/18802906.php

  1. Saturday, 7:00pm – 10:00pm, Cuba Hurricane Relief Fundraiser

2969 Mission St.

$10 – $20 Requested – all proceeds goes to Cuba Hurricane Relief

Honoring Che Guevara on the 50th anniversary of the Heroic Guerrilla

With special guests from Cuba:
renowned poet Nancy Morejón and Daisy Salas of the Cuban Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC)

Also featuring special guest: Alice Walker, Author/Poet/Activist

Film- “Che: Where You’d Never Imagine Him” (dir. Manuel Pérez, 2007)
Cuba has extended boundless solidarity to the people’s of the world, both for development and also in times of crisis. Whether sending doctors to combat Ebola and provide healing care with medical workers, dispatching aid in natural disasters, including in the Caribbean information and how you can help in our campaign, call 415-821-6545. Online donation link can be found at: http://www.cuba-venezuela.org/index.php/donate/

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1902758656709800/

Sunday, October 8

  1. Sunday, 11:00am – 7:00pm, Palestine Cultural Day

Hall of Flowers
1199 9th Ave.

Palestinian American Coalition presents

Day full of Culture
For all ages:
Bazaar, Traditional Vendors, Calligraphy, Henna Tattoos, Cultural Booth,
Authentic Palestinian Food and Sweets,
Live Music by Local Singers and Musicians, Kids & Adults Dabkeh, Poetry,
and Special Group from Palestine

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1791218681170105/

  1. Sunday, 3:00pm – 5:00pm, Berkeley Hurricane Relief for Cuba

Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalist
1924 Cedar St.

Fundraiser to assist Cuba to recover from the aftermath of hurricane Irma.

Music Poetry and Speakers
Nancy Morejon, one of Cuba’s foremost poets
Dr. Lucia Agudelo, US graduate from ELAM, 2017*
Dr. Abraham Vela, US graduate from ELAM, 2016*
*Dr. Agudelo and Dr. Vela participated in the Third Days of Action Against the Blockade held in Washington DC Spet 11-16 2017.
Daysi Salas, Cuban Union of Writers and Artists

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1558803097511855/

Monday, October 9

  1. Monday, 4:30am – 9:00am, Indigenous Peoples Day East Bay Voyage to Alcatraz

Indians of All Tribes

Tickets: http://bit.ly/Berkeley_AlcatrazRSVP

Learn the origins of the Sunrise Ceremony, join Indians of All Tribes co-founder LaNada War Jack on Oct 9th Indigenous Peoples Day a ferry ride departing from Berkeley Marina at 5 AM Please RSVP here and we will confirm your spot via e-mail. Limited space available!

Additional Info contact: David K 510.292.8098

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1655933864425532/

  1. Monday, 5:00am – 9:00am, Indigenous Peoples’ Day Sunrise Gathering on Alcatraz

Alcatraz Island
B201 Fort Mason

Ticket Info: https://www.alcatrazcruises.com/programs-and-events/special-events-and-exhibits

WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE, Absolutely NO drugs or alcohol of any kind. Smoking only in designated areas. No sales permitted.

Alcatraz Island * San Francisco * Ohlone Territory

Day of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

Speakers will include:
Radley Davis (Pit River Nation)
William “Bill” Means (Oglala Lakota)
Leonard “Lenny” Foster (Dine)
Andrea Carmen (Yaqui Nation)
MC Lakota Harden (Lakota/ Ho Chunk)
And other special guests!

Ohlone Welcome, All Nations Drum, Intertribal Ohlone-Pomo dancers and updates on protecting sacred lands and pipeline struggles from across Turtle Island.

For more information contact the IITC San Francisco Office: (415) 641-4482; Morning Star Gali: mstargali@gmail.com or Rochelle Diver, rochelle@treatycouncil.org

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/357851897979847/

  1. Monday, 4:00pm – 7:00pm, Dialogue for an Indigenous Led Regenerative Economy

The Long Now Foundation
Fort Mason Landmark Building A
2 Marina Blvd.

See FB site for Tickets

On the eve of #SOCAP17 (one of the largest and most influential finance & Impact Investment events in the world with 3000 attendees).

Mixer and panel discussion will discuss how indigenous world views and values can inform a more sustainable economy and inspire the impact investment space towards more meaning.

– The 8 minute film, The Occupation of Alcatraz that sparked an American Revolution, highlights the lifelong activism of panelist, Dr. La Nada War Jack, from her journey as a student organizer in 1969 during the Indians of all Tribes occupation of Alcatraz island and in 2016, to the Standing Rock reservation opposing the DAPL pipeline.

Moderated by Alaskan Native, David Karabelnikoff (Ambassador of Digital Smoke Signals, key social media activists at #NoDAPL); additional panelists and co-hosts include leading Rights of Nature organizer Shannon Biggs of Movement Rights;Melissa K. Nelson PhD is a Native ecologist -CEO of The Cultural Conservancy; “Coyote Woman”, a Mutsen Ohlone; and more.

**Featured Panelists & other Key Voices:

* LaNada War Jack PhD
 co-organized the takeover of Alcatraz in 1969, organized the Third World Strike as UC Berkeley student, which led to the development of the Ethnic Studies Program at Cal.

* Melissa K. Nelson PhD
 is a Native ecologist, writer, media-maker and indigenous scholar-activist. She is the president/CEO of The Cultural Conservancy.

Larry Merculieff MA Author, has been a passionate advocate for indigenous rights/wisdom, and harmonious relationship with the Earth Mother. His reach has been broad and varied.

Kanyon Sayers-Roods, Ohlone/Costanoan cultural ambassador for her peoples’ Local Indigenous Recognition.

* David Karabelnikoff, Catalyst for the Synergy Fund, a new initiative of Empowerment WORKS / Ambassador of Digital Smoke Signals, will moderate the panel.

* Shannon Biggs, Co-founder and Director of Movement Rights mission is to enact binding laws that place the rights of communities and nature above the claimed legal “rights” of corporations.

Melanie St.James, Founder and Executive Director of Empowerment Works

This #IndigenizeSOCAP event is an official #IndigenizeTheBay Movement event!

Host: Empowerment WORKS and Digital Smoke Signals

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/101133747307138/

  1. Monday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Band Together Vigil: #NoMuslimBanEver

Civic Center Plaza
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Pl.

Just a few weeks shy of the October 10 hearing, the Trump administration announced its third iteration of the Muslim Ban. Three new nations were added to the list of countries facing restrictions—Chad, North Korea and Venezuela—and one country, Sudan, was removed from the list. In light of this development, the Supreme Court removed oral arguments from its calendar and asked for additional briefing from the parties.

The Muslim and refugee bans are discriminatory, unconstitutional and inhumane in the same vein as the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Japanese American incarceration, and special registration after 9/11.

The addition of non-Muslim majority countries to the ban, namely North Korea and Venezuela, does not negate its inherent anti-Muslim intent.

Please join us for an evening vigil, to uplift the voices of those most impacted. Speakers from the original 6 impacted countries, refugees, and allies, and poetry and music from ASWAT Bay Area Arabic Music Ensemble. We also hope to include and uplift the voices of those impacted by Trump’s newest Ban, Chad, North Korea and Venezuela.

Join us in standing up for our communities and against racist laws. Let’s band together to tell the Supreme Court that we are against the Muslim and Refugee Bans.

Hosts: Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, AROC, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, CAIR

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1427286337385134/

  1. Monday, 6:00pm – 9:00pm, Indigenous Peoples Day

Artillery AG
2751 Mission St.

On October 9th, we will be recognizing, celebrating, and acknowledging the Indigenous Peoples of the San Francisco, Bay Area and the Indigenous People around the world. Join us for live music by Raye ZaragozaKayla Briët, and Kelly Caballero. We will also take time to remember the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, an on going issue that continues to have an affect within our communities.

Hosts: Artillery AG and Urban Native Era

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/105955423452993/

  1. Monday, 6:45pm – 9:00pm, OccupyForum – Society for the Many: Report-back from inaugural People’s Congress of Resistance

Black and Brown Social Club
474 Valencia St. (nr. 16th Street BART)

On Sept. 16-17, the People’s Congress of Resistance movement was inaugurated with a mass convening of grassroots organizers and frontline resistors

27 delegates from 38 states and 160 towns and cities came to Washington, D.C., to discuss the People’s Congress of Resistance manifesto “Society for the Many: A Vision for Revolution,” to share organizing experiences to take back home, to express solidarity with each other and to resolve on common projects and actions for the future.

Local activists, Nick Pardee and Michelle Schudel, who traveled to the Inaugural event in Washington D.C. will give a report-back

Tuesday, October 10

  1. Tuesday, 3:00pm & Wednesday, October 11, 3:00pm AIM International Film Festival

ANSWER Coalition
2969 Mission St.

Tuesday – doors open at 2:00pm, with Ted Kalli Mexica Traditional Dancers.

3:00pm – films both days start showing

Info / Listing of films: 415-557-1492


  1. Tuesday, 4:00pm – 7:00pm, Fair Contract Now Rally

San Francisco Unified School District
555 Franklin St.

As educators we are committed to making sure all of our students have access to safe, stable and supportive schools.

The key to student success is directly tied to the school district’s ability to attract and retain quality educators. But every year we lose hundreds of educators because they can no longer afford to live in the city. Without a significant commitment from the SFUSD, we are at risk of permanently destabilizing our schools.

Your support to help us settle a fair contract now! Join fellow educators, parents, students, and community allies at UESF’s mass rally

Sponsor: United Educators of San Francisco

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/120725961969861/

  1. Tuesday, 5:30pm – 7:30pm, House Keys Not Handcuffs: Justice for SF’s Homeless

SF Public Library
Koret Auditorium
100 Larkin St.

Join panelists from the Democratic Socialists of America, the International Socialist Organization, Mother Brown’s, Coalition on Homelessness and Swords to Plowshares for an in-depth discussion of radical solutions to homelessness in San Francisco.

This is a unique chance to hear perspectives from the front lines of San Francisco’s most pressing humanitarian crisis and learn how you can get involved!

Sponsor: Democratic Socialist of America – SF

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/325226644615965/

  1. Tuesday, 6:45pm – 9:00pm, Displacement & Gentrification: How did we get here and how do we stop it?

Sierra Club
2101 Webster St, Suite 1300

Tickets: $5 – $20

Workshop has space for 66 people. To reserve your spot in advance, please purchase tickets at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3097178

This SURJ workshop will put gentrification and displacement in a historical context so we understand the racialized political and economic drivers. You’ll hear about past and current struggles led by communities of color to preserve their homes and communities.

Facilitators from SURJ – Oakland/Bay Area will present analysis based on the work of Causa Justa :: Just Cause. SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), Bay Area chapter, is part of a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice through community organizing, mobilizing, and education. However, all are welcome at this workshop regardless of identity.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/516956461985235/?ref=br_rs

  1. Tuesday, 5:30pm – 8:30pm, March for Kayla Moore – Get Ready for the family trial

2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way

Show up Oct. 10th to amplify the Moore family’s call for justice for Kayla Moore, their loved one who was killed by BPD in 2013. We’re taking to the streets of Berkeley to lift up Kayla’s name, gear up for court support and demand mental health crisis response that is accessible to trans people, people of color, disabled people and everyone who ends up criminilized and endangered when our cities send cops to respond to crisis.

Accessibility arrangements are in progress, please stay tuned for updates or contact us directly.
CONTACT: Contact us by FB comment, email (justiceforkaylamoore@gmail.com ) or phone/text (510-224-5950).

Court date is tentatively set for Oct. 18th in SF.

Sponsor: Justice 4 Kayla Moore

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/116897772313409/

Hillary comes to town: Campaign for Medicare for All at her book signing

Campaign for Medicare for All

At Hillary Clinton Book Signing.

Fri 11am to 12:15pm, Oct 6

San Francisco Books Inc.

601 Van Ness Ave

(btw Turk and Golden Gate)

Help us campaign for Medicare for All at Hillary Clinton’s book signing.  Her book “What Happened” explains her campaign for president.  As you know, Clinton attacked the concept of Medicare for All. 

We will be holding banners on Van Ness Ave that say

Hillary Clinton

This is Happening

America Supports

Medicare for All

Please let us know if you can help hold banners.

We will make a banner for every two people who say they can help.

This will be a very visible action and thousand of motorists will see us.

Thank you.

–Don Bechler

Chair – Single Payer Now


“Déjà Voodoo: Plutocratic Economics from Reagan to Trump” by Joseph Stiglitz

Donald Trump and President Ronald Reagan meet at a 1985 White House reception.  (Photo: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library)

October 4, 2017 (CommonDreams.org)

A Trump administration staffed by plutocrats – most of whom gained their wealth from rent-seeking activities, rather than from productive entrepreneurship – could be expected to reward themselves. But the Republicans’ proposed tax reform is a bigger gift to corporations and the ultra-rich than most had anticipated.

Having failed to “repeal and replace” the 2010 Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), US President Donald Trump’s administration and the Republican congressional majority have now moved on to tax reform. Eight months after assuming office, the administration has been able to offer only an outline of what it has in mind. But what we know is enough to feel a deep sense of alarm.

Tax policy should reflect a country’s values and address its problems. And today, the United States – and much of the world – confronts four central problems: widening income inequality, growing job insecurity, climate change, and anemic productivity growth. America faces, in addition, the need to rebuild its decaying infrastructure and strengthen its underperforming primary and secondary education system.

But what Trump and the Republicans are offering in response to these challenges is a tax plan that provides the overwhelming share of benefits not to the middle class – a large proportion of which may actually pay more taxes – but to America’s millionaires and billionaires. If inequality was a problem before, enacting the Republicans’ proposed tax reform will make it much worse.

“What Trump and the Republicans are offering in response to these challenges is a tax plan that provides the overwhelming share of benefits not to the middle class – a large proportion of which may actually pay more taxes – but to America’s millionaires and billionaires. If inequality was a problem before, enacting the Republicans’ proposed tax reform will make it much worse.”

Corporations and businesses will be among the big beneficiaries, a bias justified on the grounds that this will stimulate the economy. But Republicans, of all people, should understand that incentives matter: it would be far better to reduce taxes for those companies that invest in America and create jobs, and increase taxes for those that don’t.

After all, it is not as if America’s large corporations were starved for cash; they are sitting on a couple of trillion dollars. And the lack of investment is not because profits, either before or after tax, are too low; after-tax corporate profits as a share of GDP have almost tripled in the last 30 years.

Indeed, with incremental investment largely financed by debt, and interest payments being tax-deductible, the corporate tax lowers the cost of capital and the returns to investment commensurately. Thus, neither theory nor evidence suggests that the Republicans’ proposed corporate tax giveaway will increase investment or employment.

The Republicans also dream of a territorial tax system, whereby American corporations are taxed only on the income they generate in the US. But this would only reduce revenue and further encourage American companies to shift production to low-tax jurisdictions. A race to the bottom on corporate taxation can be prevented only by imposing a minimum rate on any corporation that engages in business in the US.

America’s states and municipalities are responsible for education and large parts of the country’s health and welfare system. And state income taxes are the best way to introduce a modicum of progressivity at the subnational level: states without an income tax typically rely on regressive sales taxes, which impose a heavy burden on the poor and working people. It is thus perhaps no surprise that the Trump administration, staffed by plutocrats who are indifferent to inequality, should want to eliminate the deductibility of state income taxes from federal taxation, encouraging states to shift toward sales taxes.

Addressing the panoply of other problems confronting the US will require more federal revenues, not less. Increases in standards of living, for example, are the result of technological innovation, which in turn depends on basic research. But federal government support of research as a percentage of GDP is now at a level comparable to what it was 60 years ago.

While Trump the candidate criticized the growth of US national debt, he now proposes tax cuts that would add trillions to the debt in just the next ten years – not the “only” $1.5 trillion that Republicans claim would be added, thanks to some growth miracle that leads to more tax revenues. Yet the key lesson of Ronald Reagan’s “voodoo” supply-side economics has not changed: tax cuts like these do not lead to faster growth, but only to lower revenues.

This is especially so now, when the unemployment rate is just over 4%. Any significant increase to aggregate demand would be met by a corresponding increase in interest rates. The “economic mix” of the economy would thus shift away from investment; and growth, already anemic, would slow.

“Trump assumed office promising to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington, DC. Instead, the swamp has grown wider and deeper.”

An alternative framework would increase revenues and boost growth. It would include real corporate-tax reform, eliminating the tricks that allow some of the world’s largest companies to pay miniscule taxes, in some cases far less than 5% of their profits, giving them an unfair advantage over small local businesses. It would establish a minimum tax and eliminate the special treatment of capital gains and dividends, compelling the very rich to pay at least the same percentage of their income in taxes as other citizens. And it would introduce a carbon tax, to help accelerate the transition to a green economy.

Tax policy can also be used to shape the economy. In addition to offering benefits to those who invest, carry out research, and create jobs, higher taxes on land and real-estate speculation would redirect capital toward productivity-enhancing spending – the key to long-term improvement in living standards.

An administration of plutocrats – most of whom gained their wealth from rent-seeking activities, rather than from productive entrepreneurship – could be expected to reward themselves. But the Republicans’ proposed tax reform is a bigger gift to corporations and the ultra-rich than most had anticipated. It avoids necessary reforms and would leave the country with a mountain of debt; the consequences – low investment, stalled productivity growth, and yawning inequality – would take decades to undo.

Trump assumed office promising to “drain the swamp” in Washington, DC. Instead, the swamp has grown wider and deeper. With the Republicans’ proposed tax reform, it threatens to engulf the US economy.

Joseph Stiglitz

Joseph E. Stiglitz is University Professor at Columbia University. His most recent book is The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our FutureAmong his many other books, he is the author of Globalization and Its DiscontentsFree Fall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy, and (with co-author Linda Bilmes) The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Costs of the Iraq Conflict. He received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001 for research on the economics of information.