‘Bye-Bye, Betsy DeVos. You Won’t Be Missed,’ Says Sanders as Billionaire Education Secretary Attacks Push for Tuition-Free College

December 02, 2020 by Common Dreams

“What do you call a billionaire who registered a $40 million, 164-foot yacht in the Cayman Islands to avoid $2.4 million in U.S. taxes, while undermining public schools? The worst Education Secretary in the history of America.”

by Jake Johnson, staff writer

 18 Comments

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attends an event in the State Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on August 12, 2020.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attends an event in the State Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on August 12, 2020. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders late Tuesday called Betsy DeVos “the worst education secretary in the history of America” and made abundantly clear that he’s not mourning her imminent departure after the billionaire school privatization zealot lashed out at popular proposals to cancel student loan debt and make public colleges and universities tuition-free.

“Because we were all just dying to know what the unqualified billionaire who made this problem worse thinks about helping people.”
—Sen. Elizabeth Warren

“What do you call a billionaire who registered a $40 million, 164-foot yacht in the Cayman Islands to avoid $2.4 million in U.S. taxes, while undermining public schools? The worst education secretary in the history of America,” tweeted the Vermont senator, a leading proponent of student debt cancellation and tuition-free higher education. “Bye-bye, Betsy DeVos. You won’t be missed.”

In a speech at an Education Department financial aid conference on Tuesday, the outgoing education secretary dismissed as “government gift-giving” proposals to forgive crippling student loan debt and eliminate tuition for public colleges and universities.

“We’ve heard shrill calls to cancel, to forgive, to make it all free. Any innocuous label out there can’t obfuscate what it really is: Wrong,” said DeVos, who last year proposed handing the federal government’s $1.6 trillion student loan portfolio over to a “stand-alone government corporation.” Critics slammed the proposal as an attempt to prevent the next president from canceling any of the debt.

President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to forgive a portion of the student debt held by tens of millions of Americans and make public colleges and universities tuition-free for families with incomes below $125,000 a year. The former vice president has not yet announced his pick to succeed DeVos.

In response to DeVos’ remarks Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)—one of many lawmakers and activists pressuring Biden to use his authority to cancel student loan debt—tweeted sardonically, “Because we were all just dying to know what the unqualified billionaire who made this problem worse thinks about helping people.”Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

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Ossoff’s embrace of Bernie Sanders highlights shift for Georgia Democrats

Georgia Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Jon Ossoff speaks during a rally, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Marietta, Ga. Ossoff and Republican Sen. David Perdue are in a runoff election for the Senate seat. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Credit: Brynn Anderson POLITICAL INSIDER|

Nov 30, 2020 By Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (ajc.com)

When Jon Ossoff was asked at the tail end of a CNN interview about Bernie Sanders’ endorsement, the Senate candidate’s answer was unequivocal. And it underscored a strategic shift as Georgia Democrats compete for control of the U.S. Senate in twin Jan. 5 runoffs.

“I welcome his support,” Ossoff said of the Vermont senator. “His advocacy for ensuring that healthcare is a human right in this country, for putting the interests of working families over corporate interests is welcome, is necessary, is appreciated. And so is his support.”

Three years ago, when Ossoff was running to flip a Republican-controlled suburban Atlanta House district, the Democrat would likely have sidestepped the question by saying he was focused on Georgia-centric issues.

That was a different race and a different political environment. Now, as Ossoff and Raphael Warnock try to recreate the coalition that narrowly boosted Joe Biden to victory in Georgia, the two are trying not to alienate voters who identify with Sanders’ self-described brand of democratic socialist politics.

Just as Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are embracing polarizing national figures, including President Donald Trump and Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Democratic candidates are no longer as skittish about being tied to their party’s liberal leaders.

Ossoff and Warnock both campaigned with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the runup to the November vote, and staged a rally with former President Barack Obama on the eve of the election. Democratic strategists say it’s possible all three will return to Georgia, along with other party leaders.

It’s a notable shift in Georgia, where Republicans have long campaigned with national leaders – including a string of 2024 hopefuls who visited in November ahead of the runoff — while Democrats have more often shunned them.

When Obama visited Atlanta weeks before the 2014 election, for instance, it was considered shrewd political strategy for top Democratic candidates to steer clear of an appearance with him on the tarmac.

That started to change in 2018 when Stacey Abrams assertively tied herself to the party’s liberal wing and its national leaders.

In the closing days of the race, she campaigned with Obama and other party stars to mobilize voters who usually skipped midterm races. She was defeated in the closest gubernatorial race in Georgia in decades.

The approach also fuels more attacks from Republicans eager to paint their adversaries as too extreme for Georgia. Within minutes of his CNN appearance, Perdue’s campaign sent out a press release slamming him for “casually praising radical socialists and their dangerous agendas” in TV interviews.

“Ossoff isn’t hiding his radicalism, he’s telling us who he really is,” said Perdue spokesman John Burke. “We should believe him.”

And Savannah Viar of the Republican National Committee urged Ossoff to appear on more Sunday shows “so you can tell Georgians even more about your shameless support for self-described socialists.”

Democrats point out those attacks were incoming long before Sanders endorsed Ossoff, and they’d likely continue whether he accepted his endorsement or not. That’s what happened to Ossoff in 2017, when he was branded a Nancy Pelosi “yes man” even when he sought to distance himself from the California Democrat.

Ossoff and Sanders differ on key policy debates – notably, the Georgian opposes the Green New Deal climate change plan and the Medicare for All healthcare proposal that Sanders championed.

But Ossoff said on CNN he would work with Sanders on other issues, including efforts to back a $15 minimum wage, invest in clean energy and “look out for ordinary working people for a change instead of people who have bought access and power in Washington.”

About the Author

ajc.com

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor’s office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Interest Compounds for a California State Public Bank

California Public Banking Alliance (December 3, 2020)
California State Senators Mike McGuire and Steven Bradford took a bold step toward establishing a state public bank on November 23, 2020 by chairing a joint hearing with the Governance and Finance, and Banking and Financial Institutions Committees. The Senators unleashed testimony from a wide range of financial professionals and community activists supporting legislation for a state public bank.

The State Public Bank’s coauthor, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago stated the urgency of financial transformation for COVID-19 recovery by emphasizing “the need to reimagine a financial system that puts the public good before profit.” His appeal for California’s financial sovereignty was reinforced by Assembly cohort, David Chiu, stating that a state public bank “…could keep the people’s financial power in our state to ensure that we are jump-starting our state’s economic recovery, to catalyze the development of local financial institutions in their communities, providing infrastructure, capital, and support.”

 Three issues stood out from a myriad of speakers.Wall Street banks have failed our communities, particularly people of color.Taxpayers’ money needs to be used efficiently to assist those most in need by providing capital to revitalize small businesses and rebuild communities devastated by COVID-19.A state public bank will counter the corrupting influence of big banks by providing investment opportunities for those doing social good: to build affordable housing; to build sustainable infrastructure; to support small business survival; to put people back to work while rebuilding our communities, especially those that are ignored by big banks.

Public banking proponents gained traction with a series of well-informed presentations from public servants, entrepreneurs, community financial institutions and community groups. California State Treasurer Fiona Ma made it clear that she supports a thorough, appropriate study for the feasibility of a public bank. Henry Levy, Alameda County Treasurer and Tax Collector, noted “a lot of the county treasurers are in support of the goals of a public bank.” Senator Maria Elena Durazo spoke of the critical need for an alternative to Wall Street to address community and small business needs that the current system has failed to support. Durazo emphasized that officials should find ways to move bold ideas forward rather than dismiss them, and acknowledged “The private sector takes advantage of our funds but doesn’t reciprocate the way that it should for our communities.”

Ameya Pawar from Open Society Foundations pointed out that the government gives banks “…the license to create money. That is what the public provides private sector banks.” Mr. Pawar offered a solution to Senator Durazo’s concern, saying “There is no reason why the public sector couldn’t also obtain a license to create money, to fill in the gaps that are created by private sector banks.”

Noni Ramos from Enterprise Community Loan Fund explained how a state public bank would help Community Development Financial Institutions be more effective. “CDFIs work to bring capital to low income and underserved communities and financial resources from the public bank could be leveraged by CDFIs.” Mark Herbert, Vice President of California Small Business Majority concurred, saying public banks provide “… the opportunity to think about, how do we get more tools and more resources and more capital to the smallest businesses?” He concluded that “…fundamentally we need to think about not just this moment — and meeting the significant needs that small business owners and our state face — but how do we build a more equitable economy in the future?”

Scores of community activists made their voices heard in public comment. Trinity Tran from the California Public Banking Alliance made it clear that a public bank will enable public funds for rebuilding and recovery. Ms. Tran reminded legislators at the hearing that while campaigning Governor Newsom committed to breaking the hold of Wall Street banks by establishing a state public bank. Jennifer Tanner, speaking on behalf of Indivisible CA: StateStrong’s over 70 groups with 40,000 members, registered strong support for a state public bank. Ben Hauck of Public Bank Long Beach, called on legislators to take bold action for public banking as a systemic solution to a broken financial system.

United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770’s Political Director Nam Le spoke on behalf of 150,000 grocery and retail frontline workers. The union supports public banks capable of partnering with community banks and credit unions to lend responsibly to localities, especially communities of color, which have suffered the greatest losses in the pandemic. Steve Sittig of Public Bank Pomona Valley pointed out that a state public bank can smooth the way for setting up local and regional public banks.

Joining the overwhelming support for a state bank in the public comment section were California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), a key ally in California Public Banking Alliance’s effort, representing over 300 California small businesses and CDFIs, and the People’s Alliance for Justice testifying on how a State Public Bank will be able to support CDFIs in their work with the unbanked, leveling the playing field for our most needy.

Richard Girling of United Educators of San Francisco and SF Public Bank Coalition urged legislators to look to Germany’s Sparkassen, a network of hundreds of public banks that have operated for a couple hundred years. Rose Anwich from Ventura County expressed her concern that Wall Street banks continue to finance extractive industries and that public banks are needed for financing climate resilient initiatives. Bonnie Petty, from North Bay Jobs with Justice, noted that had there been a state public bank, recovery funds could have been leveraged to provide much more relief from the fires that destroyed communities.

In a recent newsletter by the Public Banking Act’s co-author Asm. Phil Ting, the Legislative Analyst estimated “a one-time $26 billion windfall in revenues this coming year. However, deficits are projected for several years thereafter. In addition, COVID-19 cases are surging, potentially exacerbating our economic challenges and the number of vulnerable Californians in need of assistance.” Using some of this windfall as the foundation for a state public bank in 2021 will be critical in enabling California to leverage funds in future years to assist in rebuilding and restructuring our local economies.
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Marc Benioff Sets His Sights on Microsoft

The Salesforce C.E.O.’s planned acquisition of Slack will have him competing directly with the Goliath that is Microsoft.

“What’s that company?” Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s chief executive, said when he was asked about his rival, Microsoft.
“What’s that company?” Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s chief executive, said when he was asked about his rival, Microsoft.Credit…Matt Edge for The New York Times
David Streitfeld

By David Streitfeld

  • Dec. 2, 2020 (NYTimes.com)

SAN FRANCISCO — Five years ago, Marc Benioff negotiated to sell Salesforce, the software company he co-founded in 1999 and has run ever since, to Microsoft. If the deal had gone through, he would have been richly rewarded — but, in the end, just another employee of the tech colossus.

With Tuesday’s news that Salesforce was buying Slack for $27.7 billion, Mr. Benioff did something much more difficult. He is now set to directly compete against Microsoft, one of the world’s most valuable companies, in its own favored territory.

Microsoft has been slugging it out with Slack in the pandemic-fueled rush to enable remote collaboration through communications tools. The faster the nature of work transforms, the more valuable victory will become, and the fiercer the competition.

Mr. Benioff, 56, does not appear to be fazed. Or maybe he is in denial. In a 30-minute interview after announcing the Slack deal and Salesforce’s earnings, he rejected all opportunities to talk about his history with Microsoft or even acknowledge its existence.

“What’s that company?” he said. “How do you spell it?”

Microsoft is sitting on a $137 billion cash hoard and has a well-honed competitive instinct. It gets 115 million users every day for its would-be Slack killer, the Teams chat platform, thanks to the ubiquity of Microsoft Office. Salesforce, which specializes in sales management software, had $9 billion in cash this summer. Slack, for all its brand-name familiarity, had only about 12 million users before the pandemic. It has declined to update its numbers.

Salesforce and Slack might be the underdogs here, if you can consider a $220 billion company an underdog. But they have a not-so-secret weapon in Mr. Benioff. He learned some lessons in showmanship from his mentor, the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, including how to turn news conferences into events and how to become the human embodiment of a company.

“You’ve got to give Benioff credit. He’s built one of the biggest software companies in the world,” said Mark Moerdler, a senior research analyst at Bernstein. “But this is not going to be easy.”

Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. 
Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. Credit…Jason Henry for The New York Times

Before the coronavirus pandemic forced many to stay home, Salesforce was San Francisco’s largest private employer, eclipsing the 168-year-old Wells Fargo. Its offices were in Salesforce Tower, a lipstick-shaped edifice that dominated the skyline and could be seen from around the bay.

Mr. Benioff, who has deep roots in the city, likewise dominated local discourse, challenging the other tech chiefs to step up. He and his wife, Lynne Benioff, contributed $100 million to a new children’s hospital. In 2018, the couple bought Time magazine for $190 million. Forbes pegs Mr. Benioff’s net worth at $9.4 billion.

The mogul might be getting weary of the attention. “Can’t you find a more interesting and better-looking protagonist?” he asked.DEALBOOK: An examination of the major business and policy headlines and the power brokers who shape them.Sign Up

In the interview, Mr. Benioff could not be dissuaded or turned aside from his talking points: “Business is the greatest platform for change … The future of our industry is a work-from-anywhere environment … I like to innovate, I like to create, I like to see things and make them happen … I love that we take care of all stakeholders, not just shareholders.”

The question of whether Mr. Benioff can pull off his challenge to Microsoft is likely to become a long-term subject of fascination in Silicon Valley. Over the past two decades, Salesforce has acquired dozens of companies to extend its core products. The biggest acquisition before Slack was Tableau, a data visualization company, which Salesforce bought for $15.3 billion last year.

Mr. Benioff once even had the notion of buying Twitter, back in 2016. But it proved a step too far, although it would have been a wild ride. He is an avid tweeter, much looser than most chief executives. On Monday, he tweeted a picture of former President Barack Obama, who had a copy of Mr. Benioff’s book “Trailblazer” on the shelf.

“Excellent taste in books,” Mr. Benioff wrote.

Initial reactions to the Slack purchase, which is a cash and stock deal, ranged from wildly enthusiastic to cautiously enthusiastic. Slack is losing money, while Salesforce’s collaborative tools are weak.

“Marc has come full circle. From considering a sale to Microsoft, he is now becoming the next Microsoft,” said Venky Ganesan, a managing director at the venture capital firm Menlo Ventures who specializes in software. Mr. Ganesan, who said he knew Mr. Benioff only as a business acquaintance, saluted his ability “to visualize a certain future and then make it happen.”

Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research, has been critical of Salesforce in the past but said the Slack deal had a reasonable chance of success.

“You have a product in Slack that people love but which hasn’t been marketed well,” Mr. Newman said. “Salesforce and Benioff can give it faster growth and extract untapped potential. Excuse the buzzword, but maybe this is really one of those synergy moments.”

Except for the question of Microsoft.

Mr. Benioff came of age in Silicon Valley when Microsoft was decidedly the bad guy. His early employer, Oracle, was run by Larry Ellison, who had a long-running and often bitter feud with the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. As Salesforce grew, it had its own scrapes with Microsoft over employees and patents.

After Satya Nadella became Microsoft’s chief executive in 2014, he and Mr. Benioff met and tried to work together. Mr. Benioff offered unsuccessfully to buy Microsoft’s Dynamics software line, which Salesforce competed with. When that idea foundered, he offered to sell Salesforce to Microsoft for $70 billion, about $22 billion over its market value. A second attempt at a deal a few months later did not work out, either.

The companies became that Silicon Valley perennial: “frenemies” that competed but also did deals. In 2016, both wanted to acquire the social networking site LinkedIn, whose millions of employment histories offered a rich data trove. They bid against each other. Microsoft, with its deep pockets, won with an offer of $26.2 billion. Mr. Benioff tweeted that it was “anticompetitive.”

Microsoft declined to comment on Mr. Benioff.

Others were not so shy. Clara Jeffery, editor of Mother Jones magazine, asked in a tweet on Tuesday night what Mr. Benioff and Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s chief executive, were going to do “for the people/communities suffering from Covid collapse.” (Mr. Butterfield will continue to lead Slack, which becomes an operating unit of Salesforce.)

A good question, Mr. Benioff said when he was asked about it. He went on to detail his many acts of generosity and how they were “unprecedented for a company of our size.”

He stayed on message to the end.

“Business is the greatest platform for change, and we can all do more to improve the state of the world,” he said. “The bigger Salesforce gets, the more it can do.”

David Streitfeld has written about technology and its effects for twenty years. In 2013, he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.   A version of this article appears in print on Dec. 3, 2020, Section B, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: Salesforce Takes Aim At Microsoft. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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Hong Kong dissident Joshua Wong and two others jailed for democracy protests

Issued on: 02/12/2020 – France24.com

Text by: FRANCE 24

Leading Hong Kong dissident Joshua Wong was jailed alongside two other young activists on Wednesday for taking part in last year’s huge democracy protests as the crackdown on Beijing’s critics gathers pace.ADVERTISING

Wong, 24, was prosecuted alongside fellow activists Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow over a rally last summer outside the police headquarters.

Their sentences come as critics of the government say it is intensifying a crackdown on the Chinese-ruled city’s wide-ranging freedoms guaranteed when Britain returned it to Beijing in 1997, a charge authorities in China and Hong Kong reject.

“The days ahead will be tough but we will hang in there,” Wong shouted as he was led away.

The three – some of the city’s most visible critics of Beijing’s rule – pleaded guilty to various charges including inciting an unlawful assembly.

“The defendants called on protesters to besiege the headquarters and chanted slogans that undermine the police force,” Magistrate Wong Sze-lai said as she sentenced Wong to 13.5 months, Chow to 10 months and Lam to seven months in jail. She had reduced overall jail terms after their guilty pleas.

“Immediate imprisonment is the only appropriate option,” she said.

Chow, 23, burst into tears when the sentence was read out.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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Book: “Hacktivism: The Network and its scope to revolutionize power”

Hacktivismo: La Red y su alcance para revolucionar el poder

Hacktivism: The Network and its scope to revolutionize power

by Santiago Siri 

Years ago, the great revolutionaries were forced to carry a firearm around their waist to promote their changes. Today the new world can be built without taking a single shot thanks to a powerful weapon of transformation: the web. During the last two decades, we have witnessed the impact of the internet on culture, commerce, communication, and many other fronts. The revolution that the printing press generated more than five hundred years ago today is taking place at a much faster rate thanks to the Internet. And it is not a force that is going to stop soon: nothing in history offers so much potential to democratize power. Is it possible to hack the political system? Santiago Siri, a technology pioneer, uses his vast experience to tell us what the virtues of the internet are and how we can use this extraordinary instrument of change to move from turmoil to construction.

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Why the Fed Needs Public Banks

Posted on December 3, 2020 by Ellen Brown (ellenbrown.com)

The Fed’s policy tools – interest rate manipulation, quantitative easing, and “Special Purpose Vehicles” – have all failed to revive local economies suffering from government-mandated shutdowns. The Fed must rely on private banks to inject credit into Main Street, and private banks are currently unable or unwilling to do it. The tools the Fed actually needs are public banks, which could and would do the job.

On November 20, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin informed Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that he would not extend five of the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) set up last spring to bail out bondholders, and that he wanted the $455 billion in taxpayer money back that the Treasury had sent to the Fed to capitalize these SPVs. The next day     , Powell replied that he thought it was too soon – the SPVs still served a purpose – but he agreed to return the funds. Both had good grounds for their moves, but as Wolf Richter wrote on WolfStreet.com, “You’d think something earth-​shattering happened based on the media hullabaloo that ensued.”

Richter noted that the expiration date on the SPVs had already been extended; that their purpose was “to bail out and enrich bondholders, particularly junk-bond holders and speculators with huge leveraged bets”; and that their use had been “minuscule by Fed standards.” They had done their job, which was mostly to be “a jawboning tool to inflate asset prices.” Investors and speculators, confident that the Fed had their backs, had “created wondrous credit markets that are now frothing at the mouth,” making the bond speculators quite rich. However, in Mnuchin’s own words, “The people that really need support right now are not the rich corporations, it is the small businesses, it’s the people who are unemployed.” So why aren’t they getting the support? According to Richter:      

Powell himself has been badgering Congress for months to provide more fiscal support to small businesses and other entities because the Fed was not well suited to do so, which was the reason the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) never really got off the ground.

     The reason the Fed is not well suited to the task is that it is not allowed to make loans directly to Main Street businesses. It must rely on banks to do it, and private banks are currently unable or unwilling to make those loans as needed. But publicly-owned banks would. Fortunately, Several promising public bank bills were recently introduced in Congress that could help resolve this crisis.      

     The reason the Fed is not well suited to the task is that it is not allowed to make loans directly to Main Street businesses. It must rely on banks to do it, and private banks are currently unable or unwilling to make those loans as needed. But publicly-owned banks would. Fortunately, Several promising public bank bills were recently introduced in Congress that could help resolve this crisis.

But first, a look at why the Fed’s own efforts have failed.

The Fed Lacks the Tools to Inject Liquidity into the Real Economy

Congress has charged the Federal Reserve with a dual mandate: to maintain the stability of the currency (prevent inflation or deflation) and maintain full employment.  Not only are we a long way from full employment, but the stability of the currency is in question, although economists disagree on whether we are headed for massive inflation or crippling deflation. Food prices and other at-home costs are up; but away-from-home costs (gas, flights, hotels, entertainment, office apparel) are down. Food prices are up not because of “too much money chasing too few goods” (demand/pull inflation) but because of supply and production problems (cost/push inflation). In terms of “output,” we are definitely looking at deflation. An August 2020 Bloomberg article quotes economist Lacy Hunt:

[A]ccording to the figures of the Congressional Budget Office, the output gap will be a record this year and we will have a deflationary gap. In other words, potential GDP will be well above real GDP. And according to the CBO, we’re going to have a deflationary output gap through 2030.

The Fed’s monetary policies, it seems, are not working. On November 11 and 12, according to Reuters:

[T]he world’s top central bankers … tune[d] into the European Central Bank’s annual policy symposium … to figure out why monetary policy is not working as it used to and what new role they must play in a changed world – be it fighting inequality or climate change.

… Central banks’ failure to achieve their targets is beginning to challenge a key tenet of monetary theory: that inflation is always a factor of their policy and that prices rise as unemployment falls.

The Fed adopted a fixed 2% target in 2012. To achieve it, explains investment writer James Molony, they “have implemented unprecedented policies. Interest rates have been slashed, in some cases to near zero, and they have engaged in printing money in order to buy bonds and other assets, otherwise known as quantitative easing.”

Lowering the interest rate is supposed to encourage lending, which increases the circulating money supply and generates the demand necessary to prompt producers to increase GDP. But the fed funds rate, the only rate the central bank controls, is nearly at zero; and the equivalent rates in the European Union and Japan are actually in negative territory. Yet in none of these three countries has the central bank been able to reach its inflation target.

The Fed has now resorted to “average inflation targeting” – meaning it will allow inflation to run above its 2% target to make up for periods when inflation was below 2%. To turn up the economic heat, Chairman Powell has been pleading for more stimulus from Congress. If Congress issues bonds, increasing the federal debt, the Fed can buy the bonds; and the money spent into the economy will increase the money supply. But federal legislators have not been able to agree on the terms of a stimulus package.

Why can’t the Fed do the job though itself? In a speech to the Japanese in 2002, former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke argued (citing Milton Friedman) that it was relatively easy to fix a deflationary recession:  just fly over the people in helicopters and drop money on them. They would then spend it on consumer goods, creating the demand necessary to prompt productivity. So where are the Fed’s helicopters?

“The Fed Doesn’t  ‘Do’ Money.”

In a recent article titled “Where Is It, Chairman Powell?”, Jeffrey Snider, Head of Global Research at Alhambra Investments, questioned whether the Fed’s policies were creating inflation as alleged at all. He wrote:

After spending months deliberately hyping a “flood” of digital money printing, and then unleashing average inflation targeting making Americans believe the central bank will be wickedly irresponsible when it comes to consumer prices, the evidence portrays a very different set of circumstances. Inflationary pressures were supposed to have been visible by now, seven months and counting, when instead it is disinflation which is most evident – and it is spreading.

The problem, said Snider, is that “The Fed doesn’t do money, therefore there’s no way the Fed can have its monetary inflation.”

The Fed doesn’t “do” money? What does that mean?

As explained by Prof. Joseph Huber, chair of economic and environmental sociology at Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, we have a two-tiered money system. The only monies the central bank can create and spend are “bank reserves,” and these circulate only between banks. The central bank is not allowed to spend money directly into the economy or to lend it to local businesses. It is not even allowed to lend it directly to Congress. Rather, it must go through the private banking system. When the central bank buys assets (bonds or debt), it simply credits the reserve accounts of the banks from which the assets were bought; and banks cannot spend or lend these reserves except to each other. In an article titled “Repeat After Me: Banks Cannot And Do Not ‘Lend Out’ Reserves,” Paul Sheard, Chief Global Economist for Standard & Poor’s, explained:

Many talk as if banks can “lend out” their reserves, raising concerns that massive excess reserves created by QE could fuel runaway credit creation and inflation in the future. But banks cannot lend their reserves directly to commercial borrowers, so this concern is misplaced….

Banks don’t lend out of deposits; nor do they lend out of reserves. They lend by creating deposits. And deposits are also created by government deficits. [Emphasis added.]

The deposits circulating in the producer/consumer economy are created, not by the Fed, but by banks when they make loans. (See the Bank of England’s 2014 quarterly report here.) The central bank does create paper cash, but this money too gets into the economy only when other financial institutions buy or borrow it from the central bank in response to demand from their customers. The circulating money supply increases when banks make loans to businesses and individuals; and in risky environments like today’s, private banks are pulling back from Main Street lending, even with massive central bank reserves on their books.

The Tools the Fed Needs to Get Liquidity into the Economy

Private banks are not following through on the Fed’s attempted money injections, but publicly-owned banks would. In countries with strong government-owned banking systems, public banks have historically increased their lending when private banks pulled back. Public banks have a mandate to stimulate their local economies; and unlike private banks, they can do it and still turn a profit, because they have lower costs. They have eliminated the parasitic profit-extracting middlemen, and they do not have to focus on short-term profits to please their shareholders. They can pour their resources into improving the long-term prospects of the economy and its infrastructure, stimulating local productivity and strengthening the tax base.

Three promising new bills are before Congress that would facilitate the establishment of a public banking system in the US.

HR 8721, “The Public Banking Act”, was introduced on Oct. 30, 2020. As described on Vox, the Act would “foster the creation of public [state and local government-owned] banks across the country by providing them a pathway to getting started, establishing an infrastructure for liquidity and credit facilities for them via the Federal Reserve, and setting up federal guidelines for them to be regulated. Essentially, it would make it easier for public banks to exist, and it would give some of them grant money to get started.”

Another bill, introduced in September by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand, is The Postal Banking Act, which the authors said would  

  • Create $9 billion in revenue for the postal service, saving it from privatization;
  • Protect low-income or rural families and communities from predatory lending; and
  • Reestablish postal banking to provide basic, low-cost financial services to those who cannot access banks

The third bill, HR 6422, “The National Infrastructure Bank Act of 2020,” is modeled on Franklin Roosevelt’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which funded the rebuilding of the US economy in the Great Depression of the 1930s. According to its advocates, HR 6422 will build or restore over $4 trillion in infrastructure and create up to 25 million union jobs, while being “revenue neutral” (not burdening the federal government’s budget). The promise of HR 6422 and the model of the “American System” that inspired it – the innovative banking systems of Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt – will be the subject of another article. 

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This article was first posted on ScheerPostEllen Brown is an attorney, chair of the Public Banking Institute, and author of thirteen books including Web of DebtThe Public Bank Solution, and Banking on the People: Democratizing Money in the Digital Age.  She also co-hosts a radio program on PRN.FM called “It’s Our Money.” Her 300+ blog articles are posted at EllenBrown.com

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2 Articles ~ Angelversary of Mario Woods, Dec. 2nd (from Adrienne Fong)

Sending this to a few of you.

2 Articles

Justice Department investigating potential presidential pardon bribery scheme, court records reveal – December 2, 2020

https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/01/politics/presidential-pardon-justice-department/index.html

The Assassins & Iran – December 1, 2020

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(December 1, 2020 was the Angelversary of Keita O’Neil’ execution)

5th Anniversary since the execution of Mario Woods.

     Wednesday, December 2, 2020

       4pm –

3rd Street & Fitzgerald St.
SF

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Dolores Park Could Become Part of American Indian Cultural District Under Sup. Ronen Proposal

1 DECEMBER 2020/SF NEWS/JOE KUKURA (sfist.com)

Cruelty, subjugation, and much worse took place centuries ago on the site of what we now call Dolores Park, and Supervisor Hillary Ronen wants that remembered as part of the park.

San Francisco has spawned a few designated cultural districts in the last few years, like the LGBTQ Cultural Districts and the Mission’s Calle 24 Latino Cultural District. (These are slightly different than historic districts, like the Transgender Historic District in the Tenderloin.) One lesser known district might get a boost in its visibility, as the Examiner reports on Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s proposal to include Dolores Park in an American Indian Cultural District.

The American Indian Cultural District already exists — this proposal would merely extend its boundaries into a highly foot-trafficked area. Sup. Ronen proposed the district a year ago, and it was established in March of this year when other news overshadowed it. At the time of her original proposal, Ronen was quoted by Mission Local as saying the district would “provide a recognizable home base for the American Indian community to ensure that its history and contributions are not forgotten and overwritten — and continue to be written in the present day.”

As you see from the map above, the existing American Indian Cultural District stops right before Dolores Park (at the lower left where you see the Bi-Rite Creamery). Per the Examiner, the designation would allow for the addition of “a mural project, flag banners marking the boundaries, and a walking tour using QR codes people can scan to learn more about the sites.”

Many moons ago, Dolores Park was known as Chutchui, an indigenous Ramaytush Ohlone village. Many of those Ohlone were enslaved to build Mission Dolores Church, an endeavor involving plenty of rape and murder as well, which local writer Gary Kamiya covered well in this 2019 Chronicle piece “Mission Dolores’ dark legacy for Indians: From salvation to subjugation and death.”

For obvious reasons, some Catholic churches are having trouble coming to terms with the Missions’ roles in indigenous genocide.

Ronen also has a proposal working through committee level to read a statement acknowledging the Ohlone people at the beginning of each board meeting, just as they do with the Pledge of Allegiance.

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