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An Act of Civil Disobedience amidst the Economic Crisis

(Photo by Robin Holland)

This week's JOURNAL reported on the laid-off Chicago workers who successfully occupied their shuttered former workplace, Republic Windows & Doors, for several days to procure money and benefits.

Bank of America had eliminated Republic's credit line because the company was unable to operate profitably in the current economic climate. In the face of political and public pressure following broad media coverage of the workers' sit-in, Bank of America restored Republic's credit to cover the severance and benefits to which the workers are legally entitled.

Bill Moyers talked with legal and economic scholar Emma Coleman Jordan about the federal government's bailout efforts and asked her about the workers' actions in Chicago. Jordan said:

"It is an opportunity that these workers took to stand up directly, and it's interesting because they targeted not just their employer, Republic Windows & Doors, but they targeted Bank of America. If you saw those signs, they explicitly understood the connection between finance and the closing of the plant. Bank of America -- $25 billion [recipient from the federal government] Bank of America -- cuts off the line of credit to Republic Windows & Doors... And the workers simply said, 'This is not fair. We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore.' And they took direct action. I think that's a healthy thing for our democracy."

Some critics have suggested that Bank of America acted irresponsibly to extend credit to a failing business that will not be able to repay the loan. Andy Busch of BMO Capital Markets wrote:

"This is the path the United States is heading towards as the recession takes its toll and government reaches further and further into the private sector to stabilize the economy. Initially, the moves are welcomed as workers are looked after, jobs are created, and big business vilified. However, the government forcing banks to make loans to companies that can't make the payments perpetuates the weak credit problem and keeps the cycle going. This cycle deploys capital to non-productive uses and keeps it from flowing to solid companies that can create new jobs."

What do you think?

  • Was the Republic Windows & Doors workers' civil disobedience an appropriate reaction to their situation? Why or why not?
  • Did Bank of America make the right decision to restore the credit line? Is it sustainable to continue doing so with other failing companies in the future?
  • Are there limitations of using civil disobedience to work toward a better society?

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    Ed (short for educator?) I like adult education best. Your adult students have real knowledge hunger and idle curiosity, and your enemies can't frame you as a pedophile. I keep Howard Zinn's People's History around and bring in a copy of "Lies My Teacher Told Me

    Karl Marx and Fred Engels would seem stupid by today's standards, as many times as the capitalists have rewritten the rules and re-set the clock. I don't want violent revolution, but non-violence is more difficult under counter insurgency. You can see how the angry people are being co-opted with fascist conspiracy stories here on the internet. Every day on here we argue with corporate and government agents. One just called me a troll on another page. I'm old and ugly and suffer with a labor-abused body, so maybe I am to him. But next he'll be claiming I stink (I shower once or twice a week at the wrecker garage.).

    Books are good, but group generated philosophy and methods are better. At Highlander Folk School (Civil Rights Cradle) they taught that empowerers should listen to the abused and ask what they want. Paulo Freire said about the same thing, as did Gandhi and Margaret Mead. A facilitator like me surrenders to the people who are suffering. I failed in Kazakhstan and left a piece behind. (There is indentured servitude in international development. You know this already.) Maybe I feel entitled to gripe because I put on one foot and one shoe each morning. It ain't easy here in the Delaware River flats.

    Anyway, I look forward to some good news and good conversation when Grady and Gladdie return from Europe. (I met them through this blog.) What do you think about the slag disaster in Tennessee? That's about it for me until next year. Keep learning and struggling and sharing.

    I would love to see a high school history class that frames the 232-year history of the United States in just such a context of power:

    "an interlocking directorate,representing the owning class and moneyed interests."

    Two-thirds of the colonists, not to mention those enslaved, did not see their livelihoods improve after the Revolution. The nineteenth century opportunity of open land westward served as a safety valve for social unrest, not to mention creating a real estate infrastructure to bolster credit banks and their interest rates. Had there not been that safety valve, the nineteenth century would have had added tensions.

    Two world wars and a global depression in the twentieth century made it possible not to look too closely at American economic and social realities. Perhaps the 50s showed promise -- how could they not merely by default -- but the cracks were already beginning to appear by the 60s, and by the 70s -- when the Eagle started its descent toward crash landing -- the financial gamers started appearing to fill in the widening cracks that are now gaping canyons for all to see.

    When we take a good hard look at America, she isn't really what she has been talked up to being. Never has been. It's all been a convenient story to keep that same two-thirds of the population in the dark. She has always only been that much talked about America for the moneyed class, the same ones who opted for revolution in 1775.

    Such an argument used not to make sense, as one could rebut with the middle class as an argument. Well, a burgeoning middle class from 1949 to 1969, when trickle down was more a de facto result of two world wars far from mainland America than from economic and social foresight, isn't really much of an argument.

    Now America finally has the chance to look herself in the face, for what I would say is the first time in her history. I don't think she ever really did it before, during, or after the Civil War.

    She has tried to avoid such a situation with wars in the Middle East, but that has been an embarrassment. She is now like a character of Edgar Allan Poe who is watching her own self-destruction and not being able to do anything about it, because the destruction comes from so far within her psychological constitution. This is the value of Poe, an allegory of America's dark underside.

    I used to believe that America has suffered other crises and has pulled through, but I now no longer believe this to be true. I could be wrong, and hope I am, but this present situation seems, when apples and oranges are compared properly, unprecedented.

    Santoro: Not specific people, perhaps, but an interlocking directorate,representing the owning class and moneyed interests. See the IMF and World Bank at cross purposes with their professed mission?

    So the kids read or see "the Crucible" and never progress onward to "All My Sons." They get a little flashlight and are always in hock for the batteries.
    Real insight is sustainable like solar power: It is voracious for more truth and justice. You'll never find it in a church basement singing "Jesus Loves Me." You won't even find it in the Ethical Humanist Temple where authors allude to their next book or investment strategies.

    The USA is a classy place. Winding the rubber band of school kids to make them crave wealth and celebrity makes a nation of misery swimming in the mythical vicarious pleasure of media entities (who don't really exist). Can you imagine having Mylie Cyrus as your daughter?

    This morning the couch shows screamed about the big sales for two hours, interrupted only by flamethrower Santa and sword swallowing. I think an India/Pakistan war got fleeting mention, but that war too would be part of the "big game."

    Next comes the credit card debt collapse (covered by Valentines Day sales), and then the commercial real estate debt collapse (covered by St. Patrick's Day); by Easter the NBA will be asking for a bailout. There's gonna be some phenomenal sales but 85% of us will have no spending power and no credit. The owning class will just have to suck it up (the full faith and credit of the USA).

    The owning class is ready to graduate to sub-speciation, so they're letting our imaginary world collapse.(Not as simple as the FED and the Amero, what John Birch crap!) They believe technology is now ready to maintain perpetual fascism. (Wrong) Already many of the customary and essential items are missing from the stores (will not be re-ordered).
    "Change your heart: Look around you.... Change your heart: Look around you...
    They need your spending (and accrued interest); like the sunshine!
    Everybody's gotta learn sometime. O-o-o-oh!

    P.S. Surely our overlords are unworthy. Every splinter group are unworthy by definition. Humanity is indivisible, as are all commonalities (water, air, light, space... Gaia...)


    So, then, beyond doubt, you would argue that there ARE key individuals at the levers?

    "It is acceptable to the powerful and serves as a frustrating and delaying tactic. It shows how to operate the buttons but never tells how the device works."

    I figured if there were such individuals, though they may indeed be paranoid about losing power and influence, they are, nonetheless, rather stupid and naive, and can only function due to a position they occupy rather than any real acumen. That lack of real understanding is what is allowing this 30-year-old economic house of cards to be tumbling down.

    I was intrigued by the idea of a Citizenship School and thought it was actually a cluster of schools, just as there are KIPP schools, New Vision schools, etc. The problem with 90 percent of these schools is that they operate with ideologically blinkers and are run by true believers who are efficient pawns in the game. I am always intrigued by how the system can be so adept at choosing such ignorant administrators and begin to wonder if the ones choosing these administrators are like the ones who hired and trained John Perkins.

    The irony, at least in NYC,is that there are schools themed as social justice schools, but they do very little in the way of real social justice save reading about local police corruption, which is like shooting fish in a barrel. At these schools, students will read Arthur Miller's _The Crucible_,but instead of examining how power and ideology function to maintain the status quo, which is what the play is about, the kids do reports and posters (maybe even take a trip to Salem, MA)on the Salem Witch Trials and conclude that people should never be mean to other people, how unfair it is. Absolutely innocuous, yet the real potential was always there.

    Ed Santoro, sorry I wasn't specific enough. If you search the topics "Capital Crimes: Fixing the System", "Is God Green?" or "The Net at Risk" you will see what I mean about Moyers' Citizenship School. This was back in the fall of 2006 before the fan got all clogged up with excrement and capitalism ground to a halt. I recently pointed out the use of the phrase "capital crimes" by der Spiegel, but Moyers may precede them. Citizenship school was a tactic of Highlander Folk School during the late 1950s and early 60s era of campaigns for voters' rights, but the effort also empowered regular folks to become effective activists.

    You and I are trying to decipher the codex of capitalist practice hidden from the public. I think my lack of conventional graduate education and outsider status help me in the quest. For instance; lower interest rates and unstuck mortgage credit:
    Credit, still available only to those with an unblemished record, is freed up just as real estate prices plummet. The effect will be the greater concentration of residential properties in fewer wealthy hands, and later a similar consolidation of commercial property. The upshot is greater economic power and dominance by the already privileged and wealthy. (If you are rich Ed, buy some buildings next year at 75% off.)

    My message is that Barack Obama is wrong: Corporate capitalism is not worth saving. This is our chance to reorganize in a more egalitarian way. I believe that there is a a popular discontent and upwelling of society that is bigger than the Obama movement. The participants don't know it yet but the displacement will hit us like a level 10 earthquake. The danger is that if we don't prepare we could collapse into tribal fascism. We must be prepared to cheerfully pick up the pieces and reassemble them in a new way. Think about house squatters and factory worker sit-ins, about seized factories in Argentina, and about "barefoot colleges" in India (PBS Newshour-Christmas broadcast, see their archives.)

    With my background in the study of power (Steven Lukes) and archaic imagination (Ivan Illich, Roy Wagner) I feel well-prepared ideologically, but I need to lay groundwork for some potential tangible projects (community gardening, grocery co-ops, manufacturing co-ops, worker owned and managed ventures).

    P.S. Moyers' citizenship school approach, in explaining McCain level things like earmarks, does not go far enough in examining history and deconstructing elite motives. It is acceptable to the powerful and serves as a frustrating and delaying tactic. It shows how to operate the buttons but never tells how the device works.

    The present economic system dominates technological development, education and even religious possibilities. Good education and fair enterprise will always be depicted as "outlaw" or "not viable" until we update and diversify our economic system and laws/rules. Devolving corporatism (corporate personhood and charter powers) would be a healthy start.


    I'd like to find out more about Moyers' Citizenship Schools. Twenty minutes of searching hasn't uncovered any useful information. Could you provide a link?

    I had thought that public education was positioned to get young people thinking about issues that relate to the political and social moves they make on a daily basis. With so much useful information available, it seems that there has been a concurrent systematic shift that impedes productive use of that information in elementary and secondary education.

    By the time most kids get to college, they've already made the decision to go for the consumerist carrot dangling in front of them, effectually becoming economic hit men on themselves, so that no matter what information, ideas, and understanding they may encounter, that college degree is all about the ability to spend.

    What is more, along the lines of a nation of economic hit men,is that with the increasing debt American students must take on to "buy" (as opposed to "achieve" or "earn") their college education, they are like those second- and third- world countries that become beholden to American economic policy.

    I vacillate between thinking that no one is in control of this Machiavellian system that runs autonomously and that there are indeed a few at the top pulling these levers. I am currently of the view of the latter.

    (reply to Santoro)

    19 minutes
    10+years ago
    Rose: "We will continue this dialogue. I promise you that." ??????????????????

    Ed Santoro: Did you know Bill Moyers has a "Citizenship School" in conjunction with this site? It is an echo of the citizenship schools of the civil rights movement, but hardly as vital. People still lack an outlet in the community for their rage, or even a safe forum for discussion. They have little "measure of control over their own destiny" (as per W. Greider) and individual demonstrative acts are ineffective.

    Reform cannot begin with campaign finance reform any more than a healthy diet begins with the Cool Whip on ice cream. Our very political meal is being eaten by the big mean dogs.

    Fascist conservatism and corporate capitalism are doomed because their normal state is 90% of the population in need and debt. But they reset the clock on 9/11, and we haven't been able to muster an effective resistance since. Barack Obama is like a baby in a carseat with a dummy steering wheel, as he wizes-up he will realize he ain't driving (analogy adapted from Grady Lee Howard).

    Great 1998 interview from the archives of Charlie Rose.

    Rose gets it right sometimes.

    Certainly it is frightening to people who fear disorder to imagine workers trying to seize factories or squatters occupying property on their street. What have we come to?

    Fox News recently reported:

    Default Miami squatters take over foreclosed houses,2933,465146,00.html

    "Some of Miami's homeless have found themselves a novel way to get a decent roof over their heads — inside vacant, foreclosed homes. And although it's against the law, the city doesn't seem to mind.

    Marie Nadine Pierre and her four children moved into a four-bedroom house three weeks ago, which is actually owned by Lehman brothers. The previous owners defaulted on their mortgage. For months, the property has sat empty. Even at the drastically reduced price of $160,000 from the $460,000 for which it sold, no one’s bought it. For the Pierre’s, the house is a clean and spacious home for them, a world away from conditions at the local shelter.

    "This has a walk-in closet and it has a bathroom," said Pierre. "It's like a blessing. Its like all the holidays come together at once."

    Pierre was able to get into the home with the help of Take Back The Land, an anti-poverty organization that matches government-owned and foreclosed homes with the homeless."

    Wow! How'd that happen? Well, it ain't no new thang. Pierre may someday own the house she occupies under the English common law dictum of "adverse possession" if she can pay property taxes and maintain her "open and notorious occupation" for about 10 years. This law arose to accomodate food production on depopulated farms after a spate of plague in England, but the concept is stronger in other countries such as Holland.

    I would suggest caring and "homeless" Moyeristas (thanks Grady Lee) investigate such possibilities by looking up Professor Bert B. Lockwood of the Univ. of Cincinatti Law School and Max Rameau of Take Back the Land. I will leave that initiative and the specific choice of property and occupying strategy to you.

    After his 4th re-election in 1944 FDR presented his suggestion of a Second Bill of Rights to Congress:

    "This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

    As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

    We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

    In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

    Among these are (notice, not exhaustive):

    The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

    The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

    The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

    The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

    The right of every family to a decent home;

    The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

    The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

    The right to a good education.

    All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

    America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens."

    Some of this was later reflected in Eleanor Roosevelt's co-authorship of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. What becomes clear in this analysis id that the United States has waited at least 65 years too long in establishing economic justice. The specter of homeless people squatting and workers beginning to sit-in only highlights the truth. The normal state of corporate capitalism without government intervention is a state of depression and debt for 90% of the population. I can only think that our Constitution is too harsh in its pronouncements and precedents in the protection of immense and neglected idle private property and the elite contracts which enforce such conditions.

    What will Obama say on the 20th of January and at his state of the union on this subject? Has he even read Roosevelt's speech?

    Why haven't you interviewed Lockwood and Rameau, Bill Moyers?

    Emma Coleman Jordan

    This is the leadership we need, this woman and more like her. But she will not and we go lacking once again….

    I believe…

    Competition begets hate and cheating.

    You need rules, regulations, laws and other controls to have transparency (both sides understand the same) and a level playing field.

    You need Judges, Umpires, Referees, and other authorities to rule on infractions and down right breaking of the rules.

    Cooperation begets friendship and the solving of problems.

    You need the opportunity for people to offer solutions and act on them.

    You do not need overseeing since the success depends on the voluntary action of the group or individual. (in non monetary affairs)

    When ever money is involved you will need overseeing by means of regulations, rules, and laws and the enforcement of all.

    Ed Santoro: Good book report.
    I was the lowly technician-foreman counterpart of men like John Perkins. I worked for German and Swedish firms mostly, but the interface between firstworlders and thirdworlders produced much the same results. When one looks at our Appalachian cohorts, under the mountaintop mining, it seems pretty much the same.

    I remember a crush I had on a Russian woman truck driver when I was working on a natural gas facility. She had plans for me as a bridge to citizenship in America for her extended family. I thought alone in our American language and invented a hermaneutic world. She could not fathom my coldness after I knew her plans. That was when I became an intellectual and understood my role in the global economy. She now lives in Denmark, never delivers steel or scaffolding on a truck anymore. We email and she sent me a little present. It was a picture of her two kids and all the relatives she has repatriated. She's gloating.

    People are people, Ed Santoro, and one is about as good as another. If you can't get an American, a Turkish Dane will do.

    If GM has no money, why can't they pay their bills and workers in cars?

    I used to bake all night and take home some bread. It was the finest part of my pay. I helped make it.

    Now I watch Liberal news shows almost everyday and I don’t know where I’d (we’d) be without them, but I think they are completely wrong about Bush trying to rewrite his legacy. Today they showed Bush saying, since 9/11, he had prevented another attack on American soil (you know, the same old “strong on terrorism” song and dance). But to me, Bush could care less about his legacy, he’s gonna pack up his crap and live peacefully in Paraguay. So, why is he saying this? It’s because he is preparing America for the Jeb/Palin 2012 ticket. This has Karl Rove written all over it (just when we thought this a-hole was gone, he’s back).

    Right now, some of America is in dire straights, but you watch, the bottom of our already demolished economy will fallout, and then with the help of the media, the multitudes of newly impoverished people will forget all about Bush and Obama will take the blame. Then with everyone already pissed at him, an attack on America soil will be the back breaker.

    Will our media support Obama the same way they had with Bush, where his slumping approval rating jump from 54% to 89? To be realistic, I don’t think so. I can already see Fox stepping up its daily doses of propaganda, the CNN Blitzer Team demeaning Liberals, and MSNBC releasing the Donahue and Grodin replacements (Olbermann & Maddow). I can hear the echo chamber now, “Bush may have left us in a slight recession, but Obama’s decisions have led us into a full blown depression, and now he has proven to be weak on terrorism.” Then, with a nation filled with anger and fear, Jeb probably won’t even need to use a single Diebold AccuVote machine.

    Also, when will an investigative journalist report on who made trillions from this CDS gambling? Have all these insurance policies already been shredded? The $50 billion that Madoff had swindled is only the tip of the iceberg. Damn, I wish Waxman would hurry up and disclose some facts.

    About a year ago I read Perkins' _Confessions of an Economic Hit Man_. It struck a deeper cord a few days ago when I revisited it by way of Bret's links.

    I can't help to shake the feeling that our own government has suppressed income in the U.S. to make American workers more docile, and has been doing so for the last thirty years. The thought is so unbelievable that few would actually believe it, even if someone like John Perkins were to wipe clear the doors of perception.

    The past few years I have viewed anything mainstream in American society with intense suspicion as a device of distraction and division. I used to think that it was all more the complex workings of turn-of-the-century capitalism rather than the workings of scumbags. I'm not so sure anymore.

    The only defense of such a system I can think of is that without some kind of regulation of surplus, society would not hold together and that we are simply in a moment of tweaking the system to work better for the next hundred years. The only reason I have for such a defense is that the individuals who occupy the seats of power are too incredibly stupid to be so clever.

    Why is it that the Big 3 CEO's should be fired for mismanagement? We get screwed by Wall Street, they get bailed out by the government, and they screw us some more, and, yet, somehow, I still can't afford to buy a new a car! This is the carmakers fault? I'm not seeing it. Even if one of the domestic automakers made the greatest car ever made, that got 65 MPG and seats 8 people, ran on tap water, and sold for $3,500.00 each, I still couldn't afford to buy it. With the beating my hours and paycheck have been suffering lately, because of the WALL STREET crisis, NOT the automakers crisis, I can barely afford the payments on the CHEVROLET
    I bought new in 2005.

    We'll do a complementary set of cards: Heroes: The 50 Most Patriotic Contemporary Americans (honorary or otherwise).

    1. Bill Moyers

    2. Muntazer al-Zaidi, who actually did what many of us only wish we could do.

    3. through 50 will be filled mostly by Moyer's guests.

    Another spinoff of the trading cards is to make a deck of playing cards. A big American Cockroach (the American species is actually one of the largest). In the center of the face side you'll have a picture and a rundown of the "Cockroach". On the perimeter of the face side you'll have the suit , number, king, queen, jack, etc.

    A variation on the back side could be a picture of a bag filled with the most disgusting scum one could think of.

    In trains, planes, and automobiles folks could entertain themselves for hours.

    Art, commerce, protest.

    The free market is dead...Long live the free market.

    Each card will have at least one reference to a published work verifying the details.

    The joker cards will be either the "Free Market" or "Democracy" or one of each.

    I'm trying to set up a blog, so I can continue brainstorming and gather relevant information. I've got a blog somewhere, though nothing is posted yet.

    If you're worried about trees,I'll print out the cards myself on recycled card stock. $19.95 on Ebay.

    Ed Santoro 12-15 7:56pm

    Hey! An actionable idea that turns a weapon back on its inventors, and cohorts.

    How about Howard Dean & the Dem. Nat. Party, Paulson, Greenspan & the rest of the FED? Maybe you could work in '...FED up...'

    Billy Bob, Florida

    Ed Santoro: "You gotta know when to hold'em; know when to fold'em... " Yours is a Rumsfeld idea, and a waste of trees.
    Well, we could make 'em from special hemp, and Ed could smoke 'em in the field. Smoke'em if you got'em! Smoke'em all. Lock'n'load. Wanta see a trick? I can shoot a card if you hold it in your mouth.

    Bret Hughes, welcome back. Emma Coleman Jordan is only able to give us a few "justice hints" because her job "by definition" is within a miseducational institution leading to Establishment careers (service to the wealthy class). She does as much as she can and still keep her income. Look at her, she is a soft middleaged woman who reads for a living. What would you have her do? She probably has a mortgage and kids in college. Who sent you to school, Bret? Some nice lady, I bet. She is on this show because she is Milktoast Bill's buddy, and that's OK. I like her too. Don't you have any buddies, Bret? All of us are apologists in our own way, my man, even you and me. It is a cultural phenomenon.
    As for the national debt I think the plan is hyperinflation. Our elite would be able to pay the obligation in worthless play money. Of course, we commoners may be idled and starved. Our leadership is as weak-spirited as Mugabe. That's why we pay for a big military geared to urban warfare and counterinsurgency. They've been practicing on the Native Americans, and the Vietnamese and the Iraqis; and now they're ready for us! Join up now if you want U.S. citizenship, a tank to hide in, or MRE's to keep you alive. Elites don't care about the nativity, color, language, genetic heritage or party affiliation of their slaves. Good taste&texture might become a criterion later if the ecology collapses.

    Be kind, my man. You and I could wind up in a boxcar with Emma. We're all subversive in our own way, and if we don't stick together we'll surely get got. What do you do in the face of immense state force? (Laurie Anderson has an answer in "O Superman") "When force is gone, there's always love."
    Let's deny them our support of their force: Passive resistance. Our labor creates their world on an hourly basis.

    Please write again, bret hughes.

    Hey look, while Poppy Bush's son sits on his thumbs, his government was still able to create an intelligence report to show the progress of the Saudi Arabian Globalization (SAG) movement.

    The whole international system—as constructed following WWII—will be revolutionized. Not only will new players—Brazil, Russia, India and China— have a seat at the international high table, they will bring new stakes and rules of the game.

    The unprecedented transfer of wealth roughly from West to East now under way will continue for the foreseeable future.

    Unprecedented economic growth, coupled with 1.5 billion more people, will put pressure on resources—particularly energy, food, and water—raising the specter of scarcities emerging as demand outstrips supply.

    The potential for conflict will increase owing partly to political turbulence in parts of the greater Middle East.

    Emma Coleman is obviously an Establishment apologist. There's so many of them around these days; who else is the Establishment going to promote and fund?

    Let's go over some little numbers. (Oh yah, on a side note, why did Moyers say $700B for the Wallstreet Bailout, when it is admited to be over $850B?)

    Ok. The Federal Government is roughly $10T in debt. The FedGovt brings in around $2T per year and spends more than that. Now, this bailout--not just the money given out, but the money lent out--is around $8.5T (yes, T as in TRILLION). So we have, now, a government that is at least $18T in debt but only brings in $2T/year and spends more than $2T/year.

    Let me put that into perspective for you. This condition would be like the following. You have a job that brings in $20,000 per year, which you spend more than that on expenses. And you had a debt of $100,000, which you just increased to

    Now, my question to you is, how do you expect the government to get out of this mess? Just think about how much interest is paid on that $185,000 ($18.5T, actually) debt every year. When you are only getting $20,000 per year in salary, and more than that is paid on your expenses, you are financially toast.

    Now, guess what will happen to the International confidence of the US dollar. And, when people stop loaning you money and call in their loans, what will happen? That's right. They own your ass(ets).

    What will happen to your taxes? What will happen to your government? What will happen to you as a citizen? How did this all happen? Click on my name, below, to find out.

    In the spirit of Civil Disobedience, I have an idea for a side business/protest.

    I want to create a set of "Scumbag Trading
    Cards: The 50 Most Unpatriotic Contemporary Americans." Each card will have a brief rundown on why a certain individual, group, or institution is a scumbag. The next set will be called "Cockroach Trading Cards: The Next 50 Most Unpatriotic Americans." I'll sell the printable PDFs on Ebay for $1.95.

    Which scumbags would you include in a list of 50? And please feel free to steal my idea. Better yet, we should collaborate.

    So, whom would you include?

    I'm starting with

    1. George Bush
    2. Dick Cheney
    3. Jack Abramoff
    4. Bill O'Reilly
    5. Ernst & Young (Boston)
    6. Jack Welch
    7. Jonathan Blattmachr
    8. Goldman Sachs

    With Paulson's first mention of the "Bailout", I commented to this blog, Senator Nelson, Congressman Connie Mack, that "...the financial institutions will take the money, clean up their balance sheets and lend only to the most secure customers."

    Most of Mainstreet seemed to understand the same, so, why is it a surprise to journalist, professors, etc.?

    After another year of revelations from above, rank the following as to the greatest threat to the American way of life:

    Pearl Harbour
    Vietnam War
    Al Quadia & Twin Towers
    This financial melt down

    As foreclosures continue, Credit Card issues are exposed, and financial issues I am not familiar with come to light, I fear the last on the list will be ranked worst.

    Billy Bob, Florida
    where the rest of the nations dollar is worth more than my vote was to the DNP ('course this isn't Chi-town)

    Allowing banks to finance moves that undermine unions is wrong. Thanks for this new contributor. Her work is helpful. I appreciate reading and hearing her commentaries.


    Bank of America did keep a promise and that is essential. You make a vital point.

    The quotation is a bad one from memory from 1968. I had the French on my wall at my office in City government in New Orleans for several years. People there did read French.

    Your commentary is intriguing Ted Michael Morgan, first because after many readings I don't fully comprehend your position, and secondly because it would appear you are familiar with my favorite quote: {Denis Didetor “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”.}

    B of A did make the right decision, because that is what they promised. In this world where rules are changed and mangled at the slightest whim, it is left to the people to defend and stand up for our own rights. No one else is going to defend or protect or advance our rights. It is up to us. Leadership must know and recognize that there are limits and that the people do in fact have power and a voice. If we do not take it to the streets and demand a voice, recognition and our Constitutional rights, the politicians and the predator class will devour us. We will not be heard or recognized unless and until we take it to the streets and demand our basic rights. There is no law. There is no judicial system. All politicians are in bed with the predator class, even Obama. The people must act en masse, demand our rights, protections, privileges and freedoms that are guaranteed us in the Constitition.

    In a world where there are no laws, - there are no laws for anyone. It is a harsh lesson, but one will will all be forced to hazard, burden, and endure in the months and years to come.

    Was the Republic Windows & Doors workers' civil disobedience an appropriate reaction to their situation? Why or why not?

    Yes, their employer was stealing from them. They simply held the crooks to their responsibilities.

    Did Bank of America make the right decision to restore the credit line? Is it sustainable to continue doing so with other failing companies in the future? Yes and why not!

    Are there limitations of using civil disobedience to work toward a better society

    When the last capitalist is strangled to death by the guts of the last bureaucrat, we will have reached the limits.

    I was disappointed with the legal and economic scholar and with dirth of hard questions by you.

    I agree with your sensitivity to the human condition, but I suggest that this kind of underinformation is not much help.

    As pointed out, the crux of the matter was that the company was moving to Iowa and probably already used up all the credit they could justify to do that.

    Much as I deplore greedy bank policies, it seems like the story told has little to do with that. And all that wailing about accountability. Huh?

    Let's start with accountability: No, the bailout money does not come from the fed in dollar bills with tracking codes. Neither is it "earmarked," which actually applies to pigs, not money. Accounting has never involved tracking money through corporate coffers. It is silly to think otherwise. However, when the money went in on one "pipe" there might be some reason to hope some would come out. But the money going in, I think, was credit which is a loan that has to be paid back, so it does get tracked in that way. No one has said that that is not happening, or not that I have seen. So maybe the bank is thinking that to loan out money that would not be repaid was maybe not a great idea, since in the final accounting they would have to make up the losses from their own coffers, and maybe that would be fair, all things considered, but we can hardly expect them to act this way.

    So maybe the first degree of slime should be laid on the company pretending it is about a bank loan not coming through, but in fact incurring costs to move to Iowa. Where were the questions about this?

    Or maybe there is a deeper story, which might involve the labor costs for the union represented labor force. And once again, I do not think workers should be left defenseless and made to negotiate for themselves as individuals. But the story I was looking for might have tried to sort out how we are all going to get through the present situation, where some workers work hard and some don't and most spend more than they can reasonably expect to get paid on world pay scales which we are ultimately going to be subjected to. And include a full investigation into the managing people who might also be working hard and might not. And were they scarfing off a big dose of cash for themselves, or were they trying to make growth related investments?

    And maybe some slime should be reserved for us all for failure to look realistically at how to balance our affairs in the world and accordingly force our government to act.

    Please try not to be so nice.

    Klark wrote:

    Worker ownership is one reason World Bank and IMF corporate globalism came down so hard on the Yugoslav Federation in the late 1980s, and Wes Clark was later called upon to bomb the hell out of worker-run plants (while sparing global investment interests' facilities-read Michael Parenti's account.) during the Kosovo conflict. Sure, Milosovich was a bastard, but our capitalists are even worse, and have long been criminal. Even during WWII Edsel Ford was able to inspect his Nazi truck plants in France, and later received Allied Force reparations after they were "mistakenly" bombed. The "memory hole" Eric Blair (George Orwell) described is alive and well in the United States.

    Here's some more research:

    IMF and World Bank Staff Tightly Connected to New Yugoslav Government

    When we go into a depression, will we also be blessed with the IMF and World Bank's assistance? Saudi Globalization marches on.

    Emma Coleman Jordan

    This is the leadership we need, this woman and more like her. But she will not and we go lacking once again….

    I believe…

    Competition begets hate and cheating.

    You need rules, regulations, laws and other controls to have transparency (both sides understand the same) and a level playing field.

    You need Judges, Umpires, Referees, and other authorities to rule on infractions and down right breaking of the rules.

    Cooperation begets friendship and the solving of problems.

    You need the opportunity for people to offer solutions and act on them.

    You do not need overseeing since the success depends on the voluntary action of the group or individual. (in non monetary affairs)

    When ever money is involved you will need overseeing by means of regulations, rules, and laws and the enforcement of all.

    Just read at that auto industry lobbyists gave an avg of $74,100 over the past five years to each congressional representative who voted for the auto bailout, whereas $45,015 was given to those legislators who voted against it.

    The higher bribe amounts, 65% higher, paid off for the industry.

    This is definitely cash & carry legislating with our tax money. No doubt about it.

    Iraq more dangerous than this financial crisis to the Am. Dream? Not close!

    Will Greenspan, Paulson, etc. be ask, "What did you know and when did you know it?" Treason is what the results to our country's exsistance would be if aid & comfort were given to our military enemy. Political & private leaders have betrayed our country with results far worse than anything Jane did for Hanoi. Yet, Ms. Jordan fails to SPEAK OUT her conclusions about Paulson & says 'my what a smart man is he'.

    Treason is treason rather military, political, or economic!

    Say so madam!

    Billy Bob, Florida

    We don't need no stinkin credit, all we really need is some principle. Don't ya think? DAAA


    Bill Moyers Emma Jordan interview Dec 12, 2008
    From: Lawrence Rosier retired Author and Management Consultant
    12143 Cedar Grove Rd. Rolla Missouri 65401 573 364 8789

    The Average person or even the above average can’t keep up with the extent of malfeasance in our Federal Government. To change this the Obama team must have a vision of what the new federal government should be especially in its relationship with Wall Street financial reform. I would like to see the people who understand the problem like Emma Jordan help in developing this new vision.

    I advocate extensive government reform getting rid of the obsolete bureaucratic organization structure replacing it with a culture of innovation an continuous improvement using Japanese Management methods currently used in industry.
    It is necessary to reverse the last eight years by removing those agency heads that are not loyal to the public good. This provides an opportunity for reforming the government agency by agency.

    I have a unique method for approaching government reform on my website: State governments are just starting to pickup on the website. The method also applies to the Federal Government. But first agency management must agree to the reforms. If Obama would start an early retirement program for those that have shown that they are not serving the public it would help.

    By Lawrence Rosier

    To paraphrase Biff Loman, "We have never been honest in this country about what and who we are."

    This country has always been about bamboozling two-thirds of the population into doing the grunt work of the financial elites, with occasional rags-to-riches stories here and there. This is true of all countries. But the difference with other advanced industrial countries is that they understand that this is human nature and that society must invest in some sort of social safety net.

    Prior to the end of the 19th century, only about a mere 100 years ago, if one was dissatisfied with his lot, there was land out west for him to attempt success and risk failure once again, thus creating a safety valve for civil unrest and anger for the status quo.

    Not long into the twentieth century, there was World War I and The United States was able to rally around the war effort and not have to think much about its change from an agrarian society to an industrial society, its advantages and disadvantages. The war allowed the country to reach a level of international prominence not because of any inherent national gifts, despite rhetoric to the contrary, but simply by default. Then shortly after the war, there was The Crash of '29 -- talk about supposed national gifts of any real collective ability, and The U.S. was forced to adopt social policies, and did so reluctantly. And then the Second Act of World War I took place in '39, and again The U.S. maintained its prominence by extended default.

    By the late 60's and early 70's, the social policies of the Depression Era were being dismantled, and underneath the surface of Civil Rights legislation, financial machinations and maneuvers, the repercussions of which have today bubbled to the surface, were shifting the nature of real power and opportunity.

    The U.S. has never held its own on a level playing field. Most of the successes it has had have come at the losses and disruptions of others around the world. We are witnessing a level playing field today and The U.S. is resting on laurels it has received by default, not ability, relatively speaking, despite naive, impish, and delusional cheerleading to the contrary.

    This country will not fare well unless it takes a realistic look at itself.

    In 1965, The U.S. reopened doors to immigration that had been closed since the 1920's. It did this not because of any devotion to freedom and democracy but because wealth was starting to shift toward financial industries that funded the service sector that required cheap labor. The ruling elites recognized this demographic change and were quick to start moving resources away from infrastructure and into their own self-serving communities and organizations. It should surprise nobody that the income of 80 percent of Americans has not risen since the 1970's.

    The United States of America despises what it is, a land of immigrants. Only a country that despises itself could have talked itself into the economics of the past thirty years.

    Well, the problem is that our corporate culture has become that of corporate raiders. We'd rather make a little stuff with high profit margins than a lot of stuff with lower margins, or make money making nothing at all. I'd trace this to the regime of easy money and credit we've had for the past 30-40 years. It has meant not expansion, but contraction and dissolution in every area of our economic and cultural life, accelerating as more and more ppl have realized that it has become a matter of personal survival, leading to the destruction of resources and relationships.

    I just finished watching your show on our local PBS station here in Pittsburgh and I am even more disheartened by the state we find ourselves in. Our society has been progressively been "dumbed" down for decades now to the point that the man in the street doesn't have a clue as to how things have gotten to their current state let alone how to come against the culprits, both in public and private hierarchies,that put things in the condition we find ourselves. how can we start a grassroots movement to bring these higher ups to accountability and justice? It seems all the people at the top are in cahoots with each other in some form or other and they are definitely making the taxpayer in the street look like "chumps". there are some 545 people at the top of government that determine how the rest of us 200 plus million will live and move in this land. I have been self employed for 25 years as a painter if I would work like these guys do in their house like they work in our houses I would be out on my ear. Why cant we hold the same standard of conduct for our political and business leaders as they do for the guy they hire to work in their? house

    This is my letter to the editor of the Frederick News Post in Maryland:
    "Mistakes abound when it comes to cars and fuel"
    Originally published December 07, 2008

    This relates to your Nov. 29 article, "Volkswagen Jetta TDI wins Green Car of the Year." We just got 48 mpg in our diesel 2006 VW Jetta TDI. Our multinational car corporations' products that do similar are not sold here.

    Why do our corporations do better in other countries? Because other countries sensibly tax gasoline more than diesel to keep up their infrastructure and to incentivize increased mileage without CAFE mandates. But we demand CAFE mandates and low taxes and good infrastructure, at the same time. So, what to do?

    We could help lead our government by telling them to drop CAFE mandates and raise gas fees to fund infrastructure. Those fees could be adjusted to stabilize gas prices, producing more predictable increasing gas prices to anticipate Peak Oil, followed by declining oil.

    We could easily choose to grow biodiesel here, when there is a guaranteed minimum price to start up.

    It could be too late for our corporations here, because all concerned have lacked leadership and a sensible strategy too long. As we have seen in 2008, even short-term high gas prices quickly incentivized high-mileage cars and has led to our corporations' latest dilemmas.

    President George Bush, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, our corporations, and some multinational oil corporations have all misled us by a bait-and-switch operation, with their hydrogen car bait. Our corporations switched from the greater than 70 mpg diesel hybrids, developed by our corporations' cooperation with the Clinton administration, to their hydrogen car hoax bait.

    President George Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appear ignorant, and our car corporations also appear ignorant. The multinational oil corporations should have known what they were doing in killing the electric cars in California. They misrepresented the costs and efficiency of hydrogen to compete with our coal companies for customers. Those multinational oil corporations should be charged, whatever it costs them, to make our car corporations whole.

    President Bush should make it happen, before he leaves office, for his own part in this big oil bait and switch operation. See: for "The Hydrogen Hoax."

    Republic Window and Door is apparently resolved and its workers "safely unemployed" after being promised severance and vacation payments. This was a very mild case of laborers asserting lawful claims in a demonstrable way. They were informed by Republic management that B of A was responsible for the abrupt closure, but the truth is that Republic, or the same ownership, is at present opening a new plant in Iowa with non-union workers. (I was victimized in a similar scenario during the Reagan recession-1982. I know how the Chicago workers felt.The Iowa workers will surely be mistreated too.)

    I would have liked to see the unionized, skilled workers be able to seize the plant and begin managing and operating it themselves. Such things do happen, as in Argentina after capital flight and fraud in the 1990s. It should be no different here. The investor class should use it or lose it.

    Worker ownership is one reason World Bank and IMF corporate globalism came down so hard on the Yugoslav Federation in the late 1980s, and Wes Clark was later called upon to bomb the hell out of worker-run plants (while sparing global investment interests' facilities-read Michael Parenti's account.) during the Kosovo conflict. Sure, Milosovich was a bastard, but our capitalists are even worse, and have long been criminal. Even during WWII Edsel Ford was able to inspect his Nazi truck plants in France, and later received Allied Force reparations after they were "mistakenly" bombed. The "memory hole" Eric Blair (George Orwell) described is alive and well in the United States.

    So many of you here on Bill's blog have the ideology and the sentiments straight but can't face the cruel facts. The conservatives are correct that bailouts put taxpayers in bondage, but that is a half-truth. If people could actually gain something by sweat equity the myth that hard work pays off could come true. The delusional barrier our minds have trouble penetrating is the sacredness of immense private property as enshrined in our Constitution and judicial precedent. It often masquerades as "the success ethic" but is as bogus as Social Darwinism or the "invisible hand." Decision-making power in the workplace and ownership of the means of making a living are like sex: It would be better if everyone had a little than for one pervert to have it all and thereby be debauched. Our wealthy class are as honorable as crack whores! Another blogger once said: "It is extremely difficult to become or remain very wealthy (and Moyers added "or very poor") in a fair and just society."

    I'm tired of you presenting problems as if no solution exists, Bill Moyers' Journal, because "Injustice as entertainment is sadism." At present you are pimps, seducing the public into perversion. (I do not mean to besmirch courageous Emma Coleman Jordan who shows great fortitude and honesty as a vulnerable academic (remember Ward Churchill?).

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