Dangerous times for Democracy?
In a crisis - we're seeing democracy die in Europe. Led by France and Germany - a new treaty was worked out between Eurozone nations in an effort to halt the growing financial crisis sweeping the continent. The treaty - written mostly by banksters - imposes strict new rules on individual European nations including: capping how high annual budget deficits can run - agreeing to "automatic consequences" if deficits get too high - changing national constitutions - and forcing contributions to a continental bailout slush fund. In other words - handing over national sovereignty to bankster rules.
The new treaty was too much for the U.K. - as Prime Minister David Cameron refused to sign on to it - meaning it will have to be a treaty among Euro nations individually - and not one binding the Eurozone as a whole. A year ago - if you would have asked the proud people in Italy - if their elected Prime Minister could be replaced by an unelected bankster to impose harsh austerity measures on them without a single vote - they would have called you crazy. Similarly - if you would have asked the Greeks - the cradle of democracy - if their elected Prime Minister could be run out of office for just asking for a national referendum on a bailout - and replaced by a bankster - they too would have called you crazy. Yet - that's exactly what's happened - and is continuing to happen in Europe.
Democracy is under attack around the world - including the United States - where Republican Governor Rick Snyder in Michigan has given himself the power to appoint unelected "financial managers" to take over cities struggling with budget deficits - fire elected city council officials - void union contracts - and sell off large chunks of cities to private corporations. Other Republican governors are thinking this is a good idea.
These are very dangerous times.
The problem with requiring legislative bills to cover only one topic is enforcement. Either the legislature has to self-enforce (which seems unlikely to be effective in the long run) or it has to be possible for a legislator to take somebody to court over it. The Colorado General Assembly is under that restriction and I'm not sure how the rule is enforced there, but ballot initiatives have gone to court for that reason.
However, I am all for it.
I don't know Sen. Sanders put Brunch with Bernie up on his senate website. Anyway, here's Bernie's proposed amendment in case anybody's been unable to find the text:
‘‘Section 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests under the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.
‘‘Section 2. Such corporate and other private entities established under law are subject to regulation by the people through the legislative process so long as such regulations are consistent with the powers of Congress and the States and do not limit the freedom of the press.
‘‘Section 3. Such corporate and other private entities shall be prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people.
‘‘Section 4. Congress and the States shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own spending, and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures.’’
Honestly, I'm having trouble parsing section 3. Here's how the grouping seems to go: Such [(corporate) and (other private)] entities shall be prohibited from making [(contributions) or (expenditures)] in [(any election of any candidate for public office) or (the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people)]. The resulting phrase "...making contributions or expenditures in the vote..." needs to be fixed. I would suggest "...making contributions or expenditures for or against any candidate for public office or any ballot measure submitted to the people..." Also, technically "limited liability" shoul dbe hyphenated.
I like that "contribution" seems to cover the "in-kind equivalent" covered in Tom Udall's proposal. And I like that it simply forbids corporate contributions, instead of stopping short at letting Congress and the states regulate them. I think with a little improvement in details, this is the best proposed amendment so far.
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Yes, it is sad to watch Europe following the US's decline into Plutocratic or Oligarchical control.
Having traveled to Europe many times over the decades - I'm nearly 50 now, I always hoped that America would rise up to European standards of living, principles of democracy and levels of productivity. Alas, we are finally pulling them down with us, I fear.
And yet, all this economic turmoil is nothing compared to the collapse of our environment which is a certainty with the US ignoring calls for carbon reduction. Ironically, investing in a more healthy environment would produce a more healthy economy...well, except for the rulers that are heavily invested in a grey economy (grey for coal, oil and soot).
Talking about Europe reminds me of the irony amonst Republicans. When topics like health care come up, we talk about improving the standards of living of all Americans to the levels of Europeans. The GOP goes crazy. But, when Europe starts all this austeric nonsence, the GOP are the first to follow the lead of the Europeans. Which is it? Be more like Europe or be more like Haiti...no disrespect to the people of Haiti intended.
The 1% are not confined to US borders and are clearly having an impact globally.
Redlocks: Great post except for the fact Europe is leading the U.S. into the decline. Not the other way around. Europe's rot is going to further hit us if we do not wake up and stop the 30 years of entitlementonomics Italy, Greece and a myriad of other countries have "enjoyed". Hopefully the new managers of the Greek and Italian governments can reduce the flow enough to prevent the entire EU from going down the drain. I will bet you Germany will begin soon, if they are not already, printing Marks again. Thom's friend, Angela Merkel, seems to be the only person awake in the EU. France is starting to see the light but too late I am afraid. Time to pay the piper.
nice to see the Federalist in you coming out Thom! I agree, cities over states and countries over the Euro-Zone....
And I heard on public radio today that in the San Francisco Bay Area, they are replacing you with Glenn Beck, courtesy of Mitt Romney whose investment firm owns Clear Channel that apparently owns Green 960. Alas, I guess they don't want progressives getting any more info in the Bay Area. Stunning to learn that 960 is a clear channel station to begin with. Well, I will miss you and Mike Malloy plenty! I gave up KPFA years ago.
yes, these are very dangerous times... i can't shake the feeling that we are on the cusp of something very, very big, something that could go either way - continuing down the dark path we're currently on or perhaps something wonderful that will surprise us all... it's a tipping point, for sure...
I was wondering if you could provide any evidence that "entitlements" what's behind the decline in these countries? I really would appreciate it if you would, as everything I've seen, and read states, that it is corrupt goverments, poor tax collecting and lax banking regulations that brought these countries down.
Thank you -
I live in Michigan and helped gather signatures for the recall of Gov. Snyder (tag you're it) because of his extreme Draconian measures for governance (we failed in gathering enough signatures for the recall). Gov. Snyder gave $1.7 Billion dollars in tax breaks to Corporations and the Rich, then subsequently cut Revenue Sharing to all cities to make up the difference. Now, Michigan cities' budgets which were incorporated with Revenue Sharing for years have to cut back. Most cities in Michigan are in default. I live in Taylor Michigan and we closed 2 of our 3 Fire Stations among other cuts due to the lack of Revenue Sharing and are struggling to keep from having an Emergency Financial Manger come in to fire our Mayor, close down our City Coucil, and dictate our city governance.
I continue to hope for the best but do not share your general optimism. I know you are just asking a question w/ this blob, but your predictions are generally positive. I think the system will crash and be reborn again, which is too optimistic. We still have a long way to go and I think we are just over the half way point. This will take a decade or more.
In order to shorten this cycle, indeed educate the populace, we need to cut to the chase in our message. You do a great job of this, but it's too difficult for the brainwashed and those not paying attention for various reasons. The message should be that you are being duped by the same ideaology that our country's revolulution was fought over. Bullet points are easier for people to digest a broad picture and people do not like to believe they are being duped; that they are stupid or do not not understand the facts.
*The media is conservative - you are told just the opposite, but you are being lied to. The media is owned by transnational corporations and Wallstreet. They want ratings and good stock value. Explain the Fairness Doctrine.
*If you are voting republican you are voting against your own interests, unless you are filthy rich and/or do not care about people outside of your own circle.
*The Republican infrastructue doesn't care about the poor or THE WORKING CLASS. They are happy w/ a neo-feudalistic society, which is where we are headed. They do not care about social issues and are using them to deceive you into voting for their idealogy.
The list goes on and if you tell people that they are being duped they will rail against this prospect. Nobody wants to feel that they are stupid or simply do not understand the facts. This is how the conversation moves quicker. Tell people they are being duped
When a corporation is classified has a person,when 10% have 90% of the wealth,When a candidate shops at Tiffanies owes them money his name says it all gig rich is for the rich @ is bought and paid for by the rich.I am afraid we have the best country money can buy or a foreign country can buy which I would say could be a major threat to our democracy
Ruthlessness prevails when all else fails ...... which is why these are especially "dangerous times".
"...foreign conquest always has been a major factor in imposing debts, and war debts have been the major cause of public debt in modern times."
"Among Rome’s leading historians, Livy, Plutarch and Diodorus blamed the fall of the Republic on creditor intransigence in waging the century-long Social War marked by political murder from 133 to 29 BC."
"By the second century AD about a quarter of the population was reduced to bondage. By the fifth century Rome’s economy collapsed, stripped of money. Subsistence life reverted to the countryside as a Dark Age descended."
"When banks are permitted to be self-regulating and given veto power over government regulators, the economy is distorted to permit creditors to indulge in the speculative gambles and outright fraud that have marked the past decade. The fall of the Roman Empire demonstrates what happens when creditor demands are unchecked. Under these conditions the alternative to government planning and regulation of the financial sector becomes a road to debt peonage."
Forcing citizens to pay for bankster fraud with austerity measures is made easy with removal of that pesky thing called DEMOCRACY, and it appears the banksters are succeeding at just that. Substituting unelected banksters for representative Govt. in a country like Greece is not going to have a pretty ending. Their citizens realize illegal activity by Goldman Sachs is at the root of their debt crisis as well as our own sub-prime crisis. We're all in this together...the global 99%!
Let's talk about sense of entitlement for a second.....for some obsessive compulsive reason an elite few of the 1% think they are ENTITLED to everything that aint nailed down, if it has any value...and by God they are going to have it no matter what the cost is to humanity!
It was in the second week of October, when I was watching OWS and realized that this isn't just a social movement, this is a human rights movement. What rights and how much power should we all have, not just as Americans but globally, as human beings? What's right and just? What are the moral and ethical rules that should apply for the entire human species, on this plant, at this time?
This is why we are out there, everywhere.
Note that Britain's 'leaders' stated they wouldn't agree to becoming part of it because the revised treaty would threaten national sovereignty and their financial services industry. Note that the financial industry that played a large role in this mess of a fraud will be able to go on with business as usual, bankrupting other nations. Thus, they get to keep their ponzi scheme and their sovereignty, while millions of others will undergo austerity to Pay for the crimes of their financial terrorists.
Someone should start manufacturing guillotines. Something tells me they're going to be a hot item real soon.