The OB Media Rundown for 6/7/12

This is What Plutocracy Looks Like: Walker Rides Huge Funding Edge to Victory

On Tuesday night, with Gov. Scott Walker’s re-election in a special recall vote, Wisconsin learned a brutal lesson: “This is what plutocracy looks like.”

Thousands of union members and other Wisconsinites have been fighting for the last 16 months when Walker, in his own words, decided to “drop the bomb” and cripple the operations of almost all public employee unions by introducing Act 10. This triggered a massive upsurge by labor and its allies to restore worker rights, strengthen plundered public institutions like education and healthcare, and to revitalize democracy. Activists gathered over 1 million signatures on petitions to trigger the recall vote during the coldest days of last winter.

But their vision of a new progressive era for Wisconsin has been turned upside down-at least temporarily-by a tidal wave of money from billionaire CEOs and corporations that swept Walker to victory.

Wisconsin Recap: Thanks to Obama, American Left Lies in Smoldering Wreckage

It’s not complete to say this is just Obama’s doing. Obama has done everything he’s done with the support of labor leaders, Democratic supportive groups like Moveon, foundations, liberal pundits, African-American church networks, feminist groups, LGBT groups, and technology interests. Any of these could have stopped him by withdrawing support and overtly attacking him, but only the LBGT community fought for their rights. This American labor bureaucracy, which simply does not strike and therefore has no leverage against capital, operates largely as a group of fragmented business unionists. Unfortunately, business unions don’t exist when business decides it doesn’t want unions. And that’s what global business elites have decided, as this piece published on this very site titled The Liquidation of Society versus the Global Labor Revival shows.

Does Sallie Mae Want Students To Default ?

Lenders are paid full book value on defaulted loans (principal plus interest). For defaulted loan collections, collectors get to keep 25 cents on every dollar collected. If the loan is rehabilitated, the new, much larger, loan is sold, and the guarantors get paid (in addition to 10 months of payments that go straight into their pockets) something like 18% of the inflated balance.

For lenders who only lend to students (and don’t guaranty, or collect on defaulted loans), they lose no money on a default. The money they are reimbursed can (and is) immediately used to fund another loan. Therefore, these lenders, fiscally, have a neutral outlook about defaults (i.e. they don’t care one way or another if a loan defaults).

The 1 Percent’s Problem

Put sentiment aside. There are good reasons why plutocrats should care about inequality anyway-even if they’re thinking only about themselves. The rich do not exist in a vacuum. They need a functioning society around them to sustain their position. Widely unequal societies do not function efficiently and their economies are neither stable nor sustainable. The evidence from history and from around the modern world is unequivocal: there comes a point when inequality spirals into economic dysfunction for the whole society, and when it does, even the rich pay a steep price.

Occupy Albany protesters present fake check to Cuomo’s office

Occupy protesters presented Governor Cuomo with a $2 million check. But it wasn’t real money.

Occupiers presented the fake check in reaction to reports that a pro-Cuomo lobbying group received $2 million from gambling interests. They say it serves as a symbol of what is wrong with government.

“We actually had an official from the governor’s office come out and accept the fake check. So it sort of just emphasizes the whole money out of politics thing is an effective tactic and it’s something they respond to. As soon as they hear there’s money out the door, apparently they come out and we don’t get arrested,” said Occupy Albany Organizer Geordie O’Brien.

UC cops who jabbed students ‘may’ have broken rules

UC Berkeley police “may” have violated policies when they jabbed batons at defiant but peaceful students who set up their first Occupy encampment last November, says a tepidly worded report released Wednesday.

The strongest conclusion by the five-member “Police Review Board” chaired by UC Berkeley Law Professor Jesse Choper is that authorities failed to follow recommendations from two prior Police Review Board reports that criticized the use of force during student protests in 2009 and 1997.

Quebec protests set down local organizational roots

With the collapse of negotiations between the Charest government and student leaders last week, and the persistence of the nightly pots and pans protest, the question is what next?

With a little borrowing from the Occupy movement, which itself borrowed from the Indignados in Spain and other places, an answer is emerging. Throughout Montreal’s northern and eastern districts, general assemblies are forming.

Neighbours, it seems, get to know each other rather well clanging cooking utensils, and now, from Mile End to Rosemont to Hochelaga, demonstrators are moving past a collective manifestation of discontent to put down local organizational roots.

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Banking Actions Working Group Endorses June 16th Anti-Austerity March

414052 115680215237327 243552333 o 791x1024 Banking Actions Working Group Endorses June 16th Anti Austerity MarchAfter finalizing plans for several other direct actions targeting lawless banking entities in the months ahead, the Banking Actions working group voted tonight to endorse the Saturday, June 16th anti-austerity march that will begin from Dewey Square starting at 12:30 pm. Some working group members participating in the march will emphasize the roll of banks in waging a war of austerity against the 99 percent throughout America and across the world. For more about the march, go here.

The Banking Actions Working Group meets every Wednesday at 6:30 pm in Copley Square on the grass and is a great group to join if you’ve been looking for opportunities to get more involved with Occupy to take action to support real change in the Boston area and throughout Massachusetts.

DAY 237

Free Childcare

Community contribution

I was asked awhile ago, what causes can OM get behind, that could find the broader community gravitating towards and maybe even more supportive of the goals that Occupy aspires to.

I thought about it and replied, I’m not sure the broader community really understand points about banks, foreign trade policies and corporations influence on the government, etc. However what they do understand is the amount of money in their pocket, so raising awareness, or campaigning about issues that are a drain on the money in their pocket, would seem a good approach. Two costs that came to mind, that I felt could be easily understood and possibly gain support from the broader community were public transport fees and childcare fees.

As was seen at the free public transport rally, there’s alternative methods of funding public transport that would be less of a drain on tax revenues, provide equitable access to all, as well as contribute to reducing carbon emissions. Which IMO are three important points and seeing them achieved would be a progressive and optimal outcome, for the broader community.

Free childcare would also be a progressive move, as it would reduce the financial challenges that families experience, as well as reduce the erosion of family life, which now (as a result of both parents working), have limited nurturing and bonding time with each other.

Child care fees have just increased again. The fees vary from state to state, but regardless of which state, the fees are high and a considerable drain on the average persons wages.

Laws state that the interests of children’s welfare is above all and yet these exorbitant fees, contribute to families (who have both parents working to escape the poverty trap, or the rental trap etc), being limited in their capacity to better their financial standing and as noted, is known to have the effect of eroding families ability to nurture and bond with each other.

So how is the current model living up to the ideals of the law, that children’s welfare is above all?

Much like the suggestions made about alternative ways to fund the PT system, these alternatives could also fund free child care, which would go a long way to redressing the imbalances, that exist under the current model.

One alternative could be that businesses,(who profit by having a broader workforce,due to males and females now being represented in it) could pay the costs, or contribute to childcare costs. Possibly even write the cost off as a tax expense, or receive financial incentives from the government with tax breaks.

Certain businesses that do have childcare services (at their place of employment) have noted improved productivity and a better work atmosphere, than businesses that don’t. In businesses that don’t have childcare, parents are having to juggle the stress of peak hour traffic etc to get to child care centres on time to pick children up, combined with the guilt (some parents experience) of leaving their children with others to raise, all so they can make a living and provide for themselves and their children..

Who benefits from this? Well again its the usual suspects, being businesses who have increased productivity and profit and the government, who have increased tax revenues from these companies, as well as the increased tax revenues they acquire from personal tax.

Latch key kids/X-box Kids (another related scenario) essentially children having their working parents replaced by mechanisms such as televisions (the weapon of mass destruction) and are being saturated by brand marketing and conditioned to consumerism.
All of which is finding them further detached from the nurturing of the family unit and becoming victims of the way society and business has developed and contributing to the way the family unit and on from there, the community fabric is being eroded.

What can be done about this? I hear many state that a reason they stand up against the way the current system operates, is that they want their kids to inherit something better and not have to experience the challenges that the regressive system currently poses.
I agree and believe that there are many concerns, ranging from freedom of individuals, through to environmental concerns, yet although this is the case, an immediate concern that can have not only awareness raised about it, but can actually see progressive changes in the present as opposed to in 100 years time, is child care fees..

So what can be done in the here and now?

Form groups, raise awareness in the broader community and campaign to members of parliament. Discuss this at the work place and enter negotiations about it with your employers. Strike, Sit in.. I’m sure others could contribute many ideas about ways to tackle this issue, the alternative is to do nothing and let the problem persist.. Food for thought.

Joel Kershaw

Note: Joel’s previous piece on public transport can be found here in the digest issue of Day 231.

Picture of the Day

Source: Facebook

This amazing banner was made at a previous Occupy Fridays and displayed at Federation Square during the protest against KONY2012′s “cover the night” action, which led to one of our photographers being detained! It is getting a lot of shares around the world – read it and if you love it like we do, share it to make it viral before the world’s population reaches 8 billion.

View the full album, contributed by Chloë here.

Occupy Sydney – Best Of Picture Album

Source: Facebook

This is an exceptional album – see Occupy Sydney at their best – you’ll even see several of our own OM members there whilst they were visiting in solidarity – Link.

#Occupied: Reports From the Front Lines


This week in Occupy, the Cruz home at 4044 Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis became a national flashpoint for the Movement, overthrown Egyptian former dictator Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison, Canadian solidarity had everyone wearing red, the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall sparked a frenzy among politicians and activists alike, and an Occupy Yale activist left us far too soon…. read more here.