She is Set to Challenge State’s ‘Wall of Debt’ Created by the Big Banks and Corrupt Politicians.
Dateline: Los Angeles
Here is Ellen Brown’s Statement on how to move California from Austerity to Prosperity
Governor Jerry Brown and his staff are exchanging high-fives over balancing California’s budget, but the people on whose backs it was balanced are not rejoicing. The state’s high-wire act has been called “the ultimate in austerity budgets.”
Welfare payments, health care for the poor, and benefits for the elderly and disabled have been slashed. State workers have been downsized. School districts in need of cash have been reduced to borrowing through “capital appreciation bonds” bearing 300% interest. In one notorious case, the Santa Ana school district actually borrowed at 1,000% interest. And the governor acknowledges that California still faces a “wall of debt” amounting to $28 billion. Some analysts put it much higher than that.
At the end of the 20th century, California was ranked the sixth largest economy in the world. By 2012, it had slipped to number twelve. It is coming back up, in part because European countries are falling further into recession; but California’s poverty rate remains the highest in the country. More than eight million Californians struggle to meet their daily needs, and one in four children lives in poverty. Income inequality is higher in the nation’s most populous state than in almost any other.
California cannot solve its budget problems by slashing services that have already been cut to the bone or raising sales taxes that hurt the poor far more than the rich. We are fighting over a pie that remains too small. The pie itself needs to be expanded – and it can be.
How? By reclaiming that portion that is now siphoned off in interest and bank fees. When tallied up at every stage of production, interest has been calculated to claim one-third of everything we buy.
How can that money be recaptured? By owning the bank.
The approach was pioneered in North Dakota, the only state to escape the 2008 banking crisis. North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, the lowest foreclosure rate, the lowest default rate on credit card debt, and no state debt at all. It is also the only state to own its own bank.
In the fall of 2011, a bill for a feasibility study for a state-owned bank passed both houses of the California legislature. The Public Banking Institute, which I founded and chair, was instrumental in helping to get the bill as far as it got. But it died when Jerry Brown vetoed it. His rationale was that we already have a banking committee, and that the matter could be explored in-house. Needless to say, however, we have heard no more about it since.
I am therefore running for California State Treasurer on a state bank platform, along with Laura Wells, who is running for Controller. We are throwing our bonnets in the ring for the opportunity to show the Governorr or his successor that a state-owned bank can be our ticket to returning California to the abundance it once enjoyed.
I was a recipient of that abundance myself. I got my undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley in the 1960s, when tuition was free; and my law degree at UCLA Law School in the 1970s, when tuition was $700 a year. Today it is $13,000 and $45,000 annually, respectively, for in-state students. In the 1960s, the governor of California was Jerry Brown’s father Pat Brown, a New Deal visionary who believed that investment in education, infrastructure and local business was an investment in the future. Our goal is to revive that optimistic vision in 2014.
We are running on the endorsement of the Green Party – along with Luis Rodriguez for governor and David Curtis for secretary of state – because Green Party candidates take no corporate money. Candidates who take corporate money – and that means nearly all conventional candidates – are beholden to large corporate interests and cannot properly represent the interests of the disenfranchised 99%.
The North Dakota Model:
Banking that Supports Rather Than Exploits the Local Economy
California’s revenues are currently parked in those very largest of corporations, Wall Street banks. These out-of-state banks use our giant asset pool for their own speculative purposes, and the funds are at risk of confiscation in the event of a “bail-in.”
In North Dakota, by contrast, all of the state’s revenues are deposited by law in the state-owned Bank of North Dakota (BND). The BND is set up as a DBA of the state (“North Dakota doing business as the Bank of North Dakota”), which means all of the state’s capital is technically the bank’s capital. The bank uses its copious capital and deposit pool to generate credit for local purposes.
The BND is a major money-maker for the state, returning a sizable dividend annually to the treasury. Every year since the 2008 banking crisis, it has reported a return on investment of between 17 percent and 26 percent. The BND also provides what is essentially interest-free credit for state projects, since the state owns the bank and gets the interest back. The BND partners with local banks rather than competing with them, strengthening their capital and deposit bases and allowing them to keep loans on their books rather than having to sell them off to investors. This practice allowed North Dakota to avoid the subprime crisis that destroyed the housing market in other states.
Consider the awesome potential for California, with its massive capital and deposit bases. California has over $200 billion stashed in a variety of funds identified in its 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), including $58 billion managed by the Treasurer in a Pooled Money Investment Account currently earning a meager 0.264% annually. It also has over $400 billion in its pension funds (CalPERS and CalSTRS).
California’s population of 37 million is more than 50 times that of North Dakota. In 2010, the BND had about $4,500 in deposits and $4,200 in loans per capita. Multiplying 37 million by $4,200, a State Bank of California could, in theory, generate $155.4 billion in credit for the state; and this credit would effectively be interest-free free, since the state would own the bank.
What could California do with $155 billion in interest-free credit? One possibility would be to refinance its ominous “wall of debt” at 0%. A debt that is interest-free can be rolled over indefinitely without cost to the taxpayers.
Another possibility would be to fund public projects interest-free. Eliminating interest has been shown to reduce the cost of public projects by 35% or more.
Take, for example, the San Francisco Bay Bridge earthquake retrofitting boondoggle, which was originally slated to cost about $6 billion. Interest and bank fees wound up adding another $6 billion to the overall cost to taxpayers. Funding through its own bank could have saved the state $6 billion or 50% on this project.
Then there is the state’s bullet train fiasco, which has been beset with delays, cost overruns, and funding issues. As with the Bay Bridge, costs are projected to double as a result of compounding interest on long-term bonds, imposing huge hidden costs on the next generation of taxpayers. By funding the bullet train through a state-owned bank, its costs, too, could be reduced by 50%.
The Challenge of a “Jungle Primary”
As voters become increasingly disillusioned with big-corporate-money candidates, the third party option is gaining traction. According to a recent Gallup poll, in 2013 42% of Americans identified themselves as political independents, significantly outpacing Democrats at 31% and Republicans at 25%.
The growing threat posed by independent and third-party candidates may explain why it is getting harder and harder to run as one. In California we now have Proposition 14, the Top Two primary, sometimes called the “Louisiana primary” or “jungle primary.” It might better be named the Incumbents’ Benevolent Protection Act.
Proposition 14 requires statewide and congressional California candidates, regardless of party preference, to participate in a nonpartisan blanket primary, with only the top two candidates advancing to the general election. Incumbents and heavily-funded candidates have historically reaped the benefits of this arrangement. Third party candidates are liable to get knocked out in the first round in June, eliminating them from the November elections.
But the new system does have the advantage that anyone can vote for any candidate in the June primary; so if we can mobilize voters, we have a shot.
There is, however, another new hurdle imposed by Proposition 14. In place of the 150 signatures-in-lieu-of-filing-fee needed earlier, we now need 10,000 signatures – either that or $2,800. But we’re hoping to turn that requirement, too, to advantage, by using it to build the people power and energy necessary to take the June 3, 2014 primary. If you would like to sign a petition or donate, click here.
There is another way to balance a state budget, one that leads to prosperity rather than austerity. California can stimulate its economy and the job market, restore low-cost higher education, build 21st-century infrastructure, preserve the environment, and relieve the state’s debt burden, by establishing a bank that is owned by the people and returns its profits to the people.
Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the bestselling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 200+ credit blog articles are at EllenBrown.com. She is currently running for California State Treasurer on the Green Party ticket.
Richard Belzer’s New Book “Hit List” Details Murders of 50 Witnesses To The JFK Assassination
Dateline: Los Angeles
Actor, author, comedian Richard Belzer has a new book out called “Hit List”, which reviews the murders of scores of witnesses to the assassination in Dallas of President John F. Kennedy. The political murder took place 50 years ago, and is still viewed by many people as a coup de etat of sorts. Belzer believes that the original witnesses were murdered to prevent them from eventually testifying, which would shatter the lone gunman theory and lead to the real killers.
Click here to watch on youtube or watch embedded version below.
Dateline: Van Nuys Swimming Pool
There They Go Again – Howie Berman vs Brad Sherman
A One Round Fracus in the Van Nuys Pool Locker Room
Berman (Left) “You wanna piece of me?”
Sherman (Right) “I already got it Howie!”
So according to my two witnesses, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Howard Berman and Brad Sherman swim often at the Pool in Van Nuys. “But usually they don’t come at the same time” says Mr. Y.
“This morning”, says Mr. Z, “They both show at once, and the fireworks started!”
Mr. Y: “They get in the locker room and they start screaming at each other. Berman is yelling at Sherman, ‘You traitor, you stabbed me in the back!’ Serman is yelling back ‘F&%$ You, you’re a f&(%$ing crook!’ I thought they were going to come to blows.”
Mr. Z: “Boy, those two guys really HATE each other. I mean, we had to jump in between them. They were screaming and waving their fists around.”
Berman, 71, served as a Representative in the Valley since 1983. He is known as “Hollywood’s Congressman” by some, and “Studio Lap Dog” by detractors. The entertainment industry showered him with money during this last election, over $400,000. He certainly needed the dough, he was always traveling, in fact often accused of being on the road more than he was in Congress. But re-districting has done him in, he had to run against a fellow Democrat, Brad Sherman, who beat him big time. Some folks in his district described him as “aloof” and even “arrogant”. He was such a shoe-in for election victory that he hardly had to campaign; just have a few dinners to raise some dough, and off on a “fact-finding” cruise to Europe.
Sherman, 58, has served in government and Congress for a while. While Berman was lounging in foreign lands, Sherman was holding scores of Town Hall meetings, quietly building up support that proved more than enough to counter the big bucks from Hollywood.
Back to the locker room. Mr. Y: “Man, I was shocked. I mean these two guys are both Jewish and both Democrats. I thought they would get along with each other.” In fact, on the campaign trail, things got so ugly that a Sheriff’s deputy had to break them apart. I asked our informants if the fight got to the point of snapping wet towels at one another. “No,” says Mr. Z, “Just yelling and screaming and insults.”
We suggest this animosity should be settled by an old fashioned duel. How about standing 3 feet apart and hurling banana cream pies at one another along with the insults? It would make for a great photo op, a paparazzi fun fest. Hey, as they say, no harm done, nothing lost but dignity.
Note: In the spirit of political fun, some portions of the conversations have been reconstructed out of the whole cloth of the 2 nameless informants who showed up at the Church lunch today for poor folks. Bon Apatite!
Dateline: Playa Vista
Inside Scoop on the Recent Gas Explosion at Playa Vista Bluffs
Latest Information on this Disaster!
Claims Thousands of People Possibly Poisoned By Toxic Gas and Will Suffer Permanent Brain Damage
On Sunday January 6, 2013, something went terribly wrong at the Southern California Gas Company’s Plant below the bluffs of Playa del Rey. This is the unlicensed plant that compresses gas into a huge underground cavern under tremendous pressure. A huge fireball shot into the sky, over 100 feet, and burned for about an hour. Meanwhile an unknown amount of gas spread over the area for miles, forcing some people to evacuate their homes. Our whistle-blower, “Mr. X” lays out what is known at the present time about this massive blow-out that is being downplayed by the rest of the media. Get the real story here at Southland News Bureau.
“Mr. X” says that if the released gas contained Hydrogen Sulphide, then possibly thousands of people will suffer permanent brain damage. According to the CDC in a U.S. Government document, (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=388&tid=67) even a brief exposure to high concentrations (greater that 500ppm) can cause a loss of consciousness and possible death. Environmental groups are calling for more oversight of the Gas Plant, some are even asking that the Plant be closed down because gas is always leaking from the underground caverns. This is occurring because hundreds of old oil wells in the area have most likely punctured the geologic formation and are allowing the gas to continuously seep out. Watch the series “Poisoned Paradise” for more information on this subject.
Dateline: Playa del Rey
The Southern California Gas Company Plant That Compresses Gas Into the Underground Caverns Storage Suffers an Explosion.
Flames Shoot 100 Feet into the Air
Explosion Rocks Playa Vista – Gas Spreads for Miles Around
The Southern California Gas Company, in one of their most spectacular spins of all time, claimed that the disastrous explosion and possible valve failure that spread gas across the south bay was an “unplanned” release of gas. Using this spin/propaganda word so the public will associate the word “unplanned” with “unscheduled”, a simple mistake to “burn off” unwanted gas, the Gas Company has now reached the propaganda pinnacle of Nazi Spin Docktor Herr Joseph Goebbels, who tried to convince the German people that Adolf Hitler was just a choirboy. The question of what exactly is an “unplanned release” should be answered in a rational world. When your family is all sitting around the dining room table having Thanksgiving dinner and old grandma lets rip a loud fart, it would be polite to call that an “unplanned release of noxious gas”. The event of last Sunday was nothing more than a major blow out, spewing poisonous and dangerous gas for miles around. It is a miracle that the gas did not ignite in a bigger way and blow the entire plant into a million pieces. Here’s some photos and videos of the plant and the event, as we know it at this moment. Shame on the Gas Company for trying to hide behind spin instead of telling the truth.
Dateline: Los Angeles
This is Digital News – stories, news and views about subjects that are ignored or slanted to big corporations. Our team of reporters will be covering the other side of the story, the side you don’t get in mainstream media.
Let’s face the facts. Most of the big corporate-owned television and radio stations are only giving you the news they want you to hear. They conveniently leave out the alternative story, or the other side of the coin. The same is sadly true of the big Los Angeles and Orange County newspapers. The L.A. Times, a dozen or so years ago, decided that they were going to obliterate as many of the local city newspapers that they could. So they went around the L.A. area and bought up all the small, independent newspapers. Some they just buried in the graveyard of abandoned newspapers, the one that sits under their building in downtown Los Angeles. Some of the others were merged into their regional editions, now under their complete editorial control.
Then they secretly financed a “friendly person” to buy up the Daily News, which was perceived as their competition. This was done because they were afraid that another big newpaper, like the Orange County Register, was going to come in to L.A. and kick their butt. With almost total, monopolistic control over the printed word, the Times has ruled the news roost for years, pandering to big government, big corporations, and the moneyed elite of the area. Their control over the local Newspapers that they bought out, like the old Burbank Leader, and the Glendale News-Press, assured that real estate developers and other special interests could go about their business unmolested. The news spotlight was always tilted so that you couldn’t glimpse what was going on in your local city hall.
And this is how it still is to this day. The Register never came to L.A., and got into its own financial problems. Rumor has it that they have just been sold to some investor group. The Daily News, which at one time covered a lot of the local Valley events at City Hall, is now reduced to a thin shadow of its former self. If you went into the building and shouted for some real journalists and reporters, we think you would only hear an echo of your own voice. Most of their stories seem to now be off the “wire”, A.P., Reuters, etc. As far as the L.A. Times, the survivor of the “newspaper wars” of the fifties and sixties, it’s not fit to line your bird cage.
Anyone over 60 years old can remember some of L.A.’s great newspapers: The Los Angeles Herald, the Examiner, the Los Angeles Mirror, The Hollywood Citizen News, The Santa Monica Outlook, and many more. All gone, and never spoken of. The powers that be do not want you to know how much information you have lost. They think that one news source is enough. Like the old Soviet Union, all you need to know is in Pravda, we don’t need any other “truths”. Now the joke has come full circle. RT, or Russian Television, found all over the internet and on channel 28, has more “truth” and better stories than the so-called “free press” of the Los Angeles Times.
So we here at Southland News encourage others to take up the challenge, and join with us to break the news blockade. Let’s get the goods – the real stories – the important stories that are in Southern California. We hope to make a difference and make this area a better place to live. Let’s expose corruption, bad government, crummy politicians, pot-holed roads, pot-bellied fat cats and local loonies who have managed to get elected.