Tag Archives: economic justice

Economic Justice NOW! The Fair Share campaign to put in place a graduated income tax in Massachusetts!  

Training session –  Saturday, August 29.

Worcester Interfaith is an affiliate of MCAN and will be hosting.

At First Baptist Church, Worcester

10 a.m. to noon.

Please contact Worcester Interfaith if you can attend:  508-754-5001

The Raise Up Massachusetts Coalition of community, labor, and faith based groups recently filed the “Fair Share” constitutional amendment, to raise $1.3 billion in new tax revenue to fund public schools, state college affordability, and transportation.

This will increase the income tax rate for people earning over a million dollars by 4% on their income over one million dollars.

With that filing, we’ve officially launched our Fair Share Amendment Campaign!!!!

We need this money to invest in our youth and families!

We’re proud of the key role we’re playing in this campaign. We’re proud that MCAN is a co-chair of Raise Up Massachusetts, and that our leaders will be named on every petition we carry with us this fall.

Debbie Frontierro, a leader in our ECCO affiliate, and Rev. Jose Encarnacion, a leader in our Worcester Interfaith affiliate, will be listed on the petitions as two of the 10 original signers.

We are also proud that Rev. Jane Gould of ECCO, Paul Lumpkin of PVP, Angel Cosme and Rev. Michael Walker of BIC, and Jack Livramento of UIA were the alternates in case any of the first ten signers didn’t qualify.

We will begin collecting signatures for this constitutional amendment around Labor Day – stay tuned.

We’ll have until November 15 to collect the signatures to qualify this for the ballot in 2018.

This is a big deal – the chance of a generation to make significant progress in making a more equitable Massachusetts!!!

We are hoping for another huge win for economic justice!

Please join us!

If you can volunteer to collect signatures, even 10-20 from friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors, please email Lew Finfer and you will receive the petitions just after Labor Day.

Lew Finfer, MCAN Director
LewFinfer@gmail.com

MASSUNITING ‘Economic Crime Unit’ launches investigation of State Street Bank

StopEconomicCrime.org, new video shine a light on State Street’s “economic crimes against the 99%” on eve of annual shareholder meeting

 BOSTON – MASSUNITING today launched the Economic Crime Unit (ECU) [homepage screenshot attached], a new initiative that will shine a light on the abuses of major corporations and Wall Street banks. ECU investigations will employ a creative mix of video, online ads, new media tools and in-the-streets action to expose what it calls “economic crimes against the 99%” – a set of offenses which may be legally undefined, but are no less harmful to our communities. ECU’s inaugural investigation, targeting Massachusetts-based State Street Bank (NYSE: STT), comes on the eve of the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Boston.

View the Economic Crime Unit’s “State Street” video here.

Though it has managed to avoid the intense scrutiny applied to other big-name corporate offenders, State Street Bank has engaged in many of the same “economic crimes” as General Electric, Bank of America and Wells Fargo – exploiting loopholes to avoid taxation, killing thousands of jobs through outsourcing and offshoring, and investing tens of millions of dollars in private, for-profit prisons and detention centers. In addition, State  Street Bank has been investigated, sued or fined by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulators for allegedly misleading investors and defrauding pensions – including a recent $5 million fine from Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, William Galvin.

A group of State Street shareholders has attempted to raise and demand action on these issues with company executives and board members in advance of the annual shareholder meeting scheduled for Wednesday, May 16. After weeks of no response, a delegation was invited to meet with State Street staff, who offered neither apologies nor redress for the serious concerns raised by shareholders. Left with few other options, the delegation will take their demands directly to fellow shareholders at Wednesday’s meeting – in addition to the public investigation launched by the Economic Crimes Unit.

“State Street’s business practices have harmed our community and our entire economy for far too long – and it’s time they were held accountable,” said Chandra Richardson, a State Street shareholder from South Boston. “From job killing to tax dodging to prison profiteering, State Street Bank has committed serious economic crimes against the 99%, and we won’t be silent anymore.”

The tribulations of Occupy Worcester

By anonymous

Where are they? Been searching high and low. Where’s Worcester Occupy Wall Street camping out? Got a box of donuts to drop off.

So who would have thought, Occupy Worcester KO’d not by a mob of 1%-ers, but by a single person – a priest no less: The Rev. Robert Bachelder of the Worcester Area Mission Society, part of the liberal United Church of Christ, stopped them dead in their tracks, based on a misunderstanding. Allegedly his flock’s parking spaces were in peril. Yes, parking spaces.

I wonder if the reverend got 30 pieces of silver in exchange for handing over OWS? One of Jesus’ own selling out. Biblical history does repeat itself. I think there’s more to it than parking spots. I may be wrong.

What strikes me as hypocritical is that an avowed disciple of Jesus Christ turned his back on a handful of youths and by extension, the most critical issue affecting our society today – the subjugation of the masses by the Wall St. cabal and their Washington henchmen.

So why did he do it? Someone forced him? His irate flock? The property owners, The New England Dream Center, an obscure non-profit housed in a former church on Chestnut Street, trying to snuff out OWS for ideological reasons? Wall Street’s agents got to him? Who knows.

An aside here. I always get an strange feeling when I see the Dream Center’s vans, filled with kids. Their apathetic expressions, their listless eyes staring out into a void. Certainly not dreaming.

Anyone know what the Dream Center does, except give away toys to the needy every Christmas? I’ll answer that: Help the needy. Like Bachelder’s Mission Society is supposed to do. If the mission of the Worcester Area Mission Society is to help the homeless and inner-city youth, then why not our OWS. I’m being factious of course. Obviously they have other priorities – protecting parking spaces from filthy heathens.

OWS has of course made for interesting news in our so called local media: The T&G cackled over its demise, WOMAG bemoaned a story, and InCity Times [covered it from a national perspective via filmmaker Michael Moore]. Even Jordan Levy did a radio interview with an OWS participant – his contempt couldn’t have been more palatable. And local bible-thumper Mike Benedetti tried to transform it into a journalistic coup touting himself. Mike milked it for all he could – gave everyone the impression he was Occupy Worcester. But once the spotlight dimmed, he pretended it never existed. Reminds me of Nicole Apostola’s antics not too long ago: No spotlight. No Nicole. How superficial.

The question I have is, why didn’t power-Christian Mike Benedetti rally the enlightened Christian-bloggers to save Wusta’s OWS? Yet not a soul stepped forward. Not a hand extended. It’s ironic that Mike Benedetti fills the Barnard Blogroll with Christian-blogs espousing their enlightened values, yet not one came forward, or even gave OWS lip-service. Not a peep. Geez… I wonder what Jesus would say?

Funny, why do I get the feeling that organized religion is part of the 1%? Considering their enormous financial wealth they have a vested interest in defending the status quo. No Wall St. No corrupt politicians. No church. No job.

Obviously Occupy Worcester needs to rethink its strategy – more marketing, more presence. Another incident like this could obliterate OWS.

I’m sure spring will sprout a new improved OWS. And beware of false prophets.

The winter of our Occupation

A proposal from Michael Moore

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Friends,

And now it is winter. Wall Street rejoices, hoping that the change of seasons will mean a change in our spirit, our commitment to stop them.

They couldn’t be more wrong. Have they not heard of Washington and the troops at Valley Forge? The Great Flint Sit-Down Strike in the winter of 1936-37? The Michigan Wolverines crushing Ohio State in the 1950 Blizzard Bowl? When it comes to winter, it is the time historically when the people persevere and the forces of evil make their retreat!

We are not even 12 weeks old, yet Occupy Wall Street has grown so fast, so big, none of us can keep up with the hundreds of towns who have joined the movement, or the thousands of actions — some of them just simple ones in neighborhoods, schools and organizations — that have happened. The national conversation has been irreversibly changed. Now everyone is talking about how the 1% are getting away with all the money while the 99% struggle to make ends meet. People are no longer paralyzed by despair or apathy. Most know that now is the time to reclaim our country from the bankers, the lobbyists — and their gofers: the members of the United States Congress and the 50 state legislatures.

And they’re crazy if they think that a little climate chaos (otherwise known as winter in the 21st century) that they’ve helped to bring about is going to stop us.

I would like to propose to my Occupying sisters and brothers that there are many ways to keep Occupy Wall Street going through the winter months. There is perhaps no better time to move the movement indoors for a few months — and watch it grow even bigger! (For those who have the stamina to maintain the outdoor occupations, by all means, keep it up — and the rest of us will do our best to help you and keep you warm!)

The winter gives us an amazing opportunity to expand our actions against the captains of capitalism who have occupied our homes with their fraudulent mortgage system which has tossed millions of families out onto the curb; a cruel health care system that has told 50 million Americans “if you can’t afford a doctor, go F yourself”; a student loan system that sends 22-year-olds into an immediate “debtors’ prison” of working lousy jobs for which they didn’t go to school but now have to take because they’re in hock for tens of thousands of dollars for the next two decades; and a jobs market that keeps 25 million Americans un- or under-employed — and much of the rest of the workers forced to accept wage cuts, health care reductions and zero job security.

But we in the Occupy Movement reject this version of the “American Dream.” Instead, I suggest we shift our focus for this winter to the following actions:

OCCUPY THE WINTER
A proposal to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street from Michael Moore
 
 
1. Occupy Our Homes. Sorry, banks, a roof over one’s head is a human right, and you will no longer occupy our homes through foreclosure and eviction because well, you see, they are our homes, not yours. You may hold the mortgage; you don’t hold the right to throw us or our neighbors out into the cold. With almost one in three home mortgages currently in foreclosure, nearing foreclosure or “underwater,” the Occupy Movement must form local “Occupy Strike Forces” to create human shields when the banks come to throw people out of their homes. If the foreclosure has already happened, then we must help families move back into their foreclosed homes — literally (see this clip from my last film to watch how a home re-occupation is accomplished). Beginning today, Take Back the Land, plus many other citizens’ organizations nationwide, are kicking off Occupy Our Homes. Numerous actions throughout the day today have already resulted in many families physically taking back their homes. This will continue every day until the banks are forced to stop their fraudulent practices, until homeowners are allowed to change their mortgage so that it reflects the true value of their homes, and until those who can no longer afford a mortgage are allowed to stay in their homes and pay rent. I beseech the news media to cover these actions — they are happening everywhere. Evictions, though rarely covered (you need a Kardashian in your home as you’re being evicted to qualify for news coverage) are not a new story (see this scene I filmed in 1988). Also, please remember the words of Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Toledo (in ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’): Do not leave your homes if the bank forecloses on you! Let them take you to court and then YOU ask the judge to make them produce a copy of your mortgage. They can’t. It was chopped up a hundred different ways, bundled with a hundred other mortgages, and sold off to the Chinese. If they can’t produce the mortgage, they can’t evict you.

2. Occupy Your College. In nearly every other democracy on the planet, students go to college for free or almost free. Why do those countries do that? Because they know that for their society to advance, they must have an educated population. Without that, productivity, innovation and an informed electorate is stunted and everyone suffers as a result. Here’s how we do it in the U.S.A.: make education one of our lowest priorities, graduate students who know little about the world or their own government or the economy, and then force them into crushing debt before they even have their first job. That way has really worked well for us, hasn’t it? It’s made us the world leader in … in … well, ok, we’re like 27th or 34th in everything now (except war). This has to end. Students should spend this winter doing what they are already doing on dozens of campuses — holding sit-ins, occupying the student loan office, nonviolently disrupting the university regents meetings, and pitching their tents on the administration’s lawn. Young people — we, the ’60s generation, promised to create a better world for you. We got halfway there — now you have to complete the job. Do not stop until these wars are ended, the Pentagon budget is cut in half, and the rich are forced to pay their taxes. And demand that that money go to your education. We’ll be there with you on all of this! And when we get this fixed and you graduate, instead of being $40,000 in debt, go see the friggin’ world, or tinker around in your garage a la the two Steves, or start a band. Enjoy life, discover, explore, experiment, find your way. Anything but the assistant manager at Taco Bell.

3. Occupy Your Job. Let’s spend the winter organizing workplaces into unions. OR, if you already have a union, demand that your leaders get off their ass and get aggressive like our grandparents did. For chrissakes, surely you know we would not have a middle class if it weren’t for the strikes of the 1930s-1950s?! In three weeks we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the workers in my hometown of Flint, Michigan taking over and occupying the General Motors factories for 44 days in the dead of winter. Their actions ignited a labor movement that lifted tens of millions out of poverty and into the middle class. It’s time to do it again. (According to the Census Bureau and the New York Times, 100 million Americans either live in or near poverty. Disgraceful. Greed has destroyed the core fabric of our communities. Enough!) Here are two good unions to get your fellow workers to sign up and join: UE and SEIU. The CWA are also good. Here’s how to get a quick primer in organizing your place of employment (don’t forget to be careful while you do this!). If your company is threatening to close down and move the jobs elsewhere, then it’s time to occupy the workplace (again, you can get a lesson in how to successfully occupy your factory from my movie).

4. Occupy Your Bank. This is an easy one. Just leave them. Move your checking and your credit card to a nonprofit credit union. It’s safe and the decisions made there aren’t based on greed. And if a bank tries to evict your neighbor, Occupy the local branch with 20 other people and call the press. Post it on the internet.

5. Occupy the Insurance Man. It’s time to not only stand up for the 50 million without health insurance but to also issue a single, simple demand: The elimination of for-profit, privately-controlled health insurance companies. It is nothing short of barbaric to allow businesses to make a profit off people when they get sick. We don’t allow anyone to make a profit when we need the fire department or the police. Until recently we would never allow a company to make a profit by operating in a public school. The same should be true for when you need to see a doctor or stay in the hospital. So I say it’s long overdue for us to go and Occupy Humana, United Health, Cigna and even the supposed “nonprofit” Blue Crosses. An action on their lawns, in their lobbies, or at the for-profit hospitals — this is what is needed.

So — there are my ideas for the five places we can Occupy this winter. Help the foreclosed-upon to Occupy their homes. Occupy your college campus, especially the student loan office and the regents meetings. Occupy your job by getting everyone to sign a union card — or by refusing to let the CEO ship your job overseas. Occupy your Chase or Citi or Bank of America branch by closing your account and moving it to a credit union. And Occupy the insurance company offices, the pharmaceutical companies’ headquarters and the for-profit hospitals until the White House and Congress pass the true single-payer universal health care bill they failed to pass in 2010.

My friends, the rich are running scared right now. You need no further proof of this than to read this story from last week. The Republicans’ top strategist met privately with them and told them that they had better change their tune or they were going to be crushed by the Occupy Wall Street movement. They didn’t have to change their greedy actions, he assured them — just the way they talk and PR the situation. He told them never to use the word “capitalism” — it has now been made a dirty word by the Occupy movement, he said. Only say “economic freedom” from now on, he cautioned. And don’t criticize the movement — because the majority of Americans either agree with it or are feeling the same way. Just tell the Occupiers and the distressed Americans: “I get it.” Seriously.

Yes, in just 12 short weeks we have killed their most sacred word — Capitalism — and we have them on the run, on the defensive. They should be. Millions are coming after them and our only goal is to remove them from power and replace them with a fair system that is controlled by the 99%. The 1% have been able to get both political parties to do their bidding. Why should only 1% of the population get to have two parties — and the rest of us have none? That, too, is going to change. In my next letter, I will suggest what we can do to Occupy the Electoral Process. But first we must start with those who pull the strings of the puppets in the Congress. That’s why it’s called Occupy Wall Street. Always better to deal with man in charge, don’t you think?

Let’s Occupy the Winter! An #OWS Winter will certainly lead to a very hopeful American Spring.

Yours,

Michael Moore