Tag Archives: money

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Ah, Joss… so brilliant. Enjoy! Paid for by the committee to learn parkour like, really soon, like maybe take a class or something.

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A thoughtful group of artists  decided to Occupy! billboards in Britain this summer, because: Advertising is part of a system which destroys our future to fulfil the demands of the present, a ceaseless expansion of production and consumption. It is … Continue reading

Uniting Against “Citizens United”

Money is not speech

corporations are not people

January 21st is the second anniversary of the ridiculous “Citizens United v. FEC” ruling by a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court.  I highly recommend Annie Leonard’s Story of Citizens United v. FEC video:

It is time – as it is always time – to help the people of this country wake up to the fact that money is not speech and corporations are not people.  Events, activists and organizations across the nation are attempting to do just that:

  • Occupy San Francisco is working to shut down the financial district today “to draw attention to the choices that many of these banks, corporations, institutions, and the courts have made (and continue to make) that created (and maintain) the economic inequality that is devastating the lives of so many families in our community, and in our world. It does not have to be this way.”
  • Satirist Stephen Colbert shines a spotlight on the insanity with his Jon Stewart’s “Definitely Not Coordinating with Stephen Colbert SuperPAC“.
  • United for the People has listings of actions across the country to “…[focus] America’s attention on the dangerous influence of corporate power in our democracy and the urgency of taking all necessary measures to undo that influence, including amending the Constitution. “
  • Another listing of actions for Friday, January 20th: Occupy the Courts
  • Move to Amend is an organization specifically dedicated to creating a constitutional amendment that would undo the Citizens United decision and end the fiction of corporate personhood:

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

11 Holiday Gift Programs That Benefit Nonprofits and Make the World A Better Place :: 2011 Edition « Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits

While my favorite shopping option is Buy Nothing Day (followed closely, in at least two senses, by Buy Local Day – I succeeded with both this year), there are often a few people that we wish to get gifts, but we don’t want to burden with ever-more meaningless stuff.

This list has a nice mix of stuff-less-ness and stuff that at least helps someone and means something:

11 Holiday Gift Programs That Benefit Nonprofits and Make the World A Better Place :: 2011 Edition « Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits.

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13 Staggering Facts About The Global Super Rich. Gives a clear perspective on the differences between us 99% and the 1%.

Plan B Updates – 99: A Fifty Million Dollar Tipping Point? | EPI

A bright  bit of happy news burning through the sooty smokestack emissions:

At a press conference on July 21, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he was contributing $50 million to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. Michael Brune, head of the Sierra Club, called it a “game changer”. It is that, but it also could push the United States, and indeed the world, to a tipping point on the climate issue.

It is one thing for Michael Brune to say coal has to go, but quite another when Michael Bloomberg says so.

via Plan B Updates – 99: A Fifty Million Dollar Tipping Point? | EPI.

Ripple effects from big action by such a major player could include vast reductions in GHG emissions, improved health and environmental conditions due to drops in other pollutants from burning and mining, preservation of wilderness with the reduction or elimination of mountain-top removal mining… the list of reasons to “Quit Coal” are long indeed.  Yay team!

Charging for Land

If you owned all the money in the world, and I owned all the land... How much do you think I'd charge you for the first night's rent?

The [Land Value Tax] strikes at the heart of the land monopoly. In a powerful speech, Winston Churchill said, “Land monopoly is not the only monopoly, but it is by far the greatest of monopolies — it is a perpetual monopoly, and it is the mother of all other forms of monopoly.” It is the essence of feudalism and for all of our supposed social progress we’ve yet to be free from it. Unless and until the land monopoly is destroyed, the positive effects of virtually all economic reforms and even philanthropy is largely nullified.   (Edward Miller, “The Only Economic Reform Worth Talking About“)

The Only Economic Reform Worth Talking About is, according to Miller, a shift to a Land Value Tax (a kind-of straight tax on the land itself, regardless of “property improvements” – also known as natural rent).  Another way to think about this is not so much as a tax on land owners, but we the people charging rent for use of the commons.

It’s an interesting notion.  I’m trying to reconcile it with the notions I’ve expressed before about taxing the bad stuff rather than the good stuff.  So I’m wondering, is land ownership bad stuff to be taxed, or good stuff to be incentivized?

I’ve heard the proposition that the best way to protect land is to have it owned by someone in perpetuity and pass it to their descendants, so that they have an incentive to steward it in ways compatible with its long-term viability.  The Nature Conservancy does most of its work by purchasing land in order to protect it, and it does seem to work in this system.  But I’m far from convinced that it’s the only way to protect land, or even the best option.

[Sam: ]“That’s the kind of thinking that got Manhattan sold for a box of beads.”

[Coyote:] “So they still tell that story? It was one of my best tricks. They gave us many beads for that island. They didn’t know that you can’t own land.”

(Christopher Moore,  Coyote Blue )

I confess, I’m largely with Coyote on this issue.  The idea that anyone owns the land is ludicrous.  This generation is using it now, future generations will use it later, but my gut reaction is that the land, any land, should not be “owned”; as humans, we should take care of it, perhaps take responsibility for it, but in no way can we actually take it.

I’m a little more comfortable with rent than ownership, I suppose.  So, how would charging rent to any and all land tenants help the cause of sustainability?  Could this facilitate both greater equity among people and better stewardship of all the land and all its denizens (especially the non-human ones and the generations not yet born)?  Can we up the rent on those whose stewardship neglects these considerations?

In the money culture, will a Land Value Tax encourage care and protection of the living world while providing equitably for the people (present and future) who depend on it?