Principles of Democracy

I recall doing library work for research years ago. Sitting on the floor in a section of the Dewy decimal system looking at tables of contents, indices and illustrations from books on the same subject often took one in strange directions, off on new ones or even reminded one of basic information that one often overlooked in the excitement of the new research topic. While sitting at my computer desk using search engines, I almost recreated part of that old experience when looking for pointers to democratic principles, I inadvertently stumbled upon the online Robert’s Rules of Order. In doing a Bing Search, over 15 million results “pop” up (assuming something that massive pops and doesn’t actually recreate the big bang). Google produced over 250 million results. Checking, Robert’s Rules of Order popped up in that one, too.

As I say, I was looking for references to “democratic principals.” Heaven knows I should know what they are, but in writing about them, even in a small chapter of a book, I figure an author’s presentation should be backed up by other authors—after all, that is the way the information game is played—evidence even if the evidence is just some other bloke’s word. But, I had forgotten about the basic source for governing most democratic organizations: Robert’s Rules of Order. I was grateful for the reminder. Not only that, but the way Robert’s Rules presents democratic principled, brings them down to a local and very personal level. We all can envision ourselves as members of a small group. So, when we understand the democratic principles in the context of that group, it makes it a bit easier to place our selves in a larger group, say as a citizen (member) of the United States of America.

Democratic principles can be summarized in may ways. Perhaps they are best summarized as they are in Robert’s Rules of Order as “six essential principles that ensure that the democratic process is upheld in any organization [including a government].
1. “All members are equal—they have equal rights and responsibilities.
2. “The organization is run with impartiality and fairness.  The rules are applied equally and fairly to all and not just a few. There is no favored group within the organization [which] will get preferential treatment or who considers itself above the law.
3. “Ideas come from the members and are presented to the assembly to decide upon. Everyone gets the right to present ideas, speak to these ideas, and vote on the ideas, not just a select group…
4. “The majority rules but the rights of the minority and absent members are protected.
5. “Everything is accomplished in the spirit of openness, not secrecy. Members have the right to know what is going on within the organization by attending meetings, inspecting the official records and receiving notices and reports form committees, officers, and boards. And
6. “Leaders come from the people through an election process which is fair and not slanted so a favored group can control the organization. When a leader’s term of office ends, he or she returns to the people.  A hierarchy of power doesn’t exist; it is shared equally.  All members have the right to be considered for office.”
https://www.parli.com/index.php?mod_name=newsletter/basic-principles-of-democratic-government (10/20/2018)

A coupld of points stick out. First the notion that everyone is equal because of membership (citizenship in the context of the United States of America) Second that the minority’s rights and rights of members not present ARE protected from the majority. This one makes lies of vote suppression attempts in the name of voter fraud, or even laws requiring fixed addressed. With the low turnout rate in American elections, those who are not voting fall into the group of members not present. The third things that strikes me is the “spirit of openness.” Interestingly, this is not apparently a part of confirming justices of the Supreme Court.
If one reads the Robert’s Rules of Order statement of prinicples of democracy carfully one might begin to translate the operations of our elected representatives in a wholly different light.

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A Note on Global Warming in Response to My Friend, Cj

 

Yesterday I wrote on deartedandjody that the new version of a book on my proposal to democratize money was moving at a snail’s pace. My friend Cj commented “I wouldn’t worry too much about the money thing, in 80 yrs time the global warming will have finished us all off with several ‘big ones’ by the sounds of things.” Her comment got me to thinking about the way we, human beings, seem to respond to small changes around us—we either don’t notice or we don’t believe they are real changes. But then, we do notice some that seem to threaten our grasp of things and our grasp on things. By grasp I mean both our understanding and our ownership.

Out understanding of things is predicated upon our experiences (experiential and indirect experiences we have by reading or listening) our beliefs and our wants. All too often, our understanding does not include empathy for others in who have had different experiences than we have had. All too often our understanding is based on a very local or parochial view of the world. So, Cj’s comment that “in 80 years time the global warming will have finished us all off,” is one that accurately expresses our, human beings, response to a subtle change that has manifest itself in regions of the world in which most of us do not live or even visit—the Arctic, the Antarctic, low islands, and high altitudes. While the rest of us experience once in a thousand year storms, droughts, wild fires, and the like about once a year, we brush them off as anomalies. Besides, those once in a thousand year events, on average happen to someone else (millions of someone else). So, understanding will come too late to too many that global warming is taking place and eventually it will reach a tipping point with too much carbon in the atmosphere will make the change impact everyone and be, as scientists say, irreversible.

But understanding is not the only reason for our doom in 80 years. Ownership is another. We grasp things, own them and hang on for dear life. While we might argue that we manage what we own and keep it up to snuff and increase its value, on balance, that is not quite accurate. Largely prolonged ownership tends to cause real and other property to deteriorate over time. We get comfortable with the small cracks and inefficiency so we call them character and let them go. Large corporation tend to get a bit complacent with its resources and over time giant corporations tend to become ‘historic’ and no longer the titans of an industry they once were, if they continue to exist at all. They too get set in their ways and some of their inefficiency catch-up with them. None-the-less they, like human beings, hang on to what they have with a death grip—that all to often is a death grip. In a very parallel sense, people who hold white supremacist thoughts, either explicitly or implicit, hold on to power by denying others access. This is becoming more and more obvious in the US today as whites slip into minority status. These with supremacists talk of values and history as if that alone were reason to hang on to something they never had. By the same token we localize this ownership and trash our neighborhood property with our garbage and trash—check out floating islands of trash in the oceans and on some remote beaches as evidence of this lack of stewardship beyond our immediate property lines.

Finally I would add our wants, desires, or wishes for how we want things, fantasies if you will, to the list of culprits for our demise in 80 years at the hands of climate warming. Simply put, we don’t want the climate to change. So, we don’t beleive3it or we deny it. Then too, if we are in business and it costs us something to minimize our carbon footprint, we will eschew the cost on the basis of either belief or denial. As the Gore lecture serice made into a documentary was titled it is “An Inconvenient Truth.” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0497116/ A truth which will cost everyone something in the short term and everyone everything in the longer term.

I would submit that our wants and desires or wishes for how we want things in the future is the biggest problem as it is the one which dictates if we, human beings in every country, will take action. I assert this ad all of our political will and decision making processes are tied up in moneyed interests. Moneyed interests rule the world. So, a better response to my friend Cj’s comment would be, it is more imperative than ever than we change how money is created. For under the current system, dominated by moneyed interests, there is no motive to ward off climate warming, for it is in the moneyed interests of the word’s short term interests to keep making a profit.
If the average citizen were the recipient of newly created money rather than the bankers and financial wizards as they are now, perhaps, our priorities could be modified to the point where the warming climate may get noticed and an impetus to take action can be made?

 

Inflation under the plan to Democratize Money by Monetizing Citizens? NO WAY!

I sent a copy of my book to an old college friend months before I published it https://www.amazon.com/Democratize-Money-Monetize-Citizens-Proposal-ebook/dp/B0756RQRPG He was concerned about inflation under my proposal to have the Fed put new money (give) into adult citizen’s bank accounts. However, inflation would not be a problem that the Fed could not deal. There were less than 208 million adult citizens in the US in July of this year. The Fed held over $17 trillion in debt. If the Fed thought doling out money to the citizens in monthly or biweekly installments created a bubble (too much) money) and stimulated inflation they could sell the debt instruments they hold to contract the money supply by as much or more as the new money in the hands of citizens created. During the first year Fed deposits into citizen accounts would amount to (rounding up) $4.982 trillion (including new money the governments will get. The feds hold more than three times that in debt instruments they could sell. So, there is absolutely no reason for a surge in inflation caused by too much money entering the system given the Fed’s resources (which are in debt so it is strange to call them resources, but that is finance) to manage the money supply.

Yes there are, theoretically different cause of inflation. So, pick out one and then we can examine the tools that are used to combat it. In all cases it is a matter of psychology (Greenspan used to call it jawboning), open market operations (buying and selling debt instruments), reserve ratios (the percent of a bank’s depositors accounts it can lend) and what they call the window (the rate at which the Fed allows banks to borrow). None of the Fed’s tools are changed by my proposal. So they can still manage the money supply in the ways they have learned over the years.

Footnote: I did not cit my sources for numbers. I did that on purpose. This way a reader has to look them up on their own. I always felt more comfortable checking other people’s numbers when I could find them on my own. But to give you a hint, I googled two questions: how many adult citizens live in the US? And, How much debt does the Fed hold?

 

A 226 word statement from Robert Redford. And, a way to escape from the vicious cycle of Transfer Payments.

https://www.sundance.org/blogs/news/robert-redford-a-brief-statement-about-big-things

Robert Redford
Friday, October 5th, 2018 

Tonight, for the first time I can remember, I feel out of place in the country I was born into and the citizenship I’ve loved my whole life. For weeks I’ve watched with sadness as our civil servants have failed us, turning toward bigotry, mean-spiritedness, and mockery as the now-normal tools of the trade.
“How can we expect the next generation to step up and serve, to be interested in public life, and to aspire to get involved when all we show them is how to spar, attack, and destroy each other?
“It’s hard to blame young people for calling us out, and pointing to our conflicts between the values we declare, and those we stand behind only when it’s convenient to partisanship. Many people are rightly calling it a damn mess.
“But I want to encourage you to dig deep for hope and civility right now—to try to make connections with people you disagree with, to be better than our politicians.
“We don’t have to share the same motivations to want the same outcomes. Let’s focus on each other, and strengthening our communities, and reflecting on what’s happening. “Let’s live in justice and respect and let others fight it out now to the bitter ends.
This is our country too. Every woman, man, and child in it, our American future.
“We’ve got work to do.”

Sometime in the last month or two, Kevin Costner was on the View when I was riding my stationary bike to nowhere. He comment that he no longer recognized this country. This morning I caught reference to a statement that Robert Redford published  (see above): https://www.sundance.org/blogs/news/robert-redford-a-brief-statement-about-big-things It would seem that Mr. Redford has said it most succinctly and non-threateningly in 226 words! The only question is how do we begin to start with the current three ring circus that passes for the three central branches of government today? History shows that the big name bank robbers and mafia chiefs of the 1930s were heroes to a segment of the population too? How do we get through to today’s worshipers of false heroes?

There is a sense in which a segment of the population view tax supported programs to give the poor a leg up as taking money from them through taxes and giving it to the poor. Unfortunately, they do not similarly view the tax loopholes, subsidies and outright payments to big money interests as giving the rich money. An analysis of the amounts transferred to the poor would pale in comparison to the amounts transferred to the rich. But the segment of the population that feels their money has been taken and given to the poor does not seem to see the vastly greater amounts their tax dollars have gone to programs to aid the rich. Then too that same segment of the population feels they have been discriminated against with Affirmative Action and Equality Opportunity programs designed to bring minority members of our communities into the mainstream with “equal treatment.” A segment of our white middle class and working class population saw Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity was opportunity and action for minorities only.
Rather than try to debunk these perceptions. Le me take a completely different track. Aside from individuals biased against minorities, a big reason minorities, or any one needs a leg up in our economic system is lack of money to get the education, skills, experience or the like to get ahead. Lack of money is the reason families can not provide the secure home for raising children ang moving them into productive adulthood. So, rather than taxing people to get money to give to those who need money, we can merely change the way we create new money by giving new money to all citizens in equal amounts. (See earlier posts in this bog or check out the book form on Kindle for 99 cents below for more than you ever wanted to know about new money and how to democratize it.) Then, the segment that is truculently being taxed to provide benefits to others, will not be taxed to do that any longer.

I estimate that we can give every adult citizen $20,000 a year without creating inflation (there are some hoops the Fed will have to jump through, but it can be done). Then the only argument against this, aside from the very rich who will not longer get all the newly created money as they currently do, will be from those who do not want others to get what they are getting.

I have to find a way to get the word out.

“We’ve got work to do.”

To All Americans: I need you to help me with a 50₵ stamp, envelope two pieces of paper and ink from your printer.

To All Americans: I need you to help me with a 50₵ stamp, envelope two pieces of paper and ink from your printer.

It is time we changed the political dialog in America and bring the focus on the people rather than the rich and corporations. We need to introduce Members of the U. S. House and Senate and the media to the possibility of democratizing the economy. At a time when wages are stagnant and even lower than they were four decades ago, at a time when income inequality is growing, and even while employment is at a high along with the markets, we need to move away from a trickle-down economic system that is failing the masses. Please send my letter to your Members of Congres or anyone you can think of who might be able to start a dialog. We need to get the word out about how to finance a basic universal income. The way is to democratize money. Send my letter with a cover letter from you. The Congressional email system will not take this missive, too many hyphens, and links. So, it has to be a snail mail letter. https://www.congress.gov/members to find the addresses of your representatives and senators.
Thank you,
Ed
P. O. B0x 831
Castle Rock, WA 98611
Theo1066@yahoo.com
September 3, 2018

Dear

I ask you to consider a small but significant change in how we create money in America. We currently base our money supply on debt. Behind all the new dollars the Federal Reserve issues, are promissory notes they purchased with those newly created dollars. Basing the money supply on debt instruments means dollars enter the economy at the top of the economic pyramid and some trickle down to the average citizen—trickle-down economics. Basing the money supply on debt instruments means the supply is dependent upon the need for debt and results in a business cycle—expansion (growth or booms) and contractions (recessions and depressions). Basing the money supply solely on debt instruments means there is a growing income disparity in this country and an increase in the proportion of the pollution in poverty. Basing the money supply solely on debt instruments means governments’ revenues are at a low when governments need more and at a high when government program needs are not so pressing.
I propose we change the basis for creating new money from debt instruments to monetizing citizens. As an example, pay each adult citizen $20,000/year, tax exempt (as it would constitute a poll tax) in monthly or biweekly installments. Pay the governments an annual flat sum for each citizen in their jurisdiction, in lieu of taxes—say, Federal $2000, and states $1,000.
As a side issue, basic income proposals have been under serious discussion for the past few decades. There have been some experiments with basic incomes. However, the problem with basic incomes has been how to pay for or fund them. Monetizing citizens, a change in what we base our money supply upon, is a way to pay for basic incomes. Monetizing citizens seems like the next step toward achieving equality in the United States.
The details will impact most domestic policy and political issues. I have outlined some possible policy implications in a book, https://www.amazon.com/Democratize-Money-Monetize-Citizens-Proposal-ebook/dp/B0756RQRPG/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1535834900&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=Democratize+Money%3A+Monetize+Citizens , and a series of blogs, https://democratizemoney.wordpress.com/2016/02/20/about-democratizemoneywordpress-com/ . Note the blog is free and the eBook is 99 cents (free if you have a kindle reading subscription). I will be happy to answer questions abouthe t mechanics of such a change, inflation, poverty programs and other policy areas the change will impact.

Respectfully, T. Edward Westen, Ph.D.
(Professor Emeritus, Central Michigan University)

Elements of Donald Trump’s Strategy to be Dictator

Elements of Donald Trump’s Strategy to be Dictator

Today over 300 newspapers across the US published editorials chiding President Trump for his attacks on the media. https://www.msn.com/en-us/video/watch/newspaper-editorials-across-us-rebuke-trump-for-attacks-on-press/vp-BBM0SGh Our local Newspaper, The Daily News of Longview Washington, was among them.
President Trump’s attack on the news media is an attempt to control what the public hears and believes. This attack is anti-democratic and authoritarian. It is one part of a multiple part strategy to obtain rule by one man instead of the current Rule by Law. Another part of his strategy to become the absolute ruler is secrecy. He has apparently required non-disclosure agreements for White House and Staff (and I assume others). He has held private meetings with foreign heads of government and not included others nor informed even member of his administration of the contents of those meetings and what he has promised, most notably with North Korea and Russia. The third step in his campaign to become the absolute ruler of the United States is his taking action that either circumvents existing procedures set down in law or have no basis in law. Stripping security clearance from a former CIA head unilaterally because the former CIA chief criticized him and the relevant agencies who do the reviews and recommendation for such action were never notice nor consulted. Separating Children from their parents at the border, wholesale, and making asylum seekers criminals and their children sufferer is a policy that is not an American Law. Indeed, it is un-American.
Without going into more parts of his strategy to become dictator of the US, simply read his tweets. He campaigned against political correctness. Reading his tweets, there may be elements of political corrects therein; however, on balance, he is not politically incorrect. No, he is rude, crude, impolite, boorish, and untruthful in those tweets.
While I well understand people being afraid and supporting a mirage of strength and defiance. What those fearful people should fear is Donald Trump. His tax policy, combined with his tariff wars will cause more economic upheaval than did the explosion following the subpar mortgage fiscal of ten years ago. His economic policies are designed to line his pockets (and others with money). They are short-term and short-sighted. Those policies are already beginning to eat away at the security of some of his staunchest supporters in the 2016 election: farmers.
So, are the editorials published today going to make a difference? They may, but in ways that need a follow-up. Trump will use this day of editorials to say, “See there is a Fake News conspiracy.” And the people will believe him. So, the media needs to adopt a long-term strategy. For instance only send one reporter and camera, a pool, to cover the man and his White House. Film everything and report only news and not his lies. The media needs to continue their push back against him on a daily basis. Take him to court, report on his violation of the emoluments clause on a daily basis—accounting details of what the government spends on his golf weekends at his golf resorts. But, the media will know much more than I how to go to war against the Fake President.
T. Edward Westen
August 16, 2018

The Problem with Trade or Balance of Trade Deficits

The Problem with Trade or Balance of Trade Deficits
By T. Edward Westen

As someone who is forced to watch the public policy nonsense coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the past sixteen months (I have to, I am an American citizen), I have pondered the President’s fixation on the balance of trade between nations.

If this were August 14th, 1971 and the US had a trade deficit with another country, that country could demand we pay up in gold. Theoretically that would diminish the US’s net worth. However, on August 15th, 1971, then President Richard Nixon stopped honoring foreign debuts by paying in gold. Beginning, August 15th, 1971 we had only U.S. Dollars with which to make good on the imbalance of goods and services imported versus goods and services exported.
Somehow, the current President thinks paying for goods and services with U.S. dollars is a problem: “They will have all of our money.” Sorry, Mr. President, but someone should tell you that most of that money they will have exists as book keeping entities. Some will be paper currency, but still what is the paper currency worth? OK, so it is money. But it is only valuable because people think it is valuable and because the US Government insists those pieces of paper (or electronic representations of those pieces of paper) are “. . .legal tender for all debts public and private.”
So, at base, what does a trade deficit between the US and another country (or the world for that matter) involve? It means they give us goods and services and we give them pieces of paper (or electronic representations of the same) with the words on them that say, “this note is legal tender for all debts public and private.” You see, the only problem with trade deficits is that ‘deficit’ has negative connotations in the President’s mind. Someone needs to tell the President how these notes are created and let him in on the scam we are running against the rest of the world before he queers it for us.

America’s New Vulnerability

America’s New Vulnerability
By T. Edward Westen

President Trump has played fast and loose with treaties, agreements, trade, and relationships with allies, trade partners and international organizations around the world. He has asserted that treaties, agreements, trade, and relationships with allies, trade partners, and international organizations are “bad deals” made by predecessors in the White House. The empirical evidence and facts do not support his assertions. Regardless, his actions have negative consequences for Americans as well as those nations party to those treaties, trade arrangements, and international organizations with which he unilaterally terminated.

When President Trump assumed office, he did not sell his businesses and put his assets into a blind trust. This opened him to accepting money from his fellow Americans, the United States government, foreigners, foreign governments, and international organizations whenever staying in his properties. By returning monies to the U.S. Treasury for profits his accountants attribute to stays by U.S. government employees, President Trump is attempting to avoid prosecution and impeachment on the charge of violating the emoluments clauses in the U. S. Constitution (Art. I Section 9, Clause 8). But, he is also admitting that he profits when anyone stays in his properties.

Since President Trump is in a position to profit from his business, especially his properties, he is also in a position to incur losses from those properties. Also, since the properties are so dear to him, they represent a way to get President Trump’s attention. President Trump’s properties are America’s newest vulnerability.
I can think of at least a half-a-dozen, legal ways to exploit that vulnerability to get President Trump’s attention by focusing on his properties. But, I am relatively confident all those who have been impacted by his reneging on treaties, agreements and trade have better imaginations than I.

     If you are not an American, forward this to your foreign minister. President Trump’s weakness may not be visible to non-Americans. If you are American, get your creative juices flowing.

 

Awash in a Sea of Money — Or — Unemployed Money is not a Good Sign

 

 

I got an offer in the mail to take out a 2nd mortgage on my house yesterday.  I get offers to refinance at least once a week personally addressed to me, but the letters all have the same salutation” Dear Home Owner.  Combine these offers with the figures I hear being spent on elections, the profits banks made in the first quarter and all of the advertising for investment services and I conclude there must be one hell of a lot of money out there looking for a place to go to work.  Now for money to go to work, it simply has to earn a return, not actually do useful work mind you, but the language of money had settled on “money going to work.”

 

While I suppose it is nice to have the opportunity to increase my debt load, given the offer I received to take out a 2nd mortgage, what this sea of money looking for work tells me the unemployment rate for the average dollar is rather high (and that does not count the ones I and little old ladies put under our mattresses because we grew up with parents who grew up during the Great Depression). Under the current regime of creating money, the unemployment rate of money has generally signaled boom which is followed by a bust.  Not the attractive kind of bust an artist might sculpt for museum placement, but the kind that leaves lives shattered.  Indeed, at the present time in the US alone we have more people on the verge of homelessness despite working two or more jobs and indenturing their children. (OK, I am dramatizing it by asserting the indenture of children, but am I?)

 

That offer I got to take out a 2nd mortgage on my house is actually a desperate act by someone who holds more money than they know what to do with.  They have run out of creative ways to “put their money to work.”  So they are relying on complete strangers to think that increasing one’s debt burden is a good idea.  The simplistic economic wisdom behind putting money to work is the basis for trickle-down economics. Things will be OK if we give the rich enough money so that some of it comes our way.  Unfortunately, when it comes out way in the form of an increased burden of debt, it typically does not harm to us debtors than it helps.

 

So, by my way of thinking, it is more evidence that we need to change to way we create money.  Under the current system, we put money into the hands of those who already have it or the assets it can buy in hopes that they are greedy enough to invest some in productive activities (job creation) or that they are spoiled enough to actually buy something.  Well, it isn’t working.  So, time to put my plan into action and create money by giving it, yes, giving, to citizens just because they are citizens.  Us common citizens spend.  We get very little money, and we have had to learn to spend wisely.  However, if given a windfall, we will spend it.  Unlike the rich who insist on a return on their expenditures, we just go out and buy a beer, or a popsicle (depending upon our age and religion); to hell with the returns.