Community Articles from 2018
California Senate votes to restore net neutrality
By Makena Kelly
Posted June 4, 2018
The California Senate voted on Wednesday to approve a bill that would reinstate the net neutrality regulations repealed by the Federal Communications Commission in December.
The bill, S.B. 822, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D–San Francisco), was introduced in March and passed through three committees, all along party-lines. The bill was approved 23–12 and will now head to the state Assembly.
After the FCC moved to eliminate net neutrality rules, states began implementing their own measures. In January, over 20 attorneys general sued the commission before the order was even published. Some governors attempted to use executive orders, while others worked with legislators. California’s bill to restore protections in the state is one of the toughest responses to the FCC’s rollback. More…
Money creation and inequality – an underexposed topic for monetary reformers
by Lino Zeddies
Posted June 4, 2018
It is beyond doubt that the current money system has a huge impact on the distribution of power and wealth and heavily contributing to systemically worsening inequality. Even though there is growing public awareness and debate about the problem of inequality, so far the focus has been on the distribution of existing money and wealth, while the distributive effect of how and for what purpose money is created in the first place, seems to be a complete blind spot.
A sovereign money system creates a much fairer economic playground compatible with the ideals of a free market economy and a thriving democracy.
Firstly, when transitioning to a sovereign money system, there would be a considerable one-time debt relief as credit money would be replaced by debt-free sovereign money. Depending on a country’s level of debt and the amount of bank money in circulation, this would typically allow a huge reduction of government debt just due to the transition. Less government debt means less interest expenses for the public, allowing lower taxes and better public services and better infrastructure. More…
Blackstone, BlackRock or a Public Bank for California’s Money?
by Ellen Brown
Posted June 3, 2018
California needs over $700 billion in infrastructure during the next decade. Where will this money come from? The $1.5 trillion infrastructure initiative unveiled by President Trump in February includes only $200 billion in federal funding, and less than that after factoring in the billions in tax cuts in infrastructure-related projects. The rest is to come from cities, states, private investors and public-private partnerships (PPPs). And because city and state coffers are depleted, that chiefly means private investors and PPPs, which have a shady history at best.
There is an alternative. California’s pools of idle funds cannot be spent on infrastructure, but they could be deposited or invested in a publicly owned bank, where they could form the deposit base for infrastructure loans. California is now the fifth-largest economy in the world, trailing only Germany, Japan, China and the United States. Germany, China and other Asian countries are addressing their infrastructure challenges through public infrastructure banks that leverage pools of funds into loans for needed construction. More…
Don’t Settle for “Fake Belonging” — In Society or Politics
by Debilyn Molineaux
Posted June 2, 2018
We human beings have an intense — an inherent — need to belong to a group. In our “cave days,” it was important for the survival of our species to be connected and work together. As we’ve evolved, physically, emotionally and societally, belonging has been equally important to our survival. Our community provides acceptance, support, and values.
It’s the “something bigger than ourselves” that provides meaning to our lives.
Belonging and connection means having a sense of purpose, which allows for happiness. We are meant to be in groups. No one is an island. No. One. We are wired for community. More…
Seizing the Public Banking Moment
by Matt Stannard
Posted June 1, 2018
The free market has failed as a governing paradigm of material life. Whatever the case for local markets in their specific context, large-scale competition and hierarchy are destructive, trauma-inducing conditions for people and the planet. For centuries, people have pushed back against those competitive and hierarchical models, advocating and experimenting with more cooperative and ecologically holistic economic visions.
One of those visions is financial democracy: public or community control of the financial system itself. Recognizing that the generation and value of money are artificial, and that how we pay for things is fundamentally a political question, advocates of financial democracy see banking – the power to lend money and to create value through the act of lending – as an enormous power. Such power should be democratic, not autocratic. More…
See Which Produce Has the Most Pesticides in EWG’s 2018 Dirty Dozen List
by Anna Hunt
Posted May 27, 2018
Almost everything we eat in the conventional diet is subject to manifold doses of chemicals. Agricultural producers often spray vegetables and fruits with 10-15 sprays, such as pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides, during the growing season. And that’s considered the norm!
In total about seven billion pounds of pesticides are used annually worldwide. This includes agriculture and other industries. For example, modern building practices employ pesticides for wood preservation. But what I’m trying to do is make a point: if you’re buying conventional, non-organic food, you are eating these chemicals.
It’s very likely that ingesting argochemicals diminishes the benefits of eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s why, it is important that you do whatever you can to lessen your exposure to these chemicals. More…
Three Key Reforms for Facial Recognition and Body Cameras
by Project on Government Oversight
Posted May 23, 2018
In recent years, we at The Constitution Project have warned that adding facial recognition scanning to police body cameras poses serious risks that could undermine basic privacy and due process rights. Unfortunately, the time to prepare for these risks is running out. This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that body camera vendors are preparing body cameras with real-time facial recognition capabilities, and law enforcement agencies could potentially deploy them as soon as this fall.
Real-time facial recognition is especially concerning because it means that body cameras will continuously scan the face of everyone passing police officers on the street, and immediately log and relay data. Before adding real-time facial recognition to body cameras, it’s critical that departments and lawmakers implement necessary measures to avert the unprecedented mass collection of the identity and location of individuals in public: More…
Overcoming the Myth of Authority
by Gary Z McGee
Posted May 22, 2018
The problem with belief in authority is that it leads to the idea that we need to give a group of people permission to control us. And, as Lord Byron taught us, power given to an authority tends to become corrupt.
The problem with power is not the intent behind it. The problem with power is that it tends to corrupt the one wielding it regardless of their intent. So, since we all know that power tends to corrupt whether one has good or bad intentions, and since we know that we will all seek power anyway, it behooves us to be mercilessly circumspect both with our own power and against the power of others.
It stands to reason that we should not ignorantly give power to an authority by blindly believing it. We should instead challenge authority first, and trust it second, if at all. The best way to use our power is to use it against authority by ruthlessly questioning it. It’s a social leveling mechanism par excellence. As a wise, young sixth grader once said, “Question authority, including the authority that told you to question authority.” More…
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