Regarding The Economy and Net Worth

From The NY Times, Monday:

The recent economic crisis left the median American family in 2010 with no more wealth than in the early 1990s, erasing almost two decades of accumulated prosperity, the Federal Reserve said Monday.

A hypothetical family richer than half the nation’s families and poorer than the other half had a net worth of $77,300 in 2010, compared with $126,400 in 2007, the Fed said. The crash of housing prices directly accounted for three-quarters of the loss.

Then, from James Carville, on CNN:

To put it bluntly, the middle class in this country has been screwed, blued and tattooed.

Rising health care costs, job insecurity, declining real estate values, massive cuts to public education and public safety (no Mitt, we don’t need fewer police officers, we actually need more of them and yes, the federal government has a large hand in this.)

It is a depressing state of affairs when about two-thirds of our fellow citizens are caught in an economic trap that is wrecking their lives financially and emotionally.

He continues to call out the wealthy, the 1% (thank you, Occupy Wall Street, for this mantra) for their inaction, their carelessness, and their greed that has caused this country to spiral out of control economically. Glad to see some mainstream coverage of this on the web. This iReport on “net worth” has stories from real families about their situations – many are dire. Again, Carville’s words are better than mine. Here, he asks, who is doing something, anything?

Academics: Have you ever heard of the Princeton Center for Middle Class Studies? Not hardly.

The press: There is much more coverage on George Zimmerman’s wife than on the destruction of the middle class in this country.

The lobbyists: Give me a break. When was the last time you heard of a lobbyist for the middle class? The point here is that we are reading the most significant economic story of our time and its effect on the psyche of the people who should know better is minimal.

In the words of Warren Buffett, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

The big scandal in America is that our middle class is shrinking, and no one seems to care. Maybe someone somewhere somehow should consider doing something else.

Photo: Dr John 2005

Bank of America Responds to the 99%: This Is Your Bank (Updated)

Bank of America Announces “Your Bank of America” Campaign, Partnership with Taxpayers to Revamp U.S. Banking
Date(s): 18-Apr-2012 9:00 AM

As future clouds, opportunities arise for public synergy

CHARLOTTE, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apr. 18, 2012– Bank of America today announced the launch of an unprecedented campaign to reach out to the American public for guidelines on how banking should happen. The campaign, Your Bank of America (www.yourbofa.com), leverages the American public’s disaffection with today’s banking practices into a full suite of real banking solutions.

“We may not have all the answers, but we’re confident that those answers exist,” said Brian Moynihan, Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America. “We want to make sure the American people are well positioned to assert control and implement changes in the direction of banking, in the eventuality that such control becomes feasible.”

“Bringing in the public sector is a good strategy for earning buy-in at a difficult time for our industry,” said Moynihan. “But this is not just a PR campaign: as the public uses our new website to share ideas of how banks should be run, we will see many ideas that are quite far ahead of the market norm. Running a bank in a sane and common-sense way isn’t rocket science—and that’s something the customer knows best.”

Wow. Call me skeptical, but is crowdsourcing really the way to go for banking? The site is live, at yourbofa.com, and includes some doozies such as this one (why would they admit this?)

Part of our Bank’s strength has come from our predominance within key industries. From 2009 to 2010, for example, we invested more than $4 billion in coal, more than any other bank. This has led some to claim that we are responsible not only for exacerbating the global climate crisis, but for contributing to thousands of deaths due to cardiac and respiratory diseases, as well as 1.6 million lost work days due to heart attacks, chronic bronchitis cases, asthma attacks, and the like.

But the best part is of course the “your ideas” section, which features a fully-functional “Enter your idea here” blank with voting up and down arrows. Some at the top of the list include…

 I want my bank to pay bankers a reasonable amount (not exorbitant amount), and require they are tied to community by residence or other factors.

I want my bank to disavow and remove itself from all illegal money laundering, financing of violence and militarism, drug trading, ponzi-scheming, and theft of houses through foreclosure on properties

Bank branches should give temporary shelter to foreclosure victims.

What do you think? Brilliant PR campaign? Scam? Last-ditch effort? Regardless of the outcome, the 99% and those at Occupy Wall Street have changed the conversation for good.

(more…)

The Beginning Is Near: The Art Of Occupy

I’ve always been a fan of well-designed propaganda, even if it’s not for a cause I particularly care about. Some of the crazy Soviet-era Russian propaganda art is just gorgeous, even though the message is kind of insane. With Occupy, I got the best of both worlds: beautiful, revolution-inspired art, plus a cause that I am involved in and care about. The rad folks at Sparrow Media recently highlighted an Occuprint exhibit in NYC that showcased Occupy-themed art from around the world. Occuprint in itself is a pretty cool, too:

…a collaborative project that curates, collects, prints and distributes various posters and graphics by and for the global Occupy movement. The Archive grew out the personal collection of its co-founder, artist Josh MacPhee. This unique space houses an impressive volume of print objects created as part of various social justice movements. One of its goals is to allow this kind of art to exist outside of dominant institutions (that may not be sympathetic to OWS) and instead take it into “the commons”— making it thereby more accessible to a greater range of artists and activists.

As it so happens, Occuprint is soliciting for funds to take their message far beyond an art show: they want to print the “best of the best” posters and distribute them to Occupy movements around the country, as well as screen print or print a “limited edition portfolio of screen printed images, which will ultimately live in the permanent collections of museums, libraries, and other arts institutions.”

Occupy Wall Street and its consequent factions are a big deal: they’ve changed the course of our discussion on wealth, government, and corporate influence, they got millions to switch from corporate banks like Chase to smaller, local credit unions (see Move Our Money for more on this), and the Occupy movement mobilized America to get behind a social cause in numbers that we haven’t seen since the civil rights or anti-war movements of the 60s.

And so with any great movement comes great art and great symbols: the 99% facing off against the 1%; the silent protester being tear-gassed; the Wall Street bull being taken down; and the fearless journalist with camera in hand. These and more present Occupy and the future of our revolution in America. There’s a reason Time named “the protester” their “Person of the Year” for 2011. We are making a difference.

So check out Occuprint’s Kickstarter page (they have less than a day left and are fully backed!), their website, and revel in the wonderful art that we have to represent an exciting time in American history.Some of my favorites are below; download high-res versions here.

Egyptian Government Websites Crashed by Anonymous/CabinCr3w

The Egyptian Presidency, at www.presidency.gov.eg, has been crashed, and @CabinCr3w is taking reponsibility as of 17:50 EST.

According to Bikya Masr:

CAIRO: The Egyptian military has committed serious human rights crimes and violations against protesters, as more documentation of the violence emerges on social networking websites, showing video footage of harsh and excessive use of force against the protesters, including women and elderly people.Women have been beaten and stripped of their clothes, assaulted and threatened with rape prior to being detained. Activists say the military is escalating their violence and attacks. The number of missing people is increasing, as the death toll reached 10 on Saturday evening and the count of injured nears 400, according to official estimates from the Egyptian Ministry of Health.

Apparently, this is payback. Also down is the “12th International Cairo Biennale” at www.cairobiennale.gov.eg and a slew of other .eg and .gov.eg websites.

As Anonymous always says, “Expect Us.”

Original tweet: “Tango DOWN #Egypt #Solidarityisup.me/presidency.gov.eg #Anonymous #CabinCr3w

Will The NYSE Opening Bell Be Delayed?

@OccupyWallSt is reporting:

Reports that the opening bell has been delayed. #winning#breakfast#N17#OWS

According to the Livestream, the opening bell has been delayed. This was said out loud just a few minutes ago.

If this won’t get ’em noticed, I don’t know what will!

OCCUPY WALL STREET! ALL DAY ALL WEEK!

Follow #N17 on Twitter for real time news. There are literally 20 tweets per second about this right now (09:30 EST).