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Morgan Sandquist: Finance in Denial – Conclusion

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This is the last part in a four-part essay by Morgan Sandquist, a member of the Occupy Wall Street Alternative Banking Group. The previous post are In Denial, The Addiction, and An Intervention. Cross posted from mathbabe

Still sitting in our breakfast nook, with the banking industry squinting grumpily back at us through the glare of the morning sun on the perfectly polished granite table top, we can sit back, rest our hands on the table, and rather than shouting what it expects to hear, playing our part in the script of codependency, we can speak, without pleading or rancor, the truths that are beyond the script.

Rather than repeating once again our expectations and the banking industry’s failure to meet them, rather than pleading with it to live up to its obligations and do what’s fair, we can speak of the mundane practical details of our life and our children’s lives after its eventual demise, of the specific process by which everything around us will be sold to pay the ruinous debts for which its insurance will prove woefully inadequate.

We can make of the inevitability something tangible, rather than a vague, abstract threat. We can catalog the likely disposition of all of the banking industry’s prized possessions and family heirlooms, the eventual owners of everything it values. We won’t engage in a debate over whether the inevitable will occur, nor will we revel in the justice of it, because we’ll all suffer.

The banking industry must take responsibility for the laws it has broken and make appropriate restitution, not because we’re vengeful, but because the connection between choices and consequences so necessary to any successful relationship must be restored. And as long as the banking industry is adamant that it can’t or won’t change, and given the suffering that will follow from that refusal, we have no choice but to regretfully plan for our own and our children’s well-being to the extent we can. Should it accuse us of betrayal, our response is that the first step toward an alternative is one the banking industry must take.

I would have liked to title this section of this essay “Recovery,” but I’m not in the position to do that. I can’t speak to outcomes, only to process. I’m neither imaginative nor prescient enough to suggest what the successful results of our efforts might look like, but I have some idea of how those efforts should be undertaken.

I could use the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (“We admitted we were powerless over debt–that our industry had become unmanageable,” and so on) to describe what might follow from the banking industry taking that first step, but that would be a too literal extension of the metaphor.

The truth is that history offers no examples of the sort of transformation that’s now needed. Though addiction and recovery may offer greater insight into our predicament than yet another political or economic analysis, there’s no reason to believe that the situation will stick to that metaphor as it evolves, even as we proceed with what is essentially an intervention.

Gil Scott-Heron famously said, “the revolution will not be televised.” I take this to mean that any real, fundamental change to the workings of our society, won’t be an entertainment offered by revolutionaries to the rest of us. It won’t be achieved if we sit home waiting for someone on television, or now the Internet, to present us with a number we can call or text, a petition we can sign, or a ballot we can fill out. Our opinions will effect nothing, and our agreement is neither solicited nor required.

I offer this essay not to start another in the endless string of conversations about what is to be done, but to prompt you to do it, whatever it will be, even if what you will do proves that everything I’ve written here it categorically incorrect. I also offer this as an explanation of why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Among other things, I’m working with several participants in the Alternative Banking Working Group on a Web application that will allow people in New York City (and, later, the rest of the country) to find credit unions for which they’re eligible (something that turns out to be far more complicated than you might expect). This will facilitate the return of money from banks, where it functions as an addictive substance, to community ownership, where it functions as a tool in the business of that community.

I do this on your behalf as well as my own, but not in your place. What else will be done and what will come of it will be the result of what you do. The Occupy Wall Street movement is entirely open and will become no more or less than what we make of it. Tomorrow’s May Day events will provide people with the chance to find out for themselves what that movement is, how they can become involved, and what it will become.

With events in more than 115 American cities and many more around the world, you should be able to find an event near you (if you’re in New York City, you can even hear more about the prank played on MF Global by the banks).

Take the day off and meet the people with whom you share this struggle, whether you’ve agreed to it or not. If the movement isn’t what you want it to be, it’s incumbent upon you to transform it as necessary. You can sit home waiting for a movement that checks all your boxes to somehow arise and solicit your participation, but so passive an approach is unlikely to accomplish much.

Let’s all get together on May 1st and see how much we can accomplish in this American Spring.

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47 comments

  1. sissy

    I like the analogy to the 12 step program. If I am correct that first step is I am powerless over alcohol. My brother died from aids and drank himself to death doing it.

    I am powerless over Obama. He simply lies and or course ran to offer Main Street (that would be the 99 percent…) some kind of hope that something would be different for them in our country. The second wave of foreclosures is about to be released and when that happens we’ll see what was hidden in Bernanke’s ‘we don’t know where the money went Maiden Lake accounts’ and his lies. Astounding simply astounding. I truly enjoy the work of Matt Stoller on your site Yves. I have been in contact with him for some time now and I must remember to email him and let him know how deeply appreciative I am of his work. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I wish to heck that Alan Grayson would have run against Obama. Yes, Grayson is a little bit rough around the bull pen, but he is brilliant and he knows where all the nasty hidden money went to, approximately 30 billion or more dollars worth. We’ll never know how much because of course Geithner sealed the records until 2018 for the AIG accounts. Funny how that works. The head of the Treasury says zip it up, and it’s zipped up forever. When Grayson questioned Bernanke it was like watching poetry in motion. It was as if Bernanke was the middle of the bulls seye and Grayson was throwing darts. A hit every time for Grayson. As he always says, courage and carry on.

    1. Aquifer

      You are not powerless over Obama – the problem with Grayson and others like him, e.g. Kucinich, is that they will preach from their Dem perches but when the Dem high mucky mucks threaten to, or actually, take away their perches they will not leave the tree. They will peck at the bark of the poison oak, but they will not take an axe to it ..

      They talk a good game, but in the end, when push comes to shove, it is party over principle – even when the party abandons its stated principles, they will not abandon the party. Their sturm und drang amounts to little more than a whimper ….

      If you feel powerless over Obama, you are right where he wants you …. There IS an alternative ….

  2. Jack Lohman

    Guys, this whole “economics” thingy is a little fire, in place only to divert us from the core problem: political corruption. We can play around with this forever, but until we get campaign bribes out of the system our rotten politicians will keep nibbling away at our wealth, all to pass it to those Fat Cats that fund their elections.

    1. Aquifer

      The way to do that is to elect folks who don’t take campaign bribes – that leaves out the Dems/Reps ….

      The irony is that folks who don’t take these bribes wind up without much money for campaigns. Then folks look at them and say “These guys can’t win, they don’t have any money! So I won’t vote for them because they can’t win!”

      So we want folks who are not bribed – but we won’t vote for them – go figure …

  3. chitown2020

    Just heard a news report that there is legislation pending to wipe out all student loan debt in a bankruptcy. THEY WOULDN’T DO THAT WITH THE UNSECURED MORTGAGES! No..they want to put the Parents of those college students in an early grave fighting for everything that they worked for our entire lives. Yeah…give the kids a clean slate and screw the parents. I am completely disgusted with this government.

      1. F. Beard

        Credit creation cheats non-debtors too which is why a universal bailout is more just and thus more politically feasible.

      2. subgenius

        “Everybody should get a jubilee”

        …hoping that includes some mechanism to re-distribute physical assets as well…otherwise the overleveraged get to keep all their “marked to fantasy” stuff…like airports, massive land tracts, etc….

    1. chitown2020

      Here is an example of the terror that the parents of these college students are enduring. A friend of mine lost her bank job of 20 years and couldn’t find work. Her husband is a carpenter and hasn’t had steady work in years. She fell behind on her house payments with 3 years left to pay on her home and Chase threw her into fraudclosure. I have been fighting 2 fraudclosures pro se because Wells Fargo pulled our small business credit line for no reason and put us out of business after 25 years. My sister was fraudclosed on by Chase the day before the moratorium on fraudclosures and is now fighting eviction. She never had a day in court in a judicial state….she was demanded by the court to sign her house over to the title co. My brother in law lost his livelihood as a bricklayer and was evicted from his condo three years ago…..without a day in court…..in a so called judicial state by the homeowners ass. For falling behind on his homeowners Ass. Dues. This country is messed up.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        These are rackets. RICO suits are in order. Louisiana Clerks of Court are taking the lid off the box of “BigBank” black ops. As for the practice of removing (incriminating) public documents from public view, the “Decider” began this Putsch for concealing evidence of crimes in high places and its concomitant obstruction of justice. See: “AMERICAN DYNASTY” by Kevin Phillips, including Appendices and notes. The “Smartest Guys in the Room” are still at it.

        Louisiana Clerks of Court et al. — http://mattweidnerlaw.com/blog

        1. chitown2020

          I agree Leonova. This is all occurring because of decades of secrets, lies and deceptions that has resulted in the defrauding of the American people by the 1%. They and their robberbarons. This all began when CONgress fraudulently induced the FEDERAL RESERVE/IMF. They have hijacked everything under the guise of money lending and they never lent us any money. The defrauding all begins at the ORIGINATION FRAUD. Show us the paper trail and the receipts that proves they paid for anything with their own money. They cant because WE THE PEOPLE fund and pay for everything they do UP FRONT.. Time to make the criminals pay the American people back for funding their massive fraud. I will check out that link..Thanks!

        2. chitown2020

          Anyone hear about the Exxon Mobil oil spill in Louisiana over the past weekend? Their pipeline was shut down as a result.

  4. diptherio

    As to proactive steps, I have great hopes for the State/Public Banking movement. We’ve been organizing here in Montana and have received wide-spread support from the small business and ag sectors, as well as from across the political spectrum. If I get my way, the Montana Partnership Bank will include a loan facility for funding cooperative enterprises. That, I think, would be really cool.

  5. Lambert Strether

    This is a great post, more from Morgan Sandquist, please, but From The Barcalounger:

    Why are you tinkering round the edges? Why not think through and set up a usury-free Bank of Occupy? I wouldn’t mind getting using a card from you guys…

    1. F. Beard

      Why not think through and set up a usury-free Bank of Occupy? Lambert Strether

      Better yet, why not issue Occupy Common Stock Money? Let everyone pool their capital and then agree to use OCSM as much as possible. As new people donate their capital then issue new shares. “Capital” could be anything of value including labor promises.

      Why not? Don’t liberals and Progressives believe in “sharing” wealth and power?

      Hint: Don’t sell more than 49% of the stock! Stock splits could be used to create new shares without loss of control.

      1. F. Beard

        OTOH, the IRS might object and then there is the capital gains tax on common stock …

        So I reckon our society is not set up to “share”. Instead the rule is loot and be looted.

        1. chitown2020

          I was watching a Keiser Report where they talked about how our currency can be backed by anything of VALUE. That us why I suggest a currency backed by our own Natural Resource revenues. There are countries that do this. They have hijacked our natural gas and electric revenues. Our payments could back U.S. BANKNOTES…

          1. F. Beard

            Taxation authority and power is the greatest Earthly value there is. Any other backing for fiat is thus superfluousness and serves to back the backing with the power of government.

          2. chitown2020

            We are never going to get out of this mess that way. That is how we got here. They are stealing, committing fraud, plundering, borrowing, gambling, losing, investing and making trillions from the peoples money while we struggle. The globalists have hijacked all of our wealth. I want to see the MONEY TRAIL..

          3. Skippy

            Trust beard…. trust.

            Skippy… I don’t trust you, so, everything else is rubbish. Human beings don’t all act as economic rational free market monetizers.

      2. Defiant

        Why stop there? Work should be abolished accross the board, healthcare – free, food – free, housing – 6 br 4 baths and a pool – free, a brand new Lexus, and did I mention this won’t cost a dime to tax payers. All will be paid for with newly created debt free currency. Not only that, we will have tons of common stock. Sold your shares and squandered your cash? No worries – we will return the shares and throw in a hamburger to cheat you up.

        1. chitown2020

          Defiant…do you mean cash in our birth certificate bonds..?! That would be an economic boom….! They don’t want that. They want manufactured slaves to their massive, unsustainable debts. CUE THE CUSIP NUMBER…SCREW THE HOGS…I never agreed they could use me to create credit for themselves….did anyone…? Death to their secrets, lies and deceptions so they can commit massive fraud off of the backs of all of us and rob us and hoard all of the wealth for themselves……! That’s why they created a credit based economy….! They lend you nothing…and they borrow from the U.S. TREASURY off of your signature……they use each of us as their own personal bank account…! Then they oversell interests in and gamble off of the credit that they create from our signatures,…..! We are their own personal wealth creators…! Credit is the biggest scam in history. Deception is the crime of our time.

          1. chitown2020

            I accidentally hit submit and did not get to finish…what they want is each of us to be their personal eternal debt instrument….debtors for life…..! Don’t believe their lies….they never lent you any money. The FED are the debtors…! Lets sue them for not paying their debts…the crimes they committed in all of our names.

  6. Aquifer

    Well, maybe i didn’t get it all, but it seems to me that part of the “intervention” does need to consist of taking away the driver’s license from the habitual drunk even as we put more sober folks in the driver’s seat …. Methinks we can’t afford to let the drunks stay on the road any longer ..

    And of course, as is my wont, i would disagree with the concept that there is no power in the ballot – i don’t put that in the same category as texts or petitions ….

    1. tar, etc.

      Yes, there is tremendous power in the ballot. It is the only legal power we have, the means to overthrow this government that so many agree is not working for us. The power of the ballot has been degraded by the meme being promoted that it is only a choice between D and R.

      We can vote them ALL out. Check in your state what third party candidate you could support or who you could write in. If a couple untouchables lose re-election, think of the sobering effect it will have on the rest of the DC Party.

      I imagine a cartoon of the Readers Digest sweepstakes van pulled up in front of William Black’s house, his shocked expression as they announce he won – the presidency. People don’t have to buy office. They don’t even have to run. All they have to do is be the person we think would best represent our national interests.

      1. subgenius

        Power in the ballot? In the US?

        This is a REPUBLIC,

        NOT a democracy.

        Look up the difference…

        1. tar, etc.

          Republic: “a) a state or nation in which the supreme power rests in all the citizens entitled to vote (the electorate) and is exercised by representatives elected, directly or indirectly, by them and responsible to them…”

          The internet is awash in this “we’re a republican not a democracy,” but the purveyors never make the point of what it is they propose. Are we to have GS appoint regents? Are elections, and the resulting congress, a complete fraud? Are you saying not to bother?

          I’ve heard of the electoral college, who is “expected to cast their votes for the candidates selected by the popular vote in their state.” It would be most interesting to see what would happen in the extremely unlikely event the voters rebelled against the choices given.

          I am not saying I think what I posted will happen, I am only trying to expand our horizons.

          Quotes from Websters.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      A, let’s get rid of the “perverse incentives” while we’re at it. The perverse culture of fractional plundering, through the straight commission sales and bonus culture, must be eliminated. There must be a better way to assess the “value” of the salesman’s labor, which would complement a sales system that attracted salespeople whose motives were not driven by perverse incentives in a criminogenic environment of grand larceny/percentage of grand larceny. No cocaine addicts, power addicts, or adrenaline addicts need apply.

      A book from the 1980′s, “A NATION OF SALESMAN,” tells it like it is;

      “The Painful Reality of Adrenaline Addiction” by Patrick Lencioni, The Table Group (Leadership Review, Kravis Leadership Institute, Claremont McKenna College, Vol. 5, Winter 2005), gives us more insight.

      See also recent report from researchers in England, showing that [the testosterone cocktail and its chemical product that comes with the] “power” of dominant status is as addictive as cocaine. It drives women also.

  7. Susan the other

    I heard that the city of Chicago has advised people to stay home tomorrow because they are preparing for street riots. I hope May Day 2012 doesn’t turn into Bloody Tuesday.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Susan the other, how about “Bloody Sunday, January 9 according to the Orthodox calendar … the beginning of the 1905 revolution…?” (p. 61)

      “All agree on the essentials: that a gigantic crowd of workers (some 200,000 moving in five separate columns) led an Orthodox priest converged on the Winter Palace, along the five great avenues radiating from it; that the crowd was disciplined and pacific in intent–many demonstrators carried pictures of the Emperor and sang the Imperial anthem, God Save the Czar–and that the troops, after a perfunctory order to disperse, fired into the mob at close range, leaving at least 500 dead and several thousand wounded lying in the snow.” (p. 64)

      From “THE FALL OF THE DYNASTIES: The Collapse of the Old Order, 1905-1922″ by Edmond Taylor (New York, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1963).

      See also: “THE IRON HEEL” by Jack London

      The Global .01% DNA Axis, and their .99% Agents du jour, renew their ranks as the eternal, ferociously cruel and greedy “1%” from age to age. They are today the “NOBILITY and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII,” bearing “THE MIND OF THE MASTER CLASS” since “time out of mind.” The “Blood” of Old Europe has merged with that of the Old Confederate Master Class, Transnational Corporate Emperors and Military-Industrial Despots, and the treacherous money masters who work the financial “flow” to the 1%. Their appetites are boundless, their thirst unslakable, their lust for natural resources infinite, their cruelty unsurpassable. They take no prisoners.

      The “Blood” wills to have all “Soil” for their DNA’s “Lebensraum.” They are the implacable enemy of the 99%, and our Global Security State troops protect their interests. You got a problem with that?

        1. chitown2020

          Obama looked a wee bit uncomfortable? Jimmy Kimmel was pretty brilliant esp. The part about Obama is starving. A real exposure of the let them eat cake mentality and arrogance of the 1%. Susan..lets look at whose hijacked the City and County. Rahm Emanuel wants to privatize the Chicago Police Dept with Blackwater black ops. That is fascism. I for one wont go down for the show and that includes their Nato red zone crap. There are better ways to fry that fish. The people of the City should draw up a petition to have that dictator and his cameras removed.

          1. chitown2020

            The Chicago Sun Times reported yesterday that Cook Count Sheriff Tom Dart may want to use the shuttered Joliet Correctional Center to house the worst offenders arrested at the NATO Summit. The alternative is tents in the yard of Cook County Jail. Female offenders will be detained in “an undisclosed location” on the south side. Sounds creepy.

    2. Defiant

      I’m sure this has nothing to do with the 9 billion of unpaid bills and countless billions o money stolen, sorry meant to say earned, by the union thugs, sorry meant labor class. The government is refussing to steal from tax payers, sorry meant to say “help” Illinois by simply adjusting accounting entries at the fed which will dilute everyone else’s money. I don’t understand how the government can stand by and not rip the tax payers of just a few more billions. I used to be an Austrian but now I understand that there is no reason for any American to suffer through work when can all live free if we can only issue our own currency.

      Thanks beard for enlightening me..

      1. JTFaraday

        I think you and Beard should go your separate ways. I am hereby granting you a divorce.

        1. Defiant

          I think I understand where beard is coming from. I mean, isn’t the government there for the people? Think about this for a minute, everyone will have enough money to spend, if not the government can print whatever is needed to boost demand. This can work while every single American is on permanent work leave. Why stress the lives of our people. All this is achievable when you live in Mars, sorry meant to say, monetary sovereign. Those Europeans don’t get that all it talked is a few accredited entries.

          1. Defiant

            Oh I’m just getting started. Companies will produce everything for nothing. What more can they ask than the honor of giving to us? Did I mentioned you would get a free hamburger with your shares?

  8. jiminy

    Defiant misses an important proof in the sovereign fiat money for everyone theory:

    Since the fed and treasury created 15, 16, 21 Trillion dollars for the banks out of thin air, which worked perfectly, then surely this will work even better for the masses, no?

    1. chitown2020

      They can start with Nationwide loan recissions because they don’t have the notes. Then the U.S. GOVT can start issuing our own currency via State Banks backed by our own natural resource revenues…the peoples gas and electric…then we will be on the right path. Abolish the FED.

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