Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
As Schools Crumble:
Quiet Call for
Revolution in Philadelphia
By Ellen Brown
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, May 23, 2012
“You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
not be able to skip out for beer during commercials,
revolution will not be televised. . . .
The revolution will be live.”
--From the 1970 hit song by Gil Scott-Heron
the city of Philadelphia's school system announced that it expects to
close 40 public schools next year, and 64 schools by 2017. The school
district expects to lose 40% of its current enrollment, and thousands of
experienced, qualified teachers.
But corporate media in other
cities made no mention of these massive school closings -- nor of those in
Chicago, Atlanta, or New York City. Even in the Philadelphia media, the
voices of the parents, students and teachers who will suffer were omitted
from most accounts.
It’s all about balancing the budgets of
cities that have lost revenues from the economic downturn. Supposedly,
there is simply no money for the luxury of providing an education for the
Where will those children find an education? Where will
the teachers find work? Almost certainly in an explosion of private
sector “charter schools,” where the quality of education -- from the
curriculum to books to the food served at lunch -- will be sacrificed to
the lowest bidder, and teachers’ salaries and benefits will be sacrificed
to the profits of the new private owners, who will also eat up many
millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies.
Why does there
always seem to be enough money for military expansion, prisons, bank
bailouts and tax cuts for the wealthy, but not enough for education—or for
jobs, housing, healthcare, or old age pensions? These are not
“welfare” but are part of the social contract for which we pay taxes and
make social security payments.
article reprinted on Truthout on May 10th titled “Why Isn't Closing 40
Philadelphia Public Schools National News?,” Bruce Dixon posed this
The city has a lot of poor and black children. Our ruling
classes don't want to invest in educating these young people, preferring
instead to track into lifetimes of insecure, low-wage labor and/or prison.
Our elites don't need a populace educated in critical thinking. So
low-cost holding tanks that deliver standardized lessons and tests, via
computer if possible, operated by profit-making "educational
entrepreneurs" are the way to go.
“Lifetimes of insecure,
low-wage labor or prison”—this is very close to the “indentured servitude”
that was abolished along with slavery by the 13th Amendment to the
Constitution, ratified in 1865. The freed slaves are being
recaptured by debt, beginning with the debt of school loans, followed by
credit card debt, mortgage debt, and healthcare costs.
was cynically observed in a document called the Hazard Circular, allegedly
circulated by British banking interests among their American banking
counterparts in July 1862:
[S]lavery is but the owning of labor
and carries with it the care of the laborers, while the European plan, led
by England, is that capital shall control labor by controlling wages. This
can be done by controlling the money. The great debt that capitalists will
see to it is made out of the war, must be used as a means to control the
volume of money. . . . It will not do to allow the greenback, as it is
called, to circulate as money any length of time, as we cannot control
that. [Quoted in Charles Lindburgh, Banking and Currency and the
Money Trust (Washington D.C.: National Capital Press, 1913), page 102.]
The quotation may be apocryphal, but it graphically conveys the fate
of our burgeoning indentured class. It also suggests the way out: we
must recapture the control of our money and banking systems, including the
issuance of debt-free money (“greenbacks”) by the government.
Meanwhile, in Other Unreported News . . .
alternative vision was put before a conference in Philadelphia in late
April that drew delegates from all over the United States. The theme
of the first Public Banking in America conference, held at the Quaker
Friends Center on April 28-29th, was that to fix the economy, we first
need to take back the “money power”—the power to create currency and
Led by keynote speakers Gar Alperovitz and Hazel
Henderson and highlighted in an
electric speech by twelve-year-old Victoria Grant, the conference was
all about solutions. As
summarized by OpEdNews editor Josh Mitteldorf:
two visions expressed . . . . The first is the very practical idea that
states and cities around America could be rescued from insolvency if they
had their own banks, instead of relying on commercial banks to borrow
money through bonds. Tax-exempt bond issues supply money to states and
municipal governments typically at 5 or 6% interest, while banks these
days are able to borrow from the Fed at 1/4% per year.
vision is . . . the radically-subversive idea that the system we have for
introducing money into the economy is a boon for the banks, but perhaps a
major drag on our economy. Perhaps a simple, direct system of money
creation by the Treasury Dept instead of the Fed would put an end to
cycles of recession, and create a foundation for long-term prosperity.
Banking is a huge leech on our economy. 40% of every dollar we spend on
goods and services -- 40% of all that we create and all we consume -- is
siphoned off the top as bank interest in one form or another. (Calculations
of Margrit Kennedy) The US Government is in the absurd position of
paying interest to a private bank for every dollar that is put into
circulation. The Federal Reserve system has privatized the power to create
money, which, according to the Constitution, ought to belong to Congress
alone. Presently, interest on the national debt costs the Federal
government $500 billion in 2011, and (because of structural deficit
spending) it is the fastest-growing portion of the Federal budget.
Five hundred billion dollars could be saved annually just by refinancing
the federal debt through our own central bank, interest-free. This
is not an off-the-wall idea but has actually been done, very successfully.
Among other instances, it was done in Canada from 1939 to 1974, as was
detailed by the youngest and oldest speakers at the conference,
12-year-old Victoria Grant and former defense minister Paul Hellyer,
founder of the Canadian Action Party. Another Canadian at the
conference, Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, has proposed that the
Toronto city council could improve its finances by forming its own bank.
The direct solution to the economic crisis, urged by veteran money
reformer Bill Still, would be for the federal government to simply create
the money it needs, as the American colonists did by printing paper scrip
and Abraham Lincoln did by printing greenbacks.
and states don’t need to wait for a deadlocked federal Congress to act.
As Wong-Tam has proposed for Toronto, they can divest their public
revenues from the too-big-to-fail banks and put them in their own
publicly-owned banks. These banks could then do
what all banks do: leverage capital, backed by deposits, into money in
the form of bank credit.
This newly-created bank money
would then be available for the use of the local government interest-free
(since the government would own the bank and would get the interest back
as dividends). Among other possibilities, the money could be used to
restore the schools. This would not be an expenditure but an
illustrated by the G.I. Bill, which provided education and
low-interest loans for returning servicemen after World War II.
Economists have determined that for every 1944 dollar invested in the G.I.
Bill, the country received approximately $7 in return, through increased
economic productivity, consumer spending, and tax revenues.
Legislation for public banks has now been introduced in 18 U.S. states, on
the model of the highly successful Bank of North Dakota (BND).
Elaborated on at the Public Banking conference by Ed Sather and Rozanne
Junker, the BND is currently the country’s only state-owned bank and has
been a major factor in allowing the state to escape the recent credit
crisis. North Dakota is the only state to boast a significant budget
surplus every year since the economic downturn of 2008.
Ellen Brown noted that 40% of banks globally are also publicly-owned.
These are largely in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and
China), which also escaped the credit crisis, largely because their public
banks did not rely on derivatives and, unlike private banks, lent
counter-cyclically to cushion their economies from the downturn.
Conference speaker Samuel Giles proposed that even public
universities could set up their own banks, which could then leverage
university monies for the university’s own use, rather than giving those
assets away to Wall Street to be speculated with and lent back at much
higher interest rates.
Innovative Solutions for Pennsylvania
Speakers Michael Sauvante and Mike Krauss noted that efforts are underway
in several Pennsylvania and Ohio municipalities to create public banks.
One possibility is for public banks to take an aggressive role in ending
the foreclosure crisis by acquiring abandoned and foreclosed homes by
eminent domain. These homes could be added to the asset base of the
bank, which could extend credit to restore them and then sell or rent them
at reasonable rates.
Krauss noted that Philadelphia already
has a strong effort underway to create a “land bank”—a bank to acquire,
rehabilitate and create productive uses for the city's more
than 40,000 vacant properties—and legislation (HB 1682) has been
introduced in the state legislature to enable this effort. But the land
bank proposed is not designed to function as a depository bank that
leverages funds into credit. Rather, it would simply work with
appropriated funds or bond revenue. This is a positive step toward
addressing a real need, but it could be enhanced by turning the land bank
into a public bank—a chartered bank having the power to create money as
credit on its books.
The efforts for developing public
banks in Pennsylvania are being led by the Pennsylvania Project, which was
a co-sponsor of the Philadelphia conference and is supported in its work
by the Public Banking Institute and the Center for State Innovation.
The Pennsylvania Project is creating partnerships with other Pennsylvania
public policy organizations to introduce legislation for a state Bank of
Pennsylvania in 2013, after elections are held and a strong foundation of
support has been laid.
Revolution Without Bloodshed or War
We live under a tyranny today that is just as intolerable and unjust
as that in 1776, but violent revolution is no longer an option. Our
oppressors own the military and the media, and their FEMA camps are
waiting for us.
If change is to come, it must be peaceful
and legal, beginning with a revolution in the minds and hearts of the
people. The message of the Public Banking in America Conference was
that we can throw off the yoke of the financial elite by making money and
credit a public utility; and the most feasible place to start is at the
local level, with publicly-owned banks.
For videos of some
of the speakers, see
http://www.publicbankinginamerica.org/speakers.htm. More to
come. The Victoria Grant video has gone viral, approaching half a
million hits, including copies.
is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute,
http://PublicBankingInstitute.org. In Web of Debt, her latest of
eleven books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to
create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it
back. Her websites are http://WebofDebt.com