Beth Buczynski’s new book: Sharing is Good: How to Save Money, Time and Resources through Collaborative Consumption, chronicles the roadmap to our sustainable future. This accessible and well-written volume explains the many ways that sharing our resources can not only help to save money, energy and time, but can also allow us to strengthen our communities and build more meaningful personal relationships with one another.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has just introduced the Federal Student Loan Refinancing Act, legislation which would allow students to refinance their college debt at a much lower fixed rate of interest. These reforms are especially needed, because in July US student loan rates are set to double to nearly 7%. Strangely, this is also happening at a time when our government continues to allow billionaire Wall Street bankers to borrow money for a small fraction of that cost.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced her first bill, which allows for college students to borrow money at the same low rate of interest which Wall Street banks enjoy. Why would billionaire bankers be given a much more favorable loan rate than poor, struggling students? That is a very good question that the senior senator from Massachusetts has been asking.
There are only two days left to help save one of the Mission District’s most beloved and inspiring institutions, Adobe Books. Only a few more thousand dollars are needed to help keep this vital space from shuttering its doors forever. This shop is a cornerstone of artistic and cultural life in the neighborhood, as well as throughout the entire Bay Area — please don’t let it die.
This week House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stated that the historic profits recently made by Wall Street demand that our nation increase the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour. The California Democrat explained that these enormous corporate financial gains have not translated into higher wages for most workers, and millions of working families are facing severe hardships as they continue to struggle.
It seems like every month the number of people who are unemployed, or in need of food stamps soars to record new levels, while corporate profits continue to skyrocket. Attempting to describe the gargantuan disparity in wealth that exists in the United States is increasingly difficult. Currently 1% of our population now possess 40% of our nation’s wealth, while the bottom 80% of us own just a scant 7%.
We are in the middle of an economic revolution toward much more local investing. The collapse of mammoth Wall Street banks, the LIBOR scandal and corrupt corporate malfeasance have given rise to growing support for regional credit unions, cooperatives and time banks, as well as increasing interest in loaning money to small independent neighborhood businesses. Michael Shuman, the director of research and economic development at the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), has written about this expanding money revolution in his recent book, Local Dollars Local Sense.
One of the most inspiring recent developments to arise from Occupy Wall Street is a rapidly expanding movement to bail out regular folks through debt abolishment. This is not debt resistance or student loan forgiveness, but just ordinary people buying and erasing what others owe. The economic activist group, known as Rolling Jubilee, has begun raising money to erase millions in debt for our fellow citizens.
One of Iceland’s most prominent citizens is the free speech activist and Icelandic MP, Birgitta Jónsdóttir. The leader is one of the plaintiffs who won a landmark decision which ruled that US indefinite detention provisions are unconstitutional, helped release the horrific Collateral Murder military video footage, and has also been working to free imprisoned whistleblower Bradley Manning. Jónsdóttir is now working to create a documentary film entitled “The Mouse That Roared”.
Jon Stewart spoke with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz about how the extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of a few plutocrats is destroying the very principles upon which our country was founded:
“It seems like people are not angry at wealth or success, they get frustrated by what appears to be an entirely different set of rules put in place by the wealthy, who then say: ‘Hey man, I’m just playing by the rules’, as though those rules were an arbitrary design of the free market.”
A new report has been published which compiles detailed information about the enormous amount of money that is being hidden by billionaires in offshore accounts. The research, The Price of Offshore Revisited, shows that over 21 trillion dollars, more than the total combined GDPs of both the United States and Japan, are being sequestered out of sight into the legally murky offshore economy. The super elite are using every available resource to exploit loopholes in cross-border tax rules to avoid paying their fair share.
The most egregious criminal financial fraud of all time is now unfolding before our eyes. A handful of corrupt banks have been intentionally manipulating global interest rates, also known as LIBOR, which stands for London Interbank Offered Rate. When it is not being illegally twisted by bankers for their own monetary gain, LIBOR is meant to gauge the average interest rate that banks charge each other to borrow money. The measure is also used as the basis for nearly all other lending rates, from what we pay for student loans to home mortgages.
As our nation’s economy continues to flounder, an increasing number of municipalities are incarcerating people who can not afford to pay for tickets and misdemeanor fines. Some regions have turned over government services, such as probation, to private for-profit companies. Their court systems are attempting to raise income by imprisoning the most vulnerable — trying to balance their budgets on the backs of the poorest and most disenfranchised people in our society.
Since the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, our nation’s democratic process has become so corrupted by unlimited corporate donations that it seems to be crumbling before our very eyes. Now that money is considered speech, the voices of millions of citizens are being crushed by a handful of billionaire plutocrats and narrow big business interests. The corrupting influence of unrestricted campaign donations upon our elections was evidenced in yesterday’s elections in Wisconsin.