List of Grievances
Occupy Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Adopted by the General Assembly on January 18, 2012
WHEREAS THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION PROVIDES THAT:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
1. Elimination of the Corporate State. The merger of the American political system of republican democracy with the economic system of capitalism has resulted in the establishment of a corporate government of, by and for the benefit of domestic and multinational corporations. Therefore, the 99% of the American People demand an immediate ban on all direct and indirect private contributions of anything of value, to all politicians serving in or running for federal office in the United States. This ban shall extend to all individuals, corporations, “political action committees,” “super political action committees,” lobbyists, unions and all other sources of private money or things of value, including but not limited to, direct or indirect gifts and/or promises of employment. Private funding of political campaigns by concentrated sources of wealth such as corporations have completely corrupted our political system. Therefore, all private funding of political campaigns shall be replaced by the fair, equal and TOTAL public financing of all federal political campaigns.
We, the 99% of the American People, categorically REJECT the concepts that corporations are persons and that money is equivalent to free speech because if that were so, then only the wealthiest people, corporations and entities possessing concentrated wealth would have a meaningful voice in our society. We demand the immediate and complete elimination of all private political contributions through the enactment of new campaign finance laws and amendment of the Constitutional if necessary (see suggested grievance 2). It has become clear that politicians in the United States cannot or will not regulate themselves and have become the exclusive representatives of corporations, unions and the very wealthy who indirectly and directly spend vast sums of money on political campaigns to influence the candidates’ decisions when they attain office. This cycle of legalized bribery ensures the reelection of the same corrupt politicians year after year despite historically low approval ratings.
2. Overturning the Citizens United Case. The immediate abrogation, even if it requires a Constitutional Amendment, of the outrageous and anti-democratic Supreme Court holding in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and its progeny. This heinous decision proclaimed in 2010, equates the direct and indirect payment of money to politicians by political action committees, corporations, wealthy individuals and unions with the exercise of protected free speech. We, the 99% of the American People are outraged and demand that this judicially sanctioned bribery of politicians be reversed and never be deemed protected free speech again.
3. Elimination of All Private Benefits to Public Servants. The 99% of the American People demand the immediate prohibition of private benefits to all federal elected officials, public employees, officers, public servants, officials or their immediate family members. This prohibition includes an end to the corrupt “revolving door” in and out of our government. Elected and unelected public officials and their immediate families shall be banned from ever being employed by any corporation, lobbying firm, individual or business that the public official specifically regulated while in office. No public employee, officer, official or their immediate family members shall own or hold any stock or shares in any corporation or other entity that the elected or unelected public official specifically regulated while in office until a full 5 years after their term or employment is completed. There shall be a complete lifetime ban on the acceptance of all gifts, services, money or thing of value, directly or indirectly, by any elected or appointed public official or their immediate family members, from any person, corporation, union or any other entity that the public official was charged to specifically regulate while he or she was in office.
The term “specifically regulate” shall mean service on or employment with a committee or sub- committee or service within any agency or department of the federal government responsible for the regulation of the person, union, corporation or entity seeking to offer a private benefit. To root out corruption and restore integrity to our political system, all elected politicians and public employees must ONLY collect their salary, generous federal healthcare benefits and pension. To enforce these policies, Congress shall immediately pass new criminal laws banning the aforementioned private benefits to politicians and public officials. Any person, including individuals connected directly or indirectly to corporations, lobbyists, or unions who violate these new criminal laws shall be sentenced to a term of mandatory imprisonment of no less than two years and not more than ten years. Private benefits shall include the use of any insider information as defined by existing laws, by elected and unelected public officials who attempt to profit in financial markets or investments.
4. A Fair Tax Code. A complete reformation and simplification of the United States Tax Code to require ALL individuals and corporations to pay a fair share of a progressive, graduated income tax by eliminating loopholes, unfair tax breaks, exemptions and unfair deductions, subsidies and ending all other methods of evading income taxes. The current system of taxation unjustly favors the wealthiest Americans, many of whom pay fewer taxes to the United States Treasury than citizens who earn much less and pay a much higher percentage of their incomes in taxes. Any corporation or entity that does business in the United States and generates income from that business in the United States shall be fully taxed on that income regardless of corporate domicile or they will be barred from earning their profits in the United States. This will allow honest companies and individuals who pay their fair share in income taxes to take over those markets in the United States economy formerly held by income tax cheats. Businesses and individuals that pay taxes in other countries will no longer be permitted to use that excuse to justify their failure to pay federal income tax in the United States if they obtain benefits from doing business in the United States.
5. Healthcare for All. Medicare for all or adoption of a universal single-payer healthcare system. The broken Medicaid program will be eliminated as redundant. Affordable healthcare for all shall be a human right.
6. Protection of the Planet. Human greed, exponentially magnified by corporations partnered with corrupt governments, is destroying the only habitable planet known to humanity. Multinational corporations have purchased so much influence in Congress (and other governments in the world) that they can secure the passage or blockage of regulations to maximize profits and minimize conservation of the environment. The evidence of climate change due to human activity can no longer be denied by rational people and species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate. Humans have caused the extinction of hundreds, if not thousands of species through overharvesting, pollution, habitat destruction, introduction of new predators and food competitors, overhunting, and other influences. Unsustainable human population growth is an essential cause of the extinction crisis. New comprehensive laws and regulations must be immediately enacted to give the Environmental Protection Agency, and other environmental protection regulators around the world, expanded powers and resources to shut down corporations, businesses or any entities that intentionally or recklessly damage the environment, and to criminally prosecute individuals who intentionally or recklessly damage the environment. No “corporate veil” should protect any employee, officer or director of a corporation who is directly or indirectly engaged in the intentional or reckless decimation of the planet for profit. The amount of profit a corporation can make must be balanced by conflict-free regulators with the inevitable damage that human activity inflicts on the environment. The 99% of the American People demand the immediate implementation of new and existing programs to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels to reusable or carbon neutral sources of energy and higher greenhouse gas emission standards so that something will be left for our children and grandchildren. The rights to clean air, water, and conservation of the planet for future generations shall no longer be infringed by greed-driven corporations and selfish individuals.
7. Debt Reduction. Adoption of a plan to reduce the national debt to a sustainable percentage of GDP by 2020. Reduction of the $15 trillion national debt to be achieved by BOTH fair progressive taxation and cuts in spending that benefit corporations engaged in perpetual war for profit, inefficient healthcare, pharmaceutical exploitation, over-prescribing medications for profit, the communications industry, outsourcing jobs, the prison and military industrial complexes, criminal banking, securities and finance schemes, the oil and gas industry, and all other corrupt entities and individuals that have used the federal budget as a private income stream for decades. This “pay to play” racket run by Congress and the top income earners has resulted in a $15 trillion debt and questionable future for our nation.
8. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. Passage of a comprehensive job and job-training act like the American Jobs Act to employ our citizens in jobs that are available with specialized training. The American People must be put to work now by repairing America’s crumbling infrastructure and building other needed public works projects. In conjunction with a new jobs retraining act, reinstitution of the Works Progress Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps and similar emergency governmental agencies tasked with creating new projects to provide jobs to the 46 million People living in poverty, the 8.6% unemployed and 16.2% who are underemployed. Re-training will focus on science and mathematics necessary for 21st century technologies, green energy, and new sources of American manufacturing to reduce reliance on imported goods.
9. Student Loan Debt Relief and Refinancing. Our students and former students are more than $1 trillion in debt from education loans. These young people have far fewer employment prospects due to the financial collapse directly caused by the unbridled and unregulated greed of Wall Street. Ensuring a higher education, particularly in the fields of science, engineering, technology, green energy and mathematics, is no longer a luxury for the few and must now be viewed as a national security issue. Banks receive virtually interest free loans from the Federal Reserve Bank and then charge upwards of 6% interest to our students for profit. Because education is the only way to secure our future success as a nation, interest on student debts must be immediately reduced to 2% or less and repayments deferred for periods of unemployment. Subject to the provisions of grievance five, the tax code will be amended so that employers will receive a student loan repayment tax deduction for paying off the loans of their employees. Outright federal grants should be provided to those students who pursue and obtain degrees in the sciences, green energy, mathematics, technology and engineering. Moreover, to reduce the principal on all outstanding student loans, a financial transaction surcharge, similar to those fees charged by banks on consumers, will be introduced to banks and securities firms. The current economic crisis, the worst since the Great Depression, resulted in the $1.5 trillion dollar bail out of Wall Street, secret Federal Reserve loans, and unknown losses of trillions of dollars to the economy.
10. Ending Perpetual War for Profit. Recalling all military personnel at all non-essential bases including but not limited to the Cold War era deployments in Europe, South Korea, Japan, Australia and Cuba and refocusing national defense goals to address threats posed by the geopolitics of the 21st century. Congress shall pass new legislation to reinvigorate the War Powers Resolution to limit the deployment of military forces to those instances where Congressional approval has been granted. New laws must be enacted to counter the Military Industrial Complex’s mission of perpetual war for profit. The United States has engaged in war after war only to later to discover that the pretexts relied upon to enter these wars were false or exaggerated. The goal of war in a corporate controlled state is to generate profit for the Military Industrial Complex and other industries and individuals who benefit directly and indirectly when humans kill one another. The annual savings created by updating our military posture and ending perpetual war for profit will be applied to the social programs outlined herein.
11. Emergency Reform of Public Education. The public education system in the United States is a resounding failure. New educational goals to train the American people to perform jobs in a 21st century economy, particularly in the areas of technology, infrastructure repair, water and resource conservation and green energy must be mandated as a national security issue. These reforms must be accomplished by taking into consideration the redundancy caused by technology and the inexpensive cost of labor in China, India and other developing countries. Scientists and other professionals should be recruited from all over the world to teach our students to be competitive in a global economy. Bonuses must be granted for merit performance and enticing the best people available to teach our children. Teachers are the key component to a new American renaissance and they must be paid a competitive salary commensurate with salaries in the private sector. Teacher salaries in public education must be based upon similar skills and education levels found in the private sector because without highly- skilled teachers, there will never be a highly-skilled workforce and the United States will fall further and further behind its competitors.
12. End Outsourcing and Currency Manipulation. Subject to the elimination of corporate tax loopholes and exploited exemptions and deductions as stated in grievance five, limited tax incentives will be permitted to entice businesses to hire our citizens rather than outsource jobs. Conversely, an “outsourcing tax” should be introduced to discourage businesses from sending jobs overseas and tax incentives should be offered to companies that invest in reconstructing the manufacturing capacity of the United States. This country must again competitively produce everyday products in the United States rather than importing them from countries like China and India. To do business in the United States, corporations must make slightly less profit by hiring American workers and paying them a living wage rather than maximizing every penny of profit to the detriment of our society. Congress must implement legislation (see e.g. H.R. 639) to encourage China (which undervalues its currency by an estimated 25% to 40%) and our other trading partners to end currency manipulation and reduce the massive trade deficit.
13. Banking and Securities Reform. Immediate reenactment of the Glass-Steagall Act and increased regulation of Wall Street firms by the SEC, FINRA, CFTC, the Justice Department and the other financial regulators including the recently established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We further demand an immediate investigation by the Justice Department into the potential criminal practices of the Securities and Banking industry that directly led to the collapse of markets, foreclosure crisis, bank bail-out and firm failures in 2007-2008. As discussed in grievance ten, to facilitate the aforementioned student loan debt relief, banks and securities firms shall pay a financial transaction fee, also known as the “Robin Hood Tax”, on each and every stock trade and other financial transactions without passing the costs onto consumers. Uniform regulations will be enacted to specifically limit what banks may charge consumers for ATM fees and/or the use of debit cards and other so-called miscellaneous fees. There will be an end to the $4 billion a year “hedge fund loophole” which permits certain individuals engaged in financial transactions to evade graduated income tax rates by treating their income as long-term capital gains which are taxed at a much lower rate (approximately 15%) than income tax.
14. Foreclosure Moratorium. Adoption of an immediate emergency plan to end the mortgage crisis. The privately owned Federal Reserve Bank shall not continue to lower interest rates for loans to banks that are refusing to loan to small businesses and consumers. Instead, the federal government shall buy all mortgages in foreclosure and refinance these debts at an interest rate of 1% or less because that is the approximate current interest rate the Federal Reserve charges the banks who hoard the cash despite ample liquidity. These re-financed debts will be managed by the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and an independent foreclosure task force appointed and overseen by Congress and the Executive Branch to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether foreclosure proceedings should continue based on the circumstances of each homeowner and the conduct of the financial institution when originating the loan.
15. Ending the Fed. The immediate formation of a non-partisan commission, overseen by Congress, to audit and investigate the short-term and long-term economic risks in eliminating the privately-owned Federal Reserve Bank and transferring all its functions to the United States Treasury Department. It is widely believed that the housing bubble and collapse of financial markets in 2007 and 2008 was proximately caused by the mismanagement, incompetence and blind eye of the Federal Reserve Bank.
16. Ending the Electoral College and Enactment of Uniform Federal Election Rules. The 99% demand the abolishment of the Electoral College in favor of the Popular Vote in presidential elections to avoid situations where the Electoral College elects a candidate who does not receive a majority of the popular vote. Congress shall immediately enact electoral reforms requiring total equal public campaign financing to all candidates who obtain sufficient petition signatures and/or votes to get on the ballot and participate in the primaries and/or general election. All funds used for the election of federal politicians will be drawn from a trust specifically created for this purpose and managed by the Federal Elections Commission and the United States Treasury. Individuals, unions, corporations or other groups or entities that wish to contribute to the campaign trust may do so without knowledge of where the funds will be applied. Instead, all private funds contributed to the trust will be commingled with taxpayer monies budgeted to the trust. Politicians will no longer be required or permitted to ask for campaign contributions of any kind. To reduce voter fraud and voter discrimination, Congress will utilize the commerce clause to implement nationwide uniform election rules applied to all voting districts requiring equal access of third parties to appear on ballots; abolition of “gerrymandering” by utilizing non- partisan public commissions so that third parties may fairly compete in elections; allowing voting on weekends and holidays to increase voter access to the polls; issuance of free voter registration cards to all citizens who are eligible to vote so that they cannot be turned away at a polling station because they do not have a driver’s license or other form of identification; a review of the exclusion of voters with non- violent criminal records provided by corporations to eliminate voters from the rolls, outlawing the tactics currently used by certain states to limit and obstruct voter access to the polls by requiring additional forms of identification and/or passing “tests” to vote; and expanding the option of mail-in ballots and secure verifiable internet voting for those citizens who cannot attend the polls to vote in-person due to disability or absence from the country.
17. Ending the War in Afghanistan and Care of Veterans. An immediate withdrawal of all combat troops from Afghanistan and a substantial increase in the amount of funding for veteran job training and placement. The enactment of new comprehensive programs dedicated to the treatment of the emotional and physical injuries sustained by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Our veterans, who have sacrificed everything for this country, are committing suicide at an unprecedented rate of one person every 80 minutes. The 99% of the American People care and demand assistance to these veterans now.
18. No Censorship of the Internet. In 1983 approximately 50 corporations controlled all news media outlets in the United States. Today, ownership of the news media has been concentrated in the hands of about six powerful media corporations. The free Internet and its related technologies foster free speech, innovation, and a global human consciousness. We believe that the Internet and its related technologies are the joint property and work-product of humanity, and as such, it must not be censored or regulated in any manner without the consent of the people who utilize and contribute to its vitality. We therefore demand the immediate withdrawal of the Stop Online Piracy Act or “SOPA” (H.R. 3261) and the Protect IP Act (S. 968). These bills, if enacted into law, will grant the government broad new powers to curtail speech on the Internet, block domain names, track internet protocol (“IP”) addresses, dramatically increase the cost of using content on the internet, chill innovation and creativity of web entrepreneurs in favor of a few media corporations that already own or control most online content. Furthermore, any future action by the government to censor, dismantle or interfere with, any other future technology that promotes communication between human beings, will be deemed by the people as a violation of the First Amendment and the universal human right to free speech and assembly. We also call upon the United States government to vociferously condemn any country that currently represses the speech of its people including the censorship of the Internet and related technologies.
19. Reinstitution of Civil Rights. Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, legislation has been enacted to curtail the privacy and civil rights of American citizens. Foremost among these laws is the Patriot Act of 2001 and more recently, portions of the National Defense Authorization Act wherein the government now may or may not require the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens suspected of planning or assisting “belligerent” acts. Citizens who may or may not be held in indefinite detention may or may not be tried before a secret military tribunal without access to family, friends or an attorney. This law, could be abused to make U.S. Citizens disappear and effectively repeals the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and suspends the Writ of Habeas Corpus for anyone taken into custody under its provisions. The Patriot Act has allowed for the increased surveillance of American citizens and CIA access to confidential credit reports, school records, communication records, Internet activity, and other personal information, without consent or notification. We call upon the United States government to repeal those portions of the Patriot Act that limit the civil rights of American citizens, repeal the National Defense Authorization Act and immediately stop all abuses of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act which allows “Star Chambers” and extrajudicial eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without oversight.