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Break up the banks?

March 29th, 2009



Dear Barbara, 

Treasury Secretary Geithner proposed a $1 trillion plan to help Wall Street make a killing buying “toxic assets” with our tax dollars and guarantees. And he proposed a complex regulatory scheme to keep huge financial institutions from wrecking our economy once again. 




But there’s a better and simpler solution: break up those huge financial institutions. If they’re “too big to fail,” then they’re too big to exist. 


Sign our petition to Congress: 


Returning to the banks and insurance companies that existed before the Reagan era would not hurt our economy. As Paul Krugman writes, “that boring, primitive financial system serviced an economy that doubled living standards over the course of a generation.” 


Our friends at A New Way Forward have a plan: 


NATIONALIZE: Insolvent banks that are too big to fail must incur a temporary FDIC intervention – no more blank check taxpayer handouts. 


REORGANIZE: Current CEOs and board members must be removed and bonuses wiped out. The financial elite must share in the cost of what they have caused. 


DECENTRALIZE: Banks must be broken up and sold back to the private market with new antitrust rules in place – new banks, managed by new people. Any bank that’s “too big to fail” means that it’s too big for a free market to function. 


Sign our petition to Congress: 


On Saturday April 11, A New Way Forward will lead protests all across the country to demand these changes. Find one near you: 


And if you’re in New York City on Friday April 3, join the National March on Wall Street: 


Thanks for all you do! 


Bob Fertik 



Forward this message to everyone you know! 


To subscribe, create a free account here: 



Lessons from Easter Island

December 21st, 2008


Feel free to sail these comments over the Internet to  friends, favorite websites or jumpstart a conversation with YOUR comments. This  and more timely columns and blogs are available at,, and  elsewhere. To be taken off this list, click unsuscribe at bottom.

My latest

A Word  About Easter Island And Other Calamitous Feedback Loops

   by Don Williams

Stone faces of Easter  Island gaze on as anthropologists, mythologists and space cadets endlessly  debate their meaning. Measuring up to 28 feet high and more than 80 tons in some  cases, the stones have elevated a ruined island paradise to the status of icon  in the realm of cautionary tales.

Either Easter Island’s  decline was brought on by smallpox and slave trade courtesy of Europeans who  arrived there in the 1700s or else, shortly after sinking roots around 1200 CE,  the islanders began destroying their own world by killing their verdant forests  in a vain effort to avert disaster.

It’s an article of faith  among tree-huggers–including me until I read up–that Easter Island fell prey to  a cult or three. For centuries, the natives built enigmatic stone heads in  tribute to dead chiefs. Such ancestor worship helped ward off trouble, they  believed, and grew their clans’ prestige, but transporting the stones and  erecting them used up lots of logs, adding to the decline of forests. This  caused a shortage of wood for building boats and a shortage of trees for birds  to nest in, and so the seafood and fowl that provided sustenance began  disappearing from their diets. Soon this once proud and accomplished  civilization turned to eating rats, even to cannibalism, the record  shows.

One theory goes that, as  the decline began, leaders commanded their subjects to accelerate the building  of statues. More than 1,000 have been counted, many left abandoned in quarries  or by the roadside. The idol boom was a vain attempt to call down the favor of  Gods. In short, by the middle of the last millennium, they’d mostly destroyed  their own environment by creating a feedback loop that spiraled out of control.  More cutting, less food, more cutting, even less food. Or so the story  goes.

If true, we’re wise to  embrace this cautionary tale, for our leaders ask us repeatedly to feed our  sustenance to idols they erect.

Idols to commerce, high  finance, fossil fuel, the military-industrial-media complex. All bask in dogmas  bordering on religion.

Behold Wall Street,  where numbers rise like stone edifices. Today we’ve passed 9,000. Can 10,000 be  far away? Is 12,000 once again within our grasp? Now watch as towering numbers  tumble.

“More capital!” implore keepers of the Dow. $700 billion should do.  No, toss in 150 more to prop up that idol, 200 for the one down on Main Street.  

Be not deceived. We’ve rendered such sacrifice before. In the 1980s,  the savings and loan industry failed, and we the people poured our sustenance  into it. Behold! Wall Street recovered, then faltered. For a time leaders  suggested feeding Social Security and perhaps, one day, all such safety-nets to  Wall Street.

Yes, feed the mighty Dow  your pensions.

Yes, feed it  Medicaid.

Yes, let’s have another  war–there’s a trillion we can feed Westinghouse and Boeing and General Electric  and other makers of armaments. There’s how we’ll restore Halliburton and the  Carlyle Group and other entities in which Bushes, Bakers, bin Ladens and others  lay money on the bet that wars they insist we fund continue to pay  dividends.

And so it  goes.

Hear the people chant,  “Drill here! Drill now!” Drill anywhere at all!

Yet deep ecologists tell  us the wealth of nations is founded on the shaky ground of drawing down deposits  of natural energy placed in this earth by the sun over billions of years. In  this, “the last syllable of recorded time,” to quote Shakespeare, we’re drawing  those deposits down ever more rapidly, turning them into money and ruinous  greenhouse gases.

England stripped her  landscape of most primordial forests in a couple of centuries and then turned to  coal, mostly in the 19th century. Then, along with America, Germany  and many other countries, she discovered the power of oil, bestowing prosperity  on millions, yet contributing to wars around the world. It’s been little noted  that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in part because of our oil embargo against that  country.

Beginning some thirty  years ago, Carl Sagan, J. E. Lovelock and other scientists began warning that  burning fossil fuels would result in a greenhouse effect. Yet the same  faith-based “conservatives” who ignored the need to conserve, applauded as  Ronald Reagan stripped solar panels from the White House and clean energy  incentives from the national budget. Now hear the pathetic chants from their  benighted tribe:

“Drill here! Drill  now!”

And so such chants  resound. Death to terrorists. Build more bombs. More ships. More planes. Support  the Troops! They’ll keep us safe.

In the next fiscal year  we’ll throw nearly a trillion dollars at the military, counting supplemental  funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s more than the rest of the world  combined will spend on all things military. Some among those nations have  signaled they’ll raise their defense spending in response, prompting a cry for  still more from us. And so the military feedback loop spirals onward,  mesmerizing the faithful.

Few  pause amid the clamor to consider truths that might set us  free.

Here’s one: For the cost  of one cruise missile or one aerial drone, we could build 80 schools in Pakistan  and Afghanistan, whence terror springs. Yet we feed the god of cruise missiles  while starving the benign spirit of education.

Here’s another: Osama  bin Laden told the world why he launched a jihad that most people agree included  the terror of 9/11. It was because the feet of infidels trod sacred ground.  Osama mostly won. We withdrew from Saudi Arabia as he and the house of Saud  demanded. We linger in Iraq, oblivious that our presence recruits more  terrorists for the likes of bin Laden.

Here’s one more: Clean  energy cannot compete against Big Oil and Big Coal unless nurtured, yet the  President and Congress spent the last eight years giving tax breaks to gas  companies, while mostly ignoring wind, solar, geothermal and other  sources.

On Easter Island, the stones stand looking, silent as  voices of the faithful who built them so many years ago.  

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist for Knoxville Voice, a  blogger for and the founding editor and publisher of New  Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of literary stories, essays and poems.  His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Michigan Journalism  Fellowship, a Golden Presscard Award and the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize. He is  finishing a novel, “ORACLE OF THE ORCHID LOUNGE,” set in his native Tennessee  and Iraq. His book of selected journalism, “Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes, the Best  Writings About People” by Don Williams, is due a second printing. Along with  Greg Palast, Marjorie Cohn, Norman Solomon, Will Durst, James Secor and others,  he is a contributing editor to Media With Conscience ( and his  commentary frequently leads the page at For more information,  email him at Or visit the NMW website at

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take on Zeitgeist: The Addendum (IMPORTANT)

October 30th, 2008

1) Is the Federal Reserve Engaged in Acts of Economic Warfare Against America?

“If the actions pursued by the Federal Reserve were being masterminded by Al-Qaeda, they would be denounced as acts of war. In World War II, such actions were deliberate acts of war. Targeting the economy for destruction by flooding the money supply with counterfeit currency is, by any measure, a threat to any nation.”

2) Meet the World’s New Reserve Currency: The Chinese Yuan

“Surely, the present financial malaise which has its roots in Wall Street and at the Federal Reserve, has demonstrated that the dollar must be replaced as the world’s “reserve currency” and that America must be deposed as the de facto steward of the global economic system. Leadership implies responsibility and the US must be held to account for its failings. It’s time for a change.”


3) Zeitgeist: The Addendum

“Zeitgeist: Addendum, attempts to locate the root causes of this pervasive social corruption, while offering a solution. This solution is not based on politics, morality, laws, or any other “establishment” notions of human affairs, but rather on a modern, non-superstitious based understanding of what we are and how we align with nature, to which we are a part.”


If people’s beliefs are invested in lies and delusions, how will they know the truth when they hear it? And how do you inform people when they refuse to believe the truth?



Over the weekend I had the opportunity to watch ‘”Zeitgeist: The Addendum”

- the follow-up to the “Zeitgeist” video. Though the 2-hour video is

freely available on their web site, I purchased the DVD for $7.00 (which

includes postage) and after watching it – purchased an additional 10

copies for friends and family. Even if you haven’t yet seen the initial

“Zeitgeist” video – be sure to check out the sequel for a superb

behind-the-curtain look at how and why the current monetary system is in

reality a crime against humanity. And though I still believe that

technology is the product of a cosmic virus infecting our program – after

watching “The Addendum” – I can now see a theoretical cure for the

contamination. But the bottom line is still the same: All the old corrupt

institutions need to totally collapse before any new spiritual programming

can begin. And the only way to insure this result is for everyone to stop supporting these activities by refusing to pay taxes.


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