Economics

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With the objective of sparking public debate before the 2020 presidential election, this panel will consider a direct action solution to the student debt crisis: Activists from four generations will discuss and envision the strategy of an organized student debt boycott, using our collective burden as leverage against the American ruling class, and global capitalism itself. Every day that we continue to perform the status quo is time that cannot be recovered; the struggle for human survival past this century demands that we act now, and when all else has failed, we must consider revolutionary action. Throughout history, there have been countless movements of working class people demanding the cancellation of usurious, unpayable debts to the ruling class, often accompanied by general strikes that disrupt everyday life. A movement of American students, graduates, and teachers, engaging in civil disobedience and honoring the ancient tactic of an organized debt strike, could change the power dynamics in the fights for student debt cancellation and universal free higher education, at the national and state levels. A student debt boycott could also help unite the multitude of intersecting movements for social justice in an intergenerational coalition that is not dependent on electoral politics to build power. For this strategy to be fairly considered, the American public must be made aware of what has been hidden in plain sight: For many years, the largest student loan servicing companies (Navient, Nelnet/Great Lakes, PHEAA) have been legally gambling with federal student loan debt, despite being under contract with the Department of Education. Just in the decade since 2009, a trillion dollars worth of federal student debt has accumulated; in the same time, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose from roughly 390 to 410 ppm (parts per million), a trend that will define the remainder of our lives. All the while, this immoral and unregulated loan servicing industry has issued billions of dollars in Student Loan Asset-Backed Securities (SLABS) every year, which are sold to investors and traded in speculative financial markets. Generations of Americans are being stifled by permanent indebtedness and a declining standard of living, but a small number of corporations and their CEOs are making extraordinary profits capitalizing on the high interest rates paid by student borrowers. Obscured by fake economics and bipartisan political corruption, a student loan default crisis looms in the near future, which will inevitably cause the collapse of the SLABS market, decades before these assets will reach their final maturity. In the pursuit of infinite wealth regardless of the human cost, capitalism has burdened students with unpayable debt, but also provided them the means to crash the system and disrupt business as usual. This panel will consider the notion that accelerating the default crisis to put direct financial pressure on the student loan industry may be both justified and necessary in order to force Congress to solve this crisis, liberate 44 million Americans from debt and empower them to transform society, and provide for the future security of American students.

Location: 
LA
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There are many reasons to start your own bank. We ask this conversation remain practical, explaining what mutual banks, co-operative banks, public banks, land banks, time banks, peer-to-peer banks and all these other banking models are, why you may want to join one, or start your own. Moderated by Chris Lindstrom with farmer Tianna Kennedy (of Catskills Time), artists Julieta Aranda and Anton Vidokle (of E-Flux Time/Bank), Mike Krauss and Kristen Ragusin (of the Public Banking Institute), and Elizabeth Friedrich (of the Occupy Bank Working Group). --- "The only true method of organizing the alternative world of Mutuality is thru voluntary non-state free institutions such as co-ops, mutual banking & insurance ... sustainable economic ventures (i.e. non-capitalist businesses) like independent farms and craft ateliers willing to federate with the commons..." - Peter Lamborn Wilson, "Occupy Wall Street, Act Two" --- "The ideal [Occupy] bank would be democratically owned and controlled by its customers and employees. Like many credit unions, all depositors would get an equal say, regardless of the size of their accounts. It would be non-profit, building in a competitive advantage over the for-profit banks ... Any small-scale bank we establish say in New York would have be to be replicable by others elsewhere." - Carne Ross (Occupy Bank)

Location: 
LA
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The best way to fight a monopoly is to create actual alternatives to it. A roundtable discussion of what approaches, cautions and political questions to consider as we build out these additional monetary systems.

Location: 
LA
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With mass production of products and denser populations it's no longer possible for people to make most of the things required to survive in an urban culture. Economists have been clear about the value of this specialization of skills & knowledge on increased wealth, but a fair bargain has not been made for the people who forfeit their self sufficiency.

The weakness of LETS/barter/clearinghouse schemes is that they donѓ??t invest in infrastructure. Silvio Gesell's demurrage currency properly addresses the reasons our money tends to pool into ever fewer hands, causing the velocity to slow & the inflationary injection of new money into the system by central banks.

A holding fee removes the incentive for leveraged speculation and encourages long term investment. Demurrage currencies promote long term thinking by imposing the same storage fee on currency that real assets have. Positive interest rates prefer short term gains since returns on long term projects are exponentially discounted to present value. Demurrage currencies have the opposite effect; itѓ??s more profitable to spend on fruitful long term projects.

A demurrage currency that invests in nonprofits chosen by its users democratizes the added value of our credit commons and amplifies the benefits of these non-profits. Nonprofits that provide housing food and jobs for people at risk are the ideal place to begin building a truly democratic economy.

Location: 
LA
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The Left suffers from something like Econophobia -- we tend to be afraid or at least apprehensive about engaging in economic debate. To capture the public imagination and intervene successfully in politics today, the Left needs to strengthen its capacity to understand and explain economics in popular terms.

Location: 
LA
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Occupy Alternative Banking proposes to run one of its typical weekly Sunday meetings as a Left Forum workshop, as it did the last two years. You can learn about us at http://altbanking.net/. But in brief, we grew out of Open University sessions at the Occupy protests, and have been meeting ever since. We are open to all comers, and meet every Sunday afternoon at Columbia University to discuss current events and theory related to the dysfunction of the financial system, develop strategies, and endeavor to implement them. Our meeting-structure involves listing some topics for possible discussion, allowing attendees to add others, and then voting on two or three to discuss (in assembly-style format) during the meeting. We believe our two previous appearances at the Left Forum were very successful, both in terms of how they were received, and in their bringing some wonderful new consistent members to our weekly meetings and community. We propose to run a similar workshop this year. Other presenters will include Natasha Blakely and Thessy Mehrain, both of Occupy Alternative Banking.

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Panelists will pose the Henry George Theorem in terms of a picture of society battling within diametric poles of “democracy” and “capitalism.” Whereas the capitalist would maximize gain without concern for social and income inequality, the small “d” democrat would use government to assure that moral suasion and Constitutional rights put limits on capitalists maximizing their yields. Steve suggests an aspirational technique of letting free markets work will allow land value taxes to be quantified and made available for use by the community for all the services constituents need.

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Income Inequality is growing wider by the day while Social Ills keep ailing the global human polity amidst an unparalleled advancement of the technological and scientific frontier.

We are being told that handouts to the poor, minimum wage, Unions, Taxing the Rich Lowering Taxes, Social Security, Universal Basic Income, Free Pre-K, Free College for All, Open Borders and unchecked immigration, Deficit Spending, Unlimited Government borrowing, Reintroducing the Gold Standard, Reforming the Federal Reserve, "Free" Trade or Protectionism, Regulated or Deregulated Markets, Protecting Private Property/Or its centralized appropriation are solutions to the problem.

All these contradictory solutions are being touted by either side of the ruling elites and their parrots in Politics, Media and Academia as solutions
to our Society's problems. Really?

All these schemes have been applied in one form or another and seem to exacerbate the problem rather than solving it. In a battle with the Cancerous Viral effects of "Rent Seeking" behavior both the so called "Left" and the so called "Right" come in armed with band-aids... all the while playing useful idiots
to the one and only real enemy of the Productive Classes i.e the Rent-Seekers (masqueraded as Financiers, Insurance Companies, Real Estate Owners).

So what should the productive classes do? Come and join us in an eye-opening discussion and effective solutions against the progressive gangrene of the economic enslavement of Humanity and the Destruction of our Global Commons.

Location: 
NYC
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Aaron Hamlin Felix Sargent from the Center for Election Science and acclaimed author Jackrabbit Rockstar invite you to join them in a round table discussion on Instant Runoff Voting and Approval Voting, and why they’re a prerequisite for any and all democratic revolutions in the United States. Our current voting methods are the fundamental barriers to legitimate democracy. This will be a conversation on how we can subvert the current system to make true alternatives a reality.