THE Global Justice Movement Website

THE Global Justice Movement Website
This is the "Global Justice Movement" (dot org) we refer to in the title of this blog.

Friday, April 24, 2009

News from the Network, Vol. 2, No. 17

This has been a very busy week for the Just Third Way. A great many pots seem to be coming to the boil. We suggest that if you read anything in the following news items that interests you and you want to get actively involved in any of the initiatives, make contact with CESJ. Contact information is available on the CESJ website.
• On Saturday, April 18th, CESJ celebrated its 25th anniversary and annual meeting, whose theme this year was "Opening New Doors." The message was meant to convey a strategy for CESJ's network of members and friends to use their personal connections to arrange meetings for CESJ spokespersons with "prime movers" who could help communicate and implement Capital Homesteading and spread the message of the "Just Third Way." CESJ's strategic projects in East St. Louis, Illinois and with the American Auto Worker Ownership Committee's proposal for saving the Big Three Automakers were discussed. President Norman Kurland stressed that we need bold initiatives to reach out to others, particularly prime movers like President Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI, to present a new framework for solving major problems in which they can focus their leadership. We recognize that this may require a step-by-step series of contacts that will ultimately lead to a face-to-face meeting with the strategic audience. Such an outreach strategy enabled CESJ to have a private audience with Pope John Paul II and to have been appointed to President Reagan's Task Force on Project Economic Justice.

• On Monday, Norman Kurland, president of CESJ, was interviewed on tape at CESJ's offices by two Manhattan community cable TV shows, one segment for the Paula Gloria show and two segments of Molly Cheshire's show. Both commentators expressed appreciation for Dr. Kurland taking the time to explain some of the intricacies of Louis Kelso's "binary economics," from both the philosophical and practical standpoints, and stated that their understanding of Kelso and Adler's revolutionary breakthrough had been greatly deepened.

• On Tuesday, President Michele Mauder and Chairman Robert Mason of the American Auto Workers Ownership Committee (AAWOC) and Norman Kurland met with Congressional members and staff to present a "democratic, grassroots" proposal for saving and reorganizing the Big Three auto companies. (A fallback position is to target the profitable Jeep division as a national exemplar, since its sole location is in Toledo, Ohio, where rank-and-file workers and UAW local leadership already support the AAWOC strategy.)

The AAWOC, made up of active and retired members of the United Auto Workers, as well individuals coming from corporate management, is proposing a 100% worker buyout of the company through an "S-Corp ESOP." This would allow current workers and retirees to purchase failing auto companies at fair market value from the old creditors after going through Chapter 11 reorganization. This structure would also allow the reorganized companies to avoid all corporate income taxes, reduce rising fixed costs, and have workers begin to take a growing proportion of their compensation from the bottom line, out of profits. One innovation suggested was to allow "Section 1042" treatment for the creditors of the new "S-Corp ESOP" companies. (Under current law, owners who sell their shares to a "C-Corp ESOP" can defer paying taxes on the sale by rolling the proceeds into replacement securities.)

The AAWOC's plan goes beyond the typical ESOP, and embodies features of Justice-Based Management in order to instill a new leadership philosophy and corporate culture based on free market principles of justice. In addition, the AAWOC would like to help the UAW move from being a wage system labor union, to an "ownership union" that would negotiate for maximum ownership benefits, rights and roles of its members.

• On Wednesday, after a week's postponement due to heavy rainstorms, the 2009 "Putting People First" Rally at the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C. was held by the newly formed "Coalition for Capital Homesteading." Despite a downpour that threatened to wash out the rally once again, the rain abated long enough to allow a lively series of presentations to commence. The rally received the friendly attention of the Federal Reserve security officers who have become familiar with CESJ's annual event. Two video crews covered the event that will be broadcast on CESJ's Youtube channel (JustThirdWay).

Former Congressman and Rev. Walter Fauntroy led the rally as Master of Ceremonies, explaining why we are calling for Federal Reserve policies that "puts people first" by creating capital ownership opportunities for every citizen. The tone of the rally was set with a poem ("Justice Q &A's") read by CESJ's Director of Communications Dawn Brohawn, who had co-authored it with CESJ director Harriet Epstein to commemorate the Fed rally.

Speakers included Mayor Alvin Parks of East St. Louis, Illinois and Mayor Nathaniel O'Bannon of Brooklyn, Illinois, who are part of 11 communities in the Metro East area of Southern Illinois who are introducing a bold community initiative for "energy independence and citizen ownership." This project will launch and develop advanced waste-to-energy technologies developed by the space and defense agencies, using a legal vehicle based on the community investment corporation invented by CESJ, called the "Metro East Citizens Land Cooperative." The MECLC will enable every man, woman and child in the area to acquire lifetime, non-transferable voting shares in this for-profit, professionally managed land development corporation, giving them equal distributions of the corporation's profits from land leasing and the new energy systems.

Also speaking at the Fed rally were Michele Mauder, President and Robert Mason, Chairman of the American Auto Worker Ownership Council, discussing their 100% worker buyout alternative for saving the Big Three Auto Companies. CESJ President Norm Kurland spoke on Capital Homesteading for every citizen, democratizing the Federal Reserve, and the monetary policy changes called for in the "Declaration of Monetary Justice" that was signed by every participant at the rally.

Antonio Betancourt of the Summit Council for World Peace spoke on the global implications of Capital Homesteading for fostering peace and a more equitable global marketplace. Dr. Sheikh Ahmed Subhy Mansour, an Islamic scholar in political exile from Egypt for his human rights advocacy, who heads the International Quranic Center, closed the rally with a benediction calling for Justice as the guiding principle for the world. At the end of the rally, the participants marched around the Federal Reserve and presented the signed Declaration of Monetary Justice to an official of the Federal Reserve for delivery to Chairman Ben Bernanke. (For information on the Fed Rally, to sign the Declaration or to join the Coalition for Capital Homesteading, go to the "Fed Rally" website.)

• Following the rally Mayor Parks and Mayor O'Bannon and some of the speakers went to various meetings on Capitol Hill to present their plans to legislators and their staff. On Thursday, Michele Mauder, Robert Mason, Walter Fauntroy and Norman Kurland held a legislative briefing on Capitol Hill, arranged by Detroit Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), to present the worker ownership strategy. Staffers of Representatives John Conyers and Marcy Kaptur's (D-OH), and Senator Voinovich (R-OH) attended. Rep. Kaptur's legislative assistant suggested that they would get co-signers for a proposal to fund a minority report and feasibility study of the worker ownership proposal, as part of the $7 million contract provided to the Boston Consulting Group. Former Congressman Walter Fauntroy said he would arrange a meeting with Congressman Conyers to open the door to the President's Auto Task Force to present this proposal. In the afternoon, the two mayors, Walter Fauntroy, Norman Kurland and others in the Coalition met with congressional staffers and Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) to generate support for the Metro East Citizens' Land Cooperative project to promote energy independence and citizen ownership.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 32 different countries and 47 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, the UK, with Canada, Brazil, and Finland. People in Egypt and Hong Kong spent the most time on the blog. The most popular posting is still "Cut Us In or Cut It Out" (meaning open up democratic access to capital credit, and stop using the nation's central bank to finance government deficits and bailout failed companies. The next four most popular are on Abraham Lincoln, with the series on "Easter Economics" fast accumulating readers. The rest of the top ten deal with the increasingly obvious flaws in Keynesian economics.
Those are the happenings for this week, at least that we know about. If you have an accomplishment that you think should be listed, send us a note about it at mgreaney [at] cesj [dot] org, and we'll see that it gets into the next "issue." If you have a short (250-400 word) comment on a specific posting, please enter your comments in the blog — do not send them to us to post for you. All comments are moderated anyway, so we'll see it before it goes up.