Constituent Assembly Dictatorship or Democracy in Venezuela?

On July 30th, Venezuelans will elect a people’s body called the “Constituent Assembly” comprised of hundreds of representatives across the country with the power to redraft the constitution.

U.S. politicians, press and opposition in Venezuela are calling the process a “coup” that should be boycotted by all.

Abby Martin addresses the criticisms with Head of the Presidential Commission to oversee the Constituent Assembly process, Elias Jaua, speaks to supporters and participants of the Assembly, interviews historian Chris Gilbert and explains what is at stake in Venezuela if the social programs instated under Chavez are terminated by the opposition.

 Constituent Assembly Dictatorship or Democracy in Venezuela?

On July 30th Venezuelans will elect a large citizen body called the Constituent Assembly. This group of 537 Venezuelans, representing multiple sectors and municipalities, will have the power to redraft the constitution. The main charge currently being levied at the government by the opposition is that it is a dictatorship, claiming the Constituent Assembly is a power grab while U.S. politicians and press allege it to be part of a coup attempt. In reality, the democratically elected assembly will only successfully draft constitutional amendments after all Venezuelans are presented a chance to vote on the changes.

What exactly is the Constituent Assembly and in what ways does it pose a threat to Venezuela’s democracy? Abby Martin traveled Venezuela to find out.

While in Venezuela, Abby witnessed numerous street actions held to generate support for the Assembly and attended two public mass meetings explaining how Venezuelans can be involved in the democratic process– Maduro calls it a peaceful solution to the recent violence. Those putting their hope in this democratic process are calling for a peaceful dialogue with the opposition. In stark contrast, opposition leaders are making charged statements, claiming that “Venezuela will be lost” if the Constituent Assembly is successful. Outside players are not hesitant to get involved. In fact, Marco Rubio, vocal in his threats of issuing sanctions on the country if the Assembly proceeds, claims the process is a theft of democracy.

Supporters of Venezuela’s current government are prepared to amend the constitution in a way that protects current programs that are vital to the well-being of numerous Venezuelans, especially those who are struggling. This massive movement places emphasis on the person and the well-being of the family– it is “a revolution of peace, revolution of love” according to one supporter interviewed.

The opposition has gone so far as to respond with additional violence by targeting participants in the Assembly. Recently, on July 10th, a Chavista running as a delegate was murdered when he was shot 8 times. They claim the assembly could rewrite the laws to exclude their preferred parties and instead of boosting their own candidates that support their platform, they are calling for all Venezuelans to boycott this constitutionally allowed political process.

The current constitution of Venezuela makes it possible to active the Constituent Assembly when necessary. All candidates are independent and not nominated by political parties. The election process is seemingly fair and encompasses a vast array of different cultural and economic sectors, with 50% of participants chosen based on location and 50% chosen by secret vote in 8 sectors that include workers, students, indigenous, employers, disabled, seniors, farmers and fisherfolk for a total of 6,120 candidates.

“Revolutionary men and women are invisible to foreign media.”

Despite this fact, the specifics of the process, and the large numbers of government supports eager to participate in the Assembly, are largely absent from the media. The fact that the current constitution emphasizes family and aims to provide a means for all families to live a dignified life is rarely addressed or acknowledged.

The programs that many Venezuelans are eager to protect via the Assembly are called “missions.” There are over two dozen of these missions that were created by Chavez and there is a valid fear the opposition will repeal these programs if they gain control of the government. The missions provide necessary tools and support for Venezuelans from all walks of life. For example, Mission Sucre provides free higher education, Mission Musica provides musical instruments and lessons to youth, there is a mission to provide free healthcare for the low income community and another mission that has provided 1.6 million homes for low income Venezuelans. These missions have sustained the revolutionary spirit of Venezuela for the past 18 years and they will not be given up on without a fight.

These programs have led to a dramatic drop in poverty in Venezuela. Poverty fell from 43% to 26%– with extreme poverty falling from 17% to less than 7%. In addition to the drops in poverty rates, college attendance more than quadrupled, grade school attendance doubled and infant mortality dropped a shocking 50%. Many Venezuelans are rightfully fearful that these statistics will shift under opposition control.

The opposition has vocalized their own plans for missions, some of which include privatizing the programs. While humans are at the center of the current government model laid out by Chavez, money is seemingly at the center of the opposition model. There are numerous examples the world over for why this is not a successful strategy. Despite frequent invitations to be a part of this political process, the opposition continues to reject the idea. If the majority of society supports the opposition, as they claim, there should be nothing to fear in the opposition’s participation.

So it seems the Constituent Assembly does not pose a threat to Venezuela’s democracy at all. What it does do is pose a threat to the increase in capitalism and privatization that the opposition, the bourgeois class, is seeking. Do not be mistaken– a class war has erupted in Venezuela and the opposition is on the wrong side of history.

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Abby Martin in Venezuela – Supermarkets to Black Markets

Abby Martin talks to Venezuelans on the streets of Caracas and investigates the main claim that there’s no free press, and that there is no food in the supermarkets.

Using hidden cameras, she takes you through local grocery stores and the underground black market currency exchange, the main source of inflation in the country.

Abby sits down with economist Pasqualina Curzio to learn more about the nature of the black market and chronic shortages of goods. Knowing that world leaders are calling for foreign intervention, Abby finds out if locals agree.

Abby Martin Venezuela – Supermarkets to Black Markets

The Venezuelan opposition, their protests and their related conflicts receive significant press in the corporate media across the globe. But what about the other side? Supporters of the Venezuelan government engage in large protests that the media largely ignores. The atmosphere of these peaceful protests is noticeably different than those of the opposition movement and those present seem to have much to say. Why do the millions of voices standing up peacefully in support of their government have no presence in the media’s portrayal of the struggle in Venezuela?

The picture of a widely hated Venezuelan government is absolutely false and is a distraction from the actual struggles that Venezuelans face. While supporters of the opposition claim that there are few jobs, few rights, little food and no freedom of the press, supporters of the government counter with evidence of a free press, uncensored internet access and full restaurants and grocery store shelves.

“What media has done is distort all the information.”

On the streets of Caracas, where a majority of the large opposition protests take place, multiple newspapers fill newsstands, stores and cafes with new editions appearing daily. Not only are headlines supportive of the government found on the front pages of these papers, but more than half of the available papers blatantly support the opposition, their pages filled with images and opinions supporting the protestors and bewailing the government. In addition to newspapers, Venezuelans are free to consume news and entertainment via the internet and television with unobstructed access to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and non-state-owned television stations. In fact, state-run television in Venezuela only reaches 8.4% of viewers. The censorship, if there is any, must be extremely hard to find and discern as it appears the press in Venezuela has much of the same freedoms found in many other countries, socialist or not.

“Not everything is as it seems in mainstream media.”

Another attention grabbing claim regarding the unrest in Venezuela is the significant and extreme lack of food. Wild claims such as zoo animals being stolen to be used as food and talk of lines in which Venezuelans wait for hours for food fill the corporate media coupled with shocking images of empty store shelves and physical struggles for food. The hours long lines portrayed as a grueling, everyday experience for most Venezuelans are not for food in general, they are mostly for bread and other common goods unique to Venezuela.

On a recent trip to Venezuela, Abby Martin explored this claim by visiting multiple supermarkets where she found aisles of fully stocked shelves and captured it on hidden camera footage. The only item missing being toilet paper, despite other paper products such as napkins and paper towels, being readily available. While it is true that high demand and commonly used products, such as toilet paper and pre-cooked corn flour, can be hard to find, it is not due to an economic crisis. Rather it is an economic war influencing the availability and cost of certain items. Despite the overall picture the media shares with the world, Venezuela has maintained a GDP per capita 9% higher during the last four years than in the last 30 years and the country’s unemployment rate is currently 6.6%, almost 3% lower than in neighboring Colombia.

Why are only certain mass produced goods affected and why is it that fruits and vegetables in the markets are fresh and readily available? It appears the market is being manipulated and sabotaged by the major corporations that are responsible for production and distribution. The CEO of Polar, one of the largest manufacturers of common food products in Venezuela, is a vocal opposition supporter who has been accused of hoarding goods.

These goods, that are seemingly absent in markets and stores of all sizes, can often be found in the illegal black market. If an economic crisis were prohibiting the manufacturing of these goods they would not exist within the black market. Instead these items are making their way into the illegal market often with a high price tag. The unusually high and variable exchange rate on the black market is seemingly inexplicable, inspired by DolarToday, a website based in the U.S. and run by a Venezuelan named Gustavo Díaz, who was granted political asylum and now resides in Texas, where he works at the local Home Depot.

The Venezuelan economy is indeed suffering and the people of Venezuela do have hurdles to overcome in this economic and political war, but the struggle is not cut and dry and mainstream media is certainly not shedding light on the full story. Despite calls for it by western media, when asked if Venezuela was in need of U.S. assistance, one supporter of the democratically-elected government stated simply, “We do not need any personality, nor some politician, much less a businessman, to come save us,” with others echoing similar sentiments.

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From Squawk Box to CSPAN – Cutting Through the Beltway Bubble & Democracy Gap

LadyLibertyByRobChandanaisFailed ideas, infighting, and glimmers of hope.

I found myself watching CNBC’s Squawk Box the other morning and an Ohio Republican named Ron Portman was on. He was being beamed in from the Russell Rotunda in Washington, with its columned grandeur and air of gravitas. What a lovely backdrop for the savaging of America. Portman is the Republican prototype. Innocent eyes. Puritan earnestness. Flour white face. Bland coat and tie. As part of that long-running hit, the GOP Weekly Address, Portman announced a seven-point plan to create American jobs. He said his program would spark an economic recovery, a whip that political hacks never tire of using to flog the presses. Here are his seven sterling steps to the next big boom:

1. Adopt “Common Sense” Healthcare Solutions

Portman didn’t go into much depth on this one, but a majority of Americans would agree. Although Portman and the people might fall into a bit of a quibble over what exactly “common sense” meant. For Portman and his colleagues, common sense healthcare means leaving it to the market, where the all-important profit margin invariably dictates stingy coverage and unaffordable premiums. For many Americans, health is a sacred human right that ought not to be subjected to human greed. But more to come on that front…

2. Power America’s Economy

Note the pun in this one? Clever. This is mostly about fracking, faster permitting, and exporting liquid natural gas (LNG). None of which are the slightest bit helpful from a climate change standpoint (See Gasland and this fast-track special for more on that). As the powers that become ever more enthralled by “energy independence” and the wondrous profits it promises our billion-dollar petro giants, the work of committed anti-frackers may be increasingly marginalized by the enormous financial incentives to fracture the bedrock of the earth, no matter how many poisoned aquifers result.

3. Begin Living Within Our Means

This is more fearmongering around the Koch brothers’ deficit reduction campaign, a bipartisan con if there ever was one. Without mentioning the elephants in the room—the military budget and the periodic trillion-dollar bailouts of corrupt mega-banks—Portman wants to slash the deficit in other ways. Gee, I wonder where those cuts will come from? Perhaps “reform to entitlement programs”? Republicans like nothing more than anything that will “encourage personal responsibility,” a perpetual refrain of Senatorial millionaires. Perhaps Goldman Sachs’ Jamie Dimon can be brought in to help make this case to Main Street.

4. Reform Tax Code to Spur Economic Growth

This is especially farcical coming right after the harangue about cutting debt. It must be acknowledged that cutting taxes cuts government revenue, which pays for programs that must otherwise be sustained with loans or—as the GOP prefers—not sustained at all, but rather demolished altogether. Yet “reform tax code” is itself code for lowering taxes on corporations and individuals, with particular callouts for cutting taxes on the rich. It’s not as though taxes are already pretty low by historical standards, and when you begin factoring in deductions, you soon arrive at globally competitive corporate rates, and occasionally discover that your multinational owes no tax at all. In any case, this concept is based on the fallacy of trickle down economics, that the more money you put into the pockets of rich people, the more they will spend creating jobs for poor people.

Perhaps Portman and his rabid neoclassical colleagues have been napping since 2008 and missed the mortgage meltdown, the too-big-to-fail bailouts, and the aftermath, when banks sat on more than a trillion dollars in government money since they had what is sometimes referred to as a “liquidity preference.” As political economist Alan Nasser has noted, nobody likes to invest in a crappy economy. Hence the need for Keynesian stimulus. But that would require government intervention, a terrifying scourge at which we’ll soon arrive. Even Obama seems to believe jobs can only come from the private sector, as he famously touted in 2009. But set reality aside, and let’s embrace failed economic theories in the hopes that uneducated workers will fall for the ruse of tax cuts one more time. Viva a falsidade!

5. Unburden the Economy from DC Regulations

This is perhaps the most comical point, especially when Portman tosses around terms like, “regulatory relief” as though American business is simply hamstrung by the myopic interference of our frothing socialist government. It’s not as though the lack of regulation, happy encouraged all through the Clinton years, led directly to the mortgage meltdown and the subsequent horror show, thanks to savings and investment bank mergers, lax lending standards, unregulated derivatives and commodities markets, and toothless criminal regulation of premeditated mortgage fraud, pension theft, and so on. And it’s not as though the history of British, American, and German, not to mention Korean, Japanese, and Chinese industrialization was dependent precisely on regulation in the form of protectionist measures such as import tariffs and currency and price controls.

6. Create Competitive Workforce

This is another laugher. As if Barack Obama isn’t already fast-tracking America labor toward Third World status. Have any Republicans been paying attention to the jobs being produced by the Obama-conomy? Part-time, low-wage, low-skill, high-turnover, nontradeable service positions. In other words, bartenders, wait staff, and bedpan emptiers. Or, to put it another way, we’re only creating jobs that can’t be exported. A Chinese laborer in Shanghai can’t bring a beer to your table in Des Moines, no matter how cheaply he can be had.

Of course, Portman’s bullet points on the workforce ignores the need to generate good jobs, and instead offers a fog of rhetoric about consolidating job training programs, consolidation being a synonym for cutting programs, as is the call to defer decisions on how to allocate training monies to states, where Republicans control the majority of legislatures. There is some logic to this: why train people for nonexistent jobs? Portman’s colleagues also smuggled education beneath the banner of a competitive workforce—another strange inclusion. Why waste money educating the population? But the purpose of mentioning education is, as always, the desire to enervate the Department of Education and empower the privatization of education, primarily by creating more charter schools.

7. Increase Exports to Create More American Jobs

Perhaps the only way to do this on a mass scale would be to drive wages down far enough for America to be competitive with Bangladesh and other nations were factories routinely collapse on top of their employees. Of course, ten buildings have collapsed in Harlem in just the last five years, so perhaps the analogy isn’t so apt. If this is indeed the goal—and the president does frequently harp on exports—this may be as much of an admission as point six that the bipartisan objective of our government is to pauperize America. Then feudal conditions can be implemented. Fiefdoms overseen by CEOs instead of Lords. We vassals can trade our labor for subsistence, never wondering where the surplus goes (who reads Marx anymore?). And perhaps then we will proudly become the world’s sweatshop, filling shipping containers with the plastics craved by Indian parvenus and Chinese arrivistes. It has been suggested that in a few years a Detroit autoworker will be competitive with his Chinese cohort. Should we rue the day, or accept our reduced privileges, even as our corporate moguls, untethered from their employees by labor arbitrage, soar above us in private sky fleets, while their state minions monitor our hoods from hovering drone helicopters, awaiting the advent of a tepid protest?

Hope Springs Infernal

But then you see Senator Dianne Feinstein making a speech before Congress that accuses the CIA of spying on the Senate. This is mighty surprising coming from one of Edward Snowden’s biggest haters on Capitol Hill. I suppose so long as the spying is done on low-wage, low-profile Americans, it’s fine. But once the surveillance community turns its wanton eye to Congress and its bevy of millionaire influence peddlers, the ethics take a sharp U-turn. Feinstein was plenty irate at the thought of Obama’s paramilitary “agency” impeding her committee’s investigation into its torture habits after 9/11. Anxious to further impair its public reputation, the CIA has accused the Senate of criminal activity and asked the DOJ to investigate. Nothing like getting out in front of a scandal, right?

But there’s always a harsh rebuke in store for a freethinker. This one comes in the form of CIA Director James Brennan, who openly scoffs at Feinstein’s accusations. A bemused Brennan claimed that illegal, clandestine activity is far below the ethical code of the CI—but wait, isn’t illegal, clandestine activity the heart of the CIA’s mission statement? You hear him tell a CSPAN staffer that Congress ought to be careful not to inflate its description of what the CIA has done. Yes, Mr. Brennan, because prudence has long been the byword of the Central Intelligence Agency. We all remember how careful it was in assessing the threat of Iraqi WMDs—it’s not as if it played fast and loose with the facts in the lead up to the Second Iraq Oil War.

What is occasionally mind-boggling is just how close these federal agencies actually come to seeing the truth—and even stating it. The Quadrennial Defense Review, or QDR, released last week, provided a summary of international threats. The authors were remarkably clear-eyed in noting that Al-Qaeda has vastly expanded its influence across the Middle East. Then, in a staggering admission, they conceded that destabilizing events in the region, such as wars in Syria and Iraq, were the leading causes of Al-Qaeda’s resurgence. It’s only the smallest of leaps from here to the question, “Why is the Middle East unstable?” Answering this question would lead our brave military leaders to the nearest mirror. But the leap is never made, the question left unasked, and the dark visage never glimpsed. This habitual lack of self-incrimination is increasingly a device employed by the White House.

Few presidents have spoken the truth with more regularity than Barack Obama. He has talked about the uninsured, income inequality, the trouble with surveillance, the need to reboot American manufacturing, and on and on. It’s clear, in some compartment of his brain, he knows what’s wrong with America, but is incapable of acting to fix it. It’s as though, in his incrementalist philosophy of political change, merely stating the truth is an innovation worthy of the name ‘progress.’ He might feel differently if his most secret conversations were being openly compiled by the dismissive Mr. Brennan.

The Subversive Breakout Session

Thankfully, there are pockets of sunlight, blades of brightness that slice through the dark cloud of ignorance that darkens the beltway day. A couple weeks ago, the irrepressible Senator Bernie Sanders hosted a hearing on healthcare, an event expressly designed to cast scorn on Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). Sanders assembled a Benetton ad of healthcare experts from around the world—Taiwan, Canada, Denmark, Australia, and one dismayed and defensive defender of the ACA. This paladin of corporate interest increasingly retreated to some fortuitous study on infant mortality, only to see it quickly discredited by a bored academic seated along that dire row of socialists.

One after another, goaded by Sanders, the guests dispassionately extolled the virtues of free publicly funded healthcare—taking time, as one Canadian did, to disparage elements of their system (prescription drugs) foolishly left to the private sector. From lower costs to higher outcomes, the case was made. Eventually, the sole guest defender of the ACA and a couple of Republican Congressmen—condescendingly bemused by this minor specter of socialized medicine—argued that all of these Benetton nations were simply benefiting from America’s prodigious research budgets and thus able to offer free care. The implication being that only private industry was driving the medical innovation that saved lives. Nobody bothered to mention that vast funding for R&D comes from the government itself via taxpayer dollars. In any event, Sanders soon closed the proceedings and the foreign guests were sent packing, while the transcript of the festivities were hurled down Orwell’s memory hole. But trust me, this actually happened.

The Continental Divide

While there’s plenty of media coverage now—thanks to Occupy—about the gross inequalities of American incomes, very little coverage is given to another gap: the democracy gap. Or, to frame it otherwise, the gap between what Americans say they want and what American politicians give them. An abyss has opened between our desires and our policies. A majority want universal health care. We get the ACA. A majority want us out of other countries. We get clandestine coups. A majority want more spending on education. We get bigger Pentagon budgets. If polls like those of Pew or Gallup are to be believed, Americans generally don’t get what they want. Examining some of the debates underway in the beltway bubble is enough to illuminate you to this fact—you needn’t poll anyone. The story of our anti-democratic drift also occasionally surfaces, like a bubble from a gaseous swamp, amid the general miasma of mainstream media. The stray left-wing blogger. A labor union old-timer scribbling in a socialist rag. The curious senator with a bottomless ire for injustice. If only there were some force multiplier by which we could clone and amplify their voices. But then, something like that would have to be called democracy.

Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry. He lives and works in New York City and can be reached at [email protected]

Photo by Flickr User Rob Chandanais

Digital Currencies and Privacy Protection

By now, you’ve probably heard about Edward Snowden, the 29 year old National Security Agency contractor who defected to Hong Kong after leaking explosive revelations about the extent of the agency’s spying program.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, Snowden explains that NSA analysts have the technological ability and blanket legal authority to snoop on anybody. “Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector, anywhere… I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President.” 
 
The story sent shock waves through diplomatic circles and the corporate media.  But it’s just the latest story in long wave of recent scandals, including the Associated Press phone records subpoena, the IRS- tea party investigation, the Rupert Murdoch phone hacking and Occupy Wall Street undercover police informant and provocateur revelations.  
 
Snowden further explained the far-reach of NSA capabilities to intercept every mode of our private lives, by saying “with this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your e-mails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your e-mails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.”
 
His bold confession is not to be understood in a vacuum.  There are countless videos of low level US government personnel poking gloved fingers around travelers’ genital areas, causing permanent distress and embarrassment.  Racial, religious profiling and clever contrary profiling of white infants and grandmothers  is now encountered at train stations, bus stations and highway checkpoints as well.  For more than two centuries, this heavy, iron fist did not figure anywhere in the American republic.

Now, police departments across the country issue “administrative subpoenas,” i.e. without a search warrant signed by a judge, to routinely seize troves of customer details from mobile carriers, enabling them to track the whereabouts of millions of subscribers.

High tech surveillance drones are being acquired to spy on Americans while the constitutional scholar and Nobel Peace Prize President uses predator drones to kill thousands abroad, including women and children and American citizens, without bothering to bring any criminal charges in court, let alone convict them of any crime.

Often, the targets’ names are unknown. The killing is based on appearances called signatures: purported intercepted speech, including emails and people the targets are associated with.  Its a remote, high tech way to profile targets and it is in this context that Snowden’s revelations should be digested.

The assertion that only bad guys need to worry about PRISM is very naive.  Something as innocent as dialing a wrong number could bring you unwarranted scrutiny.  Someone with an ax to grind could drop a dime on you and wreck your life.  
 
The intelligence services and the military take a prophylactic approach.  This means they increasingly believe that with programs like PRISM, they can identify
likely criminals and terrorists before a crime or terrorist act has occurred.  
 
For all its acronyms and technical jargon, the PRISM spy program rests on a simple premise: Secretly record all information about everybody, everywhere at all times, then archive it forever.  Since any human being has the potential to become a criminal or terrorist suspect in the future, a dossier on that person will be readily available, including who that person has associated with in the past

The dossier focuses on four areas: financial transactions, phone records, Internet records and travel logs.  This diary of bytes makes it possible to ruin anybody under any pretext at will.  It creates undreamed of leverage of the state to terrorize the individual and groups of individuals. All manor of abuse is justified under the ‘War on Terror.’
 
An exhaustive review is beyond the scope of this article, but a few simple but clever changes of habit can go a long way towards protecting yourself from warrantless, illegal, unconstitutional and invasive collection of your genuine private information.  To begin, I will focus on the encrypted payments and communication system called Swiftcoin.  From a recent press release:
 
“Users running the Swiftcoin application present a challenge to eavesdroppers. This free application requires no identification or payment to download. Once installed, it enables users to opt out of the common email servers operated by large corporations that are obliged, under gag orders, to provide back door access to invasive, over reaching public and private interests.

Swiftcoin, like numbered Swiss bank accounts, does not identify users by their names. Unlike bank accounts, the user number changes every time he/she presses the send button. The Swiftcoin application may be moved off the user’s computer into a pen drive and opened up again on another computer at will. Swiftcoin users can not be traced by name, by IP address or by device. “
 
This is called deep encryption because the literally encrypted communication, including its “meta data,” is not identifiable unless the user chooses to make her wallet id public.  Every sent message departs from a new “location” or the same location as the user wishes.  The same is true for the recipient.  Every message or payment is unique and may employ disposable meta data.   In addition, the user device itself can be substituted at will.  Furthermore, a Swiftcoin wallet can be moved to a pen drive and uploaded to a different device.  All of this makes it substantially more difficult to spy on and record a user’s activity, because the correlation between a Swiftcoin id and a particular person is tenuous.  Swiftcoin does not rely entirely on encryption which, at the end of the day, can be cracked by cryptographers.  The very way that Swiftcoin is designed to be used does not lend itself to tracking any individual over time.

 
Alas, the Swiftcoin homepage states that it is not available to U.S. citizens.  However, the Swiftcoin telegram remains freely available to all regardless of nationality.  Every new user may receive ten free Swiftcoins, ( good for 10 000 telegrams; every Swiftcoin ” telegram ” costs 0.001 Swiftcoin ) which is returned to sender upon a return mail from recipient, for a net cost of zero to send and receive a telegram.  No money or purchase of Swiftcoin is required to download the program and use the telegram feature.

Written by Daniel Bruno for Media Roots

Modern Money, Public Purpose, and Democracy

MEDIA ROOTS Modern Money and Public Purpose is the 2012-2013 Series on Contemporary Issues in Law and Political Economics at Columbia Law School. The video below displays some hard-hitting, yet, little-known truths about our economy. We can broadcast the truth about money and the people’s democratic sovereignty to control it, especially given the false economic crises facing Americans–where unnecessary economic pain and austerity is being inflicted onto the people.

The speakers in the fifth installment in the series, Dr. Woody Holton (Univ. of S. Carolina), Dr. Farley Grubb (Univ. of Delaware, Economics Department), and Dr. Christine Desan (Harvard Law School) is moderated by Dr. Gillian Metzger (Columbia Law School). A notable aspect of this panel is the description of the origin of money, which traces its value in our society to today’s modern money systems. These inquiries lay bare the reality of money sovereignty for public purpose, denied by those who truly wield power in the USA, namely those who control the power to create money. As Dr. Holton noted in quoting the private banker Gouverneur Morris during the 1787 Constitutional Convention: “The monied interest will oppose the plan of Government, if paper emissions be not prohibited.”

Messina

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NEW ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVES—The latest installment of Modern Money and Public Purpose is now online.  This seminar explores the relationship between money and the legal formation of the modern liberal capitalist state, with a particular emphasis on the pre-Revolutionary and early United States.  In contrast to conventional economic narratives that cast money as lubrication for existing forms of exchange, this event highlights the legal and political origins of our modern monetary system, and traces the influence of those forces on the shape of the modern economy.

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“The number one reason the people who wrote our Constitution were there—in Philadelphia, in that summer of 1787—was to stop the states from printing paper money. That’s the number one reason they were there,” said Dr. Holton.

Wow. The monied interests would straight shut down Government and Democracy, altogether, if the people awaken to the power of controlling the money supply for the public purpose. Although the speakers presented important work and were descriptive of historical truths, they seemed less, or un-, willing to explicitly connect those important truths to today’s real conditions of unnecessary and avoidable widening inequality and economic misery for a growing majority, as others do, such as Dr. Michael Hudson:

“But if governments are not allowed to create their money, then all of the credit the economy needs is created by the commercial banks. And when the commercial bank credit creation leads to debt deflation and the government cannot finance the deficit to pay the interest then the commercial banks say: Alright, sell off and privatise your infrastructure. This is what we’re seeing in Greece today, in Ireland. You’ve seen it in Iceland. What you are seeing is a financial grab of infrastructure that is taking place by the ability of commercial bankers to prevent the central bank from creating credit.”

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