Pages: 1 2
Just last year, Piven urged delinquent mortgage holders to stay in their homes for as long as possible without paying in order to bring the system crashing down. She told videographer Kyle Olson:
But if millions of people … refuse to go along with foreclosure proceedings, and refuse to pay off those mortgages that are under water, that will be enormous pressure on the banks. And if they do it in the form of a social movement, if they do it with pride and audacity, if they do it with a sense of self-righteousness, the political leaders of this country will not be able to round them up.
But radicalizing “under water” homeowners is only one component of the SEIU plan: Lerner also spelled out how he would help to destroy the stock market. “We need to build a movement based on … the oppression we’re going to face … and the key thing … is, we have to say, what does the other side fear most? They fear disruption; they fear uncertainty.”
After Greeks rioted over austerity measures, the stock market fell, he observed. “The folks that control this country care about one thing: how the stock market does; how the bond market does; and what their bonus is.”
Lerner said a strategy was needed that addressed the following questions: “How do we bring down the stock market, how do we bring down their bonuses, how do we interfere with their ability … to be rich?” It is important “to politically isolate them, economically isolate them and disrupt them,” he said.
Lerner said that after consulting his allies he decided that JPMorgan Chase would be “a really good company to hate.” He explained
We’re going to roll out over the next couple of months what will hopefully be an exciting campaign about JPMorgan Chase that is really about challenging the power of Wall Street. And so what we’re looking at is in the first week of May, we get enough people together – we’re starting now – to really have a week of action in New York with the goal of … I don’t want to go into any details because I don’t know which police agents are in the room, but the goal would be that we would roll out in New York the first week in May.
The fact that Lerner was concerned “police agents” might be spying on him is telling, especially since SEIU is well-known for violence and for storming banks and the homes of corporate executives.
Lerner provided more details of his plan in a column at In These Times, which also happens to publish convicted, unrepentant cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
In the op-ed he calls for state and local governments to stop doing business with banks that refuse to become de facto relief agencies by redistributing their own wealth to homeowners who made dumb investment decisions. Targeted are banks that don’t pay their “fair share” in taxes or refuse to slash interest rates and partially forgive mortgage principal.
Lerner exhorts students and local governments –which employ many public sector union members— not to pay back “[u]nfair [d]ebt” unless interest rates are lowered. Such a loan strike “would threaten CEO bonuses and bottom lines of the banks.” Public employee unions can also press state and local governments to dump their more sophisticated investments such as “interest rate swaps,” which he claims cost taxpayers at least $1.8 billion a year nationally.
California can be threatened with public employee strikes to force it to renegotiate outstanding debt, which Lerner fantasizes would save $21 billion that could then flow into the pockets of organized labor. Whether California, whose outstanding debt has engendered the lowest bond rating of all 50 states, is even in a position to seek a rating upgrade is far from clear.
Lerner isn’t the first to advocate using in-your-face tactics. Small-c communist Heather Booth and George Goehl openly discussed how to murder the American Dream at the “America’s Future Now!” conference last summer in Washington, D.C.
“The banking crisis is the next big thing,” said Goehl, executive director of Chicago-based National People’s Action. “The banking crisis is the way to build a big economic justice movement in this country.”
The crisis presents “a once in a lifetime opportunity as progressives to engage millions of Americans in a big conversation around serious economic restructuring,” he said, “not around eking out some victories around the margins, not about making life a little less worse for people, but about big time transformative change.”
“People are ready to move to the streets, some because they’re angry, some because they want justice right now, and some because they’re tired of hearing about the tea party coming out.”
Booth, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform, said an economy-killing “financial speculation tax” was needed to curb the incentive for people to participate in markets. “A big battle still needs to be waged to curb the incentive for speculation and to get our money back to fund jobs and health care, climate and more,” said the old hand at leftist astro-turfing operations.
If President Obama had attended the 2010 panel discussion, he probably would have given Booth and Goehl a spirited fist bump.
Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative reporter. Vadum’s book, Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers, will be published in mid-2011.