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EVANSTON, IL Pop-up Newsletter: Money & banking — policy news + personal need

I had planned for this newsletter to cover:
— City manager search: survey due today (Nov. 12)
— Local foods: Congrats to new coalition, Evanston Grows 
— Downtown Evanston’s democracy grab re the downtown farmers market (or why so many decisions seem to be decided before they get to City Council)
— Possible new resource for a better leafblower ordinance

Unfortunately, I have been super-busy following up on a number of national initiatives and moving things forward in a variety of sectors: food & farm, women’s public authority, fighting antisemitism, real democracy, etc. I have not had time to write anything. Things have been especially busy in the monetary & banking policy world, where so many good things are happening in terms of leveling the economic playing fields. See my recent blog about a major player, with Evanston ties: U.S. MONEY SUPPLY: Why the numbers ($$ + time) don’t add up — American Monetary Institute conference (Nov. 5-7, 2021)

At the same time, as so many initiatives are looking to bear fruit, I myself am unable to find income for my work and am approaching a crisis situation. This is why I’ve been working on a variety of monetary & banking reforms over the last ten years — to avoid this situation, both for myself and everyone else. Here’s my latest Pop-up Newsletter, connecting my own need with everyone else’s.

A. Seeking help to continue my work (to help us all)
—NEW IDEAS for income?
B. News from three monetary & banking initiatives — that would benefit us all
—CONG. JAN SCHAKOWSKY: possible sponsor of the American Monetary Reform Act?
—PUBLIC BANKS for Native American nations and other minorities?
—GUARANTEED INCOME (UBI) as “funded sovereignty”?

A. SEEKING HELP to continue my work

 New ideas for income?
At the age of 70, I think I’ve looked at most income options, but I’m open to suggestions.

Does anyone have ideas for income for my grassroots organizing and policy work on food & farm justice, democracy, antisemitism, women’s public authority, housing, Complete Streets, monetary & banking reform, earth restoration, etc.?

Most of my work consists of 
—networking (esp. across sectors)
—”quick & dirty” analysis (fact sheets, custom responses to questions, blogs)
—practical tips
— legislative alerts
—identifying high-impact campaigns & projects

— Direct support for my work?
Any direct support for my work would be welcome. My work includes: 
Evanston Pop-up Newsletter 
Food Politics Corner for the Wild Onion Market newsletter
FoodFarmsDemocracy (resources, blog)
Active participation on regional and national listservs:
—Food & farm: COMFOOD (Tufts U.), Food Policy Networks (Johns Hopkins U.), Regeneration Midwest (Organic Consumers Assn.)
—Monetary & banking reform: Alliance For Just Money, National Public Banking Alliance
Active participation on Twitter (both reading and Tweeting)
—food & farm
—monetary & banking policy
—bicycles & bicycling
—climate mitigation
—labor unions
—too many other issues to name

Please send checks (sorry I don’t have an electronic method)
1013 Sherman Ave. (rear) Evanston, IL 60202

B. NEWS from three 21st century monetary & banking reforms 
— that would benefit us all

— CONG. JAN SCHAKOWSKY: Possible sponsor of the American Monetary Reform Act?
It looks like our congresswoman may be interested in sponsoring a major reform of our monetary system. I’m in the process of setting up a phone meeting with the appropriate staffer. It looks like she might talk with our committee next week.

The American Monetary Reform Act (AMRA) is the new working name of a bill that was introduced in 2011 by Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich (co-sponsored by the late John Conyers of Detroit). The summary on the official bill page is very readable: The NEED Act (National Emergency Employment Defense).

The reason why Jan would be a great sponsor for this bill is because it would nationalize the monetary & banking system (i.e., the Federal Reserve system) so that consumer purchasing power would stay relatively steady. It would also prohibit private banks (or any other entity) from creating new U.S. Money. It fits right in with her long-term commitment to consumers.

The other good news on moving AMRA forward is that the Ohio League of Women Voters has drafted a study proposal, which they are planning to submit to the 2022 LWV national conference for discussion and possible adoption. The title is: A Proposal for a LWVUS Position Statement for a Money System that Serves League Values. The Position Statement is: “The League of Women Voters shall advocate for change in the monetary system in service to its commitment to government policies supporting democracy, the meeting of human needs, and promoting environmental protection.”

— PUBLIC BANKS for Native American nations and other minorities?
Right after I read about the vandalism on Northwestern’s campus of NAISA’s celebration of Native American Heritage Month, I was alerted to an interview of a public banking activist who had been working with Native American nations in the Pacific northwest (Washington state). The activist (Dennis Ortblad) had recently died and the interview was being re-played in memorium. 

Dennis Ortblad had been a career U.S. diplomat and used his knowledge of economics and banking to propose public banking to casino-rich tribes who were being forced to bank with Wall Street banks.  What’s particularly interesting about this interview is that Ortblad’s conversations with the South Puget Sound tribes seem to have identified a model of “public banking” that I hadn’t heard about: a private bank run as a non-profit. The interview makes it sound very workable, especially if there’s an associated CDFI (community development financial institution).

Based on Ortblad’s legwork, it sounds like the the Federal Reserve of both San Francisco and Minnesota see such initiatives as a good fit for their “Partnership for Progress” supporting minority-owned financial institutions. Perhaps this perspective could be extended to the other Federal Reserve banks.
There’s some good practical tips in this interview that could act as immediate action items.

Here’s the link to the interview (about 30 mins, starts at the 5:00 min mark)
It’s our Money interview with Dennis Ortblad
Across the globe, public banks hold assets of about $50 trillion dollars in widely divergent countries and cultures.  While these publicly owned institutions have diverse types of organization and purpose, they share core principles of retaining local equities. In North America new efforts to create local public banks have emerged among First Nation tribes who have been obliged to use Wall Street banks for their substantial casino revenues. Our guest interviews today include a memorial tribute conversation with Dennis Ortblad, a former diplomat who opened that discussion with Pacific NW tribes and many other public banking initiatives.

I offer this information in response to NAISA’s and CNAIR’s call for local supporters. Patty Loew is quoted in The Daily NU’s article as “We don’t need people to lift us up….We need people to have our backs….think about the ways you can support us in our efforts.” Loew is the director of NU’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR). This interview on public banking might be useful to Native Americans at Northwestern who are researching comparative governance and economic structures, or studying community development, or going for an MBA.

I would also like to add that, as a long-time resident of Evanston, I would support a move to change the City’s name. By settler community development values, John Evans was quite the mover and shaker, which is why his name is on so many buildings, a city, and a mountain. By Native American values, blood from the Sand Creek Massacre is on his hands. Should we be asking, what Evanston values does his involvement in the Sand Creek Massacre represent?

NAISA (Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance) is planning a Sand Creek Commemoration on Nov. 19, 2021. According to The Daily NU, “The event will include a procession from the John Evans Alumni Center [1800 Sheridan Rd.] to the Center for Native American Indigenous Research House [515 Clark], followed by a community fire and reflection.”

— GUARANTEED INCOME as “funded sovereignty”?
It’s a healthy sign that “universal basic income” or “guaranteed income” has captured so many people’s imaginations — and positive energy. And it’s always a good sign when a national coalition starts forming around an issue, in this case Mayors for a Guaranteed Income — “All Americans deserve an income floor.” It’s not clear whether Evanston’s mayor (Daniel Biss) is a member or if he’s active within the coalition, but his quote is listed on the map:

“This past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown Evanstonians how quickly financial security can evaporate — but even for decades before that, as the economy became increasingly unequal and brutal, our public policies failed to keep up. A guaranteed income can provide financial stability to those who need it most, ensuring that no one falls through the cracks.”

However,so far as I can tell, no one is discussing the most obvious rationale for guaranteed income: funded sovereignty — i.e., regular payment to all voters for being self-governing. In other words, a guaranteed income would support the time that all voters need to stay informed and to participate in a real democracy.

I’ve seen this formulation in only one place, this quote comparing the U.S. Constitution with the Haudenosaunee League (see below). I’ve included the entire quote because, in my opinion, the language and the understanding articulated by Prof. Barbara Alice Mann positively sing and soar. Mann is a professor of literature, with expertise in Jane Austen and James Fenimore Cooper; it is not surprising that her own writing is so beautiful and precise. The sentence containing the term “funded sovereignty” is in the second paragraph (boldface added).

pp. 212-13
Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas (2000)
by Barbara Alice Mann
Prof. of Humanities at University of Toledo
Member of the Bear clan, Seneca nation
Gantowisas = clan mothers, indispensable women, mature women acting in public authority

“It is interesting to me that, in all of the debate furiously raging ever since Bruce Johansen’s Forgotten Founders (1982) rubbed academia’s nose in the fact that the authors of the U.S. Constitution had been strongly influenced by the Iroquoian Great Law, few have noticed the main disparity between Iroquoia and the United States. It was not the political presence or absence of women, or trial by jury, or a standing army, or any of a dozen other, readily spotted political differences that marked the distinction. It was, instead, the failure of the Founding Fathers also to adopt and adapt the Iroquoian system of grass-roots economics that complemented its political base of Ne” Gashasde”’sa’ (popular sovereignty).  

“The true failure of the resultant hybrid lay in the unthinking assumption by the Founding Fathers that European war-lord economics and Haudenosaunee Ne” gashasde”’sa’ could operate in harness without the plunder economics of Europe throwing the political system of  Ne” Gashasde”’sa’ into disarray. By furthermore ignoring the sibling principles of Ne” Sken’no” (Health) and Ne” Gai’ihwiio (Righteousness) as practical tools of economic prosperity (as opposed to mere moralistic pieties), the Founding Fathers sabotaged hopes for real participatory democracy by writing the proprietary economics of Europe into their Constitution. It is this mismatch of popular but unfunded sovereignty bound to the naked exploitation of capitalism that is short-circuiting American Ne” gashasde”’sa’  today, subverting the political will of the people through the undue economic pressures exerted by a financially privileged elite. No such unbalancing access waspossible in the prototype, however, for the clan level where Ne” Gashasde”’sa’ was fomented was also the level at which the confederated economy was managed. Power, will, and weal did not trickle down in Iroquoia; they percolated up.”  

It would be great if someone could flesh out what funded sovereignty — guaranteed income for voters — would look like in the 21st century. If anyone wants to fund a good project, I certainly would be willing to give it a try.