The 99% Declaration
WHEREAS THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION PROVIDES THAT:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
WE, THE NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in order to form a more perfect Union, by, for and of the PEOPLE, shall elect and convene a NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY beginning on July 4, 2012 in the City Of Philadelphia.
Full declaration below the line.
There is no assurance this is actually supported by any General Assembly.
I. Election of Delegates:
The People, consisting of all United States citizens who have reached the age of 18, regardless of party affiliation and voter registration status, shall elect Two Delegates, one male and one female, by direct vote, from each of the existing 435 Congressional Districts to represent the People at the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY. The office of Delegate shall be open to all United States citizens who have reached the age of 18. No candidate for Delegate to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY will be permitted to run on a party line or use any party label while serving as a Delegate. Election Committees, elected or appointed by local General Assemblies or the Working Group on the 99% Declaration, shall organize, coordinate and transparently fund this election. The voting process shall be free from the corrupting influence of corporate money and all funds raised shall be used for the purpose of funding the election and providing a venue for the Delegates to meet.
II. Meeting of the National General Assembly and Approval of a Petition for a Redress of Grievances:
In addition to ensuring a free and fair election of the Delegates to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, the Working Group on the 99% Declaration shall be responsible for raising sufficient funds to secure a venue wherein the 870* Delegates may convene, deliberate, consider, vote and ratify a PETITION OF GRIEVANCES to be presented to all 535 members of Congress, the 9 members of the Supreme Court, the President of the United States and each of the political candidates seeking to be elected to federal public office in November 2012. Subject to the voting procedure for the final vote of ratification of the PETITION OF GRIEVANCES as set forth in section III, the Delegates of the National General Assembly shall vote upon and implement their own rules, procedures, agenda, code of conduct, elections or appointments of committee members to efficiently and expeditiously accomplish the People’s mandate to present a PETITION OF GRIEVANCES to the government of the United States of America and political candidates before the 2012 election.
III. Content of the Petition for a Redress of Grievances:
The PETITION OF GRIEVANCES shall be non-partisan and specifically address the critical issues now confronting the People of the United States of America. The Delegates shall deliberate and vote upon proposals for the PETITION OF GRIEVANCES and if necessary adjourn for further consultation with the People of the United States of America as our founding fathers conferred during the first two Continental Congresses and the Committees of Correspondence. The final vote ratifying the PETITION OF GRIEVANCES shall be by simple majority vote by the 870 delegates. A duly elected chairperson of the National General Assembly shall determine the outcome of the final vote on ratification in the event of a tie.
IV. Suggested Content of the Petition for a Redress of Grievances:
In order to facilitate the timely election of the 870 Delegates to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY by July 4, 2012 and submission of a petition to the government for a redress of grievances before the 2012 election, the Working Group on the 99% Declaration, shall draft a suggested list of grievances to be respectfully submitted to the Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY no later than May 30, 2012. The final version of the PETITION OF GRIEVANCES, to be ratified by the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, may or may not include the following issues currently suggested by the Working Group on the 99% Declaration:
1. Elimination of the Corporate State. The merger of the political system of Republican Democracy with the economic system of Capitalism has resulted in the establishment of a Corporate government of, by and for the benefit of corporations. Therefore, the American People demand an immediate ban on all private contributions of any thing of value, to all politicians in or running for federal office. This ban shall extend to all individuals, corporations, “political action committees,” “super political action committees,” lobbyists, unions and all other private sources of money or any thing of value. Private fundings of campaigns shall be replaced by the fair, equal and total public financing of all federal political campaigns. We, the American People, categorically REJECT the concepts that corporations are persons or that money is equal to free speech because if that were so, then only the wealthiest people and corporations would have a voice in our society. The complete elimination of private contributions must be enacted by law or Constitutional amendment because it has become clear that politicians in the United States cannot regulate themselves and have become the exclusive representatives of corporations, unions and the very wealthy who indirectly and directly spend vast sums of money on political campaigns to influence the candidates’ decisions when they attain office and ensure their reelection year after year. Our elected representatives spend far too much of their time fundraising for the next election rather than doing the People’s business and labor under conflicts of interest that make it impossible for them to act in the best interest of the American People. The current system’s propagation of legalized bribery and perpetual conflicts of interests has reduced our once great Republican Democracy to a greed driven corporatocracy run by boardroom oligarchs who represent .05 to 1% of the population but own 38% of the wealth and whose incomes have increased 275% since 1979 while most other salaries have remained virtually flat or declined.
2. Abrogation of the “Citizens United” Case. The immediate abrogation, even if it requires a Constitutional Amendment, of the outrageous and anti-democratic holding in the “Citizens United” case proclaimed by the United States Supreme Court in 2010. This heinous decision equates the payment of money to politicians by corporations, wealthy individuals and unions with the exercise of protected free speech. We, the American People, demand that this institutional bribery and corruption never again be deemed protected free speech.
3. Elimination of All Private Benefits and “Perks” to Politicians. Prohibiting all federal public employees, officers, officials or their immediate family members from ever being employed by any corporation, individual or business that the official specifically regulated while in office; nor may any public employee, officer, official or their immediate family members own or hold any stock or shares in any corporation the official specifically regulated while in office until a full 5 years after their term is completed; a complete lifetime ban on the acceptance of all gifts, services, money or thing of value, directly or indirectly, by any elected or appointed federal official or their immediate family members, from any person, corporation, union or other entity that the public official was charged to specifically regulate while in office. The term “specifically regulate” shall mean service on a committee or sub-committee or service within any agency or department of the federal government responsible for the regulation of the person, union, corporation or entity seeking to confer a benefit. In sum, elected politicians and public employees in regulatory roles may only collect their salary, generous healthcare benefits and pension. Any person, including corporate employees, found guilty and convicted of violating these new ethics rules in a court of law by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, shall be sentenced to a term of mandatory imprisonment of no less than one year and not more than ten years.
4. Term Limits. Members of the United States House of Representatives shall be limited to serving no more than four two-year terms in their lifetime. Members of the United States Senate shall be limited to serving no more than two six-year terms in their lifetime. The two-term limit for President shall remain unchanged. Serving as a member of Congress or as the President of the United States is one of the highest honors and privileges our culture can bestow. These positions of prominence in our society should be sought to serve one’s country and not provide a lifetime career designed to selfishly increase personal wealth and accumulate power for the sake of vanity and hubris.
5. A Fair Tax Code. A complete reformation of the United States Tax Code to require ALL citizens and corporations to pay a fair share of a progressive, graduated income tax by eliminating loopholes, unfair tax breaks, exemptions and unfair deductions, subsidies and ending all other methods of evading taxes. The current system of taxation unjustly favors the wealthiest Americans, many of whom pay fewer taxes to the United States Treasury than citizens who earn much less and pay a much higher percentage of their incomes in taxes. Any corporation that does business in the United States and generates income from that business shall be fully taxed on that income regardless of corporate domicile or they will be barred from earning their profits in the United States so that companies that pay their taxes can take that market share.
7. Protection of the Planet. New comprehensive regulations to give the Environmental Protection Agency expanded powers to shut down corporations, businesses or any entities that intentionally or recklessly damage the environment, and to criminally prosecute individuals who intentionally or recklessly damage the environment. We also demand the immediate adoption of the most recent international protocols, including the “Washington Declaration” to cap carbon emissions and implement new and existing programs to transition away from fossil fuels to reusable or carbon neutral sources of energy.
8. Debt Reduction. Adoption of an immediate plan to reduce the national debt to a sustainable percentage of GDP by 2020. Reduction of the national debt to be achieved by BOTH fair progressive taxation and cuts in spending to corporations engaged in perpetual war for profit, the “healthcare” industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the communications industry, the oil and gas industry, and all other sectors that currently use the federal budget as their private income stream. We agree that spending cuts are necessary but those cuts must be made to facilitate what is best for the People of the United States of America, not multinational and domestic corporations who currently have a stranglehold on all politicians in both parties.
9. Jobs for All Americans. Passage of a comprehensive job and job-training act like the American Jobs Act to employ our citizens in jobs that are available with specialized training and by putting People to work now by repairing America’s crumbling infrastructure. We also recommend the establishment of an online international job exchange to match employers with skilled workers or employers willing to train workers in 21st century skills. In conjunction with a new jobs act, reinstitution of the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps and similar emergency governmental agencies tasked with creating new public works projects to provide jobs to the 46 million People living in poverty, the 9.1% unemployed and 10% underemployed.
10. Student Loan Forgiveness. Implementation of a student loan debt relief forgiveness program. Our students are $1 trillion in debt from education loans alone with few employment prospects due to a financial collapse directly caused by the unbridled and unregulated greed of Wall Street. Interest on these debts should be reduced and deferred for periods of unemployment and the principal on these loans forgiven over time by phasing in a graduated corporate tax surcharge. This surcharge will also act as reparations for Wall Street’s intentional and reckless conduct leading to widespread unemployment, the economic collapse in 2007-2008, the multi-billion dollar bailout of Wall Street, current worldwide recession and turmoil in international markets. The tax code will also be amended so that employers will receive a student loan repayment tax deduction for paying off the loans of their employees.
11. Immigration Reform and Improved Border Security. Immediate passage of the Dream Act and comprehensive immigration and border security reform including offering visas, lawful permanent resident status and citizenship to the world’s brightest People to stay and work in our industries and schools after they obtain their education and training in the United States.
12. Ending of Perpetual War for Profit. Recalling all military personnel at all non-essential bases and refocusing national defense goals to address threats posed by the geopolitics of the 21st century, including terrorism and limiting the large scale deployment of military forces to instances where Congressional approval has been granted to counter the Military Industrial Complex’s goal of perpetual war for profit. The annual savings created by updating our military posture will be applied to the social programs outlined herein to improve the quality of life for human beings rather than assisting corporations to make ever-increasing profits distributed to the top 1% of wealth owners.
13. Reforming Public Education. Mandating new educational goals to train the American public to perform jobs in a 21st century economy, particularly in the areas of technology and green energy, taking into consideration the redundancy caused by technology and the inexpensive cost of labor in China, India and other developing countries. Eliminating tenure in favor of merit performance and paying our teachers a competitive salary commensurate with the salaries of employees in the private sector with similar skills because without highly-skilled teachers, there will never be a highly-skilled workforce and the United States will fall further and further behind its competitors.
14. End Outsourcing. Subject to the elimination of corporate tax loopholes and exploited exemptions and deductions stated above, offering tax incentives to businesses to remain in the United States and hire our citizens rather than outsource jobs. An “outsourcing tax” should be introduced to discourage businesses from sending jobs overseas. Providing tax breaks to companies that invest in reconstructing the manufacturing capacity of the United States so that we again make everyday products in the United States rather than importing them from countries like China and India. Corporations must be incentivized to make slightly less profit by hiring American workers rather than maximizing every penny of profit to the detriment of society.
15. End Currency Manipulation. Implementing immediate legislation (see e.g. H.R. 639) to encourage China (which undervalues its currency by an estimated 25% to 40%) and our other trading partners to end currency manipulation and reduce the trade deficit.
16. Banking and Securities Reform. Immediate reenactment of the Glass-Steagall Act and increased regulation of Wall Street and the financial industry by the SEC, FINRA, the Justice Department and the other financial regulators. The immediate commencement of Justice Department criminal investigations into the Securities and Banking industry practices that led to the collapse of markets, $700 billion bank bail-out (“T.A.R.P.”) and financial firm failures in 2007-2008. Introduction of a small financial transaction fee to collect a “sales tax” on each and every stock trade and all other forms of financial transactions. Uniform regulations limiting what banks may charge consumers for ATM fees, the use of debit cards and other miscellaneous “fees.” Ending the $4 billion a year “hedge fund loophole“ which permits certain individuals engaged in financial transactions to evade graduated income tax rates by treating their income as capital gains which are taxed at a much lower tax rate (approximately 15%).
17. Foreclosure Moratorium. Adoption of a plan similar to President Clinton’s proposal to end the mortgage crisis. The privately owned Federal Reserve Bank shall not continue to lower interest rates for loans to banks that are refusing to loan to small businesses and consumers, but instead shall buy all underwater or foreclosed mortgages. It will refinance these debts at an interest rate of 1% or less because that is the interest rate it charges the banks, which hoard the cash rather than loan it to the People and small businesses. These debts will be managed by the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and an independent foreclosure task force appointed and overseen by Congress and the Executive Branch to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether foreclosure proceedings should continue based on the circumstances of each homeowner and the propriety of the financial institution’s conduct when originating the loan.
18. Ending the Fed. The immediate formation of a non-partisan commission, overseen by Congress, to audit and investigate the economic risks and possibility of eliminating the privately-owned Federal Reserve Bank and transferring its functions to the United States Treasury Department.
19. Abolish the Electoral College, Comprehensive Campaign Finance and Election Reform. Abolishing the Electoral College in favor of the Popular Vote in presidential elections. Subject to the above ban on all private money and gifts in politics: enactment of additional campaign finance reform requiring new FCC regulations granting free air time to all candidates; total public campaign financing to all candidates who obtain sufficient petition signatures and/or votes to get on the ballot and participate in the primaries and/or electoral process; implementation of nationwide uniform election rules applied to all voting districts requiring equal access to third parties to appear on ballots; shortening the campaign season to three months; allowing voting on weekends and holidays; issuance of free voter registration cards to all citizens who are eligible to vote so that they cannot be turned away at a polling station because they do not have a driver’s license or other form of identification; and expanding the option of mail-in ballots and verifiable internet voting.
20. Ending the War in Afghanistan. An immediate withdrawal of all combat troops from Afghanistan and a substantial increase in the amount of funding for veteran job training and placement. New programs dedicated to the treatment of the emotional and physical injuries sustained by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Our veterans are committing suicide at an unprecedented rate of one person every 80 minutes and we must help now.
21. Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). Immediate passage of Senate bill, S. 598, and House bill, H.R. 1116, to repeal the Defense Of Marriage Act because all human beings have the right to love and marry another human being regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that IF the PETITION OF GRIEVANCES approved by the 870 Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in consultation with the PEOPLE, is not acted upon within a reasonable time and to the satisfaction of the Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, said Delegates shall utilize the grassroots network established in the election of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY to organize a new INDEPENDENT POLITICAL PARTY to run candidates for every available Congressional seat in the mid-term election of 2014 and again in 2016 until all vestiges of the existing corrupt corporatocracy have been eradicated through the power of the ballot box.