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Author: Milligram46 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 44801  
Subject: An Open Letter Date: 10/10/2011 7:42 PM
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Sorry for the length, I have a lot to say.

============================================================

My name is Milligra46. I am not here today as a Democrat, a Republican, or any other political party or affiliation to any group. I am here today as a concerned American, as one of the 99%. I am here today because I can no longer sit in my middle class home, drive my middle class car, work in my middle class job, and ignore what is happening to myself and my friends, family, and neighbors, who are all part of the 99%.

In 1787 our forefathers put pen to paper and wrote these great words:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Like you I grew up with the promise of these words. These are great words; words that have been used by nations around the world since they were written as a blueprint to their own evolution into Democracy.
Two-hundred-and-twenty-four years later the promise of these words to the American people are becoming faded, torn on the edges, and are under siege. We the People, we the 99%, are here today because we want to take our America back.

The leadership of Occupy Wall Street have made it clear that they have not made any “demands,” on what they are looking for. I’ve walked these streets in Seattle, I’ve marched with you, I’ve watched the videos, I’ve visited the websites. These thoughts are of my own, and it is my hope that these words will echo to every corner of this great country and open a further dialog for all peoples, Democrat or Republican, young or old, yes even rich and poor, because we are all part of the 99%. I can boil down the various lists of demands into four points.

? An end to the blind eye that the courts, regulatory organizations, and government give corporate deceit, greed and corruption
? A return of the government to the people, and an end to corporate influence of the United States government
? A fair tax structure for citizens, businesses and corporations
? Government keeping the promises that they have made to, “We the People”

We want an end to the blind eye that the courts, regulatory organizations and government give corporate deceit, greed, and corruption.

Bernie Madoff, the poster child of Wall Street greed once said, “The nature of any human being, certainly anyone on Wall Street, is 'the better deal you give the customer, the worse deal it is for you'.”

Fannie Mae, AIG, Bank of America and Subsidiaries, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Subsidiaries, Wells Fargo, GMAC, Goldman Sach, and Morgan Stanley combined received $423 billion in federal taxpayer bailouts because they were deemed, “to big to fail.”1

In 2009 AIG created 73 new millionaires in their financial-products division, paid for with our tax dollars.2 In the same year Bank of America paid out $3.6 billion in bonuses to high level managers and executives with our tax dollars3, and misleading investors. The SEC filed charges against Bank of America and then closed the case on the same day, issuing a $33 million fine. JP Morgan Chase, after their policies helped crash the global economy, set aside $26.9 billion for 2009 bonuses, an 18% increase from 2008.

Apparently the worst recession this world has seen in 75 years has been a very good deal for the one-percent. The $423 billion of our tax dollars given to just these nine corporations who were deemed, “to big to fail,” could have gone to Main Street instead of Wall Street, putting $1,364 into the hands of every American man, woman and child. That would be $5,456 for the average American family of four. Could you use $5,456?

There are many reasons why this happened, and those reasons are complex and murky and span from the board room, to the halls of Congress, to the Fed, to the SEC, to the courts. The systems put into place to protect us, the 99%, failed in large part because those systems have been under attack for decades, until they have been rendered toothless and impotent. Today we say enough, no more.

I am not here today to tell you that all corporations are evil and driven by a single greedy interest. There are plenty examples of unselfish enterprises that make positive contributions to our society. Ethisphere compiles a list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies4, Companies like Patagonia, Hewlett-Packard, Dow-Corning, Adobe Systems, Mattel, Target, Ten Thousand Villages, UPS, Cisco, and Starbucks, who are recognized as leaders in being responsible corporate citizens. Even AstraZeneca, also on the Ethisphere list of World’s Most Ethical Companies, donates almost $1 billion a year to charitable causes5. To put that in perspective, only the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gives more.

But for every T-Mobile, Google, or Caterpillar, there is a Barrick-Mining Company, Chevron, Monsanto, Halliburton6 and JP Morgan Chase. I am not here today to condemn corporations, I am here today to condemn those greedy enterprises and their leaders who only seek to consolidate wealth into the hands of a chosen few, at the expense of the men and women who wake up every day and contribute their best in blood, sweat and tears under the clouds of fear of stagnant pay, shrinking benefits, and wondering when their job will be deemed unnecessary.

How do we fix it? The Glass-Steagall Act of 1932 was passed after the 1929 stock market crash to protect the 99% of the future from the impacts of a deregulated banking industry. Starting in the 1970’s the Act has been chipped away at, one piece at a time until 1999 with the passing of Gramm-Leach. It only took greedy Wall Street bankers nine years to build a house of cards on shifting sand, and bring it all down on our heads.

1 http://projects.propublica.org/bailout/list/index
2 http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2009/03/17/american-incon...
3 http://money.cnn.com/2009/08/03/news/companies/bank_of_ameri...
4 http://ethisphere.com/wme2010/
5 http://www.foundationcenter.org/findfunders/topfunders/top10...
6 http://www.covalence.ch/index.php/ethical-rankings/

We need to have a return to the protections of Glass-Steagall. We need to assure that every corporation that received even one cent of taxpayer money in the form of a bailout repays that money to the American taxpayers.

We need to hold those accountable for causing this economic and social crisis, and find them criminally culpable. We don’t want some middle manager, who is the convenient scapegoat for scheming executives who want to maintain their power and position; we want the real decisions makers. The people that put pen to paper and said, “yes, giving mortgages to people who provide no documentation and have no credit is a good idea – because we will make a lot of money. Yes, rolling up these bad mortgages into derivatives so that no one, not even ourselves, can identify the good paper from the bad is a good idea – because we will make a lot of money. Yes, selling insurance to back up these derivative securities is a good idea even if we can’t evaluate the risk – because we will all make a lot of money. Yes, it is fine to sell insurance when we don’t have the assets to back up even a fraction of potential claims because – we will make a lot of money.”

Identify them, try them, and put them in jail for their crimes.
We need to empower the enforcement agencies of government to hold its corporate citizens to the same standards that it holds its ordinary citizens. In a society that has the highest prison population in the world, both in total numbers and per capita7, it sure is good to be a Wall Street Banker. There are far fewer Martha Stewart’s and Bernie Madoff’s sitting in prison then there is Troy Davis’.

We need to take away the policy of printing money away from the banks, and return it to the government where it belongs and is clearly stated in the Constitution.

In order the achieve this we need a return of the government to the people, and an end to corporate influence of the United States government.

According the Federal Election Commission in 2008, 148 candidates ran for President of the United States. Think about, 148 candidates! That ladies and gentlemen is democracy. Those 148 candidates spent $1.6 billion8 chasing after 131.3 million9 votes. That is $12.18 cents spent on every vote received. Just two candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, spent $860 million to get your votes. The system is clearly broken when elections are bought and sold by contributions, and who has the money to create shadow organizations, raise large contributions, support PACs, and wiggle around attempts to repair campaign finance laws? The one percent.

Politicians in Washington D.C. are no longer the voice of We the People. Their primary interest is not to promote the general Welfare, not to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, but to assure their re-election next term. The answer is simple.
We need a Constitutional Amendment calling for term limits in the United States House and Senate. No more than eight years of service, four terms, as a US Congressman, no more than twelve years of service, two terms as a United States Senator, and no more than twenty years combined service as a Congressman, Senator, and/or President.

7 http://www.webcitation.org/5xRCN8YmR
8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundraising_for_the_2008_United...
9 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_elec...

Term limits will help clear our halls of political insiders, cronyism, and good old boy insider, this is the way it is politics. If we take away a focus on being a servant of special interests and corporate needs, and instead enable Congressmen and Senators to represent the real desires of their constituents. Lets return the power to our elected officials to represent the people, and not the corporate interests that control our government today.

We need real campaign finance reform. Campaign contributions should only come from private citizens. Contributions should not exceed a $2,000 limit total per year, not per candidate and/or political party. By creating a $2,000 annual cap that can only be donated by the living breathing citizens of this nation, not the corporations, and the PACS, corporate shells, and special interest groups they create and fund to drive their interests. We need to have an end to $35,000 a plate dinners, $10,000 photo opportunities, and $5,000 private speeches. The answer is simple, we close these loopholes, we make them illegal and return campaign support to the people.

Term limits combined with getting corporate greed out of our political system and returning that power to the people will help break down the two party system we have today, and will enable other candidates with new ideas to move our great country forward for another 224 years of prosperity.

We want a fair tax structure for citizens, businesses and corporations.
We here lots of facts and figures on taxation. We’re told how two-thirds of corporations don’t pay Federal Income Tax, and then we’re told that is because as a S corporation the shareholders pay the taxes, not the corporate entity. We’re told how 50% of American citizens don’t pay income tax, through credits and programs that are designed to keep more money in the pockets of We the People. I say this is just a smoke screen to keep the real issues tucked away, so let me deal with what I know.

In 2010, I paid $29,696 in federal income taxes and for the first time in my life I had to pay Alternative Minimum Tax. In comparison, during the same tax year, Prudential Financial got a $722 million tax refund.10 Bank of New York Mellon got a $670 million tax refund.11 Ford, who is held up as an example of a company that didn’t receive a government bailout, got a $274 million tax refund.12

So my tax dollars were taken by our government, money I happily paid to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty, and instead my money was given in tax returns to corporations like Prudential Financial. A corporation traded under the stock symbol PRU, with half-a-trillion-dollars in assets, and earnings per share in 2010 of $5.82 on $38.4 billion dollars in revenue13. In plain English, it means Prudential made a lot of money in 2010, but through loopholes, incentives, credits, and clever accounting was able to garner a $722 million tax refund.

10 http://www.businessinsider.com/companies-spend-more-on-ceo-t...
11 http://www.businessinsider.com/companies-spend-more-on-ceo-t...
12 http://www.businessinsider.com/companies-spend-more-on-ceo-t...
13 http://caps.fool.com/Ticker/PRU/EarningsGrowthRates.aspx?sou...

If I was taxed like Prudential, I would have not only not paid one penny of the $29,696 in federal income taxes I paid, but I would have been rewarded with a $2,559.41 tax return. That would have netted me another $32,255. But it doesn’t work that way for the 99%. But for the one percent, and the corporations, tax time is a very good time of year.

We need to establish a simple tiered taxed system in the United States. No more deductions, incentives, credits, and loopholes. The tiered system should be based on the rate of inflation so the tax tiers adjust along with the income of ordinary citizens. Four tiers, one for the bottom 60%, one for the next 30%, one for the next 9%, and one for the last 1%. Everyone needs to pay their fair share to We the People, but the key word there is fair. We must put an end to corporate welfare that goes far beyond taxes and includes subsidies, price controls, and the continued use of archaic laws and fee structures for timber, mining and mineral rights. These only enrich greedy corporations while taking away from the citizens of this great nation.

We want our Government to keep the promises made to, “We the People.” The great orator from the American Revolution Patrick Henry said, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government -- lest it come to dominate our lives and interests."

On October 26, 2001, President George W. Bush signed into law the Patriot Act14, to the thunderous applause of our House and Senate, and a majority of the American people. On that day we lost the War on Terror because we gladly, willingly, gave up many of our rights, natural rights once given to the citizens of this land by the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. It was Patrick Henry who fought for the Bill or Rights to be included in the Constitution to prevent the federal government from having too much power on the people.

The Patriot Act was an attack on the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Sixth Amendment, Eighth Amendment, Ninth Amendment and Tenth Amendment. And over the next ten years that have followed we have happily, gladly, given up our rights more and more. Enough is enough. If we continue to give up our rights afford to us we will reach a point where we realize that it is too late. We must put an end to living in fear and return the most basic of rights to all American citizens.

In 2010, my employers paid $9,414.02 on my behalf in social security taxes. In addition, I was taxed another $6,621.60 in social security taxes. That is $16,035.62 in 2010 alone going into the Social Security Trust Fund for my retirement. That is the promise made to me when I started paying taxes when I was 14 years old. But I’m told by some in my government, too bad, so sad, we’ve borrowed and played games with that money and you should not plan on receiving a social security dividend at retirement. I am being robbed of $16,035.62 a year and being told, “too bad.” You are being robbed thousands of dollars a year and you’re being told, “too bad.”

14 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_PATRIOT_Act

Keep your promise to the American people. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security must be funded to pay back those who kept their promise to the government, and paid into a system that they expected would one day pay them back.

I want to tell you the story of Kyle Willis. Kyle Willis was a 24-year old father of a six-year old daughter living in Cincinnati, Ohio. Like many Americans he had fallen on hard times and had lost his job, and with it his health insurance. Kyle Willis developed a severe toothache, so bad that he went to the emergency room seeking treatment when he learned that he had an abscessed wisdom tooth and did not have the money to pay for the surgery to extract it. Kyle Willis was given prescriptions to two drugs, one for pain killers and one for antibiotics. He couldn’t afford to fill both prescriptions and choose to fill his prescription for the pain medication. Within days Kyle’s infection spread from his tooth to his brain, he suffered from severe encephalitis, and died. He died in 2011 America from a toothache.15

No American should have to make these kinds of choices. About 16% of GDP is spent toward heath care in the United States.16 In 2009, the most recent year figures are available, $8,047 was spent per person toward healthcare, yet Kyle Willis died of a toothache. Our health care system is completely broken. Despite all of the money we spend as a nation, the World Health Organization in 2000, the last year data was available, ranked the United States 37th in the quality of health care provided to its citizens.17 Malta, Oman, Monaco, Colombia, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Costa Rica all offer better care according to the same study. But I guess we can take comfort in knowing we are ranked higher than Solvenia.

We are the only industrialized nation in the world that treats healthcare as a profit and loss center run by private enterprise. The only nation, and the costs are killing its citizens and ironically, hurting corporations in their quest for greed, unless you’re an insurance company, and then business is very, very good. We need universal health care as a nation. No one in 21st Century America should die over a toothache, or any other treatable illness. Enough is enough.

I could continue on, but I fear I have spoken far too much. I want to close with the words spoken by Howard Beale in the 1976 movie Network. I have taken the liberty to update some of these words for the times, but the message in these words ring true 35 years after they were spoken on the silver screen.

“I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it.

We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be!

15 http://www.aol.com/2011/09/03/kyle-willis-cincinnati-ma_n_94...
16 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_the_United_State...
17 http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html

We all know things are bad -- worse than bad -- they're crazy.

It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we're living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, "Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my iPhone and my TV and my Toyota Prius,
and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone."

Well, I'm not going to leave you alone.

I want you to get mad!

I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to write to your Congressman, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the terrorists and the crime in the street.

All I know is that first, you've got to get mad.

You've gotta say, "I'm a human being, dammit! My life has value!"

So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, “I’m as mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”18

Say it with me, “I’m as mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

“I’m as mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

My name is Milligram46, I am part of the 99% and I thank you for your time.

18 http://www.americanrhetoric.com/MovieSpeeches/moviespeechnet...
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