14 February 2012

A "petition for grievances"

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 the week of July 4, 2012 in the City Of Philadelphia to prepare and ratify a PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES on behalf of the Ninety-Nine Percent of the People of the United States to be served upon the United States Congress, United States Supreme Court and President of the United States prior to November 6, 2012.

The above is the introduction to The 99% Declaration, which goes on to enumerate the grievances which will be presented to Congress:
  1. Elimination of the Corporate State.
  2. Overturning the “Citizens United” Case.
  3. Elimination of All Private Benefits to Public Servants.
  4. Term Limits.
  5. A Fair Tax Code.
  6. Health Care for All.
  7. Protection of the Planet.
  8. Debt Reduction.
  9. Jobs for All Americans.
  10. Student Loan Debt Refinancing.
  11. Ending Perpetual War for Profit.
  12. Emergency Reform of Public Education.
  13. End Outsourcing and Currency Manipulation.
  14. Banking and Securities Reform.
  15. Foreclosure Moratorium, Mortgage Refinancing and Principle Write Downs.
  16. Review and Reform of the Federal Reserve Banking System.
  17. Ending the Electoral College and Enactment of Uniform Federal Election Rules in All of the States.
  18. Ending the War in Afghanistan and Care of Veterans.
  19. No Censorship of the Internet.
  20. Reinstitution of Civil Rights Including the Repeal of the NDAA.
  21. Curtailing the Private Prison Industrial Complex.
Via Reddit, where a long discussion thread has started.


  1. Poorly written. #18 reads that it wants to end care of veterans, and I'm reasonably sure that it's supposed to mean exactly the opposite.

    And it's too much of a laundry list to be an effective communication.

    Even so, I support the idea of a national general assembly. We'll see if something more focused and compelling can come out of such an assembly. It would be an acid test to see if "crowdsourcing" really lives up to its hype. In my experience, group consensus is a formula for mediocrity. That poorly expressed list is case in point.

    1. I concur. Although I agree with a fair number (but definitely not all) of the complaints presented by the Occupy movement, I've never been a supporter. Their cause has always seemed far too dilute and directionless, and their members ultimately became more of a negative stereotype than anything else. I can only assume that the above petition is borne out of the Occupy movement now that it's running out of things to occupy. I applaud what I see as a step in the right direction towards making a serious attempt to engage the necessary parties to affect change. However, I'm in complete agreement that this initial presentation is little more than a lengthy (and poorly worded) laundry list. It will be interesting to see if anything more serious will stem from this.

    2. But if there is health care for all americans then why would we need care for veterans? But I agree that is a whole lot of things that will take years to enact if ever.

  2. I care about all of these topics and see it as a good starting point to reigning in the corporate/government corruption that's killing our country. I'm off to read more and see how I can get involved.

  3. #17 It would be more productive to support the National Popular Vote bill. It has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes - 49% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC), without needing to amend the U.S. Constitution, by state laws.

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of 'battleground' states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in more than 3/4ths of the states that now are just 'spectators' and ignored.

    When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%,, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes - 49% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via nationalpopularvoteinc

    1. That's very interesting, toto. I frankly wasn't aware of the movement (tho I was aware of the sentiment).

      The topic is very bloggable; I'll put it on my list of things to do, and try to post it closer to election time.



    2. I'll have to see the statistics for that for my opinion to be swayed. I think a "National Popular Vote" would be a disaster for smaller state populations who have vastly different cultural values than big city people. Instead of campaigning in states, one could theoretically win by campaigning in major cities alone. After all, there are more votes in New York City than in the entire state of Alaska. Bad idea to get rid of the electoral college. Bad, bad, bad.

    3. In no kind of way is it fair that smaller rural populations have more sway than the majority of Americans. We are a majority urban population now. When one rural person's vote counts for more than a suburban or urban man's, that's the definition of injustice.

    4. It's also one of the reasons that Republican try so hard to *prevent* Americans from voting. And there's hardly anything more disgusting than deliberately trying to prevent, or make it difficult for Americans to vote. They know that majority isn't behind them, and the majority don't want to buy what they're selling. An ancient system from a time when only white men were allowed to vote is the only thing that's saving them.

    5. Now presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections. Voters in states that are reliably red or blue don't matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

      Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group. Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK -70%, DC -76%, DE --75%, ID -77%, ME - 77%, MT- 72%, NE - 74%, NH--69%, NE - 72%, NM - 76%, RI - 74%, SD- 71%, UT- 70%, VT - 75%, WV- 81%, and WY- 69%.

      In the lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 3 jurisdictions.

    6. I strongly disagree. Keeping the rural vote strong is important to a democracy. There is no way on earth that it is fair for the people of New York City to have more voice in an election than the state of Alabama and the state of Mississippi combined. How much attention do you think those states will receive at the Federal level if their combined voting power is less than a single city? Please. City folk, deal with the electoral college. We will fight for it.

    7. With National Popular Vote, big cities would not get all of candidates’ attention, much less control the outcome.

      The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 19% of the population of the United States. Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican.

      If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city.

      A nationwide presidential campaign, with every vote equal, would be run the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as Ohio and Florida, under the state-by-state winner-take-all methods. The big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami do not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida.

      The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows. When and where every vote is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere.

      When every vote is equal, everywhere, it makes sense to try and elevate your share where you aren’t so well liked. But, under the state-by-state winner-take-all laws, it makes no sense for a Democrat to try and do that in Texas, or for a Republican to try it in California.

      Even in California state-wide elections, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don’t campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don’t control the outcome (otherwise California wouldn’t have recently had Republican governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger). A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles. If Los Angeles cannot control statewide elections in California, it can hardly control a nationwide election.

      In fact, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland together cannot control a statewide election in California.

      Similarly, Republicans dominate Texas politics without carrying big cities such as Dallas and Houston.

      There are numerous other examples of Republicans who won races for governor and U.S. Senator in other states that have big cities (e.g., New York, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts) without ever carrying the big cities of their respective states.

      The National Popular Vote bill would not change the need for candidates to build a winning coalition across demographics. Candidates would have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn’t be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as voters in Ohio.

    8. The National Popular Vote bill preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College.

      Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the 270+ Electoral College votes from the enacting states. That majority of Electoral College votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

      National Popular Vote would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state. Now their votes are counted only for the candidate they did not vote for. Now they don’t matter to their candidate.

      And votes, beyond the one needed to get the most votes in the state, for winning candidates in a state are wasted and don’t matter to candidates. Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

      With National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere would be counted equally for, and directly assist, the candidate for whom it was cast.

      Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in the current handful of swing states. The political reality would be that when every vote is equal, the campaign must be run in every part of the country.

    9. With the Electoral College, and federalism, the Founding Fathers meant to empower the states to pursue their own interest within the confines of the Constitution. The National Popular Vote is an exercise of that power, not an attack upon it.

      None of the 10 most rural states (VT, ME, WV, MS, SD, AR, MT, ND, AL, and KY) is a battleground state.
      The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states, and they are ignored.

      Alaska, Mississippi, Alabama, AND all of New York are ignored in presidential elections now.

      The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, will not reach out to about 76% of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

      Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only the current handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters. There is no incentive for them to bother to care about the majority of states where they are hopelessly behind or safely ahead to win. 9 of the original 13 states are considered “fly-over” now. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives agree already, that, at most, only 12 states and their voters will matter. They will decide the election. None of the 10 most rural states will matter, as usual. About 76% of the country will be ignored --including 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and 17 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. This will be more obscene than the 2008 campaign, when candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their campaign events and ad money in just 6 states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Over half (57%) of the events were in just 4 states (OH, FL, PA, and VA). In 2004, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their money and campaign visits in 5 states; over 80% in 9 states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

      More than 2/3rds of the states and people have been merely spectators to presidential elections. New York, Alaska, Mississippi, and Alabama have no influence. They are ALL among the more than 85 million voters ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

      Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states, like New York, Alabama, Mississippi, and Alabama, are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

      The number and population of battleground states is shrinking as the U.S. population grows.

      States have the responsibility and power to make all of their voters relevant in every presidential election and beyond.

      Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution-- "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

      Federalism concerns the allocation of power between state governments and the national government. The National Popular Vote bill concerns how votes are tallied, not how much power state governments possess relative to the national government. The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, or national lines (as with the National Popular Vote).

    10. As lengthy as this is, it is unpersuasive to me. It is a simple matter of percentages. Right now, South Dakota has a stronger voice as a whole than it would divided, which is what you are suggesting. Further, the entire population of South Dakota is around 800,000. You are telling me that those votes will suddenly merit a greater amount of attention if candidates can split those votes?

      Further, the appeal to state elections if not persuasive. You don't have to run a national campaign to win a state election. You have to reach out to the rural sectors as well, and if Republicans have won in the past despite the city vote, it means that they have done a good job of that. In your popular vote scenario, it seems to me that the rural vote could be neglected for the city vote, despite your protests to the contrary. I cannot imagine how a Presidential candidate would suddenly be fired up to campaign in S. Dakota, N. Dakota, Alabama, and Mississippi when their collective population is less than the City of New York. Especially when he will de facto get any of those votes that are his anyway.

    11. But as it is, candidates are only incented to campaign hard in about ten battleground states, which seems much worse than making them chase after votes everywhere, even in the middle of nowhere. I don't see what is so hard to understand about one person/one vote?

      The whole country recount possibility is a nightmare though.

    12. Because the people of the United States represent different cultures, and the ideals and morals of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee are different than New York City and Los Angeles. (To say the least!)While numerically smaller, the electoral college gives them a united voice even when their voice is divided, and that makes them matter more. It's like agreeing to block vote for a candidate even if everyone doesn't agree individually.

    13. The only way the electoral college can give one group a voice is by taking it away from another group. That seems wrong to me. I'd prefer a system that does not take away the voice of millions of voters in non-battleground states.

    14. I live in rural Western New York, which is primarily Republican/Conservative/Libertarian. When someone asks me "who are you going to vote for for president?" the only honest answer is "it doesn't matter".

      And it doesn't. NY, and all of the EC votes, will go to whichever Democrat is running. For the presidential election, every single New Yorker who won't vote for the Democrat has been disenfranchised.

      That said, I would love a convention to petition the government for a redress of grievances -- it's just that my list is totally different than the one above. I agree in name with eight of the 21 listed, and guarantee that my "solutions" for those eight would cause the original author to go into apoplectic fits.

    15. Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state-by-state winner-take-all methods.

      The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

      The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

      We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and is prepared to conduct a recount.

      The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.

      Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640 years with the National Popular Vote. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes.

      The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections.

      No recount would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 56 previous presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.

      The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. With both the current system and the National Popular Vote approach, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a "final determination" prior to the meeting of the Electoral College.

    16. I did not quantify the likelihood of a national recount, only that it is *possible* to end up within whatever percentage triggers a recount. *If* that happens, its a nightmare in that a LOT of work has to be done. I'd say 50 times the average state recount of work has to be done.

    17. There is no percentage trigger with National Popular Vote.
      It guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

      Each state manages its own election and is prepared to conduct a recount.

  4. What does #3 mean? It could be construed to mean that public servants should not be paid a salary or employment benefits. And how is the term public servants defined?

  5. This is silly. I, and others like me are sick and tired of being lumped in with "the 99%". There's a reason we have a representative government, and it is to keep the will of the mob at bay. As Ayn (I know, I said the "A" word *gasp!) so eloquently put it:

    "The American system is not a democracy. It is a constitutional republic. A democracy, if you attach meaning to terms, is a system of unlimited majority rule; the classic example is ancient Athens. And the symbol of it is the fate of Socrates, who was put to death legally, because the majority didn’t like what he was saying, although he had initiated no force and had violated no one’s rights."

    Now substitute "the USA" for "Athens" and "The 1%" for "Socrates".

    I hope that this "Petition for Redress" is written off as nothing more than a (literal?) pipe dream of the small minority of Americans that want to radically change the structure of the American political & economic systems.

    99%? not exactly...

    -Cameron (who is not tech-savvy enough to post as anything other than Anonymous)

    1. Posting as Anonymous with a signature at the end is just fine as a way to establish your "identity" on comment threads here.

      The alternative that many people use after writing their comment is to click on "Name/url", which will then prompt you to type in a name (just skip the url part), and that will move the Cameron to a bold font header for your comment. But you'll still be "anonymous" in the sense that nobody can "track" you (and you can change the identity later if you want to comment as apparently someone else).

    2. "The American system is not a democracy. It is a constitutional republic. A democracy, if you attach meaning to terms, is a system of unlimited majority rule; the classic example is ancient Athens. And the symbol of it is the fate of Socrates, who was put to death legally, because the majority didn’t like what he was saying, although he had initiated no force and had violated no one’s rights."

      Classic sophomoric Rand, more fallacy than reason. Shall we talk about the Roman Republic? The fact that governments evolve? The comical idea that a non-electoral college system would naturally result in our leading philosophers being put to death by majority vote......

      Doesn't even deserve to be treated as serious.

    3. Your condescending attitude does your point no favors.

      I don't know much about the Roman Republic, so if there's a relevant point you're making about something they did I would appreciate your clarification. Seriously.

      As for governmental evolution, I couldn't agree with you more. In fact, one might say that governmental evolution has led to our current structure, which some say is the most free & successful society in history. I think we can agree that a pure democracy came about earlier in the evolution of government than did a constitutional republic, no? So reverting back to a more basic system of direct government such as a national popular vote, in my opinion, would not represent a furthering of governmental evolution, but rather a reversion back to a system that has been tried & found flawed.

      The example of Athens is admittedly outdated, but I thought that when I said to swap "socrates" for "the 1%", logic would suggest I was not referring to the literal death of our leading philosphers, but rather the metaphoric death of the wealthiest 1% of Americans. If you think that's just hyperbole, look at some of the comments in other topics on this very blog...

      "Someone needs to take a stand and start eliminating the rich who go too far. Then you might have a few more people reconsidering their ethics" - Anon (Corrupting Influence...)

      Doesn't deserve to be treated seriously? Really? Because there are real world examples all around you of the mis-placed disaffection modern Americans have for the rich. You don't want to believe that it's come to this level, neither do I. But to ignore the words that come out of your comrades mouths is a level of ignorance (not in the snarky sense, there's just no better word to describe ignoring the obvious) that is beyond me.

  6. These people do not speak for me, nor anyone I know. We do not support these people, either.

    1. Hey folks, Marcus doesn't support you. You should all go home now....

    2. Actually, Marcus & I are the new self-appointed mouth-pieces for the 99%. We sent in all the paperwork & everything.

  7. Looks to me like toto has done his homework.

  8. Stan, you should really write up an entry about that (the stuff toto is writing about and how elections work in the US and if it's really fair or not). I'm from germany and while we are also a democracy, voting here works very different, I think. And for all I know, one thing I can remember about US elections is that people over here think your way to vote is not very democratic/not fair or whatever. I remember seeing a video about it once or reading an article about that, but it's long ago and I can't remember any details.

    Ha! A bit of clever googling helps, here is the article I was reading back then and it's still very interesting: http://math-www.uni-paderborn.de/~axel/us-d.html

    For example ...

    "... It is often believed that the position of President in the US is an extremely powerful one; this is wrong. Essentially all he can do is govern by changing administrative rules and veto or sign laws written by Congress, where the majority is often hostile to the president. Presidential vetoes can even be overridden by a 2/3-supermajority in both houses. By contrast, the Chancellor in Germany is elected by the parliament, the Bundestag, which means that a majority is behind him and most every law he wants to enact will pass, because of the above mentioned party discipline. Most laws, the ones not affecting the German states, do not have to be approved by the second chamber, the Bundesrat. (The precise rules about which laws have to be approved by the Bundesrat are quite obscure, and nobody seems to know them.)

    The American parties are located to the right of their German counterparts. Former President Clinton for instance, a Democrat, would have to be placed at the right wing of the German conservative party CDU. Some people at the right end of the American Republican party are so extreme that they would probably be under surveillance in Germany. There is no social democratic party to speak of in the US; it is the biggest and oldest party in Germany, and indeed all parties in Germany are social democratic to some extent."

    But, the whole article is interesting - just, I can't check if everything written there is valid (not enough time :)), imho :) Only downside is that it is several years old and some things have changed indeed on both sides, I guess.

    1. After toto added his additional extensive comments, it almost makes anything I would write superfluous. But I agree it might be worth headlining in a separate post for discussion, closer to election time.

  9. The list lost me at #6


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