Hi from Jeanene Louden, Secretary for our newly elected Board of Directors
by Jeanene Louden
Hi. My name is Jeanene Louden. I'm a retired business owner, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, AND I'm a thoughtful American who believes democracy is in trouble and it is my job as a citizen to intervene!
[MORE, including video of Jeanene, and a photo of her husband and her dog!]
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The Movement Is You
I recently had the pleasure of participating in a very peaceful rally in my town of Kingwood, Texas. We called the rally Occupy Kingwood. The rally was comprised of many organizations in town working for change to re-buttress the middle class. We had a few members of Coffee Party participating as well. We decided to rally without any overt signs that named our specific organizations but instead presented a unified front based on the actual problems afflicting the poor and the middle class.
I am sure by now you have seen the recent report that the census data reveals that nearly half of Americas live near or below the poverty level. These are not first world country statistics but stats for third world countries. Members and contributors to the Coffee Party have defined the problem. We know the problem is partially the corporate control of our politicians and all that it entails. Most importantly, however, we must accept the fact that the problem is us.
It is easy to identify a problem. It is easy to complain about a problem. It is easy to be a victim. What is difficult is taking the steps necessary to be a part of the solution. Why? It is difficult to be engaged in the political process while we must take care of our families. It is difficult to get the information about when and how to take action.
That is where the Coffee Party, your Coffee Party, is designed to play a part. You have just elected a Board of Directors of which I a proud to be a part. We will hit the ground running on January 1st, ready to support your cause. This is an election year and the Coffee Party's primary goals of Wall Street Reform, Tax Code Reform, and Campaign Finance Reform must be a part of the dialogue. Your Board of Directors will be watchful and ready to direct our engagement in the body politic to have maximum effect.
Coffee Party brothers and sisters, let us get the New Year started on the right foot. We are coming off a gloriously successful rally in Washington DC that brought old and new Coffee Party members together and allowed us to bond. We began a process of strategic thinking for 2012, and we want you to be part of that process from now on. We will be discussing ways to engage and have impact on our radio shows, through our blogs, and on our websites. You must be a part of it and you must be ready to help us by adding your voice.
Coffee Party is a volunteer organization. I volunteer my time, some Internet bandwidth, and money to support Coffee Party. Most of our active and visible members do the same. We have a very small paid staff to manage our infrastructure, Internet tools, and applications. I ask that everyone reading this newsletter become an official member as part of our "Class of 2012" Membership Drive, or to make a donation however small. I promise, we promise to be good stewards of your donations to ensure it all goes to promote our cause. This movement is you. You will determine its success.
“We are Wall Street” — Let the Fee-Takers Become Value Creators
I came across an interesting image a month or so ago. It was a photo of a leaflet allegedly “dropped” on Occupy protesters in Chicago. I’m not sure what to make of its authenticity, but when I read it I thought, “What a great idea!” The whole premise of the leaflet is a twisted cautionary tale. It can be summarized in a few brief points:
As I’m sure many readers will recognize, there are a number of issues with this line of reasoning, but my overall response was, “Bring it on! Let’s make this happen.”
The fact is that the growth of Wall Street profits (and bonuses) does little to help the economy. Most Americans know this intuitively, but let me try to explain why this is so by examining the concepts of “value creation” and “rent-seeking.”
Value creation is how economies grow, in real terms. One can take a tree, for example, and cut it into lumber. Then one could take the pile of lumber and build a house. Value was added to the economy several times: once when the tree was felled, once when it was turned into lumber, and once when the lumber was made into a house. Or consider the latte: a person takes a 50 cents worth of milk and coffee, steams it for a minute or two until it’s just right, and sells the result for four dollars. There can be value in a sequence of letters on a page, a series of bits in a computer, a particular arrangement of pigments on a canvas or notes on a page, new scientific knowledge, or a new critical perspective. Education is our investment in future value creators — the “value-creative class.” Value creation is the root of real economic growth.
Rent-seeking, on the other hand, is a way to expand an individual’s share of the economy, without actually producing anything new – without producing much new value. Rent-seeking is not necessarily a bad thing; I don’t begrudge an innkeeper or a landlord the fee for a bed to sleep in and a roof over my head. Nor, indeed, do I begrudge a broker her commission, or the mutual fund company their expense ratio. All of these activities can enable value creation, and everybody’s got to make a living. Rent-seeking just doesn’t really grow the economy that much, in comparison to value creation. [MORE]
Inoculate yourself from "1 Percent Media"
Luck or Fate? How Philosophy Impacts Policy
We need the participation of people like you in the Coffee Party Commonwealth project if we’re going to effectively advocate for fair tax policies — one key way of restoring sanity to our nation’s public finances and revitalizing our economy by restoring purchasing power and upward mobility to America's middle class and working class.
Another goal of the Commonwealth project is to address some fundamental questions about money and life. For instance, how large of a role does luck, or fate, play in human affairs? This is an age-old philosophical question — one that affects policy positions on taxation, public spending and the proper role of government.
Say you believe life is a lottery: outcomes are entirely beyond our control, with bounty and want scattered at random. You might well support steeply progressive income and inheritance taxes as a result, based on the idea that the more fortunate should contribute a higher percentage of their earnings to the common good than the less fortunate, simply because they can.
But imagine that you believed success and failure are both entirely earned — that wealth is always and everywhere directly related to personal virtue and effort. Then the same policy is no more than institutionalized theft, punishing merit and rewarding sloth.
For some of us, the role of luck in financial wellbeing is beyond dispute, because we live by it. We are inheritors, who were handed a living through the simple expedient of being born. True, we are required to put forth some effort to fully enjoy our wealth. We must find ways not to excessively anger or alarm our benefactors, for instance, and we must spend our money wisely so as not to squander it. But these are relatively light duties in comparison to the workaday world.
I live by the assumption that this thing called luck works both ways: there must be at least as many instances of bad luck as good. I further believe it is the appropriate role of government to employ some of that unearned good fortune to address unearned misfortune through progressive taxation on things like capital gains and inheritance, using the money collected for social investment. [MORE]
by Billy Sears
The holiday season has arrived and Coffee Party USA would like to wish all of our members and supporters a very happy holiday. We have come so far, in such a short time, and this wouldn’t have been the case without the support of folks like you.
As your Membership Director, I would like to say a personal thank you for your support, your generosity and your patience over the past year as we have transformed Coffee Party from an all volunteer movement into a national non-profit organization with a Board of Directors and a small administrative staff. Rome obviously wasn’t built in a day, but as someone who began his career with Coffee Party as a volunteer local organizer, I am extremely proud of what has been accomplished thus far.
It is no secret, and is the case with a lot of non-profits, that our success is dependent on our members and contributors. You help us chart the course for Coffee Party. To show our appreciation, we would like to offer some incentives for any December contributions. We are offering some great stocking stuffers, courtesy of our Coffee Party store. We are also offering a 20% discount for purchases at our Coffee Party store for any contributions. To see the incentives, click here.
Coffee Party is also pleased to be able to offer gift memberships. A gift membership is a great way to introduce your friends and families to the Coffee Party mission and values. Please click here to initiate a gift membership.
If you are looking for other ways to support Coffee Party . . .
From The Desk Of Debilyn
WE’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY. AND WE AREN’T DONE YET. NOT EVEN CLOSE
We’ve been reviewing the history of the Coffee Party lately. How long ago it seems since Annabel’s first Facebook post in January 2010. Or was it only yesterday?
In 2011, we journeyed together with actions in Washington DC in January and October, local events in many parts of the country including Austin, TX, Champaign, IL, Pensacola, FL and more. We developed a strategic plan in June that took feedback from you, the Coffee Party Community on the issue of Money & Politics. We focused on, and invested in building infrastructure to expand our reach, gather and deliver more information, provide local chapter services.
And of course, our Internet strategy continues to evolve as new technology emerges. Our Facebook fan page sends out four posts a day, averaging more than 200,000 impressions each, which means that in 2011 the Coffee Party message reached hundreds of millions on Facebook alone. We also have a small team sending out 10 to 15 Tweets per day @CoffeePartyUSA, and we are now capable of sending messages to more than 160 Facebook pages started by Coffee Party organizers around the country.
As we were planning the Citizens Intervention event for October, the Occupy Movement began and swelled. Within a couple of months, the work we had envisioned taking a couple of years to shift the country’s focus was accomplished. This is good news for Coffee Party. We’ve been thinking about this and will be asking for your input in the coming weeks.
That leads us to 2012. Where will we go together? We have three local programs emerging for 2012. Of course, we need your help!
As we head towards the New Year, we’d like to express our appreciation to all of you for being part of the Coffee Party community. Your support is invaluable and important. Thank you for all you do.
The Truth About Taxes and Job Creation — Great Reporting by
NPRby Eric Byler
Okay, stop reading this now. Stop reading this, and take 11 minutes to LISTEN TO THIS STORY. It begins with a charming character sketch on venture capitalist Nick Hanauer (Amazon.com). After that, it's 11 minutes of absolute genius.As we watch the struggle within the Republican Party in Congress over extending the Payroll Tax Cut for America's middle class and working class, the argument we hear over taxation is shifting in a fascinating way. What used to be "taxes are always bad" is now "taxes on the wealthy are always bad but taxes on everyone else are okay if it means obstructing the Obama administration."
Partisanship is boring. Sometimes you have to look past it and get to the facts. Will Rice, who recently came out of the closet as a member of "The 1 Percent," recently wrote:
The reason usually offered for taxing passive income at a lower rate than wages, salaries, and small-business income is that such preferential treatment encourages investment and job creation. And that may be true of entrepreneurs who start businesses, seek investors, and then sell off their creations and start all over again.
But I don't do any of those things, and there are millions of rich people like me who don't either. Like a lot of them, I inherited stock in big companies like IBM and General Electric. I support myself primarily by going to my mailbox, picking up dividend checks, and depositing them. Occasionally I sell some shares at a profit. And conservative tax reformers believe I should be rewarded for this great exertion by exempting me entirely from taxation.
So not everyone in the "1%" creates jobs and shielding our aristocracy from the levels of taxation we had when our economy was strong and our budget balanced doesn't make a lot of sense. Point taken. But what about those members of the "1%" who do create jobs? [MORE]