Born on Home Plate

Remember the satirical “Billionaires for Bush” protesters? Around this time in 2008 I asked them to become Oligarchs for Obama, and they refused. But I predict Tycoons for Trump will be born this month. Inequality, like war and climate destruction, has its face now.

Chuck Collins’ book, Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good, presents the problem of inequality as well as any I’ve seen. Collins was born into wealth, gave it away, but still refers to himself as one of the wealthy, perhaps because of all the lasting privileges wealth brought him. Collins sites other examples, as well, of the wealthy putting their wealth to better use than hoarding.

Collins explains how a lot of philanthropy is, however, counterproductive, benefitting those least in need of it. He argues for a popular movement to create progressive taxation and progressive restraints on income. But he also makes a case for appealing to one percenters for solidarity, rather than demonizing them — apparently because this has proven to work better but also because it’s too late for anything else. Wealth has been so concentrated that without defections at the top it will never be truly shared again.

Collins also makes the best case I’ve seen for reparations. Donald Trump’s money, Collins writes, came from his father, who sold homes to white people who could only buy them because of government subsidized mortgages. Trump’s father also got military contracts to build houses for sailors. What Collins calls the Greatest Subsidized Generation (post World War II) — or at least the white portion of it — benefitted widely from subsidized mortgages and insurance, free college, and grants and loans from the Small Business Administration. Imagining that the racism of the day, rather than these willfully forgotten government programs, made America “great” (for some) is nonsensical.

Collins makes the case that the median wealth of white households is 13 times that of blacks in large part because of massive privileges handed to whites over the decades, including not so many years ago. And now the United States is becoming a caste society with extremely low economic mobility, and those castes parallel racial divides created by the benefits of government created wealth.

Collins paints a powerful portrait of how a wealthy childhood gives a person a permanent advantage. And he conveys the radically different, more convenient, more worry-free lives of those in the United States with great wealth. He later comes around to noting that many of those advantages are widely enjoyed in Europe. Collins argues that the wealthy are not fundamentally different from the rest of us, but his facts suggest that in fact they are. And the book’s foreword by Morris Pearl suggests to me a perspective I find it difficult to relate to. Pearl writes:

“I read about the Occupy movement in Zuccotti Park in the newspaper from the comfort of my Park Avenue apartment. When I have wanted to complain about something to President Obama, I have arranged to do it face-to-face.”

This suggests that there have been days on which Pearl did not want to complain about anything. Of course I can imagine meeting with Obama, but I can’t imagine only occasionally wanting to.

I also have a hard time relating to the phenomenon of the Missing Military as it exists in Collins’ and virtually every other liberal book published in the United States. Collins laments that $200 billion per year may be lost to the super wealthy hiding their wealth in tax havens. Collins never mentions the $1 trillion per year wasted on the murderous enterprise of militarism. In his to-do list at the end of the book, he has no mention of opposing militarism, but one of his items for us to do is to pay our taxes (because of all the good that supposedly comes of doing so).

There are some things, Martin Luther King Jr. said, to which we should not wish to become well adjusted. I include in that list all discussions of U.S. economics that erase the military.

What Hillary Clinton Privately Told Goldman Sachs

At first glance, Hillary Clinton’s speeches to Goldman Sachs, which she refused to show us but WikiLeaks claims to have now produced the texts of, reveal less blatant hypocrisy or abuse than do the texts of various emails also recently revealed. But take a closer look.

Clinton has famously said that she believes in maintaining a public position on each issue that differs from her private position. Which did she provide to Goldman Sachs?

Yes, Clinton does profess her loyalty to corporate trade agreements, but at the time of her remarks she hadn’t yet started (publicly) claiming otherwise.

I think, in fact, that Clinton maintains numerous positions on various issues, and that those she provided to Goldman Sachs were in part her public stances, in part her confidences to co-conspirators, and in part her partisan Democratic case to a room of Republicans as to why they should donate more to her and less to the GOP. This was not the sort of talk she’d have given to labor union executives or human rights professionals or Bernie Sanders delegates. She has a position for every audience.

In the speech transcripts from June 4, 2013, October 29, 2013, and October 19, 2015, Clinton was apparently paid sufficiently to do something she denies most audiences. That is, she took questions that it appears likely she was not secretly briefed on or engaged in negotiations over ahead of time. In part this appears to be the case because some of the questions were lengthy speeches, and in part because her answers were not all the sort of meaningless platitudes that she produces if given time to prepare.

Much of the content of these speeches to U.S. bankers dealt with foreign policy, and virtually all of that with warfare, potential warfare, and opportunities for military-led domination of various regions of the globe. This stuff is more interesting and less insultingly presented than the idiocies spewed out at the public presidential debates. But it also fits an image of U.S. policy that Clinton might have preferred to keep private. Just as nobody advertised that, as emails now show, Wall Street bankers helped pick President Obama’s cabinet, we’re generally discouraged from thinking that wars and foreign bases are intended as services to financial overlords. “I’m representing all of you,” Clinton says to the bankers in reference to her efforts at a meeting in Asia. Sub-Saharan Africa has great potential for U.S. “businesses and entrepreneurs,” she says in reference to U.S. militarism there.

Yet, in these speeches, Clinton projects exactly that approach, accurately or not, on other nations and accuses China of just the sort of thing that her “far left” critics accuse her of all the time, albeit outside the censorship of U.S. corporate media. China, Clinton says, may use hatred of Japan as a means of distracting Chinese people from unpopular and harmful economic policies. China, Clinton says, struggles to maintain civilian control over its military. Hmm. Where else have we seen these problems?

“We’re going to ring China with missile ‘defense,'” Clinton tells Goldman Sachs. “We’re going to put more of our fleet in the area.”

On Syria, Clinton says it’s hard to figure out whom to arm — completely oblivious to any options other than arming somebody.  It’s hard, she says, to predict at all what will happen. So, her advice, which she blurts out to a room of bankers, is to wage war in Syria very “covertly.”

In public debates, Clinton demands a “no fly zone” or “no bombing zone” or “safe zone” in Syria, from which to organize a war to overthrow the government. In a speech to Goldman Sachs, however, she blurts out that creating such a zone would require bombing a lot more populated areas than was required in Libya. “You’re going to kill a lot of Syrians,” she admits. She even tries to distance herself from the proposal by referring to “this intervention that people talk about so glibly” — although she, before and at the time of that speech and ever since has been the leading such person.

Clinton also makes clear that Syrian “jihadists” are being funded by Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar. In October 2013, as the U.S. public had rejected bombing Syria, Blankfein asked if the public was now opposed to “interventions” — that clearly being understood as a hurdle to be overcome. Clinton said not to fear. “We’re in a time in Syria,” she said, “where they’re not finished killing each other . . . and maybe you just have to wait and watch it.”

That’s the view of many ill-meaning and many well-meaning people who have been persuaded that the only two choices in foreign policy are bombing people and doing nothing. That clearly is the understanding of the former Secretary of State, whose positions were more hawkish than those of her counterpart at the Pentagon. It’s also reminiscent of Harry Truman’s comment that if the Germans were winning you should help the Russians and vice versa, so that more people would die. That’s not exactly what Clinton said here, but it’s pretty close, and it’s something she would not say in a scripted joint-media-appearance masquerading as a debate. The possibility of disarmament, nonviolent peacework, actual aid on a massive scale, and respectful diplomacy that leaves U.S. influence out of the resulting states is just not on Clinton’s radar no matter who is in her audience.

On Iran, Clinton repeatedly hypes false claims about nuclear weapons and terrorism, even while admitting far more openly than we’re used to that Iran’s religious leader denounces and opposes nuclear weapons. She also admits that Saudi Arabia is already pursuing nuclear weapons and that UAE and Egypt are likely to do so, at least if Iran does. She also admits that the Saudi government is far from stable.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein asks Clinton at one point how a good war against Iran might go — he suggesting that an occupation (yes, they use that forbidden word) might not be the best move. Clinton replies that Iran can just be bombed. Blankfein, rather shockingly, appeals to reality — something Clinton goes on at obnoxious length about elsewhere in these speeches. Has bombing a population into submission ever worked, Blankfein asks. Clinton admits that it has not but suggests that it just might work on Iranians because they are not democratic.

Regarding Egypt, Clinton makes clear her opposition to popular change.

Regarding China again, Clinton claims to have told the Chinese that the United States could claim ownership of the entire Pacific as a result of having “liberated it.” She goes on to claim to have told them that “We discovered Japan for heaven’s sake.” And: “We have proof of having bought [Hawaii].” Really? From whom?

This is ugly stuff, at least as damaging to human lives as the filth coming from Donald Trump. Yet it’s fascinating that even the bankers in whom Clinton confides her militarist mania ask her identical questions to those I get asked by peace activists at speaking events: “Is the U.S. political system completely broken?” “Should we scrap this and go with a parliamentary system?” Et cetera. In part their concern is the supposed gridlock created by differences between the two big parties, whereas my biggest concern is the militarized destruction of people and the environment that never seems to encounter even a slight traffic slowdown in Congress. But if you imagine that the people Bernie Sanders always denounces as taking home all the profits are happy with the status quo, think again. They benefit in certain ways, but they don’t control their monster and it doesn’t make them feel fulfilled.

The Financialization of Fiction, and Vice Versa

The Utopia of Rules by David Graeber is an engaging riff on the theme of bureaucracy and the BS people think about it.

“De-regulation,” of finances, Graeber points out, creates more rules, paperwork, and bureaucrats, apparently because what happens is not the equivalent of firing a bunch of factory safety inspectors, but rather the employment of enough bureaucrats to redirect control of wealth from mid-sized companies to giant conglomerates. Yet, just as people imagine criminals to be mostly black or violent, or war to be philanthropic or necessary, or estate taxes to be about family farms, or voter fraud to be impacting elections, or elections to have any value that could possibly be hurt by voter fraud, or a minimum wage to eliminate jobs, or corporate trade agreements to not eliminate jobs, or guns to make us safer, or prisons to “correct” something, or wealth to trickle down, or small-time foreign thugs to constitute a graver threat than a McDonald’s diet, what matters is a fiction well told, not any facts.

Career advancement in a bureaucracy, Graeber writes, is based not so much on merit as on the loyalty exhibited by a willingness to pretend that it’s based on merit. If you play along with the collective delusion, you’re rewarded.

“Globalization” is not about tearing down borders, but rather trapping people behind militarized borders within which public supports can be denied and workers can be compelled to work for little or nothing — in other words, a species of bureaucratization. The effort to create a truly borderless and fair world is known as “anti-globalization.”

The “free market” means heavier bureaucracy, and an expansion of those areas of life that come under the control of state violence. This was the story of Russia’s transition from state to private economics, Graeber writes: more bureaucrats, not fewer.

When police bring law and order, we picture them turning a violent situation non-violent. In fact, they are not involved in most violent crime, and mostly show up to nonviolent situations which they turn violent. You have a much higher chance of being killed by police than by the terrorists they are now mostly imagined as combatting.

When someone tells you to be “realistic” about such supposed fantasies as peace or justice, they are not telling you to recognize how things are, as they and you may imagine they are, but rather they are telling you to acknowledge the violence by which the state can impose its will no matter how stupidly it might choose to do so. “Real” in this usage comes from the Spanish real meaning royal or belonging to the king, not the Latin res or thing. It is the royal usage that created such phrases as “real property” or “real estate.” The point is not that a house truly exists, but that the king ultimately owns it. To “be realistic” about violence simply means to be violent about violence. After all, we all know violence exists; some of us choose not to multiply it.

Cutting taxes on “job creators” doesn’t create any jobs, just the reverse. With more wealth, they do things like taking their pay in stock options, and then using extra money that could have gone into new hires or raises or research for stock buybacks. The result is a weaker economy inhabited by people convinced it’s both a stronger economy and an inevitable economy against which one need not waste any energy struggling for change.

Why don’t we have robots doing our factory work and house work? Why don’t we have useful technological advances on the scale of previous eras? Graeber writes that the most immediate reason is that 95% of robotics funding has gone through the Pentagon which has no interest in such matters and is more interested in destructive inventions like killer drones.

In addition, robots are understood as job killers rather than time savers because we offer no one a guaranteed income even if they don’t need to work. We begin with the requirement that everyone work no matter what, and then figure out stuff they can do to fulfill that requirement — such as trying all day to get us to switch from one giant phone company to another.

Another problem is innovative corporate culture that kills innovation by investing in only sure things, requiring everyone to invest time in PR, and multiplying bureaucracy.

People are told to cling to the American freedom of private health insurance companies as an act of rebellion against government bureaucracy, even as the insurance corporations create vastly more bureaucracy, paperwork, sickness, and death.

We don’t notice bureaucracy, Graeber believes, because it has mushroomed. The average American will spend 6 months of their life waiting for stoplights to change and some larger length of time filling out forms.

We don’t notice bureaucracy, think we despise it, and secretly love it, Graeber thinks — love it because it is the enemy of unpredictable and improvisational play, which we’ve been conditioned to believe is dangerous. Of course, the opposite is true.

The preceding is a sampling of Graber’s book and my thoughts on it, not a summary. I urge you to dive into it yourself. It’s a book that intentionally raises many large questions. A couple of small ones stand out as flaws, however: 1) Why in the world does the author keep his money in Bank of America? 2) Why does he imagine that the “War on Terror” has ended? The whole point of a war on terror is that it’s not endable, as terror can never be eliminated. Nor of course can it be outdone in terrorizing by anything moreso than war.

Peace Work Because of You

A note from David Swanson:

You may have seen this article I wrote recently on ongoing U.S. use of depleted uranium weapons. It’s on dozens of websites, including my own WarIsACrime, but also Al Jazeera, Truthout, Counterpunch, FireDogLake, OpEdNews, Washington’s Blog, Z, and many others.

Guess what I got paid, in total, from all of those outlets? —–>>>

But I can pay the bills and keep working for peace if you help with a donation, even a small one, ideally a recurring one to keep me going and keep me from having to bug you in the future. 

You may have seen this recent television appearance. It informed a great many people about alternatives to war. It paid exactly as much as that article. In fact, I am constantly writing and doing interviews for nothing but peace.

You can find all of my writing at DavidSwanson.org and fund that site here.

I won’t waste a dime. I won’t give it to corporate television networks to advertise a campaign slightly less awful than another guy’s, because I’m not running for anything but peace.

Dozens of radio stations air my program Talk Nation Radio every week (also available online). It provides an educational service found nowhere else. The combined payments I receive for it total exactly the same as for my writing and media appearances. I have to maintain recording equipment, pay the bill for a landline phone, and put in hours of work each week. You can fund this program here.

I’m maintaining a website at WarIsACrime.org that provides resources and information to the peace movement and the broader movement for a better world. Nobody helps. Nobody pays. No corporate advertising is allowed. Check out the site and fund it here.

Or you can help me stay actively working for peace by buying my books on the subject.

Or you can donate through Paypal to david AT davidswanson DOT org.

Or you can donate by check. Please make out to David Swanson and send to
David Swanson c/o World Beyond War
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The above are all ways to fund me directly. I’m just a person, not a tax-deductible charity. However, I am working part-time for WorldBeyondWar.org and you can fund this project tax-free. Whenever it raises enough, it pays me something. Check out the resources I’ve created there; I think you’ll find them valuable. For example, here’s an answer to the ever-present question “But what would you do about ISIS?”

I’m also working part-time for a great online activist group called RootsAction.org and encourage you to join and fund it.

I work in collaboration with a lot of peace organizations, and I always try to nudge the activism toward a principled stand against militarism and toward strategic and educational efforts that will move the wider culture in the direction of making war a thing of the past. I’m free to speak my mind, and to take part in nonviolent civil resistance, because I’m not serving any big foundation or 1-percenter. I am, however, relying on you. Please click here and help me keep working.

 

 

Talk Nation Radio: Kevin Zeese on Activist Media, TPP, Climate, Wars

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-kevin-zeese-on-activist-media-tpp-climate-wars

Kevin Zeese (at right in image) is an organizer at http://PopularResistance.org We discuss activist journalism, stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership, saving the climate, and ending the wars.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

 

Talk Nation Radio: I'm Thankful We Can Abolish Debt

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-im-thankful

 

RollingJubilee.org has abolished over $14 million worth of people’s debt to make the point that debt can be abolished.  Aaron Smith explains how.  Aaron Smith has been a participant in several initiatives of Occupy Wall Street, from park maintenance to research on the financial system. Currently, he is primarily involved in the Rolling Jubilee, a project to purchase defaulted debt on open markets and abolish it.  The Rolling Jubilee is meant to demonstrate the injustice of the debt system and make lives better in the process.  Aaron is a host of Occupy Wall Street Radio on WBAI.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

It's the Ownership

If you’re like me you’ve read several books that list inspiring examples of worker owned businesses and co-ops, suggesting that expanding on such models might begin to right the wrongs of an incredibly unequal society that is growing even more unequal by the day.

The best such collection I’ve found is in a new book by Gar Alperovitz called What Then Must We Do?  This book also offers a powerful argument that radical change is needed, albeit an argument with some possible flaws.  First the inspiring examples:

Workers own and run factories in Cleveland, Atlanta, Washington DC, Amarillo, and many other cities.  Labor unions that once opposed worker ownership, including the Steelworkers and several others, now create worker-owned companies.  Forty percent of Americans are members of cooperatives, including credit unions.  People moved hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, from large banks to credit unions and small banks in 2011 and 2012.  (That should continue!)  Then there are community development corporations and land trusts, alive and thriving.  There are even corporations redesigned, and labeled B Corps, chartered under new laws in 12 states to allow them to legally pursue the social good as well as profits. 

Employee stock ownership plans make U.S. workers owners of their businesses in great numbers — three million more than are members of unions in the private sector.  Federal tax incentives (don’t tell Congress!) encourage business owners to sell to their employees.  Worker-owned firms are becoming more common.  They are also more profitable than other similar companies. 

It occurs to me that we need a Union-Label type operation to label and catalog the products of worker-owned companies so that we can put our support there. 

Local governments are investing in local businesses and land development.  A quarter of U.S. electricity comes from publicly owned co-ops.  These power companies are more efficient and tend to be greener.  The model is being followed by public broadband service.  Proposals that meet the textbook definition of socialism are alive and growing in red and blue states alike, and at the local and state levels.

This matters because the national government in the United States is so thoroughly corrupted.  I’m not sure Alperovitz ever directly answers the question of how a national plutocracy will be prevented from halting local and state progress on the ownership question, as it has halted local and state progress on other matters.  If the trend toward democratizing ownership is happening under the radar, how can it possibly be kept there while succeeding on the necessary scale?  If this approach to economic justice is somehow more inherently “American” than other more foreign ideas, how exactly does that protect it?  Weren’t family farms and free elections and the Fourth Amendment deemed very American at one point too?  Alperovitz recommends a state-by-state approach to single-payer healthcare, but the refusal of California legislators to enact it has come at the bidding of those in Washington.  None of which is to suggest that Alperovitz is wrong to promote this strategy — just that it may be very difficult, and some other strategies may help too.

Alperovitz frames his discussion within an understanding of serious systemic failure.  Persistent long-term trends toward income and wealth inequality, monopolized corporate power, mass incarceration, and environmental devastation churn ahead in the face of elections, activism, lobbying, and reform legislation, not to mention flip-flopping between Republican and Democratic so-called “leadership.”  Alperovitz paints these as even longer term trends than we often suppose by dismissing the gains of the middle of the 20th century as an aberration produced by the Great Depression and World War II, and as gains that could not have come without a large labor movement — something he now deems virtually impossible. 

Most activist groups, Alperovitz points out, react to cuts in public services by demanding no cuts.  This is purely defensive.  Alperovitz acknowledges that some also advocate for progressive taxation, but deems this “obviously inadequate” although the obviousness of its inadequacy is not apparent to me, except in the sense that (just like the worker-ownership model) it hasn’t succeeded yet on a major scale. Yes, the plutocrats buy the elections.  The system is rigged against tax reform.  But the goal of advancing the taxation (and elimination) of billionaires as power is gradually obtained seems critical.

Alperovitz seems at times to buy into the notion that there just isn’t enough money around, even if the billionaires were to be taxed at 90 percent.  But this is wrong, of course.  The nation is rolling in money, and the money is piled up in the hands of several hundred people. 

It’s somewhere else as well, somewhere Alperovitz doesn’t propose to look for it.  President Obama’s proposed budget for 2014 devotes 57% of discretionary spending to an illegal, immoral, counterproductive, and economically destructive operation known as war and preparation for war.  While Alperovitz suggests that World War III could save the U.S. economy (were a new world war possible, which he says it isn’t), economists say military spending as it exists does less for the economy than other public spending and even less than tax cuts for working people; that is to say, it is worse than nothing. 

Alperovitz seems unaware that roughly half of military spending is outside the Pentagon, in Homeland Security, in the CIA, in the State Department, in the Energy Department, etc.  So he uses the Pentagon budget alone to argue that military spending is low as a percentage of GDP.  This does not of course make it low in terms of actual dollars or as a percentage of global military spending or as a percentage of public spending in the United States.  Alperovitz believes there’s little money for spending on human needs, but seems not to notice where 57% of discretionary spending is going. 

While Alperovitz raises the topic of healthcare because it takes up, he says, 20 percent of GDP, the war machine that swallows 8 or 9 percent of GDP from U.S. government purchases alone (U.S. companies also dominating international weapons sales) gets no consideration.  Leo Tolstoy, from whom the book’s title is borrowed, would have noticed the existence of the military industrial complex.  He would have considered the possibility of economic conversion.  Connecticut created a commission this month to pursue conversion from war to peace manufacturing.  I suspect Alperovitz would like that model if he took a look at it. 

So, here’s where I come down.  We should be pursuing everything Alperovitz recommends, and then some.  We should create worker ownership, tax the rich, cut the military, invest in our society, and act strategically at the local, state, and national levels.  We should take very seriously long-term structural failures and stop imagining that another election will fix anything by itself.  And we should, as Alperovitz wisely recommends, be preparing the ground for the best possible activism when a moment of greater possibilities arrives, or when we have succeeded in creating it.

Occupy Movement Demands Home Mortgages Correction

On Thursday, OccupyWashingtonDC.org teamed up with the Backbone Campaign, National People’s Action, and the New Economy Working Group in a march from Freedom Plaza to the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA).

The demand they brought, along with giant props including a foreclosed house under water, was for a correction.  The 1%, they said, inflated house values and made off with ill-gotten gains, but those left with underwater mortgages when the house values were brought back down have suffered.  The demand is for mortgage values to be adjusted to match the current market values of houses.

“People in power know that the real solution to the continuing collapse of the housing market is universal principal reduction of American mortgages to real market value,” said Bill Moyer of the Backbone Campaign. “It’s time those with the power find the backbone to stand up to the banks and Institutions that hold these mortgages and insist they stop drowning America with false solutions, inaction and greed.”

Some 25% of U.S. mortgages are now under water, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hold over 50% of U.S. mortgages. The FHFA has the power to force Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce principal to the actual value of houses. Underwater mortgage debt is one of the primary drags on economic recovery. It continues to devour tens of billions of dollars annually, money that would otherwise go into our economy in the form of consumer spending.

Getty Images produced these shots:

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Demonstrators from the Freedom Plaza Occupation, Backbone Campaign & Economic Justice Allies protest November 10, 2011 to Demand Mortgage Correction in front of the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) in Washington, DC. Demonstrators are demanding that the FHFA force Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce principal to the actual value of houses. Underwater mortgage debt is one of the primary drags on economic recovery. It continues to devour tens of billions of dollars annually, money that would otherwise go into our economy in the form of consumer spending. Getty Images logo Getty Images 40 minutes ago

Demonstrators from the Freedom Plaza Occupation, Backbone Campaign & Economic Justice Allies protest November 10, 2011 to Demand Mortgage Correction in front of the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) in Washington, DC. Demonstrators are demanding that the FHFA force Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce principal to the actual value of houses. Underwater mortgage debt is one of the primary drags on economic recovery. It continues to devour tens of billions of dollars annually, money that would otherwise go into our economy in the form of consumer spending.

 

Photo»

Noel Ortega with the Freedom Plaza Occupation, Backbone Campaign & Economic Justice Allies protests from a makeshift 'underwater home' November 10, 2011 to Demand Mortgage Correction in front of the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) in Washington, DC. Demonstrators are demanding that the FHFA force Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce principal to the actual value of houses. Underwater mortgage debt is one of the primary drags on economic recovery. It continues to devour tens of billions of dollars annually, money that would otherwise go into our economy in the form of consumer spending. Getty Images logo Getty Images 52 minutes ago

Noel Ortega with the Freedom Plaza Occupation, Backbone Campaign & Economic Justice Allies protests from a makeshift ‘underwater home’ November 10, 2011 to Demand Mortgage Correction in front of the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) in Washington, DC. Demonstrators are demanding that the FHFA force Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce principal to the actual value of houses. Underwater mortgage debt is one of the primary drags on economic recovery. It continues to devour tens of billions of dollars annually, money that would otherwise go into our economy in the form of consumer spending.