Monday, April 22, 2019
Monday, April 15, 2019
Friday, April 12, 2019
This crowd-funding project, which is dedicated to ridding the earth of scrap electronics, runs until May 30th! Photo of new location shown below (3988 Flowers Rd. Atlanta, Ga. 30360) Now with a significantly lowered amount needed thanks to a large anonymous donation. Many thanks to all the others who gave no matter what the amount. This nonprofit will launch this summer!! https://www.chuffed.org/project/nonprofit-electronic-waste-recycling-and-rebuilding-fundraiser
Monday, April 8, 2019
This week on the 99% Blog with Author Rev. Paul J. Bern: "The Invasion of the Fascists in Churches" Now on Medium -- https://medium.com/@greatestservant62/the-infiltration-of-the-american-churches-by-right-wing-extremism-2965e28a15cf #therealBible #therealJesus #politicaldissent
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Monday, April 1, 2019
This week on Medium with Author Rev. Paul J. Bern; the college cheating scandal and real Christianity -- https://zurl.co/s67l #honesty #bribery #affluence-sucks
Monday, March 25, 2019
Monday, March 11, 2019
I wish to extend my humble apology to all my readers for the lack of postings as of late. My notebook PC has died of old age, but I have a desktop PC on the way. Postings will resume by next Sunday at the very latest, and hopefully sooner. https://zurl.co/SeGM #I'llbeback
Monday, February 25, 2019
Friday, February 22, 2019
Monday, February 18, 2019
Monday, February 11, 2019
This week on Medium (formerly the 99% Blog) with Author & Web Minister Paul J. Bern; Setting the record straight on tithing, or donating 10 percent -- https://zurl.co/qpp5 #tithing #churches #generosity
Please note: All posts will be redirected to Medium starting today. When you finish reading, please give me a few "claps", which are located in the left hand margin, so I can earn a little money for my work. Thanks ever so much!
Please note: All posts will be redirected to Medium starting today. When you finish reading, please give me a few "claps", which are located in the left hand margin, so I can earn a little money for my work. Thanks ever so much!
Sunday, February 3, 2019
What Does The Bible Tell Us About Abortion?
by Minister Paul J. Bern
For a website view, click here :-)
Without a doubt, this week's commentary is inspired by what transpired this past week in the state of New York, where the abortion law has been amended to legalize abortion right up until the point of birth. The law expands the state’s already liberal abortion laws to allow late-term abortions when “the patient is within 24 weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” I offer this quote from the Philadelphia Inquirer as further explanation: “The law passed this week makes it impossible for the government to prevent a woman from choosing an abortion during the first six months. The state cannot step in to stop her. This could be catastrophic. Imagine if women in America could wait up to six months to choose to abort their babies for issues.... less devastating than Down syndrome. What if a woman chose to abort because she wanted a boy instead of a girl? That’s feasible under Cuomo’s law.”
The article continues: “The law also legalizes abortion up to the moment of birth if the mother’s life is in danger. In short: The law values the life of the mother more than the life of the child.” As this was being signed into law by governor Andrew Cuomo, the governor stated he “was opposed to abortion personally, but would not deprive others of that 'right.'” By the way, Andrew Cuomo is a Catholic. The Catholic church is by and large opposed to abortion, but usually for the wrong reasons. A prevented abortion becomes a new Catholic convert. That means more members, more robust Sunday collections during mass, and more priests and nuns for the Vatican to recruit.
Many people presume that a human being is created at the time of conception, but this belief is not supported medically or by the Bible. The fact that a living sperm penetrates a living ovum resulting in the formation of a living fetus does not mean that the fetus is a living human being, or at least not immediately. According to the Bible, a fetus is not a living person with a soul until after drawing its first breath. Allow me to explain the results of my research on this very touchy subject as delicately as possible.
First of all, God formed man according to Genesis 2:7, which says, “... the Lord formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being”. Although the man was fully formed by God in all respects, he was not a living being until after God put breath into him. In Job 33:4, it states: “The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” We were all formed prior to our birth, but we weren't living beings until God breathed life unto us. Again, to quote Ezekiel 37 verses 5 and 6, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: 'I will make breath to enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you, and make flesh to come upon you and cover you with skin; and put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord'.”
The Bible also spells out the appropriate level of punishment for those who would dare to hurt the unborn. In Exodus 21:22 it is written: “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise”. It should be quite clear from this that the aborted fetus is not considered a living human being since the resulting punishment for the abortion is nothing more than a fine; it is not classified by the Bible as a capital offense under these circumstances unless the baby, its mother, or both are intentionally harmed or killed.
It is further stated in 1st Corinthians chapter 3 verse 16, “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and God's Spirit lives in you?” We are only alive in Christ when we die to ourselves. An unborn fetus lives within the womb, but is not yet a human being until it draws its first breath. Can God live within the unborn baby? Well, the Bible does say, “All things are possible with God”, that is true and I believe it wholeheartedly. But as I have already pointed out, the Bible is absolutely clear that a baby is not a human being until it draws its first breath, so that question is actually besides the point. The physical body of the unborn fetus is surely there, but as before, that body isn't breathing yet.
Destroying a living fetus does not equate to killing a grown, living human being even though the fetus definitely has the potential of becoming a human being. One can not kill something that has not been born or taken a breath. This means that a stillborn would not be considered a human being either. Of course, every living sperm has the potential of becoming a human being although not even one in a million will make it; the rest are aborted. It would appear that God does not have any more regard for the loss of a sperm than he does for the loss of a placenta, or of a foreskin during circumcision, despite the fact that these were living tissue as the result of conception.
Now let's take this to the next level, which has to do with being born again in the Spirit. When Jesus taught Nicodemus about being born again he said, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of the water and of the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, and spirit gives birth to Spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'you must be born again'. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John chapter 3, verses 5-8)
Flesh gives birth to flesh, and spirit to Spirit. Being born of the water is a reference to childbirth first and to water baptism secondly. Being born of the Spirit of Christ refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Plus, when we read our Bible, it says quite clearly in Galatians chapter two and verse 20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”. If the apostle Paul has been crucified with Jesus and died with him, then we are charged with the duty of being followers of Jesus right up to the very end as well. This is what being born again actually means.
In a number of versions of the Bible, one of the commandments in Exodus 20 that was spoken by God to Moses states: “You shall not kill”. According to the Mosaic text, this should read “You must not murder”, since the Bible has commandments stating that people shall be put to death for a number of different offenses. Exodus 21:17 states: “Whoever curses his father or mother shall be put to death.” There are also other capital offenses listed in Exodus 21. The popular ten commandments (in the original text there are over 600 of them) that are enumerated in Exodus 20 were given by God to Moses on tablets of stone. Verse 13 simply says, “You shall not murder”. That sums it up very nicely, I think. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that a fetus is considered to be anything other than living tissue and, according to Scripture, it does not become a living being until after it has taken its first breath. Meaning, abortion is not necessarily murder.
Those who say, "If you're a Christian, you have to be against abortion, support our troops no matter what their mission, and therefore you must also vote conservative Republican," are simply reciting talking points from false teachers. There are a disturbing number of these people who have infiltrated the Church who are doing this very thing. Many cite the scripture found in Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." God is omnipotent. He has known all of us since before creation. In Numbers 5 describes "the Lord" ordering an abortion. It's clearly stated in verse 22, "May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries." Many argue that this is a misinterpretation, but I'm not so sure about that. It is better to err on the side of caution with regard to the Lord than not. Before false teachers turned the issue of reproductive choice into a political football, views on this matter were far less extreme.
Does this mean I am pro-life or pro-choice? Sorry, but I will not allow anyone to label and compartmentalize me like that. In many cases, I think that if the mother does not want the baby then she should put the child up for adoption. On that topic, why do women get pregnant in the first place? Often it's due to lack of access to birth control. The cure is national health insurance, such as Medicare for all which would include access to prescription drugs at minimal cost. You know, like birth control pills or other contraceptives?
In cases where abortion is necessary, such as when the baby is already dead before birth, in cases of rape or incest, or when the mother's life is in jeopardy, in those events an abortion should be performed by qualified medical personnel or under a doctor's direct supervision. But those are the only exceptions. In the end, if abortion was such a grievous sin Jesus would have mentioned it. He never did. While I am personally against abortion, I do not presume to tell women what they can or cannot do to or with their bodies. Enough said!
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Our Civics Lesson for This Week, or, Why Adults
Having Temper Tantrums Should Check Themselves
by Minister Paul J. Bern
To view this on my website, click here :-)
The first thing I'd like to say this week is 'thank God the shut-down is over', or at least for the next three weeks. As I wrote a month ago, holding hostage the paychecks of some 1.2 million people is no way to run a country. Although I admire the way president Trump has refused to go along with the status quo inside the Beltway, especially his opposition to the Deep State, this time around Trump made a serious miscalculation by shutting down the government. Keeping it shut down for five weeks and traumatizing hundreds of thousands of federal workers and their families has compounded his miscalculation. Like the Rolling Stones used to sing, “You can't always get what you want”.
The Bible has some very relevant teachings regarding this very topic. For one thing, angry or selfish people are troublemakers by nature, as it is written: “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” (Proverbs 29: 11) As you can see from these words of King Solomon, people who get angry when they don't get what they want are unwise at best, and toxic people at worst. Hear that, all you politicians, especially those inside the Beltway? By pitching a fit, throwing a temper tantrum or collectively holding their breath until they die (Go ahead! Be my guest!), or at least for as long as they could, our nation's leaders have proven themselves unworthy of the offices to which they have been elected. With the 2020 elections looming, every one of them, from Donald Trump on down across both sides of the aisle, has just under a year to get their acts together and learn to work with each other. Otherwise the American electorate will not put up with it.
What else does the Bible have to say about people who let their anger get the best of them? “An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.” (Proverbs 29: 22) Have you ever noticed how uncompromising people operate? 'It's my way or the highway', they will quickly tell anyone within earshot. Have you also noticed they are the ones who seem to get the least done? They are so busy trying to coerce others into doing their bidding that they wind up spinning their own wheels. In the case of the US government shutdown, president Trump ended up spinning his wheels too. Had president Trump tried a more conciliatory approach to get his border wall, he could have achieved different results, as it is written: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15: 1) If Donald Trump had not taken his usual 'my way or the highway' approach, like he is evidently prone to do when running his real estate empire, the government shutdown may have not ever occurred.
There seems to be quite a bit of this sort of problem throughout America's government. I have observed too much tit-for-tat politics, too much infighting and squabbling, and a heck of a lot of lying, for me to take the federal government seriously anymore. It's also been my observation that an ever-increasing number of Americans feel the same way. What America, and particularly her lawmakers, need to do is call a cease fire long enough to read the following portion of 1st Corinthians: “4) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5) It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1st Cor. 13, verses 4-7)
Love, love in Washington? Yeah, because there's a complete absence of it as I write this. While the fight between all the 'my way or the highway' Democrats and Republicans raged on, 1.2 million federal workers came within days of eviction or the commencement of foreclosure proceedings. Seriously, all these people were on their way to being homeless, many with families to look after, and all the combined 462 members of Congress, together with the President, could do was invent more ways to disagree. Even now, the reopening lasts for only three weeks. These people had better get their acts together, or there will be pandemonium in the streets of America. But to get back to the above Scriptural quotation, Washington has far too little patience and far too little kindness, while having an excess of corruption, arrogance, boastfulness and pride.
Washington has dishonored those they are elected to serve with their childish behavior, unlike verse 5 above. Instead of looking out for the interests of the people, Washington is and has been self-seeking. Verse 5 also says that true Christian love should not be easily angered. Yet by shutting down part of the government so he could get his way, president Trump has violated this very Scriptural premise. “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” Hear that one, Congress? You people need to stop sparring with each other, grow up, and take care of America's business. Otherwise the whole country will wither away while our 'representatives' and the president are busy bickering like children. “Love....rejoices with the truth.”
You know, a heavy dose of some truth is what the American people would really like to hear right about now. We want to know the truth about the triple assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Rev. Dr. King, about the Gulf of Ton-kin incident, about 9/11, and about the start of the 2003 Gulf War. We want the truth about the true extent of the US military-industrial complex, about whether UFO's are actually a secret technology developed by the military or if they are truly alien, and about Antarctica. We want the truth about the currently-mandatory vaccines, the level of corruption in law enforcement and the courts, and the dangers of the pesticides that are being sprayed on all our crops. The American people are collectively so fed up with all the BS in Washington, and throughout the country including our most respected institutions, that there is open talk of civil war all over social media.
“Love always protects.” The whole country was left unprotected during the shutdown, so Trump and Co. missed the mark on that one. “Love always trusts”, yet Congress and the President mistrust each other to this day while the rest of the country goes to pot. “Love always hopes, always perseveres.” For about 35 days, up until this past Friday, there was a complete absence of both of these in Washington. Congress and the President are equally to blame for the shut-down as far as I'm concerned. Their combined lack of good character, patience, perseverance and even-temperament is the reason this shut-down occurred.
Congress and the President have been unkind, untruthful and arrogant, they have gone to great lengths to keep score against one another, and in so doing they have made themselves unworthy of their elected office. It's too early to tell whether this recently-ended shut-down will affect the 2020 elections. But if a second shut-down occurs 3 weeks from now, it could have repercussions that last well beyond 2020. In that event, the likelihood of a third-party candidate emerging to win the presidential election in November 2020 will increase by a factor of two or more. Stay tuned, people, this may get really interesting. Unless Trump furloughs the same 1.2 million people as before in 3 weeks time, and tries to compel a portion to return to their duties unpaid, in which case all hell could break loose.
Sunday, January 20, 2019
A Supplemental Message to Those
Who Disbelieved Last Week's Warning
by Minister Paul J. Bern
To view this on my website, click here :-)
Last week, as my regular readers know, I published a post about how there could well be an economic reset in the world's future, starting with the United States. I also used a lot of Bible scripture to back up my words. I got a lot of strong positive feedback about last week's posting, but there was a fair amount of the negative kind too, primarily from atheists and religious conservatives. I have found myself on the receiving end of open derision from a small but highly vocal minority because of my “radical” views, as one man called it. 'How could there ever be an economic reset when capitalism works so well', was just one of the replies I received (heavily edited, of course). Apparently many of those individuals did not bother to read the entire article or, worse yet, just glanced at the title and the picture, and jumped to whatever conclusion suited them for that moment.
The Bible has a lot to say about nonbelievers, but I'm going to quote this week from the Book of 2nd Peter, something I don't often get a chance to do. Peter may have been an illiterate fisherman who dictated the two small books named after him, but he was filled with the Holy Spirit (see Acts chapter 2), and as such he “wrote” some beautiful stuff, and I quote: “3) Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4) They will say, 'Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.' 5) But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6) By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7) By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 3, verses 3-7)
Where is Jesus? I thought he would have come back by now. What's the holdup? These three questions are on the lips and minds of believers and scoffers alike. After all, Jesus said about the End Times, 32) “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33) Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34) Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24, verses 32-35) For those of you who may not know, 'the fig tree' is a Biblical symbol for the nation of Israel. So these words of Jesus, spoken when he was speaking to the Twelve about the End Times, refer to the rebirth of the nation of Israel, which happened in May of 1948.
“....when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” So from these words of our Lord and Savior we can safely conclude that the End Times that Christ spoke about in Matthew chapter 24 have arrived, most likely beginning with the first two world wars. Since the nation of Israel was 'born' on May 14, 1948, one could normally conclude that one generation – roughly 70 years – away from the nation of Israel's birth could be assumed to be 2018. But it's 2019, people, and nothing having to do with a Second Coming of Christ is on the horizon. It's been over 70 years, a generation plus one more year, and still – nothing yet.
People are beginning to have doubts because Christ's return is taking longer than anticipated by many true believers, not to mention the skeptics. But the apostle Peter knew through the indwelling of the Spirit within him that this would occur. That's why he dictated the following words as he continued in 2nd Peter chapter 3: “8) But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11) Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12) as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13) But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2nd Peter 3, verses 8-13)
It is perfectly normal to have generally doubtful or even pessimistic thoughts enter our minds. It's even perfectly normal, believe it or not, to have doubts about the Bible, about God, and about the purpose and meaning of life itself. But I think Peter was saying right here to stop wasting time worrying about these matters, because they are often beyond our control – but not all the time. In verse 8, Peter is saying as best as he could that God is timeless, and that He operates in a higher dimension of existence than ourselves. Since God does not experience the passage of time like we do, his schedule, his timing, and that of humanity often don't coincide. Often this can appear to us as if a certain prayer to the Lord has not been answered. But oftentimes, it's not that God isn't going to answer our prayers. He's just waiting for an opportunity to give you even more than you asked for.
In the very next verse, the Bible tells us plainly why Jesus will be late in returning. “Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Jesus is waiting to return so that as many who want to enter into his Kingdom, who want to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, can be brought into it. The apostle Paul wrote, “God is not willing that anyone should perish, but that all people come to repentance.” So there you have it from the apostles Peter and Paul. God is going to wait for as long as he can before shutting the door. But once that door is shut, it will be shut forever, and then massive destruction will come.
“....the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” Whatever nature this colossal event is going to be will be unknown right up until the moment it happens, there can be no doubt about that based on what I'm reading in verse 10. All indications are that – based on how this passage of Scripture is worded – Peter was speaking about some kind of massive cosmic event, either a large asteroid or comet striking the earth. I'm sorry to disappoint some of you, it isn't going to be Nibiru which, if it does indeed exist, is somewhere beyond Neptune right now. That's past Uranus, past Saturn and Jupiter too. It takes Neptune, the outermost planet of the four, 80 years to go around the sun. If Nibiru is beyond that, even if it were headed straight for us it would take 40 or 50 years to get here. Think about it, and do the darned math while you're at at so all you people can stop worrying about 'Nibiru'.
“11) Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12) as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming....” God is watching each and every one of us. Not to whack us on the tops of our heads every time we're 'bad', but because he cares for us like a parent would their little children. If you were raising kids, would you give them candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Out of the question! Would you take them to Six Flags or Disney World every weekend, whether they deserved to go or not? As before, completely out of the question. We are raising responsible adults, not spoiled brats and car thieves. Notice the part where Peter states that we “look forward” to Christ's return and that we are to “speed its coming”? The reason Christ has yet to return is because we are not ready for him to do so. And that's just for the believers. The nonbelievers would simply be swept away if Christ returned overnight. They would all be gone, and all their belongings with them, before morning light.
So Peter is clearly telling us that we need to clean up our act, and that we are rapidly running out of time to do so. Otherwise, “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.....” “The heavens” presumably means the skies above us, implying a natural disaster of such Biblical proportions that the earth's atmosphere may be completely burned away, similar to what apparently happened on Mars sometime in the distant past. In that event, the earth's surface would be unlivable, but it would be possible to have large pockets of breathable air underground in caves. Maybe the cave men of 100,000 years ago lived there for the same reasons, having themselves escaped a similar calamity. Could this have been what Peter was trying to warn us about? Nobody knows for sure, but we all had better live each day as if that one is our last.
Friday, January 18, 2019
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Monday, January 14, 2019
"Occupying America: We Shall Overcome",
by Rev. Paul J. Bern
One of the most exhaustive, comprehensive books about the “Occupy Wall St.” and “We Are The 99%” Movements written so far, as well as why they are still relevant today (Black Lives Matter, Bernie Sanders, the Yellow Vests in France, etc.). Pro-Occupy; anti-government; very dissident. Watch the author's video at http://youtu.be/Z20l9ohORN4
Excerpt of chapter five, which forecasted the downfall of the Euro back in 2012, a process that has since gotten underway....
Overall, conditions are decidedly negative at a time financial markets are whistling past the graveyard. Expect reality to eventually outstrip hope. Continued wrongheaded policies assures train wreck unpleasantness and grief. For ordinary people, it means greater misery. Stronger economies will sink with weaker ones. In fact, world economies are now so interlinked that a shock in one spreads everywhere in short order, including among the strongest. It's coming but no one knows when. Today's economic fragility is a global event.
Eurozone, UK and US banks are broke but still operating, thanks to never ending loans from the Fed. However, any time they spend money or lend reserves, inflation is adversely affected. Now it's a matter of inflate or die. Decades of accumulated government debt approaches saturation. It's coming in a few years at most, possibly as soon as a few months. At issue is at-risk and unpayable government debt and zero interest rates benefiting bankers. As a result, expect greater crisis down the road. Since the early 1960's, financial excess assured crisis conditions too great to contain. It's been building for over 50 years. We are at the stage now that risk is growing exponentially, as central banks and governments aggressively intervene in markets, causing major distortions.
From inception, the Euro was doomed to fail. We just don't know when it will actually occur. It's been slowly disintegrating for years. Its demise will damage global economies in ways that may be nearly incalculable, not to mention inconceivable. Economic and financial dislocation is at hand. Delaying the inevitable only works so long. Reality eventually triumphs. Europe and America are sinking. Judgment day awaits. It could be 2012 or as late as 2016, but no later (2016 will be the year when China's economy surpasses America's if current growth rates remain the same). When disintegration arrives, expect harder than ever hard times. Ordinary people will be hurt most. Bankers and 1%'ers have stashed trillions in tax havens. Friendly governments infiltrated with 1%'ers do nothing to retrieve the money or help troubled households survive. Welcome to “Battleground America”, a class war of the have-it-all's versus the have-nothing's that could degenerate into a civil cold war, the likes of which has not been seen before. It's all downhill from here unless global protesters stay committed long-term against conditions too unacceptable to tolerate. That's the wild card world elites fear, and with good reason. It's because ordinary people can change the world. It's the only way beneficial social change ever comes!
People everywhere are coming to the same conclusion. A mass deduction is being formulated by the many disenfranchised, dispossessed and disillusioned American workers, the sum of which is that the 99% has been getting the shaft for entirely too long at the hands of the elitists who have enslaved us all by forcing us to work for bare subsistence wages while putting basic necessities and human rights such as access to health care and higher education financially out of reach. There are all kinds of ways that are legal and nonviolent methods to fight back against the rigged political and economic systems that stand in the way of our freedom. One such instance is detailed in the Web posting below.
Bank of America Gets Pad Locked After Homeowner Forecloses On It
Written by Kelly Heffernan-Tabor, CBS News, Jun 5, 2011
“Collier County, Florida -- Have you heard the one about a homeowner foreclosing on a bank? Well, it has happened in Florida and involves a North Carolina based bank. Instead of Bank of America foreclosing on some Florida homeowner, the homeowners had sheriff's deputies foreclose on the bank. It started five months ago when Bank of America filed foreclosure papers on the home of a couple, who didn't owe a dime on their home. The couple said they paid cash for the house.
“The case went to court and the homeowners were able to prove they didn't owe Bank of America anything on the house. In fact, it was proven that the couple never even had a mortgage bill to pay. A Collier County Judge agreed and after the hearing, Bank of America was ordered by the court to pay the legal fees of the homeowners. The Judge said the bank wrongfully tried to foreclose on their house.
“So, how did it end?... After more than 5 months of the judge's ruling, the bank still hadn't paid the legal fees, and the homeowner's attorney did exactly what the bank tried to do to the homeowners. He seized the bank's assets. "They've ignored our calls, ignored our letters, legally this is the next step to get my clients compensated," attorney Todd Allen told CBS. Sheriff's deputies, movers, and the couple's attorney went to the bank and foreclosed on it. The attorney gave instructions to remove desks, computers, copiers, filing cabinets and any cash in the teller's drawers. After about an hour of being locked out of the bank, the bank manager handed the attorney a check for the legal fees....”
In the wake of Occupy Wall Street's successes, it's time for some more serious, organized direct action around the issue of debt. When I talk to people about what we could do that would really compel Congress and Wall Street to meet our demands or really alter the current system, we inevitably start discussing what non-cooperation with our own oppression would look like. What does it mean to stop cooperating with the banks? What we inevitably end up describing is some variation of a debt strike, simply ending our own participation in a system that exploits us. Are debt strikes, then, the next logical step in the fight against Big Finance's domination of the 99 percent? Debt really does tie the 99 percent together, it's everyone's least common denominator, mathematically speaking. Everyone who is under the 99 percentile saw a major debt increase in the 2000's. You can talk about the richest 1 percent making too much money, but part of what they're making is derived from our debts. Their wealth is a claim on the future income of the remaining 99%, and it is an indicator of a predatory economic system that exists solely to serve the top 1%. That debt was for many years a substitute for wages in the pockets of many Americans. As incomes stagnated or even shrank, credit cards and home equity filled the gap—until the housing bubble popped, leaving millions underwater on their mortgages, owing more than their homes were worth, and unable to get more credit cards or even make the minimum payments on the ones they had. In short, everybody found themselves caught in a trap.
Many have noted that what happened in 2007 and 2008, when the banks were handed billions in bailouts and secret ultra-low-interest loans, was essentially a capital strike. Finance essentially said that if they didn't get bailed out, they'd shut down the system — stop lending, jam up the works, and make life miserable for everyone. Yet those same banks, once bailed out, have flatly refused to do the same for a nation of borrowers thrown into crisis by their actions. Their argument seems simple — the borrowers knew what they were doing, it's their obligation to pay. Most borrowers agree, and struggle to make payments on credit cards with 20 percent interest rates, usurious student loans for educations that didn't help them find jobs, on homes that have plunged in value thanks to predatory lending, and on cars and trucks that often wear out before the owner can finish paying off the auto loan, keeping the “customer” locked into a never-ending string of upside-down auto loans. If someone wants to take an interrelation of violent extortion, sheer power and total domination, and then turn it into something moral, and most of all, make it seem like the victims are to blame, you turn it into a relation of debt.
There is power in numbers, and that's where the idea of an organized debt strike comes in. One person can be hounded, harassed, and scared into submission, but when enough of them work together, could the banks be pressed into backing down? I firmly believe that homeowners who are stuck with mortgages greater than the value of their homes should band together and refuse to pay their mortgages until the banks agree to negotiate. A kind of collective bargaining for homeowners whose wealth was wiped out by the financial crisis, those who cannot pay their bills, and those who can (for now) but still would benefit by spending that money elsewhere, would be an effective tool for us to use to retake control of our country and its government away from the New World Order elites. This would immediately cause a crisis for the banks, meaning they couldn't afford to ignore the issue and would then be forced to negotiate with homeowners.
There should be debt forgiveness, but these guys – the student loan profiteers – should eat it, not the government and taxpayers. The banks should pay because they destroyed the economy, they sucked 18-year-olds into predatory loans they are stuck with for life, accumulated well-meaning wage earners with mortgages they couldn't repay, and credit card debt whose interest accrues faster than the principal can be repaid, especially if you lose your job. Mother Jones magazine notes in a late 2011 issue that banks have already written off some $90 billion in credit card debt since 2008. Aside from the fact, of course, that we wound up with an $8 trillion housing bubble from just those sorts of bad loans, there is in the US one type of debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, that follows you for life and that has the full power of the US government behind its collection. I'm speaking, of course, of student loans.
The student debt bubble is officially over $1 trillion as of 2012, largely consisting of loans made to teenagers under the premise that education will help them earn enough money to pay off their loans. Yet the job market is terrible (and nearly twice as terrible for young people as it is for everyone else) and meanwhile cuts to public education, both ideologically motivated, from conservatives, and because of state budget crises caused by the economic crisis the banks created, have made that education much more expensive. The student loan bubble may not burst with a bang, but it is slowly suffocating us. The problem is that student debt is literally debt you carry for life. It has no statute of limitations, cannot be discharged under bankruptcy and the government can literally deduct it from your Social Security check.
As credit card and housing debt become unbearable, there’s a point at which they get written down. That point is currently too high, not only for credit cards, housing and transportation, but especially for student loans. Because of poor legal choices we’ve made, student loans stay forever, they are virtually impossible to discharge under hardship, they generate an avalanche of fees when they go bad, and creditors can get to anything, including Social Security, to get it repaid. Meanwhile, we have a Great Depression-like event that is throwing college graduates into a labor market that is far too weak. And defaults are up anyway. According to a Wall Street Journal report in August 2011, 11.2 percent of student loans were more than 90 days past due — and if it kept rising, could pass credit card debt, which is at 12.2 percent but is on a decline. Obama's new plan to help students with their loans will provide some relief, but only for current students. Those who have already graduated — the majority of the student loan bubble — are ineligible. Thanks a lot, Mr. President.
Occupy Wall Street has proven that a sizable number of Americans are in a mood to do things for themselves rather than waiting for government action. So a student debt strike might actually be the most powerful statement to make, as there are literally no other options for those stuck with the burden — many of whom form the backbone of the occupations around the country. I think the people who would be the first to strike would be the people who have already defaulted. Once your credit is already tanked, the idea of giving it another hit doesn't seem nearly as threatening. In many ways, the combination of online/offline activism is the hallmark of the Occupy Wall Street movement, organized with the help of hacker groups like Anonymous and promoted through citizen media like live-streams, camera phone videos and Twitter, but solidly grounded in real-world action.
American homeowners who are stuck in a negative equity situation with their homes and their mortgages are finding ways to fight back against the rigged capitalist profit-driven economic system that has them locked into what amounts to legalized loan sharking. For example, delinquent borrowers facing foreclosure are learning that they can stay in their homes for years, as long as they're willing to put up a fight. Among the tactics: Challenging the bank's actions, waiting to file paperwork right up until the deadline, requesting the lender dig up original paperwork or, in some extreme cases, declaring bankruptcy. Nationwide, the average time it takes to process a foreclosure – from the first missed payment to the final foreclosure auction – has climbed to 674 days from 253 days just four years ago. And while some borrowers are looking for ways to make good with lenders and get their homes back, many aren't paying a dime. Nearly 40% of homeowners in default as of the end of 2011 have not made a payment in at least two years. Keep up the good work, everyone!
Many of these homeowners are staying in their homes based on a technicality. There is rarely any dispute over whether or not they have stopped paying their mortgage. They're not in technical default. They're in default because they're not paying. That's because American homeowners have gotten wise to what the banks and other mortgage lenders have been doing, and they are collectively realizing that two can play that same game. Ironically enough, the banks have given delinquent borrowers some of the ammunition they need to delay the foreclosure process. For example, during the "robo-signing" scandal in 2010, it was revealed that bank employees signed paperwork attesting to facts they had no personal knowledge of. The lender's paperwork included many different papers signed by the same employee. The problem was that the signatures didn't match. In such instances the courts dismiss the lender's case against the borrower, although it can be re-filed. Because of this, borrowers are now routinely challenging that paperwork. Those who are doing so will remain in their homes for some time to come, while not making any payments. Sometimes just asking the bank to produce the paperwork that shows it is the legal holder of the mortgage note can stall or even stop a repossession. Since mortgages are often transferred electronically, the official paperwork often gets misplaced. In some of the more extreme cases, borrowers will file for bankruptcy in order to block a foreclosure. In these instances, courts order creditors to cease their collection activities immediately. Home auctions can be postponed as the bankruptcy plays out, which can take months. What really needs to be done is for lenders to work harder to find solutions that allow delinquent borrowers who can afford to make reasonable mortgage payments to keep their homes. Speaking as a minister of the Gospel, simply throwing people and even whole families out in the street in the name of profit is absolutely barbaric and utterly immoral. The fact that such things have taken place is exactly why the Occupy and the “we are the 99%” Movements are so successful, and that success will be greatly magnified in the coming months, of that you can be sure. In the meantime, there are plenty of industrious Americans who are joining the swelling ranks of those who are boycotting their debts, as selected excerpts from the following Web posting point out in stark detail.
50 Ways to Leave Your Banker: What Happened When One Man Just Refused to Pay $80,000 in Credit Card Debt
By Kimberly Thorpe, Mother Jones
Posted on November 1, 2011
“At last count, Steven Katz owed $80,000 on his six credit cards, and he has no intention of paying any of it off. In fact, he'd like to show you how to be like him—a "credit terrorist" in open revolt against the banking system. Debtorboards.com ("Sue Your Creditor and Win!"), a five-year-old online forum where he's collected countless tricks and tactics for evading and repelling persistent creditors. He's written how-to's on shielding your assets from seizure, luring collection agencies into expensive lawsuits, and frustrating private investigators looking for debtors on the run. He's even infiltrated the bill collectors' forums, where he's been tagged a "credit jihadist" and his site's been called a "credit terrorist training camp," a label he embraces. "Debtorboards is one of the biggest and most successful temper tantrums ever," the 59-year-old Katz boasts. The site has more than 10,000 members—double what it had in 2009....
“Katz wants the millions of Americans buried in debt to stop feeling guilty about not honoring their obligations. "People are brainwashed to think that paying a credit card is more important than paying for the necessities of life," he says. "Business and morality have nothing to do with each other, according to the bankers." One of Katz's mottos is "No one ever went to hell for not paying a debt...."
Beside walking away from their debts, exasperated and infuriated Americans are in some cases walking away from the whole damned unfair economic system, having come to the realization that the so-called “work ethic” is a lie and always was. Working long, hard hours in a futile attempt to save up enough money for a home, college, and “retirement” (another myth) will only get you one thing – TIRED! That's where the underground economy comes into the picture as an alternative to the status quo. Also called the shadow or informal economy, it's not just illegal activity like selling drugs or doing sex work. It's all sorts of work that doesn't get regulated by the government or reported to the IRS, and it's a far bigger part of the economy than most of us are aware. In 2009, the underground economy was nearly 8 percent of the US GDP, somewhere around $1 trillion. (That makes the shadow GDP bigger than the entire GDP of Turkey or Austria.) This doesn’t include illegal activities in this count – only legal production of goods and services that are outside of tax and labor laws. And that shadow economy is growing as regular jobs continue to be hard to come by.
The Young Women's Empowerment Project describes the “street economy” as any way that girls make cash money without paying taxes or having to show identification. Sometimes this means the sex trade, but other times it means braiding hair, babysitting, selling CDs/DVDs, drugs or other skills like sewing and laundry. A good number operate websites online that yield an all-cash income, all one needs to succeed is a Paypal account or a smartphone. This underground economy goes far beyond the homeless collecting aluminum cans or clogging day labor halls. It includes the working poor getting cash for all forms of recycling: giving plasma, selling homemade tamales outside shopping plazas, holding yard sales, doing under-the-table work for friends and family, selling stuff at pawnshops, CD, book and used clothing stores, and even establishing tiny one-person businesses selling all kinds of dollar-store-type merchandise at flea markets and sidewalk kiosks.
Since so may of us have patronized or even operated these micro-businesses at some time in the past, that means nearly all of us have participated in some way in the underground economy. Yet little is known or discussed about this area of our lives, even though it touches many of us as we try to make ends meet. People enter such arrangements because of their difficulty finding formal employment. Think of undocumented immigrants that work as home or office cleaners or in the construction or hospitality industries. Employers or consumers who use workers in this way are doing so to boost profits or lower prices. Of course documented workers also can end up choosing to work in the underground economy but that choice, like the choice for the undocumented, has the same basic driver – the inability to find formal paid employment that meets a worker's needs. I would compare the growth of the underground economy to payday lending; a typically undesirable practice operating in a legal gray area that develops and thrives because it fills a need created by the failure of public policy to address societal needs. The informal economy, though, does not only consist of low-wage workers. There is also an informal economy of creative professionals. By keeping creative professional work informal, these workers avoid the corporatist rigidity of creative work, maintaining their freedom to be innovative and self-sufficient.
Without solutions coming from Washington or local governments, it continues to be up to working people to find a way to negotiate today's rough economy. People shouldn't have to give up fundamental human rights like access to income in retirement, paid sick days, or safety on the job because they need work. But in a society like ours, which tolerates high levels of unemployment (which is inexcusable in the richest country in the world), the underground economy is often the next best alternative to starving. While some have been able to flourish working underground, it's important to remember that most workers are not off the books to dodge paying taxes or because they prefer it that way. As we see more and more people dropping out of the formal labor market in despair, the informal economy will remain a destination of last resort – and will keep growing. That, in turn, is a signal that people are giving up on the system. Why obey laws that prevent us from succeeding?
Unemployed Americans aren't the only ones who are giving up on this rigged economic system we are currently stuck with. A wave of discontent is beginning to build among those who work for the system designed to solidify the power and domination of the top 1%. In the past during uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, there are numerous documented cases of the police and the soldiers being sent to quell the demonstrations and quiet the protests, only to defect to the side of the protesters after being ordered by their government to fire upon unarmed civilians engaged in peaceful and nonviolent political and social activism. If you were a cop, a soldier or in the National Guard, and your commanding officer ordered you to kill innocent, unarmed civilians who posed no threat to anyone, would you do so? I sure as hell wouldn't, and I'm confident that there are multitudes more who would share my view if asked. The only remaining question to be answered has to do with the timing of the tipping point, and if the system will be totally upended by such an event, or will it be able to continue to function while repairs are made?
“In a highly developed society, the Establishment cannot survive without the obedience and loyalty of millions of people who are given small rewards to keep the system going: the soldiers and police, teachers and ministers, administrators and social workers, technicians and production workers, doctors, lawyers. . . . They become the guards of the system, buffers between the upper and lower classes. If they stop obeying, the system falls.” — Howard Zinn, from “The Coming Revolt of the Guards,” A People’s History of the United States
For those of us who have demonstrated and marched in the Occupy movement as I did at Freedom Plaza in Washington in early October 2011 (while selling a few books on the side as I gleefully participated in the underground economy), it is obvious that the police and the corporate press serve as guards. They act as buffers between the vast majority of the American people and the ruling “corporatocracy” (the partnership of giant corporations, the wealthy elite, their collaborating politicians and their armies of lobbyists). In addition to the police and the corporate press, there are millions of other guards employed by the corporatocracy to keep people obedient and maintain the status quo. Most guards also perform duties besides “guard duty.” The police don’t just protect the elite from the 99 percent; they also provide people with roadside assistance. And mental health professionals also perform “non-guard duty” roles such as improving family relationships. Guards certainly can perform duties helpful for the non-elite, but the elite would be foolish to reward us guards if we didn’t serve to maintain their system.
Even a partial “revolt of the guards” could increase the number of protesters on the streets from the thousands to the millions. For example, many teachers went into their profession because of their passion for education, but they soon discover that they are not being paid to educate young people for democracy, which would mean inspiring independent learning, critical thinking, and questioning authority. While teachers may help young children learn how to read, they are employed by the corporatocracy to socialize young people to fit into a system that was created by and for the corporatocracy. The corporatocracy needs its future employees to comply with their rules, to passively submit to authorities, and to perform meaningless activities for a paycheck.
If you are comfortably at the top of the hierarchy, you reward guards to make your system work. In addition to the police, the corporate press, mental health professionals, and teachers, there are clergy, bureaucrats, and many other guards in the system, all of whom are given small rewards to pacify and control the population. Some guards have rebelled from their pacification and control roles, but at least as many have not. I will go out on a limb just a little here and predict that the revolt of the guards will occur when guards recognize that they are expendable. So, law enforcement officers, beware. Cameras and other surveillance technology are becoming increasingly inexpensive, and law enforcement labor costs will increasingly be replaced by inexpensive Orwellian surveillance. You see, the 1% will eventually come for you too.
To accelerate the revolt of obedient guards, I recommend two strategies: (1) create unpleasant dissonance about their role as guards; in other words, put guards in some pain for their unquestioning obedience that maintains the system, and (2) offer encouragement for even small acts of rebellion against their guard role; small acts of rebellion may well be major financial risks. For example, if you have social contact with off-duty law enforcement officers, you might ask them “Wouldn’t it be more satisfying putting the handcuffs on some billionaire tax dodger than arresting some small-time pot user?” I’ve asked police officers if they’ve heard of Jonathan Swift’s quote, “Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.” On-duty police will respond with “no comment” or a blank stare, but some off-duty cops will smile and even agree. And should off-duty police ever tell you an anecdote in which they ignored a law designed to catch a small fly, give them encouragement. For guards, it is not easy coming out of denial of their role and their fate. As Upton Sinclair once observed, “It is difficult to make a man understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it....”
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