Lebanon Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh has denied statements made that the bank was bankrupt. Salameh has led the bank for 30 years and claims it is going about its legally-mandated role despite losses in the financial sector.
So says political activist Scott Bidstrup, who writes:
"For the last decade, I have resided in Costa Rica, where we have had a "Public Option" for the last 64 years. There are 29 licensed banks, mutual associations and credit unions in Costa Rica , of which four were established as national, publicly-owned banks in 1949. They have remained open and in public hands ever since--in spite of enormous pressure by the I.M.F. [International Monetary Fund] and the U.S. to privatize them along with other public assets. The Costa Ricans have resisted that pressure--because the value of a public banking option has become abundantly clear to everyone in this country.
During the last three decades, countless private banks, mutual associations (a kind of Savings and Loan) and credit unions have come and gone, and depositors in them have inevitably lost most of the value of their accounts.
But the four state banks, which compete fiercely with each other, just go on and on. Because they are stable and none have failed in 31 years, most Costa Ricans have moved the bulk of their money into them. Those four banks now account for fully 80% of all retail deposits in Costa Rica, and the 25 private institutions share among themselves the rest."
According to a 2003 report by the World Bank, the public sector banks dominating Costa Rica's onshore banking system include three state-owned commercial banks (Banco Nacional, Banco de Costa Rica, and Banco CrÃ©dito Agr-cola de Cartago ) and a special-charter bank called Banco Popular, which in principle is owned by all Costa Rican workers. These banks accounted for 75 percent of total banking deposits in 2003.
In Competition Policies in Emerging Economies: Lessons and Challenges from Central America and Mexico (2008), Claudia Schatan writes that Costa Rica nationalized all of its banks and imposed a monopoly on deposits in 1949. Effectively, only state-owned banks existed in the country after that. The monopoly was loosened in the 1980s and was eliminated in 1995. But the extensive network of branches developed by the public banks and the existence of an unlimited state guarantee on their deposits has made Costa Rica the only country in the region in which public banking clearly predominates.
Scott Bidstrup comments:
"By 1980, the Costa Rican economy had grown to the point where it was by far the richest nation in Latin America in per-capita terms. It was so much richer than its neighbors that Latin American economic statistics were routinely quoted with and without Costa Rica included. Growth rates were in the double digits for a generation and a half. And the prosperity was broadly shared. Costa Rica 's middle class - nonexistent before 1949 - became the dominant part of the economy during this period. Poverty was all but abolished, favelas [shanty towns] disappeared, and the economy was booming."
This was not because Costa Rica had natural resources or other natural advantages over its neighbors. To the contrary, says Bidstrup:
"At the conclusion of the civil war of 1948 (which was brought on by the desperate social conditions of the masses), Costa Rica was desperately poor, the poorest nation in the hemisphere, as it had been since the Spanish Conquest.
The winner of the 1948 civil war, JosÃ© "Pepe" Figueres, now a national hero, realized that it would happen again if nothing was done to relieve the crushing poverty and deprivation of the rural population. He formulated a plan in which the public sector would be financed by profits from state-owned enterprises, and the private sector would be financed by state banking.
A large number of state-owned capitalist enterprises were founded. Their profits were returned to the national treasury, and they financed dozens of major infrastructure projects. At one point, more than 240 state-owned corporations were providing so much money that Costa Rica was building infrastructure like mad and financing it largely with cash. Yet it still had the lowest taxes in the region, and it could still afford to spend 30% of its national income on health and education.
A provision of the Figueres constitution guaranteed a job to anyone who wanted one. At one point, 42% of the working population of Costa Rica was working for the government directly or in one of the state-owned corporations. Most of the rest of the economy not involved in the coffee trade was working for small mom-and-pop companies that were suppliers to the larger state-owned firms--and it was state banking, offering credit on favorable terms, that made the founding and growth of those small firms possible. Had they been forced to rely on private-sector banking, few of them would have been able to obtain the financing needed to become established and prosperous. State banking was key to the private sector growth. Lending policy was government policy and was designed to facilitate national development, not bankers' wallets. Virtually everything the country needed was locally produced. Toilets, window glass, cement, rebar, roofing materials, window and door joinery, wire and cable, all were made by state-owned capitalist enterprises, most of them quite profitable. Costa Rica was the dominant player regionally in most consumer products and was on the move internationally."
Needless to say, this good example did not sit well with foreign business interests. It earned Figueres two coup attempts and one attempted assassination. He responded by abolishing the military (except for the Coast Guard), leaving even more revenues for social services and infrastructure.
When attempted coups and assassination failed, says Bidstrup, Costa Rica was brought down with a form of economic warfare called the "currency crisis" of 1982. Over just a few months, the cost of financing its external debt went from 3% to extremely high variable rates (27% at one point). As a result, along with every other Latin American country, Costa Rica was facing default. Bidstrup writes:
"That's when the IMF and World Bank came to town.
Privatize everything in sight, we were told. We had little choice, so we did. End your employment guarantee, we were told. So we did. Open your markets to foreign competition, we were told. So we did. Most of the former state-owned firms were sold off, mostly to foreign corporations. Many ended up shut down in a short time by foreigners who didn't know how to run them, and unemployment appeared (and with it, poverty and crime) for the first time in a decade. Many of the local firms went broke or sold out quickly in the face of ruinous foreign competition. Very little of Costa Rica 's manufacturing economy is still locally owned. And so now, instead of earning forex [foreign exchange] through exporting locally produced goods and retaining profits locally, these firms are now forex liabilities, expatriating their profits and earning relatively little through exports. Costa Ricans now darkly joke that their economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the United States."
The dire effects of the IMF's austerity measures were confirmed in a 1993 book excerpt by Karen Hansen-Kuhn titled Structural Adjustment in Costa Rica: Sapping the Economy. She noted that Costa Rica stood out in Central America because of its near half-century history of stable democracy and well-functioning government, featuring the region's largest middle class and the absence of both an army and a guerrilla movement. Eliminating the military allowed the government to support a Scandinavian-type social-welfare system that still provides free health care and education, and has helped produce the lowest infant mortality rate and highest average life expectancy in all of Central America.
In the 1970s, however, the country fell into debt when coffee and other commodity prices suddenly fell, and oil prices shot up. To get the dollars to buy oil, Costa Rica had to resort to foreign borrowing; and in 1980, the U.S. Federal Reserve under Paul Volcker raised interest rates to unprecedented levels.
In The Gods of Money (2009), William Engdahl fills in the back story. In 1971, Richard Nixon took the U.S. dollar off the gold standard, causing it to drop precipitously in international markets. In 1972, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and President Nixon had a clandestine meeting with the Shah of Iran. In 1973, a group of powerful financiers and politicians met secretly in Sweden and discussed effectively "backing" the dollar with oil. An arrangement was then finalized in which the oil-producing countries of OPEC would sell their oil only in U.S. dollars. The quid pro quo was military protection and a strategic boost in oil prices. The dollars would wind up in Wall Street and London banks, where they would fund the burgeoning U.S. debt. In 1974, an oil embargo conveniently caused the price of oil to quadruple. Countries without sufficient dollar reserves had to borrow from Wall Street and London banks to buy the oil they needed. Increased costs then drove up prices worldwide.
By late 1981, says Hansen-Kuhn, Costa Rica had one of the world's highest levels of debt per capita, with debt-service payments amounting to 60 percent of export earnings. When the government had to choose between defending its stellar social-service system or bowing to its creditors, it chose the social services. It suspended debt payments to nearly all its creditors, predominately commercial banks. But that left it without foreign exchange. That was when it resorted to borrowing from the World Bank and IMF, which imposed "austerity measures" as a required condition. The result was to increase poverty levels dramatically.
Bidstrup writes of subsequent developments:
"Indebted to the IMF, the Costa Rican government had to sell off its state-owned enterprises, depriving it of most of its revenue, and the country has since been forced to eat its seed corn. No major infrastructure projects have been conceived and built to completion out of tax revenues, and maintenance of existing infrastructure built during that era must wait in line for funding, with predictable results.
About every year, there has been a closure of one of the private banks or major savings co-ops. In every case, there has been a corruption or embezzlement scandal, proving the old saying that the best way to rob a bank is to own one. This is why about 80% of retail deposits in Costa Rica are now held by the four state banks. They're trusted.
Costa Rica still has a robust economy, and is much less affected by the vicissitudes of rising and falling international economic tides than enterprises in neighboring countries, because local businesses can get money when they need it. During the credit freezeup of 2009, things went on in Costa Rica pretty much as normal. Yes, there was a contraction in the economy, mostly as a result of a huge drop in foreign tourism, but it would have been far worse if local business had not been able to obtain financing when it was needed. It was available because most lending activity is set by government policy, not by a local banker's fear index.
Stability of the local economy is one of the reasons that Costa Rica has never had much difficulty in attracting direct foreign investment, and is still the leader in the region in that regard. And it is clear to me that state banking is one of the principal reasons why.
The value and importance of a public banking sector to the overall stability and health of an economy has been well proven by the Costa Rican experience. Meanwhile, our neighbors, with their fully privatized banking systems have, de facto, encouraged people to keep their money in Mattress First National, and as a result, the financial sectors in neighboring countries have not prospered. Here, they have--because most money is kept in banks that carry the full faith and credit of the Republic of Costa Rica, so the money is in the banks and available for lending. While our neighbors' financial systems lurch from crisis to crisis, and suffer frequent resulting bank failures, the Costa Rican public system just keeps chugging along. And so does the Costa Rican economy."
"My dream scenario for any third world country wishing to develop, is to do exactly what Costa Rica did so successfully for so many years. Invest in the Holy Trinity of national development--health, education and infrastructure. Pay for it with the earnings of state capitalist enterprises that are profitable because they are protected from ruinous foreign competition; and help out local private enterprise get started and grow, and become major exporters, with stable state-owned banks that prioritize national development over making bankers rich. It worked well for Costa Rica for a generation and a half. It can work for any other country as well. Including the United States."
The new Happy Planet Index, which rates countries based on how many long and happy lives they produce per unit of environmental output, has ranked Costa Rica #1 globally. The Costa Rican model is particularly instructive at a time when US citizens are groaning under the twin burdens of taxes and increased health insurance costs. Like the Costa Ricans, we could reduce taxes while increasing social services and rebuilding infrastructure, if we were to allow the government to make some money itself; and a giant first step would be for it to establish some publicly-owned banks.
Original source was: OpEdNews Op Eds 11/12/2013 at 12:32:55
About the Author: Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of 12 books, including WEB OF DEBT and its newly-released sequel, THE PUBLIC BANK SOLUTION. Her websites are http://WebofDebt.com, http://PublicBankSolution.com, and http://PublicBankingInstitute.org.
Yesterday, in Cyprus, ordinary citizens turned up to take money out of their accounts via EFTPOS and could not access their cash! This has actually happened. Overnight sums of money have been levied directly on every bank account in a country, apparently with the authority of the IMF and the European Union. There is nothing to say now that any bank account in the world is safe from similar action. This is a new bad era. The rules have been smashed.
Whilst the US borrows to continue spending, it imposes, with the IMF, austerity measures on Europe. This is grossly unfair on Europeans when one considers that Europe's financial problems largely result from international banks stupidly and greedily investing in the United States Sub Prime and Housing bubbles.
An 'austerity rescue plan' negotiated in Brussels has just authorised an exceptional tax on individual bank accounts in Cyprus. Money has been deducted electronically on with the authority of the EU and the International Monetary Foundation (IMF) without consultation with account holders.
Ordinary citizens financially injured, shocked
Yesterday, in Cyprus, ordinary citizens turned up to take money out of their accounts via EFTPOS and could not access their cash!
This has actually happened. Overnight sums of money have been levied directly on every account in a particular country.
This is the first time such a thing has ever happened.
Until now the security of deposits had never been questioned.
Cyrprus is a tiny little economy, forming 0.02% of Europe's but it has an enormous banking sector. Cyprus is an offshore tax haven.
Russian capital there amounts of tens of billions of euros.
The intention of the European Union and the IMF was purportedly to take tax-haven money from where it was being protected in Cyprus, but - astoundingly, shockingly - the bank accounts of all Cypriot citizens were included in this extreme net!
According to the French News (France2 Infos, 2000hrs, 17 March 2013), around 15:59 minutes in,
"The President of the European Parliament asked that the tax not be made on accounts with less than 25,000 Euros, but he had little chance of being heard."
Obviously people must now fear more of the same in other countries. One thinks of Greece nearby.
Will people start taking all their money out for fear of it being taken from their accounts?
"Today a taboo has been smashed and confidence in bank accounts has been broken,"
the program concluded.
The very foundations of banking have been smashed. Sociopaths are running the system.
What are people to do? This is an aggression by the banks, in cooperation with the International Monetary Foundation on citizens, potentially on citizens throughout the world. Anyone with a bank account should be banging on the door of their local parliamentarian tomorrow morning and insisting that his or her party do something to stop this happening now. The perpetrators must be punished and imprisoned. How can the European Parliament have permitted this?
It must not be allowed to stand. The IMF must reimburse the citizens of Cyprus.
Source: France2 Infos, 2000hrs, 17 March 2013. http://www.france2.fr/jt/20h/17-03-2013">France2 Infos, 2000hrs, 17 March 2013
Published on Thursday, May 24, 2012 by Common Dreams
by Ellen Brown
According to both the Mayan and Hindu calendars, 2012 (or something very close) marks the transition from an age of darkness, violence and greed to one of enlightenment, justice, and peace. It’s hard to see that change just yet in the events relayed in the major media, but a shift does seem to be happening behind the scenes; and this is particularly true in the once-boring world of banking.
In the dark age of Kali Yuga, money rules; and it is through banks that the moneyed interests have gotten their power. Banking in an age of greed is fraught with usury, fraud, and gaming the system for private ends. But there is another way to do banking, the neighborly approach of George Bailey in the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Rather than feeding off the community, banking can feed the community and local economy.
Big banks trading against local interest
Today the massive too-big-to-fail banks are hardly doing George Bailey-style loans at all. They are not interested in community lending. They are doing their own proprietary trading—trading for their own accounts—which generally means speculating against local interests. They engage in high-frequency program trading that creams profits off the top of stock market trades; speculation in commodities that drives up commodity prices; leveraged buyouts with borrowed money that can result in mass layoffs and factory closures; and investment in foreign companies that compete against our local companies.
We can’t do much to stop them. They’ve got the power, especially at the federal level. But we can quietly set up an alternative model, and that’s what is happening on various local fronts.
Most visible are the “Move Your Money” and “Occupy Wall Street” movements. According to the website of the Move Your Money campaign, an estimated ten million accounts have left the largest banks since 2010. Credit unions have enjoyed a surge in business as a result. The Credit Union National Association reported that in 2012, for the first time ever, credit union assets rose above $1 trillion. Credit unions are non-profit, community-minded organizations with fewer fees and less fine print than the big risk-taking banks; and their patrons are not just customers but owners, sharing partnership in a cooperative business.
Move “Our” Money: The Public Bank Movement
The Move Your Money campaign has been wildly successful in mobilizing people and raising awareness of the issues, but it has not made much of a dent in the reserves of Wall Street banks, which already had $1.6 trillion sitting in reserve accounts as a result of the Fed’s second round of quantitative easing in 2010. What might make a louder statement would be for local governments to divest their funds from Wall Street, and some local governments are now doing this. Local governments collectively have well over a trillion dollars deposited in Wall Street banks.
A major problem with the divestment process is finding local banks large enough to take the deposits. One proposed solution is for states, counties and cities to establish their own banks, capitalized with their own rainy day funds and funded with their own revenues as a deposit base.
State Bank of North Dakota amazing exception to the rule
Today only one state actually does this, North Dakota. North Dakota is also the only state to have escaped the credit crisis of 2008, sporting a sizeable budget surplus every year since. It has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, the lowest default rate on credit card debt, and no state government debt at all. The Bank of North Dakota (BND) has an excellent credit rating and returns a hefty dividend to the state every year.
The BND model hasn’t yet been duplicated in other states, but a movement is afoot. Since 2010, 18 states have introduced legislation of one sort or another for a state-owned bank.
Values-based Banking: Too Sustainable to Fail
Meanwhile, there is a strong movement at the local level for sustainable, “values-based” banking—conventional banks committed to responsible lending and service to the local community. These are George Bailey-style banks, which base their decisions first and foremost on the needs of people and the environment.
One of the leaders internationally is Triodos Bank, which has local offices in the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Germany. Its website says that it makes Socially Responsible Investments that are selected according to strict sustainability criteria and overseen by an international panel of “stakeholder” representatives representing various community, environmental, and worker interest groups. Investments include the financing of more than 1,000 organic and sustainable food production projects, more than 300 renewable energy projects, 33 fair trade agricultural exporters in 22 different countries, 85 microfinance institutions in 43 countries, and 398 cultural and arts projects.
Two U.S. banks exemplifying the model are One PacificCoast Bank and New Resource Bank. Operating in California, Oregon and Washington, One PacificCoast is comprised of a sustainable community development bank with around $300 million in assets and a non-profit foundation (One PacificCoast Foundation). Its commercial lending business focuses on such sectors as specialty agriculture, renewable energy, green building, and low-income housing. Foundation activities include programs to “help eliminate discrimination, encourage affordable housing, alleviate economic distress, stimulate community development and increase financial literacy.”
New Resource Bank is a California based B-corporation (“Benefit”) with $171 million in assets, which focuses its lending and banking services on local green and sustainable businesses. New Resource was recognized in 2012 as one of the “Best for the World” businesses, being in the top 10 percent of all certified B-Corporations and scoring more than 50 percent higher than 2,000 other sustainable businesses in overall positive social and environmental impact.
Risks in choosing banks
All this might be good for the world, but isn’t investing locally in a values-based bank riskier and less profitable than putting your money on Wall Street? Not according to a study commissioned by the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV). The 2012 study compared the financial profiles between 2007 and 2010 of 17 values-based banks with 27 Globally Systemically Important Financial Institutions (GSIFIs)—basically the too-big-to-fail banks, including Bank of America, JPMorgan, Barclays, Citicorp and Deutsche Bank. According to the GABV report, values-based banks delivered higher financial returns than some of the world’s largest financial institutions, with a return on assets averaging above 0.50 percent, compared to just 0.33 percent for the GSIFIs; and returns on equity averaging 7.1 percent, compared to 6.6 percent for the GSIFIs. They appeared to be stronger financially, with both higher levels of and better quality capital; and they were twice as likely to invest their assets in loans.
Community Development Financial Institutions CDFIs
Along with the values-based banks, community investment is undertaken in the United States by Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), including Community Development Banks, Community Development Credit Unions, Community Development Loan Funds, Community Development Venture Capital Funds, and Microenterprise Loan Funds. According to the CDFI Coalition, there are over 800 CDFIs certified by the CDFI Fund, operating in every state in the nation and the District of Columbia. In 2008 (the last year for which a report is available), CDFIs invested $5.53 billion “to create economic opportunity in the form of new jobs, affordable housing units, community facilities, and financial services for low-income citizens.”
Two of many interesting examples are the Alternatives Federal Credit Union and Boston Community Capital. Alternatives FCU, located in Ithaca, New York, is committed to community development and social change and is part of the Alternatives Group, which includes a non-profit corporation (Alternatives Community Ventures); a 40-year old trade association of community groups, cooperatives, worker owned businesses, and individuals (Alternatives Fund); and a not-for-profit organization that facilitates secondary capital investment in the credit union (Tomkins County Friends of Alternatives, Inc.). The credit union has over $70 million in assets and offers many innovative financial products, including Individual Development Accounts—special savings accounts for low income residents that offer matching deposits of 2 to 1 up to a certain amount—in addition to more traditional services such as loans for minority and women-owned businesses, and affordable mortgages. The credit union also offers small business development (classes, seminars, consultation, and networking programs), free tax preparation, and a student credit union.
Although its lending programs focus on lower-income borrowers, Alternatives FCU has had lower delinquency and charge-off rates than many major banks that avoid these types of customers. Boston Community Capital (BCC) is a CDFI that is not actually a bank but invests in projects that provide affordable housing and jobs in lower-income neighborhoods. BCC includes a loan fund, a venture fund, a mortgage lender, a real estate consultation organization, a solar energy fund, and a federal New Markets Tax Credit investment vehicle. Since 1985, it has invested over $700 million in local organizations and businesses. These funds have helped build or preserve more than 12,800 affordable housing units, as well as child care facilities for almost 9,000 children and health care facilities that reach 56,000 people. Their investments have helped renovate 850,000 square feet of commercial real estate, generate 5.9 million KW hours of solar energy capacity, and create more than 1,500 jobs.
Less Money for Banks and More for Workers: The Models of Germany and Japan
Values-based banks and CDFIs are a move in the right direction, but their market share in the U.S. remains small. To see the possibilities of a banking system with a mandate to serve the public, we need to look abroad.
Germany and Japan are export powerhouses, in second and third place globally for net exports. (The U.S. trails at 192nd.) One competitive advantage for both of these countries is that their companies have ready access to low-cost funding from cooperatively-owned banks.
In Germany, about half the total assets of the banking system are in the public sector, while another substantial chunk is in cooperative savings banks. Germany’s strong public banking system includes eleven regional public banks (Landesbanken) and thousands of municipally-owned savings banks (Sparkassen). After the Second World War, it was the publicly-owned Landesbanks that helped family-run provincial companies get a foothold in world markets. The Landesbanks are key tools of German industrial policy, specializing in loans to the Mittelstand, the small-to-medium size businesses that drive the country’s export engine.
Because of the Landesbanks, small firms in Germany have as much access to capital as large firms. Workers in the small business sector earn the same wages as those in big corporations, have the same skills and training, and are just as productive. In January 2011, the net value of Germany’s exports over its imports was 7 percent of GDP, the highest of any nation. But it hasn’t had to outsource its labor force to get that result. The average hourly compensation (wages plus benefits) of German manufacturing workers is $48—a full 50 percent more than the $32 hourly average for their American counterparts.
Banks in Japan
In Japan, the banks are principally owned not by shareholders but by other companies in the same keiretsu or industrial group, in a circular arrangement in which the companies basically own each other. Even when there are nominal outside owners, corporations are managed so that the bulk of the wealth generated by the corporation flows either to the workers as income or to investment in the company, making the workers and the company the beneficial owners.
Since the 1980s, U.S. companies have focused on maximizing short-term profits at the expense of workers and longer-term goals. This trend stems in part from the fact that they are now funded largely by capital from shareholders who own the company and want simply to grow their returns. According to a 2005 report from the Center for European Policy Studies (PDF 566K)(in Brussels, equity financing is more than twice as important in the U.S. as in Europe, accounting for 116 percent of GDP compared with 62 percent in Japan and 54 percent in the eurozone countries. In both Europe and Japan, the majority of corporate funding comes not from investors but from borrowing, either from banks or from the bond market.
Funding with low-interest loans from cooperatively-owned banks leaves greater control of the company in the hands of employees who either own it or have much more say in its operation. Access to low-interest loans can also slash production costs. According to German researcher Margrit Kennedy, when interest charges are added up at every level of production, 40 percent of the cost of goods, on average, comes from interest.
Globally, the burgeoning movement for local, cooperatively-owned and community-oriented banks is blazing the trail toward a new, sustainable form of banking. The results may not yet qualify as the Golden Age prophesied by Hindu cosmology, but they are a major step in that direction.
This piece originally appeared on Alternet as part of a their five-part series titled “New Economic Visions”
About the author - Ellen Brown
Ellen Brown developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.” She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. She is president of the Public Banking Institute, http://PublicBankingInstitute.org, and has websites atWebofDebt.com and EllenBrown.com.
We don't just need to separate religion from from government, we need to separate business from government. Only a very troubled democracy would have a mass media that actually dignified Australian banker, Elizabeth Proust's expectation that the people of Melbourne should simply walk away from the few remaining rights they have in their fractured, fragmented and amalgamated local councils. If this kind of thing goes ahead, our ability to self-govern will be unilaterally taken from us in order to ram through a Hong Kong style megacity that no doubt would benefit the banks. It has already happened in Brisbane where there is only one huge council - the same one that is responsible for so many new Brisbane homes being built on a flood plain that took lives, health and security in exchange for quick profits from bank-rolled property developers and government friends and clients.
As quoted and described in this Age article, Elizabeth Proust, seems to mistaken citizens in an electorate for a bunch of clients in a bank. Her approach sounds just as aggressive, unfair and disenfranchising as the approach of banks in the way they impose charges for your money, even though they use that money to lend with and the way they unilaterally impose charges for their time, whilst taking your time. It seems to match well with the kind of attitude that has seen global financial institutions rob us all blind and then demand our governments to shake us down for more.
Only a very troubled democracy would have a mass media that actually dignified this woman's ill-conceived bullying attitude with publication. In this way the Age has legitimated a commercial headkicker as a person whom we should listen to, when her words demonstrate ignorance or obfuscation of the origins of the population growth she describes as 'mooted'.
"Ms Proust said there had to be sweeping changes to council numbers to reduce the ''not in my backyard'' phenomenon - residents objecting to developments in their neighbourhoods - and improve long-term strategic planning."
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/call-to-cut-the-number-of-councils-20120320-1vhwq.html#ixzz1pkbByxN3
It is indeed frightening the extent of this newest campaign - from the Property Council of Australia, the mass media, the banks... to deprive Australians even further of rights, with only the Victorian Auditor General daring to speak out apparently. This is what he has said:
"Auditor-General Des Pearson and his colleague Paul O'Connor delivered a scathing assessment of the relationship between the public service and the government in giving evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into infrastructure projects.
They argued no effective mechanisms were in place to stop hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars being tipped into dodgy rail and road projects." http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/auditor-scorns-slack-officials-20120320-1vi0a.html
Of course the 'need' for these stupid and destructive projects is almost entirely driven by governments inviting more and more people to come and live in Australia at the behest of the developers who are laughing all the way to the bank. Perhaps Ms Proust also finds the whole thing a bit of a joke.
See below for extract from the Age article about what Proust said.
"Call to cut the number of councils by Jason Dowling, March 21, 2012
"Elizabeth Proust is calling for sweeping changes to the number of Melbourne councils.
MELBOURNE must slash its number of councils from 31 to one, according to former Melbourne City Council chief executive Elizabeth Proust, who also headed the premier's department soon after the last round of major council amalgamations in the 1990s."
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/call-to-cut-the-number-of-councils-20120320-1vhwq.html#ixzz1pkQNGgP7"
Just 2.7% of the billions made from poker machines reaches community organizations and charities although Australia has more than 200,000 pokies — 21% of all gambling machines on the planet! The largest Australian operator of pokies is Woolworths, which owns about 13,500 machines. Here is a way that pokies might be used to make Australia more self-sufficient and bring the banks back under local control.
All this money from poker machines, taken from the people of Australia! Well, why not let all the income from pokies, at present going to owners and government, go instead into a fund from which banks can borrow, in order to reduce their reliance on overseas money? Then banks can have less need to say they must charge highly in order to pay foreign lenders.
Only the winners and the administrative costs need be taken from this fund.
Australian money spent on pokies is staggering. It is money that should be used.
Australia has more than 200,000 pokies — 21% of all gambling machines on the planet, according to www.greenleft.org.au/node/49849
A glance at the 2010 annual report of one of Australia’s largest clubs, the Panthers Group, shows how hollow the argument about community benefits really is. Panthers raked in $91.7 million from gaming in 2010, Rooty Hill RSL, also in Sydney’s western suburbs. Its 2010 annual report features a prominent drop quote from none other than Donald Trump: “As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big.” The club is certainly thinking big when it comes to poker machines: it enjoys “Australia’s largest non-casino installation of electronic gaming machines” with an amazing 726 gaming machine licences. Poker machines raked in $43.2 million www.crikey.com.au/2011/09/27/clubs-australia-campaignand-pokies-revenue/?wpmp_switcher=mobile The largest Australian operator of pokies is Woolworths, which owns about 13,500 machines.
Add in what governments take from pokies.
“Pokies or Poker Machines are an Australian pastime that is getting more popular as time goes by. Pokies are everywhere you turn here in Australia, whether you’re in a local pub, sports club or casino, you can’t get away from them. Pokies are very similar to their online cousins, in that they use electronic, virtual reels instead of real mechanical reels. Pokies are the biggest form of gambling in Australia – for every Aussie dollar that is spent betting on the horses there are five pumped into the pokies. Pokies also generate a huge amount of revenue for the Australian government, so while pokies are sometimes the cause of gambling problems amongst Aussie citizens, the revenue they generate is put back into worthwhile community and federal projects.” http://onlinepokies4u.com/
Over 70% of Australian casino revenue is generated from slots play www.onlinepokiesaustralia.org/. Pokie revenues in Victoria more than $600 per person www.crikey.com.au/2011/09/27/clubs-australia-campaignand-pokies-revenue/?wpmp_switcher=mobile
Clubs Australia waged a $20 million advertising drive that called the proposed reforms “un-Australian” and harmful to community organizations it supports.
Yet Clubs Australia admits that just 2.7% of the billions made from poker machines reaches community organizations and charities.
Ask, how do sports and clubs in the rest of the world, including Western Australia survive without pokies income?
Dr Valerie Yule, M.A., Ph.D, Dip.Ed., M.B.Ps.S. Teacher at all levels, from preschool to adult and migrant literacy and PhD supervision. Academic positions at Melbourne, Monash and Aberdeen Universities in departments of Psychology and Education; clinical child psychologist at the Royal Children’s Hospitals, Melbourne and Aberdeen; schools psychologist chiefly but not only in disadvantaged schools