All posts by David Soll

Who Benefits From An Asphalt Plant in Rockton?

We can all agree that our county needs more decent, long lasting, well paying jobs. However, we must be mindful of the types and kind of jobs we are talking about, and where those jobs may be located. In the case of a potential asphalt plant being considered via a special use permit within the confines of the Black’s Quarry just outside Rockton, and within two miles from where several thousands of homes, businesses, schools, and directly above the main source of water, I want to be crystal clear that I’m not against these jobs coming to our county, I am simply against the proposed location.

Sure, the creation of jobs is essential to a growing long lasting and strong economy. But the idea of building an asphalt plant literally above a major source of water that serves tens of thousands of fellow Winnebago County citizens can have a negative effect upon the value of thousands of homes and small businesses, where at least two public schools are within a couple miles of the proposed location, not to mention the potential health problems and future costs of those problems and the very real possibility of chemical seepage into a local source of water makes the proposed location a bad idea. In the end, if this plant ultimately gets approved by the current county board, the only winners will be Wayne Klinger, the owner of the asphalt company and the Black family who own the quarry.

The jobs created will almost assuredly be union jobs. While I am very pro-union, I’m also a realist when it comes to weighing the pros and cons of a given issue. I sincerely hope the unions come to understand the potential for environmental damage, the loss of home values due to the fumes and smells, the danger of having such a plant built nearly on top of a local water source, and the high probability for young children and the elderly getting sick from breathing in those fumes every day outweighs a handful of union jobs at this specific location. We’ve already had asphalt plants very near residential areas in Loves Park, and it is my hope to save the people of Rockton and Roscoe from the same problems in the future. Besides, there are plenty of cleaner and safer ways to create jobs, union or otherwise than an asphalt plant within two miles of so many homes and schools.

There are several existing industrial zones in our county that have plenty of room for an asphalt plant far enough away from people’s homes, businesses, schools, and waterways. The problem of course is the owner of the quarry seems to be the only guy really pushing for this to happen, which means there is little likelihood these jobs will ever exist if the proposed location is not accepted. So we have two choices here in our county; we either decide these few jobs are worth it or we find other ways to come up with safer and healthier ways to create similar jobs. With that said, according to recycled plastic being melted down to be used to build and repair roads is becoming a thing in England these days. Maybe we should look into that for future road projects in our county?

Remove Wall Street with Public Banking

Across our nation, municipal, county and state governments struggle year after year to balance their budgets, using the same old tools to meet this challenge: raise taxes, take on more debt, cut vital services, layoff or ask for employee givebacks. Almost always these choices subtract from local and state prosperity. History shows that a public bank would add to our prosperity. The historical model I speak of is the nearly 100 year old public Bank of North Dakota. As a result, North Dakota has been the only state in America which has run in the black every single year since the state bank went into effect in 1920.

Annual returns of substantial profits to the general fund as non tax revenue can refinance existing county debt at near zero interest rates and reduce the debt service for which we are taxed. Instead of expensive bond issues or property tax increases, a public bank can provide low cost loans to our school districts and other local governments for critically needed infrastructure and jobs creation. And we keep the interest paid on those loans right here in our own bank at much lower costs, safe from the risk takers of the mega banks on Wall Street interested first in profit for themselves before all else. Doing this allows for a very real possibility of lower property and sales taxes for all residents and businesses.

Like the Bank of North Dakota, a public bank of Illinois or any county within can partner with and strengthen our local banks and credit unions to get affordable credit to small businesses, home buyers and even college students. Once established, a public bank does not depend on annual taxpayer funding. It would become self sustaining. I’ve discovered more than a few municipal, county and state leaders across America are investigating how best to establish their own public banks, and take back control of their own money and future. Illinois and every county within needs to join this forward looking movement, and I look forward to being a part in getting this done for the good people of my county and state.

So perhaps the time has come for our county and state to take Wall Street out of the equation? Go HERE for more info on public banking.

The case for a livable wage, Part 1

Capitalism’s most basic fundamental is: if workers have no money then business has no customers. We have always been a demand economy. Despite the last thirty five years of forced continuous trickle-down (supply side) economics which has culminated to around 74% of all newly created wealth since 1981 going to the top 1%, 82% in 2017 alone. Now look, I get it, we all hate taxes. But they are the price we all pay for this thing called civilized society. Speaking of taxes, Mitt Romney was not far off when he pointed out in 2011 that 47% of American workers don’t pay any taxes. He was mostly right in the case of income taxes, but not all the other taxes, from local sales, property, excise, and other forms of local and state taxes dissociated with ones income. In essence, everyone, no matter how poor or legal status, ultimately pays taxes of some form or another.

Leading into the so-called Roaring 20s taxes on high wealth were dropped from 73% in 1921 to 25% in 1925. Sure, there was an immediate economic boon, but it was nothing but a massive bubble that ultimately popped in 1929. Same thing happened in the 80s with Reagan and the boom/bust cycles started up again, but I digress. Along came Frances Perkins and her New Deal, who, with Eleanor pushed FDR, a man who became so loved by the American people he was elected four times for having implemented Perkins’ New Deal! So many great things came from the New Deal: Social Security, unemployment benefits, welfare. But it is the minimum wage we are discussing here today.

The great thing about the minimum wage was that it was tied in with both inflation and economic growth so that the lowest paid workers could keep up with our demand economy. That was the case until 1972 when Nixon removed it from production and Reagan removed it from inflation in 1986. Had the minimum wage remained tied to both it would be somewhere near $24 an hour, instead of the $7.25 it currently is today. In the meantime inflation, production, and prices have continued to go up.

This has led to millions of hard working Americans having to work longer and harder hours, sometimes two, even three jobs just to try and make ends meet with few if any benefits. This is pure and simple wage theft! Meaning that despite the higher production levels of our economy, the worker, due to stagnant wages, has been busting their butts while the owners have been able to reap the extra profits for themselves. Hard work used to pay off for all who did. But in our rigged economy that is simply no longer the case.

In the 1950’s not only did we have 33% unionized workers, but you needed only one person in the household working to not merely make ends meet, but be able to take the entire family on a yearly vacation. In other words, all newly created wealth was more evenly distributed. The owners still got a larger share, which is understandable, but the workers also got a slightly larger piece of the pie as well. As a result he middle class boomed and grew. We were a much happier, more productive society.

Today however, the dollar continues to lose its value because of inflation, and nearly every newly created dollar has gone to the top 1% which has led to a systemic breakdown of our economic system. The worker continues to get poorer while the top 1/10 of 1% gets wealthier. Coupled with lower taxes on higher wealth and incomes, wages for the average worker has stagnated. The unsaved, non invested dollar no longer has the same purchasing power as it once did. This means the average American family with low incomes and little to no savings has a harder time spreading their dollar around for daily necessities than higher income earners with saved or invested money that has the capacity to keep up with inflation and the ever growing economy.

For those who claim to be for smaller government, listen up now. A higher minimum wage leads to smaller government! That’s right, you read that correctly. For an increase in the minimum wage to say $15 you would have millions of Americans who currently do not pay income taxes or are on government assistance would now be making enough to pay income taxes and no longer be in need of government assistance. With their larger paychecks, these millions of fellow Americans would now have more earnings to spend in the local economy, which would lead to higher demand, which will lead to more hiring, more spending, rinse and repeat.

There is a third thing that happens as well. No longer would your tax dollars go towards subsidizing companies like Wal-Mart where about 60% of employees are on welfare and food stamps to make ends meet. And no, prices would not go up if we raised the minimum wage, which is a flat out lie. The minimum wage has not gone up since 2006 and yet prices have been going up, but that is mainly because businesses don’t have nearly as many customers as they might have if we had a livable wage.

Don’t believe me? Then perhaps the word of an actual capitalist speaking on a livable wage might convince you? Go HERE or simply type in “nick hanauer minimum wage Bloomberg” into Google.

Money equaling political speech is cancer to democracy

When it comes to low voter turnout and people fed up with politics, look no further than the insane idea that money equals speech for purposes of our political process. I suspect many who read this have heard about the Supreme Court (SC) case from 2010 called “Citizens United (CU) v Federal Election Commission (FEC)” . This ruling essentially set in stone the ability of the super wealthy and powerful to be able to buy our politicians legally with the use of Super-PAC’s. CU was a literal case of the John Roberts SC legislating (creating law beyond the case itself) from the bench.

For those unfamiliar with CU, this case stemmed from a campaign attack movie made against Hillary Clinton (HRC) during the 2008 campaign season that was created by Citizens United, a group founded by Floyd Brown in 1988 made famous for its grossly negligent if not outright racist “Willie Horton” ad used against Michael Dukakis in that year’s presidential race. The movies content against Hillary was not the reason for the lawsuit, but on its funding. At the time, the funding for the movie was from unknown sources that were “donated” into CU’s PAC. The FEC ruled against CU initially and CU sued to protect its donor’s identities.

Say what you might about Hillary Clinton or any politician for that matter. All I can only say the damage done to our nation’s electoral fabric should not be negated by any negative feelings you may have about any politicians, or the political process, our low voter turnout, or our democratic processes in general. There is little doubt in my mind the CU ruling has been nothing short of disastrous as it allowed for the creation of the aforementioned SuperPAC’s. But CU wasn’t the worst of it for our already fragile democratic republic.

A more recent case that expanded upon the worst aspects of CU called “McCutcheon v FEC” made it possible for multi-millionaires and billionaires to give tens, if not potentially hundreds of millions of dollars or more directly to a SuperPAC without that SuperPAC having to publicly divulge where any of those donations came from. Both the CU and McCutheon cases are the logical conclusion to several earlier SC cases, each adding its own layer upon money equaling speech and making a mockery of our democratic processes. For the sake of space, I will bring up two more SC cases.

Bank of Boston v Bellotti 1978 claimed since banks had no “vocal chords” and the human bankers who ran them did, they were collectively the defacto “voice” of that bank, if for example that bank “decided” it wanted to give campaign donations directly to a candidate of “its” choosing. This ruling basically gave corporate execs a second layer of speech rights atop their own individual speech rights and that is as the collective voice they made in the name of the bank.

Then there’s “Buckley v Valeo” 1976. This court case was where the insane idea of money equaling speech within our political system began. If We, the People have any hope of restoring our Constitutionally limited representative democratic republic so that our elected officials are no longer subjected for or against by unknown mega donations THIS is the case that needs to be reversed if we have any hope of restoring decency and legitimacy to our democratic process.

The good news is there are a couple of political movements fighting to reverse CU; Represent.US & Wolf-PAC. Unfortunately these groups are focused mainly upon reversing CU. Make no mistake about it, and I need everyone to understand this, but reversing CU only brings us back to how things were prior to the CU ruling in 2010. Because even if there is success in reversing CU, money would still equal speech (Buckley) and politicians can still be “bought” (Bellotti) with large corporate donations.

That is why it is vitally important that we contact our Senators and make them understand that any future SC justices, regardless of who nominates them must be put on record for being in favor of reversing Buckley v Valeo. Research and consider joining up with Represent.US and/or Wolf-PAC because even reversing CU is better than doing nothing. Let us instill a real sense of patriotism within ourselves that we fought to take back our democratic process from the clutches of those who unfairly have a louder voice than you because of the horrendously terrible idea that money equals speech.

Corporate person hood; America’s massive thorn in her back

You may or may not be aware of today’s subject; corporate person hood (cph) and what it means to you as an American. We can all agree that corporations should have some limited rights. Like the ability to hold property, enter contracts, to sue and be sued just like a human being, and full 4th, 6th, and 7th amendment rights. Beyond that, it is ludicrous to give them more than that. Certainly not the right to lean upon the 14th amendment which was intended on giving freedom to black slaves and nothing else!

While the concept of cph as we know them today derive from an 1886 Supreme Court case called “Southern Railroad v Santa Clara County, California I want to give a little history lesson up to the time of that case to give clarity as to why the concept of cph was an underhanded slap in the face to every black man, woman, and child through to today and why we need to end this vile practice once and for all.

Once upon a time a corporation was given charter for specific projects by state legislatures. For example, ABC Corp is “chartered” by Illinois to build a series of bridges across the Rock River. Once done, the corporation was either dissolved and profits paid out or given a new charter for another project, etc.

The first salvo for corporations gaining extra person hood rights began with the Dartmouth v Woodward (1819) which stated that once a corporation is given charter by a state government, said state government cannot alter it in any way regardless of potential wrong doing by said corporation. Before this ruling if a corporation did something that went against its original charter, a state legislature could disband that corporation or replace those who ran it.
The Dred Scott v Sanford (1859) ruling officially made all slaves property. At this point in time, corporations had more rights than certain actual living breathing human beings. And yes, corporations that owned slaves could continue to own them.

The 14th amendment grants blacks full freedom with the words: “All <> born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Despite the best efforts of corporate lawyers, the Supreme Court ruled that Paul v Virginia (1868), Slaughterhouse cases (1873), Minor v. Happersett (1874) and Munn v Illinois either strengthened the notion that corporations were not people beyond that they had already been given to that point or didn’t allow corporate rights to expand further.

In 1886 in the Southern Railroad case a court reporter by the name of JP Bancroft Jr, who had been senior management for Southern Railroad prior to his stint at the Supreme Court wrote in the margins of the Southern Railroad case ruling a personal opinion that corporations were people. This “opinion” was not legally binding in any way. It was not a part of the ruling, which was about property tax levies not being the same among the many counties within California. It was a ruling that had not even touched on the idea of person hood in any way. And yet the concept of cph has been argued for ever since to the tune of 288 court cases just from 1890 to 1920 alone. Culminating in several court cases I mentioned last month in my column on money equaling speech.

Instead of going further with the history lesson, I offer the following link for further research by those of you who care that will give you a laundry list of court cases that expanded corporate person hood into the realm of religion and full 1st amendment rights: and will now go into what this all means for us as actual living breathing human beings and what we can do about it.

Understand that we can put a stop to all this corporate person hood madness by doing one simple thing: by amending the 14th amendment and place the word “natural” in front of the word “person”. It has been long and well established that corporations are “born” only with a state government charter. Without much doubt a corporate charter is not a natural birth. By adding that single word to the 14th amendment we could stop cold and reverse over 120 years of stolen rights that belong to We, the Natural born People of America!