The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Quiet Drama in Philadelphia

“You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.  You will not be able to skip out for beer during commercials.  Because the revolution will not be televised. . . . The revolution will be live.”

–From the 1970 hit song by Gil Scott-Heron

Last week, the city of Philadelphia’s school system announced that it expects to close 40 public schools next year, and 64 schools by 2017. The school district expects to lose 40% of its current enrollment, and thousands of experienced, qualified teachers. 

But corporate media in other cities made no mention of these massive school closings — nor of those in Chicago, Atlanta, or New York City. Even in the Philadelphia media, the voices of the parents, students and teachers who will suffer were omitted from most accounts. 

It’s all about balancing the budgets of cities that have lost revenues from the economic downturn. Supposedly, there is simply no money for the luxury of providing an education for the people.

Where will those children find an education? Where will the teachers find work?  Almost certainly in an explosion of private sector “charter schools,” where the quality of education — from the curriculum to books to the food served at lunch — will be sacrificed to the lowest bidder, and teachers’ salaries and benefits will be sacrificed to the profits of the new private owners, who will also eat up many millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies. 

Why does there always seem to be enough money for military expansion, prisons, bank bailouts and tax cuts for the wealthy, but not enough for education—or for jobs, housing, healthcare, or old age pensions?  These are not “welfare” but are part of the social contract for which we pay taxes and make social security payments.

In an article reprinted on Truthout on May 10th titled “Why Isn’t Closing 40 Philadelphia Public Schools National News?,” Bruce Dixon posed this answer:

The city has a lot of poor and black children. Our ruling classes don’t want to invest in educating these young people, preferring instead to track into lifetimes of insecure, low-wage labor and/or prison. Our elites don’t need a populace educated in critical thinking. So low-cost holding tanks that deliver standardized lessons and tests, via computer if possible, operated by profit-making “educational entrepreneurs” are the way to go.

 “Lifetimes of insecure, low-wage labor or prison”—this is very close to the “indentured servitude” that was abolished along with slavery by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1865.  The freed slaves are being recaptured by debt, beginning with the debt of school loans, followed by credit card debt, mortgage debt, and healthcare costs. 

As was cynically observed in a document called the Hazard Circular, allegedly circulated by British banking interests among their American banking counterparts in July 1862:

[S]lavery is but the owning of labor and carries with it the care of the laborers, while the European plan, led by England, is that capital shall control labor by controlling wages. This can be done by controlling the money. The great debt that capitalists will see to it is made out of the war, must be used as a means to control the volume of money. . . . It will not do to allow the greenback, as it is called, to circulate as money any length of time, as we cannot control that.  [Quoted in Charles Lindburgh, Banking and Currency and the Money Trust (Washington D.C.: National Capital Press, 1913), page 102.]

The quotation may be apocryphal, but it graphically conveys the fate of our burgeoning indentured class.  It also suggests the way out: we must recapture the control of our money and banking systems, including the issuance of debt-free money (“greenbacks”) by the government. 

Meanwhile, in Other Unreported News . . .

That alternative vision was put before a conference in Philadelphia in late April that drew delegates from all over the United States.  The theme of the first Public Banking in America conference, held at the Quaker Friends Center on April 28-29th, was that to fix the economy, we first need to take back the “money power”—the power to create currency and credit. 

Led by keynote speakers Gar Alperovitz and Hazel Henderson and highlighted in an electric speech by twelve-year-old Victoria Grant, the conference was all about solutions.  As summarized by OpEdNews editor Josh Mitteldorf: 

There were two visions expressed . . . . The first is the very practical idea that states and cities around America could be rescued from insolvency if they had their own banks, instead of relying on commercial banks to borrow money through bonds. Tax-exempt bond issues supply money to states and municipal governments typically at 5 or 6% interest, while banks these days are able to borrow from the Fed at 1/4% per year. 

The second vision is . . . the radically-subversive idea that the system we have for introducing money into the economy is a boon for the banks, but perhaps a major drag on our economy. Perhaps a simple, direct system of money creation by the Treasury Dept instead of the Fed would put an end to cycles of recession, and create a foundation for long-term prosperity. 

Banking is a huge leech on our economy. 40% of every dollar we spend on goods and services — 40% of all that we create and all we consume — is siphoned off the top as bank interest in one form or another. (Calculations of Margrit Kennedy) The US Government is in the absurd position of paying interest to a private bank for every dollar that is put into circulation. The Federal Reserve system has privatized the power to create money, which, according to the Constitution, ought to belong to Congress alone. Presently, interest on the national debt costs the Federal government $500 billion in 2011, and (because of structural deficit spending) it is the fastest-growing portion of the Federal budget. 

Five hundred billion dollars could be saved annually just by refinancing the federal debt through our own central bank, interest-free.  This is not an off-the-wall idea but has actually been done, very successfully.  Among other instances, it was done in Canada from 1939 to 1974, as was detailed by the youngest and oldest speakers at the conference, 12-year-old Victoria Grant and former defense minister Paul Hellyer, founder of the Canadian Action Party.  Another Canadian at the conference, Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, has proposed that the Toronto city council could improve its finances by forming its own bank.   

The direct solution to the economic crisis, urged by veteran money reformer Bill Still, would be for the federal government to simply create the money it needs, as the American colonists did by printing paper scrip and Abraham Lincoln did by printing greenbacks. 

But cities and states don’t need to wait for a deadlocked federal Congress to act.  As Wong-Tam has proposed for Toronto, they can divest their public revenues from the too-big-to-fail banks and put them in their own publicly-owned banks.  These banks could then do what all banks do: leverage capital, backed by deposits, into money in the form of bank credit. 

This newly-created bank money would then be available for the use of the local government interest-free (since the government would own the bank and would get the interest back as dividends).  Among other possibilities, the money could be used to restore the schools.  This would not be an expenditure but an investment, as illustrated by the G.I. Bill, which provided education and low-interest loans for returning servicemen after World War II.  Economists have determined that for every 1944 dollar invested in the G.I. Bill, the country received approximately $7 in return, through increased economic productivity, consumer spending, and tax revenues.

Legislation for public banks has now been introduced in 18 U.S. states, on the model of the highly successful Bank of North Dakota (BND).  Elaborated on at the Public Banking conference by Ed Sather and Rozanne Junker, the BND is currently the country’s only state-owned bank and has been a major factor in allowing the state to escape the recent credit crisis.  North Dakota is the only state to boast a significant budget surplus every year since the economic downturn of 2008. 

Ellen Brown noted that 40% of banks globally are also publicly-owned.  These are largely in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), which also escaped the credit crisis, largely because their public banks did not rely on derivatives and, unlike private banks, lent counter-cyclically to cushion their economies from the downturn. 

Conference speaker Samuel Giles proposed that even public universities could set up their own banks, which could then leverage university monies for the university’s own use, rather than giving those assets away to Wall Street to be speculated with and lent back at much higher interest rates.

Innovative Solutions for Pennsylvania

Speakers Michael Sauvante and Mike Krauss noted that efforts are underway in several Pennsylvania and Ohio municipalities to create public banks.  One possibility is for public banks to take an aggressive role in ending the foreclosure crisis by acquiring abandoned and foreclosed homes by eminent domain.  These homes could be added to the asset base of the bank, which could extend credit to restore them and then sell or rent them at reasonable rates. 

Krauss noted that Philadelphia already has a strong effort underway to create a “land bank”—a bank to acquire, rehabilitate and create productive uses for the city’s more than 40,000 vacant properties—and legislation (HB 1682) has been introduced in the state legislature to enable this effort.  But the land bank proposed is not designed to function as a depository bank that leverages funds into credit.  Rather, it would simply work with appropriated funds or bond revenue. This is a positive step toward addressing a real need, but it could be enhanced by turning the land bank into a public bank—a chartered bank having the power to create money as credit on its books. 

The efforts for developing public banks in Pennsylvania are being led by the Pennsylvania Project, which was a co-sponsor of the Philadelphia conference and is supported in its work by the Public Banking Institute and the Center for State Innovation.  The Pennsylvania Project is creating partnerships with other Pennsylvania public policy organizations to introduce legislation for a state Bank of Pennsylvania in 2013, after elections are held and a strong foundation of support has been laid.

Revolution Without Bloodshed or War

We live under a tyranny today that is just as intolerable and unjust as that in 1776, but violent revolution is no longer an option.  Our oppressors own the military and the media, and their FEMA camps are waiting for us. 

If change is to come, it must be peaceful and legal, beginning with a revolution in the minds and hearts of the people.  The message of the Public Banking in America Conference was that we can throw off the yoke of the financial elite by making money and credit a public utility; and the most feasible place to start is at the local level, with publicly-owned banks. 

For videos of some of the speakers, see  More to come.  The Victoria Grant video has gone viral, approaching 700,000 hits on various websites.    

30 Responses

  1. I thought FEMA camps were conspiracy theory. The large order of ammo for DHS is concerning though. Where else would they use it besides FEMA camps?

    • Wake up, bud.

    • The idea of FEMA camps aren’t far-fetched, considering that Japanese-Americans were detained during WW2. Wonder what the criteria for entry will be. How far are banks and pols willing to push austerity? Citizens delinquent on student loans could be prime targets–the new debtors prisons?

      • What you mean to say that a FREE Country forced people into prison camps just because they looked Asian? Oh say it so. They sure didn’t teach THAT information when I was in publik school. Bet they still don’t teach it.

    • The FEMA camps are not theory. The Govbizopps site advertised for guards (\”Internment and resettlement specialists\”) a couple years ago; then a few months ago advertised for contractors to provide services with 72 hours notice like office trailers, portapotties, and food service; and then a couple months ago advertised for companies that could erect these camps with 72 hours notice. One thing I\’ve noticed though, is the guard ad sounded like it wanted guards for a military prison for soldiers, and I wonder if the military expects a mutiny.

  2. The USA is no longer in control of its own sovereignty, but has been hijacked by an “extremely wealthy elite” who not only control the congress(and the President) but the Pentagon(ie the Military), CIA, the Legal system and of course, The Federal Reserve. Slavery was abolished in the 1800’s, so now financial slavery is used to “chain” people in debt.(and to bail out the Banksters who run the Fed).
    The American people don’t even realise it because the Networks have failed completely to inform Americans of what is being done to them.(9/11 is a prime example, and anyone who doesn’t toe the official line, is demonised.)
    The USA even puts the interests of Israel before the interests of Americans. As an Australian, I am firmly on the side of the American people, but the USA system is broke, and needs urgent comprehensive “reconstruction”, using The Constitution as the blueprint. Good luck.

    • You say well mate. Sorry to say, many Americans have been programmed to avoid truth. It just isn’t popular.

      • I think one of the greatest dangers to the people of the USA are the “Networks”, whose job it has become, to aneasthetise and distract the general public from finding out the “truth”. I know millions of Americans do not believe the official version of 9/11, but many millions seem to accept it unquestioningly. The Architects and Engineers have demolished the NIST report, and who is better placed to know what really happened than Architects and Engineers? If the Networks had any integrity at all they would be demanding an independent report on the 9/11 inside job, but they avoid any discussion, so as not to upset “the advertising dollar”
        Citizen Murdoch’s Fox Network has set new lows in integrity, but the other Networks are culpable in focusing Americans away from any real investigation. Even the The Three Stooges wouldn’t believe the official version of 9/11, but, with the help of the Networks it looks like Bush Cheney and Rumsfeld,(and many others) are going to get away with their time in power.

  3. This is another prime example of a Ron Paul tactic that would work. Regardless of what you think of his policies, one of the departments he wants to shut down is the Education department. I disagree with the author’s assessment of private schools. I’ve been fortunate enough to send my kids to one for a few years, and they teach more and have smaller classes. Our county kindergarten is only 1/2 day of school. They were still learning letters, and at the private school they were already reading in kindergarten.

    Look at all the bills you pay that have school tax or some such crap on it, and if the education department is eliminated those taxes are not necessary. This would free up much more cash to pay for private schooling. This country of entrepreneurs can make it work, just as they did before the gov stepped in to do schooling. Capitalism works well, if you remove Federal REserve Banks from the equation. What we see now is not capitalism, Remove the excess taxes from schooling and let the market do it’s job, you will see good schools pop up everywhere.

    • Only educated, smart people would vote for Ron Paul. Americans will have to fight inside their own country and they deserve it. I think we’ll win in the long run. But Russian special forces are already here to destroy us from within in Operation Mountain Lion.

  4. […] As Schools Crumble: Quiet Call for Revolution in Philly ( […]

  5. I work for the public school system It is the biggest money waster I have ever been involved with. What a loser!

  6. Charter schools do it cheaper and better. The public schools/unions are the real enemy. Money goes to the banks and more war (Obomba bombed Libya). Doesn’t matter who you vote for now, same result. Peaceful revolution? They will attack the American people who are the only large armed public that owns enough guns to take down an army.

    • Charter schools are a false alterantive to the public educational system. They are funded by the same transnational corp sponsors that have destroyed public school pedagogy. Their aim is to “train” children to adopt behaviors what will make them obedient workers and stifle all independent thinking and inquiry.

  7. Here is another wonderful article by Ellen Brown.
    As Ellen said, and the corporate media of course did not mention, the PBI conference, which took place in Philly, focused positively on the various SOLUTIONS TO OUR ECONOMIC PROBLEMS.
    To fix the economy, we first need to TAKE BACK THE MONEY POWER”—the power to create currency and credit.
    The Federal Reserve has PRIVATIZED THE POWER TO CREATE MONEY, which is constitutionally the job of Congress alone. To solve this problem, we should have the Treasury Department create money instead of the Fed. That would put an end to cycles of recession, and create a foundation for long-term prosperity.
    To fix the banking crisis which is pandemic to most states and cities around America, we can rescue the states and cities from insolvency by creating state, county, city, and local banks. We need to create banks for the people, and not rely on commercial banks, and we could borrow money through tax-exempt bonds instead of borrowing money from the banks.
    Public banks can help create infrastructure projects, create jobs, help with the foreclosure and mortgage problems, restore our schools, and provide a future in which we could thrive.
    WE, the 99% CAN DO THIS.

  8. the public skool system should have been closed years ago. it’s only purpose is to make young people stupid. and the sorry ass teachers make sure their future generations are dumb-asses just for a paycheck. good riddance. as a matter of fact all of them should close all over the country.

  9. Quote,”Banking is a huge leech on our economy. 40% of every dollar we spend on goods and services — 40% of all that we create and all we consume — is siphoned off the top as bank interest in one form or another. (Calculations of Margrit Kennedy) The US Government is in the absurd position of paying interest to a private bank for every dollar that is put into circulation. The Federal Reserve system has privatized the power to create money, which, according to the Constitution, ought to belong to Congress alone. Presently, interest on the national debt costs the Federal government $500 billion in 2011, and (because of structural deficit spending) it is the fastest-growing portion of the Federal budget. ”

    Have you read the Federal Reserve Act? The authorizing legislation projected a body:
    “…to provide for the establishment of the Federal Reserve banks…
    Where we went wrong- Established Federal Reserve Banks owned by private banks, domestic and foreign.
    How we can fix it-Establish Federal Reserve Banks owned “by the people,of the people,for the people
    … to furnish an elastic currency…
    Where we went wrong-The elastic currency’s quality and quantity can be controlled by private banks using a legalize counterfeit system called Fractional -Reserve Banking.
    How we can fix it- End Fractional Reserve Banking making the correctly established Federal Reserve Bank the ONLY supplier of new currency.
    … to afford means of rediscounting commercial paper and to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the United States..
    Where we went wrong-Allowing private banks to charge compound interest on the paper they create “out of thin air”.
    How we can fix it-Private banks will only be allowed to invest, or purchase assets with 100% margin.They will be responsible for all
    losses and entitled to all gains.
    … and for other purposes.”
    Where we went wrong-By now can we identify the operative phrase? Of course: “for other purposes.”
    How to fix it-For the purposes of FUNDING, ““We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,…””

  10. It is laudable that Ms. Brown shines the light on what is happening to Philadelphia schools and Philadelphia children. The U S media does not comment because the U S media is just as much as a sold-out wipe-out as are the big banks and the U S congress.

    Short term solutions are welcome and must be enacted immediately.

    I do not really believe that there will ever be real change for the good of our economy until U S industry, real production, is re-established. That is the only way there will be decent jobs for Americans who can then support U S banks. The jobs have been shipped out of America for at least half a century and really much longer, probably since around 1913 when the banksters took over.

    Protecting sovereign America and its people may be “isolationist” but I do not care. That is the only way you have decent jobs with benefits and a future for Americans. Our whold trade policies have been bonkers for decades.

    I welcome the state and local banks idea, but to be it still involves fractional reserve banking and that is creating money out of nothing. This idea may help us get over and around the dead-end ruinous path we are on right now, so for that reason I welcome it. But to me “sound money” is fully backed money with some commodity, like some precious metal or combination thereof. Money created out of nothing through fractional reserve banking is not sound money.

    America needs to get back to caring about sovereign America and sovereign Americans. That’s a whole “new” mindset that has mainly been eradicated by the banksters and I do not know if we can ever find that way of thinking ever again.

  11. “The US Government is in the absurd position of paying interest to a private bank for every dollar that is put into circulation. ”

    Incorrect statements like this do not help. It is completely and utterly wrong

    Most money put into circulation comes from bank loans. It has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the Govt

  12. “Five hundred billion dollars could be saved annually just by refinancing the federal debt through our own central bank, interest-free.”

    Seriously Ellen needs to start by getting her facts right

    The Govt DOES initially finance the deficit (not debt) with close to interest free reserves

    But it then drains the money and Fed reserves by issuing bonds for obvious sound economic reasons

    And withdrawing $500 BILLION INTEREST INCOME from the US economy (as Govt interest expenses = non Govt interest REVENUE) will smash the economy not help it. Most of this money goes straight to pension funds and other savers

    Whose side is Ellen on. She wants to smash savers with no offsetting benefit

  13. ” I welcome the state and local banks idea, but to be it still involves fractional reserve banking and that is creating money out of nothing. This idea may help us get over and around the dead-end ruinous path we are on right now, so for that reason I welcome it. But to me “sound money” is fully backed money with some commodity, like some precious metal or combination thereof. Money created out of nothing through fractional reserve banking is not sound money…”,

    BUT,This idea IS the dead- end ruinous path we are on !!
    BUT because the Government thru the US Constitution (obligates the payment of all debt) makes that money created “out of thin air
    an obligation to be paid ,and FDIC guanantees makes it our debt.
    The Solution is we must take the power of creating our currency out of the hands of any other party and give it back to the people.
    How would you like the added benefit of (Google) …”Great News !! Zero Income Taxes…”
    Also read: –At long last, are we ready to end private banking? « #Monetary ……/at-long-last-are-we-ready-to-end-…Cached
    You +1’d this publicly. Undo

  14. […] The Victoria Grant video has gone viral, approaching 700,000 hits on various websites.Ellen Brown Web of DebtPosted: Sunday, 20 May […]

  15. […] As Schools Crumble: Quiet Call for Revolution in Philly ( […]

  16. […] The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Quiet Drama in Philadelphia, by Ellen Brown: […]


  18. Reply to Mitteldorf: Replacing the Fed with U.S. Treasury money-creation is going to change the manner of functioning? Whenever I see Fed-bashing, I recognize a person who doesn’t know history and who hasn’t lived through economic free-fall. You don’t even have to be an Economic Historian to know that the latter half of the19th Century was a rollercoaster of one Depression after another: every decade there was one! That was before the Fed. If those guys, the banksters in the “possibly apocryphal” story attributed to Charles Lindbergh had *really* been in as total control of the economy of America as the Brit Bankers suggested, they would have engineered a much smoother (ergo, more profitable for them) economy (that is, how can you make money off an economy that’s a rolling bankruptcy?). This is why the Fed was created, and we’ve all been the better off for it.

    • We need to go to public corporations, having limited existence based on specific loans (credits), which are loans that are created by ” We the People “,as proposed by Bill Still in his book “No More National Debt”. Like the “tally sticks” used in England’s past, once the loan purpose is concluded, the debt paid, the credit is eliminated from circulation and then new credits are issued for new public corporations, having new purposes. As Bill Still points out, all public corporations must serve the development of commonwealth in an industrial-agricultural republic that Abe Lincoln visualized. I believe in ecology, but we must beware of the banker class manipulating that movement for genocidal purposes. A water infrastructure system needs to be developed to construct desalinization plants on our ocean shores to produce abundant fresh water to restore lake and river levels to higher levels, and replenish water tables underground. In that way we can open up new forests, new agricultural areas, supply existing farmlands with unlimited water, and create indoor , climate controlled agriculture to produce all we need within our own nation. The American system of public credit, as debt- free government money, as in Lincolns greenbacks, would create full employment by making these public corporations, so financed, as Schools of Production and Management, training our people in a Republic of Virtue based on the “labour theory of value” Lincoln talked about in his 1865 speech before the US Senate (shortly before his assassination). In this way a work ethic will be restored based on development of self-management of industry by a thinking people, educated in an all-round way. This can only be done by developing revolutionary Industrial Unions that break with the division of labour, the division of the country-side and the city, and the division between mental and physical labour. To do this the bureaucratic corporate state system of the: military/industrial/banker/casino/government by plutocrats must be uprooted in a deep and powerful revolution of the oppressed working classes. The “revolution” must be based, in my mind, on the “agape concept” found in the Bible. The “Agape Revolution” means that we put God, as Nature as Substance, as the monarch of our minds, and place the concept of seeking justice for others, over our selfishness, center place in our minds. I firmly believe that only taking up the Lincoln ideal of true government “of, by, and for the People”, which is the path of liberation from government tyranny of exploiting wealthy classes whose only model of liberation is the sewer of capitalistic depravity and propaganda fueling porn, casino, Wallstreet, mafia, and speculative get rich schemes that produce only glitter and mass moral decay in a culture heading toward fascist war and reactionary class rule. You can not serve both God and Money. You will love the one and hate the other. And money powers will use religion to divide people instead of enlightenment which unites rational science with natural theology. Godspeed to all patriotic masses who take up the agape revolution!

    • Have you considered that “rolling bankruptcies” are a sure fire way to get property at fire-sale prices which can then be sold for a tidy and risk free profit during recoveries? That is especially true when you hold the means of creating recoveries and depressions. The banking sector in the U.S. in the 19th century was controlled by the plutocracy then just as it is now, just a tiny bit less so. By the way have you ever bothered to check the GDP figures in the 19th century? They were some of the fastest growing years for productivity. The problem then, as now, was legal tender laws which strip away all freedom in monetary matters as well as the flexibility needed for a dynamic system that is necessary for homeostasis. if you are arguing against the system in place then then you are implicitly arguing against the system in place now because they are essentially the same, if not in form then in function.

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