Kevlexicon – Klanhattan KlanVillage Documentary ep1: Had Time Interview
published August 27, 2015
This Economic History documentary has a free companion .pdf you can download here:
Check out all of Kevlexicon’s Research Materials (.pdfs) on:
Download Klanhattan KlanVillage Mixtape – Median Income Edition on Bandcamp.
Klanhattan KlanVillage Documentary episode 1
Kevlexicon talks about the situations that inspired the mistari (lyrics) of his new song, “Had Time”, off the Klanhattan KlanVillage Mixtape.
Using the song as an entry point, Kevlexicon begins to talk about the larger global economic forces and hip hop histories that inform his recent works. Living in Kenya and reading The Economist, growing up broke, going to a decent college, talking about economic inequality, the Klanhattans and KlanVillages…
*edit: yeh, the pic of Mumbai, India is actually Sao Paulo, my bad. (conflicting google image search references, wups)
Excerpt from the .pdf:
Reading Hamilton From The Left – Jacobin Mag
“Two hundred years ago, Alexander Hamilton was mortally wounded by then Vice President Aaron Burr in a duel at Weehawken, New Jersey. Their conflict, stemming
from essays Hamilton had penned against Burr, was an episode in a larger clash between two political ideologies: that of Thomas Jefferson and the anti-Federalists, who argued for an agrarian economy and a weak central government, versus that of Hamilton and the Federalists, who championed a strong central state and an industrial economy.”
“We recall Jefferson as a great democrat. When Tea Partiers echo his rhetoric, we dismiss it as a lamentable misunderstanding.
But in reality, Jefferson represented the most backward and fundamentally reactionary sector of the economy: large, patrimonial, slave-owning, agrarian elites who exported primary commodities and imported finished manufactured goods from Europe. He was a fabulously wealthy planter who lived in luxury paid for by slave labor. Worse yet, he raised slaves specifically for sale.”
“Even if it could somehow be dislodged from the institution of slavery, Jefferson’s vision of a weak government and an export-based agrarian economy would have been the path of political fragmentation and economic underdevelopment. His romantic notions were a veil behind which lay ossified privilege.”
“Hamilton was alone among the “founding fathers” in understanding that the world was witnessing two revolutions simultaneously. One was the political transformation, embodied in the rise of republican government. The other was the economic rise of modern capitalism, with its globalizing networks of production, trade, and finance. Hamilton grasped the epochal importance of applied science and machinery as forces of production.
In the face of these changes, Hamilton created (and largely executed) a plan for government-led economic development along lines that would be followed in more recent times by many countries (particularly in East Asia) that have undergone rapid industrialization. His political mission was to create a state that could facilitate, encourage, and guide the process of economic change — a policy also known as dirigisme, although the expression never entered the American political lexicon the way its antonym, laissez-faire, did.
To be sure, Hamilton was living in the era of “bourgeois” revolutions and the state he was building was a capitalist state, complete with the oppressive apparatus that always involves. Hamilton did not oppose exploitation. Like most people of his age, he saw child labor as normal and defended the rights of creditors over debtors. But regarding slavery, he firmly and consistently opposed it and was a founder of the Society for Manumission of Slaves. It was Hamilton — not Jefferson — who had the more progressive vision.
Even today, Hamilton’s ideas about state-led industrialization offer much. Consider the crisis of climate change. Alas, we do not have the luxury of making this an agenda item for our future post-capitalist assembly. Facing up to it demands getting
off fossil fuels in a very short time frame. That requires a massive and immediate industrial transformation, which must be undertaken using the actually existing states and economies currently on hand. Such a project can only be led by the state — an institution that Hamilton’s writing and life’s work helps us to rethink.
Unfortunately, many environmental activists today instinctively avoid the state. They see government as part of the problem — as it undoubtedly is — but never as part of the solution. They do not seek to confront, reshape, and use state power; the idea of calling for regulation and public ownership, makes them uncomfortable.
And so green activism too often embodies the legacy of Jefferson’s antigovernment politics. It hinges on transforming individual behavior, or on making appeals to “corporate social responsibility.”
Hamilton’s work, by contrast, reveals the truth that for capital, there is no “outside of the state.” The state is the necessary but not sufficient pre-condition for capitalism’s development. There is no creative destruction, competition, innovation, and accumulation without the “shadow socialism” of the public sector and state planning. We may soon find that there is no potable water or breathable air without them, either.
At the heart of Hamilton’s thinking was a stark political fact — one that is now sometimes hard to recall. The newly created United States was a mess. Politically disorganized, economically underdeveloped, and militarily weak, its survival was in no way guaranteed.
All the more alarming was the international context. The world was dominated by the immense power of the British, French, and (admittedly declining) Spanish Empires. Hamilton saw that the colonists’ victory over Britain, won by the direct military intervention of France, would only be secured if the new nation built up its economy.
Hamilton learned the danger of weakness early on. Born of humble origins in the Caribbean, he was an “illegitimate” child and then orphaned at age thirteen. Taken in by friends, he found work as a shipping clerk. Having a prodigious intellectual talent, Hamilton also applied himself to study with fanatical discipline. Soon he was penning essays for the local press. One piece caught the attention of St. Croix notables, who in 1772 sent the young Hamilton to preparatory school in New Jersey and then to Kings College, now Columbia University.”
“Hamilton wanted to command troops in the field and disliked Washington, whom he found crass and dull. Washington nonetheless kept the young savant on as part of “the family,” as the general called his staff.
Hamilton’s time in the Continental Army included wintering at Valley Forge. It was an object lesson in the dangers of political decentralization and economic underdevelopment.
The Continental Congress, operating under the loose Articles of Confederation, would levy taxes on the states; only a fraction of the resources would be delivered, but Congress had little power to compel payment. As a result, soldiers died and went hungry, territory was lost, and the new nation gave signs of fragmenting when prominent leaders (including Jefferson) deserted Congress and Washington’s army for their respective state governments and militias.
All this shaped Hamilton’s politics. He saw his adopted nation as being in a similar position to himself — in search of strength, but profoundly weak — and he had a firm grasp on economic realities. Because Jefferson had slaves and a plantation, he could maintain the illusion of independence and write fetishistic paeans to the yeoman farmer while enjoying the luxury to which he had become accustomed. Hamilton operated with an acute sense of his own vulnerability. He depended on patrons throughout his career; he appreciated structures of power for what they were, and what they made possible, and developed the ability to adapt and graft himself on to them. Even his attraction to artillery (the mechanization of war) seems like a comment on the utility of power.
At the war’s end, Hamilton resigned his commission and studied law. Meanwhile, the country’s economy was in shambles. Officers and farmers were growing restive. Parts of the backcountry of North Carolina declared themselves an independent state, and a similar attempt at secession was made in Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley. By 1786-87, class tensions in western Massachusetts had boiled over in the form of Shays’ Rebellion: Armed and indebted farmers marched on the state government and were violently crushed by the militia.
In moments of despair, Hamilton predicted a future of interstate warfare and re- colonization.“A man must be far gone in Utopian speculations,” Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 6,
who can seriously doubt, that if these States should either be wholly disunited, or only united in partial confederacies, the subdivisions into which they might be thrown would have frequent and violent contests with each other. To presume a want of motives for such contests, as an argument against their existence, would be to forget that men are ambitious, vindictive and rapacious.
Hamilton knew that economic recovery was the key to peace. In the same Federalist paper, he wrote:“If SHAYS had not been a desperate debtor it is much to be doubted whether Massachusetts would have been plunged into a civil war.” To prevent national disintegration and push the economy back into action, Hamilton sought to control the centrifugal forces of “faction” — a term which referred to both class and
geographic conflict. He labored hard to draft and ratify a new Constitution and create a strong central government.
Recall the Supremacy Clause: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States… shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” In other words, federal law always trumps state and local laws.
In Federalist 11, Hamilton laid out the economic logic of a strong central state in terms of a defense against European imperialism:
If we continue united, we may counteract a policy so unfriendly to our prosperity in a variety of ways. By [creating] prohibitory regulations, extending, at the same time, throughout the States, we may oblige foreign countries to bid against each other, for the privileges of our markets.
Here, Hamilton is outlining the central mechanism of economic nationalism: the state creates economic conditions; it does not merely react to them. Before the Revolution, Britain’s mercantilist policies sought to maintain captive markets and thereby enforced under-development on its American colonies. Britain had banned export to America “of any tools that might assist in manufacture of cotton, linen, wool, and silk.” None of that changed with independence. And Britain was soon harassing American trade, stopping and searching ships at sea, seizing American sailors as alleged deserters.”
For Hamilton, the crucial components of real independence were industrialization led by a strong federal government, combined with a permanent military that could serve both political and economic functions — defending the new nation while driving and absorbing the output of a new manufacturing sector. (It was, in effect, military Keynesianism before the fact.)
After ratification of the Constitution in 1790, Hamilton was recruited by the Washington administration to be the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury. In this capacity, he issued a series of detailed economic reports to Congress outlining a program for the development of the US economy that rested on three core policies: federal assumption of state debts, creation of a national bank, and direct government support for domestic manufacturing.
The linchpin of his economic proposal was a system of public credit and a national money system with a government supported Bank of the United States at its center. “Public utility,” wrote Hamilton, “is more truly the object of public banks than private profit.” In 1790, three new bond issues backed by the Federal Government replaced the miscellany of various state and federal bonds that had structured the new nation’s debt. Early the following year, Congress chartered the Bank of the United States for twenty years. With that, the first two pieces of his system were in place.
But in all this, Hamilton faced the opposition of Jefferson and the Southern planter class. Comparative economic history shows that semi-feudal agricultural elites, like Jefferson’s Virginia squirearchy, hold back political and economic development. To paraphrase Perry Anderson, semi-feudal elites extract economic surplus from the immediate producers by customary forms of extra-economic violence and coercion; they do so by demanding labor services, deliveries in kind, or rents in cash, and preside over areas where free commodity exchange and labor mobility are relatively rare. They prefer stasis to change.
For Jefferson, this was expressed in his romantic praise of rural life: “Corruption of morals in the mass of cultivators is a phenomenon of which no age nor nation has furnished an example.” He condemned manufacturing as morally and politically corrosive:
While we have land to labor then, let us never wish to see our citizens occupied at a work bench… let our work shops remain in Europe. It is better to carry provisions and materials to workmen there, than bring them to the provisions and materials, and with them their manners and principles … The mobs of great cities add just so much to the support of pure government as sores do to the strength of the human body.
Put differently, Jefferson feared the proletariat.
For Hamilton, conversely, national survival depended on industrialization. He pushed Congress to foster domestic manufacturing with a program known as “the American School” that had four central policies: 1) tariffs on imports; 2) direct subsidies, or “bounties,” for domestic manufacturers; 3) a partially public-owned national bank; 4) broad public investments in infrastructure, or “internal improvements,” like roads, canals, and ports.
“Next, The Report addressed the laissez-faire line associated with Adam Smith. “Industry, if left to itself, will naturally find its way to the most useful and profitable employment, ” wrote Hamilton in a summary of this then-new doctrine; “whence it is inferred, that manufactures without the aid of government will grow up as soon and as fast, as the natural state of things and the interest of the community may require.”
He countered this with demands for protectionist policy, couched in arguments about what we would now call “uneven development”: “To maintain between the recent [industrial] establishments of one country and the long matured establishments of another country, a competition upon equal terms, both as to quality and price, is in most cases impracticable.” ”
To level the playing field, the weaker economy had to rely on “the extraordinary aid and protection of government.” And he pointed out that other governments aided
their manufacturing sectors — the doctrines of British political economy notwithstanding.
Perhaps his most contemporary sounding defenses of an activist government had to do with failure and innovation. Hamilton argued that “it is of importance that the confidence of cautious sagacious capitalists both citizens and foreigners, should be excited,” and their fear of risk allayed by “a degree of countenance and support from government” so they might “be capable of overcoming the obstacles inseperable from first experiments.”
Deeper in The Report, Hamilton made a number of detailed policy recommendations. They included higher import duties on some finished products (and even, if necessary, the outright prohibition of some imports); lowering or removing duties and taxes on key raw materials; subsidies paid to whole sectors of industry; government-paid premiums for specific firms that excel at innovation and production; government assistance for the immigration of skilled workers; an almost patent–like style of artificial monopoly for the inventors and importers of new technology; the creation of national regulations for, and the regular inspection of, manufactured goods so as to improve quality; government facilitation of a single national money system; and public investment in roads and canals.
Pretty much all of this was achieved, despite Southern opposition — and it remains the basis for the growth of American capitalism.”
“If the private sector could not consume enough to drive rapid industrialization, the public sector would. Since few export markets could absorb American manufactured goods, military procurement would created an artificial internal market for them. America’s nascent manufacturing sector relied heavily on military consumption —
products associated with shipbuilding, weapons, munitions, uniforms, and food rations. This socialized demand would drive private sector accumulation, investment, wages, and thus consumption.
Hamilton drew up the blueprints for a planned economy — a capitalist economy, to be sure, but one that would be guided by a long-range sense of the country’s problems and potentials. And that was just what worried the reactionaries of his day. The line of development that Hamilton envisioned spelled the doom of a political economy based on slavery.
One of the few who was honest about this was North Carolina’s Nathaniel Macon, who a decade after Hamilton’s death, explained to a confused, young, canal-loving Southern politician: “If Congress can make canals, they can with more propriety emancipate.” “”
Only with war and the secession of southern states did the Hamiltonian-inspired agenda make real headway with passage of the Homestead Act, opening western
lands to small farmers, and the Railroad Acts which, at government expense, set off construction of the transcontinental railroad.
“This American dirigiste model has had a major impact on global history. As the South Korean economist Ha-Joon Chang has pointed out, every successful case of industrialization has used some version of the Hamiltonian model. A line runs directly from it to the postwar rise of the developmental states of East Asia. During Henry Clay’s heyday as John Quincy Adams’s Secretary of State, the German political economist Fredrich List — who would formulate the developmentalist theory of “infant industry” protection — moved to Pennsylvania where he soaked up the statist ideas of Hamilton and Clay.
Now Clay’s “American System” morphed into List’s more detailed “National System.” When he finally returned to Germany in the 1830s, List and others associated with the German “Historical School” of Economics rejected Adam Smith’s fixation on the individual as a category of analysis; they held that economies were based on nations and states.
In place of classical political economy’s “general laws,” the Historical School sought a theory based on national and historical specificity. (At the level of applied policy, this meant pushing for government support for railway construction and industrialization.) Their ideas were studied closely in Meiji Japan, where a state-led project of land reform and industrialization began in the early 1870s. The other classic dirigiste economies of East Asian — Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and now China — have also relied heavily on List and the German Historical School.
“In most of the world, the real story of capitalism is not the story of laissez-faire — a doctrine the strong impose upon the weak — nor a quaint story about egalitarian local economies, but the story of the state presiding over a mixed economy. Hamiltonian developmentalism — the unnamed ideology — is amoral, pragmatic, instrumentalist, and flexible.”
“Like Hamilton, we face a profound crisis rooted in an economy that demands to be remade. The old redistributive agenda is not enough. Due to its dependence on the environmental curse of fossil fuels, the economy must also be significantly rebuilt around a clean energy sector. And history is very clear on the implications: In capitalist society, moments of crisis and transformation have always involved an increased economic role for the state. We are entering one of those periods.”
As the waters rise and the storms grow more intense, the state and the public sector will be called forth. What the state can or will become as it “returns” is an open question — or rather, open to being reshaped by pressure from social movements.
Unfortunately, American society is very far from facing the crisis. And a huge part of the problem is the Jeffersonian notion that “the government that governs best is the
one that governs least.” While that is true as regards individual liberty, it is absolutely dangerous to think that way as regards the economy.”
Somewhere in Between: Alexander Hamilton and Slavery – EarlyAmerica.com
“One of Alexander Hamilton’s main goals in life was to rise to a higher position in society. His humble birth meant that he would not only have to work hard but that he would have to befriend the right people — the wealthy and influential. During the eighteenth century, a large number of upper-class Americans held slaves. When Hamilton had to make a choice between his social ambitions and his desire to free slaves, he opted to follow his ambitions.”
“Hamilton was not an advocate of slavery, but when the issue of slavery came into conflict with his personal ambitions, his belief in property rights, or his belief of what would promote America’s interests, Hamilton chose those goals over opposing slavery.”
“Hamilton’s impoverished childhood motivated him to spend his whole life trying to improve his position in society. If Hamilton hated the slave system in the West Indies, it might have been because he was not a part of it. He grew up surrounded by wealthy white families, while his remained impoverished. After his father deserted the family, Hamilton’s mother supported Alexander, his brother, and herself. She died when he was a teenager leaving him to fend for himself. Within a year, he secured a job as a clerk for a local merchant, but Hamilton hated the lowly position. He wrote to his childhood friend, Edward Stevens, in 1769, expressing his desire for a war so that he could rise above his station”
“Hamilton was motivated by practical terms more so than any ideology that espoused the equality of the races. That is not to say that Hamilton viewed the races as innately unequal, but that it did not dictate Hamilton’s positions on policy”
“Although the anti-slavery society in Pennsylvania explicitly pushed for the abolition of slavery, the anti-slavery society Hamilton belonged to advocated the manumission of slaves. The Society said that people should free their slaves, not that they should have to free their slaves. Hamilton supported the freeing of slaves, but only if it did not interfere with the protection of property rights.”
“Hamilton thought property rights should affect representation, which is one reason why he supported the three-fifths clause in the Constitution.”
“Hamilton feared the lower classes and as a result he supported giving them less say in the government. Hamilton believed the wealthy had more virtues, while the poor more vices; “Their [the elites’] vices are probably more favorable to the prosperity of the state, than those of the indigent; and partake less of moral depravity.”
“According to Hamilton, people with a substantial amount of property would provide stability.”
“He maintained that the Southern States were an “advantage” to the North by pointing out that the Southern States possessed tobacco, rice, and indigo, “which must be capital objects in treaties of commerce with foreign nations.” The New York Evening Post, founded by Hamilton, contained advertisements for goods produced by slaves. The advertisements in a New York paper further illuminate the interconnection between the North’s and South’s economy. Hamilton’s position shows that he favored trade and that the North needed the South to maintain profits. He chose national economic power over taking a stand against slavery.”
“Hamilton worried that an uprising like the one in Saint Dominique would occur in the U.S. if the strength of the government was compromised. Hamilton thought that in a war with France blacks would join the side of the French. He wanted to avoid war with France, but if war was unavoidable, then certain measures should be taken including raising “additional Artillery and Two thousand additional cavalry” to put down “the insurrection of the Southern Negroes….”
“While he maintained ideas about the natural equality of blacks and whites, his actions did not coincide with his ideas. He supported the property rights of slaveholders, which he did to benefit himself or America economically. When he went against individual property rights, it was to secure the reputation of his country or to avoid war, which Hamilton viewed as a hindrance to trade. Besides his beliefs on the right to property and his desire for American prosperity, Hamilton maintained social ambitions. Hamilton chose secure relationships to benefit his station rather than taking a strong stance against slavery. If Hamilton had not secured these relationships, it is doubtful whether he could have accomplished as much as he did. While not a plantation owner, nor an abolitionist, Hamilton attempted to stay on good terms with people who were either one or the other. His goal was to help create a prosperous and powerful America.”
Slavery and Capitalism by Sven Beckert – The Chronicle of Higher Education
“Much of the recent work confirms that 1868 observation, taking us outside the major slaveholding areas themselves and insisting on the national importance of slavery, all the way up to its abolition in 1865. In these accounts, slavery was just as present in the counting houses of Lower Manhattan, the spinning mills of New England, and the workshops of budding manufacturers in the Blackstone Valley in Massachusetts and Rhode Island as on the plantations in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta. The slave economy of the Southern states had ripple effects throughout the entire economy, not just shaping but dominating it.
Merchants in New York City, Boston, and elsewhere, like the Browns in cotton and the Taylors in sugar, organized the trade of slave-grown agricultural commodities, accumulating vast riches in the process. Sometimes the connections to slavery were indirect, but not always: By the 1840s, James Brown was sitting in his counting house in Lower Manhattan hiring overseers for the slave plantations that his defaulting creditors had left to him. Since planters needed ever more funds to invest in land and labor, they drew on global capital markets; without access to the resources of New York and London, the expansion of slave agriculture in the American South would have been all but impossible.
The profits accumulated through slave labor had a lasting impact. Both the Browns and the Taylors eventually moved out of commodities and into banking. The Browns created an institution that partially survives to this day as Brown Brothers, Harriman & Co., while Moses Taylor took charge of the precursor of Citibank. Some of the 19th century’s most important financiers—including the Barings and Rothschilds—were deeply involved in the “Southern trade,” and the profits they accumulated were eventually reinvested in other sectors of the global economy. As a group of freedmen in Virginia observed in 1867, “our wives, our children, our husbands, have been sold over and over again to purchase the lands we now locate upon. … And then didn’t we clear the land, and raise the crops of corn, of tobacco, of rice, of sugar, of every thing. And then didn’t the large cities in the North grow up on the cotton and the sugars and the rice that we made?” Slavery, they understood, was inscribed into the very fabric of the American economy.
Southern slavery was important to American capitalism in other ways as well. As management scholars and historians have discovered in recent years, innovations in tabulating the cost and productivity of labor derived from the world of plantations. They were unusual work sites in that owners enjoyed nearly complete control over their workers and were thus able to reinvent the labor process and the accounting for it—a power that no manufacturer enjoyed in the mid-19th century.
As Caitlin Rosenthal has shown, slave labor allowed the enslavers to experiment in novel ways with labor control. Edward E. Baptist, who has studied in great detail the work practices on plantations and emphasized their modernity in The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of Modern Capitalism (Basic Books), has gone so far as to argue that as new methods of labor management entered the repertoire of plantation owners, torture became widely accepted. Slave plantations, not railroads, were in fact America’s first “big business.” ”
“Craig Steven Wilder has shown in Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities (Bloomsbury, 2013) how Brown and Harvard Universities, among others, drew donations from merchants involved in the slave trade, had cotton manufacturers on their boards, trained generations of Southern elites who returned home to a life of violent mastery, and played central roles in creating the ideological underpinnings of slavery.”
“Innovations in long-distance trade, the investment of capital over long distances, and the institutions in which this new form of capitalist globalization were embedded all derived from a global trade dominated by slave labor and colonial expansion.”
“When we marshal big arguments about the West’s superior economic performance, and build these arguments upon an account of the West’s allegedly superior institutions like private-property rights, lean government, and the rule of law, we need to remember that the world Westerners forged was equally characterized by exactly the opposite: vast confiscation of land and labor, huge state intervention in the form of colonialism, and the rule of violence and coercion. And we also need to qualify the fairy tale we like to tell about capitalism and free labor. Global capitalism is characterized by a whole variety of labor regimes, one of which, a crucial one, was slavery.
During its heyday, however, slavery was seen as essential to the economy of the Western world. No wonder The Economist worried in September 1861, when Union General John C. Frémont emancipated slaves in Missouri, that such a “fearful measure” might spread to other slaveholding states, “inflict[ing] utter ruin and universal desolation on those fertile territories”—and on the merchants of Boston and New York, “whose prosperity … has always been derived” to a large extent from those territories. Slavery did not die because it was unproductive or unprofitable, as some earlier historians have argued. Slavery was not some feudal remnant on the way to extinction. It died because of violent struggle, because enslaved workers continually challenged the people who held them in bondage—nowhere more successfully than in the 1790s in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti, site of the first free nation of color in the New World), and because a courageous group of abolitionists struggled against some of the dominant economic interests of “their time.”
“After the Civil War, a new kind of capitalism arose, in the United States and elsewhere. Yet that new capitalism—characterized first and foremost by states with unprecedented bureaucratic, infrastructural, and military capacities, and by wage labor—had been enabled by the profits, institutions, networks, technologies, and innovations that emerged from slavery, colonialism, and land expropriation.”
“But what we do know the histories of slavery and of capitalism look very different if we understand them in relation to each other. The next time we walk the streets of Lower Manhattan or the grounds of Harvard University, we should think at least in passing of the millions of enslaved workers who helped make some of that grandeur possible, and to the ways that slavery’s legacy persists today.”
Alexander Hamilton, Central Banking – Wikipedia, Investopedia
“In 1791, former Morris aide and chief advocate for Northern mercantile interests, Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, accepted a compromise with Southern lawmakers to ensure the continuation of Morris’s Bank project; in exchange for support by the South for a national bank, Hamilton agreed to ensure sufficient support to have the national or federal capitol moved from its temporary Northern location, New York, to a Southern location on the Potomac. As a result, the First Bank of the United States (1791–1811) was chartered by Congress within the year and signed by George Washington soon after. The First Bank of the United States was modeled after the Bank of England and differed in many ways from today’s central banks. For example, it was partly owned by foreigners, who shared in its profits. Also, it was not solely responsible for the country’s supply of bank notes. It was responsible for only 20% of the currency supply; state banks accounted for the rest. Several founding fathers bitterly opposed the Bank. Thomas Jefferson saw it as an engine for speculation, financial manipulation, and corruption. In 1811 its twenty-year charter expired and was not renewed by Congress. Absent the federally chartered bank, the next several years witnessed a proliferation of federally issued Treasury Notes to create credit as the government struggled to finance the War of 1812; a suspension of specie payment by most banks soon followed. as well.”
Criminalising the American company: A Mammoth Guilt Trip – The Economist
“The bigger question about such fines is what they are meant to achieve. David Uhlmann, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, argues that allowing companies involved in lethal activities to settle their claims with prosecutors, instead of having the harm they have done made evident through an unequivocal criminal conviction, amounts to a moral and practical failure.”
“So how does a legal process without an open trial operate? The kind answer is “mysteriously”; a harsher one might be “coercively”. A highly influential $1.4 billion deal in 2003 involving Eliot Spitzer, then New York’s attorney-general, and Wall Street banks over equity research was justified by arguing that it would restore integrity to financial markets. But the terms of the agreement, if any, and the reasoning behind the size of the fine were never made clear. At the time many people thought the main point of it was the shock value of a large number.
In 2009 a New York court criticised the way the proceeds of that fine were handled, painting a picture of gross mismanagement. The disarray stemmed from the lack of a coherent plan to compensate defrauded investors. In a forthcoming article in the Stanford Law Review Urska Velikonja, a professor at Emory University, argues that this reflects the failure to identify specific misconduct when setting up the deal.
In private, many companies contend that despite this debacle, the Spitzer standard—a requirement for a big fine with a tenuous economic rationale, along with murky additional requirements—remains in force. When a case is settled, the supporting documents often fail to provide information on the method used for determining the penalties.
The one bright spot, writes Ms Velikonja, is at the SEC, which in 2002 was given the right to distribute the money raised by fines. It has become steadily more adept at collecting money and distributing it to individuals who were harmed. But the system breaks down when the recipient is not a specific individual—which prosecutors claim is frequently the case.”
“Yet even if the agreement is public, the results are rarely, if ever, disclosed. In 2010 a reporter working for two trade publications, Corporate Counsel and American Lawyer, filed a suit against American International Group, a failed insurance behemoth, to see reports drawn up by a monitor appointed in 2004 to oversee the company, following a consent decree over a fraud accusation. Those reports might have provided an insight into the company’s collapse during the financial crisis, the role of the government in its management and the process of rehabilitation that
followed. An appeals court in Washington, DC, rejected the petition in 2013, arguing that the “reports are not judicial records.” ”
“If there is any consensus about the developments described in this briefing, it is that nobody is happy. In January this year two senators, Elizabeth Warren and Tom Coburn, proposed a “Truth in Settlements Act”, which would require fuller disclosure about settlement terms. In February Better Markets, an advocacy organisation that claims to promote transparency and accountability in financial markets, filed a suit in a federal court in Washington, DC, asking the Justice Department to explain the reasoning behind a $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase in 2013, one of many in which it is involved. Better Markets and Ms Warren both revel in bashing banks. But many bankers say they actually support these measures, which they hope would expose double standards for crime and the intellectual sloppiness of a populist regulatory system championed by politicians like Ms Warren.
One big virtue of more openness would be to bring more clarity to the current legal sprawl. The endless, unfathomable quantity of rules undermines the “moral force and moral legitimacy” of the system because enforcement cannot be comprehensive and thus becomes discretionary, said George Terwilliger, a former deputy attorney- general, in testimony before Congress in June 2013.”
“And if the goal is to redress harm and create disincentives for bad behaviour, a better understanding of how to apply justice is needed. Research by John Armour, Colin Mayer and Andrea Polo at Oxford University’s law faculty and the Saïd Business School, and Jonathan Karpoff at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, shows that when a corporate action harms investors (for example through fake accounting) or customers (for example through shoddy products), the company’s share price drops far in excess of a fine. This indicates that the underlying value of the business has been damaged, pushing up the cost of attracting capital and generating sales. A reasonable conclusion would be that in this sort of case there is little reason for the company to pay a large fine: the market imposes a larger penalty in any event.
In contrast, if the harm is being done to outsiders—for example, through bad environmental practices—the decline in the company’s share price after the wrongdoing is announced is generally limited to the size of the fine. The authors conclude that in such cases the company itself should be held accountable.
In another era this sort of research might have been of purely academic interest; but now it is needed to create a more reasonable, disinterested, cohesive and transparent system. The recent flood of actions against companies has damaged the reputation of many private entities, but it has also done serious harm to America’s legal system and the rule of law.
Buttonwood: All it Needs is Love – The Economist
“A system that privatises profits and nationalises losses is impossible to justify.”
Joint Economic Committee – Income Inequality in America – Long Term Unemployment in United States http://www.jec.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/04a5e372-05d5-4f06-a95e- ede43027c6cd/inequality-report—01-16-2014.pdf
“Rising income inequality has contributed to lower economic mobility: 43 percent of Americans raised in the bottom income quintile remain there as adults, while 40 percent of those raised in the top quintile maintain that status. Economic mobility in the United States is lower than in most other advanced economies.”
“From 1993 to 2012, the top one percent of earners saw real income growth of 86.1 percent, while the bottom 99 percent saw growth of
only 6.6 percent. The top 10 percent of workers in America now earn
more than half of total income.”
“Children of very low-income or very high-income parents are particularly likely to end up with a similar economic status as their parents. Forty-three percent of Americans raised in the bottom income quintile remain there as adults, while 40 percent of those raised in the top quintile maintain that status.”
“Poverty among children is particularly worrisome because research indicates that growing up in poverty affects long-term cognitive development and lifetime earnings potential. Children living in poverty are 1.3 times more likely to experience learning disabilities and developmental delays, and children living in long-term poverty are more likely to have behavioral problems. African Americans and Hispanics are also more likely to live in poverty than the population as a whole. While the overall poverty rate in 2012 was 15.0 percent, the poverty rate was 27.2 percent for African Americans and 25.6 percent for Hispanics. Inability to work affects the likelihood of falling into poverty. Over 28 percent of those with a disability were livingin poverty in 2012.”
Refugees: Europe’s boat people – The Economist
Taming the Beast – The Economist
Audio Kusini – Kazi Kwa Vijana
(lyrics translation, Sheng – English @ HipHopKambi blog)
Blind Willie Johnson – Dark Was the Night, Cold Was The Ground
Lucky Dube – Prisoner
Qama, Kuru GB, Mobby Prime, Kuru GB & Shakim Shallah – Shilingi
Kevlexicon – Had Time
432 Park Ave Luxury Apartment New York City
Shupav – Judge Black Duo & Washamba Wenza
Audio Kusini – Asali
Jeezy – Holy Ghost
Kitu Sewer and Kama ( Ukoo Flani Mau Mau 2008 ) – Angalia Saa
(lyrics translation, Sheng – English @ HipHopKambi blog)
Smallz Lethal ( Washamba Wenza ) ft. Kimya – Common Mwananchi
Vice News: Bangladeshi Gang Rape
Vice on HBO Debrief: Children of the Drones
Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
https://www.amazon.com/Decolonising-Mind-Politics-Language- Literature/dp/0852555016/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474173227&sr= 1-1&keywords=ngugi+wa+thiongo+decolonising
Mau Mau & Nationhood – E.S. Atieno Odhiambo, John Lonsdale
The Economist ( periodical, u nerd )
Black Skin, White Masks – Frantz Fanon
A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn
Magical Urbanism – Latinos Reinvent the U.S. City – Mike Davis
The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and The San Domingo Revolution – C.L.R. James
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