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Standing Up For Democracy: How Activists Are Fighting Injustice in America Today

Bill Moyers talks with activists about an initiative to open Americans' eyes about income inequality.

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That may sound like a lot. But that's 3.5 percent of the $700 billion that we are underwater as a country. So the president has power to help make this happen. He could lead the way on this. But we also have to push the big banks to pay fair share of taxes. And the biggest corporations in this country, particularly ones that crashed our economy, are not paying into the system.

BILL MOYERS: Here's some headlines that I brought to read to you. One, the Volcker Rule. That was the rule that traders can't speculate for their own personal gain using the money you and I pay in taxes.

That's part of Dodd-Frank. "The Volcker Rule, Made Bloated and Weak." That's "The New York Times." This one, "States negotiate $26 billion agreement for homeowners." But it's really going to benefit the lawyers who work for the banks. Not the homeowners. What do those headlines say to you?

GEORGE GOEHL: I think you can score more victories for the banks. And I think that what we've seen is they clearly have a stranglehold on our electoral system and our legislative process. And that if we want to shift our politics, we both have to make politicians who side with the big banks and the larger corporations pay a price for not siding with everyday people.

But we also have to engage directly with those corporate CEOs. You know, when I started organizing around banking issues, you could go down to a very important bank in the city of Chicago, and you could do a small demonstration. And probably get a meeting with the bank president.

Well, in 1990, there were 37 banks in this country that by 2009 were four banks. Now these CEOs hardly ever have to face the public. They certainly aren't touring poor neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago and other cities. And so the shareholder meeting is actually one place where we can go directly to them and engage them because they have to show up to that meeting. And we're not only going as protesters to be on the outside. We're actually going as shareholders go to on the inside.

BILL MOYERS: You bought a small--


BILL MOYERS: --number? What, maybe even one share? Something like that?

GEORGE GOEHL: Yeah. We've bought as many shares as you need to get into the meeting, we've bought.

BILL MOYERS: So what are you going to do when you get inside?

GEORGE GOEHL: Well, I'm-- interesting thing about the shareholder meeting is you do, as a shareholder, have a chance of getting the mic and directly engaging with the CEO. And last year, a woman of faith from central Illinois, Dawn Dannenbring Carlson was at the JPMorgan Chase shareholder meeting. And she said to Jamie Dimon like I believe in a,

BILL MOYERS: He's the CEO, right?

GEORGE GOEHL: He's the CEO. Yes. Of JPMorgan Chase. Said, "I believe in a compassionate, loving God who cares about people. Do you believe in such a God?" And he said, "That's a hard question to answer." But what we saw there was an opportunity for people that are customers at JPMorgan Chase who've been victimized by JPMorgan Chase actually engage the CEO in a real conversation, and put some heat on those folks.

We would like to challenge these CEOs to come out and see the neighborhoods and the communities that they've devastated. We've got blocks in Chicago that have ten bank-owned properties sitting foreclosed, barely boarded up in a neighborhood. That is a moral crisis. Like, if that happened in Jamie Dimon's neighborhood or in Brian Moynihan, the head of Bank of America's neighborhood. It'd be front-page news.

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