The Wells Fargo shareholders’ meeting in San Francisco was the site of a demonstration this week, with hundreds of activists calling out issues of executive pay, tax rates and foreclosure policies. But the protest was significant for another reason: it was the debut of “99% Power,” a nascent coalition of various local and national groups hoping to inspire a nation into political action. How does this new group differ from the Occupy movement?

Kevin Fagan, reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle
Rebecca Tarbotton, executive director of the Rainforest Action Network and one of the leading national spokespeople for 99% Power
Maria Poblet, executive director of Just Cause, a Bay Area organization focusing on economic justice issues
Joseph Grundfest, former commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, senior faculty member at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance and Franke professor of law and business at Stanford Law School
Father Richard Smith, reverend at The Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist located in San Francisco's Mission District

  • The first step to solving the banking crisis is to have every state form a state bank, like you see in North Dakota, that will deliberately compete with the criminally-inclined, for-profit banks who have shirked their duty to serve society without malevolence. The big banks have always had serious criminal intentions, going back to when they were caught in 1933 literally planning to overthrow FDR and replace him with a fascist leader, and even further to when they formed the Federal Reserve in 1913 as a private cartel to serve bankers’ interests by controlling our money supply.

    “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” – Thomas Jefferson
    Watch Bill Still’s documentary on the greenback and metals:

    Watch the Creature from Jekyll Island, about the formation of the Fed:

    Bankers’ mischief in Greece:

  • Kate from San Francisco

    Why is this reporter the person who is speaking for the movement and what is happening in the movement?  Why is someone from Occupy not represented on your program?  This differentiation between Occupy and the 99% movement is false and divisive.  I say this as someone who has been involved in Occupy since last fall and as someone who hosted a 99% Spring training.  I’m disappointed by this coverage.  

  • Chrisco

    Grundfest just gave laughably bad advice to the protesters. “Go home because you are offending some” seems to be the answer. And “Put on suits and ties and help them make more money.” Yeesh.

    • Chrisco

      Although he is right to some extent that shareholders are largely acting on their economic interest so he is promoting appealing to that. It seems they have to get the majority of shareholders to vote on issues other than mere dollars, but on values like environmental sustainability and economic fairness.

  • Sam

    When Joseph Grundfest argues for the institution-friendly solutions which don’t offend corporate leaders and major shareholders, he ignores the obvious fact which is that these protests are against the *institution itself*. This is about more than just CEO pay, this is about hundreds of thousands of people losing their homes after the banks received billions of dollars. This is about class struggle.

    • Sam

       I should have said the banks received hundreds of billions of dollars. The significance of the phrase “99%” is that this is a struggle between those who are suffering serious social consequences from the financial crisis and the “1%”, or those who control the levers of economic power.

  • ujch

    Mr. Grundfest provided limited evidence for his conclusions that (1) the influence of community groups is limited (no causation between their activities and recent board decisions) and (2) the main, if not only, consideration for shareholders and board members is economic. A sense of accountability to othes, and even sense of shame, are well known to drive human behavior and decision making, something he seems to dismiss all too easily. What is most concerning, though, is that his affiliations, past and present, gives one pause when weighing the veracity of his opinions. As the other speakers correctly point out, government officials (elected and non-elected) are heavily influenced by corporate sponsors. He now is employed by an academic institution that also benefits greatly from its affiliations with large corporations, either through direct funding or indirectly through government-sponsored programs.

    I applaud KQED and this program in particular for providing a vehicle to hear the voices for those others (Occupy, 99%ters, and many more) who rarely are heard.   

  • Stephanie

    The former SEC commissioner has focused on the instutional investors’ desire for economic success of the corporations. Yet as we know, corporations can manipulate their numbers by capturing regulatory agencies like the SEC, offshoring labor and sponsoring laws that tax them.

    The “bottom line” argument is a construct that ignores the ability of the companies to game their own system.

  • Elizabeth

    My name is Elizabeth. I am a native of Berkeley and have for the last 52 years, worked as a social change activist in Vancouver, New York City and Berkeley.  Thank you Michael, for again covering the  activities of OWS and other like minded grassroots activists.  I could not help but respond to the statements of the professor of business and law from Stanford University. He speaks of his findings and his research, leading by 20 years, the on the ground work of the current Occupy and other movements.  He talks of giving credit to one organization over another.  In my many years of working with on the street activists and their more “eriudite” accademic observers, I find that the accademic tradition of taking credit for philosophy and language and intent is endemic….and extreemly devisive.  When I talk to friends outside of Occupy, they ask me….who is in charge? I tell them that the power of these current movements is their decentralized nature built of cooperation and diversity of opinions and actions.  Giving credit to one individual or group over another is not productive.  We are a community of activists and that is our power. Thanks again for a great show.

  • Judith

    perhaps the 1 % should look at history. the french revolution, the russian revolution and even our own. When too many of the have nots have nothing and then teh numbers swell there is less resistance in the hearts and minds of those who have nothing to refrain from striking out.  The 99 are not yet ready for mayhem.  We need to look at our values and adjust the want to the need.

  • Liza Loop

    Grundfest indirectly suggested an important tactic for the 99% movement. Apply pressure on the large institutional investors. He has accurately analyzed that they are a controlling link in the governance of corporations. What he didn’t note is that these large investors are the insurance companies, pension plans and mutual funds that many of the 99% do business with. We are not simply facing a concentration of money. There is also a concentration of corporate voting power resulting from a string of ownership of corporate share that separates people from the power to manage our organizations.

  • Joe

    Which corporations actually pay the entirety of this “highest corporate tax rate in the world”?  

  • Chrisco

    It is funny the caller Eric says, “The 1% lost a lot of money in the stock market crash and no one was there to help them” or words to that effect. Well, of course no one should have been there to help them. But did he ever hear of the bailout!!! We were there to help them! How can someone forget the bailout?

  • Liza Loop

    Where do we want to go? We want two things: 1. Broader distribution of the profits that our capitalist system has generated and 2. activation of the ethical and moral sensitivities of the economic leadership of our country.

    • Joe

      Neither will ever happen.  The population is too distracted by American Idol, baseball, etc.  People (in general) are happy being ignorant, and the result is their continued exploitation.  

  • Jlfporta

    Please don’t block the 99% by blocking the Golden Gate…

  • Laura

    We must start by getting big money out of politics. Them move on from there.

  • victoria s.

    There is no doubt that the Occupy movement is grassroots–it is made up of the good, bad and the ugly, which is indicative of the how the system is not working for everyone. So, yes, it is going to get ugly, because to be fair, it is UGLY. The only thing that the 1% can understand is when it messes with their wallets!!! Is not the 1% policies setup deliberately to drain the working folk’ wallets? Enough!

  • Chemist150

    Why do you constantly interview and promote left wingers?  These people seem to have no concept that business work internationally and workers are local.  When all the money is bleeding out of the country via the trade and budget deficits.  The money simply is not here.  Crying to overpaid CEOs is asking for a bandaid when your head is in a guillotine.

    When you interview right wing people, it seems that you pick the nuttiest uneducated person you can find.  How about some even handedness here and finally interview some intelligent conservatives.  J.D. Foster, PhD of the Heritage institute comes to mind.

    • Daniel Danielson106

      Sorry, but you do not seem to know what you are talking about. Or you are lying. The money is not here? Really? Do corporations sell all their goods and services in China and Malaysia? I do not think so. They will have to soon, if it goes like that any further; there will be no one here to buy … just 1%.

      You got the first part right: they earn the money “internationally” by playing the huge difference in the standard of living here and in Asia/Latin America. However, they still sell their stuff HERE. That is why the super-profits. That has to be fixed through protectionist taxation. The money is not here in the sense their headquarters are on Caymans. Thank you free market and our legislation that allows the corporations to rob their country.

      As far as the nuttiest on the right. who’s fault if that? Should not have so many nutty right.

      • Chemist150

        You do understand how much money is leaving this country through the budget deficit and trade deficit?  The money is leaving in large ammounts.  China can buy two fighter jets per week on what they make off the bonds they bought from the US that we realize as debt.

      • Chemist150

        You also realize that the money leaving this country could be paying american workers if the money was staying here, yeah?   

        The total debt does in fact exceed 100% GDP, not the 57% that the Dems like to quote (federal debt) neglecting to include what they borrowed from the Social Security and Medicare. Our GDP dropped 1% the month it went over 90% just like the Reinhart / Roghoff study.  It remains depressed.

        What’s going to happen when our econonmy is driven lower and China is unable to keep the current exchange?  The money is going to start flooding back in drove and with interest rates so low, the US will have to raise the rates out the roof to curb inflation but I question how well.  We are likely to see inflation hit 8+% making the poor even poorer and the rich even richer.  Continuing on our path as is will lead to a poor outcome.

    • Joe

      I think the biggest disgust stems from rewarding CEOs for running businesses that fail as well as collecting bailout money supplied by Joe Taxpayer.  Is this somehow unreasonable?  

      Capitalism is supposed to weed out the bad businesses (and bad CEOs) but they are artificially put on life support.  Who decided which businesses (and CEOs) get to live on and which get to die?  

      I’d call that selective capitalism.  That’s the real issue.  

      • Chemist150

        You’re asking this from a libertarian!  I don’t think a lot of people thought this was a great thing to happen.  A lot of conservatives hated the bailout. 

        The CEOs should have been fired and replaced but as the Politicians all say when it comes to budget cuts, “those revenues are small and don’t provide the substance we need”.

        The bailout was a bandaid to the larger problems at hand.  Just like fannie mae and freddie mac.  The banks would have never made those loans if the federal Guarentee was not there.  So they made the loans and sold the loans with the federal guarentee.  The federal regulation enabled the corrupt practice but failed to regulate itself and check in once and a while.  Instead, the government removed the possbility of the bank losing money over a bad loan and ended up paying for the failure.  We now businesses wil be crooked.  It can’t be absolutely prevented but don’t enable it. 

        As far as the income inequality and unemployment, that has everything to do with how much money is leaving this country.

  • Daniel Danielson106

    First, Eric, nice try. 99% movement has nothing to do with socialism.

    What it has to do is the game rigged by the 1% over thirty-some years. The point is: the rich accumulate immense wealth that allows them to pour money into elections and hiring lobbyists. Then, using that acquired power they rig the game further. All through the “democratic” institutions.
    Wealth fused with political power equals corruption.
    That is what the 99% are against.

    Second, the only problem in America is the campaign finance.
    Remove “The Citizens United”. Remove money form politics.
    Then we’ll use the democratic process and institutions to steer it back, so that economy would work for all who work, not just the 1%.

  • Javier Bonnemaison

    We don’t need more Market Fundamentalist prescriptions to behave and appeal to economic self-interest.  I think it is safe to say that there is ample evidence at this point to debunk this world view.  What we need is a truly representative democracy where money is not speech, corporations are not people, and human dignity is the ultimate societal value.  I believe this is what your activist guests are fighting for, and they are correct in raising public awareness about the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of our current economic and political order.  Positive change will not come from establishment politicians in either major party or fringe anti-government Republican insurgents.  A real solution can only begin to emerge when people across the political and economic spectrum rally in large numbers behind the banner of fairness, human dignity and sustainable growth.

  • Mtowers23

    I am really disappointed in both the Occupy and 99% movement’s preoccupation with trying to change the morality corporations.   Companies and CEOs have fiduciary responsiblity to their shareholders.  It is their legal obligation to maximize profits legally (not necessarily ethically).

     Advocate to change the law not the people.  Trying to affect corporate morality is tilting at windmills.  Organic and green food movements are progressing because they make business sense not because companies had epiphanies. 

    To be effective, these movements need to stop vilifying companies.  Rail against their lobbying influence, and their legal status as a person not that CEOs make too much money.   Corps can pay more but they will only pay as little as they legally are obliged to pay.  Advocate changing tax law.

     Corporate create jobs and generate corporate and personal tax revenue that pays for social services. 

    • lena mcfarland

       “It is their legal obligation to maximize profits legally (not necessarily ethically).’

      That right there is evidence of why the business culture needs reforming.

      Incidentally students in business are more likely to cheat than students in other disciplines.


      the data, 25 percent of business school students reported one or more
      incidents of cheating on exams, including cooperating during a test,
      copying directly from an unknowing peer or permitting a fellow student
      to copy from their exam.

      53 percent of business school students and 48 percent of students
      studying other academic fields reported written cheating including
      plagiarism from print or Internet sources.

      Why is this?

    • unroar

      The corporations have bought themselves lobbying and campaigning laws, such as Citizen United, to the point where government is totally responsive to them and has become an extension of the Chamber of Commerce. At this point working against corporations and government is almost the same thing.

  • Abc

    Bailouts: No company should be bailed out. How does bailing out some people now make it right? Two wrongs don’t make the situation right! 

    Taxation: Is the taxation the reason for the income equality? No. The main reason is employment arbitrage. Lot of manufacturing jobs got outsourced. These jobs used to be middle class jobs. So look elsewhere for the solution. It is not the taxation that causing income stagnation.

    Most of the people who show up at these 99% are not real 99%. They are 1% i.e. 1% losers of the population and want other peoples money for free. nothing less nothing more

  • Villageattab

    Someone on the show said that corporations pay the highest tax rate in the world.  That’s right till you add the latter clause of sentence:  the widest loopholes in the world.  If you want a great and strong Republic, make the government strong, not weak.  Only by paying taxes that will be possible.

  • sy2502

    Can anybody point out to something tangible and measurable the “Occupy” movement has actually accomplished? Other than the graffiti and garbage they left all over Oakland that is.

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