Nel's New Day

October 21, 2018

Why Atheism

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 7:45 PM
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Author Greta Christina has an excellent blog about questions that people ask of atheists.  Many people ask routine questions of minorities that reveal offensive assumptions or simple ignorance. They may not intend to be rude, but the inquiries may reflect a bigoted marginalization—or just bad manners. They may ask blacks if they can touch their hair or Latinx if they are in the U.S. legally. “Where do you come from” can be questions of other people of color. LGB people are asked, “How do you have sex?” and transgender people suffer even more abusive questions about biology.

Christina lists nine of these offensive questions to atheists—and provides answers.

1: “How can you be moral without believing in God?”

Answer: Atheists have the same compassion and sense of justice as Christians—or at least as Christians are characterized as having. As social animals, humans evolved with core moral values hardwired in the brain—fairness, loyalty, concern for others who are harmed. Christina asks the question of religious believers whether they would lose all sense of morality without a sense in a god. She points out that these same believers often reject some parts of their holy book while accepting other parts. How many Christians support the stoning of adulterers—for example, the man sitting in the Oval Office—or not planting different crops in the same field? God is not responsible for whether people are good. Take Pat Robertson, for example, who doesn’t mind that a U.S. reporter was killed in a Saudi embassy in Turkey and wants to sell arms to Saudi Arabia so that they can kill more people. Being moral is a fundamental part of being human; saying that it comes from fear of punishment and desire for reward insults religious believers.

2: “How do you have any meaning in your life?” Or, “Don’t you feel sad or hopeless?” Or even, “If you don’t believe in God or heaven, why don’t you just kill yourself?”

Answer: All people find joy and meaning in the same things—family, friendship, work, nature, art, learning, love, kittens, cookies. Religious believers just tack on “making my god or gods happy and getting a good deal in the afterlife.” A belief that life is finite gives it more meaning, not less, because every moment must matter.

3: “Doesn’t it take just as much/even more faith to be an atheist as it does to be a believer?”

Answer: No. Atheism is not “100% certainty that God does not exist, with no willingness to question and no room for doubt.” It means “being reasonably certain that there are no gods,” or, “having reached the provisional conclusion, based on the evidence we’ve seen and the arguments we’ve considered, that there are no gods.” The question makes the assumptions that atheists don’t bother to think about their beliefs and that people are unable to come to conclusions by evidence, reason, and thinking instead of the “faith” in believing what someone else says.

4: “Isn’t atheism just a religion?”

Answer: No. Unless a definition of “religious” is “any conclusion people come to about the world,” or, “any community organized around a shared idea.” A belief of religion that includes atheism will also include Amnesty International, the Audubon Society, heliocentrism, the acceptance of the theory of evolution, the Justin Bieber Fan Club, and the Democratic Party. Claiming atheism as a religion changes it to a “faith-based” belief, not one from rational thought.

5: “What’s the point of atheist groups? How can you have a community and a movement for something you don’t believe in?”

Answer: Back to humans being social animals. People enjoy time with others who share interests, values, and goals. Like LGBTQ people, atheists sometimes lose friend and family support, which causes the creation of other communities. Then religious believers sometimes accuse atheism as being just another religion. See #4 above.

6: “Why do you hate God?” Or, “Aren’t you just angry at God?”

Answer: People cannot be angry with something that they believe does not exist—like gods and Santa Claus. This question comes from an assumption that non-belief is insincere, an emotional trauma, and/or rebellion. It’s just non-belief by people who see the world differently from religious believers.

7: “But have you [read the Bible or some other holy book; heard about some supposed miracle; heard about a religious experience]?”

Answer: Most likely. Atheists tend to be better educated about religion and its tenets than most religious believers. Reading the Bible may have led atheists to a decision in non-belief. Religion is so pervasive that it’s impossible to ignore; religious privilege permeates the culture through the arts, economic and political life, the media—everywhere.

8: “What if you’re wrong?” Or, “Doesn’t it make logical sense to believe in God? If you believe and you’re wrong, nothing terrible happens, but if you don’t believe and you’re wrong, you could go to Hell!”

Answer: Or that if believers are wrong about Allah? Or Vishnu? Or Zeus? Or whether God is the wrathful jerk who hates gay people, or the loving god who hates homophobes? What if you’re wrong about whether God wants you to celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday? What if you’re wrong about whether God really does care about whether you eat bacon? As Homer Simpson put it, “What if we picked the wrong religion? Every week we’re just making God madder and madder!” Climate disasters bring out religious believers who blame anyone not supporting their personal religion. What if God isn’t personally managing nature to attack atheists, LGBTQ people, and other minorities? Religious believers who bet on their personal god or gods are betting against the thousands of other gods. Is that safe? The assumption behind this question also wants atheists to fake believe in a god against their personal intelligence and values to take on a convenient idea. Is that belief?

9: “Why are you atheists so angry?”

Answer: In Christina’s book Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, she writes that not all atheists are angry about religion—and those of us who are angry aren’t in a constant state of rage. She pointed out that some anger comes from the terrible harm being done by religion to both atheists and religious believers. The question assumes that atheists are “bitter, selfish, whiny, unhappy, because we lack joy and meaning in our lives, because we have a God-shaped hole in our hearts. The people asking it seem to have never even considered the possibility that atheists are angry because we have legitimate things to be angry about.” Christina continues:

“This reflexive dismissal of our anger’s legitimacy does two things. It treats atheists as flawed, broken, incomplete. And it defangs the power of our anger. (Or it tries to, anyway.) Anger is a hugely powerful motivating force—it has been a major motivating force for every social change movement in history—and when people try to dismiss or trivialize atheists’ anger, they are, essentially, trying to take that power away.

“And finally: The people asking this question never seem to notice just how much atheist anger is directed, not at harm done to atheists, but at harm done to believers. A huge amount of our anger about religion is aimed at the oppression and brutality and misery created by religion, not in the lives of atheists, but in the lives of believers. Our anger about religion comes from compassion, from a sense of justice, from a vivid awareness of terrible damage being done in the world and a driving motivation to do something about it. Atheists aren’t angry because there’s something wrong with us. Atheists are angry because there’s something right with us. And it is messed-up beyond recognition to treat one of our greatest strengths, one of our most powerful motivating forces and one of the clearest signs of our decency, as a sign that we’re flawed or broken.”

In a recent example of religious harms, the “prayer of the day” email that Tony Perkins, leader of the Family Research Council, sent to his millions of followers begs God to elect people who will harm LGBTQ children by trying to make them straight. He wants to reinstate “conversion therapy” that causes suicidal thoughts and psychologically damaging guilt from prayer and other quack rituals.

Christina adds other questions that people shouldn’t ask atheists:

  •  “How can you believe in nothing?”
  • “Doesn’t atheism take the mystery out of life?”
  • “Even though you don’t believe, shouldn’t you bring up your children with religion?”
  • “Can you prove there isn’t a god?”
  • “Did something terrible happen to you to turn you away from religion?”
  • “Are you just doing this to rebel?”
  • “Are you just doing this so you don’t have to obey God’s rules?”
  • “If you’re atheist, why do you celebrate Christmas/ say ‘Bless you’ when people sneeze/ spend money with ‘In God We Trust’ on it/ etc.?”
  • “Have you sincerely tried to believe?”
  • “Can’t you see God everywhere around you?”
  • “Do you worship Satan?”
  • “Isn’t atheism awfully arrogant?”
  • “Can you really not conceive of anything bigger than yourself?”
  • “Why do you care what other people believe?”

She—and I—urge people to research questions that reflect dehumanization and religious privilege. And people should do the same to avoid bigotry and a sense of superiority when asking questions of other minorities.

Factoid: Ten percent of people in the United States don’t believe in God—that’s ten times as many as in 1944.

August 5, 2018

Religion: Violence, Killing

Pope Francis has changed Catholic Church teaching to fully reject the death penalty, but Texas allows the bible to sentence someone to death. After a juror showed that his religious source recommends death for a person who kills someone with an instrument of iron, Khristian Oliver was sentenced to death and executed. Despite First Amendment separation of church and state, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Thirty-five other offenses qualify for the death penalty in the bible including these:

  • Cursing Parents
  • Striking Parents
  • Not Obeying Parents by Boys
  • Premarital Sex by Girls
  • Rebellion against Law
  • Worshipping Any God but Yahweh
  • Being a Witch
  • Loose Daughters of Clergy
  • Girls Raped within the City Limits
  • Blasphemers
  • Anyone Trying to Deconvert Yahweh Worshipers
  • Working on the Sabbath
  • Kidnapping
  • Men Lying with Men
  • Adulterers
  • Men Lying with Beasts and Beasts Lying with Men

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has surely committed at least five offenses that could lead to the biblical death penalty.

Former CIA intelligence official, Michael Scheuer, is best-selling author, historian, essayist, public speaker, TV commentator, Ron Paul’s adviser, secessionist advocate, Christian nationalist, Vladimir Putin apologist, and terrorism expert. He is also married to a senior intelligence official, Alfreda Frances Bikowsky who was referenced as “Queen of Torture” in 2014, and frequently appears on a radio program with close ties to DDT, his family, and his administration, a show directing people to Scheuer’s blog that calls for “well-armed citizens who voted for Trump” to “kill those seeking to impose tyranny.” That classification includes journalists, activists, pundits, abortion providers, Republican and Democratic elected officials, federal judges, law professors, FBI agents, intelligence officials and Justice Department officials, and “all who support them.” Scheuer calls them all “expendables.” To “end the tyranny of their elected representatives,” people should “eliminate” them by stockpiling guns and ammunition.

Scheuer appears often on John Fredericks Radio as either commentator or host—more than 25 times in 18 months– spreading the ultra far-right messages of justifying Putin’s seizure of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine, conspiracy theories about Robert Mueller’s investigation, the illegitimacy of the U.S. government, and NATO and Israel as “cancers.” John Fredericks, also CNN commentator and member of DDT’s 2020 presidential advisory board, has interviewed DDT eight times on his program, and many of DDT’s inner circle have done the same, one at least 23 times. DDT paid Fredericks’ company $34,000 for “placed media.”

From his home, Scheuer Skypes with the Russian state TV outlet RT and disparages the CIA as corrupt, incompetent and bloated with too many “immigrants, Hispanics, transgender people, and homosexuals.” In his view, too many members of the Jewish community support Israel. He shocked even Glenn Beck by calling for a “civil war” and the glorification of assassins, listing President Obama and then-British Prime Minister David Cameron as tyrants, ostensibly to be assassinated. Scheuer said, “At some point, when push comes to shove, you kill people and get them out of the way.” Georgetown University decided to not renew Scheuer’s two classes, despite his protests.

Designated for “elimination” on Scheuer’s list are TV journalists Shepard Smith, Jake Tapper, Jim Acosta, and Rachel Maddow and commentators Bill Kristol and Joe Scarborough. Other names are Attorneys General Jeff Sessions, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch; former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; special counsel Robert Mueller and prosecutors on his team; former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Former NSA Director Michael Hayden, current and former and current FBI directors James Comey and Christopher Wray; former CIA Director John Brennan; former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and other “work-a-day FBI agents,” as well as the staff of the U.S. Department of Justice. The list goes on with elected officials, former presidential aides, and various billionaires. It seems to be endless and he called on DDT to “slay the republic’s domestic enemies now.” Recently he wrote about the “sheer, nay, utter joy and satisfaction to be derived from beholding great piles of dead U.S.-citizen tyrants.”

Close associates of the U.S. president and senior members of his administration support and promote a man who call for mass murder by armed rebels. And white supremacists are planning a rally in Washington, D.C. on August 11-12 to celebrate the violence a year earlier at Charlottesville (VA).

Religious people like to claim that people require religion—preferably Christianity—to be moral. The world of DDT, however, is constantly proving this belief to be wrong. Fundamentalist Christians, dismayed by DDT’s immorality, say that they have to rationalize away some of his behavior and keep the parts that they want. The same is true with the contents of the bible.

Fundamentalists reject fantasy, calling it morally wrong. They often keeping their children from reading books about magic, but the bible is filled with magical occurrences. Most fundamentalists following the biblical interpretations of their clergy instead of reading the document themselves. Religious policies come from church leaders; i.e., not eating meat on Friday isn’t found in the bible. Instead it was developed as a political ploy by the church.

According to research, people have their personal moral compass and then find biblical passages that match their beliefs. If they change their mind about issues, they still claim that God agrees with them—like their acceptance of DDT’s adultery and sexual abuse. A study indicates that the part of a person’s brain activated by personal beliefs is the same as thinking about their perception of God’s beliefs. Thinking about other people’s beliefs activates another part of the brain.

The source of individual morals is complicated, probably a blend of genetics and acculturalization. Atheists get their morals from the same place as Christians—heredity and cultural influence. That’s why atheists don’t score differently than religious people in solving moral dilemmas. Religion is a system of faith and worship of a supernatural power, separate from the moral difference between right and wrong. Christians can easily murder, operate in a corrupt fashion, beat their wives, or commit other crimes. If they don’t break the law themselves, they justify others who do.

Professors Rodney Hessinger and Kristen Toby have an explanation of why fundamentalist Christians support DDT. The preservation of patriarchy that he exhibits has its background in biblical male dominance and superiority that was rooted in the South. Evangelicals have long overlooked the crossing of moral lines as women were forced to ignore their culture’s adultery and acceptance of slavery. Even now, fundamentalist women justify slavery by claiming that slaves were fed, housed, and given health care. With their persecution complex, fundamentalists identify with DDT because he is the “outcast,” the “outsider,” as they believe themselves to be. They believe that all criticisms of DDT are also criticisms of themselves. Fundamentalist religious leaders continually commit adultery, but followers accept this as part of their religion with many leaders keeping their positions.

Thus evangelicals will continue to follow DDT with their violence and patriarchy, believing in the cry to “Make America Great Again,” working for that mythical white nation of centuries ago when immigrants from Europe openly committed genocide.

July 17, 2013

Conservatives Follow Tribal Leaders

Rachel Maddow sometimes refers to the “crazy uncle,” the relative who hates liberals but doesn’t have any support for his beliefs. The same thing happens with commenters on blogs, for example the person who responds to statistics about the dangers of “stand your ground” laws who fails to substantiate claims that these laws are vital and the country needs stronger self-defense laws.

As an idealist, I believe that I only need to provide supporting facts in a discussion to persuade others to understand my position. Not so, wrote Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion and a social psychologist in the New York University Stern School of Business.  The argument is about something other than the subject being discussed. Politics has nothing to do with facts, figures, and rational policy debate and everything to do with a person’s basic moral beliefs and group loyalties.

One question I continually ask my partner is how people can oppose something that will help them. Obamacare, for example, which makes health care cheaper and better for almost everyone in the country. Or the conservatives on food stamps  or Social Security who vote for politicians who will take these programs away from them.

Haidt has become more conservative, and the book can be simplistic at times. Yet he has some interesting points to make. He said:

“We were never designed to listen to reason. When you ask people moral questions, time their responses, and scan their brains, their answers and brain activation patterns indicate that they reach conclusions quickly and produce reasons later only to justify what they’ve decided.”

According to Haidt, six fundamental ideas provide the foundation for individual moral systems: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority, and sanctity. With these principles, other related themes contribute to the moral weight: divinity, community, hierarchy, tradition, sin, and degradation.

Haidt explains that politics is “a tribal phenomenon,” in which belonging to a group is more important that individual need. The greater a person’s investment in an ethnic group, city, occupational group, etc., the more the inclination to vote for politicians who are thought to advance those interests.

Political beliefs give a sense of belonging, meaning, and purpose. Because they display a person’s moral character, people won’t change their minds about climate change or abortion because doing so would betray the tribe. Political debate shows a “team membership,” according to Haidt. Because of the focus on membership in a group, conservatives care primarily about their own tribe and are more indifferent to the people they consider outsiders. Helping people in another community isn’t natural, according to conservatives.

To Haidt, morality is like food: if something tastes good, we keep with it. If not, we reject it. In the same way, people may accept God, authority, and karma because these appeal to the moral taste buds. Conservatives find feminism and welfare distasteful while the themes of faith, patriotism, valor, chastity, law and order appeal to them. Those on the left, conversely, focus on care and fighting oppression.

Much of the difference between people on the right and on the left lies in their separate perceptions of fairness. While the left focuses on equality, the right cares about whether people deserve the outcome. Social conservatives are convinced that poor people didn’t do the necessary things to overcome their poverty and don’t deserve bailing out. The left, however, has far more compassion for people who are suffering.

 

The conservatives’ rage comes from their desire to “catch cheaters and slackers.” Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted out “You lie!” during President Obama’s 2009 speech on healthcare when the president said his healthcare reforms would not be available for people who are in the country illegally. Wilson could not believe he was wrong about people getting something that Wilson thought they didn’t deserve.

People on the left appear to show more compassion for the vulnerable, whether or not they are in the country legally. Rational discussion does not make the people on the right more compassionate or the ones on the left less caring about those who need help. Haidt explained the difference in this way:

“If you believe that it’s faster to drive to the airport than take mass transit, and I give you evidence that mass transit is faster, there’s a good chance that I’ll change your mind, because your goal is actually to get to the airport more quickly. With political and moral questions, our goal isn’t ‘the truth.’”

Although where the person grows up is important to political views, so is genetics, according to Haidt:

“Our genes predispose us to seek change, diversity, and variety, or order, stability, and predictability. People with different brains will find different kinds of arguments and different social settings attractive. To understand political attitudes fully, you have to understand a range of factors, including genetics, neuroscience, childhood development, adolescent development, and cultural psychology.”

Despite his position that people don’t reason, Haidt believes that a person’s mind can change after two minutes of reflection on a good debate. There is less and less chance of debate, however, because the country suffers from severe partisan segregation. In 1976, 27 percent of people in the nation lived in highly partisan counties. That percentage increased to 48 percent in 2008.

The segregation also comes from the lack of communication in Congress. Haidt believes that returning to the practice of federal lawmakers moving their families to Washington, where they would socialize and build a friendly basis, would greatly increase cooperation.

Rapid globalization has begun to destroy such traits of a dispersed world as tribalism and righteousness. Unfortunately, the inability of people to adapt to this change is leading to greatly increased promotion of violence. The moral tastes for sanctity or authority may indeed destroy all of us.

It does appear that people in the United States are more connected to each other than with the people they elect as lawmakers. Using a recent American Values Survey, Don Baer and Mark Penn concluded that outside of abortion and the Second Amendment, people in the United States have a great deal in common:

“According to the poll, large majorities of Americans now say that contraception, interracial marriage, sex education in schools, unmarried cohabitation, stem cell research, gambling, and divorce are morally acceptable. Even pre-marital sex and having children out of wedlock are morally acceptable to the majority of Americans under 65, and homosexuality is morally acceptable to the majority under 45. While marijuana is still about a draw (47 percent morally acceptable to 51 percent morally objectionable), for the most part what used to be ‘counterculture’ is now, simply, culture.”

Baer and Penn also found from the survey that most people distrust corporations and oppose the wealth inequality. “Over 80 percent of Americans say that if we want to regain our unity, we need to shrink the gap between rich and poor.” Only 40 percent of people think that the rich worked harder than others, and a majority thinks that people who are elected are just working for the wealthy.

“Americans aren’t feeling divided by a failure to agree on a set of common values; they feel divided by the failure of our civic and corporate leaders to represent those values themselves.”

Yet the tribal belief will keep people voting for conservatives even if they disagree with how these lawmakers represent them. Unfortunately for the conservative tribal leaders, young people are largely developing a different moral taste.

April 2, 2013

Conservatives’ Misplaced Idea of Immorality

Democrats cast the majority of votes for both chambers in Congress last year and for the United States president, yet the first three months of this year have shown the conservatives pushing even harder to ban abortions, reduce access to contraception, close down women’s clinics including Planned Parenthood, and stop marriage equality. With loss of money from  sequester devastating programs across the country, Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) wants one-half billion dollars to teach teenagers that that they shouldn’t get pregnant despite studies that show comprehensive sex education decreases the rates of teen pregnancy and STDs.

For the first time in his 18 years of teaching, Tim McDaniel received a complaint about using the word “vagina” in his tenth-grade biology classes during his lesson on the human reproductive system.

These ongoing actions by conservatives supposedly come from their sense of morality, to control people in their private lives and force them to live the way that conservatives think they should. At the same time, the conservatives’ outrage at immorality doesn’t extend to the real problem in the United States, the “crisis of public morality,” as Robert Reich describes the way that this nation is suffering from the worst economic inequality in almost a century.

The percentage of income in the hands of the top 10 percent remained fairly static for the first three decades after World War II, but President Reagan’s policies started the meteoric rise obvious in this chart during the past 30+ years. The percentage moved down during President Clinton’s second term, but another GOP president started another increase so that the top 10 percent holds 50 percent more of the nation’s income than they did over a half century ago.

top 10%

Immoral behavior that conservatives ignore is billionaires buying democracy and bankers controlling the nation’s economy. The far-right group Citizens United convinced a majority of the Supreme Court justices that corporations are really “people,” and much of the $12-billion expenditures for the 2012 election campaigns came from corporations and the uber-wealthy like Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson who want conservatives who will provide lower taxes, weaker trade unions, and no regulations.

Corporations and banks are using the money that they get interest-free from the government to make their money through proprietary trading, derivative securities, and other areas that most people don’t, because they don’t have enough money to invest. Banks aren’t making loans because interest is too low; they prefer to gamble in other areas instead. So the government gives them money at nothing—that’s federal funds effect rate—to lend to people, which they don’t do. If they lose their money, they can always get subsidies from the taxpayers who can’t get mortgages and other loans.

There is no outrage from the supposedly moral conservatives about the revelation that JPMorganChase, the nation’s biggest bank and “too large to fail” and probably “too large to jail,” lied to shareholders and the public about its $6 billion gambling losses in 2012. This is the corporation who, along with many others, paid big bucks to get rid of the Dodd-Frank Act, succeeded in watering it down, and kept it from having a director for years.

Corporations showed their success last month with a bipartisan vote in the House Agriculture Committee to further weaken Dodd-Frank. The bill to move onto the House floor extends exemptions and lets banks (including, of course, JPMorganChase), that do their derivative trading outside the U.S. to just ignore the laws intended to protect the public. The only greater success would be the total repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act, which is what the conservatives are aiming toward.

Despite their immoral behavior, no major Wall Street executives have yet been held accountable for the wild gambling that led to the near meltdown in 2008. The people who did not prosecute any of them are now profiting from their actions. There is no “morality brigade” to fight the dishonest actions that destroyed savings, retirement accounts, jobs, and salaries.

United States’ banks get help from other countries to bilk the public. The fraud discovered in London with fraudulently-reported interest rates for London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) for more than two decades bled over to U.S. banks that use LIBOR in their derivatives market, causing massive losses.

When 22 plaintiffs, including the City of Baltimore, sued 16 banks for rigging global benchmark interest rates affecting over $550 trillion, they lost. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald (U.S. District Court in Manhattan) dismissed a “substantial portion” including federal antitrust claims, racketeering, and state-law claims as well as partially dismissing commodities manipulation claims.

One senator with a sense of morals might make a difference. When Massachusetts voters had their choice between Cosmopolitan model Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, they picked the person who could help the country, despite Brown’s personal attacks against her. Now Sen. Warren is working to make the banks just a little more honest.

About one of these, HSBC, which recently settled money laundering charges by paying $1.9 billion, Warren said:

“If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re gonna go to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your bed at night.”

Warren also went after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke concerning a Bloomberg report showing that big banks average an $83 billion subsidy from the government to guard them from insolvency. Once again, “too big to fail.”  Her next target was Attorney General Eric Holder after he admitted his hesitancy in prosecuting these same banks.

She has help from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Sanders wrote:

“The 10 largest banks in the United States are bigger today than they were before a taxpayer bailout following the 2008 financial crisis. U.S. banks have become so big that the six largest financial institutions in this country (J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley) today have assets of nearly $9.6 trillion, a figure equal to about two-thirds of the nation’s gross domestic product. These six financial institutions issue more than two-thirds of all credit cards, over half of all mortgages, control 95 percent of all derivatives held in financial institutions, and hold more than 40 percent of all bank deposits in the United States.”

Sanders plans to introduce tough new legislation intended to break up the country’s “too-big-to-fail” banks. It would give Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew 90 days to make a list of financial institutions–banks, hedge funds and insurance companies–that he believes are “too big to fail” and one year to break up all of the financial institutions on the list.

His proposed legislation has a few supporters from the banking world: Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard, and Former Kansas City Federal Reserve President Thomas Hoenig.

If you also find the banking situation immoral, you can sign a petition to the Treasury secretary. And ask a Republican why they won’t fight immorality on Wall Street.

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