Glenn Beck’s Economic Destabilization Story: Verifying Steve Lerner?

The Fox News Channel is not talking about Beck’s blockbuster program yesterday (but Rush did) on the plot for economic destabilization of America, with plans to take down the stock market and redistribute wealth. Perhaps they are trying to independently verify the voice on the audio as that of former SEIU manager, Steven Lerner. The question is, is THIS  the same Steve Lerner who was formerly with (or still with) SEIU?  And was it THAT Steve Lerner who participated in the Left Forum panel at Pace University?

The Left Forum schedule shows Steve Lerner — SEIU Justice for Janitors on the schedule at Pace University, NYC, speaking at 12:00 pm to 1:50 pm. The Moderator introduces the speaker as Steve Lerner, SEIU, architect of the Justice for Janitors campaign. You can skip to the video’s here.

From Wikipedia Justice for Janitors:

The Janitors for Justice campaign began with Stephen Lerner, a former UFW organizer and later head of SEIU’s janitorial division in D.C. Lerner was placed in Denver for his first janitor’s organizing drive. Lerner acknowledges the influence of his work with UFW, and JfJ “was enormously influenced by the tactics…of the farmworkers movement.” Janitors for Justice employed UFW tactics, such as vivid imagery of the exploitation of workers, demonstrations, street theaterhunger strikesvigilsblockades, clergy-labor alliance, and community organizing. JfJ even adopted the rallying cry of the UFW: “¡Sí se puede!” [5]

Unless Pace University was allowing a fake panel, identifying a fake speaker, or unless the Left Forum faked the whole thing and didn’t tell Pace, just to set-up the Glenn Beck’s of this world, this was THE Stephen Lerner. Both scenarios are unlikely.

We’ve already seen many of the tactics Lerner says will used in May 2011. It isn’t a new tactic, but when Lerner asked for double the many thousands of Americans already refusing to pay their mortgages, and refusing to move out of their homes, to double, those are fighting words. Asking college students to stop repaying their education loans – those are fighting words. The goal is to bring down capitalism…fighting words, Mr. Lerner. Read this article from Conservative Hideout for another look at a well-known strategy to overwhelm our system and way of life – a strategy used by community organizers every day.

The full transcript of the shorter video is at the bottom of this article.

Few sources, either Conservative or Progressive are talking about this story. Bloggers are all over it.

The Business Insider had the story late yesterday:

Lerner said that unions and community organizations are, for all intents and purposes, dead. The only way to achieve their goals, therefore–the redistribution of wealth and the return of “$17 trillion” stolen from the middle class by Wall Street–is to “destabilize the country.”

Lerner’s plan is to organize a mass, coordinated “strike” on mortgage, student loan, and local government debt payments–thus bringing the banks to the edge of insolvency and forcing them to renegotiate the terms of the loans.  This destabilization and turmoil, Lerner hopes, will also crash the stock market, isolating the banking class and allowing for a transfer of power.

Lerner’s plan starts by attacking JP Morgan Chase in early May, with demonstrations on Wall Street, protests at the annual shareholder meeting, and then calls for a coordinated mortgage strike.

Lerner also says explicitly that, although the attack will benefit labor unions, it cannot be seen as being organized by them. It must therefore be run by community organizations.

Okay, the story needs validation. The information found online about the Forum should be enough to talk about it on air. It is far more likely that in  the audio we are hearing, it is THE Steve Lerner, than not. The audio was allegedly taped at Pace University (campus unknown). It deserves discussion. By the way, there are four visits to the White House, logged in as Stephen Lerner. Were any of those visits by THE Steve Lerner? We wouldn’t know. As Andrew Breitbart says, the White House Guest list is actually the White House Guess list.

BEGIN FULL TRANSCRIPT FROM THE BLAZE of Steve Lerner at Pace University

SPEAKER: Stephen Lerner. Speaker at the Left Forum 2011 “Towards a Politics of Solidarity” Pace University March 19, 2011

Speaker Bio: Stephen Lerner is the architect of the SEIU’s groundbreaking Justice for Janitors campaign.  He led the union’s banking and finance campaign and has partnered with unions and groups in Europe, South American and elsewhere in campaigns to hold financial institutions accountable. As director of the union’s private equity project, he launched a long campaign to expose the over-leveraged feeding frenzy of private equity firms during the boom years that led to the ensuing economic disaster.


It feels to me after a long time of being on defense that something is starting to turn in the world and we just have to decide if we are on defense or offense

Maybe there is a different way to look at some of theses questions  it’s hard for me to think about any part of organizing without thinking what just happened with this economic crisis and what it means

I don’t know how to have a discussion about labor and community if we don’t first say what do we need to do at this time in history what is the strategy that gives us some chance of winning because I spent my life time as a union organizer justice for janitors a lot of things

It seems we are at a moment where the world is going to get much much worse or much much better

Unions are almost dead we cannot survive doing what we do but the simple fact of the matter is community organizations are almost dead also and if you think about what we need to do it may give us some direction which is essentially what the folks that are in charge – the big banks and everything – what they want is stability

Every time there is a crisis in the world they say, well, the markets are stable.

What’s changed in America is the economy doing well has nothing to do with the rest of us

They figured out that they don’t need us to be rich they can do very well in a global market without us so what does this have to do with community and labor organizing more.

We need to figure out in a much more through direct action more concrete way how we are really trying to disrupt and create uncertainty for capital for how corporations operate

The thing about a boom and bust economy is it is actually incredibly fragile.

There are actually extraordinary things we could do right now to start to destabilize the folks that are in power and start to rebuild a movement.

For example, 10% of homeowners are underwater right their home they are paying more for it then its worth 10% of those people are in strategic default, meaning they are refusing to pay but they are staying in their home that’s totally spontaneous they figured out it takes a year to kick me out of my home because foreclosure is backed up

If you could double that number you would  you could put banks at the edge of insolvency again.

Students have a trillion dollar debt

We have an entire economy that is built on debt and banks so the question would be what would happen if we organized homeowners in mass to do a mortgage strike if we get half a million people to agree  it would literally cause a new finical crisis for the banks not for us we would be doing quite well  we wouldn’t be paying anything.

Government is being strangled by debt

The four things we could do that could really upset wall street

One is if city and state and other  government entities demanded to renegotiate their debt
and you might say why would the banks ever do it  – because city and counties could say we won’t do business with you in the future if you won’t renegotiate the debt now

So we could leverage the power we have of government and say two things  we won’t do business with you JP Morgan Chase anymore unless you do two things: you reduce the price of our interest  and second you rewrite the mortgages for everybody in the communities

We could make them do that

The second thing is there is a whole question in Europe about students’ rates in debt structure. What would happen if students said we are not going to pay.  It’s a trillion dollars. Think about republicans screaming about debt a trillion dollars in student debt

There is a third thing we can think about what if public employee unions instead of just being on the defensive  put on the collective bargaining table when they negotiate they say we demand as a condition of negotiation that the government renegotiate – it’s crazy that you’re paying too much interest to your buddies the bankers it’s a strike issue  – we will strike unless you force the banks to renegotiate/

Then if you add on top of that if we really thought about moving the kind of disruption in Madison but moving that to Wall Street and moving that to other cities around the country

We basically said you stole seventeen trillion dollars – you’ve improvised us and we are going to make it impossible for you to operate

Labor can’t lead this right now so if labor can’t lead but we are a critical part of it  we do have money we have millions of members who are furious

But I don’t think this kind of movement can happen unless community groups and other activists take the lead.

If we really believe that we are in a transformative stage of  what’s happening in capitalism

Then we need to confront this in a serious way and develop really ability to put a boot in the wheel  then we have to think not about labor and community alliances  we have to think about how together we are building something that really has the capacity to disrupt how the system operates

We need to think about a whole new way of thinking about this not as a partnership but building something new.

We have to think much more creatively. The key thing… What does the other side fear the most – they fear disruption. They fear uncertainty. Every article about Europe says in they rioted in Greece the markets went down

The folks that control this country care about one thing how the stock market goes what the bond market does how the bonuses goes. We have a very simple strategy:

  • How do we bring down the stock market
  • How do we bring down their bonuses
  • How do we interfere with there ability to be rich

And that means we have to politically isolate them, economically isolate them  and disrupt them

It’s not all theory i’ll do a pitch.

So a bunch of us around the country think who would be a really good company to hate we decided that would be JP Morgan Chase  and so we are going to roll out over the next couple of months what would hopefully be an exciting campaign about JP Morgan Chase that is really about challenge the power of Wall Street.

And so what we are looking at  is the first week in May can we get enough people together starting now to really have an week of action in New York I don’t want to give any details because I don’t know if there are any police agents in the room.

The goal would be that we will roll out of New York the first week of May. We will connect three ideas

  • that we are not broke there is plenty of money
  • they have the money  – we need to get it back
  • and that they are using Bloomberg and other people in government as the vehicle to try and  destroy us

And so we need to take on those folks at the same time

and that we will start here we are going to look at a week of civil disobedience – direct action all over the city
then roll into the JP Morgan shareholder meeting which they moved out of New York because I guess they were afraid because of Columbus.

There is going to be a ten state mobilization it try and shut down that meeting and then looking at bank shareholder meetings around the country  and try and create some moments like Madison except where we are on offense instead of defense

Where we have brave and heroic battles challenging the power of the giant corporations. We hope to inspire a much bigger movement about redistributing wealth and power in the country and that labor can’t do itself that community groups can’t do themselves but maybe we can work something new and different that can be brave enough  and daring and nimble enough to do that kind of thing.


Hear the audio/video here. In the second video (full, uncut), at the very end, you’ll hear a woman talk about what “Cloward and Piven taught us.” If you are not familiar with Cloward and Piven’s strategy of manufactured crisis, Jim Simpson at Truth and Consequences has a great resources page.

Seems to me it should not be that difficult to verify that THE Steve Lerner was the speaker you hear in the video. Perhaps the sticky part is who gave Glenn Beck the audio tape. And perhaps a proper verification would reveal that person.

  • Thanks for the link Maggie! This is a great post. You covered all the angles here.

  • No need to verify this is indeed Lerner. I cannot believe what is happening to our country. Guy admits he is looking to take down our banks and nothing happens?

  • Great roundup of all we need to know on this bad guy.

  • Steve

    Stephen Lerner himself is quite wealthy. Here is a list of his associations from his own website-General Motors, Lehman Brothers, Madoff Investment Securities, Fountainebleau Las Vegas, Calpine, Refco, DBSI, Inc., Aleris International, Z Gallerie, American Home Mortgage, Ownit Mortgage Solutions, Crew Creative Advertising, Walker Wood Products, Tropicana Entertainment, Wornick, National Century Financial Enterprises, Harvey Electronics, Levitz Furniture, Chiquita Brands International, Casey Tool, Commercial Alloys Corporation, Ames Department Stores, Baldwin Piano and Organ, Elder-Beerman Stores, Adelphia Communications, Loewen Group, Carlton Cove, Furnas Farms, Gencor and PRS Insurance Group.

    He is a partner at Squire Sanders. He has 2 residences. One in Ny and the other in the Cincinnati area. Both can be found on Take a look and then ask yourself, “did this money come from associating with scam artists”?