Sunday, July 24, 2011

How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule by David Korten

A newly released report of the New Economy Working Group,  How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule is the product of extended discussions among representatives of a diverse group of organizations committed to deepening and reframing the conversation on financial reform to focus attention on the serious financial system restructuring required to build a strong new American economy adequate to the social and environmental challenges of the 21st century. It may be freely shared, reproduced and distributed with appropriate citations.  To see or download full report, click below.


How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule spells out details of a six-part policy agenda to rebuild a sensible system of community-based and accountable financial services institutions.
  1. Break up the mega-banks and implement tax and regulatory policies that favor community financial institutions, with a preference for those organized as cooperatives or as for-profits owned by nonprofit foundations.
  2. Establish state-owned partnership banks in each of the 50 states, patterned after the Bank of North Dakota. These would serve as depositories for state financial assets to use in partnership with community financial institutions to fund local farms and businesses.
  3. Restructure the Federal Reserve to function under strict standards of transparency and public scrutiny, with General Accounting Office audits and Congressional oversight.
  4. Direct all new money created by the Federal Reserve to a Federal Recovery and Reconstruction Bank rather than the current practice of directing it as a subsidy to Wall Street banks. The FRRB would have a mandate to fund essential green infrastructure projects as designated by Congress.
  5. Rewrite international trade and investment rules to support national ownership, economic self-reliance, and economic self-determination.
  6. Implement appropriate regulatory and fiscal measures to secure the integrity of financial markets and the money/banking system.
This is a no brainer as far as I'm concerned.  We need to get this done!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


One Year.  Three Phases.  A World of Change.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Where Has All the Bounty Gone?

Today I read the following important bit of information.  By exploring and relating all the collected numbers about the US economy since the last world war, studies are showing that this recession as well as the one in 2001 were both announced to be over after 18 months.   In the recessions previous to the two in this century, by this time the number of jobs had increased significantly from the lowest point during the recession.  However in the two recessions since 2001, we have NOT recovered lost jobs while those who are working are making the same amount of money in wages or salary as before the recession.

Funny thing though.  According to all recorded figures, our GDP has gone back up and is now essentially back where it had been.  This too happened in 2001.  The amount of money floating around in our economy is back to normal but it is not going to the people doing the work!  So just where is it going?  Well guess what?  Large corporation's profits have gone up quite a bit!  And Wall St. is back to normal too.  So, the end result is that with fewer workers, we are getting the same amount of work/production done for less money!  (Have you by chance noticed that you were working harder?)

So the "powers-that-be" lay off a bunch of workers and also make a big deal of the fact that there are not enough job openings for the people who are trying to find work.  This in turn makes you very careful not to lose you job!  Then your boss comes along and says that there is work to be done and since the economy is improving there is a chunk of work to get done but there aren't as many employees so could you work just a bit harder and try to get it all done.  And weren't you promised that all that extra work would cause everything to get better.  The economy would become more prosperous which would benefit everyone and create more jobs?

But they haven't hired anyone to help you yet have they?  You are doing more work and you are not getting a raise.  But you are going work harder because you don't want your boss to let you go in order to hire a desparate jobless person for even less money.  So you stay and you don't complain.  You probably won't or can't join a union or bargain for better conditions either.  You are afraid.  The end result is that the corporation makes the same amount of money and doesn't have to pay as many employees!  The corporation retains more profit.  SCORE!  For the other team.  Not your team.  We workers are "one more point down..."

Of course this is business, good business.  The "owners" have figured out a way to make even more profit.  Meanwhile, your neighbor has gone on unemployment and is getting food stamps now to feed his kids and medicaid to take them to the doctor.  You will continue to pay your taxes that will go to help pay for these "entitlements."  Only there aren't as many people working now which causes the total tax base to decrease. The government, state or national has a deficit of money coming in.  You and the rest of the middle and working class is trying to cover the necessities your neighbor must have, as well as needed firemen, teachers, cops and other state and local government employees.  Oh yes, and the local community college and public libraries, park departments, health departments, college agricultural extension centers water quality testing, trash pickup etc.  Since fuel costs are increasing the cost of food and your income is not going up even though you are working harder, you may need to get foodstamps too.  Your cheesy little workplace health insurance isn't covering much if you have it at all, so you avoid going to the doctor and pray nothing bad will happen.  You can't insist that your employer pay for better insurance because you can't afford to pay more yourself since medical costs are going up even faster than the cost of groceries AND you don't want to get fired for being demanding.

You pay your income taxes though most of it goes to for medicare and social security which the deficit government is threatening to take away.  There is still plenty of money in that fund but the government can use that stash of money to pay for things like lots of wars which the government is trying to pay for with  loans to be repaid by future taxes paid in by fewer workers!  (Because you are working harder than ever, there are fewer tax paying jobs.)  

But all those corporations that are making more money, your money that you should be getting for working harder, those corporations don't have to use very much of their own profit to pay taxes since they still have those wonderful tax cuts AND all the usual loop holes their accountants know about and of course they are getting lots of subsidies as well to help cover any remaining taxes they are responsible for.  I guess they have to be subsidized to force them to do certain things.  For example to force oil companies to make huge profits on producing petroleum products since because you are working so hard and making them so much extra money, they don't really have any pressure to do anything they don't feel like doing  Such as sharing their extra profits by creating jobs so they can broaden the tax base.  

Corporations don't really care whether the government functions or not.  They have their own firemen, security forces, private schools, their own libraries, wildernesses, water sources, private jets, and yachts.  The can afford the best of anything they want, even medical care.  Their explanation is that if their profits increase, it will develop our country, improve the economy and create jobs.  But that is ONLY IF the owners of said corporations put their money back into improving and enlarging businesses that actually employ more people and produce products or services that small businesses and workers need and could afford to buy.  But why would they do that?  That sounds like work!  And they don't have to work that hard.  They don't feel a sense of accomplishment from that sort of thing.  

Instead, the rich can spend it on outlandish items like overpriced mansions, planes, yachts, islands, parties, gadgets, art, jewelry, recreation, vacations and other pleasures.  Or they can make more money by playing the Wall St. Casino game.  They don't actually work, or make anything, or do anything.  They often use their money to make more money by investing it in Big Banks which don't actually produce anything either except debt for the rest of us.  The rich also make investments of the type that bet on other country's or companies' success or lack thereof.  Those kinds of investment don't actually produce anything of value either, such as jobs.  If a person has enough money they never lose.  But we are scared to tax them or they threaten to take what jobs we have left and move to another country.  Then where would we be?

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that in all the recessions BEFORE 2001, we the workers came out OK in the end. We got our jobs back as the GNP went back up.  We benefited from the increase in GNP.  The big corporations and Wall St. went back to normal.  They did NOT suck up all the additional money as the GDP increased when economy got revved up again.  When people were buying and production needed to go up, they hired more people to do the increasing work load.  AND big money makers paid higher taxes at the same time!  Our country, up to that point, wasn't spending to fight multiple wars either.

So basically, we are working harder for the same amount of money while prices go up and the number of jobs go down.  WE are dying in wars that no one wants to pay taxes to pay for, even the corporations that profit from war.  Instead the rich got and are keeping tax cuts while WE the workers, have our financial safety net ripped away and our government services cut because our incomes are buying less, our medical bills are higher and fewer of us are working.  Our hard paid taxes won't cover the deficit and someone has to make up the difference! The middle and working classes lost huge chunks of  401k's and other investments made for their retirement thanks to the failing banks and real estate bubbles and now find the government, which is bought and paid for by those very same banks and rich corporations, wants to cut our Medicare and Social Security on top of causing us to lose the money we saved.   Meanwhile the rich have made back their money or at least could afford to lose it in the first place.  

We would be willing to work until we die but there are no jobs for older American's or younger Americans.  We'll be lucky to go live with our kids and grandkids.  They might as well take us in since they can't pay college tuition for themselves or their kids and don't want to be saddled with back breaking college tuition debt.  Only one or two in such a family will be able to find jobs which means someone will be home to care for us we become infirm in our old age.  We hopefully won't linger too long without medical care.  Between three generations in one house we should just be able to pay for some kind of housing we will all fit in.  We have no way to protect ourselves from shouldering these burdens because we cannot unionize, bargain or strike.  Not to mention our courts and elected officials are bought and paid for by the very ones who are ripping us off.  We the people WERE the government, now Big Money is.  The ultimate BIG GOVERNMENT!

I would also like to mention that when I say, "WE THE WORKERS," I'm not just talking about wage-an-hour people or blue collar workers.  Oh no!  I'm talking blue, pink, white, grey, tweed, silk, or medical white.  I just read today that one of the big investment banks/companies.  (You would recognize the name from the bailouts though I seem to have blocked it from my consciousness.)   One of THOSE financial/investment type companies, is outsourcing 100 Investment Banker jobs to Saigon or some such city.  I'm not kidding!  The developing country's skilled/educated workers accept smaller salaries just as their less skilled workers accept lower wages, allowing large multi-national corporations to pay less for high end employees than they must pay them in the US.  And we know they will do it in a minute, given the chance.  So you workers with MBA's, you financiers, entrepreneurs, designers, researchers and scholars, you Doctors and Lawyers and such.  You may think you are more like "them" than you are like the rest of us but you are not.  And "the-powers-that-be" have no loyalty to country or person.  Only to people just like themselves who live beyond national boundaries, who identify only with their own kind in what-ever country.  They are loyal only to other people in their Mutual Reciprocity system, people who have some value to offer beyond loyalty.  Power, money to acquire power, and connections to use and manipulate power.  They don't believe the rest of us have anything to offer worth the money we are payed. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Trouble With Google and Getting Online

Over a week ago, I lose track quickly, maybe two or three weeks ago, after a thunderstorm, I found that I could not get or stay online.  I get to my blog through "googlechrome" and found it impossible to use.  My MSN through my cable company also was giving me trouble.  I really was cut off from the internet!  It was bad!  Over time I found that other family members were getting on their computer on the same cable system....  I messed with cords and routers and that other piece of electronics where the cable comes in and goes to the computer.  The weirdest things kept happening.  The cable company said I must have a virus but I have programs for that.

But I also remember Steven Colbert announcing that Google had been hacked, that very day or maybe within a few days of my problems.  I managed to get on MSN for a minute though it kept bumping me but it also sometimes said I could run diagnostics and sometimes it wanted me to send error reports.  Sometimes it indicated that it had updated....  My virus protection managed to down load some stuff.  I would try at least once a day or so and slowly I was able to stay online longer and longer.  At first I was unable to email replies or go to other websites from my email.  Such actions would cause my computer to drop out of the internet.  Sometimes I could delete email but then it wouldn't show new ones.  (I was bumped again.)  I really don't know much about how all this stuff works.  I rely on the kindness of anyone who will help me, friends, relatives, strangers, whoever.  Today I got on Googlechrome and then went to my blog.  So far so good.  I am taking the opportunity to let everyone know that I haven't deserted my blog.  I am able to read articles and other material again and will soon be up to my neck in information and opinions I want to share, some of which I will pass on.

I would like to add that more and more people are starting to understand the things I am posting about here in Oklahoma.  I actually find I am not as scared to open my mouth in public.  Something I tended to avoid because the weird looks and sudden quiet were a bit hard to put myself through.  I would like to suggest that if you are having the same problem, try to find some like minded people to hang out with.  It helps.  I joined the Tulsa Master Recyclers.  These people, from all ages and backgrounds, share a distaste for wasting resources and range in type and interest from teachers, hospital workers, house wives from comfortable neighborhoods, back-to-the-landers, old hippies, entrepreneurs with green businesses, a motorcycle loving ex-military person,  artists to activists of various concerns.  They have connections with the local sustainable group, Master Gardeners, urban farming, community gardens, campaigning for local government positions, volunteering in local non-profits, saving our water, transition culture etc.  I also went to a meeting of Anarchists with strong interests in International Labor Unions.  I just met a few but again, they were computer savy, interested in the "maker" movement and our local FabLab, growing food, community and co-ops, transition culture, organizing and linking with other like minded individuals.  You can say almost anything around these people except maybe that you DON'T believe in Climate Change.  Some I found through the City, on facebook, and other websites oriented to concern for what is happening in the world today.

Another important insight I got from my "disconnection" to the internet was how dependent I had become for information and social connection coming through my computer.  What if, we were cut off from this method of finding each other, networking, passing on new ideas and important facts that the regular media don't cover?  All the more reason to connect face to face.  Because I know the people and the groups I am involved with, I am never completely cut off.  Through these amazing and varied individuals, I am able to connect to all the local groups that I mentioned and they in turn often are affiliated with larger versions of themselves.  I can go from Sustainable Tulsa to Sustainable Oklahoma to the National organization and then back to other states and towns.  Within any local group there are connections to just about any other type of organization you might be interested in.  These are all real people with telephones and snail mail.  It has only been a couple of decades since many of us functioned the "old" way.

You can't beat our newer electronic social connections.  I communicate often with like minded people across the world.  However, I would advise everyone to keep your fleshy contacts handy.  Meet real people.  Write down names, locations and phone numbers of people and organizations you share connections with.  Don't rely only on information that is stored digitally.  The time may come when our internet is commandeered or our electric grid wavers.  So far, paper can still travel from place to place through various routes.  Humans, being the way they are, may even in the worst case scenario, still be within six degrees of anyone.  This could be true even if messages are bicycled from neighborhood to neighborhood.  Hard to imagine, but when our country began they were using horses.  So keep track of networks and pathways of communication.  Write stuff down and disseminate copies of your networks as well as important facts.  Do I sound over cautious?  I'm just saying......  Better safe than sorry.  Even if being cut off turns out to be temporary as it was in my case, there can always be information you are used to having at your fingertips that suddenly can disappear.  Our connections should not be taken for granted.