America in Crisis
We do not have an immediate debt crisis, or an energy crisis, or a global warming crisis although those issues certainly need to be addressed. Ours is not an intellectual crisis, although in the aggregate we are seriously deficient as profound thinkers. Ours is not a moral crisis, although our moral footing is on something akin to quick sand. And it’s not a spiritual crisis, although the spirit entities in the dimension where they exist are likely refusing to acknowledge that we occupy the same or even a parallel universe. No, ours is a crisis of greed, and it has brought us to the brink of collapse as never before in our history. We are simultaneously the richest country, and we have the widest gap between rich and poor of all the countries in the industrialized world. We are no longer a beacon of hope for ourselves to say nothing about the rest of the world. But finally, there is a glimmer of hope: We have a potential solution to this immense crisis. In this article you will find an outline for how we can recapture the greatness that once was ours. It is a story of what can be that needs to be told often and everywhere…starting now.
Here are a few facts behind our present crisis: The wealthiest Americans have got too much wealth. Way, way too much wealth. They have $53 trillion that we know about, and perhaps another $15 trillion socked away in offshore tax havens. In contrast, the middle class has only $9 trillion, while the bottom 50 percent has none at all. Nada. And the most incredible part of this crisis is that the greatest minds have been unable to reverse the trends in place that are making it worse. That is the heart of the problem. Short of an uprising in which the rest of us collectively march upon the businesses and the residences of the wealthiest among us and take back what they have made off with, we are stuck with not knowing what to do. That means the wealthy have managed to buy up enough of the souls of local, state, and national legislators to pass laws that have made permanent all their ill-gotten gains.
The wealthy and the soul-less legislators that they have purchased are pledged to keep things as they are. They will sink the economy if necessary; create wars if necessary; sell communities, fire mayors and school boards; dismantle unions and collective bargaining; kill long standing programs for the sick, the disabled, the elderly, and the children. They will let maniacs run rampant in our streets with combat style arms, watch our children get mowed down in cold blood in their schools, take away food from the hungry, medical care from the poor, and anything else their masters instruct them to do or not. They talk about the American Dream while making certain the only dream possible for a rational person is a nightmare.
Here is the structure behind that nightmare that lets them hold power over you and me.
Corporate Capitalism. We have a network of 63,000 publicly-held corporations in America with a corollary network of 3,700 private equity fund managers that grease their wheels of activity. Each corporation has a CEO that, together, controls our economy, our national output, our state and national legislatures, appointments to our judicial system, and—most importantly of all—our national wealth. This system works perfectly for them, and against the interests of the other 310 million Americans. The fundamental purpose of this structure is to assure that the wealth of America flows into this system and funnels its way to the top. Nearly $5 trillion per year is sucked up by this network and lands safely and permanently into the balance sheets and the estates of the rich. Their wealth doubles approximately every 10 years. In 50 years it is projected to be somewhere beyond $1.5 quadrillion. This system and its future are protected by laws such that it remains that way forever.
Now, after some deep soul searching, there is a solution in sight that can change all that. Yes, by using our God-given brains we can dismantle and replace it by an alternate system that works for all of us. The new system would be morally, ethically, and legally superior to the present system in every way.
We don’t know for certain if there is enough time to reverse the trends before the great bloody revolution that stands as the inevitable outcome begins. In fact it may take a Herculean effort just to put a bare foundation into place that can stop the flow before it is too late. Here are the elements of that solution:
There is no difference in the natural abilities or the intelligence between rich and all others. There is a big difference in the numbers that occupy each group. We outnumber the rich by 99 to 1. That means we have also 99 times as many really smart people as they do. And although an inordinate amount of time is expended by all in doing the mundane things necessary to sustain life, that still leaves time enough to put into place the resources and means for bringing about change. We can swamp them with brainpower.
Contrary to most thinking today, we don’t need to take anything away from the rich in order to begin to reverse the flow of wealth and income to them. We can beat them at their own game. In short, anything they can do, we can do better. Whether in the marketplace of ideas or in the marketplace of goods and services, we can do a better job for less.
Community- based Capitalism. The solution to our crisis is to use our system of markets a lot more creatively. And the essence of that system is competition. We need to build more and add a large amount of reserves to our community-owned banks that support a new model of community owned businesses. We can do that by moving deposits from large publicly-held banks to locally-owned banks and to credit unions. There is already a large number of them in place. If 10,000 depositors moved $10,000 from their public banks to their credit unions, that would move $100 million dollars. Repeat that 10,000 times and we will have transferred $1 trillion away from the “old boy’s network” that supplies wealth to the few, and to the new network where wealth and income do not flow to the top, but horizontally to workers, to job creation, and to new wealth for the many.
Why credit unions? They do not issue $500 million in stock options to their CEOs, nor do they give lavish retirement packages, or allow Midas style “golden parachutes.” The don’t provide private jets, or yachts, or memberships in the most exclusive clubs all of which suck money and wealth away from the bottom 99 percent and deposit it to the top 1 percent. Credit unions do provide every service that corporate banks provide, cheaper, more effectively, at less cost, and without the greed.
Looking forward every community in America needs its own network of businesses and institutions that work in harmony together—not for the lavish benefit of the few, but for the common good of all. We need to create jobs that pay well, not jobs that support an aristocracy or a plutocracy. Opportunity without access to it is a mockery of that term. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without the means to achieve them are hollow words. Community-based capitalism is the answer
The new movement to build up community-based ventures, worker-owned companies, farms, co-ops, research centers, all tied together by locally owned banks, with links to other communities with similar networks all across the country—in direct competition with corporations—can bring about a massive shifting of resources, capital, and wealth away from the few and to the many. It will take time, effort, organization, and perspiration. Whether by inspiration or by desperation, the same stuff that built America can also be tapped to save America.