Madison and the Need for System Change

The current situation in Madison, Wisconsin, and several other states starkly points out the need for system change.  This represents more than a partisan challenge.  Some (not all) of these Republican governors seem to think that attacking the right of public employees to organize will be the solution to their current economic deficits, although that may only be a smokescreen to obscure the bigger problem.  That deeper problem is the increasing flow of wealth to the top relative few in our society (only partly due to their not being taxed as much as they were for decades), the increasing dominance by big business of our political process (including co-opting the energy of the Tea Party movement), the impact of “business needs” on our foreign and domestic policies, and the degradation of our natural environment due in large part to an economic system pressing for ever-increasing consumption and endless growth, much of which has nothing to do with meeting basic human needs here and abroad.

I agree with those governors that starting to balance state (and Federal) budgets is essential – but it is also important to look at increasing revenue by taxing the wealthiest citizens at higher rates, as has been true in earlier decades in our country – instead of just reducing services and negotiating adjusted contracts with state employee unions (and private contractors).  That seems to be a “third rail” in  the Republican Party, which today seems blind to the concept of social and economic justice.  It is good to recall that the first U.S. government effort to “rein in” the excesses of our economic system came from the administration of Republican President Teddy Roosevelt and, I believe, a largely Republican Congress.

The move towards major economic (and political) reform requires input from citizens and from BOTH political parties.   Let BOTH parties move to a focus on national and global justice, instead of being locked into favoring certain interest groups.

Posted in Capitalism, Economics and politics, Faith, Values and Economics, Reforming/Regulating Capitalism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Surprising Legislative Success!

It was quite surprising to me that the “lame duck” congress was able to pass such landmark legislation in the past week or so, including the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for the branches of the military, and the Senate’s approval of the START Treaty for both Missile Reduction and renewed and reinforced mutual verification.

Neither of those pieces of legislation directly affect our economic system which needs reform so badly, but even so, those are in my opinion very helpful legislative acts!  Congratulations to President Obama and Congress for their good work.

Merry Christmas to All – And let us all seek further constructive, pro-people and pro-environment changes in public policy and practice in 2011 and thereafter.  And let’s be thankful for the good things which are accomplished, both great and small, which benefit the created order, including the stage upon which we live out our lives together – the Earth and its biosphere.

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William Greider’s “Come Home, America”

I am about 60% through William Greider’s excellent 2009 book, “Come Home, America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country.”  The book covers much more than economics, although the need for economic and political reform is laid out very clearly.  He opens the first chapter with a clarion call to the United States: “I have some hard things to say about our country.  Beyond recession and financial crisis, we are in much deeper trouble than many people suppose or the authorities want to acknowledge.” However, Mr. Greider has much faith in the people of our country to effect change, once we become informed about the depth of our difficulties and are willing to overlook the simplistic (sometimes misleading) slogans and surface changes put forth by political pundits and some (not all) of our politicians.

In the book, he describes the roots of our present difficulties – the flow of wealth upwards from the middle class to the wealthy at the top; the deregulation of the financial industry; the lack of public morality in big business and its belief in profit as a god; the growing investment (and trust) in our giant military machine and its supporting industries; the willingness of the electorate to be moved by catchy slogans and cultural myths rather than informed analysis, and the growing influence of capital wealth on both political parties in varying degrees.  However, Mr. Greider explains that he does NOT wish to engage in mere finger-pointing, only explain what has been happening and where we seem to be going.  And he trusts that, once informed and organized, we the ordinary people CAN bring about system change to rehabilitate our democracy.

In my own opinion, democracy brings great freedom – but it also brings an equal responsibility for “right living” (in both individuals and institutions) and the need to hold our elected representatives responsible for serving in the public interest, instead of the interests of “big business” and the military establishment.  Mr. Greider has published a marvelous book – and considering how heavy the topics can seem, he is optimistic about what we as a people can do.

More later – in time, I’ll post a more detailed summary of the book.  Please “stay tuned” to this website.

Posted in Economics and politics, Faith, Values and Economics, Reforming/Regulating Capitalism | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

David Korten’s “Seven Points of Intervention”

David Korten has been writing excellent optimistic – and yet challenging and realistic – books on economic system reform for years.  His most recent book, published in August, 2010, is the 2nd Edition of Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth.  Chapter 13 of that book, “Seven Points of Intervention,” specifies specific strategies for bringing about system reform which is both life-affirming and biosphere-sustaining.  At the end of this note is a link to a fuller writeup of his points of intervention.

He introduces his seven points with this call:  Life or money: that is our choice.  The current Wall Street system serves only money.  Our task is to replace it with a New Economy system that serves life.

1.  Living-Wealth Indicators

The Goal: Replace financial indicators with indicators of human- and natural-systems health as the basis for evaluating economic performance.  We get what we measure, so let’s measure what we want.

2.  Living-Wealth Money System

The Goal: Redesign the money system to direct the flow of money to productive Main Street businesses rather than to Wall Street speculators.  Real resources follow the money, so design the financial system to put the money where it will produce the greatest living-wealth benefit.

3. Shared Prosperity

The Goal: Redistribute income and ownership to achieve a more equitable distribution of power and real wealth (food, shelter, clothing, work – productivity).  We all enjoy greater health, happiness, security, and social solidarity when wealth is equitably shared.

4. Living Enterprises

The Goal: Redefine the purpose of the enterprise from making money to serving community needs, and favor enterprise forms that support this purpose.

5. Real Markets / Real Democracy

The Goal: Free both the market and democracy from corporate domination by breaking up concentrations of economic power, getting big money out of politics, making corporations pay their own way, and reserving Bill of Rights protections for people.

6. Local Living Economies

The Goal: Create a planetary system of coherent, self-reliant local economies that function as dynamic, life-nurturing sub-systems of their local ecosystems.

7. Global Rules

The Goal: Create a system of global rules and institutions that support living-wealth indicators and money systems, shared prosperity, living enterprises, real democracy, and local living economies.

The link to a more complete summary of the above seven points is here:  Proposals for Change-D.Korten

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“Right Relationships” and Economic Systems

Here is an excellent book on the relationship between faith, values and economic systems:  Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy, by Peter G. Brown et al, 2009.  Developed by a team of Quaker scholars, it offers a holistic perspective on our current economic and political system and how a profound change in that system is required in the interest of both humanity and the biosphere.

This timely book is very readable and concise, yet gets right to the point.  I recommend it as a foundational work for those who wish to research this area and then advocate for change.  Several in our study-advocacy group have read – or are reading – it.

Here is my more complete presentation document on this excellent, challenging and yet inspiring book:

Right Relationship

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We Must Reform Our Economic System!


When one looks at the current recession, brought about by deregulation approved by both political parties and the subsequent financial speculation and unwise loans and mortgages, it soon becomes apparent that the very nature of our global economic system (especially as practiced in the USA) needs a complete examination leading to reform.  Our economic system as structured: 1) has been leading to ever more movement of wealth from the middle class to the top income layers of our society over the past three decades; 2) is built upon endless growth with little regard for the natural environment which sustains all life on earth; 3) encourages overconsumption of both food and other items for the sake of profit (as opposed to human well-being); and 4) has bled third world countries of natural resources, often with no real benefit to the people in those countries except for a very few at the top who have accumulated fortunes courtesy of our corporations, and commonly with the support (or at least a blind eye) of our government.

We must change the whole nature of our economic system, so that the “bottom line” is no longer profit (especially for the few at the top) but rather global human well-being and the healing of the biosphere.  That is what this blog is devoted to.

Please stay tuned!

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