Part II: The case for Eliminating Wall Street
From David Korten’s book: Agenda for a New Economy
I started chunking down this book in a three part post, because I am hoping that I can get lots of people interested in reading the book. Need to read part one?
By doing this I am hoping folks who will not read the book will get some idea of what this is all about even if they are missing all the great history lessons, defining stories and appropriate referrals to other works and scholars.
This just makes sense to me, so here goes the 2nd of three chunks….
A. What wall Street Really Wants
- The Wall Street game is a power game to build the empires of a few. The Wall Street version of economic gain is to make the wealthy, wealthier – the highest paid is the winner and there is only a winner who has it all. There are two great arcs in Economic History – high inequality to relative equality and a political arc of extreme polarization to bipartisanship. We are in a golden age of polarization and partisanship – the breakdown of the middle class strength is nearly vanished and has been victimized by the empire building of unregulated Wall Street high finance con games and individualism. The suspension of moral codes, rules, and the game has been played out in the global market place.
- “Wall Street corporate interest provided the money and largely controlled the real agenda. The religious fundamentalist provided the votes in return for lip service to a conservative social agenda on abortion, family planning, and gay marriage. The Libertarians provided the ideological framework. The neocons provided justification for outsized military expenditures that swelled the profits of the defense industry and secured corporate access to resources and markets. “
- Restoration of the middle class will only come from political action by a strong political bipartisan movement.
- Banking is the joy ride of speculation and borrowing money and selling /leveraging bets in the foreign markets. Gambling at 35 to 1 in a rigged system. We do not need Wall Street, it produces nothing of value.
- “The richest 2% of the world’s people now own 51% of all the world’s assets.” “The poorest 50% own only 1%”
- Families turned from saving to borrowing – Gotcha the Game is closer and closer to winner takes all – hey world we can’t quit now! Wall Street should be doing hard time; instead they are using the bailout to play to the end of the game.
B. Buccaneers and Privateers
- “Wall Street hedge fund managers, day traders, currency traders, and other unlicensed phantom-wealth speculators are the buccaneers of our day, and Wall Street banks are the commissioned privateers. The economy is their ocean. Publicly traded corporations serve as their favored vessels of plunder, phantom wealth is their favored weapon, and the state is their servant-guardian.”
- “…the current import-dependent U.S. economy-with the primary difference that U.S. imports are financed not by stolen gold but by foreign debt.” The rise of scruples crime and war lords – competing or cooperating to gain and win…sound familiar to anywhere in today’s news?
- “Publically traded limited-liability corporations now operate with substantial immunity from legal liability and accountability. They have become the defining institutions of our day. Wall Street is their symbolic seat of power, and they have revered their relationship to the state.”
- Wall Street now commissions and finances armies to protect their interests and to staff diplomacy – using the economy at will.
C. The High Cost of Phantom Wealth
- “The full costs of Phantom Wealth are beyond comprehension.”
- “So often we say ‘I can afford it,’ without asking whether the Earth can afford it.” Growing Phantom Wealth defies the laws of conservation. Only Voluntary Simplicity advocates and practioners seem to understand not to spend randomly and that money does not grow like phantom wealth. Retirement Comfort built upon phantom wealth just does not exist at all. Most baby boom retirees will be in desperate straits or unable to retire.
- Foundations, Universities, Public Trust Funds, and Non-Profits will be the first to “fall”. None of the bonus money paid out exists and because there were no regulations no one knows how much phantom wealth is out in the world that the bailouts are attempting to relieve. Korten asks is your head spinning now. It should be! We are now dealing with pieces of paper that no one knows the sum or total of or how to pay for them.
- Decisions are made with the criteria that what will bring the highest financial return to the investors is the highest priority not how to care for the community, provide health care to the citizens or find jobs and increase productivity. More paper shuffling.
- We are taught to value our financial net worth and processions over our intrinsic self-worth.
- When we are concerned about being of service to our community rather than competing in a power hierarchy we feel a calmer exhilaration – our health and happiness improve.
- Wall Street produces a narcissistic culture and rewards predatory competition.
- We have the means and the know how to build a better system and a better life.
D. The End of Empire
- 5,000 years we have been in the Era of the Empire.
- Our ancestors chose to cooperate with life rather than to dominate it. (Riane Eisler, historian)
- All the community care systems that were built during this time needed to be built to open the door for Empire.
- Mesopotamia (Iraq) was the first area to turn away from generative power of life to a reverence for hierarchy. We have had many celebrated Empires – at great cost in human life and natural wealth. Social Pathology became the norm.
- In 1776, “…the grassroots rebels who initiated and led the revolution in its earliest manifestations demonstrated a capacity to express the popular will through self-organizing groups and networks – long one of democracies most meaningful and effective forms of expression.”
- Hierarchy overturned the Continental Congress began creating a powerful government making sure the white male would be the power.
We are still in a mindset of Empire.
- “Deceived by the divide-and-conquer tactics of imperial politics, each places the blame on the other rather than forming a united front to reject Empire’s lies and unite to achieve our common dream.”
- “The struggle for the health and well-being of our children is potentially the unifying political issue of our time and an obvious rallying point for mobilizing a political majority behind a New Economy agenda”.
- “The world’s estimated 1.5 billion Internet users, 22 percent of all the people in the world, are learning to function as a dynamic, self-directing social organism that transcends boundaries of race, class, religion, and nationality to serve as a collective political conscience of the species.”
- An Epic Opportunity, “of the awakening of a new human consciousness of our shared interests and common destiny – and a foretaste of the possibilities for new ways of organizing human affairs.”
We know how to do this. We have the potential for a fully human, humane potential.Does this excite you to read the book and get active in your own community? I hope so…
I just cannot stop talking about this book. Do you have any other recommendations?