Bernie’s Big Money Crusade & NYC Local Economics
Amongst the battle for the presidency and its below the belt antics that drowned out the issues this year, what I and many leftist had seen as the outcry of the corruption, greed, and recklessness that Occupy ignited, was re-energized by the Bernie Sanders mobilization of people over profit. A movement that won 22 states, raised more money from the working class at $27 a pop, than the pro-corp pro-Wall st/donor class, of today’s Democratic party. As the haze settles for some, the evolution is already on the way amongst our age group. In many ways his campaign has sparked a whole new Democratic Socialist movement, and sadly as it was that it was derailed at every turn, suppressed in the mainstream media, and ultimately bamboozled and betrayed by its own party, paved a path for the fake populist far-right to win.
The older generation is determined to hijack our future, for those on the right side of the future: lead or follow, for those gripping onto cronyism, move aside, you’re going to kill the planet. While this defeat is a threat to our work, it also gave birth to an achievement and tactic-based movement, whether it’s the Defunding of banks funding the Big Oil companies sparked by Defund DAPL, or Shaun King’s divestment movement towards ending the police brutality overwhelmingly targeting black and brown citizens in 2016, large movements are willing to put their money on the line and it’s only growing.
The most recent numbers from the Defund DAPL movement were figured at over 50 million dollars in citizen divestments from major banks. Seattle just made history by their monumental decision to divest its city from WellFargo.
Let’s take a look back at what columnist and editor for the NY Post, Michael Gray had to say. He coined a phrase to describe the time period of 2008 through 2015 as “The Great Fleecing.”
It was the continuation of a great game that has played out since the rise of consumerism, a collusion of corporations and government that has squeezed the Middle Class for everything it was worth. The vast majority toils through cycles of boom and bust, while the 1% steadily reaps the benefits of a shadow economy that siphons wealth upward. The Great Recession never hurt the elite, and the supposed recovery never helped the rest of us.
“During [The Great Fleecing], the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world occurred. Some $4.5 trillion was given to Wall Street banks through its Quantitative Easing program, with the American people picking up the IOU.”
Instead of all that money going into real, tangible things like desperately needed infrastructure improvements, (our waterway systems are pouring lead into thousands of people’s water) those trillions were sequestered in a crony system of banks and Wall St. investors, overseen by a cartel called the Federal Reserve.
Below are some outlines and workable ideas for a future local-based economy that must practice the divestment > investment tactics simultaneously with the larger political goals of revolution. (Yes! Ideas! The future is ideas & organized team work! It’ll be a lot less lonely that way too.)
(The following is an excerpt published on Yes! Magazine I think informs us of this deep problem of growing crony capitalism and the dead in the water inertia it produces with political parties entrenched in money.)
“From An August 2015 study by The Century Foundation reported that—after a dramatic decline in concentrated poverty between 1990 and 2000—poverty has since reconcentrated. Nationwide, the number of people living in high-poverty ghettos and slums has nearly doubled since 2000. This situation is created in part by the practices of traditional economic development, which prioritize corporate subsidy after corporate subsidy over the needs of the local economy. Current trends threaten to worsen, unless we can answer the design challenge before us.”
Can we create an economic system—beginning at the local level—that builds the wealth and prosperity of everyone?
Economic development professionals and mayors are working in partnership with foundations, anchor institutions, unions, community organizations, progressive business networks, workers, and community residents. What’s emerging is a systems approach to creating an inclusive, sustainable economy where all can thrive. The work is place-based, fed by the power of anchor institutions, and built on locally rooted and broadly held ownership. It’s about building community wealth across the United States—in more places than most would imagine, a new kind of economy is beginning to appear. It’s an economy that, because of its fundamental design, tends naturally to create inclusion and prosperity for many, not simply for the few.
Building a place-based economy
Traditional economic development is too often captured by the demands of major corporations and site development consultants. The place that drives such players is, in reality, no place at all, for they embody a worldview of a generic, commodified economy, where firms are objects to be lured from place to place by the $80 billion in incentives given annually by cities, states, and counties.
The system that is supported in this way is one of wealth inequality, where most assets are owned by the few. The ownership driver is absentee ownership, with most incentives flowing to corporations owned outside the community. Inclusion is lacking, with benefits flowing to a financial elite—since ownership of publicly traded firms is overwhelmingly concentrated among those in the top 10 percent of society.
Inadvertently, but pervasively, incentives tend to neglect local firms, which can too often be driven out of business. Thus traditional approaches operate the multiplier effect in reverse: Taxes are extracted from local firms and residents and given to corporations whose ownership is not local, even as local schools and parks suffer cuts in funding. Missing throughout is the driver of collaboration, with little transparency or democratic public input into development decisions.
In its workforce drivers, traditional economic development focuses on counting the number of jobs created, but too rarely tallies whether these are living-wage jobs, or whether they go to those with barriers to employment. Traditional approaches also fail to subtract jobs destroyed when Main Street retailers quietly close their doors—or when firms outsource manufacturing and other work abroad or move operations out of the community.”