Have you noticed how our political leaders, in the face of the most serious recession since the Great Depression, exhort us to save more to make America strong? And then, almost in the same breath, they tell us to keep on spending? Whether we are spending or saving, our money is not staying in our local community to create jobs and meet our local needs.
When we spend our dollars, most of our money goes to giant corporations which ignore national boundaries, let alone community boundaries, in deciding how to invest their profits, our dollars.
When we deposit our savings, even if we use a nearby bank, chances are the bank is no longer local, the result of more and more mergers. Now our tax dollars are being used to bail out these mega-banks, which the government has deemed too big to fail.
Gone are the days when local banks held mortgages for homes in the community. Home mortgages -- our homes -- get transferred from one bank to another and we only find out when we get notified to send our mortgage payment to a new address.
And that’s not the end of it. Now mortgages are repackaged as “securitizations” – bundles of mortgages, many subprime, which are then sold as AAA rated investments. This house of cards collapsed in 2008 resulting in by far the most serious recession since the Great Depression.
What if we could retain our mortgages and our savings in our community? Could this money be used to create work for those who have lost their jobs or who are trying to enter the workforce? Is it an impossible dream to think that this work could actually help to make our communities better places to live? But what about the fact that some communities have much more potential local capital than others?
To explore some these ideas in more detail, check out these articles from the Winter and Spring 2009 issues of Justice Rising
Money for People Not Corporate Plunder by Jim Tarbell and Ruth Caplan
Beyond the Bailout by David Korten
Naomi Klein on the Financial Crisis
People vs Money Power by John Cobb, Jr.
Banking for a Livable Future Part 1, by Ruth Caplan
Banking for a Livable Future Part 2, by Ruth Caplan
$8 Trillion and Counting by Ruth Caplan
Towards an Economy of Well-being by Mark Anielski
Local Currency and Time Dollars: Circulating Money to Promote Local Business by Ruth Caplan
Bank On It: Cash Starved States Create Their Own Credit by Ellen Brown
Books on global/local capital
Reclaiming Capital, Democratic Initiatives and Community Development, by Christopher Gunn and Hazel Dayton Gunn (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY: 1991) provides a variety of examples of how a community can retain local capital so that it can be used within the community.
Time Dollars by Edgar Cahn and Jonathan Rowe (Rodale Press, PA: 1992, $19.95) describes "[t]he new currency that enables Americans to turn their hidden resource--time--into personal security and community renewal." Today communities across America have implemented the concept by creating local time dollars so people can exchange goods and services based on the hours of labor involved.
The Death of Money, by Joel Kurtzman, Executive Editor of Harvard Business Review, describes "How the Electronic Economy Has Destabilized the World's Markets and Created Financial Chaos." (Back Bay Books/Little Brown, Boston: 1993, $11.95) Yes, all this was known but ignored for all these years!
Agenda for a New Economy, From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, by David Korten who argues that “markets work best in a caring community.” Can be ordered online for $12.