Rants & Reasons

This just in:  "Money is Not God"1


I was among those inspired by Rick Hampson's USA Today article (10-11-11). Initially I felt all those references to the "left" were undermining the point of these demonstrations. (I believe terms like Left, Right, Conservative, Liberal, and all the 'isms', etc… are worse than useless, since no two people share the same definition for any of them.) But by the end of the article I felt encouraged. Like, maybe, people would offer ideas that could help something good happen… Something good for 'This Country', and the world…


I believe what the 99%ers are doing is good for 100% of us. They are helping to open the door to a new discussion; possibly, 'How do we satiate, or diminish, the role of greed in our economy and, thusly, in our lives?'


Or more fundamentally, How do we work together to save ourselves and each other?


Or to put it in the context of a problem looking for a solution: How do we create, or regenerate, the conditions that can sustain an economy for a long time?


While I don't believe any single person has all the answers, I believe the answers do exist, and that some of the cooperative methods being developed during these occupations are helping already. Maybe a way that success exists for this effort is when enough of us are willing, both to agree that our world is way off balance, and that our best chance exists only if we finally work together; to face the tough decisions, and start adapting to the changes that are already upon us. We are aboard a giant ship at sea that has lost its way, a runaway economy in a fog of confusion. Between the dust particles suspended in the smoke screen that exists so the truths remain obscured, we can see rays of light cutting through like the fingers of the sun's hand. This is it. - One for all, and all for one. No one gets thrown under the bus. - No matter how helpless or despicable we all may have been at one time or another. – Wealthy, the not-wealthy and the poor, we need to help each other, or nobody makes it through the rough ride ahead…


So, on to potential solutions: In a phrase: Regenerative Economics. (Working definition: An economy whose focus is to create and / or regenerate the elements that support the economy itself. – This approach also recognizes that the fundamental elements for a sustainable, earth-based economy are: fresh water, arable soil, the plants, animals, minerals, other natural resources, and reasonably healthy people. From these elements arise the affordable and edible food, water, shelter, health maintenance, etc…)


Over thirty years ago, in the 1970s, there were many scientists and other thinkers focusing on how we might prepare for a world whose human demands were exceeding nature's ability to supply. Regenerative Economists have been at their craft for more than those thirty years. The main reason this hasn't already been addressed on a large scale is pretty much the same as the 'problem' the 99%ers are exposing. – "Greed Gone Wild"…


After 25 years of my own research and observations, I don't believe there is a band-aid that can fix our government, eliminate greed, and establish a sustainable economy that provides long-term jobs that support the healthy existence of its people. But for the sake of this moment I will footnote the arguments, commentary, and the theories, and offer three band-aid clusters that might rescue the patient (The United States of America):


Some Possible demands of the 99%:

{These suggestions were condensed from many interviews. These may or may not accurately represent the current hopes of the occupiers}


 A: To significantly reduce the waste and corruption in the federal government:2


1. End the Lobby System. Period.3 


2. Eliminate all private financing of election campaigns.4


3. Rewrite the compensation packages for elected officials, and other government employees. (Salaries, pensions, benefits, budgets, etc…)5


B: Financing Jobs in a new Economy:


1. Establish something like 'US Recovery Bonds'. – A tax deferred bond program that could enable wealthy people to invest in this country's potential future.6


2. Debate Warren Buffet's tax proposal7 on the house floor (apply the same 'realistic', progressive numbers for income taxes and capital gains taxes). Broadcast it Live on all networks. – And pass it!


C: Initiating the New Economy:


1. In short, regenerative and sustainable practices should be stimulated, or 'rewarded', and unsustainable practices should be phased out. -  Altering our subsidy and tax policies can help to accomplish this.8


2. The focus should be on what needs to be accomplished first, then transposing those essentials into jobs, and addressing where the money comes from.9


3. Communities, or regions, could help accelerate this process, if given some resources and latitude to conduct their own regenerative experiments.10


4. There are many intellectual / printed resources and examples of regenerative economics in the US and around the world.11 If we can combine the best of what we have achieved with a regenerative philosophy and the desire to work through all this together, the results might go beyond even the most optimistic among us.


PS. We also need to stop the Keystone, Tar Sands Pipeline.  –  It is the same thing: 1% will profit at the expense of all. Stopping it now will help protect the environment and the economy.11






1. A man by the name of Bob Gordon and many others have decried this.


2. (Get the over the table, and the under the table money out of politics. – Yes it would take several lawyers to make sure the wording leaves no loophole unplugged.)


3. Re Lobbyists: "Don't deny any of their unemployment claims; just lay them all off." Again, no one should get thrown under the bus, even if their role in undermining 'the economy' and the country has been substantial (this would also apply to many individuals in the financial industry, and many other industries whose practices have contributed to job losses, environmental degradation and the collapse of the economy itself) 


4. (Eliminate All forms of private election financing; including 501c-type loopholes, etc… must effectively reverse the corporate access granted by the Citizens United case.)


5. Make them citizens again. – We do want our representatives to be motivated and have some resources to work with, but we need them to be working for the people of this country who elected them; no longer just smoke-screening us while actually working for private interests. – Many of those are multi-national…


6. "Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."  - Warren Buffet -

(A version of this op-ed appeared in print on August 15, 2011, on page A21 of the New York edition with the headline: Stop Coddling the Super-Rich.)


  – Two additional notes here: 1. Many representatives and senators have signed an oath with Grover Norquist not to raise taxes. This obstruction will have to be addressed for any functional movement on tax policy. This oath may well be unconstitutional or illegal since it has superceded their oath to serve the American People. - and 2. Progressive taxes on capital gains, dividends and income could definitely help mitigate some of the damage being done by excessive greed, but there would still be a need to begin the public discussion regarding the role of the stock market, banks, insurance companies, energy companies, etc.. in a sustainable economy. – In short, "what are the essential elements in a 21st Century Regenerative Economy, and what should be redesigned, rebuilt or replaced?"



7. This could be a win-win for everybody. The wealthy could 'grandfather' their wealth and get the acknowledgement for helping all of us, while helping to establish a 'bank' for a long-term jobs and recovery program – Many believe a 'new' Regenerative Economy could be fully up, and running on its own engine in two growing seasons or less…


8. Again, no one should be thrown under the bus. If any particular endeavor or industry needs to change to allow for a sustainable future, then we should all change together. We can jumpstart sustainable practices through straightforward initiatives, subsidies, tax breaks, rebates, etc… And we can help phase out unsustainable practices through progressive taxation on consumption and pollution. (To have the desired effect without causing more problems, the rates should probably go down for very low to moderate levels, and then continue to graduate higher as consumption and pollution levels increase towards 'destructive'.)  - We need to significantly curb our consumption, and decrease the toxic load on the water, the soil and the air.  Many professional 'Economists' agree that we should be refueling and maintaining our economy with progressive consumption and pollution taxes. It would be preferable that the wealthy simply invest enough money back into the system rather than have it taxed back in. – If people could be trusted to do the 'right' thing, or simply give a damn, then none of this would be necessary…


9. Many services could still be paid for on the 'open' market, but many will likely require initial funding directly or indirectly through the federal and local governments. Whether workers are paid as employees of businesses, independent contractors, or direct employees of the 'commonwealth' should not really matter, and could be worked out in "Cooperative Problem Solving Experiments." – see 11.


10. I believe mortgage relief and new creative ideas to reduce the cost of living and help keep people in their homes are fundamental for communities to achieve success in sustainable, economic endeavors. Creativity, flexibility and an open mind are perhaps the most essential components for sustainability. - This is about rebuilding the United States for the 21st Century...  From my perspective, major elements of our economy have essentially been running backwards; so that much of what we have considered normal no longer makes sense. – A new 'normal' is beginning to arise. (Perhaps more so in some other countries; hopefully we can start to catch up, lead and walk together) And the new normal should be better for all of us…


11. Some Resources and Reference Materials: Brooksley Born – Frontline Movie "The Warning" at pbs.org;  Lester R. Brown at the Earth Policy Institute: "World on the Edge. – How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse";  William McDonough at McDonough.com: Sustainable Architecture and Philosophy – also at TED Talks;  David MacKay: "Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air"; EnviroMonster.com: "Cooperative Problem Solving Experiments", Streams of Consciousness, and Jobs Proposals;  Jacques Fresco at TheVenusProject.com;  Peter Joseph at ZeitgeistMovie.com;  Joe Shuster: "Beyond Fossil Fools";   Japan for Sustainability at japanfs.org;  Jimmy Carter's Energy Speech from April 18, 1977 at pbs.org;  C-Span public meeting on U.S. – Canada Pipeline Oct. 7, 2011: www.c-spanvideo.org/program/301959-1; DemocracyNow.org; 

                   - Peace through intelligence, courage and persistence -