The Decade Of Transformation Is Here: Remaking The Economy For The People

| Newsletter

The pandemic, economic collapse and the government’s response to them are going to not only determine the 2020 election but define the future for this decade and beyond. People are seeing the failure of the US healthcare nonsystem and the economy. The government was able to provide trillions for big business and Wall Street without asking the usual, “Where will we get the money?” However, the rescue bill recently passed by Congress provides a fraction of what most people need to get through this period. Once again, a pandemic will reshape the course of history.

Last week, we wrote about the failings of the healthcare system and the need for a universal, publicly-funded systemThis week, we focus on the need to change the US economic system. The economic crisis in the United States is breaking all records. The class war that has existed for decades is being magnified and sharpened. The failings of financialized, neoliberal capitalism is being brought into focus at a time when people in the United States have greater support for socializing the economy than in recent times.

This Thursday, there was a record 3.3 million applications for unemployment, an increase of three million from the previous week, but on the same day, there was a record rise in the stock market. This contradiction shows the divide between the economic insecurity of the people and investors profiting from the crisis. The 11.4 percent increase in the stock market on Thursday was the largest increase since 1933 while the record rise in unemployment was 40 percent higher than ever recorded. Projections are for 30 percent unemployment this quarter, which is five percent higher than the worst of the Great Depression.

The response to the economic crisis reveals who the government represents. While people’s economic insecurity grew, the government acted to primarily benefit the wealthiest. This realization should spur an uprising like the United States has never seen before. Perhaps the most dangerous to the ruling class is their incompetence has been exposed. As Glen Ford writes,The capitalist ‘crisis of legitimacy’ may have passed the point of no return, as the Corporate State proves daily that it cannot perform the basic function of protecting the lives of its citizens.”

Disaster Aid: Crumbs For The People, Trillions For The Wealthiest

Congress unanimously passed a $1.6 trillion coronavirus disaster aid bill this week. This is almost equal to the 2009 Recovery Act and the 2008 Wall Street rescue combined. Democrat’s votes were essential to passing the bill so they could have demanded whatever they wanted. This bill shows the bi-partisan priority for big business.

The bill is too little too late for people who have lost their jobs and for small businesses that have been forced to close. The law includes a one-time $1,200 payment to most people. This payment will arrive after rent and other debt payments are due for a US population with record debt. Congress does not understand the economic realities of people in the United States. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz explained what was needed saying, “The answer is we need no evictions, no foreclosures on all properties, and the government should guarantee pay.” In addition, credit card companies should also put “a stay on interest on all debt.” 

When COVID-19 first began, we pointed out that the US healthcare system was not prepared to respond and showed the problems of putting profits before health. The COVID-19 rescue bill did not pay for coronavirus testing or treatment. Millions of people who lose their jobs will lose their health insurance, demonstrating why healthcare should not be tied to employment. Adding to health problems, the law did not increase the SNAP food program for the poor.

Roughly one-third of the funding goes to direct payments to people, unemployment insurance for four months, hospitals, veterans’ care, and public transit. Two-thirds go to government and corporations. Adam Levitin describes the law as “robbing taxpayers to bail out the rich.”

Congress allotted at least $454 billion to support big business in addition to $46 billion for specific industries, especially airlines. Some of these funds will also bail out the fossil fuel industry. According to the way the Federal Reserve operates, they will be allowed to spend ten times the amount Congress allocated to support big business, $4.5 trillion. Jack Rasmus writes that the Federal Reserve had already “allocated no less than $6.2 Trillion so far to bail out the banks and investors.” He summarizes the disparity: “Meanwhile Congress provides one-fourth that, and only one-third of that one fourth, for the Main St., workers, and middle-class families.”

Trump shows the disdain government has for the people and its favoritism for big business and investors as he objected to paying for 80,000 life-saving ventilators because they cost $1 billion while the government provides trillions to big business and investors. Governors and hospitals are issuing dire warnings of what is to come, but the federal government is not listening.

Economic Collapse Shows The Need For Transformational Change

The economic collapse is still unfolding. The US is already in a deep recession that is likely to be worse than the 2008 financial crisis and could develop into a greater depression if the COVID-19 economic shutdown lasts a long time.

Already, the crises, the government’s support for Wall Street and its failure to protect the 99% are creating louder demands for system change. We need to put forward a bold agenda and agitate around it to demand economic security for all. As Margaret Kimberly writes, we are entering a period of revolutionary change because we know returning to normal is “the opposite of what we need.” Or as Vijay Prashad says, “Normal was the problem.”

While the urgent health and economic crises dominate, the climate crisis also continues. The climate crisis already required replacing the fossil fuel era with a clean and sustainable energy economy and remaking multiple sectors of the economy such as construction, transportation, agriculture, and infrastructure. Now, out of these crises, a new sustainable economic democracy can be born where people control finance, inequality is minimized and workers are empowered, along with creating public programs that meet the necessities of the people and protect the planet.

The US Constitution gives the government the power to create money; Article I, Section 8 says: “The Congress shall have power … to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin.” Congress needs to take back that power so the government can create debt-free money. Currently, the Federal Reserve, which was created by Congress in 1913, is the privately-owned US central bank that produces money and sets interest rates. It puts the interests of the big banks first. The Fed can be altered, nationalized or even dismantled by Congress. Its functions could be put into the Department of the Treasury. 

Monetary actions need to be transparent and designed to serve the necessities of the people and the planet. Money should be spent by the government into the economy to meet those needs while preventing inflation and deflation. In this way, the government would have the funds needed to transform to a green energy economy, rebuild infrastructure, provide education from pre-school through college without tuition, create the healthcare infrastructure we need for universal healthcare and more.  In addition, through a network of state and local public banks, people would be able to get cost-only mortgages and loans to meet their needs. 

Moving money creation into the federal government would place it within the constitutional system of checks and balances where the people have a voice to ensure it works for the whole society, not only for the bankers and the privileged. This could end the parasitic private banking system and replace it with a democratic public system designed for the people’s needs as Mexico is doing

Globalization must be reconsidered. Corporate globalization with trade agreements that favor corporate power is a root cause of this global pandemic. We need trade that puts people and the planet first and encourages local production of goods. This includes remaking agriculture to support smaller farms and urban farming using organic and regenerative techniques that increase the nutritional value of foods and sequester carbon.

What we need instead is popular globalization – developing solidarity and reciprocity between people around the world. We can learn from each other, collaborate and provide mutual aid in times of crisis as Cuba and other countries are doing now.

As businesses are bailed out by the government, they could be required to protect and empower workers. Workers’ rights have been shrinking since the 1950s as unions have become smaller and more allied with business interests. The right to collective bargaining needs to be included as a requirement for receiving government funds. For large public corporations, workers should be given a board seat, indeed the government should be given a board seat and an equity share in any corporation that is bailed out. For smaller businesses, as they reopen, it is an opportunity to restructure so worker ownership and workers sharing in the profits become the norm.

The US needs to build the economy from the bottom up. The era of trickle-down economics that has existed since the early 80s has failed most people in the United States. The government needs to create a full-employment economy with the government as the employer of last resort. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives US infrastructure a grade of D+ requiring a $2 trillion dollar investment that would create millions of jobs. The Green New Deal would create 30 million jobs over ten years according to the detailed plan put forward by the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins.

The coronavirus disaster aid includes a payment to every person in the US earning under $70,000. While the one-time $1,200 check is grossly insufficient, it demonstrates the possibility of a universal basic income. This would lift people out of poverty and protect them from the coming age of robots and artificial intelligence that will impact millions of existing jobs. The evidence is growing that a basic income worksA World Bank analysis of 19 studies found that cash transfers have been demonstrated to improve education and health outcomes and alleviate poverty

The United States economy is in a debt crisis that demands quantitative easing for the people. Personal, corporate and government debt is at a record high. While the economic collapse is being blamed on the coronavirus, the reality is that the pandemic was a trigger that led to a recession that was already coming. The US needs to correct those fundamentals — massive debt, a wealth divide, inadequate income, poverty — as part of restarting the economy. Just as the Fed has bought debts to relieve businesses of debt burden, it can do the same for the personal debts of people. We should start by ending the crisis of student debt, which is preventing two generations from participating in the economy. While we make post-high school vocational and college education tuition-free, we should not leave behind the generations suffering from high-priced education.

Rise-Up and Demand Change

To create change, people must demand it. Even before the coronavirus collapse, people were demanding an end to inequality, worker rights, climate justice, and improved Medicare for all, among other issues. In the last two years, the United States has seen record numbers of striking workers. The climate movement is blocking pipelines and infrastructure and shutting down cities. Protests against inequality and debt resistance have existed since the occupy movement.

Now, with the economic collapse, protests are increasing. It’s Going Down reports:with millions of people now wondering how they are going to make ends meet and pay rent, let alone survive the current epidemic, a new wave of struggles is breaking out across the social terrain. Prisoners and detention center detainees are launching hunger strikes as those on the outside demand that they be released, tenants are currently pushing for a rent strike starting on April 1st, the houseless are taking over vacant homes in Los Angeles, and workers have launched a series of wildcat strikers, sick-outs, and job actions in response to being forced onto the front lines of the pandemic like lambs to the slaughter.”

Workers at the Fiat Chrysler Windsor Assembly Plant walked off the job over concerns about the spread of coronavirus. Pittsburgh garbage collectors refused to pick up trash because their health was not being protected. Chipotle employees walked off the job and publicly protested the company for allegedly penalizing workers who call in sick. Perdue employees in Georgia walked off their jobs on a production line over a wage dispute and management asked workers to put in extra hours without a pay increase during the pandemic. Some Whole Foods workers announced a collective action in the form of a “sick out,” with workers using their sick days in order to strike. In Italy, wildcat strikes erupted to demand that plants be closed for the duration of the virus. Postal workers in London took strike actions due to the risks of the virus.

The pandemic requires creativity in protest. Technology allows us to educate and organize online, as well as to protest, petition, email, and call. There have also been car marches, public transport drivers have refused to monitor tickets, collective messages have been sent from balconies and windows. People are showing they can be innovative to get our message across to decision-makers. We can also build community and strengthen bonds with mutual aid.

If the ownership class continues its call to re-open the economy despite the health risks, the potential of a general strike can become a reality. When Trump called for returning to work the hashtags #GeneralStrike and #GeneralStrike2020— calling on workers everywhere to walk off the job — began trending on Twitter. Rather than a strike against one corporation, people would strike across multiple businesses and could also include a rent and mortgage strike as well as a debt strike. The coronavirus has shown that essential workers are among the lowest-paid workers and that they make the economy function. We also understand that if people refuse to pay their debts or rent, the financial system will collapse. Understanding those realities gives a new understanding of the power of the people. 

A general strike, as Rosa Luxembourg described it in 1906, is not ‘one isolated action” but a rallying call for a campaign of “class struggle lasting for years, perhaps for decades.” A general strike could take many forms, including a global day of action. Before the current crises, we saw the decade of the 2020s as a decade of potential transformational change because on multiple fronts movements were growing and demanding responses to an array of crises. Now, the triggers for the economic collapse could also be the trigger for transformational revolt. 

We are all in this together. We are all connected and share a common humanity. If we act in solidarity during this time of crisis and in this decade of transformation, we can create the future we want to see for ourselves and future generations.

  • 0040

    A tax revolt is a far more effective strategy . Strikes are always broken violently when they start to hurt profits in America. But a tax revolt would require the cooperation of those who collect taxes for the various governments , small and medium sized employers. However this segment of the populace has long been complicit in screwing their fellow citizens and are unlikely to change until they to begin to suffer at the hands of police , soldiers , and tax collectors.

  • Richard

    “We are all in this together. We are all connected and share a common
    humanity. If we act in solidarity during this time of crisis and in this
    decade of transformation, we can create the future we want to see for
    ourselves and future generations.”

    We may all be in this together, but getting the majority of people to realize that and act on it is another thing. Far to many out there that only think of themselves and act accordingly (this virus is proof of that) without even a thought of their fellow citizens, just themselves. The citizens could change a lot of things in this country if they would quit putting their faith and votes into their party of choice and use their brain for a change. Voting D or R is only voting for your own demise like the election coming up where there will be no winner except politicians & the elite yet again. I believe that far to many people will have to hit rock bottom & notice that the only people who come to their aid are family, friends, neighbors and fellow citizens before they get it. Maybe this virus is enough to do that, if it is then if I do die from the virus it was worth it.

  • voza0db

    You guys really live in a permanent delusion state of mind!

    They are doing even more good stuff than they were doing in 2007/8/9/… until a few days ago!

    Enjoy
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/73cb376a0a466bf8c4756ea6c2be31e5ef53fad2919087a106e9f22cd499736a.png

  • voza0db

    That SHORT WINDOW of [fake] SOLIDARITY will quickly pass as soon as an auto-infection solution (aka vaccine) is available!

  • voza0db
  • didactic1

    Electronic foreclosure.

  • Nylene13

    Excellent Article.

    These are the issues We the People should be talking about now.

    But I wonder how many Americans today even KNOW what a General Strike IS?
    This is what should be on TV today. All the people now staying home watching TV.

    How do we create meaningful TV shows?
    We need a “Survivor” show that shows American Families actually trying to survive day to day in America.
    Educate and Organize.

    We should start with Food.
    I especially like this article’s sentence-

    “We need trade that puts people and the planet first and encourages local production of goods”.

    We need organized communities. Small Family Farms, Farmers Markets, Worker Owned-Food Co/Ops, Community and Backyard Gardens. All Organic.
    We must change the way we live.

    Or as Bernie says “The Environment must become our Priority”.
    We desperately need Bernie Sanders to become our next President.

    We need a Socialist Based Government to replace the current Capitalist one. President Bernie Sanders is currently the best way to get that started. The whole concept of Billionaires needs to end.

    No single person should be entitled to that much money or the power it represents.
    What to do about the Rich who own everything.

    That is what it all comes down to.

    And I must add-

    We the People need to become Vegetarians. People who need to eat animal protein can eat eggs and cheese and milk, from well treated animals on small
    family farms.

    Raising all these cows and pigs and chickens for slaughter is bad our our health, our land and water, and our very souls.

    We need to crate a society who’s first question is not –

    “How can we make Money on this?”
    But instead –
    “What is the Right thing to do?”

  • “Congress does not understand the economic realities of people in the United States.” The truth here is that Kevin and Margaret dont understand the realities of politicians. They are freemasons, worship Lucifer, who is not the establishment’s definition- a bright morning star- a guardian or guide- it is satan- an evil entitie truly in power and full of evil and wickedness. i know it sounds crazy, but I have been given much evidence in books i wrote. For instance, above 9-11 demolition job they sent our youth to war, and used white phosphorous,depleted uranium, and other chemical weapons after starving to death a million iraqi children because Sadam had used some chemical weapons that he bought from the US. Can you not see that our politicians are not stupid,, they are not representing us, but are opportunistic liars and actors who dont give a dam about the people and see us as “human resources” just needed to give them power and wealth?? you dont get it? you still believe their nonsense -Bernie and his words of ‘socialism’ and pretend ‘REVOLUTION’ while he backs HIllary and biden? while he votes to give the billionaires more hundreds of billions and trillons?/ you dont see it?
    EXPOSING THE MONEY MACHINE
    THE UNTOLD NATURE OF CHRISTIANITY
    ANGRY LOUD AND CLEAR TRUTH

  • pajarito

    The consumption merry-go-round that keeps greed in power needs to be boycotted. Boycotts are powerful and can be done distanced. UFW’s Ceasar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and so many others for social/environmental justice won with boycotts. Yes, the boycotts lasted for years, just as the present immokalee boycott against Wendys exploitation.

  • voza0db

    With another $4,200,000,000,000 check being given to the Owners & Friends… where are the Occupy W.S. “fighters”?!

  • voza0db

    I’m about to be banned from this site because REALITY must be kept outside… Just to say that Bernie is a Biden man.

  • Margaret Flowers

    Making assumptions again. That doesn’t surprise me. It’s amazing you are able to “know” so much about me when we have never met.

  • voza0db

    Don’t be so negative…

  • ANTONIO

    Masons were an association that formed in the 18th Century as a protest against the European monarchies. In other words, they were modern capitalists who were determined to bring down the king. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and many others were Masons. They created our modern world. I don’t understand why these dolts think there is something nefarious abut being a Mason.

  • voza0db

    Are you a Mason?

  • I used a quote from your article showing that according to what you wrote, you dont know, perhaps you know and pretend that you do not.

  • Jon

    One fundamental issue we need to proclaim is absence of TRUST. Certainly we don’t trust the political class, but we also cannot trust the banking conglomerates, Big Pharma with their plethora of vaccines and potent chemicals, and above all we cannot trust the managers of the security apparatus whose function is to preserve this top-heavy system of oppression.

  • Jon

    Re: “Voting D or R is only voting for your own demise like the election coming up:” People have to see there is a VIABLE alternative, then we can see an avalanche of defections. It is imperative for the thousands of silo-organized organizations to be willing to drop their precious 501 c 3 status and come together in a potent 3rd party, preferably us Greens.

  • kevinzeese

    We were organizers of Occupy in the US. When Occupy ended we met with other Occupy organizers and advocates on other issues to decide how to keep building the movement. We knew Occupy was a tactic of occupying public space to draw attention to our issues. We also know that making change is more than a tactic and to make real change takes time. Popular Resistance came out of the Occupy Movement. And, since Occupy, the movement has grown significantly and our issues are now part of the national dialogue and gaining national consensus. We discuss How Social Transformation Occurs in our school. See http://www.PopularResistance.org/school.

  • Günther Rückl

    Richard, I follow your vision. But we need people not sheeple. Never seen a people like the bulk of Americans, indoctrinated by their corporate media, perennially entertained, consuming, ignorant, politically disengaged, divided, selfish, arrogant. You are right, maybe when people hit rock bottom they may, I say, may, wake up.

  • Günther Rückl

    I hate to discourage you, Margarete. ” People are seeing the failure of the US healthcare nonsystem and the economy.” Do they? Will they? I am not so sure. How many articles have you and Kevin written about the healthcare system? Still, after years, many years, the US is the only country in the developed world in which 15% of people are uninsured and another 15% underinsured? The US is an exceptional country. That’s right, exceptional. Only when the proverbial bottom falls out and tens of thousands of people starve to death or another pandemia kills off 5-10% of the population may Americans rediscover the virtue of solidarity and design another system from scratch.

  • Richard

    Third party is the only way to go, but sadly far to many still have a D or R mentality stuck in their heads. It will take something drastic ( hopefully the virus) to wake them up, but right now far to many people are acting like self centered idiots with no common sense.

  • Big Brother Sam Other

    Speaking of banks that were bailed out. Does anyone know what’s happening with bank fees? An awful lot of people will drop below the minimum balance. Will they be hit with fees by the millions? Or have to close their bank accounts to avoid fees? Didn’t think about it til now. Haven’t heard anything.

  • John R.

    It amazes me that (I have never voted R) anyone at all supports the D-Party. If they don’t see them for what they are by now – a corporate party that does NOTHING for real people – then we’re gonna see the theater and LOTE voting continue with no end in sight.

  • Dave Williams

    One half of the poor can always be hired to kill the other half. Remember that while you plant your flag on wild fantasies that Bernie will ever be president, or that general strikes will lead to anything but hunger and deprivation. The DNC coalesced around a bland corporatist, and that’s who half the country, even those who consider themselves leftists, will vote for. And newsflash: Bernie will do his level best to see that happen. More “unity tours” on the way. Have fun with that. Crony capitalism is indeed failing, but the 20th century had plenty to teach us about socialism, and all of it’s oft overlooked shortcomings. Lazy ideals are peaceful lies. History, and real change are extremely violent…

  • kevinzeese

    While there is some truth to what you write, if you take it to extremes it results in – -we are powerless, do nothing. I hope that is not your view, even though that is how it came across.

  • Dave Williams

    Definitely not saying we are powerless, except that, we are powerless to make some people understand: more government is not the answer. The present crisis should make us all understand that putting our faith in government is what leads to a loss of power. A government that is big enough to provide everything the people need, is also big enough to take away everything they have. My assertion is this: hollow concepts like equality and human rights are just that; figments of the imagined order. Only a species as flawed and arrogant as humans would believe they have any more “right” to anything, than the countless other species we cast aside for our own convenience. If you want to chant down imperialism, that’s fine. But at least have the decency to explain what comes in between the general strikes and shutting down the “system”, and the utopia of universal equality. Furthermore, show us all the insight and built in checks and balances that will be installed this time around, that every other socialist society forgot; that is going to protect citizens from the obvious, eventual slide into authoritarianism which socialism always leads to. I’m no republican. I’m certainly not a democrat. But the twin lies of social justice and equality of outcome; and the lengths to which some will go in an attempt to bring those about are far more dangerous than anything the 1% could dream up.

  • didactic1

    We know how revolutions reach a point of viability. When a significant part of the ruling class military converts to a revolutionary armed force. Russia. China. America in 1776. The rest is intellectual babble.

  • Shlomo Orr

    Even then they will not discover anything… And even if they discover any thing they won’t rebel… And the few that will rebel, will be broken by the corporate state. [sorry to be that pessimist…]

  • Shlomo Orr

    So, for whom would they vote if not D?

  • Shlomo Orr

    “..every other socialist society forgot; that going to protect citizens from the obvious, eventual slide into authoritarianism which socialism always leads to” – I disagree. We have never seen a real socialist society (don’t tell me Russia, or even Cuba was/is a socialist society). Rosa Luxembourg (mentioned above) was right, which is why she was murdered and was cut to pieces (literally). Beyond this, in a reduced socialist form, we could look at Northern Europe for their Keynesian economies, which are by far better than ours. [BTW, if you listen to Bernie carefully, you will see that he is not really a socialist, but rather a fighter for social justice.] We live in an extreme situation, a self destructive one, and we need the New Deal desperately, before we all lose, including, or mainly, the rich.

  • Shlomo Orr

    Our trust is the trust of slaves (who have no trust, but learn to obey the masters).

  • John R.

    I’d say figure out where you’d like this country to go then vote for the candidate most likely to get us there – there are none – so the decision is yours. My question is why vote D as they’ve shown an aversion to any issue or candidate that proposes anything remotely progressive ? If I vote it will be green.

  • Günther Rückl

    “And the few that will rebel, will be broken by the corporate state. Sorry to be that pessimist…” You are not pessimistic, Shlomo… only realistic. Exactly that happened to me, getting broken. Despite a ‘summa cum laude’ PhD, work at a Max-Planck-Institute, training at Brown and Harvard I was unable to find a decent job after having been asked to resign (a more cordial way than straight-out getting fired) at Emory, with a nice letter of recommendation. Decisions are made after phone calls which marked me, I assume, as a rebel. I decided to leave medical practice 15 years before retirement age. For two years I was severely depressed but do not regret having been honest of what i thought about US healthcare. To a European which I am US healthcare is a tremendous challenge – and a huge disappointment.

  • Shlomo Orr

    We have a problem: we cannot stop saying what we think…
    Indeed, the Thought Police is always there, especially for high-level professionals. And like corporations (including, or especially the mainstream media), research institutes are also totalitarian, and this, combined with bad luck can be destructive. I would still keep trying, if I were you (which I was…). Luck is random, and you may find a place and a boss with open mind after all. Even teaching in high school should be explored.

  • Shlomo Orr

    D are terrible, but R are horrible and dangerous…

    And the system is rigged throughout, with the Big Brother overseeing (and controlling) it all – no illusion there.