We live in challenging and increasingly hard times in the United States. Over the last few decades, the American economy has drastically changed. Wages for working people have not risen in 30 years, the vast majority of families need two incomes to get by, and after working for 40 years, few are assured a livable pension. We believe that the key to understanding this change is not globalization, or the internet, or inevitable change, but the growing concentration and monopolization of the American market.
We have witnessed the once strong American economy and American worker become the most indebted in the world. The average American is in debt to a greater degree than any time in history, while in a half century the nation has gone from the greatest creditor nation in history to the largest debtor nation in history.
Most recently, a meltdown of Wall Street and the banking sector has seen 401ks drop in value and, most tellingly, a government deaf to the plight of average Americans and cries of economists immediately pour trillions of dollars in the coffers of Wall Street and the banks. At the same time, the floors of Congress are turned into a trading pit, with lobbyists of mega-corporations stacked outside in the halls fighting to fund reelection committees, so they can get the best deal.
A financial crisis has quickly turned into a economic crisis with unemployment rising above double digits, local governments cutting services, and schools, the foundation of our future, closing.
It has become obvious to all, our economy, our politics, and our government are not working for the benefit of the majority. We need A New Way Forward.
The first step forward must be a rengagement of the American people with politics and their government. Our republic was formed over two centuries ago, with one essential understanding, it needed the goodwill and participation of the people to effectively function. When people are engaged in their society, their minds are engaged and they feel their own dignity and self-respect; when they come together we bring on greater thought and progressive change. Towards this end, we need to have democratic, constructive conversations so that we can command our own words and the change that brings dignity and fortune to many more. This is the way we can truly engage millions of people and come together to fight for ourselves. We need the American people to step up, educate themselves on the issues of the 21st century, conduct conversations with their family, friends, and co-workers, and then begin to assert an agenda for real change and reform of our economy and our government — local, state, and national.
We need to talk about why after so many years of hearing there was no money for health care, schools, new transit, you name it, just like that, overnight trillions were found for the banks and Wall Street.
We need to talk about what the Federal Reserve is and how without approval from the Congress they can give the banks over 2 trillion dollars we don’t have.
We need to talk about the power of large corporations. Do we want entities in our society that are too big to fail, that assert so much power that laws are written every day for their benefit?
We must reform our politics so that one dollar – one vote is replaced by one person – one vote.
We the people must regain control of our economy, our politics, and our government.
A New Way Forward has one common answer to all these questions. It involves reviving the old American notion of a real, competitive marketplace full of entrepreneurs and producers making things and sharing ideas and products. We sometimes call this antitrust, and sometimes call it competition policy. This all starts with the American people educating ourselves, talking with each other, and beginning to participate in a new politics that doesn’t benefit large corporations, incumbent elected officials, or Wall Street. The only way this is going to be done is the American way, and that is each of us, every citizen, gets involved in rejecting our the system of the few and replacing it for the many so that once again the next generation can have a better future than the previous.
Our Demand: Real Structural Change of Wall Street
We believe that our economy is too top-down, and power is too concentrated across the board, and would like to see all monopolies broken up. In the short term, we need to start with the financial industry. The nation’s biggest bankers created the present economic crisis and are now reaping the fruits of a political system that they gamed, profiting even more off the crisis they caused. They have done so because they rule the central bank that has the power to issue them money, they dictate our laws on money because we’ve been taught that they know best, they have created the largest profit-to-person debt ratio in history because they regulate themselves. The largest banks have created the strongest political and economic force our country has ever seen. To move forward, we can no longer believe in the wisdom of these bankers and no longer support their godly growth. It’s time to address the problems the bankers have created head-on — we must stop the millions of mortgages that have been preyed on and come undone by the largest banks.
The bankers’ failure to see anything beyond short-term profit for themselves has torn this country apart and jeopardized our future and has made us a nation of trillions of dollars in debt. But the blame doesn’t lie only with the banks; it also lies with the U.S. government that failed to protect its citizens through regulation and oversight.
Through their blind and unconditional faith in the financial markets, the banks and the government have made us all into victims of greed gone out of control. It is estimated that there will be 8-9 million more foreclosures in the coming years as a result of the crisis. This crisis is an opportunity for President Obama to lead the U.S. in a new direction; one that values economic growth, but protects the well-being of the public before the bank accounts of the world’s financial elite.
But, so far, the policies proposed by the Obama administration to deal with the crisis look too much like the Bush-Paulson bailouts. Instead, we want to see protections for those that have lost their jobs, then their homes because of the crisis. We need more than a polite gesture of a program.
At the personal level, we know that the smart thing to do with our money right now is generally the less flashy thing. Paying off our debts and saving for the future protects us from the risks we can’t afford to take in the current market. The same rules apply to the banks. This is a time for a level-headed government to step in and steer unhealthy banks away from more risky bets, and to help them stabilize in the name of economic security for America. As economist Nassim Taleb recommends, the only way out of this mess is for the government to instead help to build equity for those taken down by the crisis’ storm. We will address this issue head-on and stop foreclosures through community rallies and with support of millions of Americans.
Nothing tells the bankers to keep on doing what they’re doing more than an endless stream of free taxpayer money. The banks know that the government considers them too big to fail; if structural reform of the financial sector continues to be off the table, what incentive do they have to act in the public interest? Thus, we will stop foreclosures and push bankers to do the right thing in order to reform them now.
In a basic sense, this is a fight against corruption. Not in the sense of a quid-pro-quo (though that may be there too), but in the sense of a corrupt ideology. For the most part, the world of economists, politicians and financiers is one elite web of influence. At some point, private profit took over as the only value to consider in building an economy, and it has never subsided. This is true of the thinking from both major parties.
For example, Timothy Geithner, Obama’s Treasury Secretary and a “liberal,” was a key architect of Bush’s original bank bailout plan in his former role as Chief of the New York Reserve Bank. Under Obama, Geithner has continued to propose what sounds like more blank-check bailouts (in various disguises) and has specifically ruled out other approaches, such as bankruptcy proceedings and reorganization of the failed banks, because, he says, “our system will be stronger if it remains in private hands.” The necessary solutions to our economic crisis just don’t compute in the minds of the financial elite.
If our government is to take decisive action to rebuild the economy in a way that protects the public, it will require Americans to fight back against this corruption. We must organize ourselves around serious ideas to demand a new way forward or things simply will not change.
Any bank that’s “too big to fail” means that it’s too big for a free market to function. The financial corporations that caused this mess must be broken up and regulated with strong, new regulatory and antitrust rules in place, so that their power and influence not take down the country again. An independent regulatory body must protect consumers from predatory practices.
As Wall St. corporations grew bigger and bigger until they were “too big to fail,” they also became so politically powerful that they led to distorted and unfair policies that served companies, not citizens.
Its not enough to try to patch up the current system. We demand serious reform that fixes the root problems in our political and economic system: excessive influence of banks, dangerous compensation systems, and massive consolidation. And we demand that the reform happen in an open and transparent manner. All of the actions ANWF is engaged in to stop the crisis from ripping our families further apart all get back to our belief in the right course of action for corrupt banks.
We demand that all banks that have bankrupted themselves be broken up.
Banks must be broken up and sold back to the private market with strong, new regulatory and antitrust rules in place– new banks, managed by new people. Any bank that’s “too big to fail” means that it’s too big for a free market to function. (see Mike Lux on decentralization)
It is pertinent to understand that it is not enough to patch up the current system. We need to restrict the ways that bankers can lobby and serve in the government and run the central bank. We need to prohibit compensation plans that encourages huge short-term risk. We have to break up any bank that’s “too big to fail” so that we can have a functional free market. We need serious reform that fixes the root causes in our political and economic system: excessive influence of banks, dangerous compensation systems, and massive consolidation that does nothing to serve the public interest.
In the same way that the bankers have manipulated politicians to act in their favor, we the people will educate ourselves and fight for economic policies that are good for the public.
Credible experts from all over the political spectrum agree that the current bank bailouts are failing. Our blog gathers the most forward thinking thought on our economy and political situation. Prominent experts are highlighted in the blog with the best snippets of their arguments. We will be reaching out to top economists for their take on the economy and to post their arguments on this blog.
You make the difference. Take this opportunity seriously, email your friends, plan meetings for people to talk to each other, reach out to us for speakers and help, take this moment seriously.
This site was set up to help people and groups organize around an approach to economic recovery in a ground up, localized organizing effort.
If you would like to get involved, help collect information or start a local chapter, please contact z teachout at gmail.com. There’s more than enough for you to do.