THIRD WAY ECONOMICS-BOOK REVIEW: David C. Korten's Agenda for a New EconomySubmitted by Gary Flomenhoft on Sat, 02/06/2010 - 9:04am.
Agenda for a New Economy's subtitle is "From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth" This is the essence of the book, and a key phrase to remember. It summarizes the difference between Wall St. and Main St. in a simple phrase. Phantom wealth is the creation of money from money "unrelated to the creation of anything of real value or utility": through accounting entries, inflation of asset bubbles, speculation, corporate asset stripping, predatory lending, risk shifting, leveraging, and creating debt pyramids. Real Wealth has intrinsic value such as healthy food, fertile land, pure air and water, caring relationships and loving parents, education, health care, fulfilling opportunities for service, and time for reflection. "Main St. is the world of local business and working people engaged in the production of real goods and services to provide a livelihood for themselves, their families, and communities". Korten traces all the failures of our economic system to the misperception of money as wealth, and the focus on creating the bogus phantom wealth of Wall St. instead of the real wealth of Main St.
Korten calls Wall St. buccaneers and privateers, corrupt beyond repair. and calls the bailout a "fool's errand", which won't work because it doesn't address the cause of the problem. Korten urges us to look upstream at causes and finds that it is the ability of Wall St. banks to create money from nothing, through fractional reserve banking and other leveraging scams that is at the heart of the problem. He lists a 12 point agenda for a new economy:
1. Redirect the focus of economic policy from growing phantom wealth to growing real wealth.
2. Recover Wall Street's unearned profits, and assess fees and fines to make WAll St. theft and gambling unprofitable.
3. Implement full-cost market pricing
4. Reclaim the corporate charter
5. Restore national economic sovereignty
6. Rebuild communities with a goal of achieving local self-reliance in meeting basic needs
7. Implement policies that create a strong bias in favor of human-scale businesses owned by local stakeholders.
8. Facilitate and fund stakeholder buyouts to democratize ownership.
9. Use tax and income policies to favor the equitable distribution of wealth and income.
10. Revise intellectual property rules to facilitate the free sharing of information and technology.
11. Restructure financial services to serve Main St.
12. Transfer to the federal government the responsibility for issuing money.
He was on the right track until number 12. His diagnosis is right about the misplaced privilege of creating money handed to banks. There are many writers who are now talking about money creation like Tom Greco, Ellen Webb, Ricky Cook, Bernard Liatear, Adrian Kuszminsky, Jim Hogue, etc. who offer more decentralized approaches to public money creation. Readers of these pages will be skeptical that the federal government is the place to hand the money creating power, when the federal government is in the control of the very Wall St. forces that created the problem in the first place.
Korten also recognizes the inherent growth imperative of a system where money is created as debt with interest attached, and notes the insanity of promoting a system of infinite growth on a finite planet. He offers the solution that government should spend money into circulation instead of banks lending it at interest.
Korten's book is a clear, concise analysis of the economic problems that we face. His use of the terms phantom and real wealth provides an extremely useful way to frame the problem so it is easily understood. His embracing of government created money is right on target. The only flaw in this book is his focus on the federal government as the solution to the problem, when we all know it is at the heart of it.
End of Flomenhoft's review.
Dick's additional comment: Korten says little about US militarism, but what he does say makes it clear he sees it and US capitalism inseparable. E.g., "...poor countries are poor not because they receive too little foreign aid but because we of the rich nations have used our military and economic power to expropriate their resources to consume beyond our own means." (p. 60)
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New Year, same shell game being played by the fat-cats on Wall Street.
In 2009, public employee Joe Wisniowski made $40,000/year as an Airport Equipment Operator for an Ohio airport while Wall Street raked in $20.3 BILLION in bonuses. Joe's story highlights the need for you to help us STOP THE LIES!
We the taxpayers bailed out Wall Street yet to divert attention, they want you to believe that public service workers are the ones who are overpaid.
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IMPORTANCE OF INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION
"Cultural manipulation becomes less effective as an instrument of sociual control as more of us become familiar with cultures distinctly different from [and cuperior to] our own. Such experiences awake our consciousness to the reality that culture is a social construct subject to choice and falsification." (Korten 249)
Nationalism, patriotism, exceptionalism, chauvinism, jingoism thrive in isolation from comparison. In countless ways since its inception OMNI has applied lessons from abroad to change these lethal loyalties. Let us strive to increase study, for example, of the Scandinavian countries, for example of their taxation and social services, of the prison system of Finland. OMNI would benefit by the actions of a volunteer devoted to international education--for a film series, forums, working with international students, and so on.
OMNI AND SOCIAL LEARNING (Korten Chapt. 19)
STRATEGY ONE: Change the Defining Stories of the Mainstream Culture (260): "...every great transformational social movement begins with new ideas and conversations that challenge and ultimately change a prevailing cultural story." OMNI's NATIONAL DAYS Project has long attempted to do that. For example, we have offer alternatives to Columbus Day, Memorial Day, Mother's Day, Veteran's Day, Pearl Harbor Day, and more. But we also AFFIRM other days that perhaps Korben would recognize as already part of a New Economy and real wealth; for example, Human Rights Day, International Day for Women, and many more. Contact Gladys if you would like to help sustain this project.
Korten's book, esp. his final chapter, "The View from 2084," continues a long, distinguished literary history of yearning for a better world.
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