Imagine if we could issue an alternative currency, Mutual Aid Dollars (MAD coins, like Bitcoins, or rather Stable Coins). Once upon a time US dollars could be redeemed for gold and then silver. Today the dollar is backed by the motto “In God we trust.” With the continual changes since the 1970s, we have moved to become a debtor society where 40% of the population has less than $400 in savings. Thus, the primary purpose of dollars has become a mechanism to track our debt. Think about the recent fluctuations in the stock market. Have you thought about what makes that kind of wealth disappear in a few days and then reappear again? Did you have a chance to be a day trader and profit from these fluctuations? Our society has developed a very different definition of wealth based on speculation and computerized high-speed trading on Wall Street. Humans are no match for the algorithms that determine these high-speed trades and the length of your internet fiber cable from your office to the internet exchange point is a large determinant have your success versus your competitors. For those of us who are older and lucky enough to have some retirement savings, have you wondered about whether to move your investments into cash or some kind of bonds? Perhaps local communities should be offering bonds to build a public utility for broadband internet infrastructure. With schools being closed, the virus has put a spotlight on the inequality our population faces with respect to internet access.
Too many of us having lived with the illusion that money is something real and concrete. During the recent stay-at-home orders various people have begun new sorts of Mutual Aid practices. My wife has been sewing surgical masks for people. On the internet she first encountered someone with a fabric store who dropped off supplies on our front porch. Then she corresponded with someone who was a bus driver and going back to work. The bus driver wanted to buy some masks. My wife said that she would accept a donation and give it to a local food bank. This story is just one example of how people all over are coming to the Mutual Aid of others. So, it has made me think about the meaning of economic growth. What if growth was based on our exchange of goods and services with each other, instead of the number of weapons that are produced by Raytheon and sold to Saudi Arabia? In future posts will be delving deeper into monetary exchanges and how Alternatives might work. In the meantime, here is a study just published by The Institute for Policy Studies.
Billionaires dominate our politics, culture, and economy. Their wealth, as this report shows, has concentrated mightily over the last four decades — even as the number of U.S. households with zero or negative net worth is increasing and most of us are living paycheck to paycheck.Institute for Policy Studies
The current pandemic is exposing our central economic and social reality: Extreme wealth inequality has become America’s “pre-existing condition.”
In this report, they show how billionaire wealth has grown astoundingly over the last few decades — and, for some “pandemic profiteers,” even more dramatically since the COVID-19 crisis — even as billionaire tax obligations have plummeted.