The Good Economist May 2016 - Page 11

Major media could use their cultural power to inspire trust and enthusiasm for the future. But corporate broadcasters spread fear and dread, instead of uniting us to assume power. City Hall could convert the poorest into entrepreneurs by making internet free in humble homes, but telecommunications corporations threaten to sue.

To accelerate change, City Hall could move tax revenue from commercial banks into a new municipal bank with accounts targeted to the solutions above. But megabanks resist competition. At the same time, an independent regional stock exchange could gather capital specifically to empower the poor, but securities law resists this, too.

Millions of dollars could be raised to replace poverty with jobs, without raising taxes, were the City to accept small-denomination negotiable bonds backed by the land, tools, and skills of all who want to end hunger, homelessness, and crime. But this requires special effort.

Sooner or later, though, the greater laws of human need will assert balance. For better or worse, one of two things will happen. To survive, the poor would get tired of killing one another and would take what they need from Center City. Eventually there would not be enough police to prevent upheaval. As JFK said, "those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." This is not a threat, just history.

By contrast, City Council could change current laws to welcome economic justice. This benefits everyone. Philly’s middle class will stabilize by joining forces with the traditionally poor, to rebuild society toward balance with nature. This would employ the next ten generations of construction workers, engineers, and the rest of us. Rather than merely servicing and controlling suffering people, we gradually transfer economic power and land to them and ourselves, through mutual aid systems.

By embracing this new idea of success the middle class can, in fact, become something better-- the Mutual Class. They can reduce their own costs of living, and costs of government, by investing in poor neighborhoods directly.

While there may always be need for government safety nets, taxpayers would increasingly escape the taxes that currently subsidize housing, heating and electric, Medicaid and Food Stamps. And there will be more taxpayers to share the load.

At the same time, the rich and powerful would be freed to use their authority is to serve humanity, not gluttony. Employers would invest in workers as assets (even as friends) rather than as costs. This process requires neither bloodthirsty capitalism nor bleeding-heart socialism. Call it Mutual Enterprise-- the collaboration of mutual aid groups and businesses dedicated to community.

To summarize, It is an unusual revolution which benefits liberals and conservatives, which lowers taxes and living costs, expands enterprise, reduces crime, cleans the environment, and ends poverty. Philadelphia will get ahead by getting together.

Glover is founder of 18 mutual aid campaigns, author of six books on grassroots economics, and former adjunct professor of urban studies at Temple University. paulglover.org

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