Vision and Strategy
Helping orient our work today as community wealth builders towards the world we want to see tomorrow.
It is increasingly obvious that the United States faces systemic economic and political challenges. Income and wealth disparities have become severe and corrosive of democratic possibilities. Ecological decay deepens day by day. A record number of Americans are in poverty and full employment is nowhere on the horizon. Corporate power now dominates decision-making through lobbying, uncontrolled political contributions, and political advertising. The planet itself is threatened by global warming. The lives of millions are compromised by economic and social pain. Many of our communities are in decay.
Is there any way forward? At the Collaborative, we believe that effectively rising to the challenges we face in our communities requires a long-term vision of where we're going – an understanding of the contours of "the next system" – and how the projects of today can form the foundation for the principles of tomorrow.
Hey, look it over—public ownership is the most effective way to fix America’s economy.
It’s time to put the taboo subject of public ownership back on the progressive agenda. It is the only way to solve some of the most serious problems facing the nation. We contend that it is possible not only to talk about this once forbidden subject but to begin to build a serious politics that can do what needs to be done in key sectors.
Proposals for public ownership will of course be attacked as “socialism,” but conservatives call any progressive program—to say nothing of the modest economic policies of the Obama administration—“socialist.” However, many Americans are increasingly skeptical about the claims made for the corporate-dominated “free” enterprise system by its propagandists. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that a majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of corporations—a significant shift from only twelve years ago, when nearly three-quarters held a favorable view. At the same time, two recent Rasmussen surveys found Americans under 30—the people who will build the next politics—almost equally divided as to whether capitalism or socialism is preferable. Another Pew survey found that 18- to 29-year-olds have a favorable reaction to the term “socialism” by a margin of 49 to 43 percent.
As real income levels have stagnated and traditional politics remains deadlocked, communities are looking for new avenues to educate and employ themselves, from social enterprises and cooperatives to community development corporations and credit unions. Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz reviews the impact of these community wealth building organizations in “How to Democratize the US Economy,” a new article published in the Nation. This article presents the challenges of supporting these organizations and structuring new local and national institutions that foster efficient, effective, stable, and equitable local economies.
THE Barclays interest-rate scandal, HSBC’s openness to money laundering by Mexican drug traffickers, the epic blunders at JPMorgan Chase — at this point, four years after Wall Street wrecked the global economy, does anyone really believe we can regulate the big banks? And if we broke them up, would they really stay broken up?
Most liberals in Washington — President Obama included — keep hoping the banks can be more tightly controlled but otherwise left as is. That’s the theory behind the two-year-old Dodd-Frank law, which Republicans and Wall Street are still working to eviscerate.
New book from political economist and historian Gar Alperovitz, the co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, outlines how we can democratize wealth and build a community sustaining economy from the ground up.