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American Apartheid

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Trapped in a social catastrophe

  By Mike Krauss

The United States remains trapped in a slow moving social catastrophe.

Millions of unemployed, late middle aged Americans will never again have full-time, good paying jobs. More millions of the nation's college educated young are unemployed or underemployed and saddled with debt. The number of children whose diet depends on food stamps is soaring. The nation's infrastructure continues its descent to Third World status, as public education crumbles with it.

Political power flows from wealth. When wealth is concentrated, so also is political power. Wealth and political power in the United States are now so grotesquely concentrated as to threaten democracy itself.

An apartheid America is emerging: the wealthy few, served by a second tier of retainers (presidents, members of Congress, corporate media, etc), who facilitate the expropriation of what once was the greatest and most broadly shared prosperity the world had even known, as millions are reduced to poverty.

What can be done to arrest the decline?

Stop looking to Washington. Look to Main Street.

The most striking characteristic of the American people has been and remains its diversity, and the magnitude of that diversity. There is nothing to match it. If it can be enabled, that diversity will fire up the engine of American ingenuity and enterprise.

But Washington will not light that fire.

The place to enable and harness the diversity of America is in its cities, counties and states.

The key is banking.

American banking today is as concentrated and dysfunctional as Washington. Nine banks now hold 75 percent of all assets in the U.S. banking system. Yet the system fails in its most important function: the effective allocation of capital and credit into the productive economy.

The trillions of dollars pumped into the failed and bailed banks never got past Wall Street. They sit instead in the banks' reserve accounts with the Federal Reserve, to prop up balance sheets that are more fiction than fact and make huge profits on the interest rate spread.

While American cities, schools, infrastructure and families disintegrate.

The U.S. banking system urgently needs an overhaul, and it is underway: the creation of a network of state, county and municipal "public" banks, modeled on the hugely successful Bank of North Dakota (BND).

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www.papublicbankproject.org

Author of the forthcoming novel "Pursuits of Happiness," a director of the Public Banking Institute and chairman of the Pennsylvania Project. Mike is an international transportation and logisics executive with broad experience in U.S. government and (more...)
 

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