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What About Where You Live? Privatizing Our Heritage

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The place where Washington crossed the Delaware River from Pennsylvania to New Jersey during the American Revolution may be justly considered one of the shrines to American independence and the American spirit. On the Pennsylvania side of the river, hundreds of acres have long been a state park, and long been in a shameful state of disrepair and neglect.


View of Delaware River from Bowman's Hill flickr image by techfun

Now Pennsylvania, like almost every other state is slashing its budget for even essential public services and the condition of the park - and perhaps many others across the commonwealth - can be expected to deteriorate.

Some Pennsylvania state lawmakers have introduced legislation to transfer about 137 acres of the park to private owners, the Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, which for years has conserved and maintained many acres along side the park.

This sounds like a good idea to legislators desperate to get rid of problems - any way they can - and the legislation has flown through the state's House of Representatives and is being fast tracked through the state Senate. But it is not a good idea at all. In fact, it is a vey, very bad precedent.

For more than 30 years the once broadly shared private wealth of America has been steadily transferred and concentrated into the hands of ever fewer, ever richer Americans. With the Wall Street bailout, the assault on the private wealth of Americans has reached shameful proportions, as trillions of dollars in the value of lost homes, lost pensions, lost savings, lost health care, lost investments and lost futures is gobbled up by Wall Street.

The six largest Wall Street banks now control assets greater than 60 percent of the entire U.S. gross domestic product.

Now the Obama administration and Congress are worried about the deficit and debt. Americans will soon be told by a special, bipartisan, blue ribbon commission that they must swallow some bitter medicine. Social Security, Medicare and what little of Americans' taxes that is not yet spent on Wall Street, the war machine and corporate welfare will be on the block.

But it will not be enough to feed the insatiable appetite for profit of America's corporate masters, and when the private wealth of Americans is exhausted, they will go after the public wealth - which includes things like state parks.

Because parks, which have a lot of real estate, are an asset and are bankable - they can be turned into investment and more profit.

Which is why, in 1919 the people of North Dakota formed their own bank, specifically to avoid the clutches of Wall Street and its then newly created subsidiary, the Federal Reserve, and placed in their state bank all the assets of the state. From that time, Bank of North Dakota has generated a wealth of credit, investment and revenue for the people of the state.

While almost every state in the United States is now drowning in red ink, North Dakota is posting a surplus. In the last decade, the Bank of North Dakota has returned more than a third of a billion dollars to the state general fund and invests in businesses and education, funds disaster relief and creates jobs.

The legislatures of half a dozen other states are now taking steps to create a state bank. As of today, candidates in Florida, Oregon, Illinois, California, Washington State, Vermont, and Idaho have platforms which contain this game changing proposal.

It is projected that California, with more than $200 billion in real estate, roughly $62 billion in investments and more than $100 billion in projected 2010 revenues could safely leverage that into $4 trillion for investment in infrastructure, schools, jobs and the needs of the people.

The balance sheet included in the Report for the Fiscal Year June 30, 2009 of the annual audited statement for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania shows that, while not as rich as California, the people of Pennsylvania own more than $50 billion in assets, including: $2.4 billion in anticipated tax revenue, $3.5 billion in long-term investments and $2.2 billion in real estate, including the 137 acres in the Washington Crossing Historic Park.

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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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State banks can create a river of new credit and i... by Mike Krauss on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 9:26:52 AM
Its heritage does not go back to Revolutionary Day... by GLloyd Rowsey on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 11:53:38 AM
To watch the country one grew up loving, cherishin... by Dennis Kaiser on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 7:51:19 PM