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Howard Richards: Embrace Communities to Save Humanity and the Planet

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For the incoming administration, Trump is a hard act to follow. Trump can claim to have brought about full employment, record corporate profits, and record high share prices on the stock exchanges.

How did he do it? By borrowing incredible sums, driving federal debt alone above 28 trillion dollars, and, to top it off, creating another 3 trillion by fiat, out of thin air. He had the good luck to be president when interest rates were near zero. He was able to cut taxes, pass out money to the public, raise the salaries of the military, and provide corporates with nearly interest free loans that management could use to buy back the company´s own stock. Buybacks drove up share prices and, on that basis, qualified management for bonuses. Now Trump insists that he was re-elected and was cheated out of a second term by massive fraud.

Indeed, a hard act to follow. The incoming administration is compelled, like it or not, to continue Trump´s unlimited borrowing, hoping, and praying that interest rates do not return to more normal levels. Facing physical reality, Biden is also compelled to reverse Trump´s complete dismantling of environmental protection. He is compelled because the alternative is eco-suicide. And what if, for example, Biden is unwilling or unable to continue bullying Germany into buying expensive American gas when Russian gas is so much cheaper; thus, causing the loss of even more of the jobs that Trump gained?

Economic growth under Biden and Harris will probably be slow or turn negative. For peacemakers, what others spin as economic policy failures will be opportunities to demonstrate in practice that eco-friendly low growth, sharing and caring, doing more with less, is a good thing, not a bad thing. But will the majority pay any attention to us?

In general, the threats to democracy, and other existential threats, in the USA and in the rest of the world are far from over. Joseph Schumpeter, best known as the father of the theory of innovation, and also known (as mentioned above) for declaring that modern republics were never designed to solve social problems, would be the first to see that government alone doing what governments usually do, cannot save us. There must be innovative policies. There must be innovative contributions from all sectors. Ascending just once for a moment to the stratospheric level, Big Business must take to heart the words of Peter Drucker:

"In modern society there is no other leadership group but managers. If the managers of our major institutions, and especially of business, do not take responsibility for the common good, no one else can or will."

But big business and big government and the great universities and honest major media and enlightened law enforcement and the major labour unions and the big philanthropic foundations working together cannot save us without the contributions of the lasagne moms, the girl scouts, the boy scouts, the nurses who work overtime, and the third grade teachers. And the contributions of the poorest of the poor. How do the poorest of the poor achieve dignity and happiness working together to solve their own and each other´s problems? This is a question Joe and Jill Biden can easily find an answer to, because two experts on the subject are good friends of theirs: namely Barack and Michelle Obama. They interned and studied with John McKnight, author of Community and its Counterfeits and other must-reads. The rest of us, who have fewer opportunities to dine with Barack and Michelle, can google Asset Based Community Development.

Prof. Howard Richards teaches in the EMBA program at the University of Cape Town. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He was born in Pasadena, California but since 1966 has lived in Chile when not teaching in other places. Professor of Peace and Global Studies Emeritus, Earlham College, a school in Richmond Indiana affiliated with the Society of Friends (Quakers) known for its peace and social justice commitments. Undergraduate work at Yale. J.D. Stanford Law School, MA and PhD in Philosophy from UC Santa Barbara, Advanced Certificate in Education-Oxford, Ph.D. in Educational Planning from University of Toronto. Books: Dilemmas of Social Democracies with Joanna Swanger, Gandhi and the Future of Economics with Joanna Swanger, The Nurturing of Time Future, Understanding the Global Economy , The Evaluation of Cultural Action, Following Foucault: The Trail of the Fox (with Catherine Hoppers and Evelin Lindner), (on Amazon as an e book), Unbounded Organizing in Community (with Gavin Andersson, also on Amazon), Rethinking Thinking (with Catherine Hoppers), Hacia otras Economias co-edited with Raul Gonzalez, Solidaridad, Participacion, Transparencia: conversaciones sobre el socialismo en Rosario, Argentina . Available free on the blogspot lahoradelaetica.

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Dr. Howard Richards: Education: Yale, Oxford, Harvard, University of California at Santa Barbara, University of Toronto, Stanford Law School (USA). Three doctorates: Education, Philosophy and Law. First volunteer attorney for the late Cesar (more...)
 

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