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
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
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
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).