The first annual Public Banking Institute meeting was held in Philadelphia (http://www.publicbankinginamerica.org/home.htm) last weekend, April 26-28, 2012.
The pre-meeting get-together of about 22 State coordinators (like me - NY), was a chance to see how far we've come -- 17, soon to be 18, States now have some form of public banking bills in active status, all introduced since 2010. This is testament not only to the depths of the economic crisis, but also to the broad realization that the old solutions -- taxing, borrowing, and even Keynesian stimulus, simply don't work anymore. It was clear from both the Coordinators' meeting and from the larger conference that followed, that:
A. The debt-based money system is fundamentally unsound and unsustainable, and
B. That some form of Public Bank, state-wide, or even nationally, needs to be established to return money to, as guest speaker and Libertarian presidential candidate Bill Still put it, "We the People."
Ellen Brown, president and founder of the sponsoring Public Banking Institute, and present throughout, included in her opening remarks the following joke to the sold-out crowd of 150 or so attendees:
An alien lands in post-Katrina New Orleans and asks an Earthling about the devastation. "So -- is there no building material for repairing the damage?"
"Actually," says the Earthling, "there are building materials stockpiled just out of town."
" So, there are no workers to do the job?"
"Actually, there are hordes of unemployed workers who would love to have the work."
" So -- what's the problem?"
" Well, the way things work here, we need these pieces of green paper before we can get started..."
(To the mother ship) "Beam me up! There's no intelligent life on this planet!"
Or, to put it less humorously: there are millions of jobs to be done, and millions of people who want to do them, and the only thing standing in the way is money.
Gar Alporovitz, activist, author, and political economist at the University of Maryland gave the Keynote Address.
He told us we were witnessing a transformative time, that he, and we, must take seriously, difficult, yet open with possibilities, and that we should not be afraid to try and fail, and try again. He said the mid 20th Century was an aberration, not normal, with a push from a post-WWII bailing out of the economy, and the convenient self-destruction of international competitors. The strong labor movement also helped the growing middle class. Alporovitz said that period is now over and that we are now in a period of stagnation, with ripples but no long-term growth. Public Banking is just one of the movements gaining traction in such a time, he said. Like other analysts, he pointed to the impossibility of supporting 400 Americans who are richer than the bottom 160 million.