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From the Middle Class to the Mutual Class

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Americans have the tools and money to create an America where all workers are employed, whose every square mile is beautiful; whose cities are safe playgrounds for children; whose food is fresh and affordable; whose waters are clean from sea to crystal sea. An America run by Americans for Americans is fully capable of rebuilding all homes so they're earthquake-proof, hurricane-proof, tornado-proof, flood-proof, drought-proof, fireproof, and bank-proof.

When Americans take control of money, we are wealthy enough to build an America where it's easy to stay healthy and to get healed; where costs of living get smaller and our lives get bigger.

What blocks these goals? Both Us and Them.

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On the one hand, all of America's institutions have become too big to change. Like sumo wrestlers in a basketball game, they move too slow. Big Government, Big Oil, Big Insurance, Big Finance, Big Agriculture, Big Highway, Big Education, Big Military, Big Prison, Big Police, Big Poverty-- these feed on disaster and control. They no longer exist primarily to fix problems, but to grow.

Then on the other hand, millions of us are employed by these institutions to enforce the past. Millions of us depend on their stocks. Many of us watch their commercials and obey their laws. Many prefer dull safety to risky action, even to save America. We drive straight, even when the road curves.

Therefore the American economy wallows like a car stuck in mud, shoved back and forth by elephants and donkeys, going nowhere but deeper.

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As a result, the Middle Class dream has become a burden sinking millions through mortgage, insurance, utilities, tuition, credit card fees, cars and fashion. Consumerism by liberals and conservatives alike has depleted America's essential resources and our national sovereignty.

May many of us boomers live long comfortable lives. Yet may our lifestyle expire with us. Put bluntly, the middle class was always a bad idea. It celebrates personal consumerism rather than creative solidarity. Its status depends on the presence of a large poor class. The middle class have become more concerned with their properties than their liberties. They do not make radical change. They make payments.

Today it's clear that the next American generations will never achieve middle class excess. That's good for the planet but challenging for them.

Fortunately, though, Millennials can become a prosperous Mutual Class by starting genuinely nonprofit mutual aid systems that enable them to live well by sharing resources. Such programs were widespread and successful one hundred years ago.

Through them we create millions of jobs that revive our neighborhoods. We give ourselves raises by lowering prices. And all our current skills are employed while we enjoy new talents.

Young and old, we will become the government as we create these regional food systems and regional stock exchanges, establish green co-housing programs and green labor administrations, reduce dependence on fossil fuels toward zero, replace automobile space with train and bike space, convert vacant urban land into greenhouses and orchards, develop co-operative health plans and clinics, issue our own education credentials and our own community money.

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Such local systems prepare us to take power by creating parallel authority. By taking power together we regain time for creative individuality. We move from dependence to ownership.

The Mutual Class will also pioneer Mutual Enterprise-- local businesses committed to community, ecology, and social justice.

Let's look at a sample Mutual Day. We start with sex and music, then breakfast. We walk or bike to work, four days per week. After three hours work, we return home for a long lunch and sex, or we eat with co-workers: we discuss work plans, utility and durability of product, marketing, sales, prices and wages. Then two more hours of work. We have time and energy for an afternoon stroll or game, then prepare dinner, make music, make love (Why so much sex? Because we're relaxed). We finish with an evening stroll in our beautiful neighborhood.

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Paul Glover teaches Metropolitan Ecology at Temple University. He is founder of Ithaca HOURS local currency, Philadelphia Orchard Project, Ithaca Health Alliance, Green Jobs Philly, Citizen Planners of Los Angeles, and many other groups. He is (more...)
 

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