Quantitative Easing -- making virtually unlimited funds available to the banking industry at near-zero interest rates -- has effectively removed the incentive for banks to lend money, because the role of banks, to create money through the lending of it, has been taken over by the Federal Reserve, freeing the banks to pursue capital gains profits rather than the (now riskier and less profitable) business of creating debt. In order to protect their earlier loans against losses to inflation (old debt repaid with cheaper dollars), the banks are limiting new lending to only the most creditworthy applicants, which has the dual effects of exacerbating our economic stratification (supporting the "rich-get-richer" process) and enhancing the banks' control over all things financially based: now equity and commodity markets as well as traditional debt markets.
In order to reverse this trend, we must somehow shift our attention away from fears of depression and inflation, bubbles and burgeoning bureaucracy. We must find ways to rebuild faith in America, domestically and abroad, in order that our attention can be given to a positive "What shall we do next?" instead of the discouraged "What can we do now?"
We must find ways to stimulate enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirit and cooperative enterprise, to side-step the failures of macromanagement and encourage individuals and small groups to innovate and energize a new phase of business creativity at the grassroots level. Recent history has shown that it isn't effective to gift banks with unearned riches in the hope that they will be inspired to generously spread the wealth to help level the playing field. Instead, we must give support, within our local communities, to producers and to services that demonstrate their worth and that hold the potential to strengthen the vitality of community life.
Some of the enterprises we now favor will be non-profit services that work to improve the general level of well-being; others will be start-up businesses with exciting fresh concepts. Some will be establishments whose stability and ongoing value deserve renewed attention, while others may take old ideas in new directions.
"Big government" could take this direction, re-energizing the Small Business Administration, perhaps, with an injection of aid to microenterprise. With the ending of "QE2," we could redefine "Q.E." from "quantitative easing" to "qualitative enhancement," and turn this ship around. But such top-down approaches always carry political overtones, and accusations of injustice by those more concerned with entitlement than constructive cooperation.
Other than "passing the buck" (literally) up to government and the Fed, big business and banks, I believe we can succeed in restoring vitality to our nation, our economy, and our life, by taking a fresh look at local potentials, and practicing Qualitative Enhancement.