Only a Permanent National Public Bank can Check Power, Balance Debt, and Recycle all our Wealth and Waste
By Robert Simmons
Ecology and Economics share the same prefix (“eco” from the Greek oikos, meaning “house”) because both are about how living organisms do business here on Planet Earth. Unfortunately, the two business models have little in common. The Earth’s Eco-nomic System is all about sustainability: by using free and renewable solar energy to fuel an organic Carbon Capture and Storage Plant, the Earth manufactures free oxygen to stimulate Its sharing eco-nomy. Because the system is closed and its resources finite, the Earth makes sure to infinitely recycle and reuse all waste products during production of regenerative food, water and various other community services designed to sustain Its many workers-slash-stakeholders.
Instead of forming a merger with the planet, or at least learning from Its highly successful Co-Op model, the Human Economy opted for a Hostile Takeover-slash-Land Grab, breaking up the planet and selling it off piece by piece to the highest bidder.
Okay. Our bad. We messed up. We commodified. We consumed. We got a little aggressive. So we’ll just fix it, right? Maybe before we dive into that toxic landfill, we should take a moment to identify what actually needs to be fixed.
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Our basic business model evolved from feudalism, where God allegedly gave a single Monarch the Divine Right to rule. The Church, in exchange for confirming said Monarch’s Divine Right, got a 10% cut of the Medieval GDP, so to speak. Barons managed large areas of land for the Monarch, and divided the land up among Lords who paid taxes in exchange for property rights. The Lords kept an army that also served the Monarch. Peasants paid rent to the Lord, tithes to the Church, and in exchange for “protection” basically did all the work in this Medieval economy.
Fast forward: We now pledge allegiance and pay taxes to a single “Government Entity” instead of a monarch, and a Bank now sits, much like the Medieval Church of old, independent from government rule, yet confirming the divine right of Robber Barons and LandLords everywhere to spread the good news that profits are indeed the answer to all of our prayers. Meanwhile, the “workforce” still pays rent to LandLords, and does labor in exchange for subsistence. The failure to commodify Power, which in theory would disperse It among a wider cross section of people, only proved that Power is a separate entity from Money. Power instead commodified everything else, including people, and embarked on its singular mission to sustain healthy economic growth (rather than healthy people or planet), which led us to the current over-consuming economy of addictive products designed to stimulate the neurochemicals responsible for our so-called
“happiness”. The buttons of Fight and Flight and Feed and the other F-word are constantly being pushed, and though connection to others must be sacrificed at the altar of this new economic algorithm, a substantial offering of “friendship” and “intimacy” products are now available to ease your separation anxiety.
The good news is that however awful things get, there will always be a way to profit from it. War, Climate Change, Addiction: all huge money-makers, one must admit. It is also important to note here that inequality has forever been part of the human equation. Our current version of feudalism did not create it, although admittedly it did not cure it, either. Regardless, the economic model of extraction and consumption naturally creates a deficit: resources are extracted from the Earth, but often are converted into products (plastics, electronics) that do not get recycled. Meanwhile, financial resources are extracted from the consumer (profits) that are not coming back around, either. Wealth accumulates on one end, and Waste on the other, with a big gaping financial hole left in the middle: bank debt currently averages $38,000 per citizen, while National Debt exceeds $22 Trillion. Laughably, the peasants are often scolded for not pinching pennies or saving for the future (peasants everywhere just asked: “what future?”), but the human economy would not even function without debt, because deep down we all know that debt is roughly equal to profits, and profits are always the bottom line in our economic equation.
The Invisible Handouts of the “Free” Market
Many feel that the corruptible element of Power could be checked and balanced by the invisible hand of the free market. Thus far Power has been able to worm its way into every other social institution: family and tribe, church and government (even with the highly touted Democracy standing guard at the gate), but one must admit, the market economy has proven that it can take care of itself.
Actually, let’s look at that for a moment. A car company decides to build a self driving vehicle for the road. Who did the research for it? Probably the National Science Foundation (NSF) or the Department of Defense (DoD), both paid for with our tax dollars. Who made the road where the vehicle will drive? Again, we did, using our tax dollars. Who is building these vehicles? We are, after we get trained through an Education provided by ourselves and our tax dollars.
So we pay to educate ourselves in order to get a job building a car that uses research paid for by us, and drives on a road paid for by us, and in order to make it to this job each day, we need to buy one of these cars, cover all the insurance, registration, and fuel costs, plus take out a bank loan because the car costs more than the wages we got paid in order to build it. Now we are in debt, and cannot afford to lose this job. Hopefully the car company can stay in business. I mean, who would bail them out if they failed?
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In order to keep the ship running smoothly, large corporate vessels will dump anything overboard that takes away from profits, including worker benefits (living wages, healthcare, retirement), infrastructure costs (by simply piggybacking off of grids already in place), or waste management costs. Management euphemistically calls it economic efficiency (often cited when laying off workers, for instance). Meanwhile, better ideas (for People and Planet) sometimes lose out to cheaper ideas.
Let us say someone discovered a way to take our own poop and turn it into methane and water, then turned the methane into hydrogen fuel and graphite (for lithium batteries or steel production), then used the fuel to power rail transportation for heavy freight (because heavy freight tears up roads and should be on rails). The final by-product would simply be water. This sounds closer to a viable eco-nomic model designed for People and Planet.
While some of this technology is slowly attempting to claw a space out for itself, Oil companies have decided to appease climate change advocates by at least pretending to invest in Carbon Capture Technology. Run the numbers on it and anyone can see that it sucks money out much better than it sucks carbon out. It is not a viable solution in a profit-based model. The only way to remove carbon from the air and retain a profit is to Proactively not put the carbon in the air to begin with,but this would require a change in priorities, with People and Planet placed above Profits.
Humans are Winning Big. Only the Earth Left to Defeat Now.
Humanity, as a species, still seems to be winning the game overall, but who exactly are we playing against? As gamblers, we should know that the “House” always has a built-in edge, and that edge may once again be recycling. Given that every living organism (even a tomato!) Is equipped with the same survival gear as us (those four F-words again), perhaps the game of life truly is designed to be “winner take all”, where the champion eventually destroys the other life around it, thus destroying itself in the process; then the deck gets reshuffled and we all play another round. Instead of continuing to pursue our current “Exit Strategy”, perhaps there is some smarter way for us to beat the House at its own game, and stick around a little longer. If so, the answer must surely rest within our cerebral cortex. But herein lies the problem: We are of two minds about everything.
The simple yin and the yang of it is that our Base Brain was here first. It got us where we are today. Our Cerebrum is younger and smarter and even better-looking, but the Base Brain is the CEO around here, and has no plans to vacate the management position to some idealist who has never faced the kind of uncertainty the Base Brain has experienced firsthand.
This is why change is so difficult for us: our base brain was never programmed to change, only to adapt to it. War. Oppression. Abuse. Servitude. Whatever the setting, we manage to survive it. If enough time passes, we may even “normalize”
it. Once we become “conditioned” to a particular setting, it often seems impossible to leave this conditioning behind when we step into new settings. Even more disheartening is that this conditioning is possibly passed on genetically, making our children pre-disposed to it as well.
Imagine being at the bottom of the human hierarchy, where uncertainty is always present, and the base brain is constantly “on call”. Proactive thought becomes nearly impossible. The thuggish people of the world, who have made a deal with fear and now own it, are quick to manipulate the masses by triggering their base brain with thoughts of impending danger or uncertainty. This only exacerbates the already uphill struggle toward meaningful change.
How to Score with a Bank Shot That is Nothing But Net
So the issues we face are three-fold: economically Recycle wealth and waste, politically check and balance Power, and socially overcome our inherent inertia, stemming from centuries of conditioned oppression, in order to incentivize the General Will of the people.
Currently, there is only one Engine available with enough horsepower to drive this extremely heavy payload: a National Public Bank (circa Alexander Hamilton and McCulloch v. Maryland).
Place it above all the people. Let it be owned by all the people. Supply it with money from all the people. Let it insure Domestic Tranquility by promoting the General Welfare of every citizen. And let it incentivize the General Will by equally sharing all dividends which result from the creation and use of future American innovation.
It could be used to build a new National Power Grid, a National Transportation Grid, a National Communication Grid, new National Water and Sewer Infrastructure, New Electric Aircraft, New Regenerative and Vertical Farms, New Affordable Healthcare and Public Education infrastructure, and New Affordable Housing. Everything the profit-seeking sector never wanted to touch anyway can now be handled in this more economically efficient way. And when we pay our affordable rent and electric bills and phone bills and water bills, we will actually be paying off these National Bank Loans. Finally, by equally splitting up the principal and interest from these massive loans, each of us will wind up with some Retirement Dividends in our old age, which could supplement or even replace social security, another expense the profit-seeking sector would like to shed from their balance sheets.
Next we can drop all of our home mortgage debt into this new Bank, and when we make those mortgage payments, we will actually be paying ourselves back. Then we can drop our National Debt into the Bank (at least the foreign-owned portion), and pay this all back to ourselves as well.
With a National Bank we could only Promote the General Welfare through investments that satisfy both people and planet simultaneously: Hyper-loops and High Speed Rails, Infinitely Recyclable Plastic and Green Cement. This would incentivize people to invent products that fuel the eco-nomy, not further feed our addictions. And since everyone is a shareholder in the Bank, many cost-effective measures can be utilized when making these products, like eliminating profit and middlemen, federally procuring raw materials for less, and utilizing economies of scale. Meanwhile, if we ever did need to pay more for some perceived necessity, we would get it all back again anyway, in future dividends. Wealth and Waste and Debt, all recycled; check and checkmate.
Would this National Bank upset the Wall Street Economy? No, because we are finally going to detach this Off-Track Betting Casino from the Real Economy. They have been betting on us “horses” for a while now, and they can continue to do so, but at their own risk from now on, not ours. Wall Street can purchase a gambling license like every other casino, and pay taxes like any other form of gambling, where losses can only be claimed up to the amount of winnings during any given year.
So what is the source of money driving this National Bank? Economic efficiency would dictate we kill two (or three or five) burdens with one stone. We already checked off infrastructure needs, recycling issues, individual and collective debt, and a more equitable social security; perhaps it is time to eliminate the old income tax as well, and simply impose a 10% flat tax (aka Income “Investment”) on everyone’s gross revenue, minus (of course) any salaries the business sector pays to its workers. Businesses would now have a choice whether to give their workers higher salaries, or hand it over to the Bank, indirectly giving it to them anyway.
The National Bank can be the nexus wherein all political paths meet. The conservative thinkers will like the lower taxes, smaller government, profit-based welfare, and less-restrictive markets. The liberal thinkers will like having more fairness and certainty for the people by taking our basic needs off the free market and using them to create our own bulletproof economically viable safety net. With Congress controlling the business of the Bank, important issues like eliminating carbon emissions can be easily addressed. Meanwhile, the Bank will check government spending by forcing them to only implement strategies that utilize viable business models (i.e., ones that can pay for themselves).
Blessed are the Changemakers
Where would we be without the Base Brain Human Bulldozers of the world, always embracing the uncertainty and plowing full-speed ahead. Some of them we lock up; some of them we work for. Whatever else we might think of them, they certainly are not afraid to lead or enact change or capitalize on whatever opportunity presents itself. They are the Capitalizers of the world.
These Capitalizers could take us where we need to go. They are the changemakers. The rest of us will do what we do best: adapt to the changes they initiate.
Realistically, no true Capitalizer would ever initiate change unless it benefited them, so we will just have to make damn sure it benefits them, with low taxes and clear avenues for gaining wealth. Wealth, however, can no longer involve the financial ownership of other individuals. Some of us will innovate, some of us will produce, many of us will service, and all of us will consume; the Capitalizers, as always, will lead. Everyone has their role. It is time to stop creating these parasitic relationships with our own citizens, and with our own planet.
We need this National Public Bank, sometime between now and twenty minutes ago. We call on the Capitalizers of the world to cede this more sustainable certainty to the mass of people. It is time to Think Different. It is time to Just Do it.
This National Public Bank is The Ultimate Driving Machine. It’s Everywhere We Want to Be, and it Absolutely, Positively has to Be Here Overnight.