Like many of you and a few visionaries around the country, I’m sure trying to figure out how we change the interlocked political and economic systems which brought us to this place none of us like. You know, Gridlock and Crisis City, exemplified by last weeks nightmare. These systems served us reasonably well early on in our nation, but clearly, in their present forms, they’ve outlived their usefulness.
Remember Dylan Ratigan? He delivered epic rants on the Bush bailout and the too big to fail fiasco on MSNBC and then abruptly left. He reemerged with a hydroponic farm venture in California. Quite a change from a really good career in finance journalism, including with Bloomberg, NBC and MSNBC. I loved his show and hated to see him go.
I regard him as one of the visionaries I want to listen to in search of solutions to the current wheel spinning we are doing. I don’t know if I really agree with him, or not. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around some of his concepts. I am particularly uncomfortable with his critique of the role our two main political parties play in getting us where we are right now. He thinks parties ought to go away, replaced by a sort of direct democracy model. While often critical of my Democrats, I still cling to the belief we offer the best way out of this bad dream.
But let me summarize some of his thinking for your perusal. If you want to go deeper, go to his web site. Just Google his name.
He sees an American Renaissance bubbling up from the grassroots. He borrows from Thoreau, by “hacking at the roots” of our system and replanting with what he calls Distributed Power. The roots to which he refers includes tearing out the system that resulted politically in 196 people, in 2011, financing 80% of the SuperPac’s funds and 150,000 people financing all of our elections and thus, owning our politicians.
In the sphere of finance, both public and private, he see’s our Federal government borrowing and taxing to serve its short term crises in what he calls an “extractive alliance” between bankers and the politicians they buy. He cites the debt explosion occurring between 2001 and 2008 as exemplifying that alliance.
His critique of this alliance includes the political promise of home ownership and its glorification by private sector marketing, resulting in government finance reform which ended 30 year bonds, excepting 30 year Fannie and Freddie housing bonds. The housing price collapse resulted in lower lending, slowing business formation and increased unemployment. This vicious cycle has dramatically compromised the great American promise of home ownership. Add to that default swapping derivatives transferring risk from banks to insurance companies and pension funds and you’ve got the economy we live with today and a dismal unemployment and retiree future.
His solutions include a 30 to 50 year program to include:
l. Distributed Electoral Finance: a $200 voucher for every voter to contribute among primary and general election candidates, with no other political contributions of any kind allowed.
2. Open Primaries: with filed candidates not tied to any political Party.
3. Banking and tax reform.
In the economic realm, his Renaissance includes addressing three major economic drivers:
l. Education- with innovative ideas such as those from Sal Kahn in California, exemplified by his reversal of homework/schoolwork, sending kids home with assignments they can work on/study together at their own pace/learning style, bringing back to school their results (homework) for critique and diagnostics on what they learned and need to improve.
2. Health Care- using Hot Spotting as the main focus for care, addressing the cost/utilization problem of the few/old consuming most of the costs.
3. Hydroponic Agriculture-massively increasing production from less soil and less water.
Yea, a whole lotta holes to plug in many of these ideas. I’m sure I’ll hear about Sal Kahn especially. But, this guy has a really interesting brain and I look forward to hearing more from Dylan Ratigan.