How Can We Fix Our Broken Economy?

Do you believe in income inequality?

Unlike adults who put their faith in Santa Claus, you aren’t alone. Half of Americans do. But somehow they still glom onto the American Dream, thinking that most folks who grew up poor can work hard enough to make a comfortable living for themselves.

In the meantime, as Care2′s s.e. smith notes, “just 160,000 wealthy families at the top own as much as 145 million families at the bottom.”

With these unsettling facts in mind, it can be difficult to know where to start repairing the U.S. economy.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump said he’d appoint bank-friendly Randal Quarles to oversee banking regulations for the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, financial activists have other ideas.

Here are a few ideas as to how financing can work as a tool for social justice.

1. Support alternatives to big banks, like public banks

Commercial banks have a lot of money and power in this country, but the Trump administration is trying to loosen reforms that limit their power.

The New Economy Project works against those trends. It promotes alternatives to big banks by supporting more community-based organizations, like public banks. They’re owned by people rather than corporations, keep money local and have room to adopt less predatory habits.

Groups can raise money for loans by investing in things like community housing, for instance, said co-director Deyanira Del Rio in a call Thursday.

2. Withdraw money from banks that invest in harmful activities.

Banks, including Wells Fargo and Citibank, fund the Dakota Access Pipeline. And water protectors have urged individuals and governments alike to stop doing business with them.

The resistance at Standing Rock is just one cause that people can support by staying mindful of where they put their money. Del Rio notes that public banks and some socially-minded credit unions can become viable alternatives for investing.

3. Place trustworthy financial institutions in neighborhoods of color.

Some neighborhoods, particularly those of color, have more pawn shops and check cashing companies than traditional banks. In the meantime, richer, whiter parts of the community are often inundated with banks.

In New York City, for example, Del Rio contrasts East Harlem, a historically Latino community with just one credit union, with the richer and whiter Upper East Side of Manhattan.

It’s just a few blocks away, but there she says people complain about too many bank branches in their area.

4. Reform national and state laws.

According to the Americans for Financial Reform, the U.S. banking industry spent record amounts on lobbying in the recent presidential election. Increased rules on lobbyists could help curb their influence.

Some states even bar governments from putting deposits in credit unions, explains Del Rio. In the meantime, public banks could allow cities to divest from banks that aren’t serving their communities well.

5. Empower citizens to fight back.

Finance can seem confusing. But you don’t have to understand all the jargon to know there’s a problem with the system.

Brendan Martin, executive director of Working World, explains that finance boils down to who bears the risk of investments versus who gets rewarded. He wants to remind people that financial reform is our issue to confront.

“The Federal Reserve is ours. We bailed out the banks in the largest transfer of wealth in history,” Martin said in Thursday’s call. “People can feel like they have no hope against the problem.

“They have every right to be fighting and pushing against the financial systems, whether it’s like with debtors unions by demanding public banks, et cetera. People should really realize we’re being had.”

Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue

42 comments

Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapaabout a month ago

Thank you

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Carl R
Carl Rabout a month ago

Thanks!!!

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Margie F
Margie FOURIE1 months ago

Thank you

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Carl R
Carl R1 months ago

Thanks!!!

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heather g
heather g1 months ago

Thank you Brian F. I support all that you have written and wish I could give you more than one green star.

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Brian F
Brian F1 months ago

The average corporate CEO made 10 times worker pay 40 years ago, and now makes 300 times worker pay. These greedy corporate CEO’s are the problem, and we need to reduce their pay to no more than 10 times worker pay, like it was 40 years ago. Corporations own both corrupt parties, and we desperately need visionary leaders like Jill Stein or Bernie Sanders who support a $15.00 an hour minimum wage, free colleges, marijuana legalization, an end to our failed drug war, police reform, an end to mass incarceration and for profit prisons, an end to our over bloated military spending, closing most of our 800 military bases overseas, an end to illegal arm sales to other countries, and ending our 8 million dollars a day aid to Israel so they can occupy and terrorize Palestine. If Americans would support honest leaders like Jill Stein or Bernie Sanders, and reject the lies from both corrupt corporate owned parties, and our media, we could solve many of the social problems we have in the country.

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Lenore K
Lenore K1 months ago

ok

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Danuta W
Danuta W1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper1 months ago

NOTED!!!!!

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Tania N
Tania N1 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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