Gar Alperovitz is the Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland and is a former Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge University; Harvard’s Institute of Politics; the Institute for Policy Studies; and a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution.
Gar Alperovitz presents at a Seattle Town Hall on Oct 3, 2012 immediately after a public screening of the presidential debate between Romney and Obama. The video is a little over an hour long; so listen to it with your Columbus day morning coffee (and don’t even think of listening to “Morning Edition”!)
For the bumper sticker:
“A systemic crisis is one that doesn’t get solved by politics as usual.”
The top 400 people — individuals, 400 people, you could get them into this space if you squeezed them just a little bit — have more wealth now
than the bottom 180 million Americans taken together. That’s a medieval number; I don’t mean that rhetorically. I mean that medieval society was structured with the ownership of wealth, in that case land, at that level of concentration, and giving it power relationships of that kind.
And another, much more, dare I say, hopeful:
The pain levels are forcing people to do new things because they have to. In a crisis that isn’t what happens; you get explosions. But what we’re seeing, and this is the part that’a very interesting to me, what we’re seeing is an explosion of activity, both political, some social, but above all economic in a way I think could matter. Now let me say a bit about that. All systems run on the basis one way or another of property. And in this one, the property concentrations are, as I’ve said, extreme, and getting worse. …
Simply as one element of one way to think about the possibilities of the next system, and what might be the way to build institutional power, and displacing, pushing back over time, the dominant power of the system, it would have to revolve around … some way to democratize the ownership of wealth. … If you want another system … what is it that you want? You don’t like this system? What do you want? …
There are 130 million people now involved in co-ops and credit unions who have some involvement in a cooperative institution. … There are really interesting projects that could be funded with some of the capital that’s in those credit unions. So a number of these folks [in Burlington, VT] became members and voted in some new board members. You could do that, by the way. So, 130 million people involved in one-person, one-vote co-ops.
There are 10 million people involved in 10,000 worked owned companies around the country. … They’re on the ground, they exist, and nobody knows about it.
Democratizing wealth… That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? And much more constructive (and sustainable) than dropping money from helicopters, which is never going to happen anyhow.