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NGO-Led Investment is Key to Community Development in US

| Matt Perrenod |

One encouraging aspect of the new Biden Administration’s response to the combined COVID/economic crisis is its unapologetic willingness to spend public funds, in sharp contrast to the Obama Administration’s response to the 2008 bank crash. There seems to be a solid understanding that any future initiatives depend upon a strong recovery over the next 12 months and that, in turn, depends on a sharp reversal of Trump Administration policies of bailing out corporations while leaving everyone else to fend for themselves.

Even if Biden is successful in pushing his immediate $1.9 trillion plan through Congress — and in getting a large infrastructure/stimulus package through later this year — there is an enormous challenge in actually delivering aid where, and to whom, it’s most badly needed.  We saw this last summer with the rollout of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), which achieved some of its goals of sustaining small business payrolls, but performed very poorly in terms of reaching community-based enterprises, especially BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color)-owned and operated businesses.

This speaks to how major financial investment channels are currently structured: well-designed to deliver capital to large corporations with substantial infrastructure to deal with complex capital structures; less adept, but somewhat adequate at reaching many white-owned businesses with established banking relationships; and utterly abysmal at reaching Black, Hispanic, and immigrant-led operations that, in the case of PPP, were often at a loss in negotiating large bank bureaucracies.

In response to public outcry, Congress and the Small Business Administration (SBA) made a minor course correction, setting aside a portion of remaining PPP funds for Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) with strong community relationships.  Tellingly, these funds were almost immediately pushed out the door where needed, as CDFIs did the painstaking work of helping borrowers understand the use of the funds and how to successfully apply. CDFIs were able to quickly double, triple, and quadruple their previous levels of SBA-backed lending.

For decades, CDFIs and other mission-based lenders have been minor players in the U.S. financial system, dwarfed in size and importance by both regulated depositories and the broader network of profit-driven financial institutions, including the largely un-regulated “shadow banking” sector. Now, however, they offer an opportunity to build robust channels for federally-driven investment in hard-hit communities nationwide.

What is a CDFI?

The term Community Development Financial Institution refers specifically to a certification by the CDFI Fund, a bureau of the U.S. Treasury and, more generally, to a class of mission-oriented lending and investment organizations. Under CDFI Fund guidelines, a CDFI may be either a non-profit or for-profit corporation, but must:

• Have a primary mission of promoting community development

• Provide both financial and educational services 

• Serve to one or more defined target markets

• Maintain accountability to the defined target market

• Be a legal, non-governmental entity (with the exception of Tribal governmental entities)

For purposes of this discussion, however, I will refer to CDFIs in their more generic sense as mission investors and will focus on nonprofits (thus the reference to NGOs in the title).

There is about a 50-year history of CDFI activity in the U.S., originating in the community development movement that emerged from the civil rights and anti-war activities of the 50s, 60s and 70s.  Today, there are hundreds of such organizations, some active nationally, but most regional or local in scope. They are generally much smaller than banks. A few of the larger CDFIs have assets in excess of $500 million, but most are under $50M. By comparison, the largest U.S. banks have assets in excess of $500 billion. (Note: both banks and CDFIs engage in off-balance sheet activity that magnifies their impact.)

Most CDFIs invest primarily through loan instruments, though a few also provide equity or equity-like capital. In general, CDFIs tend to engage in smaller transactions, and have a higher risk tolerance than banks. Affordable housing, charter schools and small business lending are the largest categories of CDFI investment.  Nonprofit CDFIs raise equity through retained earnings, fundraising and from a set of grant programs operated by the federal CDFI Fund. They raise debt primarily by borrowing from banks, but the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program extends a federal guarantee to a limited amount of debt raised (more on this below). In general, the primary limitation to CDFI growth is not demand for their product; rather it is the difficulty of raising equity, since most CDFIs are held to a minimum 20% net worth requirement (equity/liabilities).

Current Status of the CDFI Sector

Starting from essentially zero in 1980 CDFIs have grown substantially in number, size and impact since then. Highly innovative, they have pioneered investment practices which have meaningfully resolved the inherent conflict in their double-bottom lines: their own private financial prosperity (and from that, growth) and a public social mission of supporting community development and collective prosperity.

Despite growth, however, CDFI capacity remains far too small, by perhaps two orders of magnitude, to have systemic impact on a national, much less global, scale. Their activities during the Great Recession bear this out. CDFIs, rather than retreating from community investment as the major banks did, expanded their activities from 2008 to 2011, including new efforts designed specifically to address the nature of the crisis. Several CDFIs, for example, began buying defaulted mortgage loans and instituted principal reductions (not just payment restructuring) that allowed homeowners to avoid foreclosure as their home values had fallen precipitously. This was in sharp contrast to the activities of the for-profit market, which competed to buy up defaulted loans for the purpose of foreclosing and claiming the underlying real estate at a bargain cost, and then turning those homes into rentals (and not the affordable kind). While nonprofit CDFIs were able to help tens of thousands avoid foreclosure, private equity ended up as landlords of millions of single-family structures previously owner-occupied.

More generally, mission-driven CDFIs have been able to build great models of community investment, backed by sophisticated investment management operations, but as a whole have done little to change the overall landscape of American communities in terms of meeting the needs of the large portion of the market that is not well served by traditional profit-driven finance. 

Not that CDFIs aren’t well-positioned for growth. Most are managerially quite strong, with staffs that rival much larger firms in terms of skill, experience and capacity. They have relationships among low- and moderate-income people, including communities of color, that go well beyond anything found in the profit-driven investment sector. They have struggled with, and resolved, many of the practical difficulties of reaching investees, whether individuals or businesses, who may lack personal wealth and financial literacy. Given access to larger pools of capital, they can grow exponentially.

Where Now?

The main limiting factor to CDFI growth is the amount of equity they possess. CDFIs are extremely good, as a class, at leveraging their own net worth, and have themselves excellent borrowing relationships.  Successful borrowing, however, requires a solid equity base. Because of their (typically) nonprofit structure, however, CDFIs cannot raise equity by issuing ownership shares; nonprofits by definition are not privately owned. CDFIs have increased their net worth through engaging in profitable activities that generate retained earnings (less than if they were profit-maximizing) and from fundraising grants, mainly from the federal government.

Through grant-making programs administered by the CDFI Fund, the federal government has done a good job of making very small CDFIs less small. Many of the larger CDFIs have gotten where they are by consistently adding a few million in equity annually from federal programs established for that purpose. As they have grown, however, these limited grants are less effective at driving growth — $5 million in new equity can be transformational for an organization with only $5 million to start, but the incremental impact is considerably less when it’s grown to $100 million in net worth.

One of the most important things the federal government can do to support healthy communities would be to substantially increase its CDFI investment through the CDFI Fund. There is little, other than political will, that stands in the way of taking $1 billion of annual grant-making to $10 billion or even $100 billion, over a handful of years.  But the feds can do even more than that.

For several years, beginning in the second Obama term, Treasury has operated a program called the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program.  CDFIs are able to borrow, in $100 million chunks, with a full federal guarantee of the debt. This means that the CDFI’s cost of funds drops to the federal funds rate, allowing it to make community investments far below bank rates. Even more importantly, this activity can happen almost entirely off-balance-sheet, allowing CDFIs to leverage far more investment activity off a given equity base. This would allow CDFIs to grow not just 10X, but 100X over a small number of years. That’s not happening now, because the program remains small, at $500M to $1B annually. The federal government has the capacity to issue trillions in new debt instruments, however, and so it is again a question of political will.

A reasonable person might ask whether the federal government couldn’t just issue that debt for its own programs of direct investment – why act through another party?

The answer is that the federal government, even in the best of times, is not particularly good at retail investment. It is not customer-oriented, and really can’t be, given that all authority flows from the top down, from the authorizing and funding legislative branch through an administrative structure that is necessarily focused on approval from Congress, itself answering to voters and campaign contributors divorced from the consuming public. A voter may also be a consumer, but they think and act quite differently in those separate roles. Public sector agencies are necessarily rule-driven and bureaucratic, the opposite of the entrepreneurial innovation needed when old means have atrophied, and new investment channels have to be built anew or drastically widened.

CDFIs, however, have distinguished themselves in their outward customer focus. They have learned to reach out in their communities, to identify needs, and devise solutions to meet those needs. Working against the headwinds of a profit-maximizing capitalist system, they have nevertheless succeeded in delivering capital to millions unable to access it through any other channel. They are ideal vehicles for pursuing public goals through investment in private individuals and businesses.

Conclusion

Popular movements are forcing Congressional Democrats to consider real community investment, after years of much lip service, but precious little action. The challenges of scaling up in this area should not be underestimated. We have seen repeatedly that, even when the federal government generates the will, the paucity of existing investment channels hampers that investment, leading to a dragged-out, inefficient process lacking in urgency and ripe for criticism.

Fortunately, we have a class of NGOs already active in this space that are prepared to grow into a larger role in directing capital toward human needs at the community level. CDFIs have been doing this work at a small scale for decades, establishing community roots, and innovating new approaches geared toward today’s society and economy. Their dual character as private entrepreneurial innovators with a public mission makes them ideal targets to channel a renewal of public investment in our communities.

Matt Perrenod is a consultant to nonprofit community development and finance organizations working throughout the United States.

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Public Banks Revolution

| Madeline Chang |

The movement for Public Banks is growing. California has passed a law clearing the way for cities to form their own banks. 25 of 50 states have proposed legislation in support of publicly-owned banks, New York, Oregon, New Mexico and Washington among them. The Bank of North Dakota was, for 100 years, the only state public bank, started in the aftermath of a populist uprising of farmers and small businessmen in 1919. California just legalized public banking with the Public Banking Act, which will allow city and county governments to create or sponsor public banks.

Below are remarks made as part of the New York Town Hall on Public Banking.  

There are successful models of the government using public money for the public good in our history. One of them is the Reconstruction Finance Corp, or the RFC. This was a lending agency that President Roosevelt used to fund the New Deal and World War 2. It issued bonds and loaned or invested over $40 billion.  

What’s important about this is that instead of taking out high interest loans from private banks to pay private corporations (to build roads, for example), which is what we tend to do today, the RFC cut out the middlemen. It was the Government that created the money to loan and invest in highways, bridges, and Post Offices at this time and it was the Government that put people back to work — about 3 million unemployed men and women. And the net profit to the government was over $690 million. So we have this precedent where the government became the biggest investor in the economy. Economic power was essentially relocated from Wall Street to Washington DC.

Today, we need reconstruction again, just like during the Depression of the 1930s.  

We need to rebuild the economy, but we can do even better than that by correcting past injustice. Black & brown communities have been hit the hardest by COVID-19, on top of all the inequality and disinvestment that private banks have made worse for decades. Public banks can help reverse the racial wealth gap by lending to Black & brown families, providing capital historically available mostly to white families. The RFC example shows that we don’t need to raise taxes.  We don’t need austerity measures, like cuts to public education or transportation.  

Another successful model is Postal Banking, which we actually had from 1911 to 1967. We have two Postal Banking bills now pending in Congress. The great thing about Postal Banking is that the infrastructure is already there. There’s an existing network of 30,000 Post Offices.  

So Postal Banking is a perfect opportunity to serve the 25% of households that are unbanked or under-banked because people can’t afford to keep a balance or because there are no banks located in their communities. These households spend about $40,000 over a lifetime just on checking and savings account fees and pay up to 400% on payday loans.

For further reading go to the Public Banking Institute website and Ellen Brown’s many books such as Banking on the People, Democratizing Money in the Digital Age and The Web of Debt.

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Economic Justice

Inequality: Why Are The Rich Getting Richer?

| Steve Clark |

This short video from Positive Money (a British financial reform group) explains how government borrowing and interest payments to banks syphon money from the public to build bank profit. The system works the same in the US, but there is a better way: direct government spending.

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Economic Justice

Job Guarantee: Economic Justice Cornerstone?

| Steve Clark |

The notion of a Job Guarantee is on a lot of lips these days, led by modern monetary theory (MMT) proponent Pavlina Tcherneva, whose short book (128 pages!), The Case for a Job Guarantee, has captured widespread acclaim. In my opinion, it’s must-reading for anyone trying to define a truly transformative agenda for the period ahead. MMT proponents consistently back this demand, and it’s also a demand of the Poor People’s Campaign. And its roots go back much further.

When he ran for president in 1932, FDR saw the need of a federal job guarantee and called it a human right. Yet, he and the Democrats failed to push it through. When the postwar boom ended in the early 1960s, unemployment returned with a vengeance, creating an ever-larger echelon of precarious workers with depressed incomes alongside a stagnant stratum unable to find any job at all (and dependent on inconsistent and inadequate government support). 

In retrospect, the failure to include a federal job guarantee in the New Deal social contract stands out as a crucial revolutionary failure of the 1930s popular uprising against the Great Depression’s version of US corporate capitalism.

This time around, we have to do better. With ecological catastrophe a mere decade away, American society cannot save itself — nor make the necessary contributions to saving the world (that our country has long dominated) — unless it provides the economic security of alternative, life-sustaining, transition employment to every worker who sacrifices a petroleum-based job in order to save our planet. A job guarantee is no longer merely a human right — a mere matter of justice — it has become an ecological and social necessity…and one with no time for delay. 

Coming out of the economic devastation of COVID, our newly-cleansed economy must rebuild along steeply modified lines; it will be a wasted opportunity if we fail to keep polluting industries in lock-down. To this end, the Biden Department of Labor should implement a permanent, federal Job Guarantee and provide block grants to state, local, tribal and territorial governments to fund — at $15/hour plus vacation, healthcare and child care — as many full-time jobs as necessary for anyone forced or willing to leave ecologically destructive employment (or finds oneself unemployed for any reason). At the same time, Biden should establish a Green New Deal industrial policy to create an array of employment opportunities in sustained, public and private investments aimed at achieving zero carbon emissions (and other ecological necessities) by 2025.

Below are some additional links to articles and videos on the subject.

There’s a Simple Solution to the Unemployment Crisis: Offer Everyone a Job

JG FAQ, In These Times, Rachel M Cohen, (10 Jun 2020)

Australians deserve a job guarantee, Noel Pearson (28 Sep 2020)
Residents of small Austrian town promised work for 3 years in world’s first universal jobs guarantee (2 Dec 2020)

Tcherneva Philly DSA (2 Jul 2020) [1:31:10]

Tcherneva at NY Society for Ethical Culture (18 Oct 2020) [38:04]

Tcherneva acTVism Munich (18 Jun 2020) [22:00]

Tcherneva New Economic Thinking (11 Jul 2018) [15:15]
Tcherneva JG in Argentina Michabo Sustainable, Harmony, (8 Aug 2020) [4:00]

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The Federal Reserve Should Be a Public Utility

| Madeline Chang |

In 1985, the Post-Industrial Society published by the New Democratic Movement began to articulate a new vision of an economy that will provide for and be inclusive of all people in our society. It observed at the time that “most fundamental structural problem of the U.S. economy is failure to increase productivity,” and for more than 30 years, now, the problem has only become worse.

With every crisis, the Federal Reserve prints more money, adding to an unsustainable level of debt, but wages and living standards do not grow for real people. The largest private banks, such as JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and HSBC, were never required to increase their lending to Main Street. So they didn’t. No one told the corporations who got bailout money that they were under any obligation to do anything with this cheap money either. So they didn’t.

They can go for the quick profit instead of investing in their workers or developing real products and technology.

But people can’t borrow money at 0% interest like banks can. And the banks turn around and charge form loans, credit cards, and student loans. Meanwhile, the central bankers are not even elected by the voters. They are basically free to decide monetary policy as they see fit without any accountability.

The whole structure is undemocratic. They have so much power yet there is no requirement that their policies lead to real growth.

In truth, there hasn’t been laissez-faire capitalism for a long time — and now the most powerful banks and the central bank are running the world. But because of that, the way forward is clear.

The Federal Reserve should be a public utility mandated to serve the productive economy, together with local public banks established to serve the liquidity needs of local economies.

Madeline Chang was a labor and community organizer in Chicago for over a decade.  She is currently retired and living in New York City, where she worked in the public schools for 30 years.

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Democracy: Rule of Law & Elections Ecological Justice Economic Justice

Biden’s First 100 Days

| Steve Clark |

At the end of February (1932) we were a congeries of disorderly panic-stricken mobs and factions. In the hundred days from March to June we became again an organized nation confident of our power to provide for our own security and to control our own destiny.

Walter Lippman.

For understandable reasons, many of us could barely look past the November election, given that our nation’s democratic future seemed to ride up on it. But, we did our job well — with Georgia still to decide how well — and our anti-fascist, progressive movement will find itself in a dual power situation with neoliberalism when the new Congress and Biden Administration are installed in January.

We have to be ready for that, too. We want to hit the ground running and know which way we want to go.

First 100 Days

When FDR took office in 1933 — three years into the depths of the Great Depression — he wasted no time. Immediately, he ordered a bank “holiday” (shut-down); then, in the next 100 days, he collaborated with the new Congress to enact sweeping, structural reform of America’s languishing, Gilded Age class relations, starting with the banks and empowering working people at every turn.

Every four years since the New Deal’s launch, pundits speculate about what each President’s first 100 days will mean, but it’s been a very, very long time since a President’s first days carried the import of FDR’s. This year — in the midst of a crisis at least as grave as the Great Depression — the first 100 days will matter.

Or, they won’t. Although Joe Biden is positioned just about like FDR was in 1933, it’s fair to doubt whether he has the vision, personal energy or political capital to make his first 100 days count. It’s also important to note that, despite the New Deal’s many important advances, it did not reverse finance capital’s domination of America’s economy and its government.

Thus, as everyone on the left has noted, it is crucial that our movement provide both direction and backbone for whatever can and will be mustered in Biden’s first days and through his first term.

Come January, the real struggle for social justice, economic power and ecological regeneration begins in our country. It will be a fight over executive orders, regulatory action, new agencies, legislation, civic commissions and constitutional amendments, all propelled by the nationwide, grassroots urgency that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

And, because the US is the world’s military hegemon and our dollar is civilization’s global reserve currency, come January, the real struggle for democratic control of the world’s financial system also kicks in.

We’ve come to the brink. As currently constituted, the corporate system is the antithesis of social, economic and ecological justice. If the present social uprising is going to be a real revolution, finance capital must be checked, remanded, taxed, and institutionally constrained.

Here in rough-draft is a revolutionary plan of attack for Biden’s first 100 days. A combination of immediate actions and starting points, it targets financial (class) justice as well as wider struggles for racial, social and environmental justice. I thank my friends who’ve contributed so far, and I look forward to incorporating additions and feedback from readers in a second draft (some aligned co-advocates are noted or linked in parentheses).

First 100 Days Agenda

For Presidential Edict and/or Congressional Action

  1. Temporary Emergency Aid for Pandemic Relief
    1. Extend unemployment benefits, augmented with $600/week supplemental benefits, to eligible Americans; establish immediate, federal income support payments for all others, including gig economy workers
    2. Open immediate registration for those eligible for Obamacare and Medicare; for all others, guarantee coverage for all testing, treatment and sick leave for Covid-related illness; extend Family Medical Leave Act benefits
    3. Direct federal payments, as necessary, to redeem all pandemic-provoked, revenue shortfalls of state, municipal and tribal governments
    4. Establish federal Pandemic Service Thank You! Stipends for essential healthcare workers, food production/service workers and teachers
    5. Enforce a moratorium on housing evictions and mortgage defaults imposed by corporate owners
    6. Enforce a moratorium on student, consumer and personal debt payments (principal and interest) to corporate lenders
  2. Social Justice
    1. Defund police and end the war on black people
      1. Pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (HR 7120)
      2. End the 1033 Program and other federal transfers of military equipment to local police departments
      3. Direct the Department of Justice to establish and administer a program of national block grant funding for state-coordinated, municipally-administered, community-based, alternatives-to-police, social programs
      4. Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act
    2. Defund US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); support the human right of political asylum; cease deportation of status (non-criminal) offenders; correct US policy that fosters emigration from Latin America; restore Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); provide a path to citizenship for immigrant residents
    3. Expand grants to public colleges and universities to enable free tuition and expand research to advance social and ecological problem-solving
    4. Extend statehood to the District of Columbia and the option of statehood or independence to Puerto Rico
    5. Advance a Constitutional Amendment to abolish the Electoral College
    6. Advance a Constitutional Amendment to establish an annual federal Election Holiday, specifically for voting and civic affairs
    7. Drop the filibuster and return to majority rule in the Senate
    8. Ban sale of US-made, military-grade weapons to private citizens and non-government organizations; enact “common sense” gun control
    9. Appoint a blue-ribbon Civic, Culture and Sports Commission to promote diversity appreciation, tolerance and equal rights under law:
      1. Legacy education, community-based truth & reconciliation programs; reparations for African-American slavery and Native People expropriation
      2. A welcome hand to the world’s destitute and downtrodden
      3. Respect for each individual’s unique gender and sexual identity
      4. A reappraisal of American Exceptionalism as the US joins the community of nations confronting global climate crisis
  3. Economic Power
    1. Declare a “market holiday” to suspend stock market operations and install protections for the American retirement system
      1. Suspend Federal Reserve infusions to US corporations that sustain the stock market bubble
      2. Convene a Market Bubble Deflation Task Force of bank, market, Fed, Treasury and monetary policy experts to de-escalate the bubble and protect American retirement accounts (pension funds, IRAs, etc.)
    2. Reinstate Glass-Steagall; forge a nationwide, community-based banking system for people and non-profits as well as small and family-owned businesses
    3. Advance a Constitutional Amendment to establish a Job Guarantee as the right of all American citizens
    4. Direct the Secretary of Labor to restructure the Department of Labor (DOL) to make achieving and maintaining genuine full employment its core mission
      1. Administer federal grants to states to permanently convert unemployment offices to Employment Offices
      2. Administer funding to guarantee on-demand, dignified, public service jobs (life-sustaining wages plus benefits) to every adult in every community
      3. Collaborate with state, municipal and tribal governments to source and fund jobs with community-based, non-profit, service organizations (NGOs)
    5. Raise the minimum wage to $15/hour; set and periodically update national labor standards to ensure life-sustaining wages, childcare and vacation benefits for all workers
    6. Ensure healthcare for all US residents
      1. Direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to refortify and reorient the US Public Health Service to ensure effective access to care in all American communities, including the capacity to test and trace during pandemics and the provision of full health services for women and transpersons; establish a national stockpile of vital health equipment and supplies
      2. Enact Medicare for All
      3. Empower the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to establish behavioral guidelines and standards during national health crises
    7. Advance a Constitutional Amendment to bar corporations from funding, advertising, fundraising, and otherwise participating in US elections
  4. Ecological Regeneration
    1. Proclaim a global, climate change emergency
    2. Appoint a Green New Deal Joint Task Force to include the Vice President; the secretaries of Labor, Treasury, State and the EPA; Congressional leaders (Sanders/AOC); an NGO advisory council; and public citizens to:
      1. Design and implement a federal program to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025
      2. Design and administer state and local GND programs via NGO-public partnerships at various levels
    3. Design industrial policy and implement state and local, public-private partnerships to expand jobs while revitalizing infrastructure, recycling & waste management, electrification, transportation, communication, and civic participation (voting) systems nationwide
    4. Make the Federal Emergency Management Agency a cabinet level department and augment it with an Emergency Service Corps to provide permanent, entry-level and career employment in disaster response, crisis management, emergency relief, containment and mitigation, and community re-construction services
  5. Financial Reconstruction
    1. Enact federal legislation to permanently cancel existing consumer, student, tenant and personal debt to corporations
    2. Enact a permanent federal bank tax on all corporate electronic funds transfers (EFTs) to hold the corporate sector to account for the social and ecological crises government now must mitigate
    3. Target socially and ecologically retrograde corporations (i.e., oil, guns) with higher EFT tax rates
    4. End debt ceiling resolutions and the practice of issuing US Treasury bonds to the Federal Reserve in the amount of any federal deficit
    5. Enact a permanent federal franchise fee on credit extended by corporate lenders to private sector borrowers
  6. Global Solidarity and Multilateralism
    1. Revoke restrictions on US family-planning assistance under the Mexico City Accords
    2. Rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and the World Health Organization
    3. Support creation of a Global Citizens Assembly to design and implement a Global Green New Deal and Job Guarantee (GGND&JG)
      1. Build an alliance of nation-states for the GGND&JG at the United Nations
      2. Deploy US power at International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Bank of International Settlements (BIS) to mobilize central banks to implement a GGND&JG for people and nations, everywhere
      3. Create a GGND&JG special drawing right (SDR) currency and a SDR-denominated bank tax (on corporate EFTs) to establish a GGND&JG world market
    4. Cancel foreign-denominated debts of nation-states, worldwide, to the World Bank and other corporate lenders
    5. Expand World Health Organization programs to ensure access to healthcare for everyone, worldwide
    6. Direct the Secretary of the Treasury to discontinue all US-imposed financial sanctions programs including those against Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Nicaragua, Iraq, North Korea, Yemen, Libya and Hong Kong
    7. Direct the Secretary of Defense to reduce department spending by 10 percent per year for the first term
    8. Direct the Secretary of State to increase department spending by 10 percent per year for the first term
    9. Restrict international trade of US-made, military-grade weapons and systems
    10. Support multilateral programs of civic administration, special reparations, conflict resolution, and truth & reconciliation for regions of enduring culturally- and religiously-rooted conflict (such as Jerusalem)
Categories
Economic Justice

Commentary: Owners to Owners

| Albert Lee |

Commentary: “How NYC is attacking the racial wealth gap” – J. Philip Thompson, Daily News, December 3, 2020

NYC’s Owner to Owners initiative to support business owners with employee ownership solutions is bold, timely, and strategic.

It’s bold because the program will conduct outreach to 20,000 businesses in the coming months.

It’s timely because small business owners in their 60s and 70s may be ready to retire. The pandemic and lockdowns have heightened risks and made succession plans more urgent than ever.

It’s strategic because it’ll contribute to democratizing the economy, sustaining community engagement and empowerment, and stemming wealth and racial inequality. 

Still, large-scale Federal dollars in the form of grants, forgivable loans, and tax incentives will be needed because small businesses, especially in BIPOC communities, are getting crushed under the weight of a pandemic-triggered recession and the unbridled power of the biggest corporations.

Helping business owners at this historic moment to sell to their employees can be a win-win-win, starting with the business owner, the employees, and the community. The benefits can extend broadly in space and time. And they must.