Bill Clinton entered the White House in January 1993 with an ambitious plan of social programs including the reform of the healthcare system to provide universal coverage. Robert Rubin, a Goldman Sachs boy, joined the Clinton administration as Assistant to the President on Economic policy. After learning of Bill Clinton’s progressive social agenda he simply said that the bondholders would not like it.
“So are you telling me what my administration can do depends on what the bond holders want?” “Yes” was Rubin’s pithy answer.
So, we did not get universal healthcare out of the Clinton administration; instead we got NAFTA, a cruel welfare reform, an acceleration of the war on drugs with a swelling of the prison population by mostly people of color, three-strikes-and-you-are-out and the financial deregulation that led to financial collapse less than a decade later.
This vignette illustrates the power moneyed interests have on our government and on our lives. After spending 20 years in finance and having my moment of personal awakening I have dedicated the last decade of my life to raising awareness among the general public about the power of the money system (money and banking) and of the financial system to shape the world we live in and the operation of our society.
Finance is the éminence grise of our society, so powerful because invisible to many. For example, the Federal Reserve created more than $2.3T of base money in two months in March and April 2020 to refloat the financial bubble and enrich the wealthy elite. This is an amount close to the total amount of student debt outstanding ($1.5T) combined with credit card debt outstanding ($1T) in the US. No vote of congress was required. No input from the public. No big fuss.
The lens through which I will explore options for a new Shared Ownership Economy Agenda will be the lens of finance.
In terms of how my work locates itself in the coordinates of social change theory, I see myself as illuminating the financial landscape for those involved with changing dominant institutions and helping individuals engage in a personal transformation around the way they relate and deploy their financial resources (mostly their investments). I have been a founding member and local organizer for the Slow Money movement for the first decade of its existence.
Answering EG’s comment below: to get a full sense of how finance has corrupted our political system just read Robert Scheer’s brilliant The Great American Stickup – How Regan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street while Mugging Main Street. (2010)
I would have little to add on the subject.
The most compelling topic for me is what would a financial system compatible with democratic values and ecosystem and social health look like and how do we bring about such transformation?
Here is my attempt at tackling the topic: