It’s a telling sign of our time when it’s a struggle to actually talk about the value of things and not just the price they are supposedly worth. When we struggle to discuss what actually makes something worth its weight in gold, so to speak, and not some speculative number put on it. Does it keep up safe from the elements? Does it sate our hunger? Quench our thirst? Educate our children? These are what actually make things worthwhile, but all we talk about are what those things cost, which is too often defined by, at best, speculation and at worst, deceit.
This is the thrust behind David Korten’s idea of phantom wealth and real wealth. (I’ve written previously about Korten here and here.) In a recent blog post at YES! Magazine Korten writes about a new report from the New Economy Working Group (NEWGroup) called How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule. In that post Korten takes on the malfeasance of Wall Street and corporations: “Despite the financial crash of 2008, the financial assets of America’s billionaires and the idle cash of the most profitable corporations are now at historic highs.” The report continues the attack:
The 2008 financial crash was a direct and inevitable consequence of a social engineering experiment conducted by Wall Street interests that allowed Wall Street financial institutions to consolidate their control of the creation and allocation of money beyond the reach of public accountability. The priority of the money system shifted from funding real investment for building community wealth to funding financial games designed solely to enrich Wall Street without the burden of producing anything of real value.
The report offers a six-part agenda for leading us back to a world where the real value of things comes to the forefront. The suggestions include, “Break[ing] up the mega-banks and implement[ing] tax and regulatory policies that favor community financial institutions” and “Establish[ing] state-owned partnership banks in each of the 50 states, patterned after the Bank of North Dakota.”
It’s hard to see something like this actually working right now, given the repulsion so many in Congress feel toward the government they make up—and the success they’ve had in turning that repulsion into votes. Still, it’s nice to see an approach that stems from actual values instead of made-up ones.