[COMM-ORG] financial reform organizing

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Wed Sep 8 09:54:01 CDT 2010


  [ed:  Mike responds with thoughts on financial reform goals.  I don't 
want the discussion to get too far afield here on what a functional 
financial system should look like, but I think this has implications for 
community organizing around financial reform.]

From:
"Mike Morin" <equityunion at earthlink.net>


To National Peoples' Action and Others:

Following is a fundamental idea for some solid reform of the financial 
systems. I have  a few other essays that follow-up and expand into how 
such ideas "integrate" into the current status quo.

Please do not hesitate to join in discussion of these matters. It is 
"well past time" (pun intended that we radically reformed our 
economic/financial system.

Hope these communications can be the start of something real.


In Peace, Friendship, Community, Cooperation, and Solidarity,

Mike Morin
----------------------------------------------

A Re-introduction to the Concept of Equity Union(s)
The current Capitalist dominated system is dysfunctional both from an 
equity/fairness and economic and natural resource sustainability 
perspective.

The dominant paradigm in Capitalist financial business operations uses 
something called the discount rate which assumes that money will be 
worth less (eventually worthless) in the future, thus creating a 
necessity to extract profits exceeding a "hurdle" rate leading to unfair 
and unwise exploitation of workers, borrowers, and natural resources, 
and to rampant inflation.

The use of credit is not a good business or personal practice. In 
business, it should be discouraged because creditors have first claims 
on net revenues and hold liens on real property and capital assets. For 
"consumers", the use of credit is unwise because the system is set up to 
extract profits from interest thus assuring that when consumers use 
credit that they are losing money relative to inflation. Certainly the 
current foreclosure crisis in the USA is ample evidence of the inflation 
and the unfairness and unhealthiness of the mortgage lien process.

Credit Unions and Mutual Insurance companies are in theory attempts to 
institute non-profit economic democracies for their respective 
industries. However, because of the need to compete for customers, both 
of these relatively progressive financial service organization types are 
forced to play the same game that is basically destructive to 
individuals, families, communities, and the natural environment. 
Ideally, credit should only be used as a last resort, much more 
preferably not at all. We should replace all aspects of the extant 
financial system with an Equity Union. In some ways, a mutual insurance 
company is similar to an equity union. However, because such companies 
are required to realize profits in order to compete for "policy holders" 
(really investors), the companies that comprise the portfolios of the 
mutual insurance firms cannot be not-for-profit, can not be mutual 
organizations themselves.

In a not-for profit Equity Union financial services system based on 
principles of mutuality working in concert with ethical, wise, 
knowledgeable, and intelligent community, inter-community, 
inter-regional, and worldwide planning there would certainly be an 
important role for financial service workers.

A major impediment to such an Equity Union would be the competitive 
advantage of the current financial sector and the fear of the friction 
of change to those individuals and organizations. Dealing with this 
sector of "the" economy, it would be more feasible with regards to 
Capitalist resistance and more humane, to orderly and peacefully 
transition to an Equity Union, coordinated with ecologically sound 
economic planning.

I am writing and talking about transitioning slowly, methodically, and 
with the minimum amount of friction and hardship from a dysfunctional 
financial system, based on self-interest, to one designed to benefit 
everybuddy.

At risk of understatement, it will take a huge amount of work to educate 
folks to the need and benefits of such change and to communicate the 
basic Plan. Transition Planning will also be a very difficult process, 
but I see no alternative to the current, impending and worsening global 
economic, political, social, and natural environmental collapse.

The Peoples' Equity Union concept is designed to be a grass roots, 
popular choice "movement". I am organizing with individuals, workers, 
and shopkeepers in my neighborhood, adjoining neighborhoods, and through 
the inter-net to whomever I can attract an interest in the concept.

The focus is primarily local, yet regional, and global at the same time. 
It is my dream, not a hope yet, to encourage a critical mass of people 
to organize locally around a unifying mission, unifying principles, 
unifying strategies, and unifying tactics in order to minimize the 
amount of administration at the regional and wide cooperative populations.

The theory is that neighborhood locales, the neighborhood 
community/worker hybrid association will have maximum autonomy and will 
be guided only, in their inter-community and inter-economic sector 
relationships by regional Planning Boards and a Global Policy Committee.

We must replace the current equity trading systems, corporate 
conglomerate corporations, insurance companies, and usurious banking 
systems of the Capitalist status quo with a worldwide Peoples' Equity 
Union with branches in every community/neighborhood.

The goal is to be a true economic democracy: of, for, and by the people.


HOUSING AND PROPERTY OWNERSHIP

Concurrent with financial systems reform, where equity sharing and 
not-for-profit equity collaboration would replace the current financial 
paradigm of for-profit equity investing, equity trading, and usurious 
credit arrangements, we need to evolve to a different system with 
respect to residential and other real property occupation arrangements.

In lieu of rent or leases, people should be allowed to acquire equity in 
their abodes and business properties. For example, in the case of an 
apartment, if one paid $500 per month to a property management firm, 
let's say $50 per month would go to property maintenance, and another 
$40 to administration fees, insurance, etc. This would leave the 
resident with $410 of accumulated equity added to their account each 
month. If we had a large cooperative housing organization (preferably 
world-wide, and preferably the only form of property ownership) then 
when someone had to move or wanted to move, they could take their equity 
with them to the new property.

With regards to mortgages, they are horribly usurious and should be 
banned. The scenario related above would also replace the current system 
of financing "home ownership loans".

A huge problem that we are facing now is the terrible inflation in the 
market values of real property (and capital assets, for that matter). If 
we pooled our equity, pooled our assets, and collectively wrote off our 
liabilities, then we could significantly write down the market values of 
real and capital assets.


More on Equity Union(s)

In a not-for profit Equity Union financial services system based on 
principles
of mutuality working in concert with ethical, wise, knowledgeable, and 
intelligent community, inter-community, inter-regional planning would 
serve the needs of the people.

In local and inter-community equity unions, equity sharing would be the 
modus operandi. People with funds being held in equity unions would have 
the option of sharing in primarily worker owned community betterment 
projects based on the principles of quality of life, equity (which means 
ownership, and also means equality), humanity, and sustainability (which 
means there will be an economy and natural resources for the youth and 
the children, and for generations to come).

If the inflation spiral can be removed (and the cost of real and capital 
assets brought back to earth), then indigent and poor workers could hope 
to increase their equity holdings and quality of life assets and equity 
investors could hope to get their money back. Some endeavors, beyond 
poor workers enrichment, would be not-for-profit. That is, profits made 
beyond a pre-determined return to the poor workers, would be re-invested 
in more such worker/community betterment hybrid businesses (preferably 
cooperatives).

Equity investments in community businesses could not be sold to others, 
but could be bought back at par value (the price of the share of the 
stock when it was invested). Such would be discouraged, and disallowed 
if it was a qualified low-income/low wealth equity investor, who may, or 
may not if they were allowed to collect (limited) personal dividends.

Equity Union branches in low income/low wealth neighborhoods would be 
allowed to set up a (501)(c)(3) to receive donations to an equity fund 
for their neighborhoods, to be kept in a local Equity Union and the 
funds allocated (equity grants) by a Board committed to community 
betterment and the likely success of the endeavor(s).


Equity Union - An Example

Getting Started


Hi Mike,
(rest of letter deleted)

[By the way, I presently have more income than is best for my
lifestyle, and now have recently gotten my hands on some extra money.
I'm not used to this situation. Do you have any suggestions about
where to 'invest' for the greater good, keeping in mind that my main
concerns remain first 'global heating', and then generally shorter
paths to possible eutopias vs. possible extreme dystopias?]

Dan
----------------------------------------------

Hi Dan,
(rest of letter deleted)

I, too, have some discretionary funds that I would like to put into trust
for public service and altruistic endeavors. Perhaps, you and I (and 
others if we can find them) should investigate creating a local Peoples' 
Equity fund. My idea on that is to see if we can open a group trust 
account in a Credit Union, where each trustee would have an individual 
account, yet allocations to community betterment projects could be done 
collectively, with each individual signing off on the amount that they 
want to dedicate to the project.

The idea would be that we would "invest" in community betterment 
projects with the care that we would expect to only get the par value of 
our "investment" back or we could choose to make individual and/or 
collective tax-deductible or maybe tax credit eligible contributions to 
"qualified" non-profit community betterment organizations (CBOs)

CBOs could be not-for-profit, non-profit or both.



On 9/6/2010 8:56 AM, Discussion list for COMM-ORG wrote:
> --------
> This is a COMM-ORG 'colist' message.
> All replies to this message come to COMM-ORG only.
> --------
>
>    From: National People's Action<npa at npa-us.org>
>
> September 3rd, 2010
>
> The initial comment period to consider revamping our outdated lending
> laws has ended this week, and we delivered a powerful message to big
> banks and their regulators:
>
> 723 of you wrote to the big bank regulators with your own stories about
> how big banks have destroyed our economy and are doing little to clean
> up the destruction they've caused.  A special thanks to all our friends
> at A New Way Forward who helped us get the word out and submitted many
> comment letters.
>
> Bank regulators heard that we need good, quality loans and investment by
> the banks in our communities. They got the message that everyday people
> are watching what they're doing and will make sure our government is
> working for us and not big bank bottom lines.
>
> What's next? The regulators will take all the comments and come up with
> a proposal for new bank rules in the next six months.  Together we'll
> make sure that the rules that get put in place put our communities first.
>
> Thank you for stepping up and speaking out!
>
>
> -------------------------------
>
> National People's Action (NPA) is a Network of community power
> organizations from across the country that work to advance a national
> economic and racial justice agenda.  NPA has over 200 organizers working
> to unite everyday people in cities, towns, and rural communities
> throughout the United States.
>
> 810 N. Milwaukee Ave.
> Chicago, IL 60642
> United States
> National People's Action
>
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