The design of our monetary system affects how we feel about ourselves and each other. That is either a shocker or obvious, but either way, check your emotions, assess the monetary system, and see how they intersect.
On November 6, responsible and sustainable economics was on the ballot in Los Angeles in the form of Measure B. Measure B was arguably one of the most important midterm ballot items in the country. For the first time in ninety-nine years, voters had the opportunity to approve by referendum a measure in support of public banking. Without funding, and virtually without precedent, Measure B was the first time many voters had even heard of public banking.
The last time a public bank was on the ballot, it was 1919 and in North Dakota, when 61,495 voters established the only other public bank in the history of our fifty states. Ninety-nine years later, thanks to the laudable efforts of a small group of unfunded activists, the success of the Bank of North Dakota, and the growing need for a common sense and bipartisan solution to the financial crisis, public banking was finally up for a vote again.
This time, over a quarter of a million Angelenos gave their thumbs up, garnering over 43% of the vote in favor of this little-known strategy for local governments to recapture wealth and reinvest it in the community. That is why the public banking movement is celebrating a growing momentum of support. The reality of instituting a bank supportive of people and the planet is becoming ever more tangible.
Put on the ballot through a 12–0 vote of the LA City Council, Measure B was designed to simply add an amendment to the city’s charter, allowing the city to form a financial institution, which may have been considered a commercial or industrial enterprise. This amendment was proposed in part to overcome possible barriers due to legal interpretation of the charter, and in large part, to determine a baseline of public interest and support.
Considering the lack of preparation and financial support for a proper public education campaign, such a high number of votes in support of Measure B bespeaks a community galvanized by a banking concept that finally makes sense.
So, if any Angelenos who voted yes on Measure B felt disappointed with its defeat, take heart and stay tuned: the idea of public banking is on the rise.
What’s next? Public banking advocates such as those representing the California Public Banking Alliance are working to remove statutory barriers and facilitate the path forward with state legislation. California Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom, and Treasurer-Elect Fiona Ma have both voiced their support for public banks. With several cities across the nation completing feasibility studies and support building across the political divide, public banking offers too many solutions to ignore.
While in California, the powerful cannabis plant may be responsible for bringing much needed attention to the complicated and contentious issue of banking, it isn’t the only reason to create a bank with more local control. Here are some of the top reasons to get excited about the public banking solution:
1.) Public banks save local governments a lot of money. Last year, the city of Los Angeles paid $170 million in banking fees and $1.1 billion in interest to big banks and investors. Interest alone accounts for 50% of the cost of infrastructure projects, an enormous cost that could be avoided by financing through a public bank.
2.) Public banks tend to be safer and more profitable. With a nearly 17% return on investment, the Bank of North Dakota (BND) is more profitable than Goldman Sachs, with a better credit rating than JPMorgan Chase. In 2008, when economies around the country were shrinking, North Dakota’s grew 7.3%. This is in part due to the state’s expenses running through BND, and BND’s partnerships with local community banks and credit unions.
3.) Public banking can help solve inequality. With 82% of wealth created in 2017 going to 1% of the population, it is clear there are some major design flaws in our financial system. Public Banking is one way to recapture and recirculate wealth, and to end the extractive functions of the existing banking model.
4.) Public bank charters put local people and environments first. North Dakota’s governor, John Hoeven, the nation’s longest-serving governor, attributes the state’s success to a results and customer service oriented economic development plan, supported by the state’s public bank charter. Unlike large private banks, which engage in high-risk financial schemes and are required to prioritize profits, public banks can be obligated to put people and planet first.
5.) Investing in community development creates virtuous economic cycles. While our tax dollars are used to keep private banks lucrative, a public bank focuses on the long-term prosperity of its community through loans for low-income housing, green energy infrastructure, co-ops, small businesses, or other locally-determined priorities. A public bank partners with local credit unions and community banks, guaranteeing their loans for locally-directed economic development, public works financing, and jobs creation. The public bank can directly loan money for housing projects below market interest rates; unlike private banks, they won’t be bound by a need to maximize profit margins.
6.) Public banks can support a transition to renewable energy. Saving on the up-front costs of renewable energy infrastructure, public banks create real energy efficiency. The German Sparkassen public banking networks have funded over 70% of investments for renewable energy infrastructure. Renewables are now Germany’s top source of energy, with one-third of electricity derived from sources including wind and solar.
7.) Public banking offers ethical allocation of money. The municipal public banking movement advocates for banks to be chartered with socially and environmentally responsible mandates. This includes a transparent Board of Directors and an anti-corruption ethos to ensure that the bank operates under sustainable and ethical guidelines. The bank’s lending activities would be subject to strict evaluation to determine adherence to its principles and fulfillment of its public policy goals.
8.) Public banking provides local self-determination. A municipal public bank enables the people of the city to recapture public dollars and have a say over the financing of our own community. A public bank maximizes public good within the community rather than maximizing profits with globalized extraction. With municipal revenues and banking profits returned to the public, a public bank could issue loans to benefit the local economy, not private shareholders.
9.) Public banks can serve the unbanked and underbanked, and maximize local revenues. Three out of ten Angelenos have either no access or inadequate access to a checking or savings account and therefore cannot build credit, and are susceptible to theft, fraud, and the predatory practices of financial alternatives such as payday lenders or check cashers. A public bank could help meet the financial needs of the unbanked and underbanked population, largely comprised of minority, working-class communities and immigrant households. A public bank could also provide banking services to the massively growing and unbanked cannabis industry, bringing legitimacy to the finances of this sector.
There are enumerable reasons why a public bank can serve the needs and meet the interests of all citizens, everywhere. This is a solution-oriented way to creating a regenerative economy that is flexible, resilient, diverse, fiscally responsible, humane, peace-generating, and truly profitable.
Find out more and get involved in the movement to take control of our money.
If you live in California, join the California Public Banking Alliance, join a regional movement, or create one of your own. Regional movements are bustling in Los Angeles, San Francisco, East Bay, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and Santa Rosa. Visit the Public Banking Institute and Commonomics for a wealth of information, articles, podcasts, and videos that can be shared with your community.
Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Jan. 20, 2018
As Trump tries impose his golden toupee on pink pussy hats everywhere, the New York Times and other news sources were quick to respond, countering that female unemployment has been on the rise.
But let us not forget the important contributions of women with our contempt for one particular man in power. Today is important because the words our foremothers, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, still ring true today:
"The earth has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation, for woman has never yet stood the equal with man..."
Today's Women's March Report by the New York Times quotes Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York in a similar sentiment: “It’s women who are holding our democracy together in these dangerous times.... To change the system, we need to change the players and have women at the table.”
Besides the pretty pink pussy hats and clever signage, a beautiful thing about the women march, it that it is not just about women. When women vote, invest, or educate, the tendency is to act on behalf of the family, the community, the collective. A voice for women means a voice for everyone.
Diversity is the intelligence of nature, and diversity of thought is the true intelligence of humanity. Today, I was present, but didn't march. I squeezed in a yoga class with an old friend, and walked around town with a new friend, enjoying a day of winter sunlight in between storms. Living in California, people are most often in cars, and today, with the marches and the sun, Santa Rosa, CA was abuzz with the energy of a town expressing a desire for a better world. That is a beautiful thing, and I reveled in it. We know we need to rebuild together. Not just our community, but our world. I called my congressional representative to express support for 100% clean power in CA, and encouraged some friends to do so. I wrote letters this week to support a public bank for our region. I stopped by a creek I usually drive by and watched the water flow. I said yes to a longer day of strolling, and less tasking. I reveled in knowing a better world is possible, and soaked in as much delight as I could experience.
And I will be up late tonight working toward peace in the best way I know possible, because I believe, "Failure is impossible." as Susan B. Anthony famously proclaimed in 1906, when she turned 86.
And still we rise. Mother's Day began as an anti-war movement led by mothers, driven by the insanity of sending one's children off to kill another mother's children. It is important to remember these ideals, and it is important to remember these times. Simply because the engine that drives an extractive economy and war machine is so deafening, it doesn't mean the sound of harmony and generosity of spirit has disappeared.
I love my ReSisters, and activists, and brothers and friends who care enough to show up in a positive way. Embracing peace and love is as important as resisting evil. We cannot always be in fight or flight mode, it doesn't allow the body to heal. Yes, the body responds, and the energy of anger can be harnessed for action. When we march together, it is a way of singing together. Harmonizing is important, but it doesn't mean homogenizing. Harmony represents different voices, that become more beautiful when they come together.
I echo Susan B. Anthony and proclaim: "Peace is Inevitable." And when it is our goal, we can use our cleverness and creativity to find a way to exist on a peaceful path toward a peaceful future.
To get there, we need women, because we need all voices. Diversity is the intelligence of nature, and diversity thought is the true intelligence of humanity.
So in celebration of women, in celebration of creative self-expression, in celebration of resisting oppression for the benefit of all, I want to elevate the words of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and hear her song ring out, all the way from 1850.
. . . . Some tell us that if woman should interest herself in political affairs, it would destroy all domestic harmony. What, say they, would be the consequence, if husband and wife should not agree in their views of political economy? Because, forsooth, husband and wife may chance to differ in their theological sentiments, shall woman have no religion? Because she may not choose to worship at the same altar with her liege lord, must she of necessity do up all her worshipping in private, in her own closet? Because she might choose to deposit her vote for righteous rulers - such as love justice, mercy, truth, and oppose a husband, father, or brother, who would, by their votes, place political power in the hands of unprincipled men, swearing, fighting, leaders of armies, rumsellers and drunkards, slaveholders and prating northern hypocrites, who would surrender the poor panting fugitive from bondage into the hands of his blood-thirsty pursuers -- shall she not vote at all? It is high time that men learned to tolerate independence of thought and opinion in the women of their household.
. . . . Much of this talk about domestic harmony is the sheerest humbug. Look around among your whole circle of friends, and tell me, you who know what transpires behind the curtain, how many truly harmonious households have we now. Quiet households we may have, but submission and harmony produce very different states of quietness. There is no true happiness where there is subordination -- no harmony without freedom.
But, say some, would you have women vote? What, refined, delicate women at the polls, mingling in such scenes of violence and vulgarity! By all means, where there is so much to be feared for the pure, the innocent, the noble, the mother surely should be there to watch and guard her sons who are to encounter such stormy, dangerous scenes at the tender age of twenty-one. Much is said of woman's influence: might not her presence do much toward softening down this violence, refining this vulgarity? . . .
But if woman votes, would you have her hold office? Most certainly would we have woman hold office. We would have man and woman what God intended they should be, companions for each other, always together, in counsel, government, and every department of industry. If they have homes and children, we would have them stay there, educate their children, provide well for their physical wants, and share in each other's daily trials and cares. Children need the watchful care and wise teachings of fathers as well as of mothers. No man should give up a profitable business, leave his wife and children month after month, and year after year, and make his home desolate for any false ideas of patriotism, for any vain love of display or ambition for fame and distinction. The highest, holiest duty of both father and mother is to their children and each other, and when they can show to the world a well-developed, wisely-governed family, then let the State profit by their experience. Having done their duty at home, let them together sit in our national councils. The violence, rowdyism, and vulgarity which now characterize our Congressional Halls, show us clearly that "it is not good for man to be alone." The purifying, elevating, softening influence of woman is a most healthful restraint on him at all times and in all places. We have many noble women in our land, free from all domestic incumbrances, who might grace a Senate chamber, and for whose services the country might gladly forego all the noise, bluster, and folly of one-half the male dolts who now flourish there and pocket their eight dollars a day. The most casual observer can see that there is some essential element wanting in the political organization of our Republic. The voice of woman has been silenced, but man cannot fulfil his destiny alone -- he cannot redeem his race unaided. There must be a great national heart, as well as head; and there are deep and tender chords of sympathy and love that woman can touch more skillfully than man. The earth has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation, for woman has never yet stood the equal with man. . . .
E. C. STANTON.
Like the classic game of telephone, how many of our grievances toward mankind are due to a communication breakdown?
If you’ve read Trevor Noah’s autobiography (you should) you will remember the story “Go Hitler!” story. Innocent intentions trying to ameliorate years of cultural history and misunderstandings end in perpetuating a sense of disrespect from both sides. Without the grace of time and mediation, this hilarious, but severly painful and unfortunate misunderstanding could never be seen for just that: a misunderstanding.
Today, I read an article by Annie Pfiefer in the New York Times, where she grapples with the needs of our children, and therefore our culture, to bump up against dissent and disagreement, challenges and competition, and work it out.
I agree with Annie that our culture has suffered a serious ineptidute in thoughtful conversation, especially political conversation. So when it comes time to think about politics, we are seriously truncated. A reality that only felt like a sort of fuzzy haze until I lived in Mexico and travelled to Europe as a teenager. They knew how to talk about politics, weren’t afraid to disagree, and could seamlessly move from topic to topic to dancefloor without the bitter rancor two Americans might feel who represented the opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Sure, we love to spout our opinions, just not to your face.
America is like a big teenager. A bully when threatened, but just dying to be liked on the inside. We want celebrity, but not controversy, heavens no! For many years, I’ve lived in a culture that would rather “stay cool” and just hang out, than stand up for what was right, speak out against what is wrong, and ruffle feathers.
Perhaps Annie is right, generations of helicopter parents that have intervened in childhood conflicts and not given our children the right to defend themselves, find their voice, and find that friendship can still follow a fight.
Annie, are you saying that expressing one’s true thoughts and emotions is the key to conversation with content and an empowered populace? That children saying and doing cruel things on the playground are acting within their nature, and in order to teach them to work it out we need to allow them to act it out?
It sounds too dangerously close to the idea that Political Correctness has a stranglehold on our culture. It is a false dichotomy to posit that parents either intervene or let children duke it out. I don’t think political correctness on the playground is choking our children’s development.
How about teaching our children, our students, and our community leaders common tools of communication? How about if we begin with teaching children how to recognize their needs, and to communicate them without having to engage in combat? How about everytime that we recognize we have a need, we recognize that others also have needs?
How about teaching non-violent communication techniques in school, and practicing it throughout K-12, from group projects to debate classes?
What if we valued student’s psychological capital more than their test scores?
What if we implemented programs that primarily addressed how to recognize, communicate, and address needs, as individuals and communities?
What if we taught non-violent communication in schools, and studied the effects it has on students’ psychological capital, namely hope, optimism, self-efficacy, and resiliency?
What if, as a adults reflecting on how to better communicate with one another, we began to target our conversations more toward how to play a fair game and less toward blame and shame?
I think we might decide that our education and economic systems are choking on a lack of compassion, not too much PC.
To my U.S. history students,
Your next assignment is attached below. I apologize in advance.
I’m pulling the chronological carpet out from under your barely stable academic feet again. We are backtracking, and the reading is more than I told you it would be. I’m sorry! I know this is a “modern” U.S. history class, and most of you would honestly rather focus on the, like, now. (Learning about a national crisis over Confederate statues this summer wasn’t your idea of enjoying the present moment?) We’ve jumped from a 130,000 years of possible human existence in the Americas, lingered in the pre-Columbian era (1491), and taken on lynching, terrorism, and women and the west. I know I just told you we were about to study the Civil War, and at this pace we’ll never get through the book, but we are going back to Jamestown again.
There is just no way we can start jumping into war without better understanding the foolishness that got us there.
It isn’t just one person who said, “History is just one damn thing after another.” Textbooks are annotated war timelines, so let’s ditch the dirty chrono-carpet.
Napoleon said, “History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.”
There are some versions that I question and I’d like to point them out and see what you think. If the history textbook is about war, then war is always a given. Greed and human atrocities like slavery are a given. I personally think this is a false assumption lacking in the most important skills schools are made for: critical thinking. So prepping for econ class, I came across an article by one of the most laudable resources for American history, Gilder Lehrman. We’ll get to that in a few weeks, but in the meantime, let’s reassess our design.
Part of the assignment is to consider your own highest goals.
One of my highest goals is to provide space for a rigorous history class. And I’m not sorry about that. I’m not really sorry about jumping around anymore either. I understand you have a lot of other subjects and a lot of other homework to do. How would life change if you were able to just focus on chemistry alone?! Alas, while there are many flaws in school design (and more design solutions than there are people!), the world is our real school. Oh right. There are many design flaws in the world, too, and an overwhelming amount of things to focus on at once.
But are they design flaws, or a lack of design? Is the world riddled with distractions, or are we just unfocused?
Oh life! You are working, volunteering, practicing, and continuously having to perform, everyday. A significant part of your future may hinge on these evaluations, if not just an externally imposed sense of self. And this is the easy, straightforward, clear-cut part. On top of this, is EVERYTHING ELSE. I don’t pretend to know what you are going through, but I do get what it is like to have my attention split into the many simultaneous demands. Sometimes, we all feel like there is so much to get done, we have to just put our heads down and accomplish the task in front of us in order to keep up.
Focus. The ancient sages from the pages keep reminding us to keep calm and focus our minds. Science agrees it is better for our physical and mental well-being.
Fine. So even if it is out of fashion everywhere else in life, we are slowing it down in history.
Because I want you to feel the weight of it.
Call it Super Slow History Ha! Get it? ...No?
Lemme explain: “Super Slow” is a weight-training technique. And as with any workout plan, it’s a great idea to start with a goal. People often want to exercise to feel good and enjoy life more. That is a good goal. We could consider the same goal for our super slow history workout: to feel good and enjoy life more. Possible? As your “coach,” I support that and hope to help you meet that goal and indeed: enjoy life more.
The idea behind the super slow workout is that by going slowly, one is able to give full effort to the exercise, taking each muscle fiber (neuron, perhaps?) to peak performance until exhaustion, then do one more. This both keeps the body safe (stress free!) AND is so effective, you only need to work out once a week- for twenty minutes! Sound good? Too good to true? Yea, this may be where the super slow workout/ super slow history analogy falls apart. But the goal is still to enjoy life and have a rigorous history class, right? Let’s try putting the analogy to the test. Reading is the biggest hurdle. There is no way you can do all the reading and respond to the homework in just twenty minutes per week. How much time is a reasonable amount of time to spend on history, or any class for that matter? Depends on the class. Chemistry will probably take longer. Spanish is better in short, frequent spurts of practice (anxiety is counter-productive and repetition builds long term memory). A five unit class requires a minimum of five hours per week, of course depending on the person’s facility for that subject. Can over five hours of content be condensed to twenty minutes? That would be the history miracle drug and I’d have to quit and go hawk it.
But can we make study time more efficient? Audiobooks work great for me. They help me keep my sanity while washing dishes, and folding clothes. Gardening, one of my favorite pass times got even better when I started “reading” great novels simultaneously. The pleasure of holding a great story is shot, because I often feel chained to the couch with it, while there is so much to do calling my name. Listening even helps me to focus on the story better when I’m otherwise engaged in a simple, but relaxing task. But that is just me. How can you enjoy reading more? Perhaps read in your favorite tree, get a friend and read to each other, or ask me for the audiobook and I’ll get it for you. Just read. Then you can spend twenty minutes of sincere focus to writing anything you want. Anything that connects what you read to your higher goal of wanting to enjoy life more — which I think is a highly respectable goal.
A more enjoyable life experience for all. If we focus on that as our personal goal, can we also use this focal point as a lense for analyzing history. Rather than a chronological stroll, we have a thread of continuity that is our goal: rigor and a more enjoyable life experience. We can now ping pong around the history table, from one time period to another, weaving a web that shows us how we can intelligently design the way we see life. Once upon a time history was agreed upon to be “one damn thing after another,” and the same thing has been said about life! One damn thing after another.
As you read (and as you live), ask yourself, at what point could this scenario have been (be now) designed better to provide a more enjoyable life experience for all?
Is there a question you think is more relevant? Ask that question. Share your responses. Your twenty minute super slow history work-out is bound to make you stronger.
See assignment below.
Read Chapter 1 of A People’s History, Drawing the Color Line.
"The most powerful forces in the world are fictional realities."
"Money in fact is the most successful story, ever invented and told by humans, because it is the only story everybody believes. Not everybody believes in God, not everybody believes in human rights, not everybody believes in nationalism, but everybody believes in money."
I'll be driving down to Monterey this coming Tuesday, my first full week of school and classes, and joining a panel on Economics in the classroom. I'll be sure to debrief here afterward. I'm joining an established panel, and will be the only high school teacher there, and at that, not even a real economics teacher. But isn't that the point? What will I have prepared? Nothing more than ideas. As I was putting together an 8th grade history plan looking at Columbus, I am reminded again of the story we tell ourselves. Our limited human minds cannot but simplify, and when it comes to condensing information we feel is important, we leave out so much that the message barely resembles truth. What would my takeaway from history be? We have used our military to back our false economic power, and our false economic power to back out military industrial complex. We have created a virtual monopoly of arms, and wasted countless lives, resources, and hours of creative genius into discovering ways to conquer an enemy that doesn't exist other than to enrich a few. Who are those who get rich? Where is the money going? The money creators, the loan sharks, and the weapons manufacturers. What a waste. What is my message then, as a high school teacher? Peace Profits. We don't actually need to be at war with one another. This is known, but we need to keep reiterating this message without distraction. There is no complicating the matter. The way to peace is profitable for all. We say this with art, drama, music, and philosophy. We don't say it with history, because history, like economics, is so biased we don't even see the bias we are immersed in. Like the fish is unaware of being in water. Instead, we recite endless facts of conflict, without ever asking the real question: Why? How could it have been avoided? What creative solutions could have then, or can now, be created to avoid the wasteful war machine? Economics is the most egregious of all, because it rationalizes war on people and planet, by calling these sad facts of life, externalities. External to the goal of the ever increasing GDP. But earnings aren't increasing, so we can use the same cold hard facts to change the narrative, and show a way toward new measurements: real long-term wealth, peace, and happiness.
As a teacher and a single soccer mom, it is easy to be stuck in a thought silo, especially when it comes to creating a new economic story. To my students: I am so grateful to you! I can force you to read what I read (follow the evil cackle.)
When I can't stand it anymore, I cast my net, in brief, highly scheduled windows, seeking the choir to strengthen my own voice.
Yesterday I had a phone conversation with the CEO of an organization that was recently featured in Forbes, and seeks to disrupt capitalism to repair society. The following is the bulk of a letter I wrote to Mark Eckhardt of COMMON. I recommend listening to Mark's interview on the podcast, Next Economy Now by Lift Economy. In it, I was deeply impressed by his personal story. Speaking about the possibility and importance of letting go of some of our dividing definitions of self and other, I encourage you to listen for that and many other rewarding reasons. Thanks again, Lift Economy for another inspiring podcast.
So how can a school teacher with a budding blog, a few lesson plans, and dreams of more contribute and benefit from the COMMON concept? Funny you ask, I wondered the same thing. As a rationalized my reasons for potentially joining the COMMON network, that asks a mere $99/mo. to connect, I worked on the following goals:
1- Curriculum Goal:
I am most interested in (because it seems like the next most likely step considering my role as teacher): working with a team to implement a curriculum for economics that is both revealing and optimistic. I feel that economics education is the most unbiased way to address some of the social, political and environmental ills we face, because it speaks to numbers. Still, economic theory is contentious and controversial. Because I am not an economist, but still human, I fear providing students with an overly biased and naïve or inaccurate perspective. A diverse team (who still maintains a common vision- sustainable abundance for all) to collaborate on the curriculum would be best. I can't pay anyone, but perhaps COMMON can help connect interested parties, initiate a collaborative effort, and who knows, garner some funding to expand the reach of such a project. I also think that a curriculum that reveals the inherent problems of our current global economic system and solutions for local communities to be empowered by creating their own wealth, would be a great addition to any "development" efforts internationally. I was in the Peace Corps in Tanzania, charged with teaching about HIV/AIDS, and therefore, about the importance of having enough hope in life to protect oneself and others. My focus soon became economic development. This kind of conversation/ curriculum is critical to everyone everywhere. It is also constantly changing with new stories of hope, and culturally relevant, place specific examples. Do you think this project is too ambitious, close to impossible, or timely?
2-Crypto-Community Currency Goal:
Depression, addiction, and even an increasing suicide rate plagues our youth. Lowering the stigma of depression by just talking about it isn't enough in my view- not when we could do so much more. We can offer students tangible solutions to bettering themselves, and an economic paradigm that proves that "peace profits." I've always felt that conceptually, that is the point of business. However, it is not that narrative, and it is not the outward expression of business right now. I am coming to understand that this is not because business or human nature are to blame, but the intrinsic nature of interest-bearing money and a speculative stock market and misguided government that look solely at profit margins and GDP respectively in order to determine where to invest. I believe we can change this. The next great interest of mine is to learn more about how to create complimentary currencies that can reach critical mass, and using the continuous explosion of new technologies, like blockchains, to make it happen. I am currently working on becoming a "Certified Blockchain Expert"- a silly certification by Blockgeeks. It would feel more effective to join with others who are working on this exact issue: using blockchain to develop community currencies. I would like to help our local currency to grow again. Who knows, if that can be done, perhaps I can help other communities too.
3- Research Goal:
I am interested to see how organic inquiry on behalf of students and citizens can be investigated. Great research questions come up all the time from friend and community members, and when they come up for students, these are the fertile ground for genius. Can collaborations between high schools, universities, and the public be formed (via perhaps blockchain technologies) in order to answer some of these questions in a way that was transparent and ongoing. There is a growing divide, epitomized by the president, between how we view reality and what facts describe that reality.
Sorry to overwhelm you with too much information. It was helpful for me to write it out so I have something to refer to when we talk.
I cannot teach that the only alternative for students is to save, when inflation and dollar-debt alone will be larger than the payoff of interest on their savings. The narrative from the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy and Research was a two-fold message for teachers. First, that we continue to teach students the same economic lessons that the American Free Enterprise System reigns supreme, it is successful, the problems are complicated and others are working hard to solve them. This was the underlying message that I heard, from the first presentation by Economist Ran Abramitzky about why some countries are rich, others are poor, and we simply don’t know what to do about it, to the guest of honor, John Taylor (almost Federal Reserve Chairman before Bernanke). Taylor gave us this lesson about the debate over whether current economic theory is flawed, and, true Randian, he asserted that the economics is right, the policy is wrong. Teachers, he said, keep teaching the way you teach.
That is exactly what I don’t want to do. In fact, I even to teach a new look at The Fountainhead.
Back to it.
I teach high school econ by default, and have therefore been a student the last few years. In doing so, I’ve been able to delve into some extremely hopeful narratives, affirming that economics is absolutely worth the entirety of my attention, and now I think it is the most important subject to teach. (Spanish is ‘my subject’, and history now too, but econ always takes the conversation to the next level. After all, money talks!)
Graduating university, I was dedicated to small-scale sustainable agriculture, and thankfully many others have been too; contributing in innovative and impactful ways. From community supported agriculture, to school gardens, to advocating access to nutritious food, a lot of attention has been paid to re-building a sustainable, sovereign food system.
Meanwhile, the problems we intend to solve escalate: climate change, deteriorating soils, deforestation, obesity and starvation, ill health, and injustice in myriad forms. For every laudable effort towards alleviating suffering, “paying attention” rewards us with increasingly depressing statistics. Protests and band-aid solutions feel like more of the same, and end up being more depressing than the problems, affirming to the already depressed that there aren’t affective solutions available to us, or effective enough, or fast enough.
I can’t teach students about the world without teaching them that it is possible to create a better world, and be an example of it. The curriculum must be simultaneously revealing of the intrinsic faults of our current system, and illuminate possibilities for students that are actionable, regenerative, and personally profitable.
The curriculum should spark conversation, ignite interest, and most importantly, cultivate hope for regeneration in the next generation.
I am also unsatisfied if this conversation is not happening outside of the classroom. It needs to be happening at dinner parties, so we will throw dinner parties. It needs to happen at city hall, in local business, and by local organizations and activists, so we will hold round-table discussions. It needs to happen with consumers, so we will hold bazaars for communities to experience the pleasure of participating in a regenerative economy. The economic system we live in implicates our worldview. Steven Pinker and Barack Obama purport that the long arch of history bends toward justice and less violence.
From my studies and observations, I’ve come to the glad conclusion that peace and prosperity, justice and regeneration, are interwoven and interdependent. History and science fiction have shown that we can just about create any reality our minds can imagine. If we can imagine it, and know it is possible, we can experience a more harmonious and abundant world, and solve what ails us more quickly, more fully, and more profitably than the common narrative allows.
This blog is meant to be a hopeful and honest share of my journey as I attempt to create the world I want to see. From my vantage point as a single mom and a teacher, struggling economically, I am motivated by the desire to have what I want for all people: security. Peace Profits is born from the desire to share hope and inspiration, and make a better world, even one that is motivated by self interest and the desire to make money.
About the author
Observations, reflections, questions, and personal inquiries on how to shift our collective mindset to one that fulfills our human potential as innovative, compassionate, and joyful.