July 2010

There have been many exciting developments for the PCDForum since my message of February 2009. Over the past year, our focus has been on working with our key partners — the Institute for Policy Studies in DC (IPS), YES! Magazine, and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) under the banner of the New Economy Working Group (NEWGroup), which I co-chair with John Cavanagh of IPS, to build tools and institutional capacity in support of a New Economy.

As NEWGroup, we have completed the basic work of developing a strong consensus New Economy story and frame to guide policy action. This is now posted on our NEWGroup website and we are turning our attention to education and outreach strategies.

NEWGroup is well connected to the New Economy Network, a more recent and larger alliance of progressive groups committed to advancing a New Economy agenda, and to the New Economics Institute, a think tank initiative sponsored by the Schumacher Society in New England and the New Economics Foundation (nef) in London. Among these initiatives, NEWGroup has taken the lead in articulating a coherent and comprehensive New Economy vision.

YES! Magazine, BALLE, IPS, and NEWGroup are building essential institutional capabilities for advancing economic transformation that the progressive movement has previously lacked.

A New Edition of Agenda for a New Economy

Last month we launched the 2nd edition of Agenda in Washington, DC as a report of NEWGroup in the shadow of the national capital building at a conference of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. It is a substantial update and expansion that takes the New Economy analysis and the agenda well beyond the first edition. As indicated above, I’d be pleased to send you a complementary copy if you send me your current mailing address.

Among other new themes, Agenda II:

  • Spells out why President Obama has not set the U.S. on a new economic course.
  • Distinguishes between good debt and bad debt,
  • Outlines the institutional structure of a money system designed to serve the Main Street real wealth economy.
  • Provides a coherent and holistic framework for economic restructuring of our economic institutions to mimic and integrate with Earth’s biosphere, and
  • Makes the moral case for creating a New Economy based on economic democracy and properly regulated markets.

Kat Gjovik, PCDForum Director of Communications and Outreach, will soon be posting a discussion guide for the new edition at www.greatturning.org

A Decisive Moment

We are hopeful that the moment for a transformative national conversation on the economy may finally have arrived in the United States. The financial crash in September 2008 pretty much took people by surprise. Before people could catch their breath, the politicians responded with a massive bailout for the Wall Street bankers who bore primary responsibility for the crash. Thanks to the taxpayer bailout and a constant flow of near free credit to the big banks from the Federal Reserve, Wall Street is in apparent recovery with record profits and bonuses. Main Street remains mired in high unemployment, low wages, consumer debt, bankruptcies, and foreclosures. This stunning contrast is not lost on the public.

The American Dream has been shattered and many millions of people are in desperate economic situations. The political right puts the primary blame on government and the political left on Wall Street, but awareness of the deeper reality is dawning. Wall Street and Washington work hand-in-hand as the revolving door between them spins ever faster. As the truth of the corruption of both becomes inescapable, the political frustration and anger are destined to become ever more intense.

When the 2008 financial crash originally hit, groups working toward a New Economy vision were not ready to grasp the moment and neither was the public. Growing public awareness of the corrupt Wall Street-Washington Axis combines with the reality that nothing is happening on Wall Street or in Washington likely to bring a Main Street recovery to create the opening for a game-changing national conversation on the economic choices at hand.

A Three Fold Strategy

Since the financial crash, our focus as PCDForum has been focused on the New Economy within the frame of a three-fold strategy.

  1. Change the prevailing cultural stories relating to the nature of wealth, the purpose and structure of the economy, and the possibilities of our human nature.
  2. Create a new economic reality from the bottom up.
  3. Change the rules of the game to favor an equitable and sustainable real wealth economy of Main Street over the socially and environmentally destructive phantom wealth economy of Wall Street.

YES! Magazine is our primary partner for changing prevailing cultural stories and encouraging action. (I continue to serve as board chair.) Over the past year, YES! has developed a new YES! Takes on the News web feature with daily posts about people, events, and ideas that illuminate the positive possibilities hiding behind the generally discouraging daily news headlines. This now highly dynamic website is combined with the sophisticated use of social media, web aggregation sites like AlterNet.org and CommonDreams.org, and dissemination to influential bloggers to extend the reach and influence of YES! Magazine by orders of magnitude and make it a serious player in framing the positive possibilities of our time. You can sign up for YES! This Week  e-mail to read, hear, and view the stories of possibility that rarely get mentioned by most media.

The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) is our primary partner for creating a new economic reality from the bottom up. (I continue to serve on the BALLE board.) Now comprised of over 80 community networks with over 22,000 independent business members in 30 U.S. States and Canadian provinces, BALLE brings together independent business leaders, economic development professionals, government officials, social innovators, and community leaders to build thriving Main Street real wealth economies. Its greatest current challenge is to keep up with the demand from communities eager to become part of this movement.

BALLE is just completing a highly successful leadership transition and reorganization that puts the focus clearly on local network support and mutual learning and provides exciting new capabilities. BALLE is changing the face of business and is in the early stages of going global.

The New Economy Working Group (NEWGroup) is our primary vehicle for bringing together all the elements in support of a broad public education effort in support of needed rule changes.

The challenge before us is great. So too is the opportunity.