News Release

Transforming the Economy

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GAR ALPEROVITZ, KEANE BHATT, via John Duda, jduda at democracycollaborative.org, @GarAlperovitz, @KeaneBhatt
Alperovitz and Bhatt just wrote the piece “What Then Can I Do? Ten Ways to Democratize the Economy.” Alperovitz is professor of political economy at the University of Maryland. He is the author of What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About The Next American Revolution and co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, where Bhatt is a community development associate.

They note: “The richest 400 Americans now own more wealth than the bottom 180 million taken together. The political system is in deadlock. Social and economic pain continue to grow.” Points excerpted from their recent piece:

* Put your money in a credit union — then participate in its governance.

* Help build a worker co-op or encourage interested businesses to transition to employee ownership and adopt social and environmental standards as part of their missions.

* Organize your community so that local government spending is determined by inclusive neighborhood deliberations on key priorities: Participatory budgeting, pioneered in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre in 1989, is a bottom-up process through which community members collectively decide how their local tax money is spent.

* Make nonprofit institutions like universities and hospitals use their resources to fight poverty, unemployment, and global warming.

* Build community power through economic development and community land trusts.

* Organize to use public finances for community development: In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, some cities in Oregon responded to organized constituents and set in motion an effort to keep municipal money circulating locally in ways that help build the local economy.

* Get your workplace to offer more retirement-plan opportunities for responsible investment.

* Get involved in public and cooperative utilities to fight climate change: Public utilities always have been important in providing energy to U.S. homes. In fact, more than 2,000 public utilities supply power to tens of millions of Americans. On average, their customers pay 14 percent less than customers of private utilities

* Get your religious organization to move its money to a local financial institution involved in community development.

* Fight unemployment by joining the fight against work: Rather than fire one employee, a business can opt to reduce the workweek of five employees by one day each, thereby retaining their skills and the ability to quickly ramp up production in the future. But the employees working four days instead of five will retain 90 percent – not the expected 80 percent — of their wages, because unemployment insurance steps in to cover that gap.