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Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Apr 7, 2016

The Most Substantive Political Debate in Recent History

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/the-most-substantive-political-debate-in-recent-history/

Win or lose, Bernie Sanders has made this Democratic primary the most substantive in my lifetime. Not that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is devoid of ideas. She has some thoughtful ones. But the boldness of Sanders’ proposals is what has driven this historic and instructive debate.

The dynamic so far consists of Sanders setting a marker (e.g. free tuition, universal free health care, breaking up the banks, a $15 federal minimum wage, a $1 trillion public works investment); Clinton responds, and their two camps engage in a spirited, intelligent, and surprisingly concrete debate.

This back and forth has forced both candidates to raise their game. When Sanders proposed free college tuition, Clinton responded by unveiling her detailed New College Compact Plan. When Clinton attacked Sanders for failing to identify revenue sources to finance his free tuition and health care proposals, he promptly posted chapter and verse on his web site.

When economics Professor Gerald Friedman concluded that if all Sanders policies were implemented the combined effect would be to stimulate dramatically strong economic growth, four former heads of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) wrote an open letter not only dismissing his conclusions as not credible but admonishing, “Making such promises runs against our party’s best traditions of evidence-based policy making…”

The three-paragraph letter generated a collegial scolding from James Galbraith, former Executive Director of the Joint Economic Committee, the Congressional counterpart of the CEA. He pointed out the signatories’ own lack of evidence for their conclusion. “I looked to the bottom of the page to find a reference or link to your rigorous review of Professor Friedman’s study. I found nothing there.” That led one of the signers to undertake a far more detailed response, which in turn generated an instructive and much too rare discussion regarding the validity of assumptions inside the black box of conventional economic models.

The back and forth has also revealed strategic differences born of a distinct political philosophies.   Bernie would deal with concentrated economic power through structural change; Hillary would rely on regulatory oversight. Bernie would work to break up giant banks directly. Clinton prefers to strengthen the Dodd-Frank law. Clinton sees Sanders’ proposal as politically untenable. Sanders sees Clinton’s proposal as unworkable.

Sanders’ prescription for structural change often includes using government as a competitive service provider. That is the case with his proposal to revive Postal Banking. From 1910 to 1967 the U.S. Post Office, the most ubiquitous of all public institutions, provided financial services. At its peak 1947 the U.S. Postal Bank had over 4 million accounts and deposits exceeding $3.3 billion. Almost 90 million people in the United States have no bank account and pay about l0 percent of their income in fees and interest to gain access to credit or other financial services. Continue reading

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Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Mar 8, 2016

American Democracy Under Siege

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/american-democracy-under-siege/

The founding fathers minced no words about their distrust of the masses. Our first President, John Adams warned, “Democracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy…” Our second President, Thomas Jefferson insisted, “Democracy is nothing more than mob rule.” Our third President, James Madison, the Father of the Constitution declared, “Democracy is the most vile form… Continue reading

Featured Article, Resource filed under Banking, Broadband, Energy, Independent Business, The Public Good, Waste to Wealth | Written by ILSR | No Comments | Updated on May 3, 2016

Video: Break the Chains, Build Local Power

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/break-the-chains-build-local-power/

Since our founding in 1974, we have worked to rewrite the rules and empower communities to choose their own future. Across several vital economic sectors, we help break the corporate stranglehold that extracts wealth from local economies and undermines democracy. We give communities the tools to build a strong local economy themselves. From banking to energy, healthy… Continue reading

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Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Feb 16, 2016

Downton Abbey and Obamacare

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/downton-abbey-and-obamacare/

As the rightly acclaimed tv series Downton Abbey unspools its final episode some fans have criticized the producers decision to devote so much time to a debate about the future of Downton’s Cottage Hospital. The show makes the issue mostly personal with delightfully snippy exchanges between Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham who speaks for a… Continue reading

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Featured Article filed under The Public Good, The Public Good News | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Mar 31, 2016

What Is the Best Medical System in the Country? The Answer May Surprise You.

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/what-is-the-best-medical-system-in-the-country-the-answer-may-surprise-you/

The Veterans Administration (VA). Yes, a medical system 100% financed by the government and run by the government, provides higher quality care, at a lower cost, than private hospitals. That’s the conclusion of dozens of independent studies. But a multi-year, well-financed and highly effective campaign has persuaded Congress to ignore the data because, well, we… Continue reading