2012

10 October 2012: Clinton’s 5 points make economic sense

Clinton’s 5 points make economic sense

Last week I gave an overview of American economic historical events beginning with the Great Depression.  It’s a story of a pragmatic people shaped by reality, subscribing to essential values including hard work and personal responsibility and understanding titanic forces of impersonal capitalism are greater than they and that those forces can easily be and often are manipulated and corrupted.

Rejecting capitalism’s counterpart socialism as another potentially corrupt method of economic governance, we’ve forged an amalgam of the two, a mixed economy every American, even those who rail against it, values.  It’s based upon a core belief: The vast majority work hard, has strong ethics, and truly wants to earn a living for themselves and their families.

Polls are showing the voices of anger, fear and paranoia are beginning to be drowned out by those filled with hope and optimism, imbued with a belief in a progressive America (Obama) not nostalgic for its socially unequal and economically deprived past (Romney).

It’s a can-do attitude, quintessentially American, expressed in action by healthy, educated communities, groups, and individuals.  As we have proved over the centuries, we still have the right stuff.

Leave it to Bill Clinton, the President of the World, to succinctly delineate the way out.

“We think ‘We’re all in this together’ is a better philosophy than ‘You’re on your own,’” he told the nation at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Clinton has pointed out the problem with an ideology such as free-market idealism is that it offers solutions before problems are defined.  That won’t cut it.  Fixing what ails us requires a pragmatic partnership of the private, public, and NGOs, non-government organizations.

On a practical level, reinvesting in our crumbling infrastructure is the perfect place to start.  While less than perfect, the Simpson-Bowles plan is the only viable starting point for debt-reduction.

In his recent Time magazine piece, Clinton offers a five-point approach to slaying the economic dragon confronting the global economy.  He argues we have to move past delusions and rules of operation that no longer work.  For example, borders now are more like nets than walls.

We live in an interdependent world facing three big challenges: inequality, instability and unsustainability.

“I firmly believe that progress changes consciousness,” he writes, “and when you change people’s consciousness, then their awareness of what is possible changes as well–a virtuous circle.”

Clinton’s five points:

  • Technology: Phones mean freedom

Only 4% of households in Africa have Internet access, he points out, but more than 50% have cell phones.  Anyone who has a smart phone understands how empowering it is.

  • Health: Healthy communities prosper.

The private-public-NGO partnership has led not only to greater advancements in building lasting health systems in poor countries, but it also helping to stem the obesity tide in America.

  • Economy: Green energy equals good business.

The fastest population growth is occurring in the poorest regions.  As anyone who has studied the correlation of wealth to population growth understands richer people have fewer children.

“Talent and intelligence may be spread evenly across the planet, but opportunity is not,” he states.

Brazil, where green energy is emphasized, is a classic example having witnessed a decline in economic inequality in the midst of tremendous growth.  The lesson: The rich don’t have to get richer at the expense of the 99 percent.

  • Equality: Women rule.

As he states, “no society can truly flourish if it stifles the dreams and productivity of half its population.  It’s been proved that women tend to reinvest economic gains back into their families and communities more than men do.”

  • Justice: The fight for the future is now.

We’re refighting millennia-old battles.

“The truth is the future has never had a big enough constituency–those fighting for present gain almost always win out.

“But we are now called upon to try to create a whole different mind-set. We are in a pitched battle between the present array of resources and attitudes and the future struggling to be born.”

It takes a paradigm shift in thinking, coming to understand that we need “to define the meaning of our lives as something other than our ability to control someone else’s.”  As long as there is institutional inequality built into an unjust model, instability and conflict will be rampant.

It comes down to changing one’s mindset from “I made this on my own” to thanking everyone who has been part of your support team.

After all, true Christians believe only God can create from nothing.

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