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Nationalize, Reorganize, Decentralize

Zephyr Teachout

Two days ago I wrote about introducing a new kind of scale-based antitrust.
Before exploring some other structural reforms, I want to encourage
people to join a nationwide demonstration of support for some basic
principles of structural change in the banking sector.

On Saturday, 60+ demonstrations will be held around the country,
demanding structural change in the banking sector. The group organizing
the demonstrations, a New Way Forward,
started less than a month ago, but is already approaching 10,000
members. A New Way Forward embodies the logic of the most thoughtful
economic thinkers in the country, translated into clear, direct
language and action.

We/they support a Nationalize, Reorganize, Decentralize platform,
pointing to Krugman on the need for temporary nationalization, Simon
Johnson on the need for removing current leadership in the banking
sector, and Mike Lux on the importance of creating a new, decentralized
private market, with new banks run by new people. Any bank that's "too
big to fail" means that it's too big to exist in a free market.

I got involved in A New Way Forward a week or so after it started, and its an amazing grassroots organization in a few ways.

The first is that it is completely unfunded. Tiffiniy Cheng, Donny
Shaw, Morgan Knutson, Andrew Packer, and the 60+ local organizers who
have sprung up are all working (a lot) for free: not a one is making a
dime. There are no paid advertisers, media campaigns, or strategists.
Every piece of this effort is unpaid.

The second is that it is intellectually serious and engaged, without
being condescending. On the organizers listserv, the 60+ organizers
share tips on how to get megaphones, how to make effective signs, how
to get permits, who to ask for legal advice...and thoughtful opinion
pieces by economists about the pros and cons of different regulations.
The wisdom of particular regulations is debated.

The third is that the process is deeply democratic. Debate on the
organizers listserv--and it is a listserv about highly contentious
issues, so there is debate--is respectful and thoughtful. Suggestions
are made, but not commands. In the "top down" vs. "bottom up" range of
organizations, this one is deeply bottom up, with a fundamental
attitude of respect and care--necessary features in a sustainable
democratic community.

All of these things to me give me great hope that it will have an
impact, and become a sustainable force demanding a complete change in
the way we organize our banking structure, in both the short and long
term.

The summary of demands: "Nationalize, Reorganize, Decentralize" applies
to banks, but also applies to the politics of the group--everyone comes
together to organize locally, in a decentralized fashion.

As Bill Greider said describing it on Bill Moyers, it is an expression
of true citizenship--active, thoughtful, public expression and
engagement in the most important political debates of our times.

 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Zephyr Teachout

Zephyr Teachout

Zephyr Teachout ran for governor of New York State in 2014. She teaches constitutional and property law at Fordham University Law School. Her latest book, Corruption in America, is a history of the corrosive influence of money in politics.

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