So much of what blocks our progress toward the deep, systemic economic transformation needed so badly--in this hour of crisis--to save our democracy and planet, has to do with a tired, worn out, calcified view of "money" as being the mystified province of financial elites, understandable only to those who studied business or who can read Barron's without falling asleep.
In reality, the confusing, obfuscating model of money functions to replicate the prevailing system of inequality by excluding the masses of people from the economic conversation. When folks feel that they're too "stupid" to understand the pronouncements of so-called serious economists and business "muckety mucks," they're apt to keep quiet when talk turns to money. I know because I used to be that person.
When I used to visit my beloved grandfather (the first millionaire I ever knew, and a conservative Republican), I was amazed, mystified, and confused whenever he "talked stocks" with my uncle Carl. I was just as perplexed when we drove in the car together and he listened to the "money talk" radio shows. The fact that such language and concepts were beyond my comprehension contributed to an inferiority complex that, in fact, I might still be recovering from. Having stated this, I hope this column will have a cathartic and healing effect, both for me and for others. Which brings me to the psychological aspect of money. Might one cause of our rigid, stuck in place, deeply dysfunctional economy--that benefits 1% of the population at the expense of human and planetary well being--have to do with the cognitive difficulty on the part of the 99% to imagine what a healthy, flourishing, holistic economy and money system might look like; having felt psychologically excluded from the "money club" for so many years?
Moving toward repair, filmmaker Michael Moore gifted us with the remarkable image of his mock, yellow tape "citizens arrest" of Wall Street execs in Capitalism a Love Story (2009); along with the amazing conversation he had, also in that film, with a former hedge fund guy who literally could not explain what a derivative is! When it gets to the point that even the people who work in finance can't articulate what the hell they're doing, the rest of us should breath a liberating sigh of relief (ahhh!) that no, we're not stupid, the system is stupid and must be transformed radically in time to save our planet. To go back to psychology, in the 2003 Canadian film The Corporation, a psychologist compared our modern day corporations to "psychotics" because of their lack of human empathy. It's high time that we evolve beyond an economic system that is psychotic. We can, and must, do better.
Releasing my imagination, to heck with the cynics, I'll close this column with some suggestions for a humane and caring economy that might be. Let's pass a law that forces corporations to be ethical by law or else lose their charters. Let's create a new "triple p" bottom-line, one that values people, planet, and profits--not just profits. Let's end our dependance on fossil fuels (no more toxic fracking and dangerous pipelines) and put millions to work on Jill Stein's "green new deal." For those of you who don't know, perhaps because you weren't informed by our mainstream corporate media, Dr. Jill Stein was the 2012 Green Party candidate for president of the United States. Finally, and just as important, let's hope the artists will create bold new films, plays, novels, poems, and songs (a la John Lennon's timeless 1971 classic "Imagine") that will enrich our social and political imaginations with visions of a new economy that works for all.