Historically, democracies spread responsibility, creativity, human dignity, and, as a result, general prosperity. They do so well that after a time great wealth is achieved and then, unfortunately, success produces a dangerous counterforce. Elites begin to channel the wealth more and more to themselves and inequality increases, gradually spreading to the crippling disadvantage of the middle class and the poor. Now with the powers of ancient aristocrats, these elites begin to blame this disadvantage on “the takers,” closing doors of opportunity to everyone but themselves. At that point the very institutions of democracy begin to unravel. That is the situation in the world today and is especially true in the United States where the government is more representative of billionaires than anyone else.
In WeArePeopleHere! we are responding to the dangerous rise of this plutocracy. Our attention has increasingly focused on the role of global banks. With 12,000 lobbyists working the Congress, spending millions in campaign contributions, receiving $800 billion in government bailouts, these great banks have become massive sucking machines hoarding wealth to themselves while squeezing the rest. A practical first response for us has been to explore and develop initiatives for the creation of public banks. Such banks are in widespread use around the world and devote lending to projects with public purposes, rather than funneling massive interest payments to the casinos of Wall Street. In the long run, our overall intention will be to find as many ways as possible to democratize our local economies, ultimately to include campaigns to move our money out of the global banks, to explore supplemental currencies, micro lending, and worker owned enterprises.
WeArePeopleHere! is applying the principle “Think globally, act locally” to this issue through our Banking On New Mexico initiative. We understand that the large international banks are hurting local economies everywhere, but that only local action will give immediate relief to our own local community. And given enough of these local actions we will see global relief. This is particularly important in a time when the federal and state governments are completely paralyzed because of allegiance to partisan political dogma. Americans from the entire political spectrum are in agreement that local governments can, and must, solve problems that federal and state governments are unwilling to address in a meaningful way.
Initially, we actively supported the initiative of New Mexico State Representative, Brian Egolf, to establish a New Mexico State Bank, similar to the 95-year-old, and very successful, Bank of North Dakota. These efforts were thwarted by the strong banking lobby. From this experience we understood that we could only be effective by starting at the county or municipal government level. We are fortunate that the Mayor of Santa Fe, Javier Gonzalez, is supportive of the idea for a Public Bank of the City of Santa Fe. We and the national organization, the Public Banking Institute, with whom we are allied, have briefed the Mayor and members of the City Council about public banking. The Mayor has called for a study to look at both the pros and cons of a public bank for the City of Santa Fe.
To help inform the public and ourselves, WeArePeopleHere!, in cooperation with the Public Banking Institute, organized a national symposium, the Banking On New Mexico Symposium: Funding Local, Sustainable Economies, hosted by and Mayor Gonzalez and the City of Santa Fe on Saturday, September 27, 2014. The conference was full of inspiration for both the heart and mind. Information about the Symposium and its participants are at Symposium Information. Please go to Symposium Sessions to see video recording of all sessions.
We align ourselves with those who work to establish worker-owned businesses, cooperatives, supplemental economies, micro-credit and other practical solutions to building a more democratic economy in New Mexico.
If you’d like to help on the Banking On New Mexico initiative, please Contact Us.