The people and events that seem to have most influenced my views on economics are my father and mother, the financial crisis of 2008, Ellen Brown and her book Web of Debt, and Chris Hedges.
A web of deceit has engulfed us in debt. There is a simple solution that could make the country solvent once again. It is not a new solution but dates back to the Constitution. The power to create money needs to be returned to the government and the people it represents. The federal debt could be paid, income taxes could be eliminated, and social programs could be expanded; and this could all be done without imposing austerity measures on the people or sparking runaway inflation. Utopian as that may sound, it represents the thinking of some of America’s brightest and best, historical and contemporary, including Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
— Ellen Brown, The Web of Debt
The modern banking system manufactures money out of nothing. The process is perhaps the most astounding piece of sleight of hand that was ever invented. Banking was conceived in inequity and born in sin…Bankers own the earth. Take it away from them but leave them the power to create money, and, with a flick of a pen, they will create enough money to buy it back again…Take this great power away from them and all great fortunes like mine will disappear, for then this would be a better and happier world to live in…But, if you want to continue to be the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let bankers continue to create money and control credit.
— Sir Josiah Stamp, governor of the Bank of England at a talk at the University of Texas in 1927
At the age of nineteen, I chose to be an Economics and Fine Arts double major. I wanted to understand how the world worked and loved art. But I recall when my Microeconomics professor forbid us to use the word “need” in class because, he said, everything is a want. If that was true, it seemed to me to be saying, everything has a price, money is the master, and others’ “needs” aren’t real. This idea seemed foundational in an education that deified money, commodified everything and eliminated duty and morality from our economics training.
Economics like this seemed more like philosophy or ideology rather than science. It also didn’t jibe with what I felt about what business meant. As a child, I enjoyed selling and organizing things and making money. I sold PopRocks and Tofiffay candy bars in sixth grade between classes. I organized a carnival on our front lawn in MarVista, and sold recycled toys in the White Elephant booth at the San Luis Rey Mission Fiesta in Oceanside. I vividly remember noticing how the more I responded to the invisible needs of a person, by making them feel good and treating them with respect, the better the business worked.
As I grew, the people I admired the most were able to survive on their own, and build businesses. These were people like Martin Grey, a young Polish Jew in the Warsaw Ghetto who I learned about in his book, For Those I Loved. He kept his family alive and others as well through enterprise and risking his life. The successful business people I admired actually cared about other people, and they ended up, it seemed to me, happiest and the most fulfilled.
Likewise, our economy– as a whole– can be a force for good. The solution, as Ellen Brown and many others have stated is in the Constitution: the people must reclaim the power to control the money supply.
My overriding aim will be to ensure the sustainability of our national economy through what I say and do.
One of the simplest, fastest and surest ways I will work to improve our economy is to focus on ensuring our tax system is fair. I believe this is the key intervention point because it is how the Federal Government can constrain capitalism’s worst exploiters. Increasingly, the exploiters are better and better camouflaged through their ownership of the media. Having economics, business and media expertise, along with the desire to right our ship, will enable me to identify our system’s exploiters and use taxation to diminish their power.
The Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, who berated billionaires at Davos over their tax avoidance, is right. America needs to talk about taxes. We need to stop listening to the wealthiest and most powerful people– and their mouthpieces and institutions– and get serious about how to use taxation to reform and improve our economy.
The extremely wealthy and powerful talk about philanthropy rather than taxation because taxation is actually effective. They know taxation will actually bring about a more robust democracy, stronger economy and a more level playing field. I mention this to underscore that I will not be taking cues from the wealthy and powerful with respect to improving our economy.
The US has been best when our individual striving included caring for each other. In the 1950s, most Americans experienced high wage growth and high employment. Eisenhower’s rationale was that it was the government’s job to actually do the work of ensuring a stable, strong economy and political system.
His tool of choice: the highest marginal tax rates for the super rich America had ever seen. He saw it as his patriotic duty– just as it had been as Supreme Allied Commander in World War II– to use his power to make the system work.
Eisenhower’s thinking resulted in America growing faster and stronger than any other nation. He helped create the richest and largest middle class in the world, and helped millions of American families gain independence, self-respect and dignity.
What I Will Do If Elected
I will marshal the authority of the office to ensure that no person, corporation, or entity, grows so powerful that they are a danger to our nation’s people and economy. I will use my platform to elevate the voices of others who we need to hear, as I did as a Publisher in California for twenty years.
There is a wealth of brilliant, eloquent Americans with compelling stories, ideas, and solutions who can be called on to talk about how we can improve our economy and what awaits us if we succeed or fail. A forum like this can now reach 800,000 or more at a time. Imagine the impact of compelling ideas and stories being shared with a community of Californians like this, who then go on to share it with others, transforming our economy and nation.
One such voice belongs to the brilliant Sarah Chayes, who wrote On Corruption in America, who writes, “What values do we want our society to honor? What is the alternative to market-based morality? Rules must be devised to reinforce a different ethical vision. What about democracy? What does that word exactly mean? What must its substance consist of, concretely, to deliver on its promise?
These are the questions we need to be asking about our economy and nation.