valis on Sun, 23 Nov 1997 23:36:07 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> Some delectable ironies here...

====> I'm not sure what these people propose to do structurally,
      but their comments _per se_ are interesting enough to see.
      Yes, Donella Meadows, usually called "Dumbella" by right-wing
      simians who have mastered typing, was part of the Meadows Group,
      they of the ill-fated Limits To Growth book (1972).

                                                      Occupied America

Date: Sat, 8 Nov 1997 17:21:18 -0800
Reply-To: "Ed Deak (by way of Caspar Davis)" <thinker@UNISERVE.COM>
Sender: The Other Economic Summit USA 1997 <TOES97@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
From: "Ed Deak (by way of Caspar Davis)" <thinker@UNISERVE.COM>
Subject:      column from The Global Citizen that will interest you

Dear Friends,

This came via another listserv, and I thought you might want to see it.


 The Global Citizen
 November 6, 1997

 Donella H. Meadows
 P.O. Box 58
 Plainfield NH 03781
 603-675-2230 (home -- answering machine)
 603-646-1233 (work -- secretary)
 603-646-1682 or 675-6305 (FAX)


 The other day a friend sent me a brochure put out
 by an organization called Responsible Wealth.
 I could hardly believe the name.  Reading on,
 I could hardly believe what it stands for.

 "We are business leaders and wealthy individuals,
 among the top five percent of income earners and
 asset holders in the US," the brochure leads off.
 "We are concerned about the rise in power of large
 corporations and the growing gap between the rich
 and everyone else."

 Twenty years ago, says the brochure, the richest
 one percent of the U.S. population owned 19 percent
 of all private wealth.  Now the top one percent owns
 almost 40 percent -- more than the bottom 92 percent
 of us combined.

 The Reagan regime of the 1980s cut the taxes of
 corporations and the wealthy and promised that their
 gains would trickle down into investments and jobs.
 The money trickled up instead, says Responsible Wealth,
 in speculative stock market winnings, obscene compensation
 to corporate executives, and political contributions that
 increased further the privileges of the wealthy.

 Between 1983 and 1989 the assets of the richest 500 families
 in America rose from $2.5 trillion to $5 trillion.  If they
 had paid just one-third of that gain in taxes, they still
 would have gotten richer and there would have been
 NO government deficit -- a deficit that is now being resolved
 by cutting benefits to the poor and middle class.

 The folks behind Responsible Wealth see themselves as
 beneficiaries of a game with unfair rules.  "We recognize
 that assets play an essential role in building wealth and
 prosperity.  However, we believe there is an overemphasis on
 the rights and rewards of private capital.  Those of us with
 large amounts of capital are able to pass on fortunes from
 generation to generation and multiply our wealth through
 passive investing, while around us one in four children are
 born into poverty, and many have little hope of improving
 their financial situation."

 "We believe that in a healthy economy workers should earn
 fair compensation and all citizens should have the
 opportunity to earn, save, and be economically secure.
 We believe that civil rights and economic rights are
 inseparable; we will never have one without the other."

 "We believe that economic inequality and the scapegoating
 of welfare recipients and immigrants are dividing our nation
 and undermining our collective sense of community.
 By continuing to separate ourselves economically, we are
 contributing to a society in which people at one end of
 the spectrum are walled off in gated communities, while many
 at the other end are behind bars."

 What does Responsible Wealth propose to do?  In essence,
 lobby for policies that we who are not rich never expect
 to hear the rich promote.

 The burden of responsibility for the deficit, says the
 brochure, should be placed on the wealthiest, who benefited
 most from the policy changes that created it.  That means --
 what an amazing idea! -- tax increases for the rich.

 We need dramatic campaign finance reform, it says, to return
 control of our democracy to the voters, not the campaign

 The media should say more about the harm to our society and
 the damage to our economy caused by widening inequality,
 Responsible Wealth believes.
 So the organization is creating teams of speakers and
 educators and starting letter-writing campaigns, print ads,
 and meetings with government and corporate officials.

 Are these folks for real? I wondered, so I called them up.
 They're not yet willing to have their names released to the
 public, but when they do, you will recognize some of them.
 Responsible Wealth has over 130 members and is going for 250
 by the end of this year.  Next month they're having their
 first national conference in New York.

 "As people with wealth," says their first newsletter,
 "we feel a responsibility to speak out against the rules that
 have been written to benefit us and to speak in favor of
 policies that benefit the long-term common good of all."
 They quote Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Philanthropy is
 commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to
 overlook the circumstances of economic injustice that make
 philanthropy necessary."

 I'd guess that most non-rich Americans, which means most
 Americans, are not interested in absolute equality.
 We accept that some of us are born into, luck into, or manage
 to earn wealth and others are born into or fall into poverty.
 Our financial circumstances may or may not reflect our fault
 or merit.  We don't want to demean or envy or fear each other
 because of them.  We do want to hold each other responsible
 not for what we've been given, but for what we do with it.
 And we want a game with unbiased rules, with no child born
 into utter hopelessness.

 It's wonderful to know that some of the most privileged are
 on our side.

 If you'd like more information about Responsible Wealth,
 you can contact
 United for a Fair Economy, 37 Temple Place, Fifth Floor,
 Boston MA 02111
 (617-423-2148 or

 (Donella H. Meadows is an adjunct professor of environmental studies at
 Dartmouth College.)

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