In this special feature, the RCJ traces events in U.S.
history over the past 60 years that have served as catalysts for change,
sometimes but not always in a positive vein.
Our ground zero is South-Central Los Angeles, the societal laboratory
that during the pre-Civil Rights era was home to some of the greatest
economic advancements for African-American
U.S. citizens, but by the mid-1960s became the scene of riots in Watts, and
thereafter experienced some of the steepest declines in the fortunes of America's
Blacks in the modern era.
What happened was that Los Angeles lost its manufacturing base, a newly
affluent generation of middle class Blacks found themselves unable to
transition to a new era of aerospace and defense industry-related
employment, and they were, in essence, ghettoized by housing
discrimination laws that restricted growing levels of poverty to a
concentrated area of Los Angeles.
We use the terms African-American
and Black for further historical
reference, for along the way toward racial integration, particularly
with regards to the promise that California held for progressive
developments in the 1950s, there was a redefinition of this key American
culture - a culture that must be fully vested in the future
sustainability of the U.S. for the country to thrive - and it was away
from accommodation and tolerance and toward an insular urban culture of
violent nihilism. It was a generational thing on one level, and on
another a spiritual dislocation brought on by change in circumstance and
inadequate infrastructure within a society to support transformational
Our intent is to create a context for understanding
of global events and changes over the past 60 years so that we may see the
linkages and the possibilities presented by reapplication of focus, and
redefinition of national purpose. With the film
Made In America as our starting point, and South-Central
as our study area, we propose a range of solutions, the implementation
of which has far-reaching global application.
Read the chart across, left
to right, considering catalysts and markers for each decade. (The
"Historic" and "Marker" information is not intended to correlate on a
line-per-line basis, but pay attention to catalysts and markers over the
period to note broad developments.
The events listed in the
graphic are largely, but not entirely, focused on developments within
the United States of America over the past 60-plus years, but the theme
of the last half-century has been the growing global
interconnectedness in all things. This has been made so by the impact
of our human population, now totaling more than 7 billion people, and
the networks of systems we have put into place to provide services to
people throughout the world.
The relationships of all of those global
entities are linked by language, culture, and most
One can transact across language
and cultural barriers, but if you can’t bring your product, service, or
idea to the people who need it then all else is moot.
– the thoughtful creation of a web of systems, including physical assets
and objective-oriented enterprises, to support our existence - is an
entirely human conceit and in its ultimate form includes:
Housing and life support –
shelter, water, sewerage, power
Transportation and communications
systems – roadways, transit systems, telephones
Supply chains of goods and services
– businesses, agencies, firms
Network of employment centers
Education – public and
private schools, colleges and universities, training centers
If any one of those five key
infrastructure elements is missing, the result is societal
Keeping it Simple and Supportive
It feels as if
policy making in the U.S. is presently overwhelmed by detail, which as
former presidential candidate Ross Perot correctly observed is where the
“devil” is. America and the world economy could be “fixed” through a
combination of courageous policy decisions and a focus on our basic
immediate objectives rather than on the minutiae of each aspect of what
needs to be done.
In its most
basic form, the demands of an economy charge a society with seven
primary directives, all of which are aimed at sustaining and further
improving the world the society has created, or hopes to create. That
Basic sanitary home support
Marketplaces for food, goods and
Education and training
Employment development services
Industries in which qualified
people can find employment
Service sector jobs in which
people can find employment
illustrates a healthy infrastructure support system in which the entire
society is geared toward providing support for seven basic functions
listed above. The system has an organic nature to it, with lifeblood
consisting of positive human engagement with each aspect of the system
and revenues that are distributed equitably to ensure sufficient funding
for each of those seven primary functions of a society.
As the documentary Made In America shows, remove or degrade
the workings of any one of these critical functions and the result
is societal breakdown, which cascades to become a devastating flood
wiping out portions of all the other critical systems.
Figure 1: A Healthy Infrastructure Support System
In the U.S., there are certain streams,
or thematic elements, in the events of our compressed history
(1776-present) that are constant destabilizing factors.
– In the U.S., the well-being of society is integrally connected to the
stability of the Black community. The same could be said of other
countries in relation to other ethnic groups, and wherever
institutionalized means are used to suppress un-empowered, targeted
– Societies organize around principles, and monotheistic societies
organize around specific sets of dogma. Because members of any
one society more or less acknowledge the same or similar sets of dogma,
the conflicts that arise are all around interpretation and linkages,
justifications for the actions each member of society takes in service
to their chosen ways of thinking.
– There is an Orwellian feeling about life on Earth in the 21st
Century, with three enormous consortiums circling the Israel/Palestine
North America, Europe and
Africa, the Orient, the Middle
East, and Eurasia
Far East Asia
Israel/Palestine conflict goes to the heart of human dissatisfaction,
representing in the Middle East a dynamic that connects everyone who
experiences roadblocks along their paths toward survival, peace and
stability. In this case, the roadblocks are in the form of
self-interested parties leveraging uncorroborated belief systems to gain
advantage, as in “God gave this land to me…”
Power – Concentration of wealth does not happen naturally or
in a vacuum. Those who amass wealth realize an advantage of being able
to live outside of the system described in Figure 1.
Largely immune from the degradations that accompany breakdowns in an
infrastructure support system, the wealthy are also in control of the
society’s decision making processes. This disconnect produces policy
that often exacerbates the degradation of infrastructure support
EXAMPLE: Deregulation of U.S.
industries paralleled business leaders’ insistence that they needed to
unleash all powers at their disposal to compete in a world of expanding
globalism in which autocratic governments were playing ruthlessly and
without rules. A case in point would be the uneven tariffs on goods
imported into China from the U.S., compared to those levied by the U.S.
on goods imported from China. U.S. business leaders would also point to
China’s manipulated currency evaluation as an example of unprincipled
competitive behavior that must be countered by equivalent behavior on
the part of U.S. capitalists. However, because the U.S. is in huge debt
to China, and without leverage to negotiate effectively with China in
that regard, American corporations turn their attentions to other
non-confrontational strategies that enhance their competitive position
to match that achieved by China through its currency and trade
practices, not to mention human rights violations. Horribly, among the
U.S. business communities’ strategies has been to outsource jobs to
China to take advantage of those same human rights violations that are
enabling profitability of Chinese industry.
Each of these elements are causing
disruptions to the infrastructures of global societies, in one way or
another, and creating global instability.
Were the RCJ running the U.S. government,
we would take whatever steps were necessary to do the following:
the United Nations resolution to recognize Palestine and
endorse the “two-state” solution.
the banking industry through reimplementation of the
Glass-Stegall Act that separated
daily banking from investment operations.
corporate bookkeeping practices that book income other
than in the country in which the corporation is incorporated.
corporate tax rates to key indices, including the U.S.
content of products and services, i.e., the higher the U.S. content
the lower the tax rate.
the approximately $170 billion that U.S. taxpayers divvy up annually
in “welfare” benefits to corporations and
rich people (which, by the way, compares to $14 billion
paid annually for social welfare programs, the latter of which
largely represent funds that flow directly back into the economic
system, lowering the actual costs of social welfare programs versus
those of “welfare” to corporations and the rich, which tends to
remain out of the stream of recirculating currency, thereby
depriving the economic system of some portion of its lifeblood).
the top income tax bracket to 70 percent for those making
$2.9 million or more per year, 50 percent for those making more than
$400,000 per year, and 39 percent for those making more than
$250,000 per year. Allow tax deductions for charitable
contributions, educational expenses, and home improvements.
a system of universal basic health care
for all U.S. citizens.
the war in Afghanistan and reduce the presence of
permanent U.S. military installations abroad to bring the troops
home for deployment in key locations in the U.S., including along
international borders and in selected urban areas.
in the re-development of all five categories (defined above) of the
critical infrastructure of the
TIME: 6 months to
Notice to Proceed
growth in jobs and supply orders
Years determined by product life cycles
PREPARATION TIME: 6
months to Notice to
Measured growth in jobs and supply orders
determined by product life cycles
PREPARATION TIME: Next
in jobs and supply orders two years out
Dependent upon future policy to protect smaller businesses
Network of employment
centers – Aggregate employment listings into easily accessible,
neighborhood-focused listings of employment opportunities by
industry and role description; mobilize state Employment Development
Divisions toward providing personalized services to meet the needs
of local employers and workers
TIME: 3 months to
Notice to Proceed
in terms of messaging, TBD re rate of employment
Unknown-Long term study of
variables including community stability, income, employment, education
Education – We need
to rescue our K-12 grade students from the un-tethered floating in
space that has typified American public school education for the
past 100 years. Re-vision public and private schools, colleges and
universities as training centers, in which:
class, K through doctoral work, is geared toward age-appropriate
skill-based training. Kindergarteners
learn how to make paper dolls, PhD candidates learn how to make a fusion
reaction. Every skill learned along the way should make sense, to the
average person, as being a building block to some future objective,
defined by the various training streams that students may be placed in
based on their strengths and inclinations as demonstrated by their
outputs along the course of their education. These streams should allow
for crossover as students develop and possibly exhibit potential in
areas other than those that were first observed. Otherwise, curriculums
need to provide flexibility for students to grow in their interests and
curiosities, with the goal to broaden each individual rather than to
narrow their range of abilities.
writing and arithmetic should be taught as
disciplines adjunct to the skills being taught
at every level. Students learn the vocabulary and do the math required
to perform each learned skill along the way, so that each engagement
with these “soft arts” of education is tied directly and relevantly to a
task at hand (the skill being learned).
PREPARATION TIME: Start
of upcoming school year
no additional investment; increased levels of student engagement likely
to yield immediate results, with first fully-employable high school
graduates within 4 years from program start
Revolution in education would yield immediate classroom benefits, which
would likely make full ROI a thing measured in terms of graduation rates
and performance on tests
Create Emergency Community Resource Centers
to provide immediate training and employment for under-served U.S.
Commitment: In targeted neighborhoods, demolish abandoned
structures and temporarily replace with military tent structures.
Besides providing the command center for the Emergency Community
Resource Center, the mobilization will serve as an important symbol
of progressive intent while providing immediate benefits in security
and health care.
Provide 24-hour training
and employment centers.
Secured – Patrol streets so near neighbors can
walk to facilities safely night and day
Staffed – employment development and healthcare
personnel on site to handle walk-in clients
Resourced – equipment on hand to provide
environmental controls and life support, manage documentation,
deliver healthcare, transportation, and operations and maintenance
Networked – telecommunications connected to other
such centers throughout the region
TIME: 3 months
in terms of messaging, TBD regarding rate of employment
Determination would require a
measurement of variables including community stability, income,
employment, education levels – long term study
MINE, YOURS AND OURS
Finally, we need to get honest with
ourselves and others about how wealth is acquired. At the most basic
level, we dig wealth from the earth in one way or another. We invest
sweat equity – our time and labor – into trying to extract from the
available resources and opportunities those carry-aways that can be
exchanged for value in goods, services, and bankable coins.
There are two dynamics at work in this
simple depiction of earned income:
Sacrifice: There is almost no human endeavor that yields
an income that is not dependent upon the contributions of other
individuals in the production chain. Railroad magnates Collis and
Henry Huntington, for instance, are credited with expanding the
Central Pacific Railroad’s expansion across the American west, and
they made fortunes doing it – except that they didn’t really do
any of it. Their fortunes were built on the backs of sledge
hammering laborers and iron workers who worked for wages and
actually built the rail systems with their bare hands. The
Huntington’s walked away with all the money and all the glory
because they already had all the money and the glory. This dynamic
must be discredited and put in its proper context, including death
by stabbing of the illegitimate claim that wealthy people and
corporations should pay lower taxes because they are "job
producers". Much of what being a "job producer" means in practice is
that some advantaged person has a team of less advantaged
individuals in place so that he can profit from their labors.
Rewarding that dynamic is at the heart of supply-side economics, the
focus upon which has created massive inequality in wealth
distribution in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Assets: The power that the wealthy enjoy is, more now
than at any previous time in history, ephemeral; based
largely on figures on spreadsheets and nothing more. The currency
that circulates through an economic system is the physical
representation of only a portion of the value within that
economic system. The vast majority of that value – particularly
since the U.S. went off the gold standard during the Nixon
Administration – is nothing more than allocations from the Federal
Treasury, not of fungible currencies but of control units, like
Booleans switched to “True” for those lucky enough to receive these
inputs to their spreadsheets.
What we need to understand is that the
Federal Treasury may not be controlled by America’s citizens – in fact,
the Federal Treasury is a consortium of private banks – but
it does control the value of every U.S.
citizen. And that value, measured in buying power, has remained flat
since 1969, because every time the Fed dumps more Federal Reserve Notes
into the system it devalues the “actual” value of our currency, because
the Notes are based on nothing more than the truth of their having been
added as additional numbers to the Feds’ balance sheet. This is why we
have experienced 625 percent inflation on the dollar since 1960, so that
the person working today would need to make around $290,000 per year to
have the same purchasing power that a guy making $40,000 per year had in
The vast majority of the wealth accumulation
over that period has been on the interest dividends enjoyed by those who
have had wealth to loan to other parties. This is why we have seen this
accumulation of the total wealth of the U.S. in the coffers of just a
The situation has been exacerbated by the
current economic recession, as the Treasury has issued Notes for which
there are no buyers, and so been forced to purchase back 80 percent of
them themselves, them being the network of regional banks that
make up the Reserve system. The net result is that
the wealthy owners within this banking system will continue to receive
interest payments on increasingly larger outstanding debts, further
consolidating the nation’s wealth into the control of the few while the
vast majority of U.S. citizens are becoming increasingly poor.
The U.S. middle class is disappearing and being replaced by expanding
middle class groups, primarily in Asia, while our top one percent of
earners grow mega-wealthy.
DEBATE: If the Federal Treasury is going to make unilateral
decisions that benefit the few and weaken the vast majority of us, then
they are running an illegitimate operation that needs to be addressed
through tax and criminal code.
The bottom line is that we need policies
that distribute wealth equitably on the understanding that
no person, however resourceful, achieves anything
on their own. Success is always, at points along the way, dependent upon
leveraging the support of others, and it is unethical and morally
dishonest for any individual to take more for what they
contributed than what is apportioned to others for their contributions.
earned from investments and interest payments should not be
viewed as productive income. It is not job creating income
– if it were, Apple and General Motors and many other major
corporations, which during the recession have been sitting on mountains
of cash, would have never allowed there to be an unemployment
rate in the U.S. - and should be taxed at the highest rate.
through the production of tangible goods and services should be taxed at
the lowest rate. A person, for instance, who is making an engine
part of high, sustainable quality, and doing it in a safe,
energy-efficient, environmentally responsible manner, should pay next to
nothing on his income because that person makes a tangible contribution.
A stock broker, on the other hand, should
have income taxed at a high rate because it is impossible to correlate
that person’s income to any tangible contribution to society. He may
have steered your grandmother into an investment that will secure her
retirement, or bilked her out of her savings. He may have secured
startup funds for a new technology business, or he may have created
exactly the type of annuity the next Adolph Hitler is looking for to
secure the long-term commitments of his Army of I-Me-Mine. Trying to
parse the value to society of financial services is tricky business, an
engagement in abstractions and not, in the end, worth protected
The next time some rich person decries
money taken away from them in taxes, remind them of all the workers who
actually created the value of that income. There is a total value there
that is not his, but ours.