Nationalize the Federal Reserve. Returning to a gold standard is an unrealizable pipe dream. Have the Dept. of the Treasury assume the functions of the central bank. That way the interest that accrues from the creation of our debt-based monetary supply will flow into the coffers of the U.S. government. Concerned that monetary policy would become politicized? Periodic experiments with national central banks have coincided with some of the most prosperous periods in American history. Is it not worth a try?
Restore Glass-Steagall. The firewall between commercial and investment banking that was sensibly erected in response to the Great Depression was removed by Congress in 1999 under pressure from the financial industry. It should be reinstituted immediately.
Encourage the establishment of state banks. North Dakota has one and, partly as a consequence, has the lowest unemployment and foreclosure rates in the U.S. With a state bank, profits from loans go directly into a state’s treasury, not to Wall St. The only reason more states haven’t established state banks is because the banking lobby is so powerful. People should demand that their state legislators support the establishment of state banks.
Stop attacking countries that pose no threat to us. Hundreds of billions of dollars were spent to attack and occupy Iraq when that country posed no threat to us whatsoever. The war in Afghanistan has devolved into an elaborate make-work enterprise for the war and security industries. If the U.S. put an end to these failed ventures and brought troops home from the multitude of bases around the world where they are needlessly posted, the budget of the Defense Dept. could be cut in half. Members of Congress beholden to the war industry who refuse to go along with this proposal should be recalled or voted out of office.
Repeal NAFTA and GATT. We were sold the idea of borderless and boundless international trade with the promise that it would create jobs for U.S. workers. This turns out to have been a lie. The result is that large U.S. corporations have moved operations overseas in order to capitalize from cheap—some would say slave—labor. Incentives for shipping operations overseas need to be revoked. It’s one thing to allow corporations to establish operations overseas; it’s quite another to actively encourage them to do so.
Levy a 1% tax on Wall St. transactions. There is currently no tax on trades whatsoever. Let Wall St. pick up some of the slack. Use the revenue to fund social entitlement programs. Between this revenue and savings from radically reduced spending on wars, there would be no need even to discuss raising taxes.
Make student loan debt dischargeable in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy law was extensively revised in 2005, and one consequence was to make student loan debt nearly impossible to get out from under. This was done under pressure from the banking industry. The result has been the creation of a generation of college graduates indentured to the big banks. In addition to revising the bankruptcy law, we could direct Sallie Mae to roll student debt over into loans with ultra-low interest rates. Banks borrow money at 0.25% per year; why shouldn’t students be able to do so as well?
Prosecute, don't fine, those who commit financial fraud or corporate malfeasance. How often do we hear that a mega-bank or mega-corporation has “agreed to pay a fine” when proven to have committed wrongdoing? Private citizens don’t get that option when caught committing a crime. Financial institutions that break the law should be criminally prosecuted. Individuals responsible should be identified, tried under the prevailing law, and jailed as the law prescribes.
Outlaw Congressional borrowing from Social Security and other entitlement trust funds. Congress has a habit of going to sources like Social Security and “borrowing” the money, replacing the money with unmarketable securities and driving the nation further into debt. This practice should be abolished. What would be the downside—not being able to afford another war?
Ban the trading of unregulated securities and derivatives. No sooner do federal regulators get a handle on a new class of Wall St. products than Wall St. creates a new asset class that can be traded and inflated in a market beyond the regulators’ jurisdiction. The consequence is always a new asset bubble, a new collapse, and a new bailout. The only solution is to ban the trading of unregulated securities and derivatives outright.
Criminalize any attempts to foreclose on properties with clouded titles. In their rush to bundle and resell mortgage deeds, Wall St. banks created tranches of mortgage-backed securities that hopelessly muddied the provenance of the underlying debt. If a bank acts in good faith to foreclose on a property that is in default and to which it believes it holds a claim, let the matter be decided in court. But if a bank attempts to seize a property knowing that it has no provable claim, let those responsible face criminal charges. Such action is no different from a mafia shakedown.
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