Viking Economics – We Can Have This, Too

Viking Economics by George Lakey
Review by N. Moran

Ever wonder what society will look like for our children and grandchildren? Will we all have health care in 10 years? Or will we still have a dysfunctional healthcare system that privileges those with the money to pay, and is a gift to the insurance industry? How about our higher educational system: Will we increasingly send our students into lifelong debt? Or will we move to invest in our greatest resource, our young people, and offer them a chance to really make their best contribution? And how about the big banks; will they continue to siphon our wealth into the coffers of the richest few?

Or will we be able to do what the Nordic countries have done, and whip the banks into submission, so that the economy serves the needs of its people? We could then use our wealth to offer National Improved Medicare for All and free quality education, we could use our wealth to support the growing cooperative model of non-exploitative businesses, and at the same time, we could protect the environment from further degradation.

Well-known activist, professor and author, George Lakey, in his latest book, Viking Economics, examines how this not only can be done, but actually has been done in countries such as Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland. By all standards of quality of life, these countries fare better than we do in the U.S. Universal programs (such as those that care for the elderly, offer parental leave, living wages and one-month annual vacations) have buy-in from everyone, especially the working and middle-classes. These programs are supported by the majority of people because they are not means-tested subsidies for the poor, they are for everyone – so everyone supports them. These countries value full employment, high productivity, and a high standard of living for all.

Lakey’s coverage of Norwegian and Swedish history clarifies that none of what these countries have was handed to them gratis. Much as the working class in the U.S. fought for an end to child labor, for an 8-hour day, social security, and other rights and benefits, the working classes of the Scandinavian countries also had to wage many nonviolent direct action campaigns over the last century and a half to get where they are today. The difference between their countries and ours is that they continued their fight for a more just and equal society, whereas we have largely retreated from the agenda set by the working class struggles of the first half of the last century. Where they continue to go on the offensive, we have largely moved to a defensive mode, trying to protect gains won in the past.

It helps to take a step back from our daily politics and our daily struggles, as we can do in a book club discussion, and look at the vision we have for our future society. To see how other countries have built – and continue to build – better societies is an inspiration. The chapter on Iceland’s handling of its banking crisis draws a sharp contrast to the way the Bush and Obama administrations handed our 2008 banking crisis over to Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan to solve. While Iceland’s collapse was arguably worse than our own, people stayed in their homes, the government expanded the social safety net and let the biggest banks go bust. The population as a whole felt an uptick in their sense of well-being. That result stands in sharp contrast to the ongoing foreclosures – with the resulting rise in homelessness – here in the U.S.

So, when we wonder what our society will look like for our children and grandchildren, we could look at countries who are heading in a different direction than the one our largest corporations and banks have in mind. We can also look at our rich history of experience with people power, including civil resistance, nonviolent struggles, boycotts, occupy, strikes and demonstrations. Since our struggles of the 30’s and 60’s, we have learned much about grassroots organizing. But unlike those past years, when we were offered options, when we experienced growing prosperity, and the government still had some legitimacy, we are now faced with a system which increasingly cannot provide for the basic needs of its citizens. Then, the alternative economic designs were made to seem scary; now the Nordic Model shows us that healthcare for all, business coops, caring for the environment, childcare, public pensions, public transportation and free public education for all ages, can be a reality. Countries like Norway, Sweden and Iceland are the best places to grow old, where there is no fear of hunger, homelessness or lack of medications. Isn’t it time we gave it a try?

Injustice Boycott and #NoDAPL

Many of us in Humboldt feel the need to support members of our community who may be affected by the increase in racist tension already being experienced across the country as a result of the election of Donald Trump. Our hearts might be in the right place, but what can we do?

An opportunity now presents itself. Noted journalist Shaun King has announced a Montgomery-bus-type boycott focused on three U.S. cities where we see some of the ugliest manifestations of racism and oppression.

Phase 1 of the boycott (December 5th – January 16th) was timed to begin on the anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott started by another King, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Shaun King’s call to boycott could very well deliver an historic impact equal to the original.

San Francisco and New York

Two of the three targeted cities, San Francisco and New York City, while enjoying a liberal reputation, have painful records of police violence. Officials in both cities have specific goals, set by local activists and concerned citizens. Go to InjusticeBoycott.com and subscribe to keep up with the daily emails of very doable actions that we can all participate in.  If city officials do not make headway on these specific goals before January 16th, the actual boycott will begin. Once substantial progress has been made, the boycott will be lifted. Another city will then take its place in the boycott’s cross hairs. The boycott will last as long as necessary to make our cities safe for all residents. And, it’s worth noting that all precautions will be taken to decrease risks to, and even improve, the local economy of the affected cities.

Standing Rock

Standing Rock, Water Protectors

But there is a third city, Standing Rock, at the center of the boycott efforts. Beginning immediately, the boycott calls for a divestment of all funds from the banks which fund the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Shaun King spells it out:

“A DeFund DAPL movement is already fully underway and we encourage you to join it. While the decision by the Army Corps of Engineers was a start, the best way to ensure that this pipeline is stopped, is to hit it where it counts — in its funding. Remove your money from all banks that are supporting the pipeline and tell them that you will never bank with them again if they continue to fund this ugliness.

“While we are now on a 43-day countdown in San Francisco and New York City, we are asking that you actually make the serious decision to help DeFund DAPL today. We must move to support Standing Rock now.”

So please join us. Help us mobilize our community to divest now. Look at the list of banks at the bottom of this post which have invested in DAPL. Do you have a bank account with one of them? You could withdraw your money. Have a mortgage with one of those financial institutions? Refi with a local bank. Have a credit card with a DAPL financier? Same thing. Switch. Below is a list of financial institutions invested in DAPL. Tell them to divest. And explain to them that if they do not, you will pull your money!

We also listed the local banks and credit unions you can use when you make a switch.

Perhaps you are already in a local bank or credit union? Congratulations! Tell your friends. NCPA held one door-to-door mobilization — we will have more.

We may need to do more to reverse climate change, but this is an excellent step in the right direction!

Here are the banks (with local offices) invested in DAPL:

  • Bank of America
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo

And here are local financial institutions to support:

  • Coast Central Credit Union
  • Provident Credit Union
  • Redwood Capital Bank
  • Umpqua Bank
  • Tri Counties Bank

For more information, go to: www.defunddapl.org. Already over $28million has been divested.

And if you haven’t signed up already, here is the link to Injustice Boycott: www.injusticeboycott.com. Already over 200,000 have signed up! Let’s put Humboldt County on the right side of history!

December 5, 2016 – Historic Boycott Begins

Many of us in Humboldt feel the need to support members of our community who may be affected by the increase in racist tension already being experienced across the country as a result of the election of Donald Trump. Our hearts might be in the right place, but what can we do?

An opportunity now presents itself. Noted journalist Shaun King has announced a Montgomery-bus-type boycott focused on three U.S. cities where we see some of the ugliest manifestations of racism and oppression. Of course, Humboldt’s cities do not fall into this category, but boycotting a city can take the form of not vacationing there, not holding conventions in their venues, not buying products from corporations based in those cities, and other creative ways that King will reveal on Monday, December 5th.

The boycott is timed to begin on the anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, started by another King, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Shaun King’s call to boycott could very well deliver an historic impact equal to the original.

Each of the three targeted cities will have specific goals, and once reached, the boycott will be lifted. Another city will then take its place in the boycott’s crosshairs. The boycott will last as long as necessary to make our cities safe for all its residents. And, it’s worth noting that all precautions will be taken to decrease risks to, and even improve, the local economy of the affected cities, and in particular, businesses owned by people of color.

Here’s an update Shaun King posted yesterday:

Keep an eye out for the names of the cities and boycott activities to be announced on Monday; let’s put Humboldt County on the right side of history!

Sign up here

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