By J.D. ALT
What follows is a to-do list for the next political power generation―the Millennials in whose hands the operation of America will begin soon, thankfully, to be grasped. The Boomer and GenX generations have succeeded in guiding America to the brink of social chaos and environmental disaster. Thankfully, the Millennials actually have the critical tool necessary to build anew what the 1% power-structures of the Boomer/GenXers have so greedily destroyed. All that is required is for the Millennials to step into their political power, grasp the tool, and begin the work.
The Millennial Agenda, as I think of it, encompasses a broad scope of specific, concrete, public and collective goods and services. Underlying each of the specific agenda items is the same essential proposition―the “tool” I just made reference to. This tool is already in place and operational, though it has been willfully misunderstood, misused and gummed up by the Boomer and GenX logic of economic power. The tool is “sovereign fiat-money.” And the proposition which will underpin each of the Millennial Agenda items is this: public and collective goods in America are to be purchased from American businesses and citizens with sovereign fiat-money―rather than U.S. tax dollars.
This is a critically important proposition for two reasons: First, it means that what the Millennial Agenda can undertake to achieve is not limited by some theoretical finite number of U.S. dollars, but instead is limited by the actual resources―labor, materials, technology, and natural assets―which are sustainably available within America’s borders. To give a specific example, the first Millennial To-Do―providing a “free” college or technical education for every American high-school graduate―does not beg the question of how many federal tax dollars will have to be collected to pay for the educational facilities and services. The question, instead, is how many teachers and education administrators are actually available to provide the services? How many classroom facilities and technical learning labs are available to house the education processes? And, if more are needed, are there enough carpenters, electricians, plumbers, steel fabricators and masons to do the work? It is precisely the same framework of questions that America used to put itself to work to wage World War 2—and the success of that effort (or how it was “paid” for) is not something that can ever be questioned.
The second reason the proposition is important is because it means the calculation the Agenda item requires is not how many tax dollars the education services will cost the federal government, but rather how many sovereign fiat-dollars the teachers, administrators, and facility builders will get paid to provide the education services. These paychecks will then represent new dollars those educators and builders will spend to buy the consumer goods and services for sale in the private sector economy—a calculation that for-profit American businesses will certainly take heed of.
Obviously, the calculations just described are dramatically different from the calculations currently being made by a Republican congress and administration in their chaotic attempt to rationalize America’s tax code. But we don’t need to worry about any of that nonsense―except to the extent that we’ll have to wait (with as much nurturing patience as possible) until the Millennials begin to grasp their political power. In the meantime, that optimistic, inclusive, perhaps too fun-loving but cooperative generation can begin contemplating their agenda—which I am presumptuously now going to outline. The Millennials (and anyone else, of course) are invited to suggest modifications. What is not allowed, however, is to suggest that none of it is possible “because we can’t collect enough tax dollars to pay for it.”
A Millennial Agenda To-Do List:
- Free college or technical school education for every American high school graduate.
- Immediate forgiveness/pay-off of all student loans in America.
- Free pre-school day-care available in every American neighborhood and community.
- Free medical and pharmacy clinics in every American neighborhood and community.
- Free universal health-care for all American citizens.
- A national housing COOP to enable the creation of affordable, workforce and retirement co-housing.
- A national “higher-ground” relocation and rebuilding program for coastal communities.
- A guaranteed living wage in exchange for useful community service.
- A national workforce program with the following specific targets:
- Coal-mine reclamation and watershed restoration
- Nuclear and chemical toxic clean-up
- Local water and sewage treatment systems
- Local renewable energy micro-grids
- Desert rain-harvesting and reforestation
- Coastal wetland reclamation
- Wildlife and fisheries habitat restoration
It is worth noting a pattern in this to-do list. Each item is a public or collective good that cannot be effectively or adequately provided by a profit-motivated market economy. The first items have to do with non-discretionary human needs—education, health, and housing—which a healthy and successful human society, by definition, will provide its members, profit or not. The rest of the items are public or collective goods which profit-oriented enterprise has no interest in providing because they do not generate financial profits—or because their profit horizon is beyond conventional financial time-frames. Broadly speaking, the overall pattern of the list is this: (1) Take care of ourselves in order that we might (2) begin the long task of taking care of—and restoring—the natural ecosystems which we’ve brought to the brink of disaster, within which we’re embedded biologically, psychologically, and culturally—and upon which we depend for our very survival.