August 31, 2009
Mr. Paul Gaffney II, President
Thank you for your letter of August 14, 2009 with the “Educational Initiative” proposal of Dr. Rekha Datta. It could be the opportunity for the universities to equip citizens with an agenda to both democratize capitalism and neutralize the lobby power of special interests.
Perhaps the structure can be best developed by concentrating on specific agenda items such as the proposition that recessions can and should be prevented by government. An agenda to prevent repetition of this terrible, unnecessary economic disaster, that has victimized tens of millions of citizens here and around the world, is both important and urgent as the reforms are not complete and so far have little input from citizens.
The attached article # 20 “No More Recessions” can serve as a talking paper for discussion with Dr. Datta and the representatives of the various disciplines that were at our first meeting.
My time will be available to meet with individuals, groups, or classes to examine this subject. If our working group should arrive at a consensus, it could be stated as a Monmouth University Citizens’ Agenda item and promulgated by way of the internet to other citizens, public officials, and other colleges and universities. The intention would be to stimulate an equivalent examination at as many institutions of learning as possible, and provide NGOs and representatives of peoples’ pension savings with a reform agenda item for consideration. It’s a depressing thought, but there are now five times as many lobbyists in Washington as members of Congress, so if that is the way business gets done in Washington, then let us become a lobby of economically informed citizens.
The second item suggested on the agenda is the distribution of corporate surplus, not exactly arcane accounting theory when one realizes that $2.4 trillion has been wasted
by S&P companies on stock buy backs in the past decade. Imagine how this could have benefited the pension savings of the wage earners who happen to be owners of the companies wasting their money. Imagine the benefit if the Citizens Agenda succeeded not only in getting companies to maximize dividends but also proposed legislation to make them tax-free for wage earners.
These agenda items require knowledge of monetary and fiscal matters, but they go beyond economic literacy in their importance for American life. How can the millions without jobs not be interested in what happened to them? What can be done to prevent future disasters? How can millions of wage earners not be keenly interested in how to oppose the priorities of finance capitalism that have devastated their retirement accounts.
I look forward to working with you and your associates in this effort finally to honor the democratic promise of a country in which the rules reflect the “will and wisdom” of citizens and “promote the general welfare.”
With your permission, I will communicate with Dr. Datta and others about this exciting opportunity.