A Call to the 1 Percent

The staff of Wealth for the Common Good have been discussing and reflecting on the opportunities of this critical moment for our network – a network made up of many members of “the 1%.” We all sense a significant and positive shift in the work we can do together as a network to make a real impact on debates about the economy, taxes, and equity. With that in mind, we have created a Call to Action. Consider it a work in progress and please give us your thoughts and reflections.

 

The 99% movement can use allies in the 1% who want to work for an economy that sustains everyone.

The 1% is not a monolithic group. We recognize there are powerful members of the 1% who are “rule riggers” and “game fixers,” who use their money and influence to lobby for policy changes that increase their individual wealth and power.  These shortsighted actions have brought us to the brink of economic and ecological peril.

But the 1% also includes tens of thousands of us who have devoted our lives to economic and social fairness, shared prosperity and ecological health. We stand with the 99%.

We know the economic system is broken. Despite the rhetoric that a rising tide lifts all boats, we know as the beneficiaries of this unjust system that it only lifts yachts. In fact, more and more people no longer even have a boat and the middle class is taking on water at a rapid rate. We desire to work together to transform this system that is creating a dangerously lopsided economy and is the principle obstacle to needed change.

As members of the 1% who stand with the 99%, we know:

  • Extreme levels of inequality are unfair and socially destructive and have nothing to do with individual merit and deservedness; the “self-made man” is a myth of the powerful.
  • Inequality is bad for our democracy, economy, culture and environment.
  • It is possible to change the rules of the economy to provide for people and the planet as well as profits.
  • Members of the 1% have time, resources, and skills that can be added to those of the 99% for a transition to a new economy that is equitable and sustainable
  • The share of taxes paid by the 1 percent continues to shrink at a time when we need to make urgent investments in education, infrastructure and sustainable energy systems to ensure shared prosperity and ecological health.

The time has come when we must examine in a very serious way our assumptions about growth as the planet cannot tolerate what our society currently defines as ‘healthy economic growth.”

A passionate call for equity has begun to win the hearts and minds of the public about the need for an overhaul of the economic system to be more fair and just. While this is indeed something to celebrate, we also know, from long experience in systemic change work, that without a compelling vision of the future, people stick to the status quo. We know many members of the 1% are waiting to be called to meaningful action. Our work now is to encourage you and others in shaping and sharing a compelling vision that inspires everyone to work toward it. Only then will sustainable change begin to actually happen.

We don’t have all the answers but we have a start—some things to ponder.

 VISION: WHAT DO WE WANT?

  • An economy that works for everyone, for the 100 percent.
  •  A minimum safety net that is adequate enough to allow all members of our society to live in dignity—the hallmark of a caring society.
  • Quality education, health care, food security and housing are essential.
  •  An economy that provides an abundance of meaningful work with real wages and benefits.
  •  An economy that protects and reveres the planet, providing an environment for a healthy, sustainable earth.
  •  A healthy balance of individual responsibility and community responsibility.
  •  Communities that work; where everyone is valued and has a voice. No social polarization, blame and violence.
  •  More equitable distribution of resources and work.
  •  An economy that is redirected from inequality, war and fear, to equity, peace and hope.

Like many in our society, we are waiting to be called to something greater.  We are too often waiting, confused, wondering what to do….

Guess what …the perfectly worded invitation, the perfect project, the most timely and strategic approach MAY NOT APPEAR.  Nonetheless, we cannot wait.  SO………………

ASKS

Write your Vision of the Future

We invite you to reflect on your own vision for moving forward and then share it with us. One idea for doing this: Revisit the story that you tell about your success and connect it to the lives that sustain your life and well-being. See Scott-Klingers-Story (PDF)

Find/Create a Group

Break Bread.  Bring others together to talk about our role and what to do. Create a collective vision and share it with us.

Speak Out for Fairness Policies.  Weigh in on the great public policy debates of our time including taxation, spending, environmental, social justice and others.

  •  Speak out where you are
  •  Call your Congressional Representatives –Senate and House members
  •  Meet with your Congressional Representative; form a group and arrange an appointment
  •  Protest, take to the streets, do what’s comfortable for you—and also stretch a little bit and attend a rally if you’ve never done so
  •  Identify where you could speak on the topic of why taxes are important.
    • For example, many faith communities hold educational opportunities, civic clubs or an organization you belong to are good venues for discussion.
    •  We can help: ann@wealthforcommongood.org

Tell the Truth.  Help shift the mythology of deservedness that underpins extreme inequality by telling ourselves the truth. Help explain “incentives” –what really motivates people. (Note: It’s not low tax rates!) See resource list below.

Move Your Money –Invest in the Real Economy.

Learn about alternative investment options that support the Mainstreet economy, invest in the healthy ‘real and rooted’ economy.

  • Resources: http://www.slowmoney.org/
  • LocoVesting by Amy Cortese: http://locavesting.blogspot.com/

Invest in Change, Not Just Charity.  Give a significant % of your money to support real change; don’t just distribute band-aids, even though we fully recognize we need charity right now in many places. Consider also supporting groups working for systemic change, economic and social justice.

Occupy the Country Club! Have some fun-:)

Other resource links:

Chuck Collins, 99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do About It

Inequality.org

New Economy Working Group

Occupy Philanthropy

James Gustave Speth, “America the Possible: A Manifesto, Part I From decline to rebirth”
Orion Magazine, March/April 2012

Harold Meyerson, “The rich are different; They get richer”
Washington Post, 3/27/12

Resource Generation