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Making the economy more just
These unions represent over 500,000 working families, and New York City has a few bucks at its disposal, too. Civic and labor leaders can use this model to let banks know that if they don't behave as good corporate citizens, they will move their big money to institutions that do.
Taxing the casino
The high-speed wheelers and dealers of stocks, derivatives and currencies in the Wall Street casino were major players in bringing our economy to its knees. That kind of short-term trading serves no useful purpose, and a financial speculation tax is one way to rein it in.
A tax of 0.25 percent or less on each trade would be negligible for regular investors but significant to those looking for the quick score. It would also generate significant revenue at a time when resources are slim; an Institute for Policy Studies report points out that such a tax could bring in an estimated $180 billion annually -- more than any other revenue-raiser on the table.
There is also global support for the reform. Britain imposes a 0.5 percent stock "stamp tax" on each trade on the London stock exchange. Also in favor of the tax are French President Nicolas Sarkozy -- who will chair the Group of 20 in 2011 -- and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Worker is boss
The Post reports that non-financial companies are "hoarding" $1.8 trillion in cash while they continue to "hold back on hiring." Not so the Evergreen Cooperatives of Cleveland -- community-based, worker-owned operations supported by a mix of private and public funds. The Evergreen Cooperative Laundry and Ohio Cooperative Solar are already up and running, and 10 other such enterprises are slated to open in the city this year.
Workers buy equity in the co-ops through payroll deductions and earn a living wage working at green jobs. The businesses focus on the local market -- meeting the procurement needs of "anchor institutions" such as large hospitals and universities in the area. Each co-op pays 10 percent of its pretax profits back to the umbrella organization to help seed new enterprises.
Other cities considering this model include Atlanta, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Detroit. And other towns around Ohio are considering it as well. At a time when so many jobs are being slashed or outsourced, the Cleveland cooperatives show us how we can create local jobs and reinvest in our communities.
Those who believe the financial sector should serve rather than dominate the economy will welcome these reforms. They are radical and achievable. But they will demand determined idealism and tough organizing in the years ahead.
Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor and publisher of the Nation and writes a weekly column for The Post.