Our economy is designed by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent. This book offers a compelling vision of an equitable, ecologically sustainable alternative that meets the essential needs of all people.
We live in a world where twenty-six billionaires own as much wealth as half the planet's population. The extractive economy we live with now enables the financial elite to squeeze out maximum gain for themselves, heedless of damage to people or planet. But Marjorie Kelly and Ted Howard show that there is a new economy emerging focused on helping everyone thrive while respecting planetary boundaries.
At a time when competing political visions are at stake the world over, this book urges a move beyond tinkering at the margins to address the systemic crisis of our economy. Kelly and Howard outline seven principles of what they call a Democratic Economy: community, inclusion, place (keeping wealth local), good work (putting labor before capital), democratized ownership, ethical finance, and sustainability. Each principle is paired with a place putting it into practice: Pine Ridge, Preston, Portland, Cleveland, and more.
This book tells stories not just of activists and grassroots leaders but of the unexpected accomplices of the Democratic Economy. Seeds of a future beyond corporate capitalism and state socialism are being planted in hospital procurement departments, pension fund offices, and even company boardrooms.
The road to a system grounded in community, democracy, and justice remains uncertain. Kelly and Howard help us understand we make this road as we walk it by taking a first step together beyond isolation and despair.
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About the Author
Marjorie Kelly is the executive vice president and senior fellow at the Democracy Collaborative. She is the author of The Divine Right of Capital and Owning Our Future. Ted Howard is the cofounder and the president of the Democracy Collaborative. The Collaborative works to carry out a vision of a new economic system where shared ownership and control creates more equitable and inclusive outcomes, fosters ecological sustainability, and promotes flourishing democratic and community life.
Table of Contents
Foreword Naomi Klein ix
From Cleveland to Preston
A new paradigm for economic transformation
1 An Economy of, By, and for the People 15
The Great Wave Rising Worldwide
Principles of a democratic vs. extractive economy
2 The Principle of Community 27
The Common Good Comes First
Regenerative community in Indian country
3 The Principle of Inclusion 41
Creating Opportunity for Those Long Excluded
Incubating equity in Portland economic development
4 The Principle of Place 51
Building Community Wealth That Stays Local
The $13 billion anchor mission in Cleveland
5 The Principle of Good Work 61
Putting Labor Before Capital
The worker-centered economy of Cooperative Home Care Associates
6 The Principle of Democratic Ownership 73
Creating Enterprise Designs for a New Era
The employee-owned benefit corporation, EA Engineering
7 The Principle of Sustainability 85
Protecting the Ecosystem as the Foundation of Life
The Federal Reserve's power to finance ecological transition
8 The Principle of Ethical Finance 97
Investing and Lending for People and Place
Banks and pension funds invest for local wealth in Preston, England
From an Extractive to a Democratic Economy
Thoughts on next steps for the pathway ahead
Afterword Aditya Chakrabortty 117
Appendix-Networks of the Democratic Economy 121
About the Authors 165