The 1100th Movement

Let's all head to the tipping point axle and hang ten.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Government as a Tax Credit Union

Politicians these days are fond of saying that government should be run as a business, what they fail to say is just what kind of business.

There is only one business that government resembles and that is a credit union. Most governments these days seem to be run like private corporations, like banks, where people make their tax deposits and then sit back and watch their hard-earned monies gobbled up by vested interests

Credit unions are member-owned banks, managed and run by staff and management who are directly accountable to the membership. The money in the government belongs to people whose taxes constitute a tax credit union, whether the government in question is a municipality, a county, a province or a nation. It doesn't belong to special interest groups, it doesn't belong to developers, it doesn't belong to staff, it doesn't belong to management, and it doesn't belong to the elected board overseeing the activities mandated by the members.

The reason the people of Quebec can conceive of separation or sovereignty-association is because they own their own money. Alphonse Desjardin created the first credit union (Caisse Populaire) in that province in 1901, with only a handful of dimes and dollars. Catholic priests advocated credit unions from the pulpits as a way of preserving French Canadian society. The credit union movement spread so rapidly in that province that by 1920 they had assets of a billion dollars. Now they are the largest employer in Quebec.

Unlike banks, which are rooted in the corporate reality of having no "conscience to bind them" and in the pursuit of profit as their prime directive, credit unions are rooted in the cooperative mandate of serving their members.

As citizens we have allowed a bank-like ideology of 'banker knows best' to govern our lives. And try as they like to make banks more responsive to clients, the client relationship remains, and bank profits soar. Credit union profits don't soar precisely because the increasing value of holdings accrues to the members.

Governments need to run like credit unions, mutual benefit society, where genuine trust exists because it is founded on an equality of membership, whether you own millions or scrape by on subsistence wages.

The buying power of government does not belong to the government, it belongs to the members/citizens of the tax credit union and the sooner people realize that, the sooner they will realize that there are very few problems that cannot be solved by cooperative approaches.

Which is not to say that individual genius and hard work are not equally essential. This isn't some kind of State commune I'm talking about, in fact, I'm not much of a fan of the 'State', whether local or federal, precisely because the State is like a bank. It serves it's own interests using the accumulative power of its citizens, for good and ill.

WalMart makes a massive profit at what it does precisely because they use the bulk buying power of their consumers for the benefit of the company. That is why we have corporate wage slave compounds around the Third World, it helps them maximize their profits using other people's money. What we get in exchange is false economy. Wage slaves don't put much craft or care into products, and that's why the products are largely junk, but it's cheap junk, so consumers go back for more and more. Which is also why our landfill sites are overflowing.

A municipality is the most perfectly placed of all levels of government for citizens to harness their own bulk buying power precisely because it exists where people live. Counties and provinces and even nations are by and large abstractions, a municipality is home.

Trade Associations use their group power to focus their special interests,
trade unions do the same, food co-ops do the same, Chambers of Commerce, even social and sports clubs all do the same. What citizenship has that all the above don't, is sheer numbers. It's why I believe Marx was mistaken about the necessity of class war, we don't need to 'nationalize" industry, because the 'means of production' is actually our 'buying power'. Without the power to buy the machines needed to make something, to pay for the costs of doing business, no production can come into being.

Therefor buying power is the key to the economic equation, the key to cooperative commonwealth.

Our social power as citizens ultimately rests in our combined buying power; and when citizen-consumers run our governments, the balance of power between haves and have nots is equalized by the values inherent in cooperation.

The political philosophy of an Independent Communitarian is rooted in the notion that individuals remain individuals even when they act together.
Tax Credit Union government simply recognizes that it is citizen-consumers and not staff or elected officials who are the government.

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