America’s Crisis of Value is making us hate each other
As the Covid-19 pandemic unfolds across the United States, the effects of income inequality are driving many Americans to make irrational decisions. We can choose to self-isolate and help slow the growth of infections; or, we can choose to ignore the warnings in order to return to work and “normal” life. I won’t discuss the lunacy of the argument that wearing masks impedes our “constitutional rights,” bringing us ever closer to totalitarian oppression — these are the sentiments of people who are selfish and watch too much Murdoch-created news.
There is a reason, though, that so many Americans are forced to make decisions so adversely effecting their health; and, it has nothing to do with freedom. 90% of Americans don’t have rainy-day funds that can see them through even one month without a paycheck. In addition, with health care linked to work, twenty-two million people and counting will have lost the only sources of value they could stake a claim to — a pay check and a health plan.
And many of those jobs will never return.
Americans are desperate
It makes sense that many are demanding a return to work and life. But does the return have to be so hasty and unplanned? The so-called wealthiest and most “exceptional” nation on earth has demonstrated how tragically frail its economic house of cards really is — as if the cards themselves have been made out of tissue-paper. Given our unimaginable wealth and creativity, doesn’t it seem like we should have been able to not only foresee this crisis; but have been able to prepare American communities for it?
The problems we see today — and forgive me for being so bold to say, “all of them” — are linked to our nation’s crisis of value. This crisis, this imbalance, existed long before the first bat was eaten in Wuhan. At no time ever before in our history, has wealth been so concentrated in the hands of such a minuscule amount of our fellow citizens. When the proverbial “bat” — I just can’t resist the bat analogies, puns, etc. — hit the fan, a fan few ever imagined would actually be turned on, the force of the injustices that came racing out was like a gale-force gust
The Past 40 Years has beaten the hell out of American Workers
Over the past 40 years, incomes for top earners have risen 420% in relation to GDP but the bottom 90% has only seen an increase of 45%. 86% of all value working families have today comes from a job. To break this down, let’s imagine that the salary earned is $1. If the job is lost then only $.14 is in the pocket.
If wages for workers in the United States matched the growth of the US economy since 1980, each household would be earning $12,000 more annually than they are today! In other words, this wealth — this value — has been denied us, the working class, thanks to a whole slew of policies skewed to benefiting the rich. Who received that $12,000? Yes, the upper 10%.
During this time, the forces aligning against a fairer distribution of national wealth have worked selfishly, unrelentingly to ensure working Americans can’t get affordable health care. Very caustically, they argue, health care eats away at the bottom-line of business thereby reducing record profits. So, what is easier: to cover a portion of health care for your employees year after after or pay a lobbyist? To pay for advertising calling a single-payer system the first step to “communist takeover?”
A 50-year old woman in the lowest income bracket born after 1960 will live 5 years less than a woman born after 1930. Deaths from “diseases of despair” (drug addiction, alcoholism, obesity, suicide) have increased 3 times since 1990 for Americans between the ages of 24–65 without a college degree. And all the while, wealth has been concentrating in an ever smaller numbers of hand at the top — coincidence?
Now, those who work overtime to ensure that the wealth remains concentrated at the top will call those words I wrote above, “distribution of national wealth,” steps to socialism and other really stupid things. I don’t have the space here to delve into this really inane argument but suffice it to say — this is the classical straw man argument. If I earn a billion dollars and pay $500 million in taxes, am I poor? No. Most likely, the way things are today, I will pay $100 million in taxes — or 10%.
If I earn $50,000 and pay $15,000 in taxes (25%)), am I rich? No. The super rich don’t pay their fair share and that is money the THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY does not get for roads, clean air, clean water, high-speed internet, better jobs-training, etc. So, whose wealth is being distributed to whom? And the picture I am painting here is an illustration based on reality; not some made-up rhetoric. Why does a billionaire paying 25% in taxes cause them so much pain? Each time an American spends hours sitting in traffic or ruins his shocks because of pot-holes, that too is an added tax, right?
Why should an American parent, any citizen, have to ask: do I put food on the table, pay the rent, go to the doctor, buy shoes for my child? Real value keeps growing at the top but drops for everyone else. How is it acceptable that so many Americans can work full-time jobs — even two jobs — and still find themselves unable to make ends-meet? And regardless of how or what they do, there is no way for creating new value?
$400 is the amount of the emergency that would wipe out a family’s entire accrued “wealth.” That is lunch at Nobo in New York City. 40% of American families have to make a choice each month — do we not pay the rent? Buy less food? Forgo medical care? If you account for inflation, the typical American worker now has the same purchasing power as he or she did 40 years ago, according to the Pew Research Center.
As a result of the 2017 Tax Cuts, companies spent 101 times as more on stock buybacks than they did on bonuses and wages, enriching shareholders at the expense of workers. More than half of Americans say they’ve seen no change to their paychecks, according to a CNBC poll. The typical member of Congress makes 12 times more annually than the average American. The average American can’t give as much to that Congress person’s re-election campaign. And so, whose interests do you think are looked after when laws are made?
A CityToken is an Answer
CityToken is a very simple concept, really: Add value to the community and get value for use in the community. A resident performs pre-set value activities (more on these at ctyvalue.com) in the community and instead of being paid fiat currency ($’s), which many communities simply don’t have, the resident is reimbursed in CityTokens (CTY).
The amount of CTY received for completion of the value-activity is pre-set in an activity catalog and corresponds to a predetermined valuation of the said service. Interactions are then recorded on the blockchain thereby preventing fraud and disputes. Value earners store their CTY in crypto-wallets to be exchanged for agreed-upon goods and services in the local value economy — the community where the CityToken program has been implemented.
When city residents become engaged in the CityToken program, they are entering into a win-win situation with the community. Participation leads to increased economic benefit which leads to a sense of ownership in the community; a sense of responsibility for the community. Feeling more involved and feeling OF the community also spills over to increased voter participation.
When citizens are feeling more economically viable, more responsible for the community in which they live and raise families, change happens. The systemic racism seen in the way some communities are policed can be linked to the inherent crisis of value. Increased participation, however, results in change. Take Philadelphia, for example, where 74% of residents elected a new District Attorney critical of mass incarceration, racial bias, and corruption within the criminal justice system and recently ended cash bail requirements for low-level offenders.
While CityToken by itself won’t solve the problems confronting US communities, it is a step in the right direction — and a quite big at that. When combined with existing jobs, a resident’s participation in CityToken no only then enhances an individual’s relationship with his community; but, bridges the gap to a sustainable income. Nurturing a sense of ownership for the community, residents can fulfill their own needs by adding value to the community and at the same time protect/improve the community.
In addition, when CityTokens are used to buy goods and services, the saved fiat currency can be reallocated to take care of other family needs. The “new value,” for example, in the family might be used for shoes, a doctor, repairs on the car, etc.
CityToken Cities will be able to actively reshape the foundation upon which communities are constructed. In banking, there is a term — “wealth management;” in CityToken Cities we have what is called “necessity management.” By fulfilling “my” needs, I am creating value for the community which in turn gives me value.
The time has come for creative governance and the blockchain can help us make things a bit fairer, more transparent and even happier.