We owe nothing to Wall St.; to our families, friends, and our communities we owe everything

One of the most important hurdles many of us must overcome before we can achieve personal financial independence is debt.  Before we can build up savings to protect us from a crisis of insolvency, we have to make payments on student loans, borrow to acquire reliable transportation needed to keep a steady job, or use a credit card to pay our taxes. We don’t make enough money to pay for the things we need, like safe housing, preventive health care, and the education required for decent jobs.  So we have to promise a lifetime of work to lenders for the things we need, which means we’ll never build up enough savings to buy a home, or start a viable business.  We won’t have confidence that we’ll be able to provide for our children’s needs, and we won’t have enough time and energy after work to contribute to the well-being of our communities.

Our candidate sees a solution that can start here in Oakland.  If those of us suffering from unreasonable debt can come together to form an organized union of debtors, then we can renegotiate the terms of our debts with the collective bargaining power of a union.  Such an organization will take time to build.  It won’t win relief overnight.  But if we start right away to create networks for sharing resources, to group individuals strategically by the institutions to which they’re indebted, and to speak with one massive voice to the bosses of high finance, then we’ll inspire people in other cities to do the same.  Together, we can succeed in demanding principal reduction and lower interest rates on what we owe. Collectively, we can command the legal and accounting expertise that corporations use to protect their profits.

Too often, we are ashamed of being in debt, because we think that owing our futures to lenders means we haven’t worked hard enough, or smart enough, or that we’ve been too impulsive to provide for the financial security of ourselves and our families.  But when so many are living paycheck-to-paycheck, it becomes evident that it is a priority of the powerful to keep us in debt.  Even those of us who owe nothing are a crisis away from bankruptcy due to an unforeseen gap in insurance coverage.  True independence has become a pipe-dream of winning the Powerball.

The cost of a college education goes up every year at a rate many times faster than inflation, while our wages don’t keep up with rising grocery and gasoline prices.  The monthly cost of housing often eats up more than half our incomes.  Insurance premiums, deductibles, co-payments, and prescriptions exploit our fears of disability to such a degree that the stress of keeping up with the bills makes us sick.  And, the way things are now, we face all these insurmountable challenges alone, as individuals, featherweights in the ring opposite giant corporations.

An Einstein Administration will build the Public Bank of Oakland, which will keep more of the profits generated by enterprises in this city from being siphoned off to Wall St.  Using this as a tool, along with an expanded and more directly democratic City Council, the City ofOakland will build networks of those in the quicksand of debt to compile their grievances. These networks will also make it possible to maximize the effective distribution of the resources they have to share, which will strengthen our collective resistance to the crippling debt suffered by too many Oakland residents.  Collective debt resistance is possible, and our candidate believes it can start to form right here in our city.

 


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