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Hey Obama, Try an Inauguration Speech That Offers Some Real Hope for Change

Barack Obama was elected on a promise of change. Here's a speech offering hope for our economic, social, and environmental future.
 
 
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The following is an abridged excerpt fromDavid Korten's new book, An Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth (Berrett-Koehler, Feb 2009 ), which outlines an agenda to bring into being a new economy -- locally based, community oriented, and devoted to creating a better life for all, not simply increasing profits.

Barack Obama was elected to the U.S. presidency on a promise of change. I drafted the following as my dream for the economic address he might deliver to the nation during his administration in fulfillment of the economic aspect of that promise. It is the New Economy agenda presented in the style of candidate Obama’s political rhetoric.

I suffer no illusion that he will deliver it. He has surrounded himself with advisers aligned with Wall Street interests in an effort to establish public confidence in his ability to restore order in the economy. Because there has been no discussion of any other option, to most people “restoring order” means restoring the status quo with the addition of a job-stimulus package, and that is most likely what he will try to do.

This speech presents the missing option—the program that a U.S. president must one day be able to announce and implement if there is to be any hope for our economic, social, and environmental future.

Here is the address:

Fellow Citizens:

My administration came to office with a mandate for bold action at a time when our most powerful economic institutions had clearly failed us. They crippled our economy; burdened governments with debilitating debts; corrupted our political institutions; and threatened the destruction of the natural environment on which our very lives depend.

The failure can be traced directly to an elitist economic ideology that says if government favors the financial interests of the rich to the disregard of all else, everyone will benefit and the nation will prosper. A thirty-year experiment with trickle-down economics that favored the interests of Wall Street speculators over the hardworking people and businesses of Main Street has proved it doesn't work.

We have no more time or resources to devote to fixing a system based on false values and a discredited ideology. We must now come together to create the institutions of a new economy based on a values-based pragmatism that recognizes a simple truth: If the world is to work for any of us, it must work for all of us.

Corrective action begins with recognition that our economic crisis is, at its core, a moral crisis. Our economic institutions and rules, even the indicators by which we measure economic performance, consistently place financial values ahead of life values.

We have been measuring economic performance against GDP, or gross domestic product, which essentially measures the rate at which money and resources are flowing through the economy. Let us henceforth measure economic performance by the indicators of what we really want: the health and well-being of our children, families, communities, and the natural environment.

Like a healthy ecosystem, a healthy twenty-first-century economy must have strong local roots and maximize the beneficial capture, storage, sharing, and use of local energy, water, and mineral resources. That is what we must seek to achieve, community by community, all across this nation, by unleashing the creative energies of our people and our local governments, businesses, and civic organizations.

Previous administrations favored Wall Street, but the policies of this administration henceforth will favor the people and businesses of Main Street--people who are working to rebuild our local communities, restore the middle class, and bring our natural environment back to health.

 
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