How a Would-be French Teacher Became an Economic Wonk

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Gwendolyn Hallsmith didn't set out to became an expert on sustainable development and monetary policy. Like many women I discovered in my research on economic women for Screwnomics, Gwen got here by simply pursuing what she held dear. She began by protesting threats to the environment, but says that eventually she saw protest alone wasn't enough. You needed a plan of action, a solution, or at least a goal with a community process for reaching it.

The result is a half-dozen books on community and city planning, sustainable development, currency, and local economies. She travels the world to speak to diverse people, who are looking for economic answers.  Most recently, she says in this interview with Crystal Arnold, on Money- Wise Women, a podcast radio show, Gwen spoke to a group in Costa Rica. She discovered there, people with similar goals of sustainability and community to those she fosters in her home state of Vermont. Importantly she fosters methods and action, as well.

What are a sustainable economy's parts? An economy and monetary policy that supports workers, a healthy environment and food system, and local investment in community and local small businesses is a goal. But we face barriers. She talks here about the female hands that help "hold up the sky," whose caring and work is routinely left out of the way we account for the economy.  About sexism in our value system, she says:  "It's not only concentrated in money, it's magnified." The Federal Reserve is part of the topic here, creating and enforcing an artificial scarcity. 

She's doing "An Economy for All of Us" education series on YouTube, and talks about it here. Her analysis uses a 5-part acronym she calls OMMMM, to name the economy's components in order of importance: Ownership, Money, Markets, Management, and Metrics. Her dissection is clear and accessible, and Crystal's comments and questions are more intimate that the typical talk. Listen to this woman-to-woman conversation here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/money-wisewomen/2018/04/18/gwendolyn-hallsmith

Mortality is Universal but Health Care is Not—So Who Dies? When?

photo by John Dominis

photo by John Dominis

Health Care is the issue that Americans keep naming as their top worry for pollsters. The latest survey found 48 percent saying so to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. We ranked it above taxes, the environment, and immigration, the other biggest priorities named. A US News & World Report article said the reason some people gave: costs are not getting any more manageable. https://tinyurl.com/ya9hqgg9

You think?

Despite Trump’s campaign promises of making health care “much less expensive and much better,” Trump’s cabinet and staff never proposed anything but repealing ObamaCare. Their “replace” part, half-baked in secret meetings of Republicans, ultimately resulted in a failed vote. But that didn’t stop Trump and his allies. The new tax bill scraps a mandate that makes the insurance pool more affordable and less sick—which he and syncophant Republican leaders count a victory thanks to his “exquisite leadership.”

Meanwhile, the Childrens Health Insurance Program has not been renewed and the White House canceled ACA insurer subsidies, creating market mayhem and premium jumps. Our progress in reducing the numbers of uninsured is over; their numbers and expensive emergency room medicine will only increase with a mandate repealed.

Apparently Congress failed to notice what its own government reported in early December. How long can we generally expect to live?  For the first time since 1993, when AIDs was a new plague, overall US life expectancy fell, particularly among people younger than 65! The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) tracks these numbers, the latest data from 2015. In the context of other developed nations that continue to see longevity increase, US health declines are very troubling. https://tinyurl.com/y9zurzr6

Investment in prevention could reduce our costs. In early November NCHS reported on the second year of increase in gun deaths https://tinyurl.com/y8v3fztv, our gun-toting ethos now even tolerating Trump’s “fire and fury” and threats of nuclear war. Did I mention our mental health?? The American Public Health Association lists as our top five health threats, climate change, environmental health, health equity, gun violence, and health reform. More than 40 people a day die of opioid overdoses, and it is not as if any of this despair and pain has a place to go without our uniting to care for all of us, come hell or high water.  https://www.apha.org/topics-and-issues

Outside, Soft Fluffy Snowflakes...

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...are falling, not in a hurry, but steadily, as if they can be counted upon to not give up, to keep on. Typically such snow makes me cozy, and inspires me to sing holly-jolly songs of the season, the cornier the better, my croaky voice the perfect foil. But today I am weepy, in touch with a fear of looming tragedy, theirs and ours.

Across the country unusual warmth is promised, while in California it bursts into flames that won’t quit. An airport loses power, holiday planes are downed by heavy fog, Houston and its neighbors are still swamp and poorer—and in Puerto Rico my fellow Americans face the season without water and electricity. In a Washington run by Wall Street and its unhinged wealthiest, Americans face yet more debt in pursuit of more growth in hopes of a trickle. Just a trickle is all we ask, and instead we get a Christmas Goose egg from a Congress of Scrooges and Stooges, who keep on selling us out.

They kick us out of the halls of power when we protest in our wheelchairs, saying Don’t Kill Us, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo and Gay is Good. God Bless Us Everyone, says Tiny Tim, the least of us—but in this year’s Christmas tale, he gets backhanded, not picked up and fed.

We can look forward to our “entitlement programs,” the insurance we’ve long paid for with our taxes, being cut or eliminated, like the environment—now deemed too expensive, given the corporate giveaway. Trump and Putin are making chummy phone calls to replace state-craft, making billionaires better off worldwide by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and Syria in exchange for more fossil fuel money.

All is wrong with the world, it seems, although snowflakes are still falling in Vermont. Bit by bit, they float down and pile up and remind me, united we stand, divided we fall, to everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn.