Preparing Poor America for Harder Times Ahead


The Community Action Partnership, which is the umbrella organization of Community Action Agencies–which in turn administer the lion’s share of anti-poverty programs in the US–has just come out with a report, Facing the New Reality: Preparing Poor America for Harder Times Ahead. Input for the report came from (among others) Nate Hagens, Dmitry Orlov, Sharon Astyk, Dave Room, John Michael Greer, Megan Bachman, and Richard Heinberg.

[…] While most agree that the global economy nearly collapsed in the fall of 2008, few acknowledge that nothing has fundamentally changed to prevent this from happening again. Recent bailouts of fragile European economies like Greece, Iceland and Portugal (like the bailouts of American financial institutions) increased the debt that first caused the defaults and likely set the stage for more economic chaos not far down the road.

Also, the bewildering array of derivatives— exotic financial instruments that create money but not real wealth, out of thin air—are now monetarily valued to far exceed the value of real goods and services on the planet. As the hard physical limits to growth begin to appear in the forms noted above, the entire growth-dependent financial system may be headed for a very hard landing. We can expect:

  • High inflation or deflation, either one further contracting the economy.
  • Scarce capital or credit for job-creating development or badly needed infrastructyre projects.
  • Dramatic cuts in government services as debt liabilities grow and tax revenues shrink.
  • Growing ranks of the unemployed and families descending into poverty.
  • Possible, some experts say, inevitable, global economic collapse.

This report follows the structure of the Wye retreat, where participants framed the topics for discussion including: the economy, employment, food and food systems, health care, housing, security, education, transportation, and community cohesion, communication, and culture. The authors of this report were asked not only to recount the retreat discussion but to update their topics with new information as these topics develop in ways that increasingly reinforce the premise, noted above, that the popular narrative is not supported by the facts.

For most of you, the future this report depicts is in marked contrast to the future you expect. The authors know this and understand that many of you may be very skeptical of the information and points of view expressed here. Some of you, like most Americans, may consider this report “doomer” nonsense. But it isn’t, and we simply can’t wait for the “popular narrative” to finally catch up with the facts.

As the New Reality advances, we have the opportunity to help recreate something wonderful that diminished during the age of abundance but will be essential during the age of scarcity: authentic community…

Full report here