This article by Monica McGloin (edited by Trenton Davis), originally published in Streetvibes newspaper, discusses the economic shift from common good to an infrastructure dependent on “poor” people. Author and scholar Chuck Collins will be presenting a vision for the future Nov. 13 in Cincinnati.

The systems of our forefathers, put in place in the name of development and wealth accumulation, have become dated and laggard. Though well intentioned, they lack empathy and have divided our society. The result: we’ve created a world of economic exiles. This economic isolation is a threat to our society.

The decal on my rear bumper acclaims, “WE ARE THE 99%”. This rallying cry for unity made popular by the Occupy Movement in 2011 awakened most of the nation to the reality of the gross financial inequity in our country. Educated and employed people, students and economic exiles aligned in a common effort to change a system which fostered poverty, greed and class warfare. Though short lived, the movement was startling to all, many of whom have not gone back to life as usual.

A good twenty years before this movement, Chuck Collins was doing workshops on The Growing Divide. Using Street Theater, human graphs and other popular education modes, Chuck and his colleagues provided data that showed our economy had been and continued to move in a direction of a few amassing wealth while many were finding their paychecks shrinking. The concept of the common good or the rising tide lifting all was no longer valued. Instead our institutions (education, health, political, social, religious) taught that those who worked hard would prosper and those who did not prosper were lazy. This shift led to the Poverty Industrial Complex.

Today we have an infrastructure that is dependent on having “poor” people (economic exiles). It has created a not-for-profit service system, modeled on corporations, that provides significant employment- a business model that relies on low-wage workers to assure its profits – and political and religious systems that are dependent on corporate contributions and some extremely wealthy people.

Are we lost? Or can we find our way home…?

Chuck Collins is now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-founder of Wealth for the Common Good. In his most recent book, Born on Third Base, Chuck offers us a vision for a future where all can participate fully. Chuck was born on third base and acknowledges the benefits he had as child and a young man. He had the courage and wisdom to reflect on his experience in light of the experiences of others. He has the ability to be comfortable with economic exiles as well as the power brokers and from this position he calls us to come home. To revision a society where the common good is central, where no one is excluded, where we can protect Earth and have sufficient resources.

Chuck is a visionary, but he does not just paint imaginary pictures. He offers concrete suggestions for ways to rebuild community based on real stories of what people are currently doing. If you recognize the inequity in our nation and you want to live in a more just and equitable world, then you need to begin the process by coming to hear Chuck Collins speak at Christ Church Cathedral (Cincinnati) at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, November 13, 2017. This event is free and all are welcome.

Monica McGloin is a Dominican Sister of Hope who has served in low income communities for 50 years as a community nurse. She graduated from Ohio State University with a BSN and received a Masters Degree from the people she served who taught her about systemic injustice. Monica was born in New York City and currently resides in Cincinnati, OH.

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