A Conversation About the Popsicle
Catherine Austin Fitts, Contributing Editor
When I was a kid, the way our neighborhood
would figure things out is by sitting on the stoops in front
of our homes and having a conversation. Some conversations
lasted an evening, some conversations went on all summer and
some---like who was a better hitter, Ted Williams, Willie
Mays or Hank Aaron---were still going on when I left town.
Conversations were our way of finding out what gave us meaning.
Conversations helped us understand problems and find solutions.
Conversations were how we got smart because no one was as
smart as all of us.
I was thrilled when Mike offered me the opportunity to write
a column for From the Wilderness. I learn and
have fun. Best of all, a column in From the Wilderness
gives me a "stoop" from which I can have conversations with
you. The From the Wilderness readership represents
the richest accumulation there is of practical wisdom about
institutional deviancy in America. This is a readership of
people who have the wisdom to face the greatest risks and
who can help me figure out how we build wealth in a way that
outperforms and bests those risks.
CIA drug trafficking is like most deviancies -- a symptom
of a deeper spiritual problem. My interest lies in developing
economic maps and tools that will help us reengineer our investment
of time and money to support sustainable spiritual solutions.
Integrating spiritual principles into our management of resources
is a necessary step to realizing the blessings and avoiding
the risks of our new technologies.
The economic models that we used in an industrial age are
not compatible with the developments of the last three decades.
New technology increases our interdependency. That increases
the damage that our mistakes can do to each other. If we want
a practical example of how this works, step back and take
a look at how Y2K will impact our lives. Y2K is a taste of
"old model medicine". It is what happens when we integrate
microchip technology into an old "win-lose" economic model
in which people keep their conversations to themselves and
do not share their maps and tools. We get a big mess.
Edward Deming once said, "There is no such thing as bad people,
just bad systems." ThatÕs my approach. While a jail term is
a more appropriate response to Bill ClintonÕs and George W.
BushÕs past conduct than the rewards they seek and receive,
punishment and scapegoating are not transformative strategies.
Changing our incentive system is.
Our current financial system encourages bad behavior. People
who use drug capital to finance their merger deals or their
presidential campaigns get ahead. Part of the reason is that
the corruption has become deeply embedded in our financial
system. The problem is all of us. There are more people in
America addicted to drug money---whether drug industry jobs
and profits, purchases, investments, fees, related real estate
profits or campaign donations---than there are addicted to
drugs. That means people face an increasingly widespread resistance
to doing things right.
I am a high performance, ethical person whose firing by the
Bush Administration was on the front page of the Washington
Post. I had $100 million of equity in my investment-banking
firm and my personal financial assets were targeted and destroyed
by the Clinton Administration. I speak from experience when
I say that that the financial incentives of leading an ethical
professional life in Washington and on Wall Street are reaching
new all time lows. The solution is not for everyone to stand
up and be a hero at extraordinary personal cost. The solution
is systemic change.
Until we can make sure that men and women can protect their
family's financial security by doing the right thing, where
they live, a spiritual transformation is going to be a slow,
sticky process. I am editing this column at my motherÕs kitchen
table near Bolivar, Tennessee. I completed the first draft
of it in my office in the Edgewood community in Washington,
D. C. I live and work in both Bolivar and Edgewood because
the solution will come from the porch stoops along Main Streets
of both city and country. It begins with a conversation about
the Popsicle Index and how we create jobs and build equity
for ourselves that will make Popsicle Index go up.
The Popsicle Index
WhatÕs the Popsicle Index? The Popsicle
Index is the % of people in a community who believe that a
child can leave their home, go to the nearest place to buy
a Popsicle and come home alone safely. When I was a child
growing up in West Philadelphia in the 1950Õs, the Popsicle
Index was 100%. We were a modest neighborhood, even poor by
some standards. But we were rich in safety. Today, after years
of federal government supported drug trafficking and subsidy
and loan programs, the moms in my old neighborhood probably
feel the Popsicle Index is about 5%.
Mike Ruppert sometimes says to me, but the crime rate is dropping
steadily. My response is that national averages have their
place but they don't apply in specific cases. There are 63,000
neighborhoods in America and what counts is each one, one-by-one.
Moreover, the Popsicle Index is not about statistics and itÕs
about a lot more than crime.
The Popsicle Index is about how people feel. Our feelings
are real. Our feelings and our thoughts invent our world.
Our feelings determine how we vote with our money in the marketplace
or with our ballot at the polls. Crime may be down, but any
mother or father knows it takes twenty years to raise a child
and all it takes is one incident for a child to lose their
life, their peace of mind or their soul. Moreover, even when
reported crime is absent, the Popsicle Index can still be
very low. A lot of kids can die from cars driving through
a community too fast because the roads are poorly designed
and people donÕt care much about each other. The absence of
evil does not ensure the presence of love. Conscious love
is what must be present continuously to raise healthy and
Here some questions about the Popsicle Index for you. Let
me know how you feel and we'll have a conversation.
How do We Organize Our Performance Around the Popsicle Index?
- Every evening, the nightly news touts the performance of
the Dow Jones index as a unifying indicator for how corporations
are doing in the stock market. Our corporate wealth is only
part of our wealth. We need a similar performance indicator
to help us organize and focus our investment in our people
and their 63,000 communitiesÑour schools, our infrastructure,
our small businesses and farms, our homes and community real
estate and land.
How do We Vote for the Popsicle Index with Our Money? - In
a healthy financial system, everyone in the system profits
from helping the Popsicle Index go up and loses sales and
investment when their actions - or the actions that they and
their investors cause government to make - cause the Popsicle
Index to go down. That is why we need to use our purchases,
our media dollars, our bank deposits and our stock market
investments like a vote and "vote with our money."
How do We Determine How Our Money Works to Impact the Popsicle
Index? - We can only manage what we can see. Democratic process
and healthy markets require sunshine. Only roaches prefer
the dark. An essential step to reengineering our investment
around the Popsicle Index is community level financial disclosure.
The citizens of 63,000 communities in America each need to
share simple "maps" on how all the money and resources work
in each one of our communities.
How Can We Profit When the Popsicle Index goes Up? - Right
now the single biggest moneymaking opportunity in America
is the profit potential on making the Popsicle Index go up.
If we own homes, businesses and farms in a community with
a low Popsicle Index and we figure out how to get it to go
up, guess what will happen? A lot of people will make money.
We will make money. What organized crime can destroy for a
profit, we can rebuild for a profit if we can figure out how
to generate sufficient profits to manage the expense of dealing
with organized crimeÕs control and influence over our government,
law enforcement and courts.
How Can We Get Out of Debt and Into Equity? - The primary
source of financing large companies is equity capital. It
comes from the stock market. The primary source of financing
communities, including small businesses and homes, is debt.
That means that communities - whether schools, infrastructure,
small businesses, farms or homes and locally owned and controlled
land - must pay far more to operate than corporations. It
means that corporations can outgun communities in the political
process, survive hard times, buy small businesses up cheap
and attract our top talent. No neighborhood and no democracy
consisting of about 63,000 neighborhoods can be healthy with
How Can We Use the Popsicle Index for Slug Management? - I
divide people into three categories: performers, followers
and slugs. Performers are people who give more energy than
they take. Followers are people who take as much energy as
they give. Slugs are people who take more energy than they
give. CIA drug traffickers are slugs. People who make
money by rigging corporate profit with legislation that is
bad for the taxpayers are slugs. Anyone can be a performer
or a slug. We decide what kind of person we are. The problem
with scapegoating and any non-performance based approach is
that it creates barriers. The barriers prevent diverse performers
- from different sexes, races, religions, technical and professional
disciplines, and creeds from collaborating on effective "slug
management." We need unifying high performance strategies
that allow all Americans to collaborate in positive ways if
we are to free ourselves from the slugs draining energy in
How To Make The Popsicle Index Go
A theme that will reoccur again and again
over the coming months is one that Mike wrote about last month,
and that is "The Pop." What is The Pop? The Pop is the increased
value of equity that stocks enjoy when they can be priced
and traded in an open, liquid stock market.
Today, corporations take advantage of the Pop to get low cost
equity capital. The inability of small businesses and farms,
community infrastructure and residential real estate cooperatives
to access and use The Pop is one of the most significant forces
working against democracy - and the Popsicle Index. When access
to equity capital is rigged for the benefit of the few by
the legal system and supported by dirty tricks of law enforcement
and intelligence agencies, the markets that depend on the
"rule of law" and the "rule of performance" can and must eventually
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