Expanding the Reach of Our Prosperity

Written by Dory Rand on January 21, 2009 - 10:50am

President Obama said in his inaugural speech today that “a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended … on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart….”  As we “begin again the work of remaking America,” we need to remember and apply some key messages from the speech to address the economic crisis.

As the President noted, “our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some….Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered.” Part of our government’s response to this crisis has been to allocate billions of public dollars to financial institutions, with little or no strings attached regarding how the money will be spent. Going forward, those institutions receiving public dollars must “be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day….”

As citizens, we must demand that those public dollars are “spent wisely,” for example, by investing in low- and moderate-income communities, small businesses, Community Development Financial Institutions, and in other ways that “lay a new foundation for growth.” We must urge our policymakers to enforce “fair play” principles and prohibit predatory mortgage and consumer lending products and practices. We must insist that regulators protect average consumers, not prosperous investors and CEOs. We must hold financial institutions and the agencies responsible for their oversight accountable.

If we do this, and others do their parts, we will come closer to helping “families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified,” and expanding the reach of our prosperity.
Dory Rand
President
Woodstock Institute