Episode 28 - Chuck Collins
Chuck Collins is a Senior Policy Analyst for the Institute for Policy Studies. He is the author of many books including Born on Third Base , The Community Resilience Reader and Is inequality in America irreversible? He is the co-editor of the Inequality.org website.
Chuck has dedicated his life to understanding the basis of economic inequality in the US, and has pioneered countless efforts to connect investors, business leaders, and one-percenters to the common wealth of their place in the world. He has organized and led many activities against corporate practices and economic policies that increase economic inequality. He is an organizing force behind Patriotic Millionaires, a united network of high-net worth Americans, business leaders and investors who are united in their concern about the destabilizing concentration of wealth and power in America.
Chuck’s story of wealth inequality is a first hand account…His great grandfather was the meat-packer, Oscar Mayer and Chuck grew up with the inherited wealth from his family fortune. He realized in his mid-twenties that the “mountain of privilege” that had defined his life so far…did not resonate with him…and he gave away his inheritance, to several foundations that funded “change, not charity”. He has been advocating for solutions to the ever-increasing wealth inequality in our country ever since.
Chuck references the French economist Thomas Piketty when he suggests that, “If we stay on this trajectory, we are moving to become a hereditary aristocracy of wealth, where the sons and daughters of todays billionaires will control the media, the culture and the politics of the future”.
Chuck speaks of the breakdown of a “culture of mutual aid”. Because wealthy people can buy their way through life they don’t ask for help, and therefore don’t develop reciprocal relationships, And as Chuck describes, "you can’t have community without real need and vulnerability".
He describes privilege is a disconnection drug…it keeps us apart. It creates a buffer zone, and that disconnection leads to unfulfilled lives. Chuck speaks of the “invitation home” to wealthy people in our country...to bring their wealth back to community and invest in place and people. Chuck proposes that, “People are waiting to be invited to something bigger than consumption….and that is community”. As we decrease our wealth divide, we find a solution to personal disconnection, our social divisions and, with investment in local systems…our ecological crisis…
I interviewed Chuck at the LOCALize IT conference, held in South Royalton, Vermont on October 21-22, 2017. The LOCALize IT conference was co-sponsored by Local Futures, Vermonters for a New Economy, the Sustainable Futures Fund of the The Vermont Community Foundation, the New Economy Law Center at The Vermont Law School and BALE, Building a Local Economy.
The LOCALize IT Conference was a two-day solutions focused gathering for leaders and community members engaged in accelerating a localizing movement in our region.