Ameya Pawar, at Vanderbilt symposium

Recent Vanderbilt symposium reflected a growing excitement for “public options” as a bulwark against corporate monopolies and consolidation

A new national effort to reclaim the importance and power of public institutions got underway at a symposium held last week at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Entitled “Unleash the Power of Public Options”, leaders from a broad cross-section of public campaigns and organizations gathered to identify and discuss how critical public interest concerns have been subjected to private economic and political powers. Launched by the Economic Security Project (ESP) and sponsored by Vanderbilt’s Policy Accelerator, the project intends to build a new national frontline to defend and expand publicly-controlled institutions, such as public banks.

PBI Senior Advisor Walt McRee and PBI Advisory Board member Ameya Pawar (pictured above) along with representatives of public banking initiatives from across the country participated in sessions intended to cross-pollinate citizen action leaders and programs. The symposium saw the launching of a “Community of Practice” that will be expanding nationally in coming months.

Walt McRee says the symposium focused on flipping an old notion:

“The widely-adopted 50 year-old myth that public institutions are deficient for serving economic and social issues has allowed private corporations, funds and monopolies to take charge over our public resources and prospects. But private profiteers are simply not interested or able to address the pressing economic and social issues we now face. The Economic Security Project intends to stimulate the power of public sector actors to rebuild public strength for democratizing economic power.”

Photo of Ameya Pawar by Walt McRee.

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