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America faces a conundrum: Everybody agrees that something needs to be done about our crumbling infrastructure, but nobody knows where the money will come from to finance it.

One thing is increasingly clear, federal tax dollars will provide at best a fraction of the trillions of dollars needed. As part of the federal budget, state and local public programs will be facing decreased federal assistance. Even if it were sufficient to cover all the costs, conventional private investment would concentrate the ownership and control of roads, bridges, sewage systems, and other basic infrastructure in Wall Street and a wealthy elite.

There is a “Just Third Way” alternative to government ownership or oligopolistic ownership of America’s infrastructure, and its source of financing would come through competitive local banks with access to the discount windows of the twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks.

The for-profit “Citizens Land Development Cooperative” (“CLDC”), also referred to as the for-profit “Citizens Land Bank” (“CLB”) or “Community Investment Corporation” (“CIC”), is one of several innovative credit financing vehicles aimed at realizing a free enterprise vision for re-humanizing the future of the American economy.

The CLDC is a key vehicle in a national private sector growth strategy known as “Capital Homesteading,” which recognizes the ownership of productive capital as a new right of citizenship and supplemental source of personal income.

The CLDC is designed to finance livable and inspiring “new communities” in which every worker and resident would be afforded the right and the effective means to participate personally in capital ownership accumulations, profits and local decision-making. It functions just as the Rouse Corporation did in building Columbia, Maryland or the Reston Corporation did in building Reston, Virginia — but with a difference. The CLDC turns community residents into its principal shareholders.

The CLDC offers a planning framework for financing local infrastructure and land development to increase land values and attract new worker-owned industries and entrepreneurial opportunities. It can also provide financing incentives for introducing and commercializing advanced technologies that can be owned by local workers, create new private sector jobs, and enhance the economic growth of the community within local, national and global markets.

Through CLDCs and the Capital Homesteading program, financing for planning, construction and operational phases of each green infrastructure operation would:

  • provide equal opportunity for every citizen to receive an equal annual allotment of capital credit for direct investment in infrastructure projects.
  • enable citizens to purchase utility shares through local commercial and cooperative banks of infrastructure utilities of their choice throughout the country.
  • create new asset-backed money through the regional Federal Reserves (or a National Green Infrastructure Bank) for citizen credit allotments, enabling banks to make feasibility-insured stock purchase loans to each citizen.
  • enable citizen-owners to repay their stock purchase loans with the full stream of future pretax profits of the utility issuing those shares.
  • allow for broad-based citizen-owner representation and participation in the planning process, determination of usage charges, and the profits over all utilities.
  • structure the decentralization of power and accountability to citizens, reducing the possibility of corruption that occurs when management and ownership powers became monopolized by government bureaucrats and politicians.

Outlined in “The Citizens Land Development Cooperative: Linking People to Land and Technology through Ownership” is a national demonstration project for rebuilding and financing new infrastructure, linked with broad-based ownership participation in land development among area residents and workers. The CLDC strategy can be implemented at the local, state, regional or national level. Its financing would not depend on existing taxpayer dollars or the past savings of the rich, but on the use of interest-free credit and asset-backed money repaid with future profits to be generated by growing businesses and future user fees.