Cascadia is a dynamic and diverse global economic power. However, despite possessing one of the largest GDP and highest GDP per capita in the world, Cascadians suffer from a high rate of poverty, lack of access to livability, homelessness and income inequality that lowers the quality of life across all areas of society. Our economy must evolve in a way that ensures our continued global prominence while also creating a better standard of living for all Cascadians. Our people, government representatives, and policies must recognize and appreciate the size, scope, and importance of our economy before it can truly serve our people and reflect our values. If we continue to think of Cascadian economy as merely a subset of the economy of the United States, we will be unable to solve the complex problems that we face.
As of 2017, as measured by the combination of the states and provinces making up the Cascadia bioregion (not including California), Cascadia would be home to slightly more than 16 million people (16,029,520), and would have an economy generating more than 1.613147 trillion worth of goods and services annually, placing it as the worlds 9th largest economy and roughly equivalent to that of Canada or Italy. By land area Cascadia would be the 20th largest country in the world, with a land area of 534,572 sq mi (1,384,588 km2), placing it behind Mongolia. Its population would be similar in size to that of Ecuador, Guatemala, or Scandinavia.
With a GDP of 356 billion, Cascadia’s largest city Seattle has an economy slightly smaller than Thailand, but larger than Colombia and Venezuela. The region also has one of the fastest growing clean energy sectors in the world, is energy sufficient, generating almost all of its energy based on renewable resources, and already exports electricity to surrounding states and provinces. The most dominant sectors of Cascadia’s economy are agriculture, science and technology, trade, media and tourism. The strongest economic areas are around the Cascadia megaregion, stretching from Vancouver, through Seattle to Portland and Eugene, as well as in eastern portions such as Spokane. Some of the largest and most well known companies include Amazon.com, Starbucks, Costco, Boeing, Microsoft, REI, Nordstrom, T-Mobile, Lions Gate, Nike, Adidas, Columbia Clothing and many others. As part of this creative powerhouse, a unique balance and ecosystem of learning and livability must co-exist. Cascadia is home to the second largest tech hub in the world, one of the highest standards of living, as well as advanced medical and educational institutions.
However, many of Cascadia’s economic woes stem from our limitations imposed by remaining a part of the United States, and arbitrary borders that divide our economic and cultural ecosystems, and hamper our region with heavy taxes that do not return proceeds to our communities, and unfair treatment by the United States federal government. Currently, we receive far less from the federal government than we contribute in taxes each year. More than just the illusion of discontent, the situation of the United States gets much worse as you begin to crunch the numbers as it approaches a failed state. As of March 15, 2018, the U.S. debt exceeded for the first time ever $21 trillion dollars, and with the debt ceiling removed by congress, the United States is now adding more than a trillion dollars of debt each year. This number has only exploded since the beginning of the COVID pandemic in 2020 and now sits and nearly $30 trillion, or $85,000 per US citizen. A number which is only growing, and of which we have no say in how the money is spent, or even a receipt. Every day, this number is growing larger.
The primary way to measure this, as a ratio to the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP — the overall economic output of the United States) the United States has been over 100% in 2016, 2017 for the first time since World War II and is expected to grow to 108% of the GDP in 2019, and 2020. This means that the United States has been spending more than it earns, as an entirety of its economy, for the past three years, and is expected to do so into the future. Every day, the United States is paying more than $1 billion in interest, that is not being reinvested into the economy, just to stay current on what is already owed. Broken down to a per person basis, the debt that every person owes has more than doubled in the last eleven years to more than $160,000 a person. Cascadia’s taxpayers can no longer be expected to subsidize other states and reckless federal spending while our own needs go unmet.
In addition, in the face of climate change, the increasing strain of millions of new arrivals upon our ecosystem, our region can no longer afford a business as usual approach. The Cascadia Bioregional Party see’s a fundamental realignment of our relationship with economy to one that is local, sustainable, ethical and that increases the livelihood of both the people living here, our inhabitants and our ecosystems from which our quality of life is so dependent.
Ultimately, the Cascadia Bioregional Party (BPC) believes that independence is necessary for Cascadia to effectively confront our economic problems with real solutions. Until then, we are working to assure that Cascadia’s prosperity improves the lives of all our citizens.
a Circular Economy
Our economic system is designed to extract natural resources, use them, and throw them away. Use of resources has tripled since 1970, and the weight of plastics produced by humans just surpassed the weight of all living organic matter on earth for the first time this year, and could double again by 2060 if we continue business as usual. This system is pushing our planet to the brink. It underpins the climate crisis and contributes to untold human suffering. And it’s simply bad for business; we are depleting the natural resources we will depend on in the future and leaving ourselves vulnerable to economic disruption. There is another way.
The Cascadia Bioregional Party has a bold vision for the future: a place based economic system that enables human and environmental well-being that is sustainable, and ethical. Rather than a linear line between production and end use, instead we work to keep and re-use materials in production for as long as possible, and use a circular economy, a system that is designed to prevent waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems.
When the health of ecosystems and communities is not integrated into economic activities, all three suffer. In turn, economic dependence on destructive activities creates apparent conflicts between work, nature, and community. How can we create an economy that effectively meets human needs while regenerating natural systems? An economy which grows organically — and fills new niches — by working with nature and enriching human capacities?
In a world of reliable prosperity, economic arrangements of all kinds are gradually redesigned so that they restore — rather than deplete — nature and society. This will create extraordinary opportunities for those who foresee and drive these changes. The fundamental needs of people — and the ecosystem services that sustain them — are the starting point for a different kind of economic prosperity that can endure and grow generation after generation.
While reliable prosperity functions on a global scale, it can be imagined as a healthy mosaic of bioregional economies forged within coherent geographic and cultural regions. Even in a globalizing economy, diverse bioregional economies that are more self-sufficient more competitive and less vulnerable.
Bioregional economies reflect the capacities and limitations of their particular ecosystems, honor the diversity and history of local cultures, and meet human needs as locally as possible. Bioregional economies are diverse, resilient, and decentralized. They minimize dependence on imports while focusing on high value-added exports. Paradoxically, this gives them an important competitive advantage in a global economy, allowing them to trade on favorable terms without sacrificing their economic sovereignty in the process.
Bioregional economies recognize the need for fair trade, refraining from importing or exporting goods produced unfairly or in an ecologically destructive manner. They make a transition to true cost pricing, building actual social and environmental costs into market prices. In order to provide independent certification of product attributes (e.g. sustainably harvested, fair trade, organic, shade grown, green power), they promote product labeling.
Bioregional economies do not deplete their own society, nature, or capital. They export only their sustainable surplus, most often taking the form of intellectual property or high-value products and services rather than bulk commodities. Their sense of place becomes the key component of their brand identity. In the coastal temperate rainforest, products evocative of place include Copper River salmon, Tillamook cheese, Willamette Valley wine, and Walla Walla onions.
Bioregional economies are physically constrained by the network of connected wildlands, the availability of productive rural areas, and the distribution of towns and cities. This allows them to substitute ecosystem services for more expensive imported alternatives. It also makes them attractive destinations for ecotourism.
Bioregional economies can have vastly different mixes of local foods, energy sources, building materials, land-uses — all responding to the possibilities of place. However, their underlying design principles are remarkably consistent. Together they form an interdependent, mutually beneficial reliable prosperity at the global scale.
Bioregions need to reclaim a strong measure of economic sovereignty by becoming more self-sufficient and trading on their own terms. They can create economies that celebrate and mirror local ecosystems and cultures.
The Cascadia Bioregional Party supports a simplified tax code, with a taxation system that uses progressive taxing systems, while removing regressive taxes and using a balanced budget.
- Support an progressive tax based on income level, and negative income tax.
- Removing regressive tax policies such as sales tax, and most taxes on small, local, independent, sustainable and ethically based businesses.
- Using a balanced budget that does not indefinitely spend more than it produces.
- Tax credits and support for small businesses and innovation funds to support new businesses and ideas just forming, especially that represent traditionally marginalized communities, non-profits, or that have a community benefit.
Exploration and support for a progressive Universal Basic Income (UBI) to Cascadian citizens based on income level.
Cascadia & Local Public Bank
The Cascadia Bioregional Party supports the creation of a bioregion wide public bank, or the creation of smaller state, province / watershed based level public banks that can provide not for profit low rate loans and community support including financial bond measures for public infrastructure and construction projects.
All Cascadia residents would automatically have an account with tax refunds and UBI payments described above directly deposited into these accounts.
The Cascadia Bioregional Party supports a bioregional or municipal public banking system that is owned by the taxpayers and citizens of the Cascadia bioregion, for their benefit, and that of local and municipal governments.
bank for public funds owned by the Bioregion of Cascadia
A bioregional bank is owned by the people through their local government: a First Nation, City, County, Municipality, Ecoregion or Bioregion. It can receive deposits of public funds (taxes, fees fines and interest earned) from and make loans to the government entity that owns it and other governmental entities.
A public bank for Cascadia can be founded and owned by the citizens of Cascadia, which can provide at or below market loans or grants to communities, individuals, and as bonds for large scale infrastructure projects. A portion of its profits can be returned to the governing unit that owns it, to be used for public purposes with additional interest revenue retained to grow the bank in which local governments and citizens are the “private” stockholders reaping the bank’s profits as dividends.
A public bank can generate revenue on interest earnings, on investments and loan re-payments, and re-invest those earnings based on state goals with democratic decision-making. Interest on out-of-state investments can be diminished with higher overhead costs accrued by national/global banks. A public bank doesn’t return profits to individual stockholders or pay exorbitant salaries to high-level employees. The revenue returns to the state to fund additional economic development and infrastructure projects, made possible with the increased funds remaining in the state.
A publicly owned bioregional bank will keep our money at home in Cascadia.
Major Infrastructure and Economic Development projects are funded with borrowing on the bond market, allocation of tax revenue, and State reserves – a Bioregional Bank can provide the most efficient and least expensive funding for projects like these.
A Bioregional bank manages the peoples’ money safely and efficiently.
A Bioregional bank can partner with local community banks, credit unions and community development fund institutions (CDFIs)
This will make it easier for those institutions to make loans that expand our economy, create jobs and invest in projects that enhance the wellbeing of our communities.
The public bank can also leverage loans with credit unions and community banks, which are determined to be too small for them to fund alone.
Governance practices and management that serve the public good
For our public bank to serve the public interest (instead of private investors), governance with public oversight will ensure that the mission and purpose of our public bank is carried out faithfully. The governance structure will include a way for the public to periodically review and inform the bank’s mission.
A public bank would be governed by Cascadian statutes and operated under the same regulations that apply to all state-chartered banks, subject to regular inspections, reviews and audits.
Where does the money in a public bank come from?
When all the legal steps to establish a public bank have been completed, a Public Bank for Cascadia could be created with a deposit of tax revenue, fines, fees or even funds from one or more of the bioregions sovereign investment funds.
As a part of the bank charter application, the bank will describe the kinds of investments /loans it intends to make. Much of the bank’s lending will initially be to the State for public infrastructure or economic development projects. These are low risk loans that benefit the public as a whole, and the interest paid will grow the funds available for new lending.
Cascadia Innovation Fund & Public Broadband
The BPC advocates for a Cascadia Innovation Fund and public high speed broadband to provide funding for scientific research and technological development, and improve access to needed services for all Cascadians. Cascadia will then retain patents on technology created, license those patents for open source educational use, and able provide discounted rates for private or for profit use. The profits from these patents would then be applied towards an endowment for the fund to help it grow and become self-sustaining over time. We support funding for such projects as:
- Research aimed at improving water and clean energy technologies, health and well being that are critical for Cascadia’s long-term resource security.
- City, municipal and county developed publicly-owned broadband services, designed to be woven together in order to create a Cascadia wide system of public broadband that should seek to be the fastest and most affordable broadband in the world, especially emphasizing increased connectivity in underserved rural areas.
- Clean energy and smart infrastructure changes, as well as thorough studies that can result in sensible regulations and legislation regarding their use.
- Investigating ways to leverage technology to make all levels of Cascadian government more responsive, efficient, and democratic.
Support Community Business
The Cascadia Bioregional Party supports policies that encourage the development of businesses from within our own communities. In particular, policymaking should focus on communities that have historically suffered from policies that have too often been motivated by racial or class prejudice, resulting in unequal pay, unequal education, hiring discrimination, historical disinvestment, and capital flight. To make economic opportunity available to all Cascadians, the BPC will work toward the following goals:
- Encourage entrepreneurship among working-class communities, fund free public classes on how to start and run a business successfully, and offer counseling on obtaining financing.
- Micro-credit loans available to individuals who complete courses or have equivalent experience and can produce a viable risk-assessed business plan, as well as meeting other reasonable requirements.
- Develop special economic zones and other ways of encouraging more economic growth in rural areas, if requested by the local community. These zones would provide tax incentives to encourage businesses to form in and relocate to economically disadvantaged areas of Cascadia.
- Create a Cascadia Equity Fund to provide financing, counseling, and logistical support to workers who want to buy their workplaces and turn them into worker-owned and operated cooperatives. These businesses would be owned by the employees, not the government, and the loans would be paid back with interest to cover administration costs. .
- Implement robust tax breaks and credits for locally owned small businesses in historically disadvantaged communities, and reinvestment in such communities.