The beautiful vision of an achievable future, this Thanksgiving, is one that goes beyond merely resisting Trump or the GOP’s tax heist. It even goes far beyond merely installing Medicare for All or getting money out of politics. The beautiful vision for this Thanksgiving is one of a Star-Trek-like economy of the “live long and prosper” mantra, in which we all live lives of plenty.
Contrary to the doubts of many, it is eminently achievable in a modern economy where we overproduce and waste food and things like there was no tomorrow, there being produced enough for everybody’s needs (although many never get it), and where the rapid rise of automation will soon make most human labor unnecessary to produce everything we need and want.
The old income redistributions through progressive taxation and so-called “entitlements” have their uses but also their shortcomings. They create a lot of resentment over felt unfair treatment, and they become easily warped and corrupted by money in politics that stems from great economic inequality which these measures come in to fix as an afterthought when it is already too late.
A far better way to achieve economic prosperity for all is to couple our high and rapidly growing productivity with a smart re-arrangement of wealth assets which regulate the money flow. The currently very unevenly distributed wealth assets result in gross income inequality of a sort where a minority (the rich owner class) is showered with free money in the form of asset-based dividends, and a struggling majority (the working class) must beg for jobs in which they only get to trade their time for finite and usually way too small amounts of cash. This creates the idle rich and the struggling poor. In 2010, the growing trend of inequality reached a point where 0.1% of U.S. families were reported to own as much wealth as the bottom 90% (many of whom have more debt than assets). This, in turn, leads to gross and growing income inequality where the average worker must work one or two months for the hourly pay of his CEO.
If we simply redistribute the assets of our nation more evenly (by levying an assets property tax on the ridiculously rich top 0.1% moving those astronomic assets into a national Social Security fund), then the very system of money flow control that we currently have via asset dividends will distribute income much more evenly as well. In addition, human displacement from labor by automation will no longer result in a growing squalor of unemployed people, but in a prosperous income tied to less and less unpleasant work, freeing people up to spend more time with their families or on their hobbies, inventing new gadgets, getting a good education, starting small businesses, travelling to discover and enjoy more of the world, partaking in politics or activism, or in sports, philosophy, and the arts, or taking care of little children and the elderly (something our current society does very badly, hurting us all).
The three measures, which together can achieve this far better than one of them alone, were described in the preceding articles this week. The principle, in short, is simply to prevent an unhealthily lopsided wealth and income distribution in the first place, rather than trying to fix it in the aftermath through taxes and welfare efforts. This approach has the great side-effect that it will block the toxic influence of big money in politics which corrupts all the rules and institutions of a nation on behalf of the rich, which then continue to wield their wealth as a corrupting weapon, which then makes them richer and us poorer… in an endless viscous circle and downward spiral.
Instead of putting band-aids on this sick system, we will be much better off fixing it at the root of the problem: the grossly inequitable assets distribution. In a Shared Assets Economy, it would no longer be only billionaires and millionaires who are born owning assets and receiving the steady dividends directed to them by these assets from production done either by working people and/or machines, but rather we all would inherit our fair share of country’s assets and receive the steady flow of dividends as a citizen dividend (a.k.a. universal basic income, a.k.a. Social Security for All Adults). This first measure would provide a financial safety cushion. Furthermore, in a truly smart Shared Assets Economy, employed work would no longer be merely rewarded with finite (and sparse) amounts of money, but with assets that in turn would result in a raise in the dividends received. Instead of earning a finite income of money that is gone once it is gone, we could all grow a residual income (like CEOs currently can do), something like the retirement pay-out from Social Security, but one that we start receiving immediately on top of the basic income, not only when we are either very old or dead. This second measure would give our labor much more lasting value. Thanks to both measures, we would be free to decide when we retire or whether or not to interrupt retirement, amazingly free to plan our own time and lives, like currently only the rich folks are.
Finally, the third measure — a federal or communal monetization of non-profit work (a.k.a. job creation programs often envisioned as a “Federal Job Guarantee”) — would come in handy for those who wish to work for a higher income (rather than out of a passion for a certain type of work) but may not find work in a purely profit-driven, private job market. Such monetization could help shift more human effort to where it is needed, especially care for and support of fellow humans, rather than continuing our current explosion of useless bullsh*t jobs.
Back in former ages when an enormous amount of human toil was needed to provide everybody with the bare living essentials, the suggested approach could not have accomplished very much since all hands were required on deck at all times and shortages persisted. However, in today’s age when much of our productivity is performed by machines and we are practically drowning in stuff that endless advertisement then tries to push on us, a fair distribution would instantly eliminate all poverty and create prosperity for all. And with our rapidly advancing automation, we can not only increase the shared wealth for everybody but also reduce the required amount of work for everybody. This arrangement will let us all decide for ourselves if we want to spend our time on more acquisition or on less materialistic goals.
Imagine if only true car fanatics were repairing your car, instead of people forced out of financial need to toil away on it while they are worrying about their sick child at home. Imagine our houses being built at an easily affordable cost because house designs are no longer governed by the builders’ desire for the highest possible profit margin, but by a wish to be useful on the part of those kinds of people who fall all over in love for handling power tools and building stuff, and who additionally get to increase their steady income in the process.
Imagine a future of universal plenty where conspicuous consumption and acquisition of wealth by some and fighting over crumbs by others no longer hold any attraction since we all are financially secure our entire lives with no real lack of anything. Imagine a future free from financial worry, free to be who we really are, free to grow inside, free to enjoy life.
Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂
(I am posting late today because of a family emergency.)
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