The changes that people need start with people changing how they participate in business, politics and community. The business and political leaders have long ignored the declining prosperity of hard working people, and allowed corporations to be the only voices heard. People have stayed hopeful, working more jobs for less income, and kept quiet by big screen TVs and fancy cell phones.
But now it’s clear that widespread prosperity isn’t coming soon, and that the people with the most money and power want even more of it.
The world needs more people involved and active in the issues and organizations at every level: city, province, state and country, to ensure that the needs of people are factored more seriously into business decisions and political plans. That takes people exploring the possibilities, sharing their skills and concerns, and working together for an inclusive economy and a safe environment.
Harvard philosopher T. M. Scanlon offers four key reasons why we should fix the problem of Financial Inequality.
1) Economic inequality can give wealthier people an unacceptable degree of control over the lives of others.
If wealth is very unevenly distributed in a society, wealthy people often end up in control of many aspects of the lives of poorer citizens: over where and how they can work, what they can buy, and in general what their lives will be like.
2) Economic inequality can undermine the fairness of political institutions.
If those who hold political offices must depend on large contributions for their campaigns, they will be more responsive to the interests and demands of wealthy contributors, and those who are not rich will not be fairly represented.
3) Economic inequality undermines the fairness of the economic system itself.
Economic inequality makes it difficult, if not impossible, to create equality of opportunity. Some will enter the workforce much better prepared, and people with few assets find it harder to access the first small steps to larger opportunities.
4) Workers, by cooperating to produce national income, have a claim to a fair share of what they have helped to produce.
If an economy is producing an increasing level of goods and services, then all those who participate in producing these benefits — workers as well as others — should share in the result.
Click here to read the article.
It isn’t just kids that are getting addicted to screens. We are encouraged (and expected) to use our iPads, phones and TVs. It’s hard for people to understand how curiosity leads to wasted potential. There is always one more webpage to look at, one more tweet to send, and one more TV series to binge watch. People don’t get bored now, so they don’t know when to close the screen and actually do something. Here’s to people getting out into community, experiencing life eye to eye, and helping to make a difference.
Click here to read the New York Post article “Digital heroin”.
Most people are realizing that our economy is broken, and that despite their hard work, very few people find a good job or get paid well. This article (“Saving Capitalism”), from the cover of Time Magazine, shows how the financial services sector has gone from serving businesses to extracting 85% of all the money. It employs very few people, discourages research and development, and focuses only on short-term gains and consumption. But we can change things. Our system of capitalism has good elements, and it had good rules. Those broken rules can be fixed!
Article: How Wall Street is choking our economy and how to fix it, by Rana Foroohar:
As news and business reports are making clear, the rich have a huge (and growing) influence over both the economy and politics.
In an animated GIF created by the Financial Times, the damage to working people is easy to see, and getting worse.
(Graph via Michael Hiltzik, of the LA Times)
The Pew Research Center study on America’s middle class shows the 40 year trend:
- The biggest group used to be in the Middle Class, but now is the rich.
- Income is down for everyone, except for the rich.
- There is a growing number of people in poverty.
In other words: the GREED and CONTROL by the rich is at an all-time high, and getting worse!
What the graph does not show is that there is MORE MONEY than ever being generated by our economy. So not only are working people earning less and families stressed more, but the rich have MORE MONEY THAN THEY EVER SPEND. The rich no longer need to create businesses to get richer – they use the stock market and rent-taking – without the need to give people jobs.
By paying people less there is also less spending and supporting of local businesses, so things keep getting worse.
It is clear that the current system of taxation is skewed to benefit the rich, and that tax havens are hiding away massive, hidden wealth. The Panama Papers have exposed the tip of the iceberg of high-level secrecy and corruption.
The rich are taking money out of the loop, and old-fashioned income taxes barely affect them. So new ways need to be enacted to reset the balance.
It’s time for new ways to reset the prosperity balance, including:
- Social Responsibility Payments (“SoRePs”), which reflect the publicly-funded inputs into a company’s success. As an example, Apple could not have created iPhones without publicly-funded and invented GPS, Internet and touch screens. Some percentage of successful companies’ wealth needs to flow back to the public, much like other types of indebtedness.
- Transaction Taxes on the Stock Market and Currency Markets. These micro-slices barely affect the rich people using these systems and can add up to benefit the public. These make further sense because the rich rarely create long-term employment anymore, but use the stock market instead to increase their wealth.
- Get the big money out of politics, and bring back a people-focus to legislation.
It’s time for a balanced economy and people-focused government!
The American people have seen their economic hopes and hard work sucked up by the wealthy, and cast adrift by the Money-First focus of both Republican and Democratic leaders. But Americans know who is most important (People!) and what is most important (Shared prosperity).
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders each offer fragments of change: Sanders has his focus on flowing money back to people, while Trump uses and encourages anger against the system. The difference, for now, is that Trump is not unifying the people, but dividing them with racism and insults.
There is no doubt that Americans are shifting from brooding to demanding change. Here’s hoping that the next President will bring positive and inclusive economic and social change.
For economic and social change to happen there needs to be both a movement (that values shared prosperity and excites people) and institutions (that generate and encourage improvements). In the past the people-focused institution was labor unions. But with unions being squeezed out by the rich and global pressures to reduce wages, there needs to be another type of grass-roots institution that brings about change.
Here’s a forward thinking article about changing our economy to have more worker-owned co-ops, community land trusts, and publicly-owned banks.
Click here to read the article.
Here is a link to the author’s books on transforming the economy and strengthening shared prosperity and democracy.
The Good Country is a website for people who see global issues as important, and who are concerned with international co-operation and human progress.
The Good Country Index has Ireland leading the way.
Sweden is 6th, Canada is 12th, the US is 21st, and China is 107th.
Here’s a TED talk by Simon Anholt,
a link to the Good Country Index, and some FAQs about it.
Here’s to a year of showing that people really matter, and for real changes in governments, businesses and personal attitudes to raise the quality of life for everyone.
Trickle Down was a brilliant tactic to let the rich have their way, build hope in regular folks, and to pretend that greed at the top would not overwhelm our world.
But the fallacies of low-tax strategies are now clear, with reduced funds to repair roads, nationwide financial inequality effects, and unemployment. We knew that greed exists, but we did not expect the levels of #ExtremeGreed that have shaped our world. Massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, combined with reducing the strength of labor, have siphoned away virtually all of the new wealth from working people. Similarly, corporate influence in the political process has resulted in laws that make it harder for things to change for the better.
Whether they call it Trickle Down, Reaganomics or Supply Side economics, it has been the prevalent economic non-truth repeated by media, enacted by governments and encouraged by corporations since the 1980s.
But as many economists are seeing, the real job creators are the middle class, who spend the money they earn.
Here’s an article by Nick Hanauer, one of few billionaires willing to speak out for better prosperity for regular folks. [Click here to read the article]