Disclaimer: The Public Economist does not necessarily agree with the views expressed. It is final in the series of five pieces which Gary has generously agreed to share with TPE.
A prosperous society, that can support general affluence for EVERY citizen, is achievable because, fortunately, in the near term, we can begin to grow our way out of the lingering, if not swelling unemployment and underemployment by increasing our investment significantly as a ratio of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) resulting in double-digit growth, while simultaneously broadening private, individual ownership of future income-producing productive capital investments, thus initiating the process of empowering EVERY child, woman, and man to build, over time, a viable capital wealth estate and reap the income generated. Such investment would, in the short term, generate millions of new “real” productive jobs. The result would not only be that the GDP would dramatically grow but tax revenues from the high rate of economic growth would enable us to balance the federal budget, fully fund Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, provide universal health care, universal tuition-free public college and university education, lower tax rates, and maintain a strong military, all simultaneously.
We have the opportunity to free economic growth from the “enslavement” of human labor and from the financial mechanisms that are based on the slavery of past savings.
Technological progress, though, is no longer dependent on the number and quality of human workers. This fact will become obvious eventually to anyone who can think and analyze as they realize the reality that human labor will cease to be the primary source of wealth production in the future. As a result we can expect over the long term that unemployment and underemployment will remain high indefinitely. But the difference will be that people will drop out of the labor force voluntarily because they will be able to live off their dividend earnings via their ownership portfolios. This will create swelling demand for human workers who want to continue working. And with both dividend and wage and salary incomes for everyone there will be more customers to purchase the products and services produced, which in turn will create further dividends and earnings, which will create more “customers with money,” etc.
While the future holds less promise for universal job employment due to the ever-progressing contribution of technological-driven production using human-intelligent machines, super-automation, robotics and digital computerized operations, the jobs that will be in demand will require some mastery of technology, math, and science. As long as working people are limited by earning income solely through their labor worker wages, they will be left behind by the continued gravitation of economic bounty toward the top 1 percent of the people that the system is rigged to benefit. If we don’t re-chart our economic policies to broaden private, individual ownership of new productive capital formation, then more troubling is that the continued stagnation of the American economy will further dim the economic hopes of America’s youth, no matter what their education level. The result will have profound long-term consequences for the nation’s economic health and further limit equal earning opportunity and spread income inequality. As the need for labor decreases and the power and leverage of productive capital increases, the gap between labor workers and productive capital asset owners will increase, and the conditions will become very frightening and very chaotic.
Sadly, our leaders are not prepared and are not preparing the American people for the coming economic collapse and the next Great Depression, due to their lack of wisdom and foresight to understand that full employment is not an objective of businesses and private sector job creation opportunities are constantly being eroded by physical productive capital’s ever increasing role — as the use of human-intelligent machines, super-automation, robotics, digital computerized operations, etc. replaces labor workers to produce products and services.
This scenario has never been thoroughly discussed on the national stage. Nor has there been the proper education of our citizenry that addresses what economic justice is and what ownership is. Therefore, by ignoring such issues of economic justice and ownership, our leaders are ignoring the concentration of power within the 1 percent through ownership of productive capital, with the result of denying the 99 percent of our citizenry equal opportunity to become productive capital owners. The question, as posed by binary economist, corporate tax lawyer and investment banker, Louis O. Kelso is: “how are all individuals to be adequately productive when a tiny minority (capital owners) produce a major share and the vast majority (labor workers), a minor share of total goods and service,” and thus, “how do we get from a world in which the most productive factor — physical capital — is owned by a handful of people, to a world where the same factor is owned by a majority — and ultimately 100 percent — of the consumers, while respecting all the constitutional rights of present capital owners?”
Unfortunately, pursuing economic democracy has been frustrated by the systemic concentration of economic power and exclusionary access to future capital credit to the advantage of the wealthiest Americans. The so-called 1 percent rulers of corporations have rigged the financial system to enable this already wealthy capital ownership class to systematically further enrich themselves as capital formation occurs and technological industrialization spreads throughout the world, leaving behind the 99 percent to depend on income redistribution through make-work “full employment” policies, government boondoggles, excessive military build-up and dependence on arms production and sales, and social welfare programs due to the lack of an alternative to full employment and the growing economic helplessness and dependency. The unsatisfied needs and wants of society are not in that 1 percent or for that matter the 5 percent; those people are not the ones who are hurting.
The political power that can be wielded as a result of concentrated capital asset wealth ownership has resulted in a rigged system that ensures the present-day wealthy capital ownership class will get richer and essentially own and control the future, while the vast majority of Americans will suffer increasing economic inequality and fall further and further in terms of earnings and quality of life. How the system is structured makes a big difference in whether or not individuals have an equal opportunity to succeed.
The formation of this “Own The Future Plan,” a modern-day “Marshall Plan,” should be a national effort on the part of EVERY citizen, with the best ideas for fulfilling the goals of establishing economic democracy incorporated into the plan and implemented. That should entail academia and political discussion, with the purpose of generating actionable policy solutions.
The end result we should set as our nation’s goal for our future should be that citizens would become empowered as owners to meet their own consumption needs and government would become more dependent on economically independent citizens, thus reversing current global trends where all citizens will eventually become dependent for their economic well-being on the State and whatever elites control the coercive powers of government, using job dependency, the police, courts of law, prisons, the tax system and so on as their means to control.