News Item: Solving the concentration of wealth
Posted by jarel
Sunday 02 November 2014 - 02:55:41
We are being kept poorly informed to form a flawed perception that underestimates how bad the concentration of wealth actually is and how fast it is worsening. The gap between what we think the repartition of wealth is and what it really is, is shocking.
These videos will give you a reality check. Stop, watch and be dis-illusioned.
The worsening of wealth inequality is the biggest factor of instability in a society. It prefigures the greatest upheavals and transformations.
There has never been so much wealth and so much poverty produced at the same time. Curiously, it is apparently the same factor that is both responsible for the upsurge of wealth and for the worsening of its concentration: technology. Technology produces goods and services always faster, better and in abundant quantities and at the same time technology is supplanting workers and leaving them without income. On top of that, for those still with a job, the competition with the machines and the shrinkage of the job market put a downward pressure on their wages. Everyone is loosing except for the executives and the shareholders who reap all the benefits of the increases in productivity. This is shocking. This is even ... revolting. And that is exactly what is happening. Revolts are erupting everywhere. If nothing is done, they will soon become revolutions.
The powers in place know that. They are gearing up the police for massive upheavals. Politicians, economists are desperate to find a way out. All they seem to know, from the left to the right, up, down and centre is to stimulate growth so we can provide more jobs and therefore generate more income to our impoverished population leading to more consumption and further growth. That's not going to happened. The little growth we get (if any) is jobless and the benefits go straight to the pocket of the 1% not those in need . Businesses much prefer investing in technology than in wages. Workers will continue to be replaced by robots and computers at an accelerating rate. Driverless cars are improving rapidly and will eliminate all the jobs held by truck and taxi drivers. Tablets and kiosk in restaurants will eliminate jobs held by waiters and waitresses. In construction, manufacture, health, hospitality, management ... there is no one area where jobs will not be affected by automation, artificial intelligence, computerization, robots, etc... Our politicians and economists must realise that our advance in establishing a society without work is well under way and irreversible. Creating more jobs hoping to reduce wealth inequality is not going to work (pun). Tomorrow the only jobs we will create are for the machines.
A few of them realise the need for a fundamental change to remedy for the diminishing incomes and impoverishment due to unemployment. The most daring among them propose the basic income.
Here is an article I recommend for its clarity at exposing the problem of wealth concentration and the basic income.
"It (the basic income) is a standardized way of addressing the large scale unemployment that is coming soon, as well as simplifying welfare, retirement and disability payments, as well as making the productivity increases available to everyone in society instead of the elite few.
The idea is simple: everyone in society receives a regular income simply for being alive. The ultimate goal is for the Basic Income payment, by itself, to provide a comfortable living for every member of society without working.
The obvious question with the Basic Income is, “where will the money come from?” The good news is that there are many possible sources. The article Robotic Freedom demonstrates more than a dozen techniques."
From a paradist viewpoint, the first criticism of the basic income is the word basic. Like if it aims at giving everyone just enough to meet their basic needs, just enough to lift everyone out of homelessness and starvation and keep us alive. Not much of an improvement from our social welfare (at least with the welfare we don't finance the rich). With the level of technology we have now we could give everyone enough to ensure their well-being not just their survival. If the idea of a regular income for all is adopted by the paradists as a transitory measure until we reach a money less society, we would not call it a "basic income" but a "well-being income". An income that ensures the health and the wellbeing of all.
The second criticism is that it is designed to avoid mass starvation and not to prevent the concentration of wealth. It is designed to keep alive a system that makes the rich richer. It will keep the poor fed and entertained so they don't think of revolting. That is more like a band aid not a real solution. The 1% will continue to accumulate more wealth and inevitably more power and control over the people to preserve the status quo.
The third criticism would be how the basic income is to be financed. In his article Robotic Freedom Marshall Brain proposes a dozen possible sources of financing. For example, through public advertising like selling the back of $1 bills as ad space, paying for emails, a national lottery, copyright licensing, new taxes, punitive damages, naming rights... those are not real solutions. It is taking from the people to give back to the people. The cost for the ad space on the bills will be reported in the price of the products and services that are advertised. At the end the people will just get back the extra cost they had to pay, not more. Same for taxing businesses or people, paying for emails or a national lottery. It is just taking the money from the people and giving them back their money calling it "basic income". Taking the money from the poor to give back to the poor is not going to make any difference.
The extreme income tax is a real solution. To take from the rich and give it to the poor, that will work. But it is a tough one to implement. The super rich have the means to exert political influence and exploit all the loopholes offered by the tax heavens. And why give to the rich what we want to take from them in the first place. For there are only 2 ways to operate a wealth redistribution. The first one is to take from the rich and give it to the poor. That's the extreme income tax scheme and it has to be enforced as it meets resistance and frustration. Who likes to be taken away what one owns. The second one is to prevent the accumulation of wealth in the first place. That's the kind of solutions we should be looking for.
Out of the 16 sources of financing the basic income listed by Marshall Brain in Robotic Freedom only 2 would prevent the accumulation of wealth and are worth considering. The national mutual funds and the natural resources funds. They are extracting revenues from the sale of commonly owned natural resources and from the profits of partially nationalised companies. Redirecting the profit from the sales of natural resources and other products not to the rich but to the people. Now we are getting closer to a real solution.
But let's put aside for a moment the basic income and let's go back to our issue of how to resolve the concentration of wealth.
If the shareholders end up making all the profits and concentrate the wealth why don't we make all the people the shareholders. All the people will receive the benefits of our increasing productivity as they are progressively losing their jobs and their source of income. The technology is doing more and more of our work and soon will do all of the work. The nationalisation, or the communitisation of the resources and the means of production makes all the people the beneficiaries of the productivity not just a few. A productivity that is by the way mostly due to the advance of technology not to the hard work of a few.
That entails putting an end to both capitalism and the free market. And this appears to be a very difficult realisation for many in the west. It seems that there is a blind spot, a no-go zone. We have been brain washed and made so scared of the communist experiment that we have difficulties to consider going there again. Nevertheless, the communitisation of the means of production is the only path towards the paradist society without work and money. The price of things is a spin-off of private property. What the community owns can be made available for free. Paradism is not communism. Paradism is communism plus freedom. The freedom to choose the life you aspire to without having to work for it. In paradise none is lacking because everything is shared.
Capitalism is designed to favour the capital owners. Hence its name. If you have some capital you can make it work for you. Your capital can reap the profit of other people's work. The rich can get richer without having to work for it. A pretty good system if you are rich. Now that the work is increasingly done by computers and robots, the part of the income that would have enjoyed the workers is redirected to the shareholders. Capitalism not technology is the real culprit for the concentration of wealth. Don't just occupy Wall Street, close it. Completely. We will put an end to the hijacking of wealth by parasites who profited from other people's work. There is no regret to have in letting go a system that has engendered 2 world wars and is preparing the third one.
As for the free market, the only thing that was free is the freedom to compete and to charge as much as possible for your goods. It rewards the greedy. It's OK to make a heap of money even at the expense of others by creating more poverty and environmental destruction. The opposite of sharing and giving that the new emerging economy led by the open movements is all about. Leaving everything to the free market is not working because a system based on individual greed creates wealth concentration, not prosperity for all. The real free market is the one of paradism where everything is made available free of charge. And this can only be made possible through the communitisation of the means of production.
The communitisation of the means of production is the real game changer that will put an end to the concentration of wealth. This is also how we can realistically finance a well-being income. The money from the sales of the production can return back to the people in the form of the well-being income allowing them to continue to meet their needs again and again. As robots take over the jobs, the cost of production and services will become less and less until they become free. Money and the well-being income will become useless. We will have then arrived to the paradise we all aspire to.
This news item is from Paradism
( http://www.paradism.org/news.php?extend.53 )