Right at the start I’d like it noted that this is mostly my opinion based on my experiences and observations and I have no formal background in economics. However, it is a known fact that things are very quickly becoming more economically unequal and per Oxfam International: “The combined wealth of the richest 1 percent will overtake that of the other 99 percent of people next year unless the current trend of rising inequality is checked”
I believe there is always going to be some degree of inequality and a healthy level of it provides some incentive to do the much needed work. Equalizing everything is no real solution and would only worsen the culture of entitlement and encourage sloth and laziness.
However, there are many things that need to be done, but there seems to be no funding available. If you pay enough even the worst jobs can get done but business and government don’t have the funds to pay people. The same thing happened during the Great Depression when machines were idle and fields were not planted.
To me the focus should be to address the growing inequity that continually causes policies the world over to favor the rich and powerful. Corruption breeds where inequity lives, somehow by not making things feel fair it justifies all kinds of socially questionable behaviors.
Recently in the news many people have been displaced the world over searching for better places to live. Many lives have been lost. It hurts the heart to think of the level of desperation these people must have to take these enormous risks to leave the country of their homeland. My guess is that a combination of economic issues, environmental changes, violence and warfare is causing much suffering and fueling the displacement. If we spent more effort on making conditions more favorable everywhere the world over we could spend much less effort on policing borders, checking papers and jailing people.
Conditions in factories the world over are alarming. I thought it was bad years ago when I worked in a factory filled with MEK (methyl ethyl ketone) fumes, plastic vapors, screeching sonic welders and no clean drinking water, but I had choices and could select other types of work or go back to school – which is what I did. I didn’t have to worry about the entire building collapsing or doors being locked so that I couldn’t get out if there was a fire. I don’t believe there is even much factory work left around here and I have heard complaints like “those people are taking all the good jobs from us” it tickles my funny bone, but perhaps long hours spent vacantly staring out into space putting parts in boxes might have something to do with my unusual sense of humor. 😀
Frankly this growing inequality in wealth is dangerous for people with extreme differences stratifying society. Locked doors, security systems, gated communities, paranoid feelings… I for one would rather live in a way where I can trust those around me.
There is a missing opportunity cost associated with inequity, it is a lost opportunity for us to really help each other out and make a way for us all to live together in peace and harmony. We are close to discovering many new things that can improve our collective lifestyle. Everyone complains about unusual studies being funded when other issues seem more important, yet real discoveries are often found through surreptitious events seldom related much to the things being researched. Currency needs to flow easily for these new discoveries to be found.
Redistribution is a Dirty Word
Nobody likes the word redistribution – most people dislike taxes; we have a long history that makes this a very difficult pill to swallow. It is far better to distribute the wealth more evenly in the first place and provide ample opportunities for everyone at any level of qualification to make their way.
Those who are in power, (and in most governments in the world this tends to be the rich), will work to remove any rules and regulations put in place to redistribute wealth. It is in the nature of the system to provide incentives to maximize personal and corporate wealth.
The Dangers of not Getting Fundamental Work Done
Bridges collapse, roads get dangerous to travel, food doesn’t get grown. If I were a government official in a country that imported more food than it produced I would be very alarmed and find a way to get people productively making at least this very fundamental resource.
The solution to building lasting abundance will need to come from a variety of ways, here’s a few suggestions but who knows what will really need to be done. The system is so large and complex with so many factors that it is very difficult to come up with things using the tools and logic we have traditionally used. I think having a open mind and trying new things is going to be very important to finding out what will work. Collectively we can change things and many are waking up to what feels like good ideas.
Some level of food, housing, and water seems to me a most basic human right along with the ability voice your unpopular opinion. Rather than trying to lock everything up behind patients and copyright and property laws we should be aiming to make many more things freely available. There is so much food being wasted everyday by stores throwing things away. Yet many people don’t know how to cook for themselves or have the means in which to do so.
Many buildings are empty and falling into disrepair. Rather than tear them down why not open them up to allow for people to stay there for free if they wanted? Lots of people could live in the ghost shopping malls, why not fix them up? Make it into an area where owners can’t charge any rent but are free from liability and get the building maintained for free by the government. Provide cooking stoves so that people don’t have to rely on precooked meals that are often lacking in nutritional value.
The government used to pay farmers not to plant fields, I’m not sure if they still do this. Why can’t we have the government pay for some level of food for free? We could have a few stores where you can go in and just take what you want. There would be no need for check out clerks and accounting or security. I’m sure there would be some hoarding at first but after a bit it I think it would even out. We could even have the stores stocked automatically by robots, so the labor costs would be low.
What I’m seeing is in fact the opposite trend forming where businesses that used to have viable business models are trying to monetize anything from ancient Basmati Rice to bottled water in kind of a last gasp effort to cling to what used to work.
Worker Owned Cooperatives
Have the workers make the decisions for the business and take a direct role in the success of it. How many workers would vote to close up the factory and outsource their jobs to other cheaper overseas locations? Who would vote to have the executives get paid enormous salaries even when the profits are non-existent or only appear because of large layoffs? Worker owned cooperatives appear to be a better way to structure a business, however, business of all types are on a very rocky slope right now as we search for new and better ways to do things.
Efficiency As a Way to Build a Quality Life
Ultimately if our collective efficiency gets enhanced far enough at a certain point “work” will becoming a disappearing breed along with all the fossil fuel we are so quickly burning up. Automation, robots, artificial intelligence will all be factors in reducing the work required in production of our basic human needs. We need to prioritize getting these things done in the most efficient environmentally sound way for our future so as to make our rate of consumption sustainable for the planets ecosystem.
Pay for good ideas. Pay for people to make individual lifestyle changes that help themselves. This happens in some degree in the cryptocoin communities, it is actually good business to give some of the product away for free.
Business have to pay people enough for them to be able to purchase the products they produce. If this is not happening why not allow people to make currency in other ways so that the number of people looking for work drops and the business have to pay more to hire someone?
Rather than minimum wage laws maybe we should work on some minimum quality of life laws. This would free up the money supply and put more dollars back into the main street economy where they can be used to make purchases. Incentive payments could help raise the minimum quality of life without looking too much like a government handout.
A simple example would be to have an incentive payment to put your trash into the government emptied trash can and recycling station. We do this type of thing when we pay for people to collect cans and bottles.
New Money Supply
If we can turn energy into currency by running our personal computers why not? Traditionally new money is made by banks through debt and the ability of people to pay the bank back. Even governments are subject to this and it doesn’t seem to be working well now as government deficits balloon and the money supply dries up with defaults on loans making banks jittery about providing new lending. If some of the investment dollars flow into cryptocoins I would be happy. 😉
Clean Free Power
Lets face it people, what we have now was built on the backs of slaves and still is to some degree. For capitalism to survive it needs something to do the basic work with limited relative cost. (It also needs a bit of a face lift to enhance the goal of liberty, fraternity and equality of so long ago. The growing divide between rich and poor points to this.)
Low cost power is basically free work that you don’t need to pay for and if it is created without damaging the planet it feels like a much better solution than exploiting the labor of other sentient beings. Others may disagree as more jobs are displaced through automation, however, if you could push a button and the power of the sun would clean your house, wouldn’t that be nice? (I think it is more fun than beating your horse cause horses can’t clean houses but some might argue) 😀
As traditional fuel sources dry up and become more and more expensive we need to turn to other less costly and environmentally damaging alternatives. This is really fundamental for our future health and prosperity imho. Clean free power is the building block in which all kinds of things can be done cheaply and inexpensively. Whereas high energy costs will drive the price up of most everything we consume.
Clean energy generation options include: geothermal, wave power, solar power, and wind energy just to name a few. I’m sure there are many others that could be developed. By getting currency flowing back into main street economies we can encourage the research, growth and development of many of these things as well as a host of other health and social programs.