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Some Ways to Level the Playing Field

Submitted by Ken Watts on Mon, 10/31/2011 - 12:07

So far we’ve established the following:

  1. Government--the influence of we, the people of the United States of America, cannot be separated from the market.

    The market is an invention of our government. We can only decide what role we, in the form of government, will play in the market, not whether we will play one.
  2. Government isn’t the main danger to a truly free market.

    The overriding danger is the growing power of the 1%—the pooling of wealth at the top where it can coerce the 99%, control the market, and corrupt the institutions of our government, undermining democracy.
  3. The wealth and power of the 1% is not theirs by right or fairness.

    It was not earned, but accumulated from the hard work and the creativity of the 99%.
  4. So it makes absolute sense—both in terms of practicality and fairness—for all of us, through our role as government, to level the playing field.

There are many ways to do this, but recently the 1% have become very adroit at evading the more traditional approaches.

Here’s a quick list of options: all of which have been tried previously, and all of which have been dodged one way or another by the 1%:

  • Trust-busting.
  • Campaign finance laws.
  • Trade regulations.
  • Class-action suits.
  • Safety regulations.
  • Support for Unions.

I could go on.

In every case some good has been done, but in the end wealth wins out, because wealth is power.

A wealthy enough group can find ways to get their people elected to office, or to influence those already in office, or to influence public opinion, or to slip through legal loopholes.

And to be fair, it’s not that the wealthy are all morally corrupt, but that the accumulation of wealth itself corrupts the system by creating an imbalance of power.

There are three obvious ways we can limit the excessive power of the 1%:

  1. We can take that power from them by limiting their wealth.This sounds radical, but it needn’t be as extreme as it sounds.
  • Simply raising the top tax rates, and putting limits on deductions over a certain income level would be moderate ways to implement this approach.
  • We can limit their power by increasing the power of the 99%.
    • This approach rests on the understanding that power is relative. One way to balance power is to simply strengthen those who are weaker.
    • If we find a way (or ways) to increase the wealth and power of the 99%, the power of the 1% will automatically be limited.
  • We can attempt to control that power through laws and the enforcement of those laws.
    • This is the main approach we have taken in the past.

    It failed then because it failed to touch the fundamental imbalance of power in the system.

    But if that balance can be addressed by limiting the wealth of the 1% and increasing the wealth of the 99%, then this approach could work as well.

    While no one of the above approaches would work on its own, there’s no reason we can’t pursue them all at once.

    The next posts will offer some pragmatic steps in that direction.

    Next: Limiting Wealth and Power...