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Six Ways to Strengthen the 99 Percent

Submitted by Ken Watts on Tue, 11/08/2011 - 21:27

Remember, this series is about creating a free market, and, in the process, strengthening freedom and democracy in the country.

A laisez-faire market is neither free, nor beneficial.

It will eventually be controlled by wealthy corporations to the detriment of freedom in general.

But a truly free market—one which is kept free of the dominance of wealth—is generally beneficial to all.

Last time we looked at the first of three ways to keep the market free, by stemming the power of wealth.

The three ways were:

  1. Slow down the growth of wealth among the 1%.
  2. Increase the wealth and power of the 99%.
  3. Pass laws that limit the abuse of power by the wealthy.

This time we look at the second step: increasing the wealth and power of the 99%.

The steps outlined last time all had to do with taxes aimed at top incomes in one way or another.

Those taxes weren’t designed to raise money, but rather to slow the growth of wealth, and the unbalanced power it entails.

But they would raise money, and quite a bit of it.

Which is fortunate, because we can put that money to good use, in order to strengthen the 99%.

Here are six suggestions:

  1. Balance the federal budget.
  • What Washington seems to have forgotten recently is that their are two ways to balance a budget—spend less, or bring in more. A government deep in debt is bad for everyone, and balancing the budget would be good for all.
  • Create permanent tax incentives for job creation and good pay at the bottom of the labor market, especially for small business, and index those incentives to the inverse of the unemployment rate.
    • The best way to reduce our expenses on Welfare, on unemployment benefits, on poverty-based crime, on gangs, is to make it easy to get a decent job.
    • One way to move in this direction would be to create a tax credit for those small businesses who hire lower level employees and pay them well.
    • The credit itself would be a permanent fixture: that is, it wouldn’t be for adding jobs but for continuing to supply them.
    • But the specific rate of the credit would be indexed to the unemployment rate. In years when the unemployment rate rises, the incentive to hire would rise as well, and in years when the unemployment rate dropped, the credit would drop as well.
    • Of course, this would have various effects on the market:
      1. more jobs would mean more work options for the 99%, both in terms of choice about where to work and in terms of bargaining power,
      2. credits for small business and start-ups would make them more competitive and more numerous, balancing the power of large corporations,
      3. good pay at the bottom of the job market would push pay upwards in the middle and at the top as well.
  • Medicare for everyone.
    • The 99% will no longer have to base their career and family decisions on the fear of unexpected illness or injury devastating their financial security.
  • Improve education in public schools.
    • Return arts education, small classrooms, well-paid and well-trained teachers to all our schools.
    • Reduce class size, particularly at the lower levels, so that our children can get the attention they need.
    • Provide free higher education for everyone who can meet the academic standards. It’s a waste of national resources to allow financial considerations to bar capable Americans from the education they need to make their finest contribution to the country.
  • Rebuild, and improve, our infrastructure on an ongoing basis.
    • Provide a steady stream of jobs, and of contracts for businesses.
  • Invest in research for a better future.
    • Put America back on the cutting edge in science and technology.
    • Develop energy technologies to free us from carbon, striking a blow for freedom from Mideast oil, for freedom from big energy companies, and against climate change.
    • Create new technologies, and the new jobs that go with them.

    All of these suggestions would create an added bonus—a wealthier country.

    1. A balanced budget would mean lower debt and less interest expense, so we would not be at the financial mercy of China and other countries.
    2. Encouraging more and better paying jobs will mean more tax revenues, which will make it easier to balance the budget and pay off the debt and do all of the other things in this list. And all that extra income, especially at the bottom of the economy, will be spent—helping us recover from this recession, fuel a more powerful economy, and create a better climate for business.
    3. Medicare for everyone will relieve businesses of the burden of medical plans for their employees, and allow those employees to spend money on other things—fueling the economy further.
    4. A better educated citizenry will put America in the forefront of the world market, improve the quality of employees, and guarantee better political decisions because citizens will be harder to fool.
    5. A well-maintained and constantly improving infrastructure will increase our efficiency, lower business costs, and fuel the economy in thousands of ways.
    6. Ongoing research programs will provide new industries, new efficiencies, and new jobs—once again creating more wealth and more revenue to invest in the 99%.

    Of course, all of this will benefit the 1% as well, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Who wouldn’t want to make more profits, live in a country that is cleaner, better maintained, better educated, and more crime free?

    Even the 1% can’t really object to that.