Billionaire Warren Buffett Says ‘The Real Problem’ With The US Economy Is People Like Him

On June 27, 2017, Catherine Clifford writs on CNBC Make It:

Warren Buffett says people like him are the problem with the U.S. economy.

With a net worth of more than $75 billionBuffett is currently the second richest man alive, according to Forbes. As the CEO of investing house Berkshire Hathaway, he is hallowed as the Oracle of Omaha. But for all his personal success, Buffett says the issue really is the 1 percent.

“The real problem, in my view, is — this has been — the prosperity has been unbelievable for the extremely rich people,” says Buffett on PBS Newshour.

“If you go to 1982, when Forbes put on their first 400 list, those people had [a total of] $93 billion. They now have $2.4 trillion, [a multiple of] 25 for one,” he says. “This has been a prosperity that’s been disproportionately rewarding to the people on top.”

“THE REAL PROBLEM, IN MY VIEW, IS … THE PROSPERITY HAS BEEN UNBELIEVABLE FOR THE EXTREMELY RICH PEOPLE.”-Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

The stock market has been trending upwards since the crash in March 2009 and the U.S. economy is growing at roughly 2 percent, says Buffett on Newshour. That growth rate (while a third less than the 3 percent rate President Donald Trump has been touting) is a healthy number for the economy and will improve the quality of life of many Americans.

It will add “$19,000 of GDP per person, family of four, $76,000 in one generation,” says Buffett. “So, your children and your children’s children and all that, they will live far, far, far better than we live with 2 percent growth.”

And yet, many individuals are stuck. “The economy is doing well, but all Americans aren’t doing well,” says Buffett.

Part of the reason some are struggling, says the octogenarian investor, is that the automation and digitization of the U.S. labor force is happening faster than employees can be retrained.

“We always see shifts in employment. If you think about it, if you go back to 1800, it took 80 percent of the labor force to produce enough food for the country. Now it takes less than 3 percent. Well, the truth is that market systems move people around,” says Buffett.

“There’s always a mismatch. I mean, you know, as the economy evolves, it reallocates resources.”

As employees fall out of the labor force because their skills are no longer utilized, Buffett says it ought to be the responsibility of society to take care of them as they are retrained to re-enter the workforce.

The evolving economy “doesn’t benefit the steelworker maybe in Ohio,” says Buffett on Newshour. “And that’s the problem that has to be addressed, because when you have something that’s good for society, but terribly harmful for given individuals, we have got to make sure those individuals are taken care of.”

Buffett made his extreme wealth by investing in the stock market, an interest that took hold young. Buffett bought his first stock when he was 11 and has been in the market for 75 years. He recommends others do the same.

“They should just keep buying and buying and buying a little bit of America as they go along. And 30 or 40 years from now, they will have a lot of money,” he says.

In an effort to compensate for the wealth inequality that he himself has benefited from, Buffett and his billionaire buddy Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates co-founded the Giving Pledge, a voluntary commitment by the richest people in the world to give away at least half of their wealth. The goal of the Giving Pledge is not only to help those in need but to encourage others to do the same.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/27/warren-buffett-says-the-problem-with-the-economy-is-people-like-him.html

Gary Reber Comments:
Warren Buffet is a “hoggist” capital owner propelled by greed and the sheer love of power over others. “Hoggism” institutionalizes greed (creating concentrated capital ownership, monopolies, and special privileges). “Hoggism” is about the ability of greedy rich people to manipulate the lives of people who struggle with declining labor worker earnings and job opportunities, and then accumulate the bulk of the money through monopolized productive capital ownership.

Buffett says to the solution is simple:”They [people] should just keep buying and buying and buying a little bit of America as they go along. And 30 or 40 years from now, they will have a lot of money.” Yet the reality is the vast majority of Americans on either in poverty, near-poverty, afloat due to consumer credit and living week-to-week or month-to-month. They are in situations that prevent them from saving and speculating, as Buffet says he has since he was 11.

With all his wealth tied to his personal OWNERSHIP of wealth-creating, income-producing productive capital assets held by him in the business corporations that he has an ownership interest, you would think that he would be educating himself to and advocating financial mechanism that, with NO requirement of past savings (equity worth), would empower EVERY child, woman, and man to acquire ownership interest in new, productive and viable capital asset formation simultaneously with the growth of the economy, on the basis that the investments will generate their own earnings sufficient to repay the insure, interest-free capital credit and then go on producing income indefinitely with proper maintenance and with restoration in the technical sense through research and development.

Buffett is part of the problem. The exponential disassociation of production and consumption that is the problem in the United States economy, and the reason that ordinary citizens must gain access to productive capital ownership to improve their economic well-being.
 
Anyone who seeks to own productive power that they cannot or won’t use for consumption are beggaring their neighbor — the equivalency of mass murder — the impact of concentrated capital ownership.

At the top of the order of Buffett’s and fellow billionaires’ philanthropy is a plan to use at least half of their their wealth to support causes focused on “poverty alleviation” and “education.”

I think the most good can result if the focus of their wealth is on reforming the monetary and financial system to eliminate the requirement of “past savings” to qualify for capital credit to finance viable capital asset formation projects and provide for EVERY citizen to acquire ownership stakes in future viable capital asset formation simultaneously with the growth of the economy, without taking from those who already own.

A study of billionaires would certainly result in either inheritance of large sums of capital asset ownership stakes or savings accumulated to invest in wealth-creating, income-producing capital assets, on the basis that the investments paid for themselves. In either case, the key operative is “past savings,” which the vast majority of people do not have as they are dependent on jobs in which they earn insufficient income to meet their personal and family consumption needs. And because they are trapped in poverty or near poverty, or even in middle-class status, they cannot earn the income to satisfy their wants above their consumption necessities, and even then they carry high consumer debt.

If only these billionaires would support education to enlightened all Americans and politicians to reform the monetary and financial system and enact legislation to provide an annual allocation into the capital credit account of EVERY child, woman, and man strictly for investment in new viable capital asset formation projects tied to the growth of the economy, which generate their own revenue stream to initially pay off the loan and following produce a full-earnings dividend for consumption (creating further demand for the economy’s growth).

Of course, there needs to be a financial mechanism put in place that will guarantee loan risks; otherwise banks and lending institutions will not make the loans, and the system will continue to limit access to capital acquisition to those who already own capital — the rich. This is because “poor” people have no security or collateral, or sufficient income resulting in savings to pledge against the loan as security, and/or are disqualified on the grounds of either unproven unreliability or proven unreliability.

What historically empowered America’s original capitalists was conventional savings-based finance and the pledging or mortgaging of assets, with access to further ownership of new productive capital available only to those who were already well capitalized. As has been the case, credit to purchase capital is made available by financial institutions ONLY to people who already own capital and other forms of equity, such as the equity in their home that can be pledged as loan security — those who meet the universal requirement for collateral. Lenders will only extend credit to people who already have assets. Thus, the rich are made ever richer through their continuous accumulation of capital asset ownership, while the poor (people without a viable capital estate) remain poor and dependent on their labor to produce income. Thus, the system is restrictive and capital ownership is clinically denied to those who need it.

Thus, the question is who pledges the security and takes the risk of failure to return the expected yield from which to repay the loan. The answer is capital credit loan security (collateral) requirement can be replaced with private capital credit insurance or a government reinsurance agency (ala the Federal Housing Administration concept).

Criteria must be created to qualify the corporations, both new start-ups and established ones, subject to this policy and those corporations that qualify overseen so as to insure that their executives exercise prudent fiduciary responsibility to generate loan payback. Once the guaranteed loans are paid back to the lending entity, the new capital formation will continue to produce income for existing and future owners.

The non-profit Center for Economic and Social Justice (www.cesj.org) is dedicated to such education to alleviate poverty and educate on the financial mechanisms and legislation necessary to put American on a path to inclusive prosperity, inclusive opportunity, and inclusive economic justice.

At the CESJ Web site are volumes of articles and proposed legislation focused on broadening individual capital asset wealth and income simultaneously with the growth of the economy, without redistribution by empowering EVERY citizen to be productive through their capital asset and their labor contributions to the economy.

The end result is 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 elite controls the coercive powers of government.

Support the Agenda of The JUST Third Way Movement at http://foreconomicjustice.org/?p=5797, http://www.cesj.org/resources/articles-index/the-just-third-way-basic-principles-of-economic-and-social-justice-by-norman-g-kurland/, http://www.cesj.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/jtw-graphicoverview-2013.pdf and http://www.cesj.org/resources/articles-index/the-just-third-way-a-new-vision-for-providing-hope-justice-and-economic-empowerment/.

Support Monetary Justice at http://capitalhomestead.org/page/monetary-justice.

Support the Capital Homestead Act (aka Economic Democracy Act) at http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-a-plan-for-getting-ownership-income-and-power-to-every-citizen/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-summary/ and http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/ch-vehicles/.

Study: Seattle’s $13 Minimum Wage Led To Drop Of $1,500 In Income For Low-Wage Earners

On June 27, 2017, Ben Shapiro writes on The Daily Wire:

Remember that time Seattle’s socialist city council member Kshama Sawant pressed for the city to increase its minimum wage to $15 per hour? I actually debated Sawant on the issue; I asked her if she would be in favor of raising the wage to $1,000 per hour. She misdirected from the issue.

Seattle actually ended up embracing $13 per hour, raising the minimum wage from $9.47 in 2014 to $11 in 2015 to $13 in 2016 under the theory that an increase wouldn’t throw people out of work, wouldn’t encourage part-time hiring, and would inflate salaries enough to allow more affordability in the Seattle housing market.

A new study demonstrates that, as usual, central planning of the economy leads to precisely the reverse of the results the planners seek to achieve.

According to a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research:

“Using a variety of methods to analyze employment in all sectors paying below a specified real hourly rate, we conclude that the second wage increase to $13 reduced hours worked in low-wage jobs by around 9 percent, while hourly wages in such jobs increased by around 3 percent. Consequently, total payroll fell for such jobs, implying that the minimum wage ordinance lowered low-wage employees’ earnings by an average of $125 per month in 2016. Evidence attributes more modest effects to the first wage increase. We estimate an effect of zero when analyzing employment in the restaurant industry at all wage levels, comparable to many prior studies.”

In other words, restaurants didn’t fire anybody, they just put them on part-time shifts and cut back their hours. That shouldn’t be a surprise, since that’s precisely what happens every time the government places an extra burden on employers. One of the great myths of minimum wage movement — and the central planning movement as a whole — is that business owners aren’t operating at a slim margin, but raking in dollars to hide in their Scrooge McDuck moneybins, depleting the potential income of their employees. But that’s not true. Thanks to competition — and competition is fierce in industries that employ minimum wage workers — profit margins are never enormous. Even in 2013, a booming year for the restaurant business, Capital IQ estimated the average profit margin for restaurants at 2.4%. Profitability varies by chain as well, and by local franchise.

Even leftists were taken aback by Seattle’s sizeable minimum wage increase. Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a leftist himself, derided the minimum wage increases in Seattle as “beyond moderate” — extreme, in other words. But he admitted, “you [don’t] know what the outcome is going to be. You have to test it, you have to scrutinize it, which is why Seattle is a great test case.”

Or you could leave the market alone, since “testing” markets by cramming down interventionism puts people out of work, at least part-time. Here are the facts: Seattle barely had any jobs under the $11 threshold before the legislation passed. But that wasn’t true of $13 jobs. And the regulations essentially priced a good deal of full-time low-wage labor out of the market. Furthermore, the economy in Seattle right now is strong. What happens during a downturn, when businesses have to shed costs?

Government intervention isn’t the answer to the free market. The free market is. But don’t expect the Left to admit that they’re not merely punishing “evil” businessmen, they’re skewing the entire labor market and hurting a broad swath of people, including minimum wage employees.

http://www.dailywire.com/news/17933/study-seattles-13-minimum-wage-led-drop-1500-ben-shapiro#

Gary Reber Comments:

The squabbling debate between pro minimum-wage advocates and free market advocates continues.

The real issue we should be addressing is how to empower EVERY citizen to earn more income through ownership of the non-human factor of production – technological invention and innovation that results in more efficient “tools” (what economists call productive physical capital) that reduce or eliminate the necessity for human labor.

Just the other day I commented on a Harvard study (http://www.foreconomicjustice.org/?p=17155) that points to minimum wage increases resulting in worker layoffs, increased pricing and hour-cuts for existing workers, resulting in reduced employment. Furthermore, as profit margins are further squeezed, those with the ability to automate are doing so and those who don’t are closing their doors. All this is happening and yet the minimum wage of $15 set by some cities won’t become law until, at the earliest, July of 2018.

But raising the minimum wage was supposed not to kill jobs or create operational costs that would squeeze profit margins and result in business closures. Wasn’t it?

Using common sense, if raising the minimum wage will not kill jobs then why not raise the minimum wage to $25.00 or $50.00 or $100.00 per hour? Of course there are consequences that either are reflected in job elimination, increased prices or business closures. Virtually never are the OWNERS of corporations willing to reduce profits, which often are marginal.

Competition drives businesses to constantly figure out ways to reduce operational costs. Full employment is not an objective of businesses nor is conducting business statically in terms of geographical location. Companies strive to achieve cost efficiencies to maximize profits for the owners, thus keeping labor input and other costs at a minimum.

If wage levels were not a factor there would be also no reason for ANY company to exit production in the United States and move production to foreign lands with significantly less labor costs. Also, there is the impact on pricing levels, as any increases in the cost of production or service always results in pricing increases – inflation.

If this were not the case, then no companies would be compelled to seek other non-human more cost-efficient means of production or to move production to foreign countries whose workers are paid far less than  Americans.  Increasingly, companies are seeking more efficient and less long term costs that non-human technology can deliver to reduce their operating costs, provide higher build quality, automate service, and maximize profits for their OWNERS. As is virtually always the case, the OWNERS of companies do not want to reduce profits.

What the proponents of raising the minimum wage fundamentally are addressing is that low-paid American workers need to earn more income.

We need to begin focusing on the means for people to earn more income, and not solely dependent on earnings from jobs, which are being destroyed with tectonic shifts in the technologies of production. We need to implement financial mechanisms to finance future economic growth and simultaneously create new capital asset owners. This can be accomplished with monetary reform and using insured, interest-free capital credit (without the requirement of past savings, a job or any other source of income), repayable out of the future earnings in the investments in our economy’s growth.

But how, you ask, can such an OWNERSHIP CREATION solution be implemented?

We can and should do more to create universal capital ownership not only for workers of corporations but ALL citizens. What I believe is crucial to solving economic inequality and building a future economy that can support general affluence for EVERY citizen is to address concentrated capital ownership, the fundamental cause of economic inequality. The obvious solution is to de-concentrate capital ownership by ensuring that all future wealth-creating, income-producing capital asset formation will be financed using insured, interest-free capital credit, repayable out of the future earnings of the investments, creating ownership participation by EVERY child, woman, man. This should be about investment in real productive capital growth, not speculation as with the stock exchanges. But the problem is the vast majority of Americans have no savings, or at best extremely limited savings, insufficient to be meaningful as increasingly Americans are living week to week, month to month, and deeply in consumer debt. So forget about proposals for tax credits, retirement and health savings accounts.  There is no feasible way that past savings can continue to be a requirement for investment if we are to simultaneously create new capital owners with the productive growth of the economy. The current economic investment system is structured based on the requirement of past savings used directly or as security collateral for capital credit loans. But past savings are not necessary as viable capital formation projects pay for themselves. This is the logic of corporate finance.

Capital acquisition takes place on the logic of self-financing and asset-backed credit for productive uses. People invest in capital ownership on the basis that the investment will pay for itself. The basis for the commitment of loan guarantees is the fact that nobody who knows what he or she is doing buys a physical capital asset or an interest in one unless he or she is first assured, on the basis of the best advice one can get, that the asset in operation will pay for itself within a reasonable period of time – 5 to 7 or, in a worst case scenario, 10 years (given the current depressive state of the economy). And after it pays for itself within a reasonable capital cost recovery period, it is expected to go on producing income indefinitely with proper maintenance and with restoration in the technical sense through research and development.

Still, there is at least a theoretical chance, and sometimes a very real chance, that the investment might not pay for itself, or it might not pay for itself in the projected time period. So, there is a business risk. This can be solved using private capital credit insurance or a government reinsurance agency (ala the Federal Housing Administration concept). On a larger scale, the path to solve the security issue, that is, the risk can be absorbed by capital credit insurance or commercial risk insurance. Thus, in order to achieve national economic democracy, we need a way to handle risk management in finance by broadly insuring the risks. Such capital credit insurance would substitute for the security demanded by lenders to cover the risk of non-payment, thus enabling the poor and others with no or few assets (the 99 percenters) to overcome the collateralization barrier that excludes the non-halves from access to productive capital.

One feasible way is to lift ownership-concentrating Federal Reserve System credit barriers and other institutional barriers that have historically separated owners from non-owners and link tax and monetary reforms to the goal of expanded capital ownership. This can be done under the existing legal powers of each of the 12 Federal Reserve regional banks, and will not add to the already unsustainable debt of the Federal Government or raise taxes on ordinary taxpayers. We need to free the system of dependency on Wall Street and the accumulated savings and money power of the rich and super-rich who control Wall Street. The Federal Reserve System has stifled the growth of America’s productive capacity through its monetary policy by monetizing public-sector growth and mounting Federal deficits and “Wall Street” bailouts; by favoring speculation over investment; by shortchanging the capital credit needs of entrepreneurs, inventors, farmers, and workers; by increasing the dependency of with usurious consumer credit; and by perpetuating unjust capital credit and ownership barriers between rich Americans and those without savings.

The Federal Reserve Bank should be used to provide interest-free capital credit (including only transaction and risk premiums) and monetize each capital formation transaction, determined by the same expertise that determines it today – management and banks – that each transaction is viably feasible so that there is virtually no risk in the Federal Reserve. The first layer of risk would be taken by the commercial credit insurers, backed by a new government corporation, the Capital Diffusion Reinsurance Corporation, through which the loans could be guaranteed. This entity would fulfill the government’s responsibility for the health and prosperity of the American economy.

The Federal Reserve Board is already empowered under Section 13 of the Federal Reserve Act to reform monetary policy to discourage non-productive uses of credit, to encourage accelerated rates of private sector growth, and to promote widespread individual access to productive credit as a fundamental right of citizenship. The Federal Reserve Board needs to re-activate its discount mechanism to encourage private sector growth linked to expanded capital ownership opportunities for all Americans (Section 13(2) Federal Reserve Act).

Until we address concentrated capital ownership and implement solutions to simultaneously broaden capital ownership by creating new capital owners with the growth of the productive economy, money power will reside in the hands of politicians and bankers, not in the hands of the citizens. That is why, to reform the system leaders and advocates for economic justice must focus on money, how it should be created and measured, how it should be controlled and why a more realistic and just money system is the key to universal and equal citizen access to future ownership opportunities as a fundamental human right. Then prosperity and economic democracy can serve as the basis for effective and non-corruptible political democracy, an ecologically sustainable environment, and global peace through justice.

Support Monetary Justice at http://capitalhomestead.org/page/monetary-justice.

Support the Capital Homestead Act (aka Economic Democracy Act) at http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-a-plan-for-getting-ownership-income-and-power-to-every-citizen/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-summary/ and http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/ch-vehicles/.

Why Wall Street Isn’t Useful For The Real Economy

On September 1, 2016, Lynn Stout writes on Premarket.com and Economics:

Bank executives frequently proclaim that Wall Street is vital to the nation’s economy and performs socially valuable services by raising capital, providing liquidity to investors, and ensuring that securities are priced accurately so that money flows to where it will be most productive. There’s just one problem: the Wall Street mantra isn’t true.

In the wake of the 2008 crisis, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously told a reporter that bankers are “doing God’s work.” This is, of course, an important part of the Wall Street mantra: it’s standard operating procedure for bank executives to frequently and loudly proclaim that Wall Street is vital to the nation’s economy and performs socially valuable services by raising capital, providing liquidity to investors, and ensuring that securities are priced accurately so that money flows to where it will be most productive. The mantra is essential, because it allows (non-psychopathic) bankers to look at themselves in the mirror each day, as well as helping them fend off serious attempts at government regulation. It also allows them to claim that they deserve to make outrageous amounts of money. According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, in 2007 and 2008 employees in the finance industry earned a total of more than $500 billion annually—that’s a whopping half-trillion dollar payroll (Table 1168).

Let’s start with the notion that Wall Street helps companies raise capital. If we look at the numbers, it’s obvious that raising capital for companies is only a sideline for most banks, and a minor one at that. Corporations raise capital in the so-called “primary” markets where they sell newly-issued stocks and bonds to investors. However, the vast majority of bankers’ time and effort is devoted to (and most bank profits come from) dealing, trading, and advising investors in the so-called “secondary” market where investors buy and sell existing securities with each other. In 2009, for example, less than 10 percent of the securities industry’s profits came from underwriting new stocks and bonds; the majority came instead from trading commissions and trading profits (Table 1219). This figure reflects the imbalance between the primary issuing market (which is relatively small) and the secondary trading market (which is enormous). In 2010, corporations issued only $131 billion in new stock (Table 1202). That same year, the World Bank reports, more than $15 trillion in stocks were traded in the U.S. secondary marketmore than the nation’s GDP. Yet secondary market trading is fundamentally a zero sum game—if I make money by buying low and selling high, it’s money you lost by buying high and selling low.

So, what benefit does society get from all this secondary market trading, besides very rich and self-satisfied bankers like Blankfein? The bankers would tell you that we get “liquidity”–the ability for investors to sell their investments relatively quickly. The problem with this line of argument is that Wall Street is providing far more liquidity (at a hefty price—remember that half-trillion-dollar payroll) than investors really need. Most of the money invested in stocks, bonds, and other securities comes from individuals who are saving for retirement, either by investing directly or through pension and mutual funds. These long-term investors don’t really need much liquidity, and they certainly don’t need a market where 165 percent of shares are bought and sold every year. They could get by with much less trading—and in fact, they did get by, quite happily. In 1976, when the transactions costs associated with buying and selling securities were much higher, fewer than 20 percent of equity shares changed hands every year. Yet no one was complaining in 1976 about any supposed lack of liquidity. Today we have nearly 10 times more trading, without any apparent benefit for anyone (other than Wall Street bankers and traders) from all that “liquidity.”

Finally, let’s turn to the claim that Wall Street trading helps allocate society’s resources more efficiently by ensuring securities are priced accurately. This argument is based on the notion of “price discovery”–the idea that the promise of speculative profits motivates traders to do research that uncovers socially useful information. The classic example is a wheat futures trader who researches weather patterns. If the trader accurately predicts a drought, the trader buys wheat futures, driving up wheat prices, causing farmers to plant more wheat, helping alleviate the effects of the drought. Thus (the argument goes) the trader’s profits from speculating in wheat futures are just compensation for providing socially valuable “price discovery.” Once again, however, this cheerful banker “just-so story” turns out to be unsupported by any significant evidence. Let’s start with the questionable premise that the average trader earns profits from doing good research. The well-established fact that very few actively-managed mutual funds routinely outperform the market undermines the claim that most trading is driven by truly superior information.

But even more significantly, the fact that a trader with superior information can move prices in the “correct” direction does not necessarily mean that society will benefit. It’s all a question of timing.  As famous economist Jack Hirshleifer pointed out many years ago, trading that makes prices more accurate when it’s too late to do anything about it is privately profitable but not socially beneficial. Most Wall Street trading in stocks, bonds, and derivatives moves information into prices only days–sometimes only microseconds–before it would arrive anyway. No real resources are reallocated in such a short time span.

So, what does Wall Street do that benefits society? Doctors and nurses make patients healthier. Firefighters and EMTs save lives. Telecommunications companies and smart phone manufacturers permit people to communicate with each other at a distance. Automobile executives and airline pilots help people close that distance. Teachers and professors help students learn. Wall Street bankers help—mostly just themselves.

Why Wall Street Isn’t Useful for the Real Economy

Gary Reber Comments:

This is an excellent article by Lynn Stout, the Distinguished Professor of Corporate and Business Law at Cornell Law School. Stout challenges the notion that Wall Street helps companies raise capital. “If we look at the numbers, it’s obvious that raising capital for companies is only a sideline for most banks, and a minor one at that. Corporations raise capital in the so-called “primary” markets where they sell newly-issued stocks and bonds to investors. However, the vast majority of bankers’ time and effort is devoted to (and most bank profits come from) dealing, trading, and advising investors in the so-called “secondary” market where investors buy and sell existing securities with each other. In 2009, for example, less than 10 percent of the securities industry’s profits came from underwriting new stocks and bonds; the majority came instead from trading commissions and trading profits (Table 1219). This figure reflects the imbalance between the primary issuing market (which is relatively small) and the secondary trading market (which is enormous). In 2010, corporations issued only $131 billion in new stock (Table 1202). That same year, the World Bank reports, more than $15 trillion in stocks were traded in the U.S. secondary marketmore than the nation’s GDP. Yet secondary market trading is fundamentally a zero sum game—if I make money by buying low and selling high, it’s money you lost by buying high and selling low.”

When I write about broadening productive capital asset ownership, I am advocating that EVERY child, woman and man be empowered to acquire NEW stock issues, representing the formation of new productive capital that generates its own earnings to pay for itself. As binary economist Louis Kelso noted: “The pre-tax yield of corporate assets of prosperous companies varies from 25 to 60 percent. The yield on secondhand securities is around five or six percent. Sure, with capital gains, you can get a little more, but don’t forget, that’s a zero-sum game; for every gainer, there’s a loser. Wall Street doesn’t fly any airplanes or raise any corn or do anything else in the way of producing products and services. It just plays games with your dough. And when you take it out in pensions, you’re going to get less than the company put in for you. You have to; that’s the dynamics of it.”

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans have been ill-educated and ONLY think in terms of a job to earn an income or government subsidies such as an Unconditional Basic Income. They have been kept from understanding how real wealth is created and how the system facilitates the already wealthy constantly acquiring ALL new productive capital wealth.

Conventionally, most people do not have the right to acquire productive capital with the self-financing earnings of capital; they are left to acquire, as best as they can, with their earnings as labor workers and the pledge of past savings. This is fundamentally hard to do and limiting. Thus, the most important economic right Americans need and should demand is the effective right to acquire capital with the earnings of capital. Note, though, millions of Americans own diluted stock value through the “stock market exchanges,” purchased with their earnings as labor workers, their stock holdings are relatively minuscule, as are their dividend payments compared to the top 10 percent of capital owners. Statistically, stock market wealth is held by a relatively small number of the most affluent. In reality, most Americans don’t have any stocks to their name. In fact, many Americans don’t even have any savings to their name. Pew Research found that 53 percent of Americans own no stock at all nor any retirement accounts, and out of the 47 percent who do, the richest 5 percent own two-thirds of that stock. And only 10 percent of Americans have pensions, so stock market gains or losses don’t affect the incomes of most retirees.

What historically empowered America’s original capitalists was conventional savings-based finance and the pledging or mortgaging of assets, with access to further ownership of new productive capital available only to those who were already well capitalized. As has been the case, credit to purchase capital is made available by financial institutions ONLY to people who already own capital and other forms of equity, such as the equity in their home that can be pledged as loan security — those who meet the universal requirement for collateral. Lenders will only extend credit to people who already have assets. Thus, the rich are made ever richer through their continuous accumulation of capital asset ownership, while the poor (people without a viable capital estate) remain poor and dependent on their labor to produce income. Thus, the system is restrictive and capital ownership is clinically denied to those who need it.

Thus, as Kelso asserted: “The problem with conventional financing techniques is that they address only the productive power of enterprise and the enhancement of the earning power of the rich minority. Sustaining or increasing the earning power of the majority of consumers who are dependent entirely upon the earnings of their labor, or upon welfare, is left to government or governmentally assisted redistribution of income and to chance.”

At Agenda 2000 Incorporated, the advocacy firm I founded with Louis Kelso, and the Institute For The Pursuit Of Economic Justice at Berkeley, we believed that the business corporation, which holds its capital assets in the form of stock ownership, was society’s greatest social invention and that its executives had a fiduciary responsibility to exercise its vast power and finance capital growth in ways that took in the corporation’s natural constituency of employees and consumers as stockholders. We recognized that industrialization established the business corporation as the dominant organizational force of modern America. We saw the business corporation as an untapped, unimagined potential entity for solving the very economic problems that defective corporate strategy has created. We advocated Kelso’s financing tools and economic proposals, while devising other practical ways designed to correct the imbalance between production and consumption at its source, and broaden ownership of productive capital in conformance with private property free market principles, simultaneously with the growth of the economy.

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 rich 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.

Once the national economic policy bases policy decisions on capital ownership-broadening economics, productive capital acquisition would take place through commercially insured capital credit, resulting in a quiet revolution in which economic plutocracy will transform to economic democracy.

What others and I at Agenda 2000 and the Institute For The Pursuit Of Economic Justice advocated was embracing the goal of teaching working people, the 99 percent, to become capital workers, those who contribute productively through their privately owned capital, which is employed in production to supplement their being a labor worker or replace the wage income from their labor entirely. The goal into the future is for all Americans to be capital workers (applying the “tools” they OWN to produce) and not be labor workers dependent on labor earnings too much of our lives. We should all be productive and produce products and services in a way in which the current state of technology permits. Not only is our right to life denied if we don’t have effective access to the ownership of capital, our liberty is denied because without economic power our political power is useless. Thus, the national economic policy should be universal participation in the ownership of productive capital, alongside full employment of the labor workforce as a direct result of building a future economy that can support general affluence for EVERY citizen.

The purpose of production in a market economy is the consumption of products and services by the consumers who make up the economy. But without income, the non-capital ownership class, the 99 percenters, cannot afford to purchase the products and services they desire. But when incomes rise among consumers who have the need and desire to improve their material standard of living, the market demand for products and services strengthens, which in turn increases production and results in a growth economy that, as a byproduct, creates REAL jobs, not the government style make-work that has become so prominent.

Bottom line: we need to focus on CAPITAL OWNERSHIP CREATION as the solution to economic inequality. Every government policy must be structure to optimally promote creating new capital owners simultaneously with the growth of the economy, without resorting to redistribution of wealth and income.

The end result would 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 elite controls the coercive powers of government.

For specifics of how to finance future capital formation projects and simultaneously create new capital owners see my article “What Is Needed To Resolve The Destruction Of American Jobs Problem?” published by The Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/593adb89e4b0b65670e569e9.

Support Monetary Justice at http://capitalhomestead.org/page/monetary-justice.

Support the Capital Homestead Act (aka Economic Democracy Act) at http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-a-plan-for-getting-ownership-income-and-power-to-every-citizen/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-summary/ and http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/ch-vehicles/.

Harvard Study: Minimum Wage Hikes Killing Businesses

Amanda Prestigiacomo writes on The Daily Wire:

A new Harvard Business School study found that minimum wage hikes lead to closures of small businesses. “We find suggestive evidence that an increase in the minimum wage leads to an overall increase in the rate of exit,” the researchers conclude.

The study, titled Survival of the Fittest: The Impact of the Minimum Wage on Firm Exit, looks at “the impact of the minimum wage on restaurant closures using data from the San Francisco Bay Area” from 2008-2016.

Researchers Dara Lee Luca and Michael Luca chose the Bay Area due to their frequent minimum wage hikes in recent years. “In the San Francisco Bay Area alone, there have been twenty-one local minimum wage changes over the past decade,” they write.

The Lucas found that lower-quality restaurants (indicated by Yelp scores) were disproportionately affected by wage hikes, increasing their likelihood of closure relative to higher-quality, established restaurants.

“The evidence suggests that higher minimum wages increase overall exit rates for restaurants. However, lower quality restaurants, which are already closer to the margin of exit, are disproportionately impacted by increases to the minimum wage,” says the study. “Our point estimates suggest that a one dollar increase in the minimum wage leads to a 14 percent increase in the likelihood of exit for a 3.5-star restaurant (which is the median rating), but has no discernible impact for a 5-star restaurant (on a 1 to 5 star scale).”

While “firm exit” was the focus of the study, the researchers also noted that there are often other consequences from wage hikes, such as worker layoffs, increased pricing and hour-cuts for existing workers:

“While some studies find no detrimental effects on employment (Card and Krueger 1994, 1998; Dube, Lester & Reich, 2010), others show that higher minimum wage reduces employment, especially among low-skilled workers (see Neumark & Wascher, 2007 for a review). However, even studies that identify negative impacts find fairly modest effects overall, suggesting that firms adjust to higher labor costs in other ways. For example, several studies have documented price increases as a response to the minimum wage hikes (Aaronson, 2001; Aaronson, French, & MacDonald, 2008; Allegretto & Reich, 2016). Horton (2017) find that firms reduce employment at the intensive margin rather than on the extensive margin, choosing to cut employees hours rather than counts.”

Such findings were backed up by Garret/Galland Research’s Stephen McBride, who highlighted in March the “minimum wage massacre.”

“Currently, rising labor costs are causing margins in the sector to plummet. Those with the ability to automate like McDonalds are doing so… and those who don’t are closing their doors. In September 2016, one-quarter of restaurant closures in the California Bay Area cited rising labor costs as one of the reasons for closing,” McBride wrote in Forbes. 

“While wage increases put more money in the pocket of some, others are bearing the costs by having their hours reduced and being made part-time,” he added.

As noted by Red Alert Politics, the Bay Area is headed for a $15 minimum wage in July of 2018, though they’ve already seen over 60 restaurants close since September.

While it would behoove the Bernie Bros picketing for $15 an hour to take a look at this study, it’s entirely unlikely that such evidence would deter their entitled attitudes.

http://www.dailywire.com/news/17758/harvard-study-minimum-wage-hikes-killing-amanda-prestigiacomo#exit-modal

Gary Reber Comments:

This study points to minimum wage increases resulting in worker layoffs, increased pricing and hour-cuts for existing workers, resulting in reduced employment. Furthermore, as profit margins are further squeezed, those with the ability to automate are doing so and those who don’t are closing their doors. All this is happening and yet the minimum wage of $15 set by some cities won’t become law until, at the earliest, July of 2018.

But raising the minimum wage was supposed not to kill jobs or create operational costs that would squeeze profit margins and result in business closures. Wasn’t it?

Using common sense, if raising the minimum wage will not kill jobs then why not raise the minimum wage to $25.00 or $50.00 or $100.00 per hour? Of course there are consequences that either are reflected in job elimination, increased prices or business closures. Virtually never are the OWNERS of corporations willing to reduce profits, which often are marginal.

Competition drives businesses to constantly figure out ways to reduce operational costs. Full employment is not an objective of businesses nor is conducting business statically in terms of geographical location. Companies strive to achieve cost efficiencies to maximize profits for the owners, thus keeping labor input and other costs at a minimum.

If wage levels were not a factor there would be also no reason for ANY company to exit production in the United States and move production to foreign lands with significantly less labor costs. Also, there is the impact on pricing levels, as any increases in the cost of production or service always results in pricing increases – inflation.

If this were not the case, then no companies would be compelled to seek other non-human more cost-efficient means of production or to move production to foreign countries whose workers are paid far less than  Americans.  Increasingly, companies are seeking more efficient and less long term costs that non-human technology can deliver to reduce their operating costs, provide higher build quality, automate service, and maximize profits for their OWNERS. As is virtually always the case, the OWNERS of companies do not want to reduce profits.

What the proponents of raising the minimum wage fundamentally are addressing is that low-paid American workers need to earn more income.

We need to begin focusing on the means for people to earn more income, and not solely dependent on earnings from jobs, which are being destroyed with tectonic shifts in the technologies of production. We need to implement financial mechanisms to finance future economic growth and simultaneously create new capital asset owners. This can be accomplished with monetary reform and using insured, interest-free capital credit (without the requirement of past savings, a job or any other source of income), repayable out of the future earnings in the investments in our economy’s growth.

But how, you ask, can such an OWNERSHIP CREATION solution be implemented?

We can and should do more to create universal capital ownership not only for workers of corporations but ALL citizens. What I believe is crucial to solving economic inequality and building a future economy that can support general affluence for EVERY citizen is to address concentrated capital ownership, the fundamental cause of economic inequality. The obvious solution is to de-concentrate capital ownership by ensuring that all future wealth-creating, income-producing capital asset formation will be financed using insured, interest-free capital credit, repayable out of the future earnings of the investments, creating ownership participation by EVERY child, woman, man. This should be about investment in real productive capital growth, not speculation as with the stock exchanges. But the problem is the vast majority of Americans have no savings, or at best extremely limited savings, insufficient to be meaningful as increasingly Americans are living week to week, month to month, and deeply in consumer debt. So forget about proposals for tax credits, retirement and health savings accounts.  There is no feasible way that past savings can continue to be a requirement for investment if we are to simultaneously create new capital owners with the productive growth of the economy. The current economic investment system is structured based on the requirement of past savings used directly or as security collateral for capital credit loans. But past savings are not necessary as viable capital formation projects pay for themselves. This is the logic of corporate finance.

Capital acquisition takes place on the logic of self-financing and asset-backed credit for productive uses. People invest in capital ownership on the basis that the investment will pay for itself. The basis for the commitment of loan guarantees is the fact that nobody who knows what he or she is doing buys a physical capital asset or an interest in one unless he or she is first assured, on the basis of the best advice one can get, that the asset in operation will pay for itself within a reasonable period of time – 5 to 7 or, in a worst case scenario, 10 years (given the current depressive state of the economy). And after it pays for itself within a reasonable capital cost recovery period, it is expected to go on producing income indefinitely with proper maintenance and with restoration in the technical sense through research and development.

Still, there is at least a theoretical chance, and sometimes a very real chance, that the investment might not pay for itself, or it might not pay for itself in the projected time period. So, there is a business risk. This can be solved using private capital credit insurance or a government reinsurance agency (ala the Federal Housing Administration concept). On a larger scale, the path to solve the security issue, that is, the risk can be absorbed by capital credit insurance or commercial risk insurance. Thus, in order to achieve national economic democracy, we need a way to handle risk management in finance by broadly insuring the risks. Such capital credit insurance would substitute for the security demanded by lenders to cover the risk of non-payment, thus enabling the poor and others with no or few assets (the 99 percenters) to overcome the collateralization barrier that excludes the non-halves from access to productive capital.

One feasible way is to lift ownership-concentrating Federal Reserve System credit barriers and other institutional barriers that have historically separated owners from non-owners and link tax and monetary reforms to the goal of expanded capital ownership. This can be done under the existing legal powers of each of the 12 Federal Reserve regional banks, and will not add to the already unsustainable debt of the Federal Government or raise taxes on ordinary taxpayers. We need to free the system of dependency on Wall Street and the accumulated savings and money power of the rich and super-rich who control Wall Street. The Federal Reserve System has stifled the growth of America’s productive capacity through its monetary policy by monetizing public-sector growth and mounting Federal deficits and “Wall Street” bailouts; by favoring speculation over investment; by shortchanging the capital credit needs of entrepreneurs, inventors, farmers, and workers; by increasing the dependency of with usurious consumer credit; and by perpetuating unjust capital credit and ownership barriers between rich Americans and those without savings.

The Federal Reserve Bank should be used to provide interest-free capital credit (including only transaction and risk premiums) and monetize each capital formation transaction, determined by the same expertise that determines it today – management and banks – that each transaction is viably feasible so that there is virtually no risk in the Federal Reserve. The first layer of risk would be taken by the commercial credit insurers, backed by a new government corporation, the Capital Diffusion Reinsurance Corporation, through which the loans could be guaranteed. This entity would fulfill the government’s responsibility for the health and prosperity of the American economy.

The Federal Reserve Board is already empowered under Section 13 of the Federal Reserve Act to reform monetary policy to discourage non-productive uses of credit, to encourage accelerated rates of private sector growth, and to promote widespread individual access to productive credit as a fundamental right of citizenship. The Federal Reserve Board needs to re-activate its discount mechanism to encourage private sector growth linked to expanded capital ownership opportunities for all Americans (Section 13(2) Federal Reserve Act).

Until we address concentrated capital ownership and implement solutions to simultaneously broaden capital ownership by creating new capital owners with the growth of the productive economy, money power will reside in the hands of politicians and bankers, not in the hands of the citizens. That is why, to reform the system leaders and advocates for economic justice must focus on money, how it should be created and measured, how it should be controlled and why a more realistic and just money system is the key to universal and equal citizen access to future ownership opportunities as a fundamental human right. Then prosperity and economic democracy can serve as the basis for effective and non-corruptible political democracy, an ecologically sustainable environment, and global peace through justice.

Support Monetary Justice at http://capitalhomestead.org/page/monetary-justice.

Support the Capital Homestead Act (aka Economic Democracy Act) at http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-a-plan-for-getting-ownership-income-and-power-to-every-citizen/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-summary/ and http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/ch-vehicles/.

Universal Basic Income Accelerates Innovation By Reducing Our Fear Of Failure

On February 12, 2017, Scott Santens writes on Economics:

Almost two centuries ago an idea was born with such explanatory power that it created shock waves across all of human society and whose aftershocks we’re still feeling to this day. It’s so simple and yet so powerful, that after all these years, it remains capable of making people question their very faith.

The idea of which I speak is that through random mutation and natural selection, every living thing around us was created through millions and even billions of years of what is effectively trial and error, not designed by some intelligent creator. It is the process of evolution through natural selection.

It’s almost impossible for many people to accept that everything around us, including our own lives, could ever be the result of trial and error, but that’s what the scientific method has revealed. Mutations happen. Some of them work better than others depending on the environment. A longer beak here and a longer neck there can be the difference between life and death. Successful mutations are passed on. Iterations continue generation after generation. Discovering this process of evolution was one of the great accomplishments of our species. It’s also possibly the most powerful reason to support another world-changing idea — an unconditional basic income.

Let me explain.

Markets as Environments

Our economy is a complex adaptive system. Much like how nature works, markets work. No one central planner is deciding what natural resources to mine, what to make with them, how much to make, where to ship everything to, who to give it to, etc. These decisions are the result of a massively decentralized widely distributed system called “the market,” and it’s all made possible with a tool we call “money” being exchanged between those who want something (demand) and those who provide that something (supply).

Money is more than a decentralized tool of calculation however. It’s also like energy. It powers the entire process like the eating of food powers our own bodies and the sun powers plants. Without food, we starve, and without money, markets starve. A sufficient amount of money for all market participants is absolutely key to the market system for it to work properly.

If you’ve ever played Monopoly this should be apparent. The game would not work if all players started the game with nothing. Some wouldn’t even make it once around the board. Additionally, if no one received $200 for then passing Go, the game would end a lot sooner. Ultimately the game always grinds to a halt once everyone but one person is all out of money, which is inevitable. No money, no purchases, no market, no game. Game over.

Supply and Demand as Trial and Error

With sufficient money however, markets adapt and evolve based on trial and error. Someone thinks of something to create or do. If people like it, it does well. If people don’t like it, it goes away. What does well is modified. If people like the modified version, it does well. If they don’t, it goes away. If they like it enough, the original version goes away. Survival of the fittest we call it. This is the evolution of goods and services, which runs on supply and demand, which both in turn run on money and one other thing — the willingness to take risks.

Risks as Genetic Mutation

Taking risks is equivalent to random genetic mutation in this biological analogy. A new product or service introduced into the market can result in success or failure. The outcome is entirely unknown until it’s tried. What succeeds can make someone rich and what fails can bankrupt someone. That’s a big risk. We traditionally like to think of these risk-takers as a special kind of person, but really they’re mostly just those who are economically secure enough to feel failure isn’t scarier than the potential for success.

As a prime example, Elon Musk is one of today’s most well-known and highly successful risk takers. Back in his college years he challenged himself to live on $1 a day for a month. Why did he do that? He figured that if he could successfully survive with very little money, he could survive any failure. With that knowledge gained, the risk of failure in his mind was reduced enough to not prevent him from risking everything to succeed.

This isn’t just anecdotal evidence either. Studies have shown that the very existence of food stamps — just knowing they are there as an option in case of failure — increases rates of entrepreneurship. A study of a reform to the French unemployment insurance system that allowed workers to remain eligible for benefits if they started a business found that the reform resulted in more entrepreneurs starting their own businesses. In Canada, a reform was made to their maternity leave policy, where new mothers were guaranteed a job after a year of leave. A study of the results of this policy change showed a 35% increase in entrepreneurship due to women basically asking themselves, “What have I got to lose? If I fail, I’m guaranteed my paycheck back anyway.”

Meanwhile, entrepreneurship is currently on a downward trend. Businesses that were less than five years old used to comprise half of all businesses three decades ago. Now they comprise about one-third. Businesses are also closing their doors faster than new businesses are opening them. Until recently, this had never previously been true here in the US for as long as such data had been recorded. Startup rates are falling. Why? Risk aversion due to rising insecurity.

Growing Insecurity

For decades now our economy has been going through some very significant changes thanks to advancements in technology, and we have simultaneously been actively eroding the institutions that pooled risk like trade unions and our public safety net. Incomes adjusted for inflation have not budged for decades, and the jobs providing those incomes have gone from secure careers to insecure jobs, part-time and contract work, and now recently even gig labor in the sharing economy.

Decreasing economic security means a population decreasingly likely to take risks. Looking at it this way, of course startups have been on the decline. How can you take the leap of faith required for a startup when you’re more and more worried about just being able to pay the rent?

None of this should be surprising. The entire insurance industry exists to reduce risk. When someone is able to insure something, they are more willing to take risks. Would there be as many restaurants if there was no insurance in case of fire? Of course not. The corporation itself exists to reduce personal risk. Entrepreneurship and risk are inextricably linked.Reducing risk aversion is paramount to innovation.

Failure as Evolution

So the question becomes, how do we reduce the risks of failure so that more people take more risks? Better yet, how do we increase the rate of failure? It may sound counter-intuitive, but failure is not something to avoid. It’s only through failure that we learn what doesn’t work and what might work instead. This is basically the scientific method in a nutshell. It’s designed to rule out what isn’t true, not to determine what is true. There is a very important difference between the two.

This is also how evolution works, through failure after failure. Nature isn’t determining the winner. Nature is simply determining all the losers, and those who don’t lose, win the game of evolution by default. So, the higher the rate of mutation, the more mutations can fail or not fail, and therefore the quicker an organism can adapt to a changing environment. In the same way, the higher the rate of failure in a market economy, the quicker the economy can evolve.

There’s also something else very important to understand about failure and success. One success can outweigh 100,000 failures. Venture capitalist Paul Graham of Y Combinator has described this as Black Swan Farming. When it comes to truly transformative ideas, they aren’t obviously great ideas, or else they’d already be more than just an idea, and when it comes to taking a risk on investing in a startup, the question is not so much if it will succeed, but if it will succeed BIG. What’s so interesting is that the biggest ideas tend to be seen as the least likely to succeed.

Now translate that to people themselves. What if the people most likely to massively change the world for the better, the Einsteins so to speak — the Black Swans, are oftentimes those least likely to be seen as deserving social investment? In that case, the smart approach would be to cast an extremely large net of social investment, in full recognition that even at such great cost, the ROI from the innovation of the Black Swans would far surpass the cost.

This happens to be exactly what Buckminster Fuller was thinking when he said, “We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest.” That is a fact, and it then begs the question, “How do we make sure we invest in every single one of those people such that all of society maximizes its collective ROI?”

What if our insistence on making people earn their living is preventing those one in ten thousand from making incredible achievements that would benefit all the rest of us in ways we can’t even imagine? What if our fears of each other being fully free to pursue whatever most interests us, including nothing, is an obstacle to an explosion of entrepreneurship and truly huge innovations the likes of which have never been seen?

Fear as Death

What it all comes down to is fear. FDR was absolutely right when he said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Fear prevents risk-taking, which prevents failure, which prevents innovation. If the great fears are of hunger and homelessness, and they prevent many people from taking risks who would otherwise take risks, then the answer is to simply take hunger and homelessness off the table. Don’t just hope some people are unafraid enough. Eliminate what people fear so they are no longer afraid.

If everyone received as an absolute minimum, a sufficient amount of money each month to cover their basic needs for that month no matter what — an unconditional basic income — then the fear of hunger and homelessness is eliminated. It’s gone. And with it, the risks of failure considered too steep to take a chance on something.

But the effects of basic income don’t stop with a reduction of risk. Basic income is also basic capital. It enables more people to actually afford to create a new product or service instead of just think about it, and even better, it enables people to be the consumers who purchase those new products and services, and in so doing decide what succeeds and what fails through an even more widely distributed and further decentralized free market system.

Such market effects have even been observed in universal basic income experiments in Namibia and India where local markets flourished thanks to a tripling of entrepreneurs and the enabling of everyone to be a consumer with a minimum amount of buying power.

Basic income would even help power the sharing economy. For example, imagine how much an unconditional monthly income would enable people within the Open Source Software (OSS) and free software movements (FSM) to do the unpaid work that is essentially the foundation of the internet itself.

Markets as Democracies

Markets work best when everyone can vote with their dollars, and have enough dollars to vote for products and services. The iPhone exists today not simply because Steve Jobs had the resources to make it into reality. The iPhone exists to this day because millions of people have voted on it with their dollars. Had they not had those dollars, we would not have the iPhone, or really anything else for that matter. Voting matters. Dollars matter.

Evolution teaches us that failure is important in order to reveal what doesn’t fail through the unfathomably powerful process of trial and error. We should apply this to the way we self-organize our societies and leverage the potential for universal basic income to dramatically reduce the fear of failure, and in so doing, increase the amount of risks taken to accelerate innovation to new heights.

Failure is not an option. Failure is the goal. And fear of failure is the enemy.

It’s time we evolve.

Universal Basic Income Accelerates Innovation by Reducing Our Fear of Failure

Gary Reber Comments:

Basically, the author of this article, Scott Santens, is arguing for EVERY person to receive an unconditional basic income, which would serve as a foundation to take risks to be entrepernaural and start businesses. Santens does not define person; does that included every child or are their age restrictions? Nor does he define the basic amount of money that EVERY person would receive monthly, unconditionally. These are important parameters to define as there is a cost to this proposal because it would be funded by redistribution of wealth or by incurring more non-asset government debt.

Santens does not appear to understand the players in an economy. There are two independent factors of production: humans (labor workers who contribute manual, intellectual, creative and entrepreneurial work) and non-human capital (land; structures; infrastructure; tools; machines; robotics; computer processing; certain intangibles that have the characteristics of property, such as patents and trade or firm names; and the like which are owned by people individually or in association with others). Fundamentally, economic value is created through human and non-human contributions.

Santens also does not appear to understand money and its role in an economy. Real physical productive capital isn’t money; it is measured in money (financial capital), but it is really producing power and earning power through ownership of the non-human factor of production. Financial capital, such as stocks and bonds, is just an ownership claim on the productive power of real capital. In the law, property is the bundle of rights that determines one’s relationship to things. As binary economists Louis Kelso and Patricia Hetter put it, “Money is not a part of the visible sector of the economy; people do not consume money. Money is not a physical factor of production, but rather a yardstick for measuring economic input, economic outtake and the relative values of the real goods and services of the economic world. Money provides a method of measuring obligations, rights, powers and privileges. It provides a means whereby certain individuals can accumulate claims against others, or against the economy as a whole, or against many economies. It is a system of symbols that many economists substitute for the visible sector and its productive enterprises, goods and services, thereby losing sight of the fact that a monetary system is a part only of the invisible sector of the economy, and that its adequacy can only be measured by its effect upon the visible sector.”

The role of physical productive capital is to do ever more of the work, which produces wealth and thus income to those who own productive capital assets.  Over the past century there has been an ever-accelerating shift to productive capital — which reflects tectonic shifts in the technologies of production. People invented “tools” to reduce toil, enable otherwise impossible production, create new highly automated industries, and significantly change the way in which products and services are produced from labor intensive to capital intensive — the core function of technological invention and innovation. Kelso attributed most changes in the productive capacity of the world since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to technological improvements in our capital assets, and a relatively diminishing proportion to human labor. Capital, in Kelso’s terms, does not “enhance” labor productivity (labor’s ability to produce economic goods). In fact, the opposite is true. It makes many forms of labor unnecessary. Because of this undeniable fact, Kelso asserted that, “free-market forces no longer establish the ‘value’ of labor. Instead, the price of labor is artificially elevated by government through minimum wage legislation, overtime laws, and collective bargaining legislation or by government employment and government subsidization of private employment solely to increase consumer income.” An unconditional basic income is yet another form of government subsidization and leaves the ownership of productive capital assets concentrated among a wealthy capital ownership class (the 1 percent).

Furthermore, according to Kelso, productive capital is increasingly the source of the world’s economic growth and, therefore, should become the source of added property ownership incomes for all. Kelso postulated that if both labor and capital are independent factors of production, and if capital’s proportionate contributions are increasing relative to that of labor, then equality of opportunity and economic justice demands that the right to property (and access to the means of acquiring and possessing property) must in justice be extended to all.

The reason that people are in poverty or earn insufficient income to support their lives is because production does not equate to consumption. After all, the purpose of production is consumption. It is the exponential disassociation of production and consumption that is the problem in the United States economy, and the reason that ordinary citizens must gain access to productive capital ownership to improve their economic well-being.

In today’s economy, the capitalism practiced is institutionalizes greed (creating concentrated capital ownership, monopolies, and special privileges). It is about the ability of greedy rich people to manipulate the lives of people who struggle with declining labor worker earnings and job opportunities, and then accumulate the bulk of the money through monopolized productive capital ownership. Our scientists, engineers, and executive managers who are not owners themselves, except for those in the highest employed positions, are encouraged to work to destroy employment by making the capital “worker” owner more productive. How much employment can be destroyed by substituting machines for people is a measure of their success – always focused on producing at the lowest cost. Only the people who already own productive capital are the beneficiaries of their work, as they systematically concentrate more and more capital ownership in their stationary 1 percent ranks. Yet the 1 percent are not the people who do the overwhelming consuming. The result is the consumer populous is not able to get the money to buy the products and services produced as a result of substituting machines for people. And yet you can’t have mass production without mass human consumption made possible by “customers with money.”

Kelso postulated: “When consumer earning power is systematically acquired in the course of the normal operations of the economy by people who need and want more consumer goods and services, the production of goods and services should rise to unprecedented levels; the quality and craftsmanship of goods and services, freed of the corner-cutting imposed by the chronic shortage of consumer purchasing power, should return to their former high levels; competition should be brisk; and the purchasing power of money should remain stable year after year.”

Without this necessary balance hopeless poverty, social alienation, and economic breakdown will persist, even though the American economy is ripe with the physical, technical, managerial, and engineering prerequisites for improving the lives of the 99 percent majority. Why? Because there is a crippling organizational malfunction that prevents making full use of the technological prowess that we have developed. The system does not fully facilitate connecting the majority of citizens, who have unsatisfied needs and wants, to the productive capital assets enabling productive efficiency and economic growth.

I agree with Santens that the vast majority of American need to earn more income. I believe we can facilitate that need and create an economy that can support general affluence for EVERY citizen. To do so will require instituting capital credit mechanisms that will implement the goal of broadening productive capital ownership in ways wholly compatible with the U.S. Constitution and the protection of private property, simultaneously with the growth of the economy, without the requirement of “past savings” (what only the wealthy have) or redistribution from the wealthy to the non-wealthy or subsidization by government.

Without a policy shift to broaden productive capital ownership simultaneously with economic growth, further development of technology and globalization will undermine the American middle class and make it impossible for more than a minority of citizens to achieve middle-class status.

We need to create economic democracy. The way to do this is to allocate an annual amount of new asset-backed money (facilitated by the Federal Reserve through its discount window authorized under Section 13(2) of the Federal Reserve Act), based on the projection of GDP growth in any given year, to EVERY child, woman and man for the exclusive use to acquire ownership in viable new productive capital formation by the corporations growing the economy. These new assets are expected to earn a continuing flow of profit for whoever owns the assets. The financial mechanisms needed to implement such broadening of capital ownership simultaneously with the growth of the economy are interest-free capital credit, repayable solely out of the future earnings of the investments. In addition to determining that the investments are viable and that the business corporations are credit worthy and reliably expected to generate earnings sufficient to make loan repayments, there needs to be security against loan default. Thus, for the lender (a local bank) to make the loan, security must be provided.

Instead of the current requirement of “past savings” (assets pledged as security), to solve the security issue, the risk can be absorbed by capital credit insurance or commercial risk insurance. and reinsurance (ala the Federal Housing Administration concept). Thus, in order to achieve national economic democracy, we need a way to handle risk management in finance by broadly insuring the risks. Such capital credit insurance would substitute for the security demanded by lenders to cover the risk of non-payment, thus enabling the poor and others with no or few assets (the 99 percenters) to overcome the collateralization barrier that excludes the non-halves from access to wealth-creating, income-generating productive capital.

We will need to lift ownership-concentrating Federal Reserve System credit barriers and other institutional barriers that have historically separated owners from non-owners and link tax and monetary reforms to the goal of expanded capital ownership. Removing barriers that inhibit or prevent ordinary people from purchasing capital that pays for itself out of its own future earnings is paramount as an actionable policy. This can be done under the existing legal powers of each of the 12 Federal Reserve regional banks, and will not add to the already unsustainable debt of the Federal Government or raise taxes on ordinary taxpayers. We need to free the system of dependency on Wall Street and the accumulated savings and money power of the rich and super-rich who control Wall Street. The Federal Reserve System has stifled the growth of America’s productive capacity through its monetary policy by monetizing public-sector growth and mounting federal deficits and “Wall Street” bailouts; by favoring speculation over investment; by shortchanging the capital credit needs of entrepreneurs, inventors, farmers, and workers; by increasing the dependency with usurious consumer credit; and by perpetuating unjust capital credit and ownership barriers between rich Americans and those without savings.

The Federal Reserve Bank should be used to provide interest-free capital credit (including only transaction and risk premiums) and monetize each capital formation transaction, determined by the same expertise that determines it today — management and banks — that each transaction is viably feasible so that there is virtually no risk in the Federal Reserve. The first layer of risk would be taken by the commercial credit insurers, backed by a new government corporation, the Capital Diffusion Reinsurance Corporation, through which the loans could be guaranteed. This entity would fulfill the government’s responsibility for the health and prosperity of the American economy.

The Federal Reserve Board is already empowered under Section 13(2) of the Federal Reserve Act to reform monetary policy to discourage non-productive uses of credit, to encourage accelerated rates of private sector growth, and to promote widespread individual access to productive credit as a fundamental right of citizenship. The Federal Reserve Board needs to re-activate its discount mechanism to encourage private sector growth linked to expanded capital ownership opportunities for all Americans.

Over time, EVERY child, woman and man would accumulate a significant, full-voting, full-dividend earnings payout of stocks, which after loan payback, would go on producing income indefinitely with proper maintenance and with restoration in the technical sense through research and development.

The end result would 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 elite controls the coercive powers of government.

Support Monetary Justice at http://capitalhomestead.org/page/monetary-justice.

Support the Capital Homestead Act (aka Economic Democracy Act) at http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-a-plan-for-getting-ownership-income-and-power-to-every-citizen/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-summary/ and http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/ch-vehicles/.

The Oligarchy Economy: Concentrated Power, Income Inequality, And Slow Growth

On April 11, 2016, Jordan Brennan writes on Economics:

The emergence of economic inequality as a public policy issue grew out of the wreckage of the Great Recession. And while it was protest movements like Occupy Wall Street that brought visibility to America’s glaring income gap, academic economists have had a near monopoly on diagnosing why it is that inequality has worsened in the decades since 1980.

Monopolies rarely deliver outstanding service, and this is no exception. The economics profession is fond of believing that its theorizing is an impartial, value-neutral endeavor. In actuality, mainstream (‘neoclassical’) economics is loaded with suppositions that have as much to do with ideology as with science.

Take the distribution of income, which economists argue is (in the final analysis) a consequence of production. Whether one earns $10 per hour or $10 million per year, the presumption is that individuals receive as income that which they contribute to societal output (their ‘marginal product’). In this vision, the free market is not only the best way to efficiently divide the economic pie, it also ensures distributive justice.

But what if income inequality is shaped, in part, by broad power institutions—oligopolistic corporations and labor unions being two examples—such that some are able to claim a greater share of national income, not through superior productivity, but through market power?

In a study recently published with the Levy Economics Institute, I explore the power underpinnings of American income inequality over the past century. The key finding: corporate concentration exacerbates income inequality, while trade union power alleviates it.

Mass prosperity—the fabled ‘middle class’—was largely built between the 1940s and the 1970s. When President Roosevelt created the New Deal in 1935 union density was just eight percent. Density soared to nearly 30 percent by the mid-1950s, and the period spanning the 1930s to the 1970s would bear witness two major strike waves.

The combined effect was a surge in the national wage bill. In 1935 the share of national income going to the bottom 99 percent of the workforce was 44 percent. In tandem with strong unions and intense strike activity, the wage bill rose to 54 percent by the 1970s. In the period after 1980, union density and work stoppages both plummeted, pulling the wage bill down with them. American unionization is now just 11 percent and the wage bill sits at 41 percent—a seven decade-low for both metrics.

The declining power of the labor movement has many causes, but a series of state policies in the early 1980s hastened the demise. President Regan’s penchant for union busting and the crippling effects of overly restrictive monetary policy (the infamous ‘Volcker shock’) broke the back or organized labor. As trade union power declined, a crucial mechanism for progressively redistributing income began to fade in significance.

The decline of trade unions did not lead to an economic golden age, as some would have hoped. In the decades after 1980, business investment trended downward, job creation slowed and GDP growth decelerated—a phenomenon often referred to as ‘secular stagnation’. Many economists have wondered why, given business-friendly policies in Washington, investment declined so precipitously after 1980.

My study reveals that America does not suffer from a shortage of investment in the general sense. The American corporate sector has been spending more money than ever, but instead of ploughing resources into job creation and fixed asset investment, historically unprecedented resources are flowing into mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and stock repurchase, the combined effect of which has been slower growth and rising inequality  (a finding which also applies to Canada—see here and here).

Unlike investment in fixed assets, which is linked with job creation, M&A merely redistributes corporate ownership claims between proprietors. The motivation for M&A is straightforward: large firms absorb the income stream of the firms they acquire while reducing competitive pressure, which increases their market power.

In the century spanning 1895 through 1990, for every dollar spent on fixed asset investment, American business spent an average of just 18 cents on M&A. In the period since 1990, for every dollar spent on fixed asset investment an average of 68 cents was spent on M&A—a four-fold increase.

The explosion of M&A since 1990 has led to the concentration of corporate assets (power, in other words). In 1990 the 100 largest American firms controlled 9 percent of total corporate assets. Asset concentration more than doubled over the next two decades, peaking at 21 percent. The creation of a concentrated market structure, which has gone largely unnoticed by the economics profession, is one reason inequality has worsened in recent decades.

image001

With more market power-generated income at their disposal, large firms have paid comparatively more to shareholders in the form of dividends (the enclosed figure contrasts the income share of the richest 1 percent of Americans with the dividend share of national income).

At the same time, the 100 largest firms have spent more repurchasing their own stock than they have on machinery and equipment. And because many executives have stock options in their contracts, the share price inflation associated with stock repurchase has led to soaring executive compensation.

It is in this manner that increasing corporate concentration has simultaneously slowed growth and exacerbated inequality. None of these developments are inevitable, but if we are to meaningfully confront the dual problem of secular stagnation and soaring inequality we must begin to understand the role that power plays in driving these trends.

The Oligarchy Economy: Concentrated Power, Income Inequality, and Slow Growth

Gary Reber Comments:

Author Jordan Brennan, a labor economist for Canada’s largest private sector labor union, while not clear in his terminology, basically presents the case that the cause of economic inequality is concentrated capital asset ownership (though he tends to represent this as “market power”).

The problem with conventional-thinking economist, Brennan included, is they do not distinguish between the human factor and the non-human factor of production, thus couch income disparities in narrow labor productivity measures. But those measure are wrong if they were to view economic value created through human and non-human contributions. Of course, the non-human contributions have to do with the ownership rights to property.

On the other hand, binary economics recognizes that there are two independent factors of production: humans (labor workers who contribute manual, intellectual, creative and entrepreneurial work) and non-human capital (productive land; structures; infrastructure; tools; machines; robotics; computer processing; certain intangibles that have the characteristics of property, such as patents and trade or firm names; and the like which are owned by people individually or in association with others).

The reason the wealthy are more wealthy than ever is because they have increasingly accumulated more ownership of wealth-creating, income-producing capital assets, whether through direct investment or the acquisition of companies to form a market power (monopoly). Both are the result of using retained earnings and debt financing, neither of which create any new owners, but enrich the same wealthy ownership class.

The role of physical productive capital is to do ever more of the work, which produces wealth and thus income to those who own productive capital assets. Full employment is not an objective of businesses nor is conducting business statically in terms of geographical location. Companies strive to achieve cost efficiencies to maximize profits for the owners, thus keeping labor input and other costs at a minimum.

No where does Brennan, as well as other economists, provide a solution that would ensure that future viable investments in the formation of new capital assets are financed using mechanisms that provide interest-free capital credit to EVERY child, woman, and man for the exclusive purpose of acquiring future capital assets on the basis that the investments will generate their own income stream and pay for themselves and once paid for will go on producing income indefinitely with proper maintenance and with restoration in the technical sense through research and development. Such financial mechanism would use commercial capital credit and reinsurances (ala the Federal Housing Administration concept) as the substitute for the present requirement of “past savings” (accumulated capital wealth) to protect the credit issuers from the risk of failure to return the expected yield from which to repay the loan.

Unfortunately, as a labor economist for a labor union, Brennon appears not to be an advocate for transforming the labor movement to a producers’ ownership union movement and embrace and fight for this workers owning stakes in the corporations that employee them. Instead, he laments the decline of the labor unions, and blames such on rising economic inequality.

Unfortunately, at the present time the movement is built on one-factor economics — the labor worker. The insufficiency of labor worker earnings to purchase increasingly capital-produced products and services gave rise to labor laws and labor unions designed to coerce higher and higher prices for the same or reduced labor input. With government assistance, unions have gradually converted productive enterprises in the private and public sectors into welfare institutions. Binary economist Louis Kelso stated: “The myth of the ‘rising productivity’ of labor is used to conceal the increasing productiveness of capital and the decreasing productiveness of labor, and to disguise income redistribution by making it seem morally acceptable.”

Kelso argued that unions “must adopt a sound strategy that conforms to the economic facts of life. If under free-market conditions, 90 percent of the goods and services are produced by capital input, then 90 percent of the earnings of working people must flow to them as wages of their capital and the remainder as wages of their labor work… If there are in reality two ways for people to participate in production and earn income, then tomorrow’s producers’ union must take cognizance of both… The question is only whether the labor union will help lead this movement or, refusing to learn, to change, and to innovate, become irrelevant.”

The unions should reassess their role of bargaining for more and more income for the same work or less and less work, and embrace a cooperative approach to survival, whereby they redefine “more” income for their workers in terms of the combined wages of labor and capital on the part of the workforce. They should continue to represent the workers as labor workers in all the aspects that are represented today — wages, hours, and working conditions — and, in addition, represent workers as full voting stockowners as capital ownership is built into the workforce. What is needed is leadership to define “more” as two ways to earn income.

If we continue with the past’s unworkable trickle-down economic policies, governments will have to continue to use the coercive power of taxation to redistribute income that is made by people who earn it and give it to those who need it. This results in ever deepening massive debt on local, state, and national government levels, which leads to the citizenry becoming parasites instead of enabling people to become productive in the way that products and services are actually produced.

When labor unions transform to producers’ ownership unions, opportunity will be created for the unions to reach out to all shareholders (stock owners) who are not adequately represented on corporate boards, and eventually all labor workers will want to join an ownership union in order to be effectively represented as an aspiring capital owner. The overall strategy should assure that the labor compensation of the union’s members does not exceed the labor costs of the employer’s competitors, and that capital earnings of its members are built up to a level that optimizes their combined labor-capital worker earnings. A producers’ ownership union would work collaboratively with management to secure financing of advanced technologies and other new capital investments and broaden ownership. This will enable American companies to become more cost-competitive in global markets and to reduce the outsourcing of jobs to workers willing or forced to take lower wages.

Bottom line: we need to focus on CAPITAL OWNERSHIP CREATION as the solution to economic inequality. Every government policy must be structure to optimally promote creating new capital owners simultaneously with the growth of the economy, without resorting to redistribution of wealth and income.

The end result would 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 elite controls the coercive powers of government.

Support Monetary Justice at http://capitalhomestead.org/page/monetary-justice.

Support the Capital Homestead Act (aka Economic Democracy Act) at http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-a-plan-for-getting-ownership-income-and-power-to-every-citizen/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-summary/ and http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/ch-vehicles/.

 

This Eye-Popping Chart On Inequality Is A Slap In The Face Of America’s Middle Class

On June 13, 2017, Pedro Nicolai da Costa writes on Business Insider:

Why does the US economy still feel iffy to most Americans despite an eight-year economic expansion and historically low unemployment?

Look no further than this eye-popping chart of income growth between 1980 and 2014 courtesy of Berkeley’s elite-squad of inequality research, including Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman.

Featured in a recent blog from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, the graphic highlights just how stratospheric income growth has been for the very wealthiest Americans — and how stagnant, in contrast, wages have been for the rest.

6 13 17 inequality COTDChicago Booth

That’s not a typo on the right. Incomes for the top 0.001% richest Americans surged 636% during the 34-year period. Wow.

There’s more. “The average pretax income of the bottom 50% of US adults has stagnated since 1980, while the share of income of US adults in the bottom half of the distribution collapsed from 20% in 1980 to 12% in 2014,” writes Howard Gold, founder and editor of GoldenEgg Investing, in the Chicago Booth blog.

“In a mirror-image move, the top 1% commanded 12% of income in 1980 but 20% in 2014. The top 1% of US adults now earns on average 81 times more than the bottom 50% of adults; in 1981, they earned 27 times what the lower half earned.”

Here’s a link to the full paper for the academically inclined.

http://www.businessinsider.com/us-inequality-is-worse-than-you-think-2017-6

What absolutely amazes me are people who appear to have no idea as to why the wealthy are getting richer and richer, while the vast majority of Americans see no real significant gains in their labor incomes.

Both the cause and the solution is our technological advances.

Why are technological advances the cause? Because tectonic shifts in the technologies of production are displacing the need for human labor and at the same time devaluing the worth of labor. Yet labor is the ONLY means to an earned income that the vast majority of people have.

The role of physical productive capital is to do ever more of the work, which produces income. Full employment is not an objective of businesses. Companies strive to keep labor input and other costs at a minimum in order to maximize profits for the owners. Thus, the elimination of workers with cost-efficient machines and computerization, and the consequent devaluation of labor’s worth as more and more people compete for fewer and fewer good paying jobs.

Businesses strive to minimize marginal cost, the cost of producing an additional unit of a good, product or service once a business has its fixed costs in place. Reducing marginal costs enables businesses to increase profits, offer goods, products and services at a lower price, or both. Increasingly, new technologies are enabling companies to achieve near-zero cost growth without having to hire people. Thus, private sector job creation in numbers that match the pool of people willing and able to work is constantly being eroded by physical productive capital’s ever increasing role. Those who own the non-human capital are the ones who are getting richer by continually accumulating all future wealth-creating, income producing capital assets.

Over the past century there has been an ever-accelerating shift to productive capital––which reflects tectonic shifts in the technologies of production. The mixture of labor worker input and capital (owner) worker input has been rapidly changing at an exponential rate of increase for over 235 years in step with the Industrial Revolution (starting in 1776) and had even been changing long before that with man’s discovery of the first tools, but at a much slower rate. Up until the close of the nineteenth century, the United States remained a working democracy, with the production of products and services dependent on labor worker input. When the American Industrial Revolution began and subsequent technological advance amplified the productive power of non-human capital, plutocratic finance channeled its ownership into fewer and fewer hands, as we continue to witness today with government by the wealthy evidenced at all levels. People invented tools to reduce toil, enable otherwise impossible production, create new highly automated industries, and significantly change the way in which products and services are produced from labor intensive to capital intensive––the core function of technological invention.

Most changes in the productive capacity of the world since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution can be attributed to technological improvements in our capital assets, and a relatively diminishing proportion to human labor. Capital does not “enhance” labor productivity (labor’s ability to produce economic goods). In fact, the opposite is true. It makes many forms of labor unnecessary.

Why are technological advances the solution? Because productive capital is increasingly the source of the world’s economic growth. Therefore, productive capital should become the source of added property ownership incomes for all. Simply put, if both labor and capital are independent factors of production, and if capital’s proportionate contributions are increasing relative to that of labor, then equality of opportunity and economic justice demands that the right to property (and access to the means of acquiring and possessing property) must in justice be extended to all.

The system of big government and socialistic programs funded by tax extraction and non-asset-based national debt are not the answer to anything.  The socialistic system almost always results in increased oppression, increased poverty or sameness as EVERY citizen becomes dependent on the State.

What we need is a system that empowers individuals and families to become fully productive, own stakes in the corporations growing our economy, be creative, build businesses and to take care of themselves. The MOST IMPORTANT need is to extend equal opportunity to EVERY child, woman, and man to  share individually in the FUTURE wealth-creating, income-producing capital assets of corporations growing the economy, whereby financing new capital formation and transfers of existing assets is accomplished from the bottom-up and without redistributing property rights of the rich and super-rich with regard to their existing assets (exception at death).

Instead, we have a system where all power and all wealth are increasingly controlled by giant banks and giant corporations that are in turn controlled by the global elite.  The “financialization” of the global economy has turned almost everyone on the planet into “debt serfs,” and the compound interest on all of that debt enables the global elite to constantly increase their giant piles of money.

Not only has EVERY person become a debt slave, but also a wage slave, and increasingly a welfare and charity slave.  Over the past four decades the total amount of consumer debt in America has gone from about 2.2 trillion dollars to nearly 60 trillion dollars.  Many Americans work as debt serfs their entire lives, and they never even know the names or the faces of those that they are making rich as they slowly pay off their debts.

Most thinking people should realize that never-ending consumer debt is not a wise situation to put one into. Such consumer debt requires a source of income that is promised to be paid to the owners of the note, credit card, or mortgage.

But there is a good form of debt, which is constantly used by the rich and the super-rich to make themselves richer. It is capital credit, a loan specifically tailored to finance FUTURE investment, repayable out of FUTURE earnings, without the need for “past savings” or the reduction in one’s personal consumption needs and wants or income. In the business world, physical capital is expected to go on producing income indefinitely with proper maintenance and with restoration in the technical sense through research and development. This is how technological advances occur and develop over time.

What is needed is to reform the system to simultaneously create new wealth-creating, income-producing capital asset formation and broaden its ownership so that increasingly over time more and more citizens will derive financial benefit and second incomes and/or sole incomes from their expanding diversified wealth-creating, income-producing capital asset portfolios. In this way, we can balance production with consumption––the purpose of production.

This can be achieved with insured, no-interest capital credit loans provided by local banks to EVERY child, woman and man, repayable out of FUTURE earnings generated from new, viable capital asset projects, without the need to pledge “past savings” or equities, or reduce one’s consumption level or income.

The necessary bank repayment insurance can either be facilitated with private capital credit insurance or a government reinsurance agency (ala the Federal Housing Administration concept).

While other forms of non-asset-based debt is inflationary, commercial capital credit relies on non-inflationary capital asset creation, unlike government expenditures which rely on tax extraction or non-asset-backed debt to redistribute or inject inflationary money into the system.

The socialism practiced today relies on tax extraction and non-asset-based national debt to firstly redistribute monies collected into social welfare programs and second to finance public infrastructure and the military, etc. To the extent that modern “capitalistic” economies redistribute they are practicing socialism.

For those who are interested in the specifics of the solution see the Just Third Way and the Capital Homestead Act – the purpose of which is to eliminate privilege and provide EQUAL OPPORTUNITY for EVERY child, woman and man to build independent, sustainable financial security and incomes through acquiring ownership in FUTURE wealth-creating, income-producing capital assets financed without the necessity of pledging “past savings” or a reduction in consumption or income from any source.

The solution eliminates the barriers to ordinary people forming capital themselves in association with others without the necessity for “past savings” or the pledging of equities which only the wealthy ownership class has.

The JUST Third Way is a radical overhaul of the economic system (i.e., the Federal tax system, Federal Reserve policy, inheritance law, welfare and entitlement system, etc.) that will achieve genuine economic democracy, based on the Platform of the Unite America Party and its links and the proposed Capital Homestead Act. Our Platform is a call for a vision of political economy that can unite the left and the right, based on binary economist Louis Kelso’s ownership-based paradigm. Now is the time to cure America’s political cancer (Crony Capitalism) and restore America to again becoming a model for global citizens in all countries.

For a new vision see http://www.foreconomicjustice.org/?p=12331 and www.facebook.com/uniteamericaparty. Support the Unite America Party Platform, published by The Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gary-reber/platform-of-the-unite-ame_b_5474077.html as well as OpEd News at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Platform-of-the-Unite-Amer-by-Gary-Reber-Party-Leadership_Party-Platforms-DNC_Party-Platforms-GOP-RNC_Party-Politics-Democratic-140630-60.html.

Support Monetary Justice at http://capitalhomestead.org/page/monetary-justice.

Support the Capital Homestead Act at http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-a-plan-for-getting-ownership-income-and-power-to-every-citizen/ and http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-summary/.

McDonald’s Hits All-Time High As Wall Street Cheers Replacement Of Cashiers With Kiosks

On June 20, 2017, Tae Win writes on CNBC Investing:

McDonald’s shares hit an all-time high on Tuesday as Wall Street expects sales to increase from new digital ordering kiosks that will replace cashiers in 2,500 restaurants.

Cowen raised its rating on McDonald’s shares to outperform from market perform because of the technology upgrades, which are slated for the fast-food chain’s restaurants this year.

McDonald’s shares rallied 26 percent this year through Monday compared to the S&P 500’s 10 percent return.

Andrew Charles from Cowen cited plans for the restaurant chain to roll out mobile ordering across 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2017. The technology upgrades, part of what McDonald’s calls “Experience of the Future,” includes digital ordering kiosks that will be offered in 2,500 restaurants by the end of the year and table delivery.

“MCD is cultivating a digital platform through mobile ordering and Experience of the Future (EOTF), an in-store technological overhaul most conspicuous through kiosk ordering and table delivery,” Charles wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. “Our analysis suggests efforts should bear fruit in 2018 with a combined 130 bps [basis points] contribution to U.S. comps [comparable sales].”

He raised his 2018 U.S. same store sales growth estimate for the fast-food chain to 3 percent from 2 percent.

The analyst raised his price target for McDonald’s to $180 from $142, representing 17.5 percent upside from Monday’s close. He also raised his 2018 earnings-per-share forecast to $6.87 from $6.71 versus the Wall Street consensus of $6.83.

“MCD has done a great job launching popular innovations within the context of simplifying the menu, while introducing more effective value initiatives that have recently begun to improve the brand’s value perceptions,” he wrote.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/20/mcdonalds-hits-all-time-high-as-wall-street-cheers-replacement-of-cashiers-with-kiosks.html

Gary Reber Comments:

This is yet another recent article that looks at a future where there will be hordes of citizens of zero economic value as tectonic shifts in the technologies of production destroy jobs and devalue the worth of labor.  That is, unless the system can be reformed to empower EVERY citizen to acquire OWNERSHIP in the wealth-creating, income-producing capital assets resulting from technological invention and innovation that will transform the future.

Using common sense, if raising the minimum wage will not kill jobs then why not raise the minimum wage to $25.00 or $50.00 or $100.00 per hour? McDonald and other fast food establishments have other ways to combat minimum wage increases – further digitalization and automation. Of course there are consequences that either are reflected in job elimination or increased prices. In this case, the mobile digital ordering kiosks will replace workers throughout the McDonald empire, and as well prices will be increased, as has been occurring.

Virtually never are the OWNERS of corporations willing to reduce profits. If wage levels were not a factor there would be no reason for ANY company to unnecessarily automate or exit production in the United States and move production to foreign lands with significantly less labor costs. Also, there is the impact on pricing levels, as any increases in the cost of production or service always results in pricing increases.

If this were not the case, then no companies would be compelled to seek other more cost-efficient means of production or to move production to foreign countries whose workers are paid far less than  Americans.  Increasingly, companies are seeking more efficient and less long term costs that non-human technology can deliver to reduce their operating costs, provide higher build quality, automate service, and maximize profits for their OWNERS. As is virtually always the case, the OWNERS of companies do not want to reduce profits.

What the proponents of raising the minimum wage fundamentally are addressing is that low-paid American workers need to earn more income.

Rather than focus on Job Creation, Job Retraining, and a redistributed Minimum Guaranteed Income that holds back technological invention and innovation, our economic policies should focus on wealth-creating, income-producing capital Ownership Creation.

Given that there is no question that robotic technology will continue to expand the productivity and in large measure destroy jobs and devalue the value of human labor, the question that SHOULD be urgently addressed is WHO SHOULD OWN THE FUTURE TECHNOLOGY ECONOMY? Will ownership continue to concentrate among the 1 percent wealthy ownership class who now OWNS America, or will we reform the system to provide equal opportunity for EVERY child, woman, and man to acquire personal OWNERSHIP in FUTURE non-human capital assets paid for with the FUTURE earnings of the investments in our technological future?

Ford to Save $1 Billion Building Focus In China Instead Of Mexico

On June 20, 2017, Keith Naughton writes on Bloomberg:

Ford Motor Co. is canceling controversial plans to build the Focus small car in Mexico, saving $1 billion by ending North American production of the model entirely and importing it mostly from China after next year.

The U.S. automaker will start making the next-generation Focus in China from the second half of 2019, a year after output ends at one of its plants in Michigan. Ford will trim about $500 million in costs by shifting production to China, adding to the $500 million already saved from canceling construction of a small-car factory in Mexico earlier this year.

The move is the first major decision Ford has announced under Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett and marks a complete break from the strategy of his ousted predecessor, Mark Fields, to relocate small car production to Mexico. The company will be testing both consumer appetite for China-built cars and the tolerance of President Donald Trump, who has criticized automakers for importing vehicles from overseas.

“We’ve done a lot of research and consumers care a lot more about the quality and the value than they do about the sourcing location,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations, said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “iPhones are produced in China, for example, and people don’t really talk about it.”

U.S. Investment

Ford announced the Focus production plans along with a separate, $900 million investment it’s making in a Kentucky truck factory to build Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles. News of that spending will preserve 1,000 jobs and could help insulate Hackett, 62, from the attacks Trump levied against the automakerduring the tenure of ex-CEO Fields.

“China gets a lot of attention, we’ll see how this plays out,” Hinrichs said in response to a question about possible criticism of the move from Trump. “But we believe this is a much better plan for our business globally. And it frees up from the original plan about $1 billion of capital that we can reinvest in the business, including exciting things that we’re working on in autonomy and electrification, and a lot of that work is done right here in the U.S.”

Both Ford and General Motors Co. management have come under pressure this year to boost their flagging share prices. Executive Chairman Bill Ford replaced Fields, 56, with Hackett while GM CEO Mary Barra has engineered exits from Europe and India. Ford may follow suit in abandoning sizable markets where the manufacturer struggles to make money.

“We wouldn’t be surprised if Ford announces further moves in the coming months,” Joe Spak, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in note to clients. “The next announcement could be an exit from the Indian market, something the company has alluded to.”

Ford slipped 0.8 percent to $11.15 as of 1:21 p.m. in New York trading. The shares have declined 8 percent this year, while GM’s have dropped 1.2 percent. Both have trailed the 9.2 percent gain for the benchmark S&P 500 Index.

SUV Boom

Hackett is shaking up Ford’s Focus production plans as American consumers increasingly shun small cars and opt for roomier crossovers and SUVs. Focus deliveries have slumped 20 percent this year and have been in decline annually since 2012, as more buyers opt for utilities like the Escape or Explorer models.

After importing initial production of the new Focus cars from China, Ford said it will later ship variants of the model from Europe. The Michigan Assembly Plant now making the Focus will be retooled to produce the Ranger midsize pickup in late 2018 and the Bronco midsize SUV in 2020.

The move doesn’t signal a broader shift of other Ford models to China, where workers are paid less than they are in Mexico, Hinrichs said.

“Labor costs are cheaper in China than they are in Mexico, but of course you have to take into account the shipping costs, which are significantly higher from China,” Hinrichs said. “So I wouldn’t say this is a variable cost decision. It’s still cheaper to build in Mexico than China for the North American market if you have the capacity.”

Net Exporter

Ford will remain a net exporter to China, even after it begins importing Focus models to the U.S., Hinrichs said. The automaker expects to export more than 80,000 vehicles to China this year, including Michigan-built Mustang sports cars and Lincoln Continentalluxury sedans.

That should help protect Ford should Congress implement a border tax on imported goods, Hinrichs said.

“We expect to continue to be a net exporter and have a trade surplus with China even after we start bringing the Focus in,” he said. “We think the significant capital savings outweigh any of the risks associated with any adjustments to the border.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-20/ford-to-save-1-billion-making-focus-in-china-instead-of-mexico

FORD’S NEW CEO SNUBS President Trump…Will Build Focus In China…Export To U.S.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ford-focus-china_us_5949efbbe4b0177d0b8a556d

Also see previous story at http://www.foreconomicjustice.org/?p=14356

This is a depressing story about American manufacturing corporations eliminating jobs by shifting manufacturing to China and using the cost savings as retained earnings for investment in future productive capital investment, which further concentrates capital asset ownership among the already wealthy capital ownership class. This is yet another example of the further outsourcing of jobs and natural resources as the American auto manufacturing industry invests in new factories not only Mexico, under existing free trade agreements, but also China, driven by the business to lower production costs and maximize profits, no matter what the consequences for American communities and the American labor force.

Auto companies have announced no new assembly plant plans in the United States since 2009. (The Tesla Motors factory in Fremont, California, is considered a reopening since it is on the site of a former joint Toyota-GM plant, though it does entail substantial job-elimination technological retooling and reconfiguration.) During that same time, six new auto factories were announced in Mexico, representing a combined investment of more than $8 billion, according to the Center for Automotive Research. And now Ford latest announcement to build in China.

Toyota, who is investing heavily in Mexico, said the cost of manufacturing a vehicle at the new factories will be approximately 40 percent less than what it spent to produce a car in 2008 due to a significant savings in labor costs ($2.47 to $5.64 an hour compared to $27.78 for their U.S. counterparts. Because of the nature of global competition, ALL American auto manufacturers must follow suit.

Still, according to Center for Automotive Research, even as the Mexican auto industry grows, automakers continue to invest in the United States. The car companies announced $10.5 billion in United States plant investment which includes retooling, reconfigurations and expansions of existing factories. That compares to $7 billion in Mexico and just $800 million in Canada. Of course, “retooling” and “reconfiguration” is really robotic super-automation employment housed in existing factories that will expand to accommodate technological efficiency – with the result that fewer workers will be required in the production.

Americans remain ASLEEP as the industrial prowess of the United States is sabotaged by a wealthy capital ownership class who seeks to further concentrate productive capital asset ownership while seeking the lowest possible wage and operational costs to maximize profitability.

But let’s not completely blame those American capital owners for not insisting on exclusive investment within the United States in the technological innovation that is exponentially shifting the technologies of production and negating the necessity for labor workers while devaluing the worth of labor. The blame also should be put on our so-call “political leaders” for not implementing economic policies that would facilitate the rapid technological growth of the United States economy, while simultaneously creating new capital owners and “customers with money” to buy the goods, products and services our economy is capable of producing. Such implementation MUST provide insured, interest-free capital credit to finance retooling, reconfigurations and expansions of existing factories as well as finance the building of new factories, owned by employees and citizens using Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) and Capital Homestead Accounts or “CHAs” (a super-IRA or asset tax-shelter for citizens) extended to EVERY child, woman, and man by their local bank to purposely acquire a growing dividend-bearing stock portfolio to supplement their incomes from work and all other sources of income.

The media and academia also are the blame for not educating Americans about why OWNING productive capital assets that build wealth and produce income is SO CRITICAL to their future. For example, no where in this article did the author, Keith Nauthton, even mention OWNERSHIP or question WHO WILL OWN these new productive capital assets or to explain how invested retained earnings further concentrates ownership. If he had, he would have had to come to the realization that the already wealthy ownership class will just get RICHER and RICHER by monopolizing ALL future economic growth.

Oh, but wait, Nauthton did mention that somehow we should be “cheering” because Ford announced the Focus production plans along with a separate, $900 million investment it’s making in a Kentucky truck factory to build Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles. News of that spending will preserve 1,000 jobs. Of course, no mention, with respect to out-sourcing manufacturing using the web of free trade agreements, was given that such actions will enable the United States to feed the Mexican auto industry with billions of dollars of raw materials, such as plastics, steel and aluminum – in other words, depleting our natural resources without directly benefiting Americans owning the new productive capital manufacturing assets. Again, this bolsters the earnings and wealth building of an exclusive wealthy capital ownership class that is steadily acquiring ALL of AMERICA and creating tremendous economic inequality, both income and wealth ownership.

WAKE UP AMERICA!! WAKE UP Keith Naughton, WAKE UP Bloomberg and take responsibility for your lack of actionable responsibility.  And let’s not leave out all the politicians who just play us with memes and slogans that really never delve into solutions other than coming up with ways to take from those who already own, instead of empowering EVERY child, woman, and man to contribute productively to the FUTURE economy through their OWNERSHIP of “tools,” as well as their labor when necessary. In this way, we can build a future America that can support general affluence for EVERY American by putting us on the path to inclusive prosperity, inclusive opportunity, and inclusive economic justice.

Restaurant Die-Off Is First Course Of California’s $15 Minimum Wage

California political leaders and labor have struck a deal to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next seven years. One excited fast food worker hugged Gov. Jerry Brown at the announcement Monday, March 28, 2016. Video courtesy of The California Channel

 

On June 13, 2017, Jeremy Bagott writes in The Fresno Bee:

In a pair of affluent coastal California counties, the canary in the mineshaft has gotten splayed, spatchcocked and plated over a bed of unintended consequences, garnished with sprigs of locally sourced economic distortion and non-GMO, “What the heck were they thinking?”

The result of one early experiment in a citywide $15 minimum wage is an ominous sign for the state’s poorer inland counties as the statewide wage floor creeps toward the mark.

Consider San Francisco, an early adopter of the $15 wage. It’s now experiencing a restaurant die-off, minting jobless hash-slingers, cashiers, busboys, scullery engineers and line cooks as they get pink-slipped in increasing numbers. And the wage there hasn’t yet hit $15.

As the East Bay Times reported in January, at least 60 restaurants around the Bay Area had closed since September alone.

A recent study by Michael Luca at Harvard Business School and Dara Lee Luca at Mathematica Policy Research found that every $1 hike in the minimum wage brings a 14 percent increase in the likelihood of a 3.5-star restaurant on Yelp! closing.

Another telltale is San Diego, where voters approved increasing the city’s minimum wage to $11.50 per hour from $10.50, this after the minimum wage was increased from $8 an hour in 2015 – meaning hourly costs have risen 43 percent in two years.

The cost increases have pushed San Diego restaurants to the brink, Stephen Zolezzi, president of the Food and Beverage Association of San Diego County, told the San Diego Business Journal. Watch for the next mass die-off there.

But what of California’s less affluent inland counties? How will they fare?

Christopher Thornberg, director of UC Riverside’s Center for Economic Forecasting and Development, told the San Bernardino Sun that politicians should have adopted a regional approach. He said it would been better to adapt minimum-wage levels to varying economies – something like the Oregon model, the nation’s first multi-tiered minimum-wage strategy.

Oregon’s minimum-wage law is phased, with increases over six years. By 2022, the minimum will be $14.75 an hour in Portland, $13.50 in midsize counties and $12.50 in rural areas.

“That makes sense,” Thornberg told the Sun. “That’s logical.”

California is even more varied economically than Oregon. Thornberg believes hiking wages in blanket fashion will spark layoffs and edge low-skilled workers out of the job market.

In the Central Valley, wages for all workers, on average, are lower than those of the coastal counties.

U.S. Census Bureau data show about 21 percent of workers in Bakersfield earned from $8 to $12 per hour in 2015, the most recent year for which data was available. In Fresno, 32 percent of workers were in that wage group, and in Modesto about 25 percent. Contrast that with Santa Clara County, home of Silicon Valley, which registered only 12.5 percent at that level.

The state’s diverse unemployment rates tell a similar tale. Unemployment in Bakersfield was 9.5 percent; 8.8 percent in Fresno, and Stanislaus County notched 7.9 percent. Compare that to Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate – 3.2 percent.

“Part of our whole concern with (the $15 wage) is it’s a one-size-fits-all,” Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable, told The Sacramento Bee last year. “Areas with double-digit unemployment, this is scaring them to death.”

Jamil Dada, chairman of the Riverside County Workforce Development Board, told the Sun that he believed the state’s Inland Empire will be hit harder than other parts of the state.

“It might be tolerable in the coastal regions,” he said. “Their business environment is completely different.”

As politicians insert their sausage fingers into subtle market mechanisms, scarcity and unintended consequences will ensue.

Joining San Francisco’s restaurant die-off was rising star AQ, which in 2012 was named a James Beard Award finalist for the best new restaurant in America. The restaurant’s profit margins went from a reported 8.5 percent in 2012 to 1.5 percent by 2015. Most restaurants are thought to require margins of 3 and 5 percent.

If what’s happening with one early adopter of the $15 wage progression is any indication, locally famous inland hash houses and burger joints from Calexico to the Cow Counties will disappear as mandated wages climb to $15 statewide. And that will only be the start of things.

http://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/article155979969.html

But raising the minimum wage was supposed not to kill jobs or create operational costs that would squeeze profit margins and result in business closures. Wasn’t it?

Using common sense, if raising the minimum wage will not kill jobs then why not raise the minimum wage to $25.00 or $50.00 or $100.00 per hour? Of course there are consequences that either are reflected in job elimination, increased prices or business closures. Virtually never are the OWNERS of corporations willing to reduce profits, which often are marginal.

If wage levels were not a factor there would be also no reason for ANY company to exit production in the United States and move production to foreign lands with significantly less labor costs. Also, there is the impact on pricing levels, as any increases in the cost of production or service always results in pricing increases.

If this were not the case, then no companies would be compelled to seek other non-human more cost-efficient means of production or to move production to foreign countries whose workers are paid far less than  Americans.  Increasingly, companies are seeking more efficient and less long term costs that non-human technology can deliver to reduce their operating costs, provide higher build quality, automate service, and maximize profits for their OWNERS. As is virtually always the case, the OWNERS of companies do not want to reduce profits.

What the proponents of raising the minimum wage fundamentally are addressing is that low-paid American workers need to earn more income.

We need to begin focusing on the means for people to earn more income, and not solely dependent on earnings from jobs, which are being destroyed with tectonic shifts in the technologies of production. We need to implement financial mechanisms to finance future economic growth and simultaneously create new capital asset owners. This can be accomplished with monetary reform and using insured, interest-free capital credit (without the requirement of past savings, a job or any other source of income), repayable out of the future earnings in the investments in our economy’s growth.

But how, you ask, can such an OWNERSHIP CREATION solution be implemented?

We can and should do more to create universal capital ownership not only for workers of corporations but ALL citizens. What I believe is crucial to solving economic inequality and building a future economy that can support general affluence for EVERY citizen is to address concentrated capital ownership, the fundamental cause of economic inequality. The obvious solution is to de-concentrate capital ownership by ensuring that all future wealth-creating, income-producing capital asset formation will be financed using insured, interest-free capital credit, repayable out of the future earnings of the investments, creating ownership participation by EVERY child, woman, man. This should be about investment in real productive capital growth, not speculation as with the stock exchanges. But the problem is the vast majority of Americans have no savings, or at best extremely limited savings, insufficient to be meaningful as increasingly Americans are living week to week, month to month, and deeply in consumer debt. So forget about proposals for tax credits, retirement and health savings accounts.  There is no feasible way that past savings can continue to be a requirement for investment if we are to simultaneously create new capital owners with the productive growth of the economy. The current economic investment system is structured based on the requirement of past savings used directly or as security collateral for capital credit loans. But past savings are not necessary as viable capital formation projects pay for themselves. This is the logic of corporate finance.

Capital acquisition takes place on the logic of self-financing and asset-backed credit for productive uses. People invest in capital ownership on the basis that the investment will pay for itself. The basis for the commitment of loan guarantees is the fact that nobody who knows what he or she is doing buys a physical capital asset or an interest in one unless he or she is first assured, on the basis of the best advice one can get, that the asset in operation will pay for itself within a reasonable period of time – 5 to 7 or, in a worst case scenario, 10 years (given the current depressive state of the economy). And after it pays for itself within a reasonable capital cost recovery period, it is expected to go on producing income indefinitely with proper maintenance and with restoration in the technical sense through research and development.

Still, there is at least a theoretical chance, and sometimes a very real chance, that the investment might not pay for itself, or it might not pay for itself in the projected time period. So, there is a business risk. This can be solved using private capital credit insurance or a government reinsurance agency (ala the Federal Housing Administration concept). On a larger scale, the path to solve the security issue, that is, the risk can be absorbed by capital credit insurance or commercial risk insurance. Thus, in order to achieve national economic democracy, we need a way to handle risk management in finance by broadly insuring the risks. Such capital credit insurance would substitute for the security demanded by lenders to cover the risk of non-payment, thus enabling the poor and others with no or few assets (the 99 percenters) to overcome the collateralization barrier that excludes the non-halves from access to productive capital.

One feasible way is to lift ownership-concentrating Federal Reserve System credit barriers and other institutional barriers that have historically separated owners from non-owners and link tax and monetary reforms to the goal of expanded capital ownership. This can be done under the existing legal powers of each of the 12 Federal Reserve regional banks, and will not add to the already unsustainable debt of the Federal Government or raise taxes on ordinary taxpayers. We need to free the system of dependency on Wall Street and the accumulated savings and money power of the rich and super-rich who control Wall Street. The Federal Reserve System has stifled the growth of America’s productive capacity through its monetary policy by monetizing public-sector growth and mounting Federal deficits and “Wall Street” bailouts; by favoring speculation over investment; by shortchanging the capital credit needs of entrepreneurs, inventors, farmers, and workers; by increasing the dependency of with usurious consumer credit; and by perpetuating unjust capital credit and ownership barriers between rich Americans and those without savings.

The Federal Reserve Bank should be used to provide interest-free capital credit (including only transaction and risk premiums) and monetize each capital formation transaction, determined by the same expertise that determines it today – management and banks – that each transaction is viably feasible so that there is virtually no risk in the Federal Reserve. The first layer of risk would be taken by the commercial credit insurers, backed by a new government corporation, the Capital Diffusion Reinsurance Corporation, through which the loans could be guaranteed. This entity would fulfill the government’s responsibility for the health and prosperity of the American economy.

The Federal Reserve Board is already empowered under Section 13 of the Federal Reserve Act to reform monetary policy to discourage non-productive uses of credit, to encourage accelerated rates of private sector growth, and to promote widespread individual access to productive credit as a fundamental right of citizenship. The Federal Reserve Board needs to re-activate its discount mechanism to encourage private sector growth linked to expanded capital ownership opportunities for all Americans (Section 13(2) Federal Reserve Act).

Until we address concentrated capital ownership and implement solutions to simultaneously broaden capital ownership by creating new capital owners with the growth of the productive economy, money power will reside in the hands of politicians and bankers, not in the hands of the citizens. That is why, to reform the system leaders and advocates for economic justice must focus on money, how it should be created and measured, how it should be controlled and why a more realistic and just money system is the key to universal and equal citizen access to future ownership opportunities as a fundamental human right. Then prosperity and economic democracy can serve as the basis for effective and non-corruptible political democracy, an ecologically sustainable environment, and global peace through justice.

Support Monetary Justice at http://capitalhomestead.org/page/monetary-justice.

Support the Capital Homestead Act (aka Economic Democracy Act) at http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-a-plan-for-getting-ownership-income-and-power-to-every-citizen/, http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/capital-homestead-act-summary/ and http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/ch-vehicles/.