On June 29, 2013, Chris Lazare writes on AddictingInfo.org:
While corporations appear to be in solid growth mode, a recent study by Bankrate shows that majority of Americans don’t have enough money saved to pay their bills for 6 months if they were to encounter an emergency. The survey questioned 1,004 people, asking a range of questions to determine their financial security. Only 24 percent of the respondents claimed to have enough money to cover their bills for the next six months in case of an emergency; 27 percent said they didn’t have any savings at all; 23 percent said they had some but less than 3 months, and 21 percent said they had three to five months worth of savings.
This survey exposes a larger trend that is occurring in the economy. Corporate profits are higher than they have ever been. The largest corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars worth of reserves yet their employees are strapped for cash and many don’t even receive benefits. With the growth in “temp” workers, persistent levels of unemployment and stagnant wages, Americans are finding it more difficult to get ahead.
During the same time that workers’ profits have remain stagnant, labor productivity– increase in goods and services—has increased. Worker productivity grew by 62.5 percent from 1989 to 2010, while wages for both private and government workers grew at 12 percent. From 1979 to 2009, productivity went up by 80 percent, while the meager wage increases during 1996-2002 reflected the strong economy at the time. Even during the time of “prosperity,” wage workers still didn’t receive a large share of the income growth. The top 1 percent between 1989 and 2007, before the recession, saw their income rise by 56 percent compared to 16 percent of the bottom 90 percent.
Low interest rates and quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve, by freeing up cash, were supposed to push companies into making new investments, which, in turn, would stimulate job growth. Instead, they’re just hoarding more cash.
While I am not opposed to the concept of workers receiving a larger share of the income growth, economic productivity is a bigger part of the story. Those arguing its support basically argue that labor is producing more value today, but working people aren’t seeing any of the gains. Who has walked away with the proceeds from all that productivity?
Most changes in the productive capacity of the world since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution can be attributed to technological improvements in our physical capital assets, and a relatively diminishing proportion to human labor. Productive 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. Because of this undeniable fact, binary economist Louis 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.”
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. Yet, sadly, the American people and its leaders still pretend to believe that labor is becoming more productive.
A January report from Oxfam noted, “The richest one percent has increased its income by 60 percent in the last 20 years.” It further argued that the 2012 net income of the world’s top 100 billionaires—a haul of $240 billion—would be four times the amount needed to eliminate extreme poverty internationally.
These arguments fail to point out the income source for the richest one percent is not their labor but their dividend income derived from their ownership of productive capital assets––the non-human factor of production.
To maximize profit and thus dividend income, the purposeful function of business, companies strive to keep labor input and other costs at a minimum. Private sector job creation in numbers that match the pool of people willing and able to work is constantly being eroded by non-human physical productive capital’s ever increasing role.
This is the reality of business in the global setting where lowest cost production is necessary to be competitive.
Yet, the government continues to discharge its responsibility for the health and prosperity of the economy through coerced trickle-down; in other words, through redistribution achieved by the rigging of labor prices, including the minimum wage, by taxation to support redistribution and job “creation,” or subsidization by inflation and by all kinds of welfare, open and concealed. Employment should practically start at the time one enters the economic world as a labor worker, to become increasingly a capital owner, whose capital contributes to the work load, and at some point to retire as a labor worker and continue to participate in production and to earn income as a capital owner until the day you die.
It doesn’t make any difference what’s going on in the scientific world or the business world or the industrial world, we still believe full employment and a minimum wage will solve our income distribution problems. This is what major political figures have always maintained.
Binary economist Louis Kelso, whose books should be read by ALL conventional economists, the media and political figures, was quoted as saying, “Conventional wisdom says there is only one way to earn a living, and that’s to work. Conventional wisdom effectively treats capital (land, structures, machines, and the like) as though it were a kind of holy water that, sprinkled on or about labor, makes it more productive. Thus, if you have a thousand people working in a factory and you increase the design and power of the machinery so that one hundred men can now do what a thousand did before, conventional wisdom says, ‘Voila! The productivity of the labor has gone up 900 percent!’ I say ‘hogwash.’ All you’ve done is wipe out 90 percent of the jobs, and even the remaining ten percent are probably sitting around pushing buttons. What the economy needs is a way of legitimately getting capital ownership into the hands of the people who now don’t have it.”
The best way to protect American citizens from this spiraling disaster that will continue to undercut American workers, destroy jobs and devalue the worth of labor in the United States is to implement policies to create an OWNERSHIP SOCIETY, whereby EVERY American is extended the right to acquire productive capital with the self-financing earnings of productive capital––the physical wealth-creating assets of corporation, e.g., machines, super-automation, robotics, digital computerization operations, etc. Currently non-property-owning Americans are left to acquire, as best as they can, with their earnings as labor workers. 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 miniscule, as are their dividend payments compared to the top 10 percent of capital owners.
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, 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 the dividend earning it produces.
This will address the fact that productive capital is becoming more productive and increasingly responsible for the production of society’s products and services, not labor, whose relative input is constantly being diminished by the substitution of the non-human factor of production.
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.”