Saturday, May 11, 2013

Life on The Other Side

The first step on the way to The Other Side is to recognize that we are not wealthy. Americans buy into the idea that we are rich. We delude ourselves. The nation is rich. We are poor (most of us).

We are poor because we cannot defend our wealth. Each financial crisis shows how easy it is to take our wealth from us. Also, the decline of the fortunes of the middle class shows that the system is becoming more and more unbalanced.

Perhaps most Americans will find this concept difficult because they have bought into the mythology of wealthy Americans instead of understanding that we have a wealthy America and mostly poor Americans. It has become a matter of pride.

Another part of the problem is that so far, we are obviously wealthy compared to citizens of poverty-stricken states. Many of us look down our noses at impoverished people around the world and the pleas for charity. Some of us tell ourselves how great we are compared to them. Others just feel lucky.

However, the real meaning of it is that the American dream has failed miserably. After World War II, the American economy was something like 50% of the world economy. Most Americans naturally expected that the benefits of freedom, democracy, and capitalism would quickly spread around the world. They expected that the world would become more like America. Also, most Americans expected that they and their children would continue to gain wealth and leisure.

Instead America is becoming more like the rest of the world. Today the American economy is something like 25% of the world economy. Most of the nations that were poverty-stricken in 1945 are still poverty-stricken. The rich nations got richer and most of the poor nations went nowhere. Also, employees are expected to do more work for the same amount of pay. See The 24/7 Worker on Economic downturns are so great for rich people that perhaps they want to keep the economy turned down. Most Americans have had to trade leisure for work in order to maintain their incomes.

As a side-effect, Americans have less time to participate in politics. We are slowly being disenfranchised because the more we work, the less time we have to learn about political candidates and political processes. It is hard for some of us to find time to vote at all, much less know anything about who we are voting for.

The results are elections like the 2012 presidential election. The pundits knew from the beginning that Mitt Romney would be the Republican candidate because he had pre-positioned his political organizations in all fifty states. It gave him a tremendous advantage. No other candidate was wealthy enough to do that, so to a great extent, Mr Romney bought the Republican nomination.

The idea is that life on The Other Side would be quite different. Political participation would be encouraged. More important, most everyone would have more time and resources to make their choices. That is because most workers would be in national labor union organizations, and political participation by the workers would be one of the goals of those organizations.

The national labor unions would also make sure that everyone has a job. In return for our economic security, we all need to participate in the markets. Jobs will look different, however, because now the issue is not so much production, but matching buyers and sellers. These are both jobs, in a sense, and each person will have two jobs. One as an individual buyer and the other as an individual seller.

Second, as said above, life on The Other Side would be economically secure. Most everyone would participate in one internal market or another. National buyers would buy everything needed in the internal markets. As collective buyers rather than individuals, they would have the clout to get the best deals from both the internal and external markets.

Also, since the rich would use a different currency than the rest of us, comparisons of wealth in money terms would become meaningless. It would be easier to work on the gap between the rich and the poor if we were not tied to a single currency.

Third, there would be national sellers of goods and services. As collective rather than individual sellers, they would have the clout to get the best prices possible for our labor and the things we produce in the internal and external markets. They would contract with our labor unions to provide labor that they can sell.

This may seem confusing because how can our buyers get the best deals from us as producers, and at the same time, our sellers get the best deals from us as consumers? Is it not true that any gains we might have as producers are lost to us as consumers? The answer is that this view is an illusion caused by our simplifying language. After all, if you think about it, that is what we already do now. Each of us is a seller into the same markets that we buy from.

The trick is this. As barbers, we sell lots of haircuts to grocers, but we only need relatively few groceries ourselves. As grocers, we sell lots of groceries to barbers, but we only need a few haircuts ourselves. That is, individuals generally produce more than they consume. The purpose of the market is simply to adjust prices to reflect this underlying truth. In a reasonable market, neither discounts to barbers nor discounts to grocers grow so great as to impoverish either barbers or grocers.

Finally, workers in the U.S. have more in common with workers in other countries than either has in common with the international rich. The idea is that there will actually be closer relations with foreign workers on The Other Side than there is today. The nation is important primarily because the national government has the legal right to implement our proposals in its geographical area. Our national buyers and sellers will not be limited within our national borders, however. The goal is not some kind of national socialism with its attendant evils, but a regulated international capitalism. Their rich people will not be allowed to raid our wealth and our rich people will not be allowed to raid their wealth.

In these short blog posts, it is not possible to explain the entire vision at once, but we hope that you now understand that's vision is actually about greater cooperation among the workers of the world than there is today. To get there, we have to stop the raiding of the wealth of the nations by the international rich. Basic economic security must be seen as a right. After that, the multiple exclusive markets and the national buyers, sellers, and unions come into play. In America, that process can only begin when we stop seeing ourselves as wealthy and as some sort of auxilliaries to the international rich. We need to know that we are poor and that we have to work together to protect ourselves from the rich.

The way capitalism should be.

Socialism for the socialists and capitalism for the capitalists.

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