Is There a Way Out?
You see, the story we are constantly sold is that the growth scenario—ever increasing productivity leading to more and more stuff—is the path to paradise, a path down which we are inexorably marching. The problem is that it actually has not been happening for the past several decades. We have been gradually sliding into the second scenario, the one where we become a banana republic lacking bananas, a world of ever-increasing inequality. When workers get less, they spend less. That money, of course, goes to the rich, but they already have so much stuff that they save most of the surplus loot. The result is that aggregate demand stagnates, then begins to decline.
And that has finally caught the attention of the capitalists. At least a few.
Capitalism Waking Up? That in itself is surprising. Capitalism by its nature is extremely myopic. If a company is not obsessively focused on short-term profits, it is likely to be eaten up by someone who is. Yet some have read the writing on the wall, and although they know that the rich will remain rich even as the economy sinks into depression, they like being the lords of vast empires of production, consumption, and waste. And they don’t want to give up their power to treat workers like dirt.
Radical Proposals. Two radical proposals have been put forward. The one, a universal guaranteed income, has received the most attention because, although radical, it best suits the interests of the capitalists. The other, originally proposed by Hyman Minsky and currently championed mostly by L. Randall Wray, is the government as Employer of Last Resort, or ELR. It is best for everyone except the capitalists and has thus been largely ignored. Both are discussed elsewhere on this site.
The truth is that we must radically change our economic system, and that requires that we first examine, and then reject, the diseased assumptions upon which our exploitive, destructive system is built.
These are the facts: All economic endeavor requires both labor and resources. Modern technology has enabled us to produce much with little labor. Under the right circumstances, this would be a wonderful thing. We have the capability to provide everyone with all their material needs. Poverty could be eradicated. But our laws and customs declare that the owners of the resources are also the owners of the product of the workers’ labor. The capitalists come first; workers get as little as the capitalists can contrive to give them. There are ancient historical reasons for this, but it is neither natural nor inevitable.
It does not have to be that way. We can change the laws to put workers first. We must. But how? To understand means learning some basic facts about economics. A rather large section of this site is devoted to the subject. I invite you to check it out—here.