Kshama Sawant, recently elected to the city council of Seattle, Washington in my opinion knows how to say what needs to be said about our current state of economic affairs in the US. She also knows how to win a political race in Seattle, and let’s hope many others can follow her lead throughout the US.
While I have never considered myself a socialist, Sawant eloquently and effectively says in a video I saw on Facebook much of what I have been saying in my books, articles and Facebook posts for over a decade. US citizens should listen to her speech embedded in an article, “Seattle’s Socialist City Councilor Offers a Response to Obama Speech,” by Jon Queally, staff writer at Common Dreams, January 29, 2014.
I am an economist who spent his academic career leading case method discussions of factual business and economic cases with business students, who believes economies should not only produce goods and services but freedom, fairness and progress for all stakeholders.
Having no faith in isms of any sort, political, religious, economic or social, I think you should do what facts indicate should be done. I think people should believe what really is, not what they all agree to believe ism is to curry favor, power and protection.
Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour is a good idea, for the cogent reasons Sawant presents, who ridiculed Obama’s slick $10.10 minimum wage idea touted in his speech. You should also do everything else you can, in my opinion, to increase aggregate demand for goods and services offered for sale in US villages, towns and cities, to enable small businesses to sell more, making it necessary and feasible for them to hire more people.
Probably the best thing you could do to create aggregate demand would be to vote all sitting politicians in Washington out and replace them with free, fair, progressive people not bought and paid for by corporate and elite rich money, as Sawant suggests, who, I assert, should vote to raise the top after loophole effective tax rates (ALETR) of large corporations and the elite rich back to where they were before 1980, where our wisest ancestors set them, over 70 percent, and use this new tax money with more borrowed and printed money to directly fund infrastructure jobs in transportation, green energy, education and the like, putting money in the pockets of unemployed and underemployed middle and lower class US citizens who will spend the money in their communities, instead of putting money in the pockets of banksters and CEOs in the upper class who will save, gamble with and offshore the money. This could create a multiplier effect generating more and more jobs in the domestic economy, which might restore full employment.
Although President Obama did not raise a peep about raising the taxes of large corporations and the elite rich in his State of the Union address, I am still basically in his corner, despite his not doing everything he said he would after 2008, by a long shot. I am convinced he has done more and better than McCain or Romney would have; yet I agree it seems he has sided too much with the military-industrial-corporate complex, a criticism made by Sawant, especially the banking and military part of that establishment; and I, too, cannot understand why he seems to have lost his zeal for human rights.
But I also know I have not walked in his moccasins. Who knows what would have happened had he told the power people that inevitably sat down and looked him in the eye up close and not so friendly, making their needs and demands known to him personally, to go to hell. As unequal, unfair and precarious as states of affairs are now in the US domestic economy, they could be worse. We could have had a major economic collapse or a military coup under Obama’s watch, up to now. Economic affairs and conditions could be much better; but no one can prove this or that presidential action, or set of actions, would have made it happen, especially in light of the unprecedented obstructions and sabotage put in the president’s way by know-nothing venomous nihilist tea party Republicans in the House of Representatives.
I think the time-honored and proven tax and spend policy and procedure I have recommended in this article, considered the work of the devil by most tea party Republicans, would restore the US economy if implemented, without resorting to socialism or any other ism, based on my knowledge of US economic history, just doing what historical facts have shown to work; but there are no guarantees. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus pointed out in the first century BCE, “You can never step twice in the same river.”
At the same time, I think this heavy tax and spend process is the only play in town with a chance of working. To my knowledge nothing else has ever worked in a capitalistic economy after market forces become dysfunctional for most stakeholders, as they have been since 2007. Only governments can save dysfunctional market economies by taxing and spending, and hopefully they can again, at least one more time in the case of us, the US.
Not to reset top tax rates of large corporations and the elite rich back to pre-1980 levels and borrow and print money, and spend the money to create aggregate demand it seems to me is inviting sure disaster, which will eventually result in a global regression of all economies back and down to the level of third-world economies, resulting in a few rich winners living behind high impregnable fences with heavy steel gates, among masses of impoverished Earthlings struggling to merely stay alive from day to day. Seems to me it’s either that or something worse. Like maybe the extinction of the human species on Earth.
I could be wrong, of course; but I don’t think so. Communism did not work in Russia, so, being stuck with capitalism, and communist-capitalistic hybrids, as in China, unless someone invents something totally new, tax and spend to rejuvenate dysfunctional capitalistic economies seems to be the best, perhaps the only, shot.
We need more than party line dogma- and doctrine-spewing Democratic and Republican robots in Washington to deal with this predicament, although I do not think a new third party is necessarily the answer, as Sawant recommends.
What we really need in my opinion is to get rid of political parties, as we know them, money machines, slot machines, whatever they are, corrupted by money. See the FFPP, the Freedom, Fairness and Progress Party, which I created and named in 2004 in my book Business Voyages, explained in detail in my Facebook post, The Stapleton Gallery of Folk History and Conversation, a party you can join only if you refuse to sign up and donate money, which is also explained in my Ship’s Log on my web page.
I think Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an Independent, is the best ship visible on the horizon for US president in 2016 and there are many more good Independents out there you could vote for if you could get them on ballots, as, hopefully, Sanders shall be for US president. It’s probable Sanders is also accepting political donations, possibly some big ones, who will want to be repaid some way, but it seems to me an Independent would be harder to corrupt than someone duty bound to believe or pretend to believe party-line dogma and doctrine believed, or pretended to be believed, by millions of Democrats or Republicans.
To my knowledge H. Ross Perot, the most effective Independent candidate for US president in my memory, in 1992 honestly told the truth as he saw it throughout his political career, however short that career might have been or how mistaken he might have been on a few issues. But here is a major point: It is forgivable for someone to be honestly wrong because s/he does not know what is the truth; but it is another matter for someone to be dishonestly wrong conforming to party dogma and doctrine to curry political and pecuniary favors from similar conformers, having joined their make-believe world to become more psychologically secure, and possibly richer and more powerful as well, at the expense of non-believers and non-conformers. This would weaken any bonds of peace existing in any society.
It seems to me if by some magic we could randomly select intelligent knowledgeable citizens off the streets of the US and send them to Washington to replace all sitting Republicans and Democrats our government would improve overnight, since these citizen-politicians could use their common sense to vote in the interest of we the people, having not been bought and paid for by corporate and elite rich money.
Richard John Stapleton is an emeritus professor of business policy and ethics who writes on business and politics at www.effectivelearning.net.