hi all. two recent well written/read posts talk about the issue of "how to fix capitalism". this is one of the most complex issues one could possibly write on. our world involves many, many moving parts, and capitalism encompasses many of them. but, it is the foremost issue of our time. we clearly find ourselves in an era similar/parallel to the Rooseveltian New Deal of the 30s.
Saving the World (w/ Nudity)
The Rich Need MORE Money
I certainly dont have all the answers, or even some of them. but, it is an issue that Ive been studying both more formally and informally for many years, & have some thoughts to share. enhancing egalitarianism, populism, and fairness, esp economically, is a topic Ive been musing/brooding on for much of my adult life.
I did find/notice quite a few excellent suggestions relating to economics in the NYT review of 2008 "big ideas". one extremely promising proposal I include below. its called the "rising tide tax system". basically, tax rates adjust automatically every year based on wealth disparity measured by [eg] overall tax return statistics. the tax code becomes more progressive if there is more wealth disparity.
I highly encourage reformist minded readers to look into these ideas and help advocate them. it may seem insurmountable, but merely talking about them with friends & discussing them (esp on blogs) adds to their momentum. you dont nec. have to read a scientific paper. but it would certainly help, wink
The Rising Tide Tax System:
Indexing the Tax System for Changes in Inequality
Leonard E. Burman
Robert J. Shiller
Rising-Tide Tax System, The
Yet a team of economists that includes Robert Shiller of Yale University and Leonard Burman of the Tax Policy Center recently released a paper in which they propose another way of “spreading the wealth” — one that, while less controversial in political terms, would still prevent income inequality from worsening in the coming years.
Under the proposal, the tax code would automatically be rewritten at the end of each year to reflect any changes in the relative share of national income earned by each income bracket. For example, if one year the nation's top earners saw their share of national income rise while people at the bottom saw their share grow at a slower rate (or decline), the following year's tax rates would be automatically rewritten to compensate for the new inequality. This would keep everyone's share of after-tax income at the earlier level.
there is some research that our political/economic system seems to "thrash" between republican/democrat w.r.t financial issues. its as if we all try to get as rich, polarized, and elitist as possible under republican administrations, and then we hit a brick wall/crash, at which point we try to become less selfish and more egalitarian.
arguably a "rising tide tax system" might tend to dampen this thrashing and avoid further complexification of the tax code in the form of bandaids on top of bandaids.
some economists like samuelson who writes for newsweek and has a large soapbox argue only for incrementalist changes and that anything more would be counterproductive and veer into "destructive retribution". my general pt of view is that this is a thinly veiled apologist ideology that is WRONG.
American Capitalism Besieged
alas, I think with obama's continued subservience to Summers and Geitner, he seems to be aligning with this watered-down sludge. heckuva job, S&G!!
you can find more info on how our current economic system is broken in my links under "economic warfare".
another issue, tied in with the above, clearly crucial for our country is SIMPLIFICATION. decrease the # of moving parts where possible. we have too many moving parts in our tax code, for example. this needless complexity costs us billions upon billions per year. that is a documented fact based on various GAO [govt acct office] studies over the years.
I was musing recently.. maybe we could have an agency called DEPT OF SIMPLIFICATION or SUSTAINABILITY that works to decrease the complexity of ALL OTHER govt agencies. yeah I know it sounds bizarre, but it makes a lot of sense, dont you think? it should have overarching authority like the GAO. ideally it would work hand-in-hand with the GAO to identify simplification opportunities esp based on budget analyses and projections/extrapolations.
here are 4 key areas that we really need to SIMPLIFY on a national level. and arguably, the drive is already there in all these areas. lets try to build a drive for SIMPLIFICATION just as there was a drive for open government.
arguably, SIMPLIFICATION goes hand-in-hand with open government, and transparency. they are directly tied. if you have an extremely complex government, openness does you no good. note that the new CIO is emphasizing private "reuse" of govt data in the form of mashups-- arguably this ties into simplification. a "mashup" is just a simplification of complex data.
- tax code
- health care
- criminal legal code
- financial regulation
I know, I know, its like the beautiful women say to the geeks. DREAM ON LITTLE BOY.
yes, yes, I know I would be lucky to see any of the above change much before I die. but then again, I never thought Id be living through another great depression. as rahm emmanuel likes to say, "never waste a good crisis". or as the pussycat dolls sing, "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it...."