Monday, July 18, 2016

A Brief Outline of How to Save the World (and Other Modest Goals)

What would you do if somebody offered you $100 million to change the world?  What is the problem you would address?  We got asked that question recently, and — as you might expect — the first reaction was, “Haven’t you read the CESJ website?”  After all, we’ve been saying pretty much the same thing for decades.  Of course, our real reaction was, “Just give us the money and let us think about that . . . which is probably acceptable when you’re talking about something that isn’t real in the first place. . . .
"Here I come to save the day!"
But what if the offer was real . . . at least, real enough to treat the question with a little more seriousness?  Not just, “Like if you wish you had $100 million to change the world!!” and had a picture of a fluffy kitten or cuddly puppy to go with it.
Well, first thing we need is a snappy title.  “How to Save the World” probably won’t do it.  Mighty Mouse and Superman do that every day.  How about —
A Proposal to Develop a Comprehensive, Turnkey Institutional Program of Regional-to-Supranational Restructuring to Achieve the Economic and Political Empowerment of Every Person with Fluffy Kitties and Cuddly Puppies for All
"Eat this, you'll feel better."
We probably should have added Mom and Apple Pie, too, but we didn’t want to get too obvious.  Anyway, we probably should focus on poverty, by which we mean not alleviating the symptoms of poverty, but eliminating the causes of widespread, endemic poverty as a way of life.  That means institutional and structural reforms, not just buying food and distributing it, or giving everyone a college education and a computer.
Poverty, however, is a problem to be solved, not a political football to maintain an élite.  We have to keep in mind that we not only want to eliminate the causes of widespread poverty, we want to remove any reason for keeping people in poverty . . . one of which is that, if you have people whose jobs depend on helping “the poor,” it’s in their best interest to make certain that there are always poor people to help. . . .
How do you arrange matters so that the system no longer encourages poverty?  Arrange the system to encourage productive behavior.
That does not mean “creating jobs.”  Creating jobs doesn’t result in production, but in consumption.  Ideally, production and consumption must be equal.  Otherwise, more is produced than people can consume, or not enough is produced to meet demand.
"I'm not lazy. I just haven't had my coffee."
It does mean empowering people to be productive.  After all, all other things being equal, the only way to consume is first to produce, whether directly for your own consumption, or indirectly by trading what you produce for what others have produced that you want to consume.
So what’s the problem?  Are people these days just too dadburn lazy to be productive unless they have jobs?  Or is it that, in a day when more and more labor is displaced by advancing technology, there is no way to own the technology that is displacing their labor in favor of technology.  It’s just plain too expensive if the only source of financing is what someone can save out of an already inadequate or even non-existent wage.
No, the only logical — and adequate — source of financing for new capital that everyone can own (individually, not collectively) is future savings, i.e., money you receive in the future generated by the asset you bought today that you use to pay for the asset.  That way you don’t have to have the money now.  You just have to have it when the bill comes due.
This benefits everyone, all the way up to the entire world by making the political order much more stable.  That’s because a stable and just political order that benefits everyone requires a stable and just economic order.  A stable and just economic order requires a stable and just financial system.  A stable and just financial system requires a stable and just commercial and central banking system.  A stable and just commercial and central banking system requires a stable and just currency.
"Listen to me and save the world ... oh, wait...."
Under Keynesian Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), the idea is that to achieve a better life for all, the government manipulates the currency and controls the financial system and the economy to achieve a stable and just political order by making everyone dependent on the State as the universal caregiver.  This is a tautology: a stable and just political order is achieved by having a stable and just political order.
This illogic, the basis of virtually all modern monetary and fiscal policy, has resulted in an enormous increase in State power, gargantuan public and private debt, widespread poverty, and growing concentration of wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands.  The only possible solution is the Just Third Way.
The Just Third Way seeks to restore widespread personal empowerment and a greatly reduced role for the State by reforming monetary and tax systems to enable ordinary people access to the means of acquiring and possessing private property in capital.  This will allow them to become productive and contributing members of society, providing for themselves out of their own efforts instead of relying on government handouts.
These are principles that hold true in any economy in the world, regardless how bad things may seem at the present time.  With the right institutional principles and sound theory to guide the process, any economy on earth can be put on a sound footing and maintained as such in a manner that benefits every child, woman, and man in the country.
So, although having $100 million to spend on saving the world sounds good, it’s better to have a plan, and the plan should include the most basic need at the bottom of the pyramid: producing something that you and others can consume.  Get that, and the means to get that, and the rest will follow.


Daniel Kurland said...

$100 million for a sharing in abundance proposal... 99% solution

Jayasri Hart said...

One of the most concise but complete presentations of the Just Third Way philosophy that I've seen. And entertaining as always.