Okay, when we last addressed this subject in a posting, we were in the middle of helping prepare a “subject paper” (or whatever you want to call it) on the Covid-19 virus and its economic impact. The preparation of the paper proved to be a bit more involved than originally anticipated (although well worth the effort), so instead of closing this particular series of blog postings with a summary of the paper, we’ll end by serializing the paper itself. Of course, if you want to read the whole paper at one go (it’s actually pretty short), you can do so by clicking on this link.
UNIVERSALIZING CAPITAL OWNERSHIP
How Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Can Save the Economy
April 17, 2020
Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ.org), April 17, 2020
America and the rest of the global community face a health and economic disaster on the scale of a world war. Unlike violent wars, the isolation policies needed in today’s COVID-19 war have prevented millions of workers from leaving their homes and physically working together to produce essential services, medical technologies and medicines needed to defeat the coronavirus.
Small- and medium-size businesses have closed, laying off millions of workers, perhaps permanently. From mid-March through mid-April 2020, a record 22 million US workers filed for federal unemployment benefits. Farmers and other food producers were forced to destroy crops that couldn’t be harvested and products that couldn’t be shipped to grocery stores, restaurants or food banks.
While the economy is in a state of induced coma, the US and other governments are undertaking radical central banking interventions to keep their economies from total collapse and restart production once the pandemic is ended. Their present strategies will create trillions of dollars backed by nothing but massive government debt. None of these plans indicate how the trillions of “emergency money” created will be repaid, or how future production will be created in ways that generate the mass purchasing power needed to buy those future goods and services. This has posed an historic challenge to the wage-welfare systems of all nations.
Meanwhile, the US and China are competing for leadership in advanced 5G communications and energy systems, robotics, artificial intelligence and other technologies, which will soon power automated factories and hospitals, self-driving cars and more.
This paper proposes a fundamentally different strategy, suggesting immediate emergency measures, but focusing on structural changes to the monetary and tax system that can finance the building of a green economy that provides equal access to a new source of independent incomes for every person. It posits:
Today’s war cannot be won until the COVID-19 coronavirus is halted everywhere. Before millions of lives are lost world-wide, the speed required to defeat the novel coronavirus calls for coordinating the knowledge, research and production capabilities of all nations working together. Nations united should copy the World War II monetary policies that funded the “Manhattan Project,” which created the atomic bomb to end that war.
Rebuilding a collapsed global economy calls for a strategy like the post-war Marshall Plan, but requiring far more money. Such a plan must also prevent the unjust concentrations of money, capital ownership and economic power that followed the post-World War II reconstruction program that included the formation of the United Nations and its Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirmed the fundamental human right of every person to own productive capital “alone as well as in association with others.” To achieve economic revitalization, sustainability and justice for every person, all nations should reaffirm their support of Article 17, and look to a new monetary paradigm with financial tools that promote a more inclusive and non-monopolistic, free market-based approach to money, banking, and tax policies needed to win the war against the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Along with effective emergency measures, leaders in the political, banking, insurance, business, union, spiritual and academic worlds should launch an aggressive program for universalizing citizen access to ownership of future productive capital assets and infrastructure. These new capital assets should include new green technologies, green energy systems and green production processes to protect the environment. This would revive the productive sector by democratizing future ownership power, work opportunities and sustainable purchasing power among every citizen, without threatening existing property rights of current capital owners.
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