I studied mostly liberal and applied arts in school, as an undergrad at Georgetown University and as an art and music student at various community colleges and at Catholic University. But I technically majored in Economics at Georgetown, and I have always had my pet theories on how to make things work better. One of my current favorite podcasts, Pod Save America, raised the question of what can we really do given the current situation with today’s economy and political climate. I am glad to offer the following for debate.
Change Corporate Charters to Increase Accountability and Contribution to Society
- Change corporate law to require broadening missions beyond profit.
- Eliminate perverse incentives through skillful regulation (e.g. paying fines instead of fixing problems) and make board members responsible for their companies legally.
- Require balanced voting representation of workers on boards of directors
- Set requirements of conformance to these rules for any company doing business in the U.S.
This would require skill from a president and State department, because it would require international cooperation to avoid corporations from relocating to countries with lax rules (like they did with inversions). (However, point 4 might help when the U.S. is the major market for a corporation.)
Disconnect Benefits from Jobs
- Guarantee a basic income (UBI). This frees individuals to pursue their passions and skills without fears of not surviving. Pay for it with taxes on business, because in our market-system, businesses are what makes money from activities that make jobs obsolete. This is a straightforward means of sharing the productivity gains of technology and economies of scale.
Additionally, everybody wants to do some kind of work or study. The pay-for-work and small business models could continue to exist as additional income for anyone who wants it. UBI helps parents be able to afford to support their children no matter what and could sidestep debates about maternity, paternity and other leave by giving everyone a basic standard of living.
- Guarantee health care. If you have enough basic income, it could cover health care via the insurance model and sidestep the insurance industry debate. Of course, there is international evidence of the cost efficiencies of universal health care systems. Part of health care should include discounted access to and overhead costs for wellness providers (low-rent yoga rooms and German-style spa Kur could be examples).
- Provide adequate infrastructure, including public transportation, clean water, air, and healthy environments (parks, beaches, trails) available to all, not limited to those who can afford luxury environments, neighborhoods, etc.
- Educate all sectors of society on what it means to be a society, so that funding, taxes, priorities, infrastructure, etc. are understood as public values and necessary civic duties.
- Make it possible to learn (free tuition or other mechanism), both for cultural improvement and for skills training, for anyone on the basic income.
- Provide education on how to influence government (could even be an online resource or help line).
Minimize Corporate Influence on Government
1. Either legislate a fix for the Citizens United ruling that makes corporations people, or limit all people to the same influence by capping contributions for electioneering. Then one corporation has the same impact as one normal citizen.
Minimize Financial Industry Impact on the Economy
1. Eliminate the usury economy by regulating lending for the benefit of borrowers.
2. Put reasonable limits on any securities and futures trading that is little more than gambling in the securities market. Put the focus of the markets on investment.