The Economy

It’s Stupid!

Robert Bolman

With the end of the Soviet Union, those running the economy have conveniently embraced the idea that unbridled, global, free market capitalism is now the only choice we have.  Excuse the following potty humor, but comparing Soviet style Communism with US style Capitalism is like comparing constipation with diarrhea.  Any sane person wants something between those two extremes: a nice, firm, easily delivered turd.  We should have the efficiency of market forces where they make sense coupled with the societal mandate that basic human needs SHALL BE MET, in various cases, government is best positioned to meet those needs and in many cases, government regulation is necessary.  People don’t complain about “socialism” where fire and police protection are concerned.  The same reasoning should apply to health care and various other factors that make for a healthy and functional society. 

  • Reduce “defense” spending by 80%.  Such a reduction will still leave the US the world’s most formidable military power.  (More on this under the section on Foreign Policy)  Those concerned about the loss of defense contractor jobs can rest assured that there will be plenty of employment building the post-fossil fuel infrastructure.  Indeed, without $600 hammers and $900 toilet seats, there should be more bang for the buck where job creation is concerned.
  • Use the savings to address the US’s deficit spending which clearly cannot continue.  For the national debt to grow faster than GDP is unsustainable.
  • Begin UNDOING the upward redistribution of wealth that has been going on since the time of Reagan.  Universal Basic Income might be one good strategy to achieve this.  Raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations would be another.  Various forms of environmental tax reform could be structured so as to begin restoring a more reasonable distribution of the wealth.  “Trickle down economics” is now fully discredited.  Under Eisenhower, the top marginal tax rate was over 90 percent.  Eisenhower was not a “socialist” and the economy was strong at that time.
  • Restructure the tax system so as to tax pollution and waste instead of income (except for the wealthy).  This could also be done in such a way as to reverse the wealth gap in the US.  (More on this important point in the section on Environmental Tax Reform.)
  • Begin using measurements other than GDP to assess how well the economy or the country is doing.  Two jet airliners can collide in midair, killing hundreds of people and causing millions of dollars to change hands and yet this tragedy reflects POSITIVELY for GDP.  It’s ridiculous to measure the health of the economy using GDP!  
  • Our current economic model requires never-ending growth to function.  This is unsustainable.  We should have a “steady state” economy that remains the same size.  If anything is to continue growing, it should be happiness, intelligence and human fulfillment.
  • Eliminate the absurd notion of “corporate personhood”.
  • Begin revoking the corporate charters of corporations who’s behavior is shown to not be in the public good.  If corporations are “persons”, some of them are psychopaths and should be put away for good.
  • Eliminate the Federal Reserve which is no more “federal” than Federal Express.  It is a privately held corporation that prints US currency and then lends it to the US at interest – a scandal fully dwarfing Enron.  Federal Reserve policies in response to the 2008 economic crisis and the COVID pandemic have handed trillions of dollars to Wall Street and the big banks while keeping interest rates down. This strategy has been very lucrative for the wealthiest one percent.  It has protected the retirements of baby boomers while punishing savers and making it more difficult for millennials to buy their first home.
  • Facebook, Amazon, Google and other corporations need to be broken up or otherwise stripped of their monopoly status the way Standard Oil was in 1911.

While the field of economics may not be sexy, various economic structures and ideologies play major roles in shaping our world.  The human capacity for denial, delusion and sociopathy finds fertile ground in the field of economics.  Great emphasis needs to be placed on arriving at an economic model that makes sense for all the world’s people and for future generations.