If you’ve read anything I have written in the past, you know that I prefer socialism to capitalism. As time has gone on, however, I have reached the conclusion that the problem with most societies are two things: greed and corruption. Both capitalism and socialism can have these. But under a capitalistic society, greed and corruption might be eliminated if the Big Money behind greed and corruption were eliminated through heavy taxation on the rich and a well-regulated anti-trust policy.
Let’s look at the anti-trust policy. The U.S. used to have a strong anti-trust policy, but it has been eaten away as the wealthy have gotten wealthier. How can we bring it back? First, we need a truly independent ombudsman group that can decide when anti-trust must be used against a particular company. Second, to back that up, we need a policy of listening to protests when it is not used. Third, if protests reach a certain level without the ombudsman taking action, there should be a system of voting to force the issue.
The idea of a “vote” has become far less problematic these days. After all, we have an internet. Suppose the protesters want to force a vote. If they can get 100,000 people to sign a petition for anti-trust action, there should be an immediate vote lasting two weeks. If a million people vote for an anti-trust case to be brought, then it should go forward.
Similarly, on an issue such as taxation, there should be an ombudsman to propose to the people a taxation system, and the people should vote over a limited time period. If the ombudsman is stifled through corruption, protesters should be able to force a vote. And the people as a whole should vote.
The tax system, whatever it may be, should be simple. Personally, I would prefer taxes to be levied on accumulated wealth. People who have less than $250,000 in wealth should pay nothing; they should simply list their assets of value. People who have less than $500,000 might pay 1% on the difference between $250,000 and what they have. The tax levels should be low until one reaches $2 million, and then the rates should become quite high. (The rates would be fixed by whatever the government needs to function).
How do we make sure that people are honest? Allow the public to turn in anyone they think are cheating and issue rewards to those who do so correctly. The tax ombudsmen should be free to disclose publicly a taxpayer’s declared wealth if they believe that the declaration is inaccurate. They should first tell the taxpayer their intention and allow the taxpayer the opportunity to change the declaration (without penalty).
This would be a tough minded system, but let’s face it – most people would tell the truth because they really have nothing to hide. Only those who have reason to hide their wealth would find difficulty with it.
The government should be charged with protecting the society and making sure that the people have food, clothing, shelter, education, and healthcare. They should also have easy access to the internet and be able to participate easily in social actions designed to improve the society. In return, the people should work for the benefit of the society. Individuals should be free to start businesses and hire other people to help them.
One of the major objections to social programs (like free education and healthcare) is that some people are lazy and don’t want to work. In return for receiving social services, individuals promise to work at jobs they are capable of doing. But if there are no jobs (which may well happen as we enter the AI and robotic age), work is not required.
What you would have is a society with basic resources for all, and with rules that prevented excessive wealth. Production that did not go to the wealthy would go to support the social programs. If some individual refused to work and thereby assist the society, adequate punishments should be levied upon him/her.
Would the truly wealthy stop working because everything they earned would go away to the government? Under the system I am suggesting, they could not refuse to work any more than a poor but lazy person could refuse. Moreover, the society should be prepared to reward people with praise and celebration if they continued to do their best despite having a lot of money or having disabilities that would make work difficult.
It seems to me that a social system based on capitalism but with a strong taxation and anti-trust system could be fair if combined with systems that granted minimum support for basic needs. The trouble is, I don’t see this as ever happening, because the wealthy have become so tied to greed and corruption. They have the power and won’t agree to return to the days of high taxes on them. And the big corporations don’t want strong anti-trust laws. Also, without higher taxes on the wealthy, America will just go into more and more debt to have an adequate safety net. Even though capitalism could work, the wealthy won’t compromise enough to make it work.