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Stop eating our young

 

America is eating its young. There is insufficient employment for young people, at least in jobs that pay a living wage. Instead, young men and women are urged to attend college to position themselves more advantageously in the job competition. College costs are skyrocketing. Young people are saddling themselves with large student-loan debts that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. And now Obamacare requires healthy young people to join insurance pools that will subsidize health care for others in poorer health.

Enough is enough. A nation with any kind of a future does not treat its young generation this way. Could the government help? Ours is a democracy, after all. No, it is looking more and more like a plutocracy in which the wealthy not only have much more wealth but more political influence and power. Essentially, wealthy persons and interest groups have bribed our elected officials to do their bidding. Political candidates must communicate through paid advertisements and commercials which only the wealthy can afford.

In short, wealth seems to have a lock on the political system. Its short-term financial interests trump the society’s long-term interests. The residents of gated communities have the rest of us over a barrel. The only way out is to build an authentic grassroots reform movement that appeals directly to people rather than through the media or other institution.

Jobs are the main problem. Professional economists have not a clue what to do about this. What they fail to recognize is that today’s job loss is caused primarily by mechanization of production. Machines are displacing human labor. More production can be obtained from fewer workers; this is what is meant by increased labor productivity.

In the old days, displacement of human labor by machines was offset by reducing hours of work. As people worked fewer hours, machines kept production levels up. Workers could have the same amount of economic reward - real wages - even though they worked fewer hours. That is the system, devised by Henry Ford and others, that made the American economy the strongest in the world. Academic economists were not the ones who built up our economy.

Labor productivity has increased five-fold since the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 set the present forty-hour workweek standard. Not only have working hours not declined accordingly, they have actually increased as overtime work became common and many employees are exempt from the FLSA requirements. All this was accompanied by a propaganda blitz to the effect that working long hours was virtuous. Another theme was that to cut work time meant that pay would necessarily be reduced. Both are false messages. It is not virtuous to be enslaved to long hours of work or chained to crushing student debt. Historically, wage levels were at least maintained when working hours were cut. But it has been a long time since we experienced such things and the academics had something to study.

America can rise again. Jobs can again become plentiful. Affluent leisure time can become abundant. Machines can be a blessing rather than a curse. But to have this transformation to a more perfect society from hopeless acceptance of plutocratic propaganda we need a change in government policy. In fact, we need a change of governments. We need a modern-day revolution. This is where Gold Party comes in. Gold Party is a blueprint for a new government and a new society that serves the interests of people rather than the plutocrats and their servants in government.

The driving force behind job creation will be reduction of working hours. This can be accomplished by simple amendment of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Additionally, the government will guarantee that if weekly working hours are cut, weekly wages will be maintained at all or most of their previous level. The average worker will have more leisure time along with adequate income. More leisure time equates with greater personal freedom.

To throw off the shackles of student debt, however, it will take money. Either the debt will be forgiven through bankruptcy or an other means or someone will pay the debt holder. For government, money is no object. Government can print money in unlimited quantities or take it from those possessing money through taxation or confiscation. The point here is that under the Gold Party program, government will relieve a large part of existing student-loan debt with money.

It should be obvious that we are not talking of an ordinary change in political administrations but of a revolutionary change that will turn the plutocracy upside down. We are talking of acquiring total political power, which is able to direct policy at all levels of government. The plan is feasible. However, it has not yet been put into effect. Some people need to see before they can believe. It is a challenge now to convince that type of individual.

Total political power can be had by creating a grassroots movement that prospers not only by its reform message but by the incentives it provides for members to help build the organization to a size that it can take over the government. Yes, we are talking about the government of the United States of America as well as the governments of all fifty states and the counties and municipalities in those fifty states.

Gold Party aspires to control all national and state legislatures, along with all executive positions. With such power, it can also control the courts. It can enact any law or pass any Constitutional amendment. It can then use government coercion to create or change almost anything in society - provided that people see its program as being fair and reasonable and an improvement over the present situation. For, no guns will be employed in the process of change. Change will come through the ballot box as democracy gives people the ultimate voice in the type of society they wish to have. Still, the people will not support greedy, unreasonable demands.

The program which is proposed here for Gold Party retains the free-market economy although government assumes a more active regulatory role. It ends the cozy ties between government and business or the so-called “welfare for the rich”. It scales back government activity in the areas of crime and punishment and military intervention in other parts of the world. On the other hand, it replaces Obamacare with a national health-insurance program similar to what exists in Canada and western Europe, allowing private insurance to supplement what is not covered under the public system. Most controversially, it redistributes wealth as the need arises - not from the young to the old but from the rich to the poor. A wealth tax is one of the innovations that can be expected in a Gold Party regime along with more progressive income-tax rates and elimination of preferences for income derived from other sources besides work.

The most controversial part of the program may be that Gold Party proposes to reward its own members with actual money once it takes over the government. The points accumulated under the Gold Party system will be converted into money. This money will be distributed to members in proportion to the points they possess. Government will raise the money through taxation, confiscation, or whatever means are necessary. However, this does not mean that Gold Party will seize total control of the economy or its money supply as in the classical socialist revolution. It will exercise restraint in redistributing money. The Gold Party share will be limited to what is needed to create a reasonable incentive for members to work to build the party. This type of political work, too, needs to be rewarded. The plutocrats have long been using government to take money from less affluent working people; we will temporarily reverse the process.

The goal is to scale back economic functions to meaningful production and end the various wasteful activities that have arisen to fill the void as productive industry has shrunk. The profession of law will become a regulated industry that may cap permissible hourly fees. Judges will be required to stick more closely to written law at the penalty of being removed from the bench. Health-care coverage will be decoupled from employment. Licensing and educational requirements for performing certain types of work will be relaxed. The military-industrial complex will be scaled back to what the nation reasonably needs for defense. The post-911 Homeland Security apparatus will be dismantled. Many incarcerated persons will be released from prison.

No doubt these changes will antagonize the various vested interests but the society as a whole will improve. Some will argue that, with a more modest police and military establishment, public safety will be compromised. However, public safety is always compromised in a free and open society. Our “enemies” abroad who “hate us for our freedoms” may actually become our friends once we stop making enemies of them. The world would become safer as a result.

Think what life in a free society could be. Gold Party would create a society of universal leisure to the extent that labor-saving machines can maintain useful production and keep living standards at a sufficient level. In five years, most Americans would likely be working twenty-four or fewer hours per week (three 8-hour days of work). They would bring a relaxed and refreshed, and potentially more creative, attitude to their jobs. They would have more time to spend with their families and friends. They could get to know their own children better than they do now.

If money is tight, they could grow their own vegetables in back-yard gardens and mend their own clothing. Religious persons could worship God more completely. Budding inventors could experiment with new products in a garage as Henry Ford or Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs once did. There would be more time for self-directed projects of every sort. In an environment of freedom, people could become what they want to be, not what they think they need to become or remain employed, as the balance comes to favor the sellers of labor more than it presently does.

This Gold Party movement will be an experience of a lifetime, especially for those interested in politics. And you heard about it first here at this web site. A revolution (without money or guns) will soon be coming to you. Social networking can turn political. To be successful, however, the power structure must be hierarchical so there are incentives to contribute to the organization. Starry-eyed notions of democratic equality and collegial leadership will not work except in unusual situations. Grow up, you young people. The time of redemption is at hand.

 

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