the ability of farmers and ranchers to raise and sell the bounty of their lands at a return which will give themselves and their families a decent living;
protections from the fears attendant to old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
a good, quality education, sufficient for the needs of our modern society; an education that is ongoing if needed or desired.
This is a dynamic concept, one capable of evolving with an ever changing world of nearly unimaginable technological advances. It has already proven its worth in the United States in the period 1945-80 and in the Western democracies since the end of the Reconstruction period after the Second World War.
We must also introduce a moral element into capitalism, beyond that of making ever increasing amounts of money for investors. Either c apitalism is regulated by the government, or government is controlled by the capitalists to the exclusion of any control by the rest of society. Part of this can be resolved by the regulation of capitalism's financial services. In the United States, the reintroduction of a modernized Glass-Steagall Act to separate commercial and investment banks once again, together with the public viewing its financiers with a jaded eye, is a good start.
But we cannot stop there. The relationship of employer and employee must change. As I stated earlier, American industry and commerce must look at its workers as positive assets, not liabilities, or a cost of doing business. They cannot continue to make the fundamental error of treating their employees as things, replaceable parts in the human machine that forms part of their enterprise. People are not things: to treat them in such a fashion is an act of evil. American employers need to take a page from the Germans and, instead of laying-off a percentage of their workforce, reduce their workforce's hours by that same percentage in the affected facilities.
American unemployment law needs to be changed so that those employees whose hours are reduced receive supplemental income from the government for the reduction of hours. Employers need to be taxed heavily for closing facilities and moving them elsewhere, especially overseas, rather than upgrading existing facilities. The capitalists need to pay for the lack of patriotism, community sensibility, and just plain loyalty to their employees that they have shown over the last forty years.
A great portion of American case law, which grant extraordinary rights to corporate entities (including "personhood") and their officers, going back to Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819) , Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886), and Ford v. Dodge (1916) , are in need of change. Corporations must be accountable, as other persons are, and we should no longer permit corporate officers to hide their wrongdoing behind a corporate shield. The corporate "death penalty" must be made a part of Federal law, and corporations must justify their continued existence as part of "the public good" on a regular basis. And we must once again enforce the Sherman (1890) and Clayton (1914) Antitrust Acts, as amended by the Robinson-Pattman Act of 1936 and other laws. They have not been enforced since the Reagan Administration, and some of Mitt Romney's Bain Capital's worst instances of vulture capitalism occurred because of this lack of enforcement. Karl Marx noted this sort of behavior in Das Kapital (volume 1, chapter 24, p. 393; 1867; First English Edition 1887, translated by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, edited by Friedrich Engels):
"This splitting-up of the total social [common--RJG] capital into many individual capitals [enterprises--RJG] or the repulsion of its fractions one from another, is counteracted by their attraction. This last does not mean that simple concentration of the means of production and of the command over labour, which is identical with accumulation. It is concentration of capitals [enterprises--RJG] already formed, destruction of their individual independence, expropriation of capitalist by capitalist, transformation of many small into few large capitals [enterprises--RJG]. This process differs from the former in this, that it only pre-supposes a change in the distribution of capital already to hand, and functioning; its field of action is therefore not limited by the absolute growth of social wealth, by the absolute limits of accumulation. Capital grows in one place to a huge mass in a single hand, because it has in another place been lost by many. This is centralisation proper, as distinct from accumulation and concentration.
Here competition rages in direct proportion to the number, and in inverse proportion to the magnitudes, of the antagonistic capitals [enterprises--RJG]. It always ends in the ruin of many small capitalists, whose capitals [enterprises--RJG] partly pass into the hands of their conquerors, partly vanish. Apart from this, with capitalist production an altogether new force comes into play--the credit system, which in its first stages furtively creeps in as the humble assistant of accumulation, drawing into the hands of individual or associated capitalists, by invisible threads, the money resources which lie scattered, over the surface of society, in larger or smaller amounts; but it soon becomes a new and terrible weapon in the battle of competition and is finally transformed into an enormous social mechanism for the centralisation of capitals [enterprises--RJG]."
Paul Craig Roberts is absolutely correct. If Karl Marx were alive today, he would be a leading candidate for the "Nobel" Prize in Economics. (See Yasha Levine's October 12, 2012 AlterNet article, " There is No Nobel Prize in Economics ," for more on what the "Nobel" Prize in Economics really is.)
George Bernard Shaw thought--like Marx--that economic equality alone would resolve the many problems of modern society. He wrote about his view in The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism, (chapter 22; 1928):
"Between persons of equal income there is no social distinction except the distinction of merit. Money is nothing: character, conduct, and capacity are everything. " There would be great people and ordinary people and little people, but the great would always be those who had done great things, and never the idiots whose mothers had spoiled them and whose fathers had left them a hundred thousand a year; and the little would be persons of small minds and mean characters, and not poor persons who had never had a chance. That is why idiots are always in favour of inequality of income (their only chance of eminence), and the really great in favour of equality."
But I think that French writer and mystic Simone Weil got it right; that real equality is more than money or position: there will always be those who want to make money as a way of keeping score, and will try and make money important to us, because it is important to them.
"Equality is the public recognition, effectively expressed in institutions and manners, of the principle that an equal degree of attention is due to the needs of all human beings."
Simone Weil ; "Draft for a Statement of Human Obligations" (published in Selected Essays , edited by Richard Rees, 1962).