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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/30/09

Truly Balancing the Economy

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As a radical futrurist, I believe that the U.S. Constitution should be amended to include a "Bill of Property Rights" to supplement the first ten amendments, which would then be referred to as the "Bill of Civil Rights". In other words, we need to formally establish the same system of checks and balances on economic power as we now have on political power.

Here are some of my speculations on what "Constitutional Economic Rights" we Americans should have, though of course actually writing such a slate of proposed Amendments would be a major undertaking that would require the efforts of progressive-minded political, legal, and economic experts over an extended period of time.  And I freely admit that these raw ideas are extremely radical - they are intended as non-linear solutions to our existing economic problems that are usually approached by debating over linear dichotomies such as "capitalism vs socialism", "elitism vs egalitarianism", "group sovereignty vs individual sovereignty", etc.  

The following economic activities should be declared "essential public services" and the federal government should finance and regulate the provision of an adequate amount of them to all citizens: public safety, technological infrastructure, housing, health care, education, banking and financial services, and emergency relief. Congress is expected to pass laws that define exactly what these activities are and what amount of them is "adequate" to meet the nation's need at any given time. This Amendement would NOT be intended to restrict the private sector from also providing these services, on either a for-profit or a non-profit basis. It simply puts the public sector in competition with the private sector when it comes to providing a legally-defined minimum of them to all citizens.

The nation's true wealth depends on the production of tangible goods and services within its own borders, and the federal government should encourage such production with financial incentives to both the producers and buyers of products "made in the USA". This Amendment would not intended be to either encourage or discourage Congress from passing laws restricting the importation of foreign products, but simply to give domestic producers an economic advantage over foreign producers.

The rights of corporations should NOT be identical to those enjoyed by individual citizens, but should be defined separately by Congress in ways that best meet the nation's needs at a particular time. In fact the very idea that the owners and executives of corporations should enjoy "limited liability" in both civil and criminal actions taken against the company needs to be questioned. Our Constitution expressly forbids granting any kind of legal immunity to a social nobility, so why should such priveliges be granted to an economic nobility?

Taxes on income of all types would be declared unconstitutional, but all purchases should be taxed at a flat rate to be set by Congress to meet the government's revenue needs at any particular time.  In addition to consumer purchases, purchases that are part of business overhead would be taxable, as would purchases of all kinds of securities, payments on both the interest and principle on loans, and money paid out as gifts or inheritances. Property taxes and excessive licensing fees on business activities would also be abolished. Tax relief for the genuinely needy would handled indirectly, as part of "emergency relief".

Both criminal justice and the electoral process would be freed of excessive economic influence by barring private attorneys and expert witnesses from appearing in court in criminal cases, and forbidding candidates for office from receiving direct private campaign funding in all elections. There would be no restrictions on private legal advice outside of the courtroom or on political media coverage that favored certain candidates without directly endorsing them for a specific office. Grassroots vounteer support for political candidates would be exempted from the restrictions, but this would have to be "real" and not involve people getting paid in any way for their activities.

On the emotional level, I personally favor the idea of a "ceiling" and a "floor" on personal incomes, but on the intellectual and intuitive levels, I realize that these are also linear solutions to non-linear problems. It makes a lot more sense for the government to regulate the factors that CAUSE extremes of wealth and poverty than it does to single out individuals for what amounts to reward or punishment. And it is these factors that would be dealt with in a "Economic Bill of Rights", so this is the approach I'm now taking....

Above all, the "Bill of Property Rights" would not directly specify what quantity of economic services the government should supply or how closely private economic activities should be regulated by law.  The assumption would be that both of these would vary over the course of time and be governed by whatever the nation's needs were in specific situations. As a progressive, I personally advocate reasonably extensive government services and economic regulation that favors small business organizations over big ones, but the basic idea is to provide checks and balances on economic power the prevents a tiny economic elite from running the majority of the nation's business enterprises using highly authoritarian methods.
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Let's take the turtle off the fence post. The turtle is the 99% and the fence post is artificial scarcity and a climate of fear. My main activity on the Internet right now is running the "Comparing Beliefs" Forum on the "Innersence" Yuku (more...)
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