Americanism or American Socio-Capitalism
Although everyone agrees that the growing wealth inequality in America is self-perpetuating and is dangerous to the future of the country, a progressive income tax increase advocated by most economists as a solution has no chance of being implemented in the prevailing political climate. Unaddressed, wealth inequality is expected to have serious consequences that include intolerable social unrest, punitive taxation or both. Solutions must be sought to ensure a more positive future for the country, to preserve our democratic ideas and keep our vigorous capitalist economy humming.
One possible solution is that the government, itself, at the federal, state or county level acquire greater equity interests in the companies on which we depend for our daily lives. This would result in greater profits for the governments to spend on schools, libraries, police, public health, infrastructure "etc. and would also reduce the need to raise more taxes.
Examples of this approach already exist. Today, municipalities and/or cities own one-fifth of all hospitals and 25% of all electric utility companies in the United States. There is no reason why this system could not be expanded to cover other companies that supply us with the services we all use such as the Internet, banking, insurance, health care, road repair and maintenance"etc. This would be distinct from top-down nationalization of the companies involved as done in communist or socialist societies. The companies involved would be run freely and in the same way they are run today with shareholder involvement and good salaries to top brass to motivate talented people to join but with greater attention to issues of public interest rather than solely for profit that would further enriches the already rich.
An example comes from Alaska. The Alaska Permanent Fund is owned by the state and provides basic income for all residents. It collects and invests proceeds from the extraction of oil and minerals in the state. Dividends are paid out annually to all state residents. That money could also be used to upgrade schools, hospitals, invest in other successful enterprises, etc. It could provide resources to acquire equity in already established or new companies that we could rely on to improve our lives.
The new system would not be dissimilar to what already exists in the Nordic societies, which are uniquely successful. They have higher living standards, lower crime rates, longer life expectancies, higher degrees of social cohesion and more even income distributions. In Finland, the schools are among the best in the world, its government is among the least corrupt, its people are the happiest and its public debt is among the lowest.
This proposed new system is neither socialism nor communism; it is what we could call: "Americanism". It uses the main capitalist ideas of free markets to directly address public needs.
Europeans visiting the United States are often struck by our crumbling infrastructure, the dirtiness of cities and the large numbers of our poor and disheveled begging on our streets or sleeping in our building entrances. The United States is not a poor country by any measure, it just has an uncontrolled, vicious and individualist capitalist system that robs the poor and gives generously to the billionaires. The vitality of our system is the envy of the world, but its inequalities are slowly destroying the best democratic system ever designed. The system proposed here, if widely adopted, would inject the vitality and innovativeness of capitalism directly into our decaying society to equalize opportunity and enhance our living conditions.