Shared prosperity is the authentic progressive meme opposing the economically nonsensical John-Boehner-Barack-Obama-Bernie-Sanders one, “shared sacrifice.” ‘Shared prosperity’ derives from Keynes, who saw no good reason economies should operate at less than capacity, when “pump priming” is available and not fully employed* (common sense pump priming: at least hand it out to those who need it and will spend it). So I hope all real progressives can agree that shared prosperity is our meme.
Voters can and should demand more, of course. Here’s a distilled down anti-neoliberal program that satisfies voters’ righteous anger (which will be more widespread and powerful as times get worse, which they will) and seems at least marginally realistic even in these overwhelmingly borg-ish, ‘there is no alternative’ times:
1. Shared prosperity: Keynesian stimulate the economy back to full employment.
2. Take back the money we gave the big banks, sitting uselessly in their vaults. Impose a tax that gets the job done.
3. Break up the ‘too big to fail’ banks and restore the banking laws to how they were pre-1979.
4. A one-time wealth tax, taking half of individual wealth exceeding a million bucks or family wealth exceeding two million. This is to partly correct, for the rest of us, 30 years of government-sponsored wealth re-distribution the wrong way.
5. Build a green infrastructure. Use much of the revenue from ‘2’ and ‘4’ and Keynesian deficit spending to re-build the infrastructure and create green transportation systems and housing convenient to those systems. (Of the eight proposals, this is the one I’m least in love with strategically; it may be too vulnerable in the short-run real political world.)
6. End legalized bribery. Make campaign contributions over $250 illegal; greater than that the law infers bribery. So be it if this requires a constitutional amendment. Of course a constitutional amendment is very difficult to achieve; any ideas? This one is essential.
7. Democratize the mass media. The FCC through a fairness doctrine on steroids should force the public airwaves – radio and TV are ours – to reflect in their news and opinion programs the rough range of opinion indicated by U.S. elections.
8. Make membership in a democratic union a fundamental right, like the right to vote.
9. Cut defense and closely related funding at least 50%, so that the U.S. ends its imperialism and globo-cop acts. This connects with most Americans’ natural ‘mind our own business’ instinct that the imperialist mainstream calls ‘isolationism’. (#9 is the UPDATE.)
None of the above is original, and none are radical with the possible exception of ‘7’ and its implications (“Aren’t you really saying ‘free press’ has failed and that you want to replace that basic meme with ‘democratic press’?” Yes. And I admit I haven’t fully explained my thinking here.) Also, none are fully fleshed out, this being a blog post nothing more. But, anyway, any question? What do you think?
*Admittedly, there is a familiar, foolish, and ineffective ‘quasi-pump-priming’, where the government gives trillions to the banks which they sit on. That obviously doesn’t work, isn’t pump priming in my dictionary, and wouldn’t have been in Keynes’s if anyone back in the 1930s had been brazen, stupid, and ‘banker tool’ enough to suggest it. (This can be inferred from the problem that Keynes thought ‘pump priming’ was the solution for: an economic downturn exacerbated when a fearful public decides to stuff its money in mattresses.) But, we live in different, brazenly stupider times. (Hip tats to donkeytale and mcmurphy for inspiring the preceding.)
That far-sighted vision is exactly what is needed. A 2012, 2014, 2016 campaign is realistic, and we need realism from the anti-neoliberal movement. The mainstream media is overwhelmingly negative, the money is all on the other side, the unions are so small and what’s left of them are bought off or stupid, and so on. All we have is being right. We need a clear, simple but powerful and in part angry message. I suggest something like this:
End Wall Street rule, end legalized bribery of politicians, take our money back from the banks and strengthen Social Security and the rest of the safety net, and stimulate the economy back to prosperity — do what it takes — with smart Keynesian deficit spending.
That’s an attractive and reasonably simple message for a beat-up, alienated, austerity-ized populace, but even so it won’t be enough in 2012. Ending neoliberalism, returning to Keynesianism, and enacting real popular rule (by ending legalized bribery of politicians) will take time. And, the other thing is, that the austerity is still not bad enough in the U.S. Sadly, though, it will get worse.