What America and the World need to be focusing on
The cycles worth changing today to save tomorrow
In light the relatively new American administration the global community and Americans in particular have several key fights ahead of them, if they and we as a whole are to avoid major disruptions and negative transitions in the social and economic redevelopment of an ever more interconnected planet. Trump is a symbol of the rising populism that has been festering in many developing nations, disenfranchisement of the working class and the siloed aggregation of the newly created wealth. It shows that existing economic regimes are no longer viable, in an increasingly technological world. The populism that elected trump is a culmination of de-education and scarcity of opportunity that is reminiscent of the indicators which inhibit the growth of developing nations. Only that this is happening in nation that previously had developed systems and social safety nets to curb the issues that are more prevalent today than ever before. This trend is unlikely to change unless we develop sweeping policies in areas of artificial intelligence, net neutrality, social redistribution and global corporate controls. Left unchecked the problems that affect the whole planet will increase: over population, environmental degradation and economic disparity.
America has the unfortunate chance to implement the policies that can completely cripple the public population for generations and virtually forever, given the historical precedence of privatizing public resources. The Trump administration has already indicated that they intend to transfer national parkland into the jurisdiction of the states, to manage and develop resources. Much like the electricity, telecommunications, broadband spectrum and water services, once outside of public control these assets become tools for extraction and extrapolation of social wealth, often harming the most disenfranchised and economically oppressed by poor service and exorbitant fees. Further, policy shifts that favour Reagan-era trickle down economics have never worked, except for those earning the government incentives. Moves in other countries akin to what trump will do is not uncommon (the understanding of this avoidance is cemented in a lot of countries) but never the less, a trump raid on public assess equals the end of America as a global leader, there’s no way around it. Trumps’ presidency or not, America is facing the same economic problems as the rest of the world and have positioned themselves to pursue policy that has failed in the past. The soon to be national raid for fossil fuels is backwards and seemingly draconian, especially when we consider the looming threat of climate change along with the fact that all 80% of the known oil and gas reserves must stay in the ground so the planet doesn’t increase past the 2° temperature threshold and perpetuate a cycle of ever increasing environmental calamity. This day and age, the continued use of fossil fuels is like eating more that one extra slice of cake on a diet, tastes good but you’re going get fatter; except the cake isn’t a lie cooked up by china and it’ll kill millions of innocent people, not just your dreams of beach season.
The problem with net neutrality in America is essentially the same problem that I described with the practice of public asset privatization, except internet utility companies built the broadband infrastructure using government incentives, rather than outsource distribution and management to corporations on a publicly built asset. None the less the effects are the same as I described previously, except the disenfranchisement of net neutrality is targeting internet content providers and independent portals. This means internet selection is limited while they further control the platform, instead of nickel and diming the consumer, they are creating a new market to saturate and artificially edge out competition. Something which they already do to the public, by way of infrastructure control and artificially stagnant markets. This is just the first of repetitive policy that serves only the rich, harms opportunity for social learning and limits the upward mobility of the public. Net neutrality is the struggle that America and other regions which have privatized their public assets have been dealing to coping with simply manifesting in a new platform of common use taken over by corporations there is only a marginal difference. In America, many cities have tried to create their own internet infrastructure but are barred through market protectionist policies. It is further made ironic because the privatization of public assets has always been “sold” to the public as a means of lowering the cost of administration through market competition and corporate efficiency. The problem of internet cartels is something America is facing, but the privatization of public assets is something that becomes attractive to cash strapped governments because of the upfront value. When faced with the decision to sell assets or upfront debt finance then amortize the cost over a fixed term, the latter is more sensible. What governments have failed to do in occurring debt is to create properly designated funding pools; which both address fund withdrawal and include elements of asset monetization through user fees (not whole sale) and base percentage of property taxes. Designated funding pools are the most effective fiscal management tool, because it creates requirements for use and can be more transparently accounted for. Funding pools can be feed into broadly by designating portions of development fees and other large continual income streams that provide an easy way of: managing growth, debt and increasing expenses/projected costs. (i.e. creating pools to pay upfront for capital or larger down payments to avoid projected debt in future dollars and variable interest rates) but this is my opinion as a city planner and not the focus of this piece.
Artificial intelligence may seem like a great thing, but it echoes the same economic trends that we’ve been seeing in every generation of technological advancement or more recently in the trend of globalizing neo-liberal free trade policy. Technology is great, but it’s the control of technology that makes it dangerous, AI especially so. Corporations try and find efficiencies to stay competitive and lower operating costs, it’s when corporations use technology to replace workers that we face a systemic issue. They’re essentially eliminating the purchasing power and employment of the general public while increasing the amount of wealth accumulated to an ever-decreasing percentage of the population. This imbalance is already evident in our world, and is unsustainable to economic circulation and growth. The emergence of artificial technology marks a level which most can’t properly fathom. Real artificial intelligence acts like a human brain, ever developing and constructing thought and solutions, except there isn’t the barrier of learning time and incredibly fast processing speed. With the internet and IoT based information infrastructure, Real AI can perform synergistic computing and modelling much faster and efficient than we can currently do through our organic and collaborative means. This is particularly troubling in the way to develop real AI: each level of development towards this point, sees fewer and fewer people having control of the medium or the “new mechanism” of wealth creation, which will only disproportionately affect income equality. There are some striking things that can happen to the public in the development of artificial intelligence: increasing class degradation into a firm two-class reality, fewer opportunities for market entrance by new people and corporations, and residual effects an evaporating social safety net. Those that argue this position, I will ask this: are the ultra wealthy expected to redistribute enough of their wealth to mitigate the inequality? when this issue already exist today and most avoid taxation. It is for lack of a better word stupid to believe so. This is a problem that we’ve seeing the same effects of today and it will take AI decades to fully come online. but to expect technology to save us from our inequitable way of life and global coordination regardless of if it’s AI or not is like us also expecting the wealthy to act differently all of a sudden. its a crazy notion because it isn’t supported by any facts or correlating events/ information. What is supported by fact is that income inequality has followed technological efficiency and the migration of production to exploit weak labour laws and environmental regulations. So why do we continue to do the same thing? wait for technology to magically produce new equality, has it ever happened without negative repercussions historically? what we currently do, is what we always done but now we are continuing to work past a point where we’ve expended our planet and killed millions through side effect because “elites” need dividends and “thought leaders” are hoping along the way a fix is invented. Good fucking luck.
Side rant: I don’t like the phase elites in the context of wealthy people, they are often not “elite” in any measure but an arbitrary measure of resource allocation, if they were intellectually elite we wouldn’t have this problem, “elite” in any other human asset does not describe them, so why do we call them that? it only idolizes the very people killing us all
Social redistribution and Global corporate controls
The greatest steps we can take to combat this problem is to create strict international corporate regulations through the Bretton Woods institutions like the WTO and IMF which include the following base policy measures:
Stock options and benefit restriction
- developing a measure that limits the looting of corporate assets will lower the earning inequalities in companies. Stock options are important to workers in many cases and to new business but when policy focuses on the steep accumulation of assets by a few individuals it eliminates the method of shirking income tax loop holes and capital gains tax. This should apply to corporations operating on a multinational level.
International corporate taxes rather than regional/local measures
- instead of local corporate taxes, international taxes should be levied by an overseeing organization that develops a progressive rate: based on the jurisdictions companies operate in and a standard non domestic base rate. This both hampers global corporate control by discouraging international growth to exploit weaker labour, while making local companies more able to compete and enter the market.
Base level environmental regulation and remediation standards
- The Paris Climate Accord was one thing, but in this day and age we should no longer only address environmental concerns when they existentially threaten our species and the life barring capacity of the planet. Developing standards of resource extraction, processing and pollution creates a check to corporations running rampant in less regulated parts of the planet and devastating precious eco-systems for generations. With rigours common policy, it can be advanced and supplemented by local jurisdictions and violations enforced at the local level. This type of policy should include a public consultation processes that gets the developer to pay for the resources of educating local community representatives, with no power over spending, just providing an agreed upon figure as part of the consideration of proposal. This is contrast to in many cases the which the developer is solely doing their own research and assessments. The resources of states are public assets and should be managed with considerations that they are communally owned through the institution of national citizenry. privatization should only be allowed through a public consensus of selling their shared property in a transparent and measured process.
These three points can dramatically reshape the way the way the world operates by checking the unchecked growth and subsequent issues presented by the privatization of assets, increases in technology and the progression of wealth inequality. the idea that this puts too much burden on corporations is irrelevant, markets are open to be competitive, these are the basis of the new rules: compete or go under, another business will take your place that’s how capitalism works.
A measure for responsive government is to mandate companies follow their domestic policy standards in foreign countries with weaker legislation and barring businesses that refuse or move. In our day and age the market will address an open opportunity if there are institutions and capital available. letting companies call the shots and forget that we the public and government give them power and rights, is how we have our problems now. We created the means for them to exist, not the other way around.
*post writing note: I don’t talk about the loss of civil rights only because this piece is long enough (that could be its own article) and rights can be restored whereas ownership is often out of the fiscal capabilities of governments to reclaim once assets are sold.