You Can’t Be Socially Progressive and Economically Conservative
Mike Epifani
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What we’re missing in this thread and the world is a sense of economic value at the top end. We all know that 95% plus of the wealth goes to the top 1% of ‘earners’, few of whom actually earn their money, they make it through the exploitation of the labour of others. This is the area we need to look at. Income distribution within western neoliberal western economies is grossly unfair. We find it easy to speak about economic value in terms of ‘how easy it is to get the qualification’ or ‘how many people there are available to do a job’, but we live in modern times and these notions are becoming outdated. Before too long, many jobs, even top-level jobs such as ‘surgeon’ will be able to be done by computer controlled robots — they are already taking over the manufacturing industry, they fly our aeroplanes, they (not people) make millisecond investment decisions on the stock markets…

So we need to decide — how do we value people? This isn’t a monetary question, we have branches of economics that effectively put a value, and therefore a ‘wage’ on the work of ‘workers’ (people who make things, move things, change things — basically do ‘work’ in the physics sense), but have no similar mechanism to put a value on the contribution of CEOs, final beneficiaries at the end of multiple chains of tax-avoiding offshore shell-companies etc etc…

So what we have, despite the rhetoric, is basically a society that doesn’t value people, it allows them to be exploited by the priveleged few.

To go back to the original point…of the many functions of gevernment, one is to prevent the cynical exploitation of people — this is the ‘social contract’, you give up certain freedoms and in return the government provides certain protections.

In my opinion, the social contract has failed. It would seem that increasingly, the governments of neoliberal economies act to protect the top few percent (tax breaks for the rich, not controlling tax avoidance/evasion, killing unions that help protect the workers…the list continues)…

To move forwards progressively, we need a new social contract, or at least we need to make sure that the old one works properly…

If everyone earned more or less the same, then everyone should be taxed more or less the same. When some people essentially decide their own pay, they should be taxed at higher rates, in the case of the hyper-rich, incredibly high rates…Trickle down doesn’t work, and what we have seen over the past 30 or 40 years isn’t ‘trickle down’, it has been as vast and grossly unfair flow upwards.

If governments don’t act to mitigate this, then at some point there will be social unrest and revolution…

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