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Deep Security

Alfred F. Andersen



[A posting to the World Bank discussion group, 8 March, 2000]


In my previous postings [to the World Bank discussion on Poverty] I argued that we will see only "band-aid" kind of "empowerment" for poor people (the theme of the second week) until they are granted their fair share of income from our common-heritage wealth (including (I)"natural wealth" and (II) enhancements from previous generations, such as via urban infrastructure). Those who have a near-monopoly of income from our CH Wealth dominate wealth production, because all other wealth (buildings, consumer goods) is built upon it. Without income from investing wealth, one's only source of income is from a job provided (at their pleasure) by those who have a near-monopoly, private ownership of wealth.

This week's theme is "security." But that is only another aspect of the same basic problem. Poor people will have neither "empowerment" nor "security" except as they have *financial* security. And they will not have financial security except as they have either, or both, of the following:

(1) A nest egg stored away on which they can draw; or (2) guaranteed income which will continue "in sickness or health," whether employed of not; or, (3) preferably both.

Incidentally, with the security of (2), such as via a fair share of the income from our common-heritage wealth, one is also in position to build up a nest egg (1), a large part of which can then be used to generate income from *investment* in addition to employment; or, as the super-wealthy do, *instead* of employment.

People seldom contest the Tom Paine Institute's claim that such income from our common-heritage wealth is a basic economic *right.* The most common response is, "But how do we bring it about? How to we get 'from here to there'?"

1. The first step is to persuade (educate) enough people -- to educate them about the major rip-off which has been taking place all over the world, for centuries, by those who have had, and now have, a near-monopoly, private ownership of our common-heritage wealth, *and the constant, and mounting, income from it. Our faith is that once a fair share of income from our common-heritage wealth is generally recognized as an economic *right* that the demands from those being denied it, plus the consciences of those getting a near-monopoly share, will (as with racial and gender equality) inevitably bring it about.

2. The next step will be to increase rather than decrease "welfare payments" as *temporary,* rightful compensation to those who are presently being denied their fair share of income from our CH Wealth. This should be paid for by those presently getting an UNfair share of such income -- such as via a more progressive income tax. And a wealth tax would be a way of recovering unfair income from the past. The temporary and comforting measures which the World Bank suggests in the draft report chapter 5 would also be helpful, but only as part of a more comprehensive agenda designed, eventually, to actually achieve full and fair income to everyone from our common-heritage wealth!

3. The third step might be to start directing income from land taxation to Common-Heritage Trusts rather than to government budgets, and to paying to CH Trusts for use of other parts of our CH Wealth -- such as for water use, atmosphere use, cyberspace use, and for any impact on the environment (where all such impact is itself limited to that from which the environment can recover, and thus remain "sustainable").

4. The fourth step derives from the following realization: If governments are not to get income from taxing land and other resources, they must find other ways to raise resources. We suggest that the cost of governing should be borne by individuals and corporate bodies to the extent that they behave in ways that *require* governing. For instance, "power tends to corrupt," and thus bodies in positions of power over others are in need of constant governing -- for which governing the powerful (rather than the general population) should fully pay. This is a *big* subject. So, for a fuller treatment, please see our Web Site, below. Click on the "Justice for All" link; and then click on "Who Should Pay for Governing" at the end of the page, under "Table of Contents." A shorter statement can be found at the end of the link entitled "Tom Paine Institute's Philosophy."

5. The fifth step might be to begin raising land taxes to the full value of market income from it, at which point there would be no advantage in private ownership, and thus there would be no appreciable objection to shifting ownership to CH Trusts. Incidentally, those whose land taxes are raised will generally get much more back in the form of CH dividends than the tax increase.

6. At some point universities will have to be persuaded to direct their research to how to best move "from here to there" instead of, as at present, constantly feeding "intellectual property" to the wealthy, thereby making them ever wealthier and the rest ever poorer.

7. In short, what I suggest is a long-range vision of "security-building" based on economic *justice*, along with short-term efforts such as the World Bank and others on this list are suggesting -- but, and this is crucial, which are performed with the long-term vision as a goal. Unfortunately, the summary for Week One ignored basic structural change, though many of the suggestions made would be helpful as temporary, relief efforts. There have, on the other hand, been several posting which acknowledged the need for basic *structural* change, both politically and economically.

Alfred F. Andersen
Tom Paine Institute
http://csf.colorado.edu/sustainable-justice