20. Mr. Jones Saves Capitalism

26 Apr

The TED Conferences are a valuable source of intellectual information and stimulation.  I was excited when I read the recent talk title “Why We Need to Rethink Capitalism” (April 2015) by Paul Jones.   He describes “income inequality” and makes us feel that he really cares about this issue. He admits to being extremely wealthy but immediately rejects the idea of “higher taxes”, it’s not on his “bucket list.”  Note that he says simply “higher taxes”, not “higher taxes for the rich”. This is the first clue that we are getting brainwashed, and it is a typical ploy of Republicans: shortening “raising taxes for the wealthy”, a Democrat ideal, down to “raising taxes” to scare the general population.

What he suggests is something very special.  He proposes “actually trusting the system that got us here.” We must increase the “justness in corporate behavior”.  In fact, he actually started an organization devoted to determining and implementing “just corporate behavior”.  He does not propose a solution but leaves it up to the public to lead this effort.  Pure capitalism cannot be trusted — that is why “anti-trust” legislation was implmented early in the 20th Century. History shows that unregulated capitalism often spirals out of control, leaving poverty and despair in its wake.  Remember Enron, and remember the banks “too-big-to-fail” with the bailout paid for by the public — and many other examples.

No doubt this idea will please the naive.  And rich people will be happy to work on a voluntary system that will be a diversion from real solutions.  This approach at best will provide token improvements and will make happy those that should be paying higher taxes.  We must raise tax rates at the highest levels, and close tax loopholes, many of which were created by congressional payoffs.  I have worked with government-supplied data to see if increased taxes could provide substantial help for those in need.   Regardless of what politicians say, it will help, and some of the increased revenue could be devoted to infra-structure repair (a job creator).

It is sad that the obvious Republican diversion tactics from real solutions like higher tax collections from the rich, can be effective with large segments of our population.  For decades, rich people have enjoyed unfair income advantages, and it is time to implement real change.  A final thought: there are some moral rich people who realistically promote tax fairness, but most got to their elevated positions by the ruthless disregard of others less fortunate.

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