in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Raise the poverty line, implement protectionist tariffs, and institute employee representation in corporate decision making

File under: job creation, poverty line, basic budget, employee representation, tariffs, manufacturing, industrial policy, technology, jobs, taxes, welfare

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From: Keith A., , IL

High poverty and high unemployment aren't an anomaly. They're the natural state of affairs in a backward economy. In the United States, they're a warning sign that our economy is regressing. This isn't a recession -- it's a regression.

Without a basic standard of living, people lack the security, flexibility and opportunity to make good long-term economic decisions. Therefore, redefine the poverty line to account for increases in the costs of housing, transportation, health care and child care (read more here), and distribute the benefits of entitlement programs accordingly. Pay for them with a steeper marginal tax rate on luxury-level income (60 percent on income over $175,000 a year for single filers, $300,000 a year for joint filers).

But transfer payments alone are a drag on the economy. Therefore, put in place an aggressive national industrial policy focused on two things: advanced technology (especially in nano and green energy) and domestic production of goods for domestic consumption. If we can't compete head-to-head with slave-labor wages in China and other nations, then we have to accept the necessity of temporary protectionist tariffs as a defensive measure while our productive capacity regenerates.

Finally, amend corporate law to require German-style employee representation in corporate governance, to ensure that companies are run with the interests of all stakeholders in mind, not just to maximize profit for stockholders and executives. This should result in fairer employee compensation as well as more reinvestment of earnings in research and development.


Keith A.
From , IL

Two addenda: There is so much work in this country that needs to be done, and so many people who need work, the obvious problem is figuring out how to pay the latter to do the former. This is where a WPA-style work program would be extremely useful in the short term, especially considering the deplorable state of our national transportation and utility infrastructure. Also, the single biggest roadblock against job creation right now is big banks' unwillingness to lend money to small businesses and startups. Therefore, either the Federal Reserve or a public-private small-commercial bank should lend directly to these businesses so that they can create the jobs we need. Capitalism has a major role to play in our recovery, but our biggest capitalists are refusing to cooperate. Cut them out of the deal.

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