Rather than read crime novels or watch horror movies to give myself a good scare, I prefer to peruse the major liberal websites to gain some insight into what's going on in the minds of our "progressive leaders". One of the scariest--I mean "best" sites--is Salon.com. There, academics, politicos and self-appointed scientific experts espouse their views on everything from confiscation of firearms, the vilification of Paul Ryan, and the need to spend and tax MORE in Europe to "fix" their fiscal disaster. But a series of recent articles really caught my attention: Defeating Useless Rich People.
In his series, Michael Lind of the New America Foundation, lays out his case for doing away with--or severely curtailing through regulation, flat out government takeover or taxation, what he describes as "Rentier industries". For those not familiar with the term, it basically means any business or person who makes money by "pushing paper" rather than "pushing a broom". And of course, Lind and his fellow theoretical economists are more than happy to determine who is who:
An Anti-Rentier movement would distinguish businesses that make profits
by providing worthwhile goods or services in innovative ways from
rentier interests that passively extract exorbitant tolls and fees from
the economy without adding any value.
How do you like the use of the word "worthwhile" in that sentence? Why am I guessing that the company that builds wind turbines nobody wants will be deemed "worthwhile" goods--while Oshkosh Truck and its huge military vehicles will likely be seen as "non-worthwhile". The same will probably go for soy milk versus that coming from a cow.
In addition, Lind says we need government-set limits on profits and interest rates in the private sector:
Windfall real estate profits should be taxed away by property taxes or
“land value” taxes. Severance taxes or superprofits taxes should be
levied on energy and other resource windfalls determined by geography
rather than human effort. Banks should be low-profit, publicly-regulated
utilities and laws against usurious interest rates, struck down in the
U.S. in the late twentieth century, should be restored.
So when Costco wants to buy up all the land in our neighborhood to build a new store in Oshkosh--I'm supposed to turn down an offer that exceeds the value of the property--or better yet, just pay away all of that "windfall" to the government--since I didn't really "earn" that money? And while I certainly hate payday lenders, nobody has a gun held to people's heads when they go in there. Businesses with no customers don't stay open very long.
Plus, what would a "fair economy" be without more government dependence?
Instead of cutting Social Security and Medicare to force the elderly to
buy more products from parasitic private-sector monopolies and
oligopolies, the Anti-Rentier coalition would favor expanding Social
Security and other public social insurance, while phasing out tax
subsidies for private health insurance and private retirement products.
In other words, trying to take care of yourself will now be punished--especially those that put money into 401(k)s or IRAs.
In his Total Money Makeover program, Dave Ramsey talks about the "Pinnacle Moment"--when your retirement investments start making more than you do working--in effect, allowing you to "coast" into retirement. In the Michael Lind "Total Economy Makeover", your only reward is to continue pedaling up that hill--because that is "being productive".