Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Best Solution to Inequality

One of the best solutions to inequality here in the U.S. and the world would be for everyone to have one share of the Commons, the wealth made from using what belongs to all of us our natural resources: air, water, gas and oil, among others. This is not a new thought nor is it welfare. Thomas Paine, 1737-1809, wrote that every individual is born with legitimate claims on natural property or its equivalent. A modern day exchange between two very conservative GOP Fox news commentators, Bill O’Reilly and Lou Dobbs, found that they agree with the concept of dividends for Commons. O’Reilly said, “It’s my contention that we, the people, own the gas and oil discovered in America. It’s our land and the government administers it in our name … land and water are the domain of we, the people.” Dobbs said, “The oil that we’re talking about belongs to us as you said … In Alaska, there is a perfect model for what we should do as a nation. We should have—let’s call it the American Trust. Have the oil companies put the fees into that Trust, not to be touched by the Treasury department or any other agency, but for investment on behalf of the American people. A couple of things then happen. One: it reminds everyone whose oil this is. And it even puts a little money, a little dollar sign on what it’s worth to be a citizen.” This is already being done in about a dozen countries. Norway has the most, which is called Sovereign Wealth Funds. Of the dozens of countries with this compensation, Norway has the largest with assets of $1 million per Norwegian. If it paid dividends of 4 percent every one in Norway would receive about $40,000 a year. Here in the U.S. , we have dividends being paid in Alaska, Cherokees in North Carolina, Sherman County, Oregon, and Vermont legislators are considering a bill to create a state Commons Assets Trust, which could pay about $3,000 a year to every resident. Also, there is a growing interest in a universal guaranteed income. In 2013, organizers from 15 countries launched an initiative to get the European Commissioner to explore the feasibility of an EU-wide basic income high enough to ensure an existence in dignity. Switzerland has obtained enough signatures to put on the ballot an initiative that would pay every citizen a monthly stipend of $2,800. The referendum must be held before 2018. We, wage slaves, have a good start in beating back wage and life inequality. I wonder what people like the old and new IWW think. I hope they’re proud that we have never given up on a workers’ utopian. Still , we must keep up the fight for $15 and free education and universal healthcare until we receive our dividends or better.