Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Winning Economic Reforms
Dana Williams
I believe in “revolution” -- the large scale transformation/evolution of human values and arrangement in a more just, free, and sustainable fashion. I believe that the way to achieve such r/evolution is through a long-term process of reform and rebellion, and an effort to create societal counter-institutions (i.e. “dual power”).

As such, I have a few basic ideas that can help to win economic reforms that will improve the lives of real people struggling day and day out in the US. Hopefully this struggle will indirectly aid in removing the West's boot from the neck of the Global South, too.

Since the federal government's “minimum wage” is despicably low-- and all sorts of industries get away with paying crap wages for hard work-- we should fight for “living wages”, in which the actual cost of living is translated into a worker's salary. Many municipalities in the US have created these living wage ordinances, usually applied to workers working with the city government or private contractors working for the city. This should be broadened and expanded. If enough cities pass these laws, companies will no longer be able to claim that certain places have “bad business climates”, since they all have them.

It is scandalous that the average CEO makes 400 times the average worker in the US. There is in fact no moral justification for this. It is also plainly clear that the CEO can earn so much more than the worker because they have the power to pay themselves more than they wish to pay those who actually produce the profit (the workers themselves). Thus, there should be an effort to cap salaries and create a “salary ceiling” for top executives. Jello Biafra suggests doing this, reducing the work week of everyone else to 30 hours (while paying them the same amount), and then paying the unemployed to do the remaining 10 hours of work with the amount saved by the salary cap.

Keeping out multinational companies and chain stores should be a key goal for any city's economic development. Sure, big companies might create large numbers of job instantly, but they also come with high costs and risks. They often ask for obscenely high tax cuts and abatements, they are always at risk of pulling out of the area since they have no roots there, and little of the money is reinvested in the community. With local businesses, those who own the company live in the community, profits are reinvested in the city and are used for charities, and customers feel a stronger need to support them as local.

Progressive taxes can work to redistribute the burden of social services of society more appropriately on the backs of those who leech off the work of others. Poor people must spend a much higher proportion of their income on saleable goods, and thus sales taxes are not as progressive as income taxes. Also, the higher someone's income, the greater percentage they should be paying in taxes. Otherwise, the very same people who benefit from the labor of the poor would be doubly exploiting them by not assisting in the funding of education, health and social services, and other necessary functions.

We should encourage union organizing in every sector of the economy. Unions have been probably one of the main civilizing factors in recent history. Workers deserve a greater say in the time they put in at work. Without a grassroots union representing them, how are they supposed to obtain enough power and pressure to be able to individually lobby their bosses on the job? It becomes every worker against every other worker without a union-- horizontal class conflict instead of vertical class conflict. Workers should also stand in solidarity with other unions who are striking and for workers who are attempting to organize.

Finally, working to assert into the public consciousness that there are other “unalienable” rights that people have, not just the political ones spelled out in the “Bill of Rights”. People have “economic rights”, such as the right to food, health care, shelter, education, child care, and so forth. These are things that there is currently no legal obligation to provide for people. This is deeply important because one cannot have “political equality” without economic equality. Economic rights are an important step towards achieving economic equality, and then political equality.

Little reforms, piled on top of each other, can help move the economy in a more progressive direction. Then, we “only” have the humble task of disengaging corporations from state power and divorcing them from so-called “personhood rights”. We'll get there one day!

03/01/04