The world has about four billion souls to take care of. Of these, one eighth are in danger of disabling or deadly shortages. One quarter suffer shortages of food, and usually of basic services like medicine and rudimentary education. Half the world's people suffer from deficiencies of protein.
China has almost 800 million souls and may have a billion before the year 2000 unless present efforts at population control take effect. The United States will have a quarter of a billion before long. American companies and stations abroad have a direct responsibility for employing another quarter of a billion, practically none of whom are citizens of the U.S.A.
There is a growing feeling of world responsibility in China; else why would the Chinese be involved in Africa or Indochina or the United Nations? And, of course, the U.S.A. has for two generations claimed a world responsibility. It takes part in scores of international organizations dealing with problems of communications, use of the oceans, world health, and economic affairs.
The United States is more crowded than China. Like the Chinese, the great majority of Americans dwell in a small portion of the country. In these areas the Americans have an advantage in the amount of floor space they occupy. (Even this measure must take account of the one-fourth-larger volume of the American's body.) There are fewer villages in America, so a walk in the countryside is more difficult. The main difference results from the high mobility of Americans; they move like hot molecules in a gas chamber, rapid and raising pressure. Their vast consumption of goods demands the continuous movement of traffic of all types. They leave evidence of themselves and their machines and pets everywhere throughout the country.
In the final analysis, the average American probably feels as crowded as the average Chinese. Perhaps more so, because of the mechanical noises that are generated by endless building an destruction, back-and-forth movements, and the interruptions by deliveries, mail, and telephone calls.
This growing sense of being crowded is one reason why the birth rate of American women has declined, the population near the point where, within two generations, the population will be stationary. But the population is still growing meanwhile and, if births are not even more restrained, will reach perhaps 280 million before deaths balance births.
If the Americans take steps to reduce their movements or if immobility is forced upon them by shortages, or it they design their environments better, they will enjoy the effects of reduced crowding, now and in the future. A quick reduction in the growth of the population and in crowding could only occur if the world as a whole were to agree to effective measures of birth control.
A conference of the nations could establish a five-year quota of births for each country. Countries would reduce birthing in accord with their agreed-upon quotas. Such a policy would require a licensing system that would progressively penalize unlicensed births throughout the world. In brief, a sanction of mild disapproval of a first unlicensed birth would increase into sterilization for the second or third unlicensed birth. Whether men or women are called upon to quit, or both, is immaterial. If it is legitimate for nations to "ban the bomb," it is equally legitimate to "ban the population bomb."
As with the bomb explosion, parents and other people would rather not contribute to the population explosion. It is estimated that nearly a third of American births were unintended by their parents, and this figure rises to 50 per cent or more in countries where the birth rate is higher and parents poorer.
Many Americans, unfortunately, are not ready to enter upon such an agreement, nor do they recognize that their own crowing is serve. They imagine that, like the energy crisis, it is only temporary and the "the good old days will come back."
Looking at the situation from the personal side, an American is ordinarily responsible for himself and a half-dozen others, usually Americans, usually termed "family and close friends." So also the Chinese. The Americans lead a life of serial responsibilities. As a result of moving around and changing the groups to which they belong, most are responsible for a group of changing membership through life.
Their lives contain many attenuated and broken ties of an intimate kind and of lesser intensity. Yet they cannot forget them and must also look forward to new ones. So the intimate American world is large when spread over a life span of seventy years, even if it is small at a given moment. Life is full of memories of those who have been intimate, and expectations of those who will be "family and close friends."
Thus most Americans make and break relationships rather readily, with regrets and good will for the most part. They do not fall to pieces psychologically, but the whole process has a slightly neurotic air about it that the more rigid people denounce worriedly. The biblical or Confucian family no longer dominates personal life from birth to grave. Still, for the functional and structural requirements of a fully developed modern society, which is a cosmopolitan society, the net effect is highly positive. A retreat to the family and a renunciation of the world would be most difficult. Americans have burned their bridges behind them.
A bewildering variety of expedients has developed to order a person's affectional needs. For instance, many forms of personal and group therapy directly substitute for the confidential functions of the extended family system (and, I should add, for the church). Millions of Americans are organized into small groups of classes whose chief aim is to let and teach them to express their troubles and affection frankly and to sympathize deeply with the trouble of others. It is wrong to treat these efforts lightly. The individual American hates to contemplate a dependence upon the state or upon political leaders for his emotional fulfillment and this is great step forward in civilization and humanism.
Consider the job problem in America. Many millions of persons come from minority groups that had been oppressed or have recently arrived from poor countries. They wish not only to fit into the job system but also to advance as rapidly as they can to the middle-level status that all Americans seek to attain. In addition there are a great many old people who are not really old; they find themselves in full possession of their strength and faculties at the age of fifty-five onward but must fool themselves into thinking that they are too old to work. And then there are the great numbers of youth who cannot suffer the many tedious years of education that are demanded of them allegedly because there is nothing else for them to do and they must be kept from hooliganism, as you have discovered. But more than anything else there are many millions of women who not only want jobs but wish to compete with men on an equal basis for the jobs that exist.
All of this adds up to a tremendous pressure to create jobs. But remember too that America, unless it is to live in a world that is a jungle of hatred and war, must consider the aspirations of countless millions of others who have a righteous demand upon the world's resources too. Therefore America's quota of the world's resources must go down. There can be no doubt or hesitation. There are certain things that must be done.
Everyone must be guaranteed a decent base income that one can call upon at any time all of the time. The industrial system must be called upon to reform itself so that all those who want work can have it. At the same time the work must be useful and not made-up, useless work. This can only mean a limit to the call that any single person has upon well-paid work; a three-day, two-thirds-time work week should be planned for as soon as possible. From the top of the job hierarchy to the bottom, no one is indispensable in the sense that he and only he must perform functions all the time. President Eisenhower worked a thirty-hour week as President of the U.S.A., and he was certainly no worse than the average of Presidents. No one should be permitted to hog work, any more than to hog anything else. Whenever a person of reasonably adequate qualifications applies for a job, the job has to be divided if it is not already divided. Only thus can women, minorities, and the young ever expect to gain the fulfillment, enjoyment, and prestige that work affords.
Americans have tried endlessly to limit their economic dependence upon the state. This too has proven difficult, but I warrant that it is not impossible. What is required to achieve it is clarity of thought and a new generous outlook upon the grand issue of economic fulfillment.
I have mentioned earlier that Americans do not yet realize that, to avoid dependency, they have to acknowledge the need to share. Americans have become a nation of dependents without appreciating their condition because they are fighting its implications. Once they recognize the fact, the solution is simple.
Everyone must be taken care of. No one in a republic should deny anyone the right to subsist. Otherwise the republic will be forever instable. The most stable republic and empire that ever existed-the -Roman bread, and circuses too. People sometimes joke about "bread and circuses," but they were a centuries-long reality of guaranteed basic income and the right to participate in community observances to the Romans. If the admission is made-if there is consensus on this point-the stability of the American republic will be easier to maintain.
In a sense, Marxism is correct: the state is the superstructure of the economic system. This is an ancient philosophical discovery, and only a foolish economic and political science such as existed in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century schools would ever deny it. It is also true that the economic system is whatever the psychological and social system make it to be. And, in a sense, these are superstructures of a people's way of ruling themselves.
Once the principle of sharing is confronted and accepted, many other social, economic, and political conditions are compelled to swing into alignment, and for the good. In America, and probably in China and elsewhere, the principal decision must be to provide a minimum income to every living soul, from womb to tomb, guaranteed by the will, the skills, and the resources of the society and set at a level that has an absolute bottom and a shifting top.
The plan that would work best for Americans would be a life account system. Everyone would have an income-maintenance balance sheet through life. When not earning, he would draw funds up to the maximum. When earning, he would not usually draw but would pay back his previous drawings. Ordinarily by the end of his life, his account would be balanced: he would have paid back all his drawings. If he did not, then his life account would be closed with a deficit, small or large, which would be assumed by the universal life account system. Drawing from the account would be a voluntary action, as would be paying back money into one's account. Without the need for employing persons at unproductive tasks, the production system would be able to offer high wages. High wages would generate repayments that would be true rather than illusory repayments. People would be freed of bureaucratic thralldom. One large computerized record could hold and update the quarter of a billion American entries neatly.
Is this possible? Indeed it is possible, both in a poor country and in a rich one. The Americans, in the strange way they have of confronting reality while avoiding it, have set up many special systems of life accounts covering perhaps a third of the population. Congressman Griffith's study in 1974, for example, estimated that the cost of selling cheap food stamps to persons of low income will increase from $3 billion to $106 billion between 1973 and 1976, and one in every four Americans will be eligible to acquire these underpriced stamps with which to purchase foodstuffs.
Generally, as I pointed out in discussing dependency, the American welfare system works backward and forward from the job, that altar stone of pre-industrialism. Once an American has "a good job," he gets the things that a good job truly means, which is a way of life built around his work. He or she must, or as a pair they must, earn enough to take care of their children if they have them or their pets and car and bungalow, to put a child or two through high school, and contribute to the support of one or more parents, engage in pension funds for their retirement, travel here and there, and pay for the medical and hospital care of their family.
It is a big load for a person to bear, and the government, insurance companies, and employers pitch in with payments all along the line. Peoples' taxes are tied to their jobs and to their purchases. The system is bewildering, as we discovered. And what makes it so bewildering and unsatisfactory for two thirds of the population that lacks the job is that it is centered on the job, and not around membership in American society, which is the all-pervasive bond of Americans.
Americans do believe that they live under a social contract. In fact, the Constitution is written as a social contract, beginning
with "We, the people of the United States..... do ordain and establish this Constitution...." But when it has come to sharing the gains of the social contract among all (the healthy state of dianomia), they often balk and to back to a competitive ideology of "every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost." The Americans, therefore, are unsnarled in contradictions of mind behavior regarding sharing. Life for Americans would be much simpler and happy if they realized and affirmed, once and for all, they live and die by the collective worth and efficiency of their political community.
Instead, America has tried to create an independent individual by improving his job, and by connecting other improvements throughout one's life to the job. But that system has now bogged down in its own wastes and complexity. To avoid bureaucratic socialism, it must now abolish the selfdelusion, the wastes, and the complexities, and set up a true socialism.
America has within its present system the potential to become the first true socialist country in the world, exceeding even China in this regard. The sharing system that we speak of here is one of the several major reforms of which it is capable and that could turn the trick. The other reforms are dealt with elsewhere.
Let me explain more about this basic sharing system that is called the Personal Social Contract and Life Account System (PESCALA). Think of it as a system that is established apart from the general Treasury. It forms a separate National Social Budget. In America, we deal in large figures, partly because everything is expensive. The country may have about 250 million people by the time PESCALA has had a few years of experience. I am assuming that $1 trillion of personal income in cash of 1974 currency will come out of this society. The sum May be larger, but I am writing the surplus off for help to the world. Suppose that every living American requires $2,000 as a minimum to take care of one's needs.
If half of all 250 million Americans (the young, the ill, the aged, self-helpers [housewives, etc.], the unemployed, "the leisure class") draw all their $2,000 account in a given year, the total drawn will be $250 billion. If a family of four persons is totally without other resources, its members will draw $8,000.
The other half of the population is assumed to be working, or at least not drawing. They earn high wages and receive other income averaging $8,000 per capita and have available then $1,000 billion. We have said that all surplus over $1 trillion goes to world needs, and therefore will confine the reckoning only to Americans and their trillion-dollar income. Among them, 50 million may pay for past drawings from their own accounts to the amount of, say, $5,000 on the average. This gives the government a revenue of $250 billion, and the life account system will be in balance. The remainder of $750 billion is spent by this half of the population, 125 million persons, after they have paid back some or all of their arrears on their PESCALAs.
The aim is that a person have available to him or her, inn periods of scarcity, a minimum income sufficient for the necessities of life, and can pay back to his personal account in periods of high earnings the amount owed the account. Each person aims to end life owing the government nothing. If that proves impossible, the life's end deficit will be ordinarily no more than the true deficit that the society would run on the person by many devious means anyhow. If the person runs a surplus, which is more likely, he distributes it at the end of life according to his wishes. He may not, however, leave it to the government,not may he leave a great fortune to his heirs.
It should be borne in mind that the PESCALA system will divert and cancel out the greater part of all government spending. In the short run, people with adequate pension systems, for example, will not draw on their accounts. Others, such as dependent children, will have PESCALA for their parents to draw for and will not draw on the welfare funds that are presently provided by the governments. So will most of the old people who lack resources, and many of the students in colleges. Very little of these natural equilibrium measures can be explained here. What is important, I feel, is to suggest to you that a personal and free system can be devised that is just and workable. It is not necessary to find low-grade work to excuse people for receiving a decent minimum income. It is not necessary to devise a highly complex and bureaucratic system to exploit initiative. The great bureaucratic costs are unnecessary.
Since your governmental collections in China are rationed out among the village and factories by the central government, you probably are not familiar with the American tax system. It is fantastically complex. I fear that I may give you an erroneous notion of it by summarizing it here. The total spent by all governments of America amounts to $375 billion, of which the federal government spends two thirds. The government collect their money in the following forms and percentages :
32 per cent of revenues come from taxes on the earnings of individuals;
17 per cent from taxes on the earnings of companies;
13 per cent from taxes on property;
18 per cent from taxes on the purchases made by people;
5 per cent from all other taxes; and
15 per cent from charges for selling people government products and services.
All receipts must ultimately come from real people. Further more, no matter which combination of tax methods is used, the rich manage to stay rich and the poor to stay poor. By a law of invisible equilibrium, the social power system calls into being a tax system to match itself. Contrary to all expectations, a tax system never effects a revolution unless a revolution has already ordered that tax system into effect.
Professor Richard E. Wagner has recently written that "billion of dollars are spent annually to evade taxes, avoid taxes, seek out non-taxable forms of income, and secure privileged tax treatment." No country in the world today has a good tax system. Secrecy, complexity, high costs, and uneconomic decisions abound in all existing systems. In countries such as America, a furious struggle goes on continually between citizens and officials; in socialist countries, bureaucrats struggle with other bureaucrats over payments to each other's offices, which are in effect taxes.
A social loss of many more billions of dollars occurs because of bad decisions induced by the tax laws. For example, the taxes of all Americans businesses are reduced to the extent that the property and machines of the businesses depreciate. Yet, what is "depreciation"? It is not a fixed term written in the sky. It is in part the result of a struggle to reduce taxes by pretending that many billions of dollars of assets are disintegrating by wear and tear. As a result, the property does, in fact, tend to be abused and junked ahead of any real necessity. Much of the wasting of assets in America occurs specifically as consequence of tax laws.
Or, again, any expense of a profitable business costs the business only about 50 per cent, since it is deductible from receipts and therefore from profits, on which an approximate 50 per cent tax is levied. Among other more important phenomena, this produces the idiocy of millions of housewives feeding their children on peanut butter sandwiches at home while the husband is gorging himself like a Turkish pasha at an expensive restaurant with his business friends. Few really enjoy this behavior; nor is it fair to the families.
I would assert also that the poorer and middle-income groups in America benefit little directly, and indirectly lose more than they gain, from the "liberal" tax system that is supposed to prevail. It is hard for people to imagine that they are indeed victimized by a tax system that was supposed to be a response to the demand for equality. Nor do they realize how much they are paying or where the money goes. The fact remains that the simplest, most honest, most efficient, and most effective tax system has never been tried.
Suppose that a system of an equal single tax would be imposed on all women, children, and men. The basis for the tax is the regular budget (not the PESCALA social budget) of the nation. So much money is needed for spending. Each person must pay 1/250 millionth of the total, assuming a 250 million population in the future. It is as simple as that.
The tax is added to the drawing account, so that the poor may pay their tax. A typical person will accumulate a PESCALA deficit when young, pay it all back when working, and save enough or work long enough so as not to have to draw in old age. When a person has hard luck or does lowpaid work or is unassimilable to the income-earning economy, his or her deficit at death is absorbed into the deficit of the system. The deficit of the system is reflected in each new annual regular budget. It will be much easier then to generate the new revenues and make the necessary policy adjustments. Meanwhile every person in the country will understand clearly and directly how much he is asked to pay for being party to the American social contract.
Suppose in the example above that the total budget of the nation, with its governments on all levels included, amounted to $200 billion. This may seem strange at first sight, since I reported above that the governments spend $375 billion. But consider that something like $175 billion represents costs of government that would be paid by people themselves under the life account system; they would draw from their accounts for food, health, education, and other needs now supplied and paid for by the governments through a multitude of programs. I am not able to match sums perfectly, of course, because of the great reform of bureaucracy that will take place. Also, I have not touched military expenditures here, or general government costs, or other spending that may be affected by the proposals of these lectures.
The $200 billion of the budget would come to $800 for every man, woman, and child. This would be their tax. All would be equally accountable for paying it, poor or rich. However, the poor would not be able to pay this sum. Therefore it would be added on to the basic PESCALA income of $2,000. Everyone is authorized to draw up to $2,800 on his drawing account for the year. So the 125 million people who, in the example, drew $2,000 will now draw $2,800, and immediately pay back the government Treasury $800. The tax balance owed by them to the Treasury is now zero, but their PESCALA balance is $800 more in arrears.
Next, all those 125 million who are earning money will pay the government Treasury $800. This will provide the second half of the $200 billion that is required to balance the budget.
Then the government examines its PESCALA system to see whether it is running near balance or is falling into a grave deficit. For, after all, this year sees $350 billion going out of the system to pay $2,800 to 125 million persons.
A strange sight greets their eyes. It appears that no less than 50 million of the 125 million people who are working and earning have done so well this past year that they have repaid or are about to repay an average of $7,000 to their PESCALA accounts to make up for their past drawings. This totals up to $350 billion. The PESCALA system is in balance for the year ! So is the Treasury budget !
But suppose that serious deficits have been accumulating in the PESCALA accounting system because of large fluctuations in withdrawals of individuals, or because of some sudden emergency dislocation in the job system or in Treasury spending and taxing. Then the legislature may choose to lend or give the PESCALA system money, or to lower the amount to be drawn, or to exhort and encourage people to draw less and earn more.
In any event, the PESCALA system will be expected to run a deficit each year because many people will never be able to pay back what they owe to their accounts. This deficit should be tagged on to the annual budget as a simple transfer of funds from the Treasury. However, this sum, it may be predicted, will never be as large as the sum that would be paid for the multitude of offices and services that today are the wholly inadequate and totally disorganized substitute for PESCALA.
There is every reason to expect, in fact, that the PESCALA drawing account will grow in value over the years, providing an ever more solid basis for a people to be resourceful and independent.
As for the single equal tax,its critics may not understand the psychology of taxes, or the ways in which taxes are largely passed to the poor by the rich, or the wastes of the present system. The single cash head tax would quickly cause a great many small and large adjustments with the effect of redistributing the tax upward. Far from being a regressive tax, it would spread like a rising flood until it assumed the form of a proportional tax. And because the poor and disabled would pay it out of their drawing account until the great day of their coming into money, the actual form that would appear out of the averages over the years would be progressive!
PESCALA and the single tax system symbolize that everyone is equally worthwhile. The multitude of individual differences that would arise out of the PESCALA and single equal tax system would confirm realistically the principle of equality and the social contract; they would permit an ordinary person to serve society as well as anybody else does; allow for a frequent inability to pay; and promote just as frequently the ability to repay.
The bare bones of the PESCALA and single equal tax system are sketched in Figure 6. The drawing also makes clear that "productive labor" carries an immense responsibility. Productive workers are employed to generate the vast output for the whole American and even some part of the world population. (Note that only the American relations to the world system are sketched. The world ideally practice a system like that of the U.S.A.)
Protests arise immediately:
"The productive worker should keep what he earns !"
"The productive worker will keep what he earns even if he has to suppress the rest of the people !"
I feel that both protest may be incorrect. The productive worker is only highly productive because (a) he is allowed to use the total capital resources of the system; (b) he actually will earn more than the others. Furthermore, he only works a smaller part of his life so as to let others work as well; (c) his political power is far less than his productivity and if he tries to seize power he will only bring down the system and suffer accordingly; (d) his working conditions are much better because he is not surrounded by fake workers who get in his way; (e) the non-workers have plenty to do in the way of self-help, associational activities, education, etc.
Then the question arises: will enough people seek work if they need not work? Yes, because incentives to work will greatly improve. Enough people will work because work will be better paid when freed from bureaucratic overloading. Enough people will work, too, because true work makes an obvious contribution to society, and prestige goes to the most humble job, if it is well done. Furthermore, people will engage in more and more self-help, a productive form of work that may not even be called by the name.
Granted all of this, again a question arises. Will the American workers and population refuse to contribute to the rest of the world? They will if they get too little, require too little, are discriminated against, and are badly led. They will not refuse to aid humanity if they can put their own economy in better order, if they realize how much they receive from the world, if their position is sympathetically understood instead of being the object of vicious propaganda, and if their leaders can develop the honesty and civil courage to deal radically with their problems.
A life account system should take care of the basic material needs of most people most of the time. There are, however, crises in life which cannot be met by a person of modest means. The worst of these is serious illness.
The American system of health services is a flagrant contradiction. It is both excellent and poor. From the great expenditures of the four sectors-government, business, independent groups, and households-a myriad of medical techniques and medicines have sprung. But doctors and nurse are too few and other helpers do not have high emotional or professional standards. Only one person in a hundred need not worry over the quality and cost of medical care. Practically everyone is dependent upon bureaucratized, impersonal, and erratic service that cost dearly. One day in an American hospital costs more than a year's income of an average Chinese.
What permits this insane system to continue? The governments pour tax receipts into it. Many independent associations and commercial companies make lavish donations and payments. Many households are economically devastated to pay for the system.
The medical profession that directly and indirectly rules this system contains numerous good-hearted people, but it also holds a number of the world's greediest capitalists and monopolists. For the purpose of running hospitals, the doctors are joined by professionals in the independent, commercial, and government bureaucracies. They all together extract funds from many sources and pass them through a maze of accounting procedures. They humiliate and terrify the sick.
Like the production system, the education system, and the income-distribution system, the system of medical care needs radical repairs. Spending money in fantastic amounts will not destroy the bureaucracy. Five time as many American doctors are needed to supply the real need, break the monopoly, and stop the drain of foreign doctors who work in America when their own countries badly need their services. Ten times as many paraprofessional nurses and practical helpers of the sick are needed.
The decision of how much money one's health is worth should be placed in the hands of the patient. This can only be done in a free market of medical facilities. When the patient cannot afford medical care from personal and friendly sources, he should be able to borrow on his past undrawn life account or, if already overdrawn, then upon future payments. If a disastrous illness strikes, its costs will be reflected in the deficit that he owes to the society. Nor will anyone deny a person such a right to encumber public funds. If there is one attitude that transcends all class, color, and religious lines and cements Americans together it is the sympathy that all feel for the sick and the high price of illness. America has been heading rapidly in the direction of giving people all the money they need for serious illnesses, but not in catching up with and cutting down the real culprits, the bureaucrats and monopolists of the health industry in the three sectors of the economy.
As you have been told frequently by your own communist government, the non-communist countries of the world have been suffering from severe inflation for several years. You may wonder why this disease has not been numbered among the eight bads. Inflation by itself can bring the ruin of governments.
It certainly drives governments into a frenzied behavior, mostly misdirected and symptomatic, leaving basic social problems untouched. The whole nation begins to sound like a housewife just back form her shopping.
Inflation is the rise of prices of goods and services. But the value of money diminishes. Thus you have the illustrative paradox: The cost of borrowing money goes up precisely because the price of the money is going down; lenders want to get extra dollars in interest to make up for the decline that they expect in the value of the principal.
When general price levels begin to rise at an annual rate of 10 percent or more, practically every seller of goods and services demands to be let into the act. For whatever you have to sell, you try to get an extra 10 percent or more, then add another increase to keep up your standard and to protect yourself against next year's inflation. So there is a strong accelerating push that is proportionate to the present rate of increase in prices. This is true whether you are a worker, a landlord, a bureaucrat, a manufacturer, a dealer in supplies, or a pensioner.
Where does the push to raise prices originate? It comes from natural causes: exhaustion of raw materials, natural disasters to crops property, and rapid population increases.
It comes also from coercive forces: raw materials monopolies, labor union monopolies, and government decisions to tax and spend. As with natural causes, these have a force that cannot be denied; one has to pay their price.
Then come the epidemic pressures. These include the power formations with the quickest and most prolonged reaction time, and operating both independently and through the government; the speculators, who raise prices and withhold goods in anticipation of even higher prices; and again the government, which may make decision slowly but can get cash quickly on order.
Then comes everyone else who can respond; landlords who raise rents; everyone who can help others, even voluntarily, by giving them more money to spend; doctors and lawyers; manufacturers and suppliers.
Those who suffer most from the inflation include all persons whose money cannot be increased as the value of each dollar declines and prices go up, or can be increased only after a long time passes and it is too late to make up a loss. They act as decelerators of inflation. They curtail purchases. They absorb losses.
But since government are supposed to "do something about inflation," they also ask for government action on whatever they believe will pull back prices, including especially price-fixing and price-freezing. This demand introduces a general bitter debate about whose prices should be fixed and whose not.
Politicians and businessmen have already turned from basic social problems to plugging holes and opening holes in the price structure. The debate sweeps over them, and picks them up. A lot of disorganization and hardship occurs, without fundamental reform.
"Now, meanwhile, back at the ranch," as the cowboy stories say, let us see what is happening. There are few crooks and certainly no class of crooks. A lot of people are like fish, it is true, who rise avidly to make a killing. and end up gulping air. Generally, everyone is trying to get his own back as soon as possible. Even the speculator is trying to bet on an uncertain future to make up for his lost bets in the past.
If it is useless and blind to punish a lot of people, how then can inflation be stopped? The best way to stop it-and, it happens, the best way to prevent it-is by adopting the universal basic income or life account system. Or, if the system is in operation, increase the basic stipend; that is, tie it to the purchasing power of the dollar; tie it to a constant dollar. This mechanism has the effect of diminishing the incomes of the well-employed relative to the poorer elements of the population, all the more so by raising the equal per capita head tax of everyone.
Thus a truly just, simple, and effective brake is put upon inflation. And the impact of the fateful natural and coercive forces upon the poor is softened. Furthermore, no panic would seize the nation or its ruling elements. Price-fixing, rationing, emergency quotas, planned shortages, and planned overproduction, most of them palliatives and all of them coercive and bureaucratic, would be avoided. The free culture would skirt the storm or sail through it safely.
To speak of sharing is to speak of six cares: property, prestige, love, knowledge, health, and power. Politics is concerned with all of these, for politics is the applied science of the general good of the population. The goal of American politics, of all persons to achieve a level from which they may pursue with some chance of success their own happiness.
America has gone farther toward this goal than has any large population in history. However, just as it appears ready to accept the goal as realistic and desirable, it has been trapped by its own contradictions. The physical environment is worsening . It has had to confront the limits of world resources. The submerged peoples of the world are surfacing with legitimate claims to sharing the goods of life.
Can the country continue to affirm its good will in the face of these new conditions? That depends upon whether there is some hope of success. If a plan for the future seems to be promising, the goal will be supported for a time. Large and firm successes must be won, though, to keep the nation driving forward.