Let’s Make Billionaires Pay

economic chart

Democracy is rule by the people and it’s up to the people to ensure that this continues to be the case. Currently the growing inequality in democracies is threatening the very existence of these societies to continue, but there is a simple solution. If we ensure that billionaires give back to the society that they used to make their wealth then we can continue to thrive. Every billionaire made their money by extracting wealth from others and we can’t forget that. If we don’t make billionaires contribute back then we’ll continue to have many social problems. Perhaps it’s time for something radical and outright ban billionaires?

But there are far more urgent reasons than poverty to get rid of billionaires and reverse the trend of economic polarization. A growing body of economic and political-science research demonstrates that Gilded Age–type inequality does not just mean having too many with too little. It is warping the very social fabric of the country, stifling mobility, innovation, investment, and growth, and putting the country at political risk.

Given all this evidence, wealth taxes are not simply a way to pay for programs for the poor. They are a way of reducing the incentive for the rich to soak up all that money in the first place. They are a way of pushing the steps of the income ladder closer together to make them easier to climb. They are a way of ending what two leading economists on inequality, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, call “oligarchic drift,” and its attending political risks. They are a way of building a healthier economic future for everyone—including those 400 families up at the tippy top.

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New York’s Increased Minimum Wage Increased Revenue for Businesses and People

Interview

With inequality increasing throughout the world she jurisdictions are fighting back by raising the minimum wage. Business owners must pay employees at least the minimum wage set by the government, no matter how little they want to actually pay people. Minimum wage increases were rare for the first years of this century so it’s good to see places like New York raise theirs. An added bonus of the recent wage increase is that business have seen revenue gains similar to that of the workers.

The focus on single restaurants also ignores the larger economic impact of raising the minimum wage. According to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, if low-wage workers have more money in their pockets, they will have more money to spend, potentially expanding the number of consumers who can afford to eat out.

In fact, some people — including those from the Economic Policy Institute — have posited that a minimum-wage increase will actually lead to an increase in employment because of the effects of giving low-wage workers a raise. Other advantages to restaurants may include lower turnover rates and better job performance.

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Download This Home

the suburbs

The standard North American home (pictured above) is horrible inefficient and quite bad for the environment. As the climate crisis conies to worsen we need to change the way we provide shelter for people: and that’s exactly what Phoenix, Arizona did. Arizona is experience such extreme heat that everyday objects are melting and car tires explode, sometimes the airport can’t function either. This led the City of Phoenix to launch a competition for making the most affordable and environmentally friendly home.

The winning home building plan is available for free online from the city, meaning you can download a home.

The winner of the contest, Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects, went even lower. The studio’s affordable, three-bedroom home, dubbed HOME nz, has an impressive HERS rating of zero. A $100,000 prize went to Imirzian’s firm, and the design is now available for widespread use; the City of Phoenix has made the construction plans for HOME nz available for free to encourage the public to build more eco-friendly homes. “The city of Phoenix has a very visionary sustainability director and department who are looking for leadership for built work in the Phoenix area,” says Imirzian. “[The] goal was to show how simple moves could result in significant [environmental] changes.”

Since Phoenix’s dry, sun-bleached environment involves extreme heat, the design incorporates high-performance glass, which reduces heat transmission from outside, and retractable fabric screens for greater shade and passive cooling without the help of an AC unit. But HOME nz is a useful and applicable model no matter the climate. “If the volume performs well in terms of the separation of the interior and exterior then no matter where you build your house, it will be managed optimally by what you’re surrounding the house with,” notes Imirzian. “It would do just as well in a very cold climate or [a place] where you need conditioning or heating.”

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It’s Time the Gig Economy Paid

Foodora work

Foodora workers are looking for justice for the way they have been ripped off and poorly treated by Foodora. Foodora is like any other gig economy company insofar that it takes an existing business model but places the operating costs onto independent contractors. Due to legal loopholes Foodora workers are easier to exploit and get less protection than workers labelled as employees – and this issue isn’t unique to Foodora. Most gig economy “jobs” are questionable.

In the USA, Trump’s anti-labour government has failed to protect workers so individual states are starting to act. California is looking at legislation to protect people who work in the gig economy.

Last Wednesday, the California assembly passed legislation codifying an important California supreme court decision: in order for companies to treat workers as independent contractors, the workers must be free from company control, doing work that’s not central to the company’s business, and have an independent business in that trade.

Whatever national rule eventually emerges for defining gig workers, they’ll need a different system of social insurance than was the case when steady full-time employment was the norm.

For example, they need income insurance rather than unemployment insurance. One model: If someone’s monthly income dips below their average monthly income from all jobs over the preceding five years, they automatically receive half the difference for up to a year.

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Work Less to Save the Planet

economic chart

You already know you’re working too many hours, so let’s change that and save the planet in the process. Economic growth has physical limits and we’re hitting those already as we run out of finite resources, or those resources are getting harder and harder to reach like oil. So to maintain growth we need to switch to a renewable energy based economy and fast. We can also just work less and focus on decreasing the growth of consumer capitalism.

This is where the idea of degrowth comes in. Degrowing our economy focuses on getting rid of things awe don’t need and are incredibly destructive to the environment (like fast fashion) and focusing our attention to bettering society as a whole (like free daycare). Another way to degrowth the economy is to reduce our working weeks to produce more jobs and give everybody more leisure. Aren’t we all working for the weekend anyway?

To get emissions to zero, it will involve a kind of “degrowth,” but one targeted specifically at fossil-fuel consumption. “That doesn’t mean we have to degrow everything,” Pollin said. “We really need to degrow the fossil fuel industry to zero, but massively expand the clean energy systems, the investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.” This is essentially the Green New Deal: a push to increase renewable energy while eliminating fossil fuels, and including an effort to create a just transition for the people who have jobs in that sector.

To Pollin, even this would be a radical improvement. A plan to get to zero carbon emissions in 30 years would mean shutting down one of the world’s most powerful industries. He thinks that that is ambitious enough without trying to implement other broad societal changes.

“If we take the climate science seriously, we only have a few decades to make huge progress,” Pollin said. “And whether I like it or not, we’re not going to overthrow capitalism in that time.”

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