Has Obama Made The Economy Better Or Worse?
by Gary Reber
“Dan Mitchell: I’ve been a big critic of Obama’s policies on taxes, spending, regulation, and intervention, so you won’t be surprised that I argued on CNBC that his policies have made the economy worse. He presents two graphs, which that make his point. The red lines show the economy is finally – and slowly – moving in the right direction, but the blue lines show how the economy boomed under Reaganomics.”
This was a period (1981-1989) when there was a significant investment in new productive capital formation, but unfortunately the result was to further concentrate ownership of capital among the 1 percent minority.
The role of physical productive capital is to do ever more of the work, which produces income. Full employment is not an objective of businesses. Companies strive to keep labor input and other costs at a minimum. Private sector job creation in numbers that match the pool of people willing and able to work is constantly being eroded by physical productive capital’s ever increasing role. Over the past century there has been an ever-accelerating shift to productive capital––which reflects tectonic shifts in the technologies of production. The mixture of labor worker input and capital worker input has been rapidly changing at an exponential rate of increase for over 235 years in step with the Industrial Revolution (starting in 1776) and had even been changing long before that with man’s discovery of the first tools, but at a much slower rate.
The Rand Corporation statistic was 98 percent, to represent the productive capital factor input to creating products and services. In concentrated capital ownership terms, roughly 1 percent own 50 percent of the corporate wealth with 10 percent owning 90 percent. This leaves 90 percent of the people scrambling for the last 10 percent, with them dependent on their labor worker wages to purchase capital. Thus, we have the great bulk of the people providing a mere 10 percent or less of the productive input. Contrast that to the less than 5 percent who own all the productive capital providing 90 percent or more of the productive input. As a result, the trend has been to diminish the importance of employment with productive capital ownership concentrating faster than ever, while technological change makes capital ever more productive. But because this is not well understood, what we as a society have been doing is to continually shift the work burden from people labor to real capital while distributing the earning capacity of capital workers to non-owners through jobs and welfare. Such policies do not function effectively.
In a democratic growth economy, based on binary economics, the ownership of capital would be spread more broadly as the economy grows, without taking anything away from the 1 to 10 percent who now own 50 to 90 percent of the corporate wealth. Instead, the ownership pie would desirably get much bigger and their percentage of the total ownership would decrease, as ownership gets broader and broader. Thus, productive capital income would be distributed more broadly and the demand for products and services would be distributed more broadly from the earnings of capital and result in the sustentation of consumer demand, which will promote economic growth. That also means that society can profitably employ unused productive capacity and invest in more productive capacity to service the demands of a growth economy.
We need leadership to awaken all American citizens to force the politicians to follow the people and lift all legal barriers to universal capital ownership access by every man, woman, and child as a fundamental right of citizenship and the basis of personal liberty and empowerment. The goal should be to enable every man, woman, and child to become an owner of ever-advancing labor-displacing technologies, new and sustainable energy systems, new rentable space, new enterprises, new infrastructure assets, and productive land and natural resources as a growing and independent source of their future incomes.
The emphasis on the systemic injustices of monopoly capitalism can only be addressed by comprehensive reforms to the tax, monetary and inheritance policies favoring the top 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent. The current system perpetuates budget deficits and unsustainable government debt, underutilized workers, a lack of financing for financing advanced energy and green technologies, and outsourcing of U.S. industrial jobs to low-wage countries, trade deficits, shrinking consumption incomes among the poor and middle class, and conventional methods for financing productive growth that increase the ownership and power gaps between the top 1 percent and the 90 percent whose combined ownership accumulations are already less than the elite whose money power is widely known as the source of political corruption and the breakdown of political democracy.
The unworkability of the traditional market economy is evidenced by the diverse and growing deficits––federal budget deficit, trade deficit, city, county and state budget deficits––which are making it increasingly impossible for governments at every level to function. The increasing deficit burden is the result of the growing numbers of people who cannot earn, from legitimate participation in production, enough income to support themselves and their families. Thus government is obliged to “redistribute” to starve off economic collapse. The key means of redistribution is taxation––taking from the legitimate producers and giving to the non- or under-producers––to make up the economy’s ever wider income and purchasing power shortfalls.