oil revenue economic growth political stability Inequality

Need versus Greed -- Inequality and the Right
conservative issue income distribution wealth sink wealth disparities claims on wealth

Oil wealth must be shared with citizens says Soros

Three commentators with access to the public pulpit argue how desperately needed is more equal distribution of societyís surplus. We trim, blend, and append three 2011 articles from: (1) BBC, Mar 3, on oil shares; (2) Al Jazeera, Mar 4, on sharing by Jeffrey D. Sachs (Columbia University and Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General); and (3) The Atlanticís blog, The Daily Dish, Mar 7 and 9, on the wealth gap by Andrew Sullivan.

by BBC, by Jeffrey Sachs, and by Andrew Sullivan

Citizens of oil producing nations must see more benefit from their country's national resources, billionaire investor George Soros said.

Revolts in Libya were partly the result of "revulsion against a corruption" fed by the misuse of oil money, he added.

Libya produces 1.6 million barrels of oil per day and is the 17th largest producer in the world.

More "transparency and accountability" was needed from other producers such as Russia and Saudi Arabia he said.

Soros also predicted the Iranian regime would be overthrown in the "bloodiest of the revolutions".

To see the whole article, click here .

JJS: Itís not just the money for oil that all of us humans should get around to sharing and share soon but the whole worth of Mother Earth.

The global economy is growing quickly, but too much wealth is siphoned off by well-connected billionaires.

India's great moral leader Mohandas Gandhi famously said that there is enough on Earth for everybody's need, but not enough for everybody's greed.

Our fate now depends on whether we cooperate or fall victim to self-defeating greed.

The world economy is now producing around $70 trillion in total annual output, compared to around $10 trillion in 1960.

With the world economy growing at 4-5% per year, it could double in less than 20 years. Todayís $70 trillion world economy would be $140 trillion before 2030. Our planet will not physically support this exponential economic growth.

If greed dominates, the engine of economic growth will deplete our resources, push the poor aside, and drive us into a deep social, political, and economic crisis.

The alternative is political and social cooperation, both within countries and internationally. There will be enough resources and prosperity to go around if we convert our economies to renewable energy sources, sustainable agricultural practices, and reasonable taxation of the rich. This is the path to shared prosperity through improved technologies, political fairness, and ethical awareness.

To see the whole article, click here .

JJS: Tax the rich (which has never worked)? Or quit creating them?

Whatís the key to great fortunes? Itís to capture socially-generated values and slough off oneís private costs onto the rest of society. The greatest values that society generates are all the monies that everyone spends for all the nature we use our payments for land, resources, EM spectrum, etc.

It increasingly seems wrong to me to exempt the very wealthy from sacrifice, in the context of their gains in the last three decades, if we are to ask it of everyone else.

It's not about fairness. It isn't even really about redistribution. It's about political stability and cohesion and coherence. Without a large and strong middle class, we can easily become more divided, more bitter, and more unstable. Concern about that is a legitimate conservative issue.

A reader writes:
Great charts you posted on household income, 1979-present, before and after taxes. But consider how many more two-earner households there are now than in 1979 and the decline in after-tax household income for most people is even more distressing.

Another writes:
Your charts on income distribution from 1979-2007 leave out a major aspect of the story: the buying power of people in the lowest 10% is exponentially greater today than it was back then.

If I had to choose between living in the bottom 10% in 1979 or 2011, I'd take 2011 in a heartbeat. It does not matter that a person in the top 1% can afford six more vacation homes than he could in 1979. If anything, the rich being so rich has actually raised the bar on standard of living for everyone.

Why do the benefits of increasing wealth not accrue to the workers? Even if we grant that CEOs and hedge fund managers worker harder and longer hours than the average worker, can the difference in how much they work really account for such a huge gap?

The fact is that there are subtle ways by which wealth is siphoned away by speculators, and even by honest business people who don't realize where their surplus comes from. One of these ways was pointed out by the 19th century economist Henry George, who observed that the benefits of development and production accrue to the most valuable land. Businesses operating on such areas gain a surplus over other businesses (called ďrentĒ). Land rents also absorb the wealth from public infrastructure, effectively serving as a sort of "wealth sink."

The profits reported by the wealthiest corporations are only partly due to production, while another part comes from location. When wealth disparities grow, you can count on the growing accumulation of rent as a major culprit.

Another related factor, particularly in the recent crash, is debt. After movies like Inside Job and all the talk about derivatives, one sees how Wall Street made billions by leveraging debt. Was there any wealth produced in this process? No. It's just shuffling around a bunch of claims on existing wealth, and making new claims on those existing claims. Now, what happens when the amount of real wealth stays the same but a small number of people increase the number of claims they have on it? Sounds to me like a pretty sneaky form of robbery.

To see the whole article, click here .

JJS: Robbery it was and is, and living under a government that ignores that theft is as de-stabilizing as enduring the yawning wealth gap. Water over the dam it may now be but way too much water it was. Turning from enforcement of ethical norms, consider reforming policy.

Instead of letting those trillions of dollars of rents collect in few pockets, we could use taxes, fees, and dues to redirect that spending into public treasuries than back out again as Citizens Dividends, a la Alaskaís oil share.

Once people have to pay for the values they take, then they could no longer amass undue fortunes that the envious would want to tax. And once everyone gets a fair share of societyís surplus, then nobody will be poor.

Plus, because the dividend comes from the value of Earth and that depends on the health of Earth, and because the land dues guide people to claim no more than they can use and to use that amount wisely, this geonomic system of dues and dividends would both steer producers and consumers to conserve Earth. It also lets people rise above poverty and prosperous people breed less, so the demands upon Earth would moderate. At last human economies could operate within natural constraints.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.

Also see:

Top hedge fund managers get a billion $ in one year

Should Goldman Give Back $2.9 Billion to Taxpayers?

Nobelist Stiglitz Calls for George's Tax

Email this articleSign up for free Progress Report updates via email

What are your views? Share your opinions with The Progress Report:

Your name

Your email address

Your nation (or your state, if you're in the USA)

Check this box if you'd like to receive occasional Economic Justice announcements via email. No more than one every three weeks on average.

Page One Page Two Archive
Discussion Room Letters What's Geoism?

Henry Search Engine