Interested in radical new ideas that are hard to fault? Here's an essay that should do that (whether or not you want to pitch in money, which is why People's Action Committee promoted it)--
British author George Monbiot provides this vivid touchstone for today’s piece:
Political systems that were supposed to represent everyone now return governments of millionaires, financed by and acting on behalf of billionaires. To expect governments funded and appointed by this class to protect the biosphere and defend the poor is like expecting a lion to live on gazpacho.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is floating an income tax rate as high as 60 to 70 percent on the highest-earning Americans.
In a “60 Minutes” interview scheduled to air tomorrow [today--Sunday], Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said that an ambitious increase in taxes on the wealthy could support a Green New Deal and the goal of eliminating the use of fossil fuels within the next 12 years.
A Green New Deal is a big idea, the kind that actually gets to the heart of what’s wrong and how to fix it. I support a Green New Deal that is 100% Just. This means 100% renewable energy and 100% equitable for the communities of color and low-income people on the front lines of climate change.
Let’s take this to another level. We can pay for a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, Free College for All, and more -- and attack the root causes of inequality at the same time.
In his groundbreaking The Case for a Maximum Wage, Sam Pizzigati says, “Intense concentrations of wealth, political thinkers have long argued, undermine democratic governance.” The more wealth the wealthy amass, the more political power the wealthy gain.
This is why the state takes on the role of managing social unrest. Throughout history, the state has protected powerful economic interests -- everyone from the land barons and slave traders of the past to the polluters and profiteers of the present -- from the pitchforks.
The fundamental problem, Pizzigati argues, may not be poverty. It may be the concentration of power in the hands of people who don’t want to solve poverty and its roots in racial and gender injustice.
We need, in short, to battle for economies that generate less inequality, not just for redistributive measures that aim to clean up the messes inequality creates. This redistribution has taken the inequality-generating economy as a given and essentially accepted that this economy will end up advantaging some and disadvantaging others.
So now we’re getting to the heart of the matter, one close to every organizer’s heart. Power. And how we can keep income and wealth from concentrating in the first place.
This is what People's Action does best. We build power to win when no one thinks we can. It's time for the resistance to move from protest to power.
Pizzigati explains, “Governments the rich dominate do good by the rich. They cut their taxes. They address their aggravations. They help them become richer.”
This is why simply raising taxes on the rich to pay for things like a Green New Deal won’t work, at least not long-term. He says, “An approach to equity that rested on redistributing income and wealth from the top could not overcome, in the long term, the political power of the top.”
Within a generation of this kind of top-down redistribution of wealth, the rich would find a way to use their political power to knock their taxes back down and end progress on a Green New Deal.
Pizzigati’s slender but action-packed volume digs into how leveling society at both the top and the bottom could make a lasting impact on the income gap. “In any nation that linked minimum and maximum,” he says, “society’s richest would be able to increase their own personal income only if the incomes of society’s poorest increased first.”
Here’s how a maximum income works. Society sets a new income maximum as a multiple of the existing minimum wage. Any income above that multiple would face a tax set at 100 percent. Pizzigati explains, “Incomes above specific benchmarks -- starting at 25 or 50 or 100 times the minimum wage -- could be subject to strikingly higher tax rates than incomes below those ratios.”
So let's lift up workers at the bottom to address inequality and use the money from the top to fund big ideas like a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, Free College for All, Universal Pre-K, and so much more.
If you think this is unrealistic or impossible, then imagine this. Donald Trump is President of the United States. If that can happen, anything can.
Please make a contribution to support our work to advance a 100% Just and Green New Deal.
Thanks for listening today, and for all that you do,
James and the People's Action team