The Bread and Roses Perspective
Our version of the American Dream:
To have a modest but very secure income, sufficient for meeting core needs, through meaningful work and living in a beautiful environment, with sufficient leisure to do those things that matter most in life.
Our view of the central criteria for evaluating social policy:
Does it offer an attainable opportunity for widespread fulfillment of this American Dream?
How do we measure economic progress?
Rather than growth of median income, we look to the reduction of need required labor time (the number of hours a year one has to work in order to satisfy core economic needs).
Our view of our current socio-economic framework:
It is failing. It frustrates the American Dream. For most families, need required labor time is increasing, as is economic insecurity.
Our view of America's future:
We believe in Renaissance. We are utopians.
What Do We Want?
- A less competitive society, one with more winners, and with less disparity between those at the top and those at the bottom.
- Less anxiety from early childhood through old age. Much more basic economic security.
- A society that progresses towards: “From each according to their potential, to each according to their need.”
- Simpler lives, with less stuff, more quality, less quantity, and more time for friendship.
- More meaning, living our values, both at work and throughout life.
- More beauty in our lives, both natural and urban.
- Education for its own sake – more history, arts and humanities.
- Real global citizenship – taking the lead in protecting the planet, and protecting the weak.
Key Elements of Bread and Roses Socialism
The Two-Fold Core
1. Level the Pyramid
Vision -- A more equal society, one with far less disparity between winners and losers
Task: Re-Distribute Wealth and Income
- Every household will have a Corporate Stock Ownership Account. Over 20 years these will collectively come to hold 75% of all corporate stock. This will be achieved through wealth taxes, higher estate taxes, and stock purchases funded through financial transaction taxes.
- Parameters for earnings – We need to have this conversation. Proposal: No one should earn more than 20x the minimum wage.
- Multiple policies to achieve the re-distribution of Income so that the average after-tax income of the top 20% will be no more than 3X the income required to achieve a health and decency standard for viable simple living:
- Eliminating the income cap on payment of payroll taxes.
- Increasing marginal tax rates in the upper brackets.
- Enacting a progressive consumption tax.
- Increasing both the minimum wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Tax Elimination: Eliminating all taxation on those with incomes below a health and decency standard, including sales taxes, employment taxes and property taxes.
- A 2% wealth tax on great fortunes.
- Introducing progressive property taxes.
- Higher estate taxes, and closing loop hole for transfer of capital gains.
Additional Revenue to fund our agenda will come from:
- Reversing the Trump corporate tax cut.
- Enacting a “no-exemptions” minimum tax on corporate profits.
2. Providing a Simple Living Option with Life-long Economic Security
Vision -- A Simple Living Option:
For everyone to have the life-option of a secure income sufficient, through life, to live simply, with productivity growth channeled to expanding leisure to do that which is most important in life, each to their own drummer. For each, in turn, to contribute to society at their highest potentials.
- Guaranteed employment
- Adequate income levels through all life stages and health conditions
- Lowering costs of meeting basic needs
- Expanding Leisure
Year by year reduction in Need Required Labor Time (NRLT) at both the minimum wage and the median wage level.
* To help guarantee employment:
- A major expansion of the non-profit sector.
- Jobs programs to meet needs of the least advantages, and to address the global climate change crisis.
- Job sharing in periods of recession.
* To guarantee health and decency income:
- Integrate a rising minimum wage with a rising earned income tax credit (EITC) to enable a health and decency standard of living.
- Raise minimum social security retirement payments from present $11,000 to $18,000/year.
- Initiate a flow of income from universal share of re-distributed corporate stock.
* To lower the costs of meeting needs in housing, health, transportation and education, taxes, retirement:
- A Unified Medicaid/Medicare national system that provides public option for all, includes long-term care, determines costs on a sliding scale, free at the bottom, with highest level of total personal costs capped at 8% of income.
- Free education for each new generation, day care through college.
- Promote home ownership for almost all families, with the objective of debt-free ownership of simple homes; reform zoning restrictions to allow tiny homes on tiny lots; build low-income condos instead of public housing.
- Experiment with free public transportation; research into new inexpensive electric vehicles.
- Progressive payroll and property taxes
Six Utopian Transitions Aided by Utopian Policies:
1. Re-inventing Work:
A world in which everyone has some realm of productive activity which draws on their deepest potentials, expresses their deepest values and passions, provides value-added to the lives of others, and sustains self-esteem, and social respect.
Elements of a new world of work:
- New Work-life Options such as a 1/3 – 1/3 -1/3 model with income derived: 1/3 from instrumental labor, 1/3 from self-actualizing work, 1/3 from non-earned income (based on a share of overall re-distributed dividend and interest income).
- Opportunity to take work sabbaticals once every 15 years – allowing for re-invention, with three or four or more different careers in a productive life, within an ever-lengthening healthy life span.
- Developing multiple skill patterns, thus enabling people to do many different things at any given point in time, and thus not be defined by a narrow work-based identity.
- Fractioning the best jobs so that vastly more people have access to employment-fulfillment and employment diversity.
Improving the Job system:
Gaining leverage over the Job Creators – In the current Job System the design of jobs is largely in the hands of those who do the hiring. The job seekers are faced with “take it or leave it” choices. It is possible to turn this around, to have labor markets in which the job creators in order to attract workers have to design jobs that are more deeply fulfilling.
Central Mechanism of this transition – Because all forms of work will provide an income sufficient to meet core needs, and because of cultural transition in which people value meaning and leisure over higher consumption beyond what is needed for a simple life, job creators will have to re-design jobs to meet the deeper needs of those they seek to hire.
Key policies that enhance the freedom to say “No” to work that is not inherently valuable:
- Guaranteed employment
- Living Wage levels of income/public provision and subsidization of key services
- Retraining and relocation assistance that enables new starts
- Option to join Medicare thus de-linking health benefits from employment.
Expanding Employment outside the Job System:
New ways of working that allow people the option to create their own jobs as self-employed individuals or small groups of worker-owners:
- Broad based training in start-up, including becoming your own non-profit.
- Technical Support for self-run micro-enterprises.
- Benefits and protection for gig-workers.
Limiting how much of life we spend at our jobs:
Expanding Leisure and Time-rights: Transition to the 4 day week or the 6 hr. day. Guaranteed paid vacations of six weeks. Adding two new holidays with pay, every year for the next decade. Legally protected time-liberty giving employees broad rights to take leave without pay for personal needs.
A Retirement-Right to Retain Your Job:
- At age 65 those who have been 10 years at a job will have the right to go ½ time or ¼ time.
- Reconceptualizing retirement as the end of need-required employment, but not the end of a meaningful productive work; expanding part-time opportunities in the non-profit sector that would be prioritized according to age with oldest job-seekers first.
2. Repurposing Schools:
Education for its Own Sake & Education for the Alternative American Dream/ Lightening Childhood and Youth, Accessing the inherited wealth of human culture, both across cultures and history.
- Repurposing schools away from catering to the needs of the “job creators” and towards history, civics, and the arts and humanities.
- Education that expands self-knowledge and helps each to find that authentic work-activity that will bring one most to life.
- Making love of books, access to the wealth of our cultural heritage, and attaining the ability to produce something of beauty as key measures of schooling success.
- Providing courses in personal finance, budget management, micro-business and non-profit start-up, as part of life-skills training for all high school students.
- All young people gaining some experience in manual labor, crafts, personal care-giving, and the arts.
- Using lotteries to determine 50% of the admissions to elite colleges for qualified students.
3. The Last Shall Be First: A Marshall Plan for the Bottom
Vision: Inner-city Utopianism
- Immediately focus on the 100 WORST PLACES TO LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES – (defined in terms of crime, poverty, child mortality) Undertake holistic transformation: jobs, safety, schools, housing, culture, beauty, small business, summer camp --- with HOME OWNERSHIP and urban beautification as the anchor.
- Urban homesteading which provides interest-free loans and partial grants for home purchase at the bottom. Turning public housing into condominiums owned by low income families, and facilitating the buy-out of rental housing.
- Free sleep-away camp for all children from low income households. Counselor-in-training roles for older children.
- Emulate the most elite neighborhoods with the planting of tens of thousands of flowering dogwood and cherry trees. Providing financial stipends to young persons who adopt a tree.
- Promoting quality restaurants and upscale supermarkets in low income areas.
- Creation of inner-city projects to promote urban beautification including murals and training in fine arts and performing arts for urban youth. Making inner-cities cultural hubs, centers for music, theatre, dance and museums.
4. A Beauty-For-All Renaissance for America
Vision: The elevation of Beauty and creative expression throughout all aspects of life.
Public policy tools:
Preserving and promoting our natural beauty by expanding national parks and strengthening protections from commercial encroachment. Eliminating entry fees to America’s nation parks.
Establish Birthright Trips whereby every young person, sometime, would be entitled to a two-week guided stay in our national parks.
Dedicating a percentage of property taxes to the enhancement of public spaces (lakes, parks, streets, cultural centers, open air markets). Including beautiful design as a decision criteria in awarding contracts for major infrastructure projects.
Planting 300 million trees throughout American towns and cities; requiring trees in all outdoor parking lots.
Building public squares and urban mini-gardens.
Stimulating small-shop urban complexity. Aid to micro-businesses. Enhancing restaurant quality through including support for culinary institutes, restaurant management and start up training and finance, creating a cooking-extension service that would operate nationwide.
Fostering small libraries in every town and neighborhood, and expanding the role of librarians as directors of cultural services. Promoting reparatory theatres and other performing arts companies in small towns and cities. Enhanced funding for the arts, especially away from the established cultural centers.
Using colleges to culturally enrich the communities around them. And franchising our best liberal arts colleges so as to provide high quality stay-at-home colleges throughout the country. Establishing as a required curriculum element, the attainment of an ability, in some domain, to add to the beauty of our natural or social landscape.
Patron of the Arts Program: Providing each year, 10,000 5-yr grants at $30,000/yr., in the arts and humanities for creative endeavors, at an annual cost of $1.5 billion. Widely distributed geographically.
5. Friending the Earth
Vision: A new harmony between our species and the planet, one in which we do no harm.
Most fundamentally, by establishing a new kind of advanced economy, one that uses productivity growth to sustain material-sufficiency and expand leisure, rather than ever expanding consumption.
By treating climate change as a national security emergency, with willingness to undertake war-like mobilization to reach zero carbon emissions. Taking those steps which will produce the greatest change in the shortest time, including:
- Carbon emissions taxes, including a new gasoline tax that will ratchet up yearly, with new millage requirements and electric cars, with goal of national gasoline consumption cut in half in ten years.
- Mandatory “emissions testing” of all homes and business over the next two years, with required conservation steps aided by a National Service Corps.
- Massive subsidization of solar and wind technologies to promote rapid transition to non-carbon electric power nationwide.
- Phased in zero-carbon requirements for all new construction.
- Phasing out all extraction of carbon based fuel sources.
- Making transition to zero-emissions world a national security objective that is part of US trade policy, investment and development strategies and policy dialogue with every country. Including massive solar promotion and conversion.
- Moving towards stronger international incentives and sanctions for planet-offenders.
6. Global Humanization
Vision: A world that is free from war, poverty, abuse and tyranny. A world of alternative forms of human flourishing.
-- A foreign policy that prioritizes a dialogue of civilizations, pursuit of conflict resolution, international mechanisms of humanitarian intervention, fuller development of international law, human rights, global stewardship, and cultural tolerance.
Reconciling the three Abrahamic religions around a Peace of Jerusalem; immediate recognition of the State of Palestine with an East Jerusalem capital; using aid to Israel only in support of two-states and forcing an end to settlement expansion.
Returning to the Iran nuclear agreement.
Seeking a fundamental change in Iranian-Israeli relations and US-Iranian relations based on an Iranian commitment to treat as legitimate any Israeli-Palestinian agreement approved by a referendum of the Palestinian people, and to not support any effort or organization that seeks to undermine such peace accord.
US support for strengthening International organizations, in particular providing the international criminal court with a vibrant arrest capability, and increasing the authority of the UN Trusteeship Council to engage with failed states.
Developing, through international organizations, a humanitarian intervention capacity: really, really, meaning it when we say: Never Again -- Not To Anyone -- Not Anywhere.
Developing an “open society” community with other democracies to work together in bringing an end to the most glaring human rights abuses around the world, and to protect democratic institutions from cyber-undermining.
Vast development and personal safety program for Central America, and shifting to a Statue of Liberty orientation towards immigration and asylum. Big-gate approach to borders. Citizenship for dreamers. Tenfold increase in judicial resources for evaluating asylum requests.
Budgetary Tithing – Allocating 10% of the Federal budget to programs to assist the poorer countries of the world in overcoming poverty, overcoming crime and corruption, enhancing human rights, and transitioning to global environmental solutions.
Bread & Roses