Tyndmyr wrote:It does seem somewhat socialistic without being directly redistributive, though...given that it directly ties legal benefits to some level of redistribution, I think it is intended as re-distributive all the same. I am, perhaps, a bit confused at how it would work in practice...
Labor contracts largely protect the laborer. Not enforcing contracts between employers and employees would largely leave employers able to screw employees over with little recourse. I am not sure how this will result in a more equal result.
I'm not sure what you mean in the first part about tying legal benefits to redistribution, but in the second part there it does sound like you widely misunderstand me. I'm not talking about labor contracts at all, but about (clauses of) contracts that obligate the payment of rent or interest, in the absence of which such arrangements, while legally permitted, would not be economically reliable, discouraging their use. I contend that in their absence, different arrangements of sales that owners have no incentive to engage in now would be their next-best alternative, and that those arrangements would result in wealth gradually transferring from the owner class to the worker class until there is no longer a distinction between them.
I actually think most socialism focuses too much on the labor side of things, which I think is entirely a symptom of the real problem, which is the capital side of things. I'm not upset that people have to work in exchange for money, or that their employers pay them as little as they can get away with. I'm upset that people don't get to keep most of that money but rather have to pay to service debts they have to enter into to survive and be able to work, and that those debts put the workers at a negotiating disadvantage compared to their usually-wealthier-and-so-less-indebted employers that requires them to accept whatever they can get because they're desperate to pay the rent.
I think that it seems like it would be natural for wealth to flow from those who have more of it to those who have less of it over time, as those who have more of it pay those who have less to do work for them. The richer people get services and the leisure of not having to do things themselves, at the cost of their wealth; and the poorer people work more than they otherwise would need to, for the benefit of increasing their wealth. Over time you'd expect wealth to just even out on its own. But that doesn't actually happen. The reason why, I think, is that the poorer people also have to pay the richer people to borrow their wealth in order to live and work in the first place, so much of what the rich pay out comes right back to them and they can spend it again and again without ever losing it.
Comes back to them as a class, I mean, since it's not often that someone's boss is also their landlord and bank. But if they were... that'd be "feudalism", more accurately manorialism. I content that what we have now is effectively just that manorialism, except that (figuratively speaking) we now work one lord's land in exchange for money, and pay much of that money to live on another lord's land, which he can use to buy the product produced for the first lord; instead of just living and working on one lord's land and giving him much of the product thereof directly.
And how many of these appropriations have worked out in practice? By worked out, I mean that the economy continued to function well, and that the new distribution stayed roughly in place, and didn't just result in another group of people gaining and hoarding power for themselves?
So far as I know the only times it has ever actually happened, the resultant country was crushed by enemy forces, usually literal fascists, like in WWII Spain where an until-then-successful anarcho-syndicalist Catalonia was crushed by Franco and his foreign allies. (I hear something similar is happening in Kurdistan right now, though I haven't read much about that yet). In places like the USSR, they tried to go from market capitalism through state capitalism to socialism, and never got through the state capitalist phase. I think that's the inevitable end of that approach, and that makes it a horrible approach.
Capitalism has this, yes. Go download Robinhood on your smartphone, and buy stocks. Your company or another, whichever. It's not something we need socialism to enable.
I think you misunderstood. The point wasn't that people should be allowed to own stocks, which they obviously are already, but that ownership in abstract should be widely distributed, and that you don't have to completely change the way we do business to accomplish that, because just shuffling stocks around would accomplish that and leave business pretty much otherwise the same.
I own stocks already, but only for a few years now, and not nearly a proportional amount of them (i.e. not nearly ~1/300M of total US market cap, or ~1/7B of total world market cap), because I've been too busy most of my life struggling to pay the rent and didn't have leftover money to invest.
More to the point, I (and the 75ish percent of Americans who make less than me, and a substantial chunk of those who make more than me too) don't own nearly as much capital in the form of stock as I have to borrow just to have a place to live.
It has always struck me as odd, the fascination that socialism has with pairing the ownership of THEIR production with their work. It seems to forsake diversification. If I own stock in a company and work there, then what happens if the company performs poorly? Everything I have is at risk. If I work somewhere, and invest somewhere else, I at least get some diversification to hedge my personal risk.
Classical socialist theory predates that kind of economic savvy, and some people are still stuck in that old rhetoric, but there's nothing that stops socialism from incorporating it. Instead of everyone owning an equal share of their own company (which classical theory seems to presume will in turn hold an equal-ish share of the total economy), everyone just needs to own an equal share of the total economy. That was the point of mentioning stocks above.
If we were
to forcibly redistribute wealth, I would do it via a basic income / negative income tax added to what we already have now, not via a revolution. Give everyone a tax credit of some fraction of the mean income, tax everyone that same fraction of their own income, and have tax refunds paid out in monthly installments instead of one lump sum, so everyone gets $(x% mean income - x% their income)/12 in free money every month. Bam, now nobody makes less than that fraction of the mean income, "average" people who make exactly the mean income see no difference at all, everyone below the mean income (which is usually a supermajority of people because incomes are usually heavily right-skewed) sees at least some net benefit, and most of the minority above the mean income still pay very little to fund their part of that, because only the tiny handful of people with exorbitant incomes actually make enough to hurt from it. Now everyone has an easier time making ends meet and more people can afford to invest and start joining the ownership class.
Maybe make investment easier too: perhaps a publicly-owned brokerage that offers no-cost accounts and a small number of free trades per month and easy automated investing tools, and maybe have an easy option for tax refunds to be automatically deposited into such an account, so when people get their "basic income" it's the easy default path for it to just end up invested in an index fund and earning returns, unless they need to pull it out to pay the rent or something.