Economic Justice Through Restructuring Our Economy
Our current economic model no longer works to support and sustain the majority of our people. We see that wages have stagnated, real growth is sluggish and opportunities for advancement are disappearing. This is not a result of immigration or poor trade deals, as some would have us believe. It is the direct result of something economists are calling the financialization of our economy.
The financialization of our economy began sometime during the middle of the last century, slowly evolving into a process whereby financial markets, financial institutions, and financial elites were able to gain greater influence over economic policy and economic outcomes. Financialization has transformed the functioning of our economic system at all levels.
Its principal impacts have been to elevate the significance of the financial sector relative to the real economic sector, and to transfer income from the real economy to the financial industry. This has led to a significant and very real increase in income inequality between almost everyone and those who have come to be known as the one percent.
Financialization operates through three different mechanisms: changes in the structure and operation of financial markets, changes in the behavior of nonfinancial corporations, and changes in economic policy.
Countering the continuation of financialization requires a multifaceted agenda; restore policy control over financial markets, challenge the economic policy paradigm encouraged by financialization, demand that corporations become responsive to the interests of stakeholders other than their shareholders and the financial markets, and reform the political process so as to diminish the influence of corporations and wealthy elites.
As these checks and balances are designed and implemented, it will be imperative that the model that emerges includes a baseline standard of living below which no one may be allowed to fall, and an upper limit of material and resource consumption above which the production machine may not be allowed to exceed. In other words, the economic model we devise must have two objectives; ensure that the economic productivity of our people is distributed in a way that a basic standard of living is ensured for all of our people, while maintaining the energy and resource balance of our planet to ensure its ability to sustain our continued well-being and that of all life.
An urgent component of the baseline standard of living is a system of accessible and affordable health care. I will strongly advocate for such a system.
Within the fabric of this 21st century economy, we will have to accept and adjust to the trends in our workforce, moving towards fewer jobs in the lower skilled and middle skilled sectors, owing to the rapidly increasing digital and automated inroads being made into our industrial and service sectors. The Green New Deal will focus on retraining large segments of our working population in many emerging industries. We will also have to account for the shifting demographics of our people, as the median age rises. There will need to be a restructuring of our retirement strategy to account for the increasing reliance on financial market stability, which, as we’ve seen, is not guaranteed.
In order to create an economic system that intrinsically values the well-being of our families, our children and our society at large, we must acknowledge that that is what it is intended to do. That the goal of our economy is to account for everyone providing economic value, including in those areas, not now considered part of the formal economy – home care and management, child care and rearing, domestic cooking and cleaning. I will fight to redefine our economic model into one that is designed to manage all of our productivity and ensures that we all benefit from our labors appropriately. There is enough to go around without any of us being in want for a healthy, productive, purposeful life. It’s a question of reordering our priorities and summoning the will to act on them.