An invited Commentary, Analysis, and Opinion Article
Jamshid Damooei, Ph.D.
Professor and Director of Economics Program
Executive Director of Center for Economics of Social Issues
School of Management, California Lutheran UNiversity
A GCGI Senior Ambassador, Member, Advisory Board, GCGI and The Co-convener, GCGI-CLU Joint Conference, 2010
Inspired by the invitation from Prof. Mofid, the founder of “Globalization for Common Good Initiative” (GCGI), I decided to write this paper and present my opinion on an important question :’Can president Biden restore hope and bring Americans together?’
Making a prediction on whether presidential candidates make good on their promises when they become president is a hard task. However, I am hopeful, based on the start of Biden’s presidency with the signing of some 30 executive orders in his first two days since inauguration to reverse the tyranny of the previous government.
It is true that one reason for this remarkable number of executive orders is the sad state of the nation at the conclusion of the catastrophe of the presidency of Trump. Nonetheless, this shows a great effort on the part of the new president to set the clock back, which still leaves a lot more to be done for a mere clearing of all the dirt left behind from the last four years. It is safe to assume that a good number of them and other executive orders to be signed require the approval of the congress. However, this does not take away any credit from the new president and his intention to make good on his campaign promises.
The reality of our economic and social conditions is clear. We know what needs to be done to restore hope and give back to the overwhelming majority of Americans their dignity and unify them based on real change and not empty and hollow promises of change or fear of one another to cause confusion and create division.
Reversing what Trump has done is a good rule of thumb but we need much more. In order to demonstrate how the new president can restore hope and bring Americans together, we need to explore the sources of hopelessness and despair in the lives of so many American families.
I will present seven claims for showing the existing social and economic realities of the United States. I will provide evidence in support of my claims. My hope is that we can go forward, lift the fog and come to clear conclusions about what president Biden needs to do in the next four years and in particular in the first two years of his presidency to lead us towards a better America.
1- 90% of American Workers Have not Benefited from the US Economic Prosperity Since Mid-1970s
Josh Bivens and Lawrence Mishel from Economic Policy Institute in their study of 2015 take up the historic trend in creation and continuation of divergence between productivity and a typical worker’s pay in the United States since the mid-1970s. The following graphs show the economic realities of the past decades in a clear manner.
The above graph indicates that in the post-industrial era in the United States, workers began to lose their ability to enjoy a rate of growth in their wages that was chasing productivity since the end of war. It shows that prior to the mid-1970s productivity grew by 96.7% and the hourly compensation dovetailed with this trend at the rate of 91.3%. Workers in general felt that they shared the increased prosperity and the middle-income groups have been on the rise. Since the mid-1970s the US economy continued to reach higher productivity at an even greater rate (238.7%) but the increase in hourly compensation was less than half of this trend. This only increased at a cumulative rate of 109.0%.
The US economy created lots of service related jobs at much lower levels of wages and manufacturing sector shrank considerably. Labor unions were under tremendous pressure from within and outside. Globalization, primarily, serving the interest of giant corporations continued relentlessly, and race to the bottom with turning one group of workers (domestic) against trading partners (outside) continued without any delay or adjustment.
Many praised the miracle of new time and the rise of the global economy without any mercy on the plight of the workers on the two sides of the trading partners. The shipping of jobs was not necessarily a wonderful development for the workers in either side as many studies indicate. There was also no attention on the negative impact of such careless industrial development on the living environment of those countries and their people or across the border in other places. Good example of the negative impact on wages can be found in Mexico, where the real pay to workers in international comparison fell drastically since 1975.
This picture becomes clearer when we look at the distribution of prosperity brought forward by the process of deindustrialization in the United States.
This is a remarkable picture showing that 90% of American workers have settled for almost no real share of the prosperity during the last four decades. If we take the cumulative increase of 15.2% of 90% of American workers’ wage growth over the period of 34 years (1979-2013), the annual increase will come to 0.45% on an annual basis. It should be mentioned that the average yearly increase in the net productivity during the same period of time was higher than 1.8%. It is interesting to note that the top 1% received an annual increase of higher than 4%, which is greater than twice the rise in productivity. We may ask ourselves who were in this top group and why their compensation was far greater than the net productivity in the entire economy over this period of time.
We may go further and ask ourselves if this was the same trend everywhere else in the world and particularly in highly advanced and rich economies such as OECD countries or just one of the byproducts of the US economic system. The truth is that several OECD countries have been grappling not only with slow productivity growth but have also experienced a slowdown in real average wage growth relative to productivity growth, which has been reflected in a falling share of wages in GDP. However, in the same report, the study indicates that in a number of countries, decoupling has gone together with real median wage stagnation.
In the United States, for instance, annual real median wage growth over the past two decades has been around ½ per cent whereas it has been between 1½ and 2 percent in countries with similar productivity growth but no decoupling, such as France, Finland, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. We therefore have a question before us as to why this process is at its highest in the United States but not so critical in some other countries. Why American workers are not able to protect their wellbeing. Why the trend of prosperity has left them out and why their boat has not been lifted with the rising tide.
It is important to note that this is just the tip of the iceberg when we think about technological progress yet to unleash to a much greater extent for decoupling of productivity and wage levels. What we see is the expansion of global value chains, which have contributed to the decoupling of real median wage growth from productivity growth, but there have been significant differences in firm dynamics across countries. It is okay to see the outcome, but there is no excuse to leave what caused this outcome outside of our observation and exploration. We need to be assertive about ways and means of coming out of this debacle and this is in interest of everyone.
The United States suffers in multiple ways. The best ways to overcome this trend apart from the harm of deindustrializing is to look into better redistribution of income and see it as an investment to make it possible to withstand the short-term chaos of fall of income and depression of wages. Looking into Universal Basic Income (UBI) can be a viable and important solution, which deserves serious consideration. We need to think about providing opportunity for building skill in our workforce in general and in different communities across the nation. At the same time, active labor market policies play an important role in preserving the labor market attachment and skills of workers who lose their jobs. Labor unions should NOT be viewed as foes in reaching plausible policies. Labor unions are important partners in finding real solutions and to ensure that our economy is not to be focused and strive to only protect the interest of a tiny group of our corporate elites. Having a sustainable economic system that serves the interest of all is good for all.
The OECD report clearly indicates that where minimum wages are low or employment protection rules are particularly weak for some workers, raising minimum wages or strengthening employment protection for these workers could offset adverse effects of product market reform on wage inequality. This has been ignored for a very long time and it is promising to see that president Biden in his second day of office signs the executive order for raising the minimum wage to $15 and has given support to have a secretary of labor which is in favor of supporting labor unions. I like to go further and challenge the status quo which states that rising wages may at times work against some workers because in some cases rising wages may prompt automation and replacing of their jobs with machines. What these people or experts are saying is that it is okay to keep people in low pay jobs since they may lose it. This shows a lack of imagination and not being able to see the reality of our economies as the production systems evolves and bring with it, new changes, which call for new ideas and new ways of overcoming our challenges. We need to think about these transformations realistically and come to agree that doing what we have done before is not a good way to go forward.
2- American Dream Has Been Fading Since 1980s
The term “American Dream” still resonates with many people around the world. However, within the country not many people who experience the real life of working and raising their children believe it in their hearts. why? There are a number of studies that show the fading of American Dream in recent decades compared with what was going on in the 1940s and 50s. Among them Raj Chetty and his colleagues have been very vocal. Raj Chetty et. al. finds that 90% of children born in 1940 earned more than their parents, compared to 50% of children born in the 1980s. Absolute income mobility has fallen across the entire income distribution, with the largest declines for families in the middle class.
The authors of this study found that absolute mobility fell in all 50 states, although the rate of decline varied, with the largest declines concentrated in states in the industrial Midwest. The decline in absolute mobility is especially steep – from 95% for children born in 1940 to 41% for children born in 1984 – when comparing sons’ earnings to their fathers’ earnings. The hardest hit regions are the very areas which suffered most from deindustrialization in the United States and outsourcing of good manufacturing jobs to other parts of the world.
3-Americans Are Suffering from a Dysfunctional Health Care System
According to a report published by the United States Census in 2019, 8.5% of people, or 27.5 million, did not have health insurance at any point during the year (2018). There were also 28% of U.S. adults who have health insurance through their employer which were under-insured. At the same time, people who bought plans on their own through the individual market or the marketplaces were the most likely to be under-insured, with 42% reporting a lack of adequate coverage in 2018.
The problem of being underinsured surfaced as a main concern for public health in 2018, but it fell on deaf ears. According to a report published in February of 2019, people who are “underinsured” have high health plan deductibles and out-of-pocket medical expenses relative to their income and are more likely to struggle paying medical bills or to skip care because of the cost. Among adults who were insured all year, 29 percent were underinsured in 2018, up from 23 percent in 2014. Underinsured adults report having trouble affording their care and the consequences of not having a proper health insurance has always been obvious, which is inability to received care and delay important and life saving care, which results in premature death, loss of productivity, and on top of it increase in the overall cost of health care.
The report indicates that 41 percent of underinsured adults said they delayed needed care because of cost, compared to 23 percent of people with adequate insurance coverage. Difficulty paying medical bills: Almost half (47%) of underinsured adults report medical bill and debt problems –nearly twice the rate as those who are not underinsured (25%). Turning a blind eye on these problems is a regular practice in the United States and somehow the sensitivity towards what the consequences are despite accessible and reliable information does not appear to trouble the public or their representatives. It is troubling to see that people may be more alarmed by empty words such as socialized health care systems or socialized medicine than people actually losing their lives in tens of thousands.
Terms like socialized medicine or anything else with ‘socialized’ in their beginning has long become a license to rob people from their human right to essential services such as having access to health care directly in exchange for billions of dollars of profits for pharmaceutical companies. Companies are getting the support at a very low cost as they only pay millions of dollars to their elected representatives in all segments of the government in all levels and in both political parties. I wonder what is the rate of return for companies to have their profits risen compared with their political contribution. I am sure that buying political representatives brings the highest return on investment in the United States. The other side of their return is denying ourselves from real representation in the assemblies. Many countries around the world do not allow for any contribution for elections and pay all the expenses based on certain rules by taxpayers. I believe this is another great idea with probably the greatest return on our public investment on behalf of a democratic society for preservation of their democracy.
Not having access to health care became a very important red alert/flag in the US during the ongoing time of the pandemic. However, the truth is that thousands of Americans have been dying silently every single year due to our outrageous and inhuman health care system. Will president Biden put a stop to this practice and will we even see that life expectancy at birth in the US is not going to be determined by the zip code of where they live? I personally believe that it may happen, since the time for correction has long been overdue.
4- Americans Are not Threatened by the Subversive Forces of the Left
The Cold war has been over for three decades now. But as it appears, its ideas and the rhetoric apparently have not. Being called a socialist till recently and even now in many places is considered as an agent of the former Soviet Union and a traitor who is working to destabilize the country and take away the freedom of people.
Few really know anything about socialism, communism, the ideas behind them, and the historic lessons of it. Discussing them in our economics textbook is really rare and the corporate or even the national public media do not show serious interests in discussing them apart from some seldom documentaries, and thus, the subject has not received any interest in public lives of Americans.
The most recent examples are noteworthy and we have a few representatives who broke the tradition of the past and made it public that they can be considered as socialists. We all know the reluctance of most of our leaders in the Democratic party to support such an assertion. It is hard to separate their attitude from their Republican counterparts when it comes to the infamous title of being a socialist. This is sad, pathetic and deplorable. It shows that our leaders are still following the path of the cold war even that the war has been over for all that mattered. However, for the war mongers, arms traders, and those who are addicted to promotion of war for their own interests, the war is going on and they will follow it so long as people can be fooled and fears can be exacerbated and kept alive.
The question by now is very plain: How much of a difference we can find in what is going on in Germany, France, Finland, Canada, and many more, and what our socialists such as Bernie Sanders and his supporters are asking for. The policies can be summed up in universal health care, free education which include post-secondary education, protection of workers during financial crisis and economic debacles, shelter, early childhood education, equal treatment by law and law enforcement, establishment of a better tax system that rich corporations and people can pay their fair share of the tax, and a much better system of income distribution than in the United States. Are these radical? If they are then I have a suggestion for those who support them. There is not much difference between Angela Merkel and Bernie Sanders. Angela Merkel has been the Chancellor of Germany and leader of Christian Democratic Union in Germany since 2005, which is a conservative ruling party of that country, very different from Joseph Stalin!!
This makes it very clear that the problem is not neither about the threat of being forced to live the life of opposition during the time of the cold war in the Soviet Union nor the eradication of our freedom. The issue is to have a system in support of the interest of a few and to the detriment of larger and larger numbers of Americans and forcing them to a lower economic status in favor of unfettered capitalism. The problem is that continuation of such a system is not possible as we have seen more evidence of it in recent years. Rise of fascism which clearly describes the power of the former president and millions of his supporters should sound the alarm. If many continue to bury their heads in the sands, the fascist will not magically disappear and they find greater strengths and will return with the same or a different face. The show is not over so long as the roots are in fertile land.
5- Measuring the Success of the American Economy Through the Rise and Fall of the Stock Market Is Incorrect
In the eyes of millions of Americans, the main indicator of the functioning of our economy is to say how the stock market is doing. Is this a good way of gaging the working of the US economy? Let us start by stating that changes in the stock market have some relevance to the working of our economy. A significant proportion of our financial wealth is made in the financial capital market and an important portion of it goes through the stock market. Long term changes in the stock market can be one of the indicators of real assessment of return on investment in a number of industries. We also know that often there is a divergence in the value of the stock market and real return on investment and it is not surprising to see that the value of stock market be significantly overvalued for a considerable period of time. Many economists believe that currently the US stock market is highly overvalued and will see adjustments in its way.
The question is how the change in the stock market can truly reflect the wellbeing of Americans at any point of time. There are several ways to answer this question. One important way is to find whose interests the stock market serves. Many point out the importance of the stock market and its pivotal role in the retirement accounts of working Americans. Let us see what the latest information provided by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve tells us about it. The following chart provides a clear answer to the question based on the latest available information.
This chart shows that the top 10% of American own more than 94% of the stocks held in retirement and taxable accounts. This indicates that 90% only have a share of less than 6%, and bottom 50% of Americans have a share of 0.007%. This is the picture when it comes to the retirement of Americans. I do not wish to say that retirement accounts of 10 to 15% of Americans are not important. It is important. However, we have to also acknowledge that 90% of Americans do not have any significant stake in the success of the stock market with regard to its impact on their retirement. On the other hand, the impact of keeping social security alive and healthy is far more impactful in the lives of the overwhelming majority of retired Americans. The news about compromising the lifeline of the overwhelming majority of Americans through social security has been threatened by many of our political leaders and it is frightening to see the support of totally misinformed masses for these political leaders.
Let us take this argument further and show who really owns the stock market in the United States over the last half of the century. This can be understood from the following chart.
We can make a number of deductions from the above chart. One important message is that some 40% of the stock market belongs to foreign investors. This may make us feel good since others in other parts of the world show interest in investing in American companies. In some ways an expanding global economy brings a higher level of investment in one another. However, the other message from this picture may be the emergence and spread of global corporate ownership of capital within the world. The other important issue is the shrinking share of taxable accounts, when we look closer. Finally, it is hard not to admit that the benefits from the stock market directly impact the foreign investors and a small group of rich Americans. This will still be a relatively good take on the working of the stock market if companies in the US were prevented from using their extra cash to buy their own stock and therefore increase their values, which used to be illegal in the United States. This certainly brought considerable pay off for the CEOs but it is hard to believe that it can always support the needs of the capital markets.
The issue of buying back stocks has a long history and it was made illegal in the aftermath of great depression. However, the other side of this argument is that buying back stocks for the purpose of increasing their value may deprive the economy from the much-needed capital in other areas of investment. There are credible arguments about such impact and the extent of it by a number of scholars, which deserve closer look.
6- People have Lost Their Trust in Their Government as Consecutive US Governments Have Failed to Serve Their Interests
This is a difficult proposition and depends on what we consider the government is capable of doing. However, the government is and can be what the people want it to be. How decisions are reached and consensus are built depends on a number of issues which fall in the area of politics and political economy of the country. It therefore becomes crucial to discuss the ability of the system. One of the biggest problems in the United States is having misrepresentation about the issues and creation of confusion among Americans through corporate media. There are great journalists in the United States, but most of them are not known or regularly heard. The most popular media are the ones committed in serving the interest of the mega corporations and the real aim is to earn as much profit as possible. Every minute has a price and those who watch or hear their program have to pay twice. One way through buying what they often do not need (promotion of insane consumerism) and for a second time by being in danger of misinformation.
A good democratic government is the government by the people for the people. The key in this sentence is the people. How people receive information and use information they receive for the decision they make in selecting their representatives is a crucial element of a functioning democracy. There is a price tag for every office in terms of how much the candidate can raise and spend. It is true that from time to time that the biggest spenders do not get the trophy. It is also true that in recent years a number of representatives received considerable support from small donors and a good number of them won the race.
Money had its detrimental impact on US politics for a very long time. However, the Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United, brought a much higher possibility for the big money to have a much greater place and influence to hand pick the political leaders of the country in every level of representation. Super PACs allow billionaires to pour unlimited amounts into campaigns, drowning out the voices of ordinary Americans. Dark money groups mask the identities of their donors, preventing voters from knowing who’s trying to influence them. And races for a congressional seat regularly attract tens of millions in spending. It’s no wonder that most people believe the super-wealthy have much more influence than the rest of us.
The unhealthy association of money and the objectives of elected officials to serve the interests of their supporters is undeniable and its consequences are grave. The immediate impact is the attachment of the elected official in serving the interests of their sponsors instead of the people that they are supposed to be representing. However, it goes further and brings a general tendency among many potential candidates to set up their campaign in order to be attractive to their corporate and other rich sponsors. This may go as far as developing a relatively strong belief in policies which are outright against their own constituencies such as not supporting public health for all, early childhood education for all, making it possible for every American to have access to higher education and much more. They take advantage of their constituencies and present them with claims which do not stand any real scrutiny and some even appear to be convinced in the merits of their nonsensical arguments. The alliance of corporate media, corrupt politicians, and sold-out religious leaders are the very engine of the inability of the political leadership and a large segment of our elected officials to serve the interests of people in the United States.
The result of it is that Americans do not trust their own governments and in particular the federal government. The irony of the system is that the overwhelming majority of elected members of the government proclaim that government does not serve the interests of the people and yet they persist that they are different and should be elected as the representative of the people so they can magically be the good government and save the people from the tyranny of their own government. The most famous quote is the one by president Reagan in his inaugural speech: “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem”
Well, it may sound very profound to some at the time but it is hard to escape the fact that much of the onslaught of the interest of working people of America through promotion of corporate dominance and a set of economic policies known as neoliberalism in the eyes of many scholars as the source of problem in our today’s world started as of his time.
The following chart may give us a better understanding of the timeline of distrust of Americans since the late 50s and early 60s.
Source: Ourworldindata; https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/public-trust-in-government
The fluctuations have their own significance. However, it is very clear the last two decades have been particularly troubling. There is a lot more to be known in order to draw a correct conclusion from the above graph, but one issue is very clear and that is the falling rate of trust in our government. We need to wake up and have the courage to see the reality of our time and look for a possible solution.
Our political leaders need to be elected without any influence of the big money. For example, it is not hard to accept that those who receive money from big pharmaceutical companies are not going to leave their corporate supporters. Accepting money and being attached to an office for our own sake bring corruption and this is not in relation to one party. Both parties have a strong share of the blame. Phony populists may win the day but their policies are doomed to fail.
Donald Trump came to office with the promise of cleaning the swamp. He left the office with the worst swamp that this nation can ever remember. He, his family, and his cronies sold everything they could find for cash. His supporters in the congress and the senate supported him all along and even now, because they are counting on his support to save their job. Let us make no mistake about who these elected representatives are serving. They are serving themselves. This is the tyranny of an electoral system that fails a democracy in action.
7- Serving the Common Interests of the Global Society is to Serve the Interests of Our Own
We may have a different take from the experience of the last four years of President Trump. I personally consider the past four years as a painful historic experience for the United States and its people, although many apparently do not realize it. Four years of a president that in his inaugural speech warned the world that the United States will be putting its interest first. He said:
“ We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America first, America first.”
It is rather unfortunate that how many people in the United States and around the world may say that this is a correct message and governments of countries should abide by it. Others may say who does not put the interests of its own nation before any other countries. This is the very core of the problem, which is seeing the interest of a nation as it can exist in isolation from the interests of other nations. This indicates an utter inability to comprehend the very basic element of our global community as it prevails within our planet.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought destruction to the lives of billions around the world. It is a catastrophe, which is still going on and its fullest extent of damage is yet to be known. One of the most important deductions from COVID is that the threat of it is only based on our biological existence as humans.
The rich may protect themselves better because of having access to resources, but the impact and consequences of the virus are the same for everyone. We are all in it together, so to say.
Looking ahead we may be exposed to countless similar conditions with regard to our biological frailty to infectious diseases. The most important element of such recognition is that separating one country or nation from others is totally meaningless. Herd immunity can only be meaningful when it is global. Pandemic is not the only reminder of our common heritage and destiny as human beings. Almost every aspect of our struggle against the onslaught of global warming and unsustainable environment is a feature that threatens us all as one on one planet, called Earth. Flooding and destruction of habitat, forced migration and immigration, and all other challenges of being forced to adjust and make our way forward is global and will impact us all.
If we open our minds and can go far beyond the physical aspects of our shared existence, violence against each other can be considered as an infectious disease that can deny global society from its peaceful coexistence. The idea of violence brings more violence is not a mere slogan. There are many examples of it in many parts of the world. Social justice is not an empty word, it is the remedy for returning peace and bringing balance to our tormented, isolated and disenfranchised societies and communities at home and beyond.
World poverty is not a defect or guilt of a group, it is a clear indication of our collective failure to live at a time and not do everything possible to eliminate the death of millions of people from malnutrition or hunger, which is many times as the causality of pandemic war we are wrestling with. Around the world, more than enough food is produced to feed the global population. However, more than 690 million people still go hungry to bed every night. After steadily declining for a decade, world hunger is on the rise, affecting 8.9 percent of people globally. From 2018 to 2019, the number of undernourished people grew by 10 million, and there are nearly 60 million more undernourished people now than in 2014. The calamity of being hungry and suffering from food insecurity have come to our own country during the time of pandemic.
Edward B. Barbier and Joanne C. Burgess (2020) argue about the high vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic of developing countries. They demonstrate that this problem in part is due to the lack of international support for ensuring progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet the mounting financial burden faced by all countries means that additional support is unlikely to be forthcoming in the near future. The authors argue that finding innovative policy mechanisms to achieve sustainability and development through cost effective measures and policies are essential for all countries. This requires identifying affordable policies that can yield immediate progress towards several SDGs together and aligning economic incentives for longer term sustainable development.
Manoj Kr. Bhusal (2020) takes a different and rather critical view and, to a great extent, a pessimistic one about the fallout of COVID-19. The author predicts strong tendencies towards greater global challenges for political processes, particularly on the instruments of democracy and the rule of law. He argues that learning from various reports during the pandemic, the post-pandemic world will be characterized by populism, nationalism, intensified citizen surveillance, and curtailed and compromised individual liberties.
Gordon Brown and Daniel Susskind (2020) bring a different perspective in their analyses of COVID-19 and its impact on international cooperation. They argue that many of the tasks involved in public health, and in particular those involved in the control of an infectious disease like COVID-19, ought to be treated as global public goods (GPG), which can only be delivered through international cooperation.
While national governments are able to change domestic law or build national institutions to ensure the optimal level of a traditional public good is secured within their borders, there are no provisions in international law to impose obligations on other sovereign countries to ensure the optimal overall level of a GPG is secured without their consent. The importance of creating an international mechanism for defending the global community against future pandemics and other global calamities requires new initiatives and practical mechanisms that can be pragmatic and functional. The existing international setting for creating such capacity requires innovative thinking and cooperative spirits within the global society that can perceive all nations as equal partners without the endeavor to subjugate resource-scarce communities as lesser companions. Reaching such a level of understanding within the prevailing power struggle and sense of superiority among a good number of developed countries presents a bleak possibility for success.
Conclusion and The Final Answer
Being optimistic is a positive human quality and we do not have any definitive reason to be pessimistic about what President Biden may do or do not. There is, however, no myth about how he can restore hope and bring the nation together. We are challenged by the empty claims of populists or deceptive policies of war mongers, polluters, corporate oligarchs, and their installed representatives and lobbyists. They have deceived and can continue to deceive people and take advantage of them. However, they will never be able to solve problems. They prolong the misery and make the situation even more difficult and complicated. If constructive transformation cannot come from peaceful and timely policies for solving our problems, the alternative is a path towards destruction with pain and violence. President Biden needs to look into the following most important actions and bring everyone to be a part of his campaign for real change. The following changes are necessary:
- We need an economic system that can support and provide the basic needs of our own people regardless of their prevailing individual or group economic conditions. We need important tax reforms, which can create a better distribution of income. Poverty may not be reduced drastically within a few years, but we can make sure that people and the families in poverty do not live the life of poverty. Financial means for supporting our own people has been and is in the ability of the US economy with high productivity and the emergence of a robust production sector through innovation and new discoveries. President Biden must take initiatives to drift away from focusing on the benefit of the 1% towards the betterment of the lives of 99%.
- Some of the most essential elements of a balanced and humanly conceivable life on Earth are not based on demands, but rather on meeting the needs of the individuals, groups, and communities. Meeting the existing or emerging needs is essential for the continuation of life, but those with needs may not be able to pay for them, and therefore, considering them to be demands is incorrect. Continuing with the perception of responding to demands or wants is an ill-founded concept, which in times can create human disasters, the likes of which we have seen and continue to see during this pandemic. This is one of the primary reasons that the U.S. economy is performing miserably in responding to COVID-19, and this can be seen in a number of other countries around the world as well. The US should also work towards creation of a system that provides Global Public Good and Services.
- We need to join and support international cooperation and development of a shared global vision for change. This is vital, and at the same time, very complex.
- There is a dire need to democratize the US economy. Our economic system needs fundamental transformation through a greater role of other players such as labor unions, civil societies, consumers, and nonprofit entities, workers’ co-ops, and much more. We need reforms and to get ourselves away from an absolute adherence to market-based economic principles toward instead a focus on non-market theories of economic democracy. We need to create a reform agenda supporting practical examples of decentralization and economic liberalization to democratic cooperatives, public banking, fair trade, and the regionalization of food production. This may be too much for a few years, particularly when we have a long journey from where we are to where we can be or should be. However, change never happens if we do not start the process for the change to occur.
- President Biden, history, despite its grim tails of human catastrophe and loss, also tells us how destructive forces allowed humanity to see the road to recovery for better lives in the future. This is not to glamourize the grief of the loss of human lives, which is always tragic and heartbreaking, but it is a call to be vigilant and alert regarding the lessons that can be learned. The most important lesson of COVID-19 is to reject the notion that every country and nation must solely focus on their own gains, presuming that the world is based on zero sum gains.
- President Biden, the corporate bottom-line does not serve the common good. There is a considerable positive externality in both education and the creation of reliable information and appropriate levels of public discourse about public information and news, which often do not find their way to the bottom-line of our international corporations. Investing in both areas are important and have a high return on investment, and should be fully utilized.
- Striving for social justice is not a slogan, it is a recipe for a high return investment in members of our communities beyond the restrictive boundaries of our collective prejudices and misunderstandings of ourselves as interdependent members of the same community. Social justice is not just a moral imperative; it is meeting a necessity for reaching our full potential as a community at the local, national, and international arenas.
- And finally, sustainability is to understand and create a path for continuity and prosperity within every community.