Alternative Income-Social Justice in Post-Industrial Society
In my paper "Social Justice and the Computer Revolution" [http://www.ghandchi.com/238-SocialJustice.htm], I discussed in details about the foundation of differences of income in the post-industrial society. My goal in this paper is to offer an alternative plan to institute social justice in the post-industrial society, now that we are at the threshold of this new civilization. I had explained in the aforementioned paper, the mechanism of formation of value, profit, and income in the post-industrial society and will not repeat here.
As noted in "Social Justice and the Computer Revolution," when a famous singer, sells her new CD in millions of copies and makes hundreds of millions of dollars in profit, explanation of the source of this obviously immense profit, is not that she is possessing part of the labor of the workers of the CD factory. Or that this profit is the result of ownership of the means of production of the CD. Conversely, the musician whose music nobody buys, if the factory making his CD, even pays him all the proceeds of his CD or even give him the whole factory, still him and his producer will go bankrupt.
In my paper about the theory of uniqueness value [http://www.ghandchi.com/297-uniquenessEng.htm] , I thoroughly explained the mechanism of selecting the *average* in industrial economy and selecting the *best* in the post-industrial economy and showed in details that for commodities like computer software, as most products of the post-industrial economies are more and more this type of products, the main reason for the disparity of income of the producers is not because of ownership, and thus one cannot find the solution for justice by offering a change in the structure of social ownership. I also showed that the incomes can transform to various kinds of wealth and be controlled in various forms of ownership [http://www.ghandchi.com/334-WealthEng.htm]. I should note that income is not the only source of wealth, and although the wealth of post-industrial society can enter the economic cycle in the forms of private, state, or stock ownership, but the wealth may also not have any owner like the air we breath.
At any rate, the source of the income disparity in the post-industrial society is not in ownership or the returns on the ownership, and in the final analysis the ownership differences themselves are the result of differences of income, although factors like inheritance may give us the opposite impression, whereas in reality if those properties are not used in a profitable way to produce income, they will fade away. As a result, to solve the dilemma of social justice, the source of income disparity should be examined, and that study should be done about the main products of the post-industrial production which are increasingly comprising the bigger share of total social production. In other words, we should study the nature of the products that are the result of creative thought and the way the social decision-making to determine the best in each realm of production is made, for each of these products, whether the product to be a computer software and new energy fuel or a music tape or a basketball game, products that create millions of dollars of income for their stars and inventors.
As far as the non-economic realms of social justice are concerned and the issue of backwardness of the socialist and liberal solutions, I have explained in details in another paper [http://www.ghandchi.com/303-SocialismEng.htm] and there is no need to repeat here. Also as far as the nature of production becoming more and more post-anthropocentric in the future, and the significance of that change from the angle of social justice, I have written elsewhere [http://www.ghandchi.com/332-PostAnthroEng.htm]. And finally the issue of what domains the wealth and justice are focused in the 21st Century I have explained before [http://www.ghandchi.com/334-WealthEng.htm] and I will not get into the discussion of details of issues like *intellectual property* in here, issues that are gaining first level importance in the post-industrial economies.
My discussion in here is simply to offer a brief plan to institute social justice in light of all the social realities of the post-industrial society that I have discussed in my previous papers.
Twenty five years ago when I was having my first discussions about the formation of intelligent tools and the coming new civilization [http://www.ghandchi.com/353-IntelligentToolsEng.htm], I noted that the capitalist and socialist roads do not work for the future progress of humanity. At the time, the response of my opponents was to deny the post-industrial development in the world and they considered it imperialist propaganda, and therefore from the viewpoint of my opponents there was not fundamental change and rupture in human civilization to require a new response to the issue of social justice necessary, they saw the issue of social justice within the confines of the industrial society as it used to had been for two centuries.
In the last few years more and more the reality of post-industrial production has become undeniable especially after the development of the information society and the growth of the Internet, and also because of the fall of the Soviet Bloc during these years, it is impossible to deny the reality of the new development, and therefore today the opponents of the past no longer deny the post-industrial development, but they propose a kind of adjusted socialism or liberalism as a response to the new economic realities, and because defending the socialist dictatorship of the Eastern Bloc is impossible, they announce their opposition with the *Russian* socialism, and are all gathering under the banner of social democracy or liberalism. Of course, they forget that a large percentage of socialist dictatorship of the past century was not Russian for anyone to be able to reduce the blame of all the failures of socialist program on just the Russian socialism!
In fact, more than half of the socialism of the industrial society was and is non-Russian, meaning Chinese, Korean, Cuban, Cambodian, Vietnamese, etc, and also the social democracy is not anything new to think of it as the response to the post-industrial society, and even it was a lacking as a response to the industrial society and had many problems including government bureaucracy, economic stagnation, and waste of labor in nonproductive forms which I have discussed thoroughly in the past [http://www.ghandchi.com/303-SocialismEng.htm].
Also for backward countries like Iran, I have shown in the past that ultimately the state economy of interest to social democracy, in these countries, is itself the foundation of despotism and of course the response of leftist forces to me was insults, instead of trying to see these realities in the socialist countries of Asia or Baathist countries or socialist-African countries, proven one after the other, and there is not need to repeat these programs in sensational ways to offer these same plans failed, without noticing that these programs have been tested for 150 years.
Today in the 21st Century the realities of the socialist program are clear to any unbiased observers and its problems in the areas of democracy and justice are not just theoretical discussions, to be passed aside by pragmatic slogans, when the dictatorship and poverty in these countries one after the other for over half a century has continued and one can no longer brush them aside as temporary transitional problems, and the promises of the prophets of justice in light of state ownership in countries like Zimbabwe, are only continuing the dream by killing the opponents, and their Iranian counterparts in Europe who are not in power, see it legitimate to censor views of people like me because of criticizing their retrogressive socialist beliefs, because I have challenged these imaginary plans of justice for years [http://www.ghandchi.com/340-UtopianismEng.htm].
Of course, it is forgotten that socialism and liberalism in both Europe and the U.S. have shown their failure to work for the 21st Century societies. The problem is no longer nationalization or privatization, that some think of the first path as a way out and others who recommend the second path as the panacea, and with these adjusted versions of the 19th Century programs one cannot solve the issues of freedom and justice in the 21 Century.
A few years ago, the socialists in France brought everything under state ownership and today the conservatives are privatizing everything and the union are going on strike. The unions know that the production is stagnated and the labor force is wasted, but they are afriad of unemployment and they have every right to be afraid, but the past system cannot continue either, because in a global economy, with this kind of low labor productivity, France will be defeated from its competitors, and those state-owned factories will be forced to close. This way the conservatives are coming back to power in Germany and Japan and in Japan even the postal service is being privatized following a popular vote that was focused on the issue.
Why don't these solutions work? The reality is that the industrial economy was a mass economy and the theoreticians of capitalism and their socialist opponents thought that the society's economy will always remain this way, and the model of factory was thought of as the model of the whole society and other realms of life. Therefore the solution for social justice was the search for a general formula. For example, Marx thought that in the socialist society the formula of from each according to his ability and to each according to his work was justice, which in reality not only this did not challenge the principle of capitalism to see income as the reward of work, but took that principle to its zenith.
Of course, in Marx's view, in the communist society the formula of from each according to his ability and to each according to his need was justice which I should note that the only institution in society which would have the task of defining and confirming "anyone's need" was the state, although it was supposed to have only the administrative functions, but in that model, the state was the public owner, the way the state sector functions in economies like Sweden today, which for example decides on what the housing need for each person is.
Thus when the ownership of the means of production become state ownership or so-called "public" ownership, all the work of humans become uniform. In other words it was thought that society will become so uniform that a general formula for reward would be the guarantee and the solution for social justice. Today even the imagination of uniformity would give trembles to us and justice-loving youth readin Thomas More's Utopia not only does not see it as her ideal but thinks of that utopia as the description of a jail, and not as the ideal of freedom and justice. In other words, for ordinary people after the distancing of the social reality from the mass production, more and more the people distance themselves from the image of uniformity for themselves and others, although the intellectuals may still talk of pluralism [http://www.ghandchi.com/301-PluralismEng.htm] but in objective reality may still not understand the people who are more and more different and not uniform.
Today socialist talk of socialism of the 21st Century to use the same old mass economic model , without noticing that the difference of the owners of two web sites where one has billions of dollars of income and the other has none, is not about who owns the means of production and which one does not. Thus even if the ownership of the web becomes public, which is actually true about many European countries, it will not make a difference about income disparity and lack of social justice, to be able to solve by these kinds of views.
Therefore the socialist plans which are basically using the plans of 150 years ago to solve the problems of today, are the same road that the European countries like Sweden have been doing for years, and they have even applied it to post-industrial production in those societies, but the problems of stagnation and waste of labor and inefficiency of state economy are still the same, and most of the socialist authors are well aware of these facts but just like the religious theoreticians, who talk about the Imam Ali's justice of 1300 year ago when wanting to propose a program for today's society just to make their supporters happy, these people also use Marx's model that could be meaningful for the mass production of industrial society, as a program for today's economy, to make their supporters happy thinking that the socialist school is still alive.
An interesting report from Communist China shows that the problem of socialism is not just democracy. The following news piece vividly shows the problem of socialism in the realm of social justice. “On Saturday Oct 10th 2005, hundreds of members of the Chinese Communist Party's central committee met in Beijing in a session expected to focus on the country' s widening income gap [http://www.voanews.com/persian/2005-10-08-voa10.cfm]. The four-day central committee meeting was to discuss the party's five-year social and economic blueprint for China -- from 2006 to 2010. The official China Daily quotes top economists who say they expect party officials to focus on narrowing the income gap between the country's rich and poor. Government officials have warned that the prevailing trend -- especially the divide between rural and urban China -- is increasing the risk of future social instability. Official reports indicated earlier this year that 45 percent of China's wealth is held by 10 percent of the people.” Thus it is obvious that this is the reality of China after more than half a century of Communist rule. If the issue of social justice was solvable by five-year plans and state economy, it should have been solved by now!
Today the discussion with the left is about beliefs. The publisher of one of the leftist newspapers censored my writings and later acknowledged himself that the truth is that their opinions is a belief for them, just like the religious authors for whom these topics are issues of belief. This means continuing the discussion causes more hard feelings and also makes them to further close their ears to futurist discussions.
Therefore the same way that I presented my views about theory of uniqueness value without referring to the left, here I will also present my plan with respect to social justice focusing on the topic, and I hope that this idea gets tested by science, and not end up with polemics and historical discussions. My goal is to find a way for the dilemma of social justice in the 21st Century, and not to have a discussion of history of justice-loving beliefs in the past centuries, which in the best case are historical topics, and can be interesting for those interested in historical topics, but not of much value for finding a program of social justice for the post-industrial society which is the purpose of this paper.
What is the solution for social justice in the future societies? I would like to draw your attention to the fact that essentially the tax system in the developed countries has become very complex and all the efforts to simplify it have proven that it cannot be simplified. In my opinion those who try to simplify the tax system think that the modern society is a mass society and believe that the complexity of the tax system is because of deception of law makers to help the misuse of the tax regulation loopholes for the benefit of the rich, and they think this is why legislators create all the ambiguous clauses and manifold details, whereas although some of the misuse is a fact, but that is not the reason for the existing complexity.
The main reason for the complexity of the tax system, is the complexity of the economic structure of the modern society itself, where every individual is becoming more and more different from others in the way they make their income, and the way they spend their income, and therefore implementing any general model in different realms of life such as insurance, education, and housing is more expensive and less workable, the same way that HMO's proved to be expensive and inefficient as health plans.
Thus from one side, because of the cost of mass systems, people take refuge in the plans of the conservative forces that want to trim the fat from the government, and on the other hand when people are left in the dark with lack of health insurance, education and housing for their kids, they defend the liberal and socialist forces and this vicious circle and swinging pendulum continues to haunt the modern societies.
In my opinion, the same way that paying tax in the U.S. tax system has become complex and every individual using the model given in the tax forms, calculates his/her tax every year and pays it, receiving money from the state should also use a similar model, and not use a general model of social welfare in its current form, where only a limited number of people are eligible for it, and it is more like the continuation of poverty than paying an effective income.
I would like to call my new solution as *alternative income*.
In other words, the same way that people in the U.S. pay money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as their taxes, they should also receive alternative income from IRS based on the health, education, and housing needs of themselves and their family and in proportion with their income, and just like taxes that are calculated every year by every individual for himself and his family and are paid to the IRS, all people every year to calculate alternative income for themselves and their family, and the tax department of their country (IRS) to be responsible to pay the alternative income, the same way it is responsible to collect taxes, and to pay alternative income from the revenue it receives as taxes.
To implement this plan, it is necessary that 100% of the tax revenues *not* to belong to the government for government expenses anymore, and instead, from now on, the tax authority only give 10% of the taxes to the government for the government and public work expenses, and 90% of the collected taxes should be returned to the citizens as *alternative income* and this way to bring in social justice to the income system of society.
A lot of the expenses that are now state's responsibility, when the citizenry has balanced income, the people can take charge of those responsibilities directly, so that the state can get its work done by 10% of the taxes. As a result, this plan is forced to make a fundamental change in the structure of the country's budget and it can cause a real tremble like the one that happened when a fundamental change in the state structure of the Eastern Bloc happened in 1990's.
Sam Pizzigati [http://www.greedandgood.org] thinks to achieve social justice, one should set a maximum limit for income in the society. Of course, Mr. Pizzigati believes that his plan will cause those who are in the highest income brackets to push for increase of the minimum wage so that their own maximum wage can increase, because he is proposing something like a 10 to 1 ratio of the maximum wage to the minimum wage [http://www.faireconomy.org]. In my opinion such action will damage individual activity, or will cause the rich to look for loopholes not to show their income and to keep their income low.
In my opinion, the only way to institute justice is by making income just, but not by setting limit on the maximum income, but the solution is in the tax system. We should define and collect taxes of up to 99% for high incomes of movie stars, popular rock singers, or software developers of high-selling software, but on the other hand, we should have a system of *alternative income*, in parallel to the current tax system, with similar complexity and details.
In the world of the future, we are not dealing with mass production to be able to achieve social justice thru schemes such as the Welfare State, and more and more the work of one person will be different from another, and their spending preferences will also be different from each other, and also income from ownership is not a solution, because ownership itself is the result of personal income and not its cause, as I explained at the beginning of this paper.
Therefore, the same way that when collecting taxes from people, the modern societies have learned that the "egalitarian" indirect taxes such as sales tax, are in reality more unjust than just, giving financial help as welfare, as if it is charity, also with an egalitarian assumption, is in reality continuation of poverty. To institute justice can only be done by recognizing the individual differences, which *is* the reality of the post-industrial society, and securing alternative income for all the citizens is a plan based on the recognition of this reality, contrary to imaginary views that think of society as uniform and assume production as mass production.
Alternative income supplemented with ordinary income, institutes justice. Both parts of the income from year to year, from one individual to another, will be different, and for a rock singer like Britney Spears in her youth and high popularity, the alternative income can approach zero and her taxes can approach the maximum; and for an unemployed worker, the alternative income can be a substantial amount whereas his/her tax can approach the minimum.
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
October 15, 2005