The ownership of American wealth is hideously unequal: The top 10 percent owns about 79 percent of it, and the top 1 percent alone owns about 39 percent — while the bottom half owns virtually nothing. And while that discrepancy used to be smaller back in the more equal New Deal days, it was still huge. The top tenth or so of society has always accounted for the overwhelming bulk of American wealth.
One proposal for equalizing this situation is to build up a social wealth fund, as I have proposed before, and Matt Bruenig lays out in a recent worked-out paper. The idea is for the government to accumulate a significant fraction of all the national wealth, and pay out the ensuing capital income with an annual dividend to all adult citizens.
Mike Konczal of the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute argues that this is an unnecessary and bad idea. Meanwhile, Kevin Drum has a more conservative objection, asserting without evidence that “government-run enterprises are almost inevitably run badly and government-controlled paychecks are almost inevitably corrupt beyond all imagining.”
These objections fail. A social wealth fund is a good idea.
First of all, when talking about “wealth” we’re talking about all assets: stocks, bonds, real estate, buildings, and so forth. Thomas Piketty et al. calculate that U.S. wealth is worth $71 trillion as of 2015, while the Federal Reserve puts it at $90 trillion today. Norway provides one example of how a fraction of this kind of wealth can be wielded for the benefit of everyone. The country has slowly built up a social wealth fund worth over $1 trillion (or over $190,000 per Norwegian) over the years. Through that and its state-owned enterprises, the Norwegian state now …read more
Source:: The Week – Politics