Incumbents, elites, will be a very hard sell
70,000 years ago human beings did everything using their own muscles, from digging roots to carrying things. Sometime in the last 5,000 or so years, human beings domesticated horses and oxen which human beings then used in place of their own muscles whenever possible. Over the last 300 years human being began to replace horses and oxen with steam and internal combustion engines. The change from human muscle to power work to horses and oxen and then to machines was an obvious improvement to anyone relying on the older method (save some who claimed to be too old to change or who. would not change for religious reasons or who had too much of an investment in the old approach). So the movement from human muscles to machines took place because each step was more efficient or productive than the last way of doing things. (NOTE wind mills were first used about 3,000 years ago and water wheels some 2,400 years ago, electricity less than 150 years ago and nuclear reactors about 75 years ago. Each source of power was integrated into use fairly quickly. However, these substitutes for human and animal muscle require location and material investments.)
Change in social, economic, and political arrangements and power, however, haven’t been as quickly embraced because those who exercise power in economic, social or political contexts don’t want change; for change means those in power think they will lose it. The Queen of Hearts cry “Off with their heads” is all too frequently heard by incumbents during a revolution. And revolutions are often required for political, social and economic change (and religious change in some cases). Besides, most economic elites seem to think economies are zero-sum games when in fact the more participants the greater the wealth (goods, services and money) available to be divided among the participants. Most political elites seem bent on maintaining their control regardless of the costs to their wealth, ideology, religion, or socioeconomic status. Besides the vast majority of political elites have poorly treated others to the point that the elites fear retribution should they relinquish power.
Generally, those with social power have overlapped with those with economic and/ or political power. Generally social elites have been the bulwark of maintaining the order or the status quo — conservative or reactionary. What social elites have to loose with change is status and deference by others. Hence, social elites risk becoming ordinary human beings when social change is implemented.
In addition, alternatives to existing social, economic and political arrangements are not easy to envision for there are no examples or scant and ill formed examples to demonstrate the alternatives. There are, however, a variety of alternatives at any given time in history–socialism/capitalism/communism, monarchy/republic/dictatorship, hierarchical/egalitarian and secular/sacred. Unlike the replacement of human muscles by horses, machines and even computers there are no examples of working alternatives to existing social, economic and political “arrangements” for people to examine or witness.
Compound all of these impediments to changing some social, economic or political arrangement with the fact that human beings are creatures of belief before they are prone to accept and use evidence and well-reasoned argument and one has almost an iron clad warrantee against change.
Let’s begin with an assumption about human behavior. People tend to try to hang on to what they have and try to get more. That is people are conservative and not satiated with what they have; they always want more. This largely says the same thing as the economist ‘ s assumption that people’s wants are never filled. History, generally, shows improvements in our standard of living with both technological and egalitarian improvements. Yes, in Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Harari, among others, presents a strong case for the worsening of the human condition as a result of giving up hunting and gathering for agriculture. And any number of observers would strongly argue that the revolutions of the proletariat were disasters former Soviet Bloc countries and China. However even with local (in history) blips the human condition has improved with technology and real inclusion (equality).
So, I would argue here that democratizing money creation is, while less than obvious, the next logical step in expanding participation in the economy—improving, on the whole, the human condition by making as many people as possible full participants in the economy. The existing ideologies-liberalism and conservativism-both approach the way to move forward and improve the human condition as a tug of war involving taxes and government programs. Unfortunately, that tug of war has led to greater inequalities, discontent, institutionalized poverty and divergence from the equality values proponents of both claim to share: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
As I have presented elsewhere in this blog creating new money by depositing in citizen’s financial accounts will necessitate a smaller government footprint by eliminating the need for most catch-all social welfare programs. A smaller government footprint will reduce the sheer number of areas in which that tug of war will be played out and the government’s need for taxes. Recall, the scheme I propose provides governments with new money too.
However, as I asserted at the beginning of this installment there are no existing models one can point to as examples. Hence it will require a massive sales job. Ironically, in the American context, those in power are the safest from any changes democratizing money occasions. The average citizen pays little attention to political matters. The average citizen tends to vote in the next election the same way he and she did in the last election. Most incumbents enjoy a 95% reelection rate. To say their seats or positions are safe is a mammoth understatement. However, it is those incumbents who have to act to make the democratization of money a reality. If they do or don’t they will be reelected. They fear primary challenges and opposition party challenges. Yes, the evidence is neither a same party or opposition party challenger is particularly successful. So the incumbents who know how to work the socio-economic system to their political advantage will tend to shy away from changing that system. Ironically, they would probably enjoy a larger rate of reelection immediately after they put forth the change to democratize money. They would enjoy that increased electoral safety because their potential opponents would be caught with their proverbial policies down—there would be very little for opponents to run on— “I’m a better choice for I never would have given you a safe and secure income flow. Elect me and I will repeal it.” Yet, incumbents will be a very hard sell.