Abbreviated version of the Manifesto
to: main page
(1) What to do about the $700 billion annual trade deficit?
First, admit that our high-priced labor cannot compete in a global economy driven to seek low-cost production. It is also economically untenable for one nation (China) to produce while another nation (the U.S.) consumes. Our so-called free trade system merely exchanges consumer goods for debt. We therefore need to replace free trade with a trading system that acknowledges the vastly different levels of industrial development around the world. The world community needs to give national governments permission to impose tariffs on imported goods that will at least partially offset the cost differentials between production in developed and developing nations. My scheme of "employer-specific tariffs" could become a tool to raise living standards in the poorer countries. It would be a way that national governments could regulate multi-national corporations.
Second, recognize that over half of the trade deficit represents imported oil, mostly for gasoline to power automobiles. We need an aggressive campaign to promote the development of alternative energy, especially electricity to power automobiles. We need better ways to transport this energy from its point of production to point of use. Minnesota is a leader in producing electricity from wind power. It's a no brainer - we must develop alternative energy sources and do it quickly.
Finally, our high-priced labor carries the burden of excessive costs in health care, government, education, law, and other areas. We must lower those costs to become competitive. In particular, we must end the war-based economy that burdens our nation. Turn responsibilities for policing the world over to the United Nations. Take the military "toys" away from leaders such as President Bush who are unable to use them responsibly.
(2) Can our decendants be "happy" in a world stripped of its material resources?
My contention is that people compete for social rank more than for the opportunity to consume more food and other material products. So there may be hope that "after the party is over" with respect to resource-consuming "economic growth", humanity may stumble upon other ways to continue the flow of progress.
Shorter working time is a technique for redistributing employment opportunities so that all people can enjoy reasonable access to income and work and material consumption will become more evenly distributed among the population. The real question, though, is how people can continue to distinguish themselves. How can they individually continue to enjoy life in a more egalitarian society?
The impending shortages of energy that may inhibit transportation do not affect communication so much. So there are ways that people can expand their life experiences through electronic communication without expanding consumption of energy and other resources. The ultimate end may be a more satisfying sense of personal identity. We can consciously pursue that goal.
to: main page