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Book details
  • SubGenre:Public Policy / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:519
  • eBook ISBN:9780996706711

The New Enlightenment

A Twenty-First Century Peaceful American Revolution

by Robert Bivona

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The New Enlightenment details 34 public policies that will, if instituted: Lift tens of millions of Americans out of poverty to a standard of living that now exists in the middle class; substantially improve the standard of living of tens of millions more; fundamentally improve our election and lobbying systems; enhance democracy with an innovative, new democratic system; create a $500 billion annual federal surplus; increase GDP by $1.8 trillion. Costs or revenue gains resulting from instituting each policy is included. Abuse of monopoly power and defects in our corporate form and political system are resulting in vast wealth in a tiny elite, which will be inherited. We are creating a new aristocracy with unprecedented wealth and therefore power. The six Walmart heirs’ have more wealth than the poorest 133 million Americans combined. Much of their $145 billion results from paying over half of their workforce below a living wage. Productivity has doubled since 1979 while wages have stagnated or declined for the majority in a process directing vast wealth to a small elite. These conditions are fundamentally unjust, and the further they are allowed to advance the more difficult they will be to resolve. Our nation was born in the Age of Enlightenment when extreme economic and political inequalities motivated revolutions. Today, through peaceful means, we again require radical change for similar reasons. If those with extreme wealth lived isolated on a wilderness island they would have little or no wealth. Our society allows, and is an active participant in, wealth creation. Where is the appropriate degree of gratitude? Using tax policies that return a just and moderate portion of extreme wealth and income to the source of the resources responsible for creating it, society, The New Enlightenment details how our society can be fundamentally beneficially transformed.
Imagine living in a more prosperous and fundamentally more just, democratic and egalitarian society. We can make this dream real with The New Enlightenment’s thoroughly detailed public policies that will: • End unemployment mainly by reducing full-time work hours 10%, to 36 hours per week. Less work time per worker requires more workers. Productivity advancements allowed popular movements to be successful in reducing an over 60-hour workweek to a 40 hour national standard about 75 years ago when productivity was about one-fifth what it is today. We are past due for a popular movement demanding full-time work hour reductions again. • Create a minimum tax-free annual income of $34,980 for full-time work. Expanding and reforming the EITC and raising the minimum wage to $11.10 per hour will accomplish this. The effective hourly minimum wage will be $19.40/hour after the EITC, tax-free. Despite 10% fewer work hours resulting in as much as 10% lower compensation from the workplace people’s take-home income whose income now is under $160,000 will rise, proportionally more the lower the income due to lower taxes, the EITC or the higher minimum wage. • Eliminate the worker half of payroll tax: Will compensate for most of the workplace income reduction resulting from the full-time work hour reduction. Also, eliminate the income tax on incomes under $50,000. • Transform the economic system to one where most economic activity will be performed by worker owned and controlled businesses at the end of a 20-year transition period. Loans, grants, tax benefits, subsidies, and education assistance within several detailed programs will accomplish this. • Institute a TV and radio station license requirement to offer generous allotments of airtime free of charge to four qualified candidates per national public office contest. Also, support qualified candidates with large postal and newspaper space subsidies and institute a new Fairness Doctrine. • Enhance democratic functioning with new, innovative democratic forms. Average citizens in 25 person deliberative groups involving 0.1% of the citizenry will develop some public policies. • Institute a license renewal requirement for worker ownership and control of air media companies. Loans, grants, tax benefits and subsidies will support the ownership transfer. Motivate ownership and control by workers of other kinds of media businesses through loans, grants, tax benefits, and subsidies. Media ownership and control by workers will result in a new and vigorous media culture more responsive and accountable to the majority. • Eliminate tuition for public colleges. • Increase all social security payments by $500/month. We rank 30th among 34 developed countries in the percentage of a median worker’s earnings that our public-pension system replaces, and private pensions are becoming less common and generous. Summary of policies that generate sufficient revenues to support the above policies create over a $500 billion annual surplus, increase GDP by $1.8 trillion (most also provide other benefits): • Income tax with a 55% maximum rate on income above $410,000 and eliminate the special treatment of capital gains and “carried interest.” • Wealth tax (0% less than $1 million, 1.0% between $1 million to $10 million, and 1.5% over $10 million). • Pollution taxes that raise revenue and reduce pollution. • Corporate tax system that inherently will end tax haven abuse. • Replace the estate tax with a progressive inheritance tax that increases taxes on large wealth transfers without forcing the sale of inherited businesses. • Financial transactions tax. • Reduce military and other expenditures. • Eliminate the cap on the employer social security portion of the payroll tax (employees at all income levels will pay no payroll tax). The New Enlightenment Citizen’s Union will be the organizational structure of the social movement for the New Enlightenment transformations. Now is the time for The New Enlightenment.
About the author
Robert Bivona has a degree in physics, did graduate work in physics and engineering, and has decades of professional experience in physics, math, and engineering. He applied his analytic skills to his lifelong interest in public policy because our nation urgently needs fresh policy solution ideas from outside professional political and economics orthodoxy. Our political problems and resulting economic problems—largely caused by current political and economic professionals—are resulting in great injustices and unnecessary hardships for tens of millions of our fellow citizens, and are an existential threat to our nation.