Part 8 of 10 Part Series: Economic Sanity and Alternative Economic Systems
Jeff Gates wrote a book jam packed with ideas about what he calls “shared capitalism for the twenty-first century.” His is a decidedly populist view, not surprising since he was counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee (1980-87), working with Senator Russell Long of Louisiana, son of populist governor and U.S. Senator Huey P. Long. In this role, Gates crafted federal law on employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and pension plans.
Capitalism creates financial capital, not capitalists, he notes. Moreover, most financial capital is held by institutional investors, the absentee owners of public corporations. This, he says, creates a “detached and disconnected capitalism largely on automatic” with investment decisions devoid of longer-term concerns, including the costs of externalization.
Unshared capitalism, while made to order by the corpocracy, is totally unfit for a democracy. His solution is to make widespread ownership a specific goal of national economic policy. His opinion that people take responsibility for what they own resonates with me, having watched for two decades party-going renters misbehave and scar property in an ocean-side condominium where my wife and I owned and never rented a unit.
Achieving inclusive ownership on a national scale will take, he believes, a political era like the progressives and populists of…