|REAL FUTUROLOGY - 1995 TO 2032|
MANIFESTO FOR CHANGE: I had forgotten what a brilliant economic system BIRTHRIGHT will be (even if I do say so myself). It is worth bringing it forwards from the exciting early days of The Information Society and The Electronic Revolution, back in 1995 or so. Do read it and debate and recommend it to governments. Now is the time for Evolution not Revolution - 27 March 2014
6 May 1998
A new fiscal system for the Information Society, to eradicate poverty world-wide.
The reality, often denied by government, underlying this proposal for a new taxation and wealth distribution system, is that automation, accelerated by computerisation, is removing 80% of necessity or traditional jobs. We have worked hard to abolish work - and have succeeded. The motor and banking industries are clear examples of this increasingly rapid trend. New, complex or high-tech jobs are replacing the lost jobs, but the traditional workforces are not yet trained for them. There will be a long period of hardship, similar to the century of piece-working and sweated labour during the Industrial Revolution, causing social and economic disruption, unless, as jobs evaporate, new methods to distribute the unprecedented wealth of modern economies are implemented.
The proposal is to levy a new tax, administered by local authorities, on operating companies and organisations, paid in shares or bonds. The organisations to be taxed are those with large market shares or quasi monopolies. Typically, they will be reducing their traditional workforces; thus reducing the distribution of wealth via earned income. The new tax will not take cash from the taxed organisations. The shares paid over will be pooled via a computer system and distributed as portfolio's of 52 shares and bonds to new-born citizens, yielding a weekly dividend or interest payment to them. Thus, over an average lifetime, all citizens will come to be guaranteed an income equivalent to the average wage, as a Birthright. High earning citizens will have their Birthright income taxed to zero. Non-earning citizens will have all social-security rights through Birthright; thus realising the political visions of a Shareholders' Democracy and a Stakeholders' Society; bringing middle-class benefits to all families, liberating true potential and changing welfare from Pension Rights to Birthrights.
Birthright will phase out or reduce National Insurance taxes, VAT, and Income Tax on the lower paid; transforming the fiscal system as the electronic revolution transforms the economy. Citizens 2000 will pay for their own birth, child care, nursery school, junior and senior school, university, imprisonment, health-care, pension and all other welfare costs. Birthright is the ultimate in efficient taxation and reality, transferring wealth direct from the automated real economy to citizens, with government monitoring the system. The Birthright Portfolio will be held In-Trust for each citizen, refreshed every 5 years at the option of the citizen but protected from predators for life.
Citizen 2000 will be educated in the complexities of the interlocking nature of global trade and economies, related to and focused on their weekly dividend income. Reality will thus be introduced into every household. Children with a Birthright income will be better regarded, reducing child abuse. Ideally, Birthright will be a right of each newborn child, replacing Welfare and Pension rights over a lifetime. Very high unemployment, as in
today, may provoke an acceleration of the process by extending Birthright to older children Germany
Note: January 04 – Economists calculated for Time Magazine in January 2004 that the
is worth £150,000 (sterling) per head of population or nine-trillion pounds (£9,000,000,000,000). In theory, with the right financial instruments, this wealth could be shared via the Birthright mechanism. The International Monetary Fund calculated in February 2004 that $7 trillion ($7,000,000,000,000) are held in offshore tax-haven bank accounts – presumably by a handful of the deserving rich who exempt themselves from tax. UK
Q1. Can society afford to support all these new babies for life regardless of their work contributions to society?
Answer - Society will continue to house, clothe, feed and provide basic services for all. Or will collapse into chaos. The premise here is that in the Industrial-Electronic Transition, 80% of traditional jobs will go, threatening the stability and the markets that society and business relies on. The Birthright Portfolio simply recognises that all citizens will - one way or another - consume their basic needs to live, even if they are all imprisoned, and provides for these needs with dignity, without rancour or argument, from the outset. The Birthright Portfolio reverses pension concepts. The pension is paid from birth and retirement, enforced idleness for the years between 55 and 95 disappears as a concept. There is no additional cost on society, but the timing is changed and anxiety minimised; converting Geriatric Economies, pension fund dominated planning, into Youth Economies. Optimism coming to outweigh pessimism.
Q2. Who loses out; who pays for all this generosity?
Answer - Nobody pays, and it does not cost companies any immediate cash-flow. Real wealth growth, and Jobless-Growth, is accelerating. The rich will only get richer in absolute terms, but not in comparative terms. Providing a secure income and removing anxiety about survival will empower the majority to apply their energies more actively. All real wealth is the result of human energy being channelled into useful activity. Depressed, frightened, ill-educated, disenfranchised citizens do not apply their energies well. Slavery was hugely inefficient; employing thousands of people to beat other people into doing work that each might happily do for themselves - making both sides thoroughly miserable. Some businesses are still managed on the slavery model which persists in the same way child abuse is continued by the abused. We all work better if we are willing. If "work" ceases to be a punitive enforced activity, far more human energy will be applied to useful and productive work. Liberating all human potential will produce such amounts of wealth, as have never been dreamed of in the past. Channelling income direct from companies to people is far more efficient than collecting and distributing taxes via government officers.
Q3. Why distinct shares - and not a Unit Trust Portfolio managed by City experts?
Answer - Education Value. Education will be focused on the complexities of interlocking, interdependent industries, government, commercial activities, environmental damage, geographical resources, distribution, consumption, pollution, etc. Do not blur Citizen 2000's understanding by interposing obscurantist financial instruments or experts. All Citizens 2000 must learn to at least add-up, take-away, multiply and divide numbers accurately. We made the mistake of teaching them how to read, now there is no option but to follow through and teach them how to count. Each bit of dividend income should come to be understood by each Citizen 2000 - with its social and environmental consequences.
Q4. How does the central computer get the Shares to distribute?
Answer - local government levies capital Taxes on major organisations, paid by shares. The authority then pools the shares in the computer memory.
Q5. Why local government as the capital taxing authorities?
Answer - Even the most virtual of cyberspace activities has to come to earth somewhere. Empowering local government to assess and levy capital taxes on quoted companies operating in their region and communities, will better ensure that commercial activities are not overlooked - and will ensure that local relevant shares are available to be included in the portfolio's of local people. It is not only global players that have near monopolies - many local companies have tied up the local markets years ago. Citizen 2000 needs to see the reality of their Birthright Portfolio and come to understand the complex functions of business and government. Act locally, think globally.
Q6. Will the shares be voting shares?
Answer - yes of course. Citizen 2000 must start to take responsibility for the planet - controlled by the major corporations - and voting as a shareholder focuses the mind, driven by direct selfish interests.
Q7. Might Citizen 2000 lose their Birthright Portfolio inheritance?
Answer - No. It will be illegal to charge, trade, sell, or make any promises to pay from this dividend income. So any contract or arrangement (say with loan sharks) is illegal as formed. Both parties to such an arrangements will be fined substantially. This will protect Citizen 2000 in the same way as family trusts protect their sometimes feckless beneficiaries. The dividend income is to be treated and protected legally as is pension income today.
Q8. Will the shares in the portfolio remain fixed?
Answer - No. The central computer will constantly review all citizens portfolio's and look at the mix and the yield. Every 5 years from that citizen's birth-date, sales and purchases will be recommended to each Citizen 2000 to action or not. This process is vital to educate Citizen 2000 in the complexities and ethical choices of the global socio-economic system.
Q9. Are all Citzens 2000 equal for life?
Answer - No. Just like a middle class child is secure from childhood and through their education and can fall back on support if commercial initiatives fail, so will Citizen 2000 through ownership of shares be able to do the same. Citizen 2000 will, like the middle classes, be educated to take a role in society - A job, a vocation, a hobby - doubtless there will be dropouts - but no more than there are from the middle-classes today. The secured income is a platform from which citizens can grow to unprecedented heights, and shine like stars in the firmament.
Q10. Will Citizen 2000's children inherit the shares?
Answer - No. On death the shares go back to the global pool. Citizen 2000's children will already have their own portfolio granted to them at birth. The shares become a birthright of all citizens.
Q11. How will this system affect government?
Answer - The Information Society will soon enable all citizens to live anywhere. The ephemeral nature of cyberspace trade transactions will encourage all government revenues to focus taxes on the property and land within their jurisdiction. Governments, local and regional and national will therefore have to compete with each other for citizen-residents by creating the most desirable living conditions at competitive prices. It is to be hoped that government will apply Information Society tools to enable more intelligent and subtle management of communities; creating a subtle patchwork of infinitely diverse democracies under a global umbrella. ("Home Rule for
The need for Income Taxes and VAT will reduce proportionately with the distribution of Birthright Portfolio's. Such reduction of taxes will assist markets and more than compensate companies which trade in taxing authority regions and which therefore contribute Shares to the central fund.
Q12. Will the Birthright Portfolio contain currency "shares" and Government Bonds?
Answer - Yes, this is a vital component of the global system and Citizen 2000 needs to understand and integrate the information. Further, local and regional government might be re-structured to be able to issue shares which would also form part of the portfolio.
Q13. Giving shares to all babies born after 2005 gives all new citizens a stake - but doesn't it ignore the immediate needs and rights of all present citizens?
Answer - No. The Citizen 2000's income is immediately applied from birth to pay for food, lodgings, child care, nursery school etc. A stay-at-home mother would be paid a wage from the dividends. School will be paid for etc. In this way, all families and relevant institutions will receive benefit from the child's inheritance and start to share in the new distribution of wealth mechanisms. This system will have an immediate impact on taxes and welfare costs.
Q14. Giving away shares in companies and currencies will dilute the ownership and the dividend income of existing shareholders. Will society's great entrepreneurs be de-motivated if their shareholdings are to be watered down in this way?
Answer - No. Look at the greatest entrepreneurs of this century - or indeed most centuries - and you will find the majority come from wealthy countries and financially secure backgrounds. They are mostly people who can afford to take commercial risks without the risk of personally starving and being homeless. The average Citizen 2000 will be a much bolder entrepreneur than today's average citizen. And existing company owners will still remain hugely rich - the Birthright Portfolio income will support the markets for their company's goods and services which will otherwise diminish as massive unemployment sweeps through communities.
Q15. Will all new businesses be taxed in this way and contribute shares to the pool?
Answer - No. Only the major players, local (e.g. Water, Electricity) and global, which have substantial shares of markets, particularly necessity markets and which are quoted on the world's stock-exchanges will be taxed on capital. The rationale is that the Birthright Portfolio replaces the necessity jobs which automation removes from the system. As new, novel activities take substantial market share, create benefits which become defined as necessities and which become fully automated, they will migrate into the classification of Necessity-Work corporations. The guiding principle is to enable all citizens to share in the benefits of production of real wealth, which is produced automatically with very few people employed in the production or service processes.
Q16. If millions of people hold shares which they cannot trade and do not pay for, will this undermine and devalue the stock-markets?
Answer - No. There will be many more millions of shares still being traded in the normal way. Shares given to Citizen 2000 still carry their full price and are a non-mandatory (companies may elect not to trade in any particular taxing authority region) payment of taxes - they have monetary value at market prices. Trading them only every five years from birthdate will provide a much needed brake on market fluctuations and speculations. The Birthright Portfolio shares are confined to the largest, most stable of companies engaged in Necessity-Work products and activities. There will always be a more speculative section of the market for other business.
Q17. Over the decades, this is a substantial tax on shareholders of major organisations, in that it waters-down their shares. How can it be justified?
Answer - Most major, long established trading operations have built near monopolies or substantial market share in most wealthy political regions. As they further automate their processes, they are no longer putting back into a region the wages they used to pay. Government revenues, about 50% reliant on payroll taxes are therefore reducing. Government costs, to support redundant communities are rising. This Shares-Tax will, over 60 years or more, completely shift the burden of providing pensions and most social security onto trading operations. It might better be called the Reality Tax, as ultimately all wealth stems from the real economy - not from the money economy.
Q18. It could be seen as an anti-free trade tax. What the Shares-Tax is really saying is that corporations must pay local, regional or national authorities, in shares, for the privilege of continuing to trade in their area. Is it an anti-business tax?
Answer - on the contrary; it is based on the premise that most traditional necessity jobs will disappear over the next 30 years. If no steps are taken to re-distribute wealth, the very companies which improve their profits by employing fewer people will end up with no customers - to the disservice of all. This is very much a pro-business tax which recognises the interdependency of global transactions.
Q19. If the Shares-Tax eventually replaces all state pensions and social security obligations - surely Government income can be cut by almost half?
Answer - Yes. In about 60 years time, all Citizens 2000 will have a background, inflation proof private income. They will not need social security or a state pension to the degree now required. Governments will be collecting the Shares-Tax, locally, and contributing the shares to the National or Global pool for distribution to new babies. So government role is as a middle-man. Their own revenues will be focused on their role of providing the best possible living environment - collecting taxes on the land and buildings that the highly mobile Citizen 2000 wants to occupy. Government will truly serve its citizens as customers.
Q20. If all new babies are to get a substantial income, there will be an enormous baby boom. Single mothers need only turn themselves into baby breeders to secure a large family income. Will this sabotage the Birthright Portfolio?
Answer - Yes it would if it encouraged profligate breeding in the suburbs. The Birthright Portfolio will need to be limited to the first one or two children. That way parents who want many children will have to bear the costs of additional family members. There are in any case, strong socio-economic factors persuading people to have fewer children later in life. It is the poor who rear large families as a hedge against old age. Citizen 2000, as a middle-class citizen, is likely to continue the pattern of having one or two children.
An answer to this dilemma might be to start the portfolio for second or third children at age 16. Thus would be parents of several children will not be influenced by the thought of the BIRTHRIGHT income - on the contrary, they will have to maintain later children from their own earnings