As long as limited economic mobility and stagnant income is assigned at birth, political stability should not persist. The sentiment that markets are efficient and self-regulating – where the most astute and hardest workers are presumed to prosper while the least astute and laziest receive their "just rewards" – only serves the ideological device of maintaining social hierarchy.
Two bold policies:
- A federal job guarantee in which all workers are offered the dignity of productive work, livable wages, and enhanced worker bargaining power resulting from the removal of the threat of unemployment
- A "baby bonds" child trust account program, where the opportunity for wealth accumulation is seeded at birth so that everyone may purchase the economic security of an appreciating asset as a young adult.
Bottom line: To promote economic mobility and, likewise, political stability, we need a shift from overemphasizing economic austerity and growth, while leaving workers vulnerable to the fickle contingency of "trickle down" job creation. Instead we need to prioritize what Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen calls human capabilities, where we measure our national economic health by how well we enable all our citizens to attain their self-defined goals.
Other voices in the conversation:
- Robert J. Gordon, economics professor, Northwestern University, author The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The political pendulum will swing back
- Edmund S. Phelps, Nobel laureate and economics professor, Columbia University: Give us grassroots innovation
- Lyman Stone, agriculture economist, USDA: Resist the taker-state
- Tobias Stone, founder, Newsquare: Inequality shatters societies