Everyone in America getting poorer is the result of dwindling income opportunities for the vast majority of Americans as the effects of globalization pitting for lower wage paid foreigners in Mexico, China, India, and other developing countries against American workers, particularly in manufacturing and multi-national corporation services, continue to ramp and cause economic inequality. Along with this trend, physical productive capital (the non-human means of producing products and services) is doing ever more of the work, which produces wealth and thus income to those who OWN productive capital assets.
Over the past century there has been an ever-accelerating shift to productive capital––which reflects tectonic shifts in the technologies of production. People invented “tools” to reduce toil, enable otherwise impossible production, create new highly automated industries, and significantly change the way in which products and services are produced from labor intensive to capital intensive – the core function of technological invention and innovation. Most changes in the productive capacity of the world since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution can be attributed to technological improvements in our capital assets, and a relatively diminishing proportion to human labor. Capital does not “enhance” labor productivity (labor’s ability to produce economic goods). In fact, the opposite is true. It makes many forms of labor unnecessary.
Furthermore, productive capital is increasingly the source of the world’s economic growth and, therefore, should become the source of added property ownership incomes for all. One can postulate that if both labor and capital are independent factors of production, and if capital’s proportionate contributions are increasing relative to that of labor, then equality of opportunity and economic justice demands that the right to property (and access to the means of acquiring and possessing property) must in justice be extended to all. Yet, sadly, the American people and its leaders still pretend to believe that labor is becoming more productive, and ignore the necessity to broaden personal ownership of wealth-creating, income-producing capital assets simultaneously with the growth of the American economy.
To put this in context, it is important to briefly note that throughout history, man has endeavored to overpower the time constraints of physical and biological processes. It is now an accepted fact that accelerated scientific and technological innovation has directly led to a speeding up of all physical and social processes in the name of progress. The competitive drive has led to a frantic national and international chase for more efficient methods of production and distribution. In the process, humanity has pushed to develop even more powerful technologies, on the assumption that such technologies would accomplish more and more useful functions in less time. The results have been a dramatic acceleration of change and concentration of wealth ownership.
The productive capital factor input to creating products and services is statistically 90 to 98 percent. In concentrated capital ownership terms, roughly 1 percent own 50 percent of the corporate wealth with 10 percent owning 90 percent. This leaves 90 percent of the people scrambling for the last 10 percent, with them dependent on their labor worker wages to purchase capital assets. Thus, we have the great bulk of the people providing a mere 10 percent or less of the productive input. Contrast that to the less than 5 percent who own all the productive capital providing 90 percent or more of the productive input, and who initiate and oversee most of the technological advances that replace labor work by workers with capital work by the owners of productive capital assets. As a result, the trend has been to diminish the importance of employment with productive capital ownership concentrating faster than ever, while technological change makes physical capital ever more productive. Corporate decision makers know this, whether in the United States or China, or anywhere organized assemblies of people engage in production. Technology is an easier and faster way to get a job done. Because technology increases the profitability of companies throughout the world, technology always has the advantage over human labor when the costs of them are the same. But because this is not well understood, what we as a society have been doing is to continually shift the work burden from people labor to real physical capital while distributing the earning capacity of physical capital’s work (via capital ownership of stock in corporations) to non-owners through make-work job creation, minimum wage requirements, and welfare programs. Such policies do not function effectively.
For a more in-depth analysis see my article “Economic Democracy And Binary Economics: Solutions For A Troubled Nation and Economy” at http://foreconomicjustice.org/11/economic-justice/