USP Document #71
The Problem of the 20th Century: Poverty in the Age of Abundance
(Updated on December 29, 2017)
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There is no excuse for poverty.
“The Age of Abundance is upon us. Man need never again go hungry or cold” according to Willard and Marguerite Beecher in their essay The Problem of the 20th Century which provides an outstanding brief economic history of mankind up until the 1970's
This document explains how what the Beecher’s called businessmen accumulate and hoard massive amounts of assets at the expense of the poor. Businessmen includes bankers, coporation owners and executives, Federal Reserve executives, stockbrokers, rich stockholders, etc.
Over forty five years have passed since the Beechers’ essay was published. Businessmen’s profits, salaries and wealth have massively increased. The great recession and abject failure of financial systems were caused by them. We still have massive Poverty in the Midst of Plenty and it is now the Problem of the Twenty First Century.
Please note that all the dollars in this document are Federal Reserve Notes which are Bank Notes. The Federal Reserve System and their 12 Reserve Banks are required by law to have collateral for all the Federal Reserve Notes issued and in circulation.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
71.4 Informing everyone about some of the primary reasons we have poverty in our world of abundance
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This document summarizes the Beecher’s essay and provides the primary reasons we have poverty in this age of abundance.
The objectives of this document include informing everyone about some of the primary reasons we have poverty in our world of abundance.
71.4 Informing everyone about some of the primary reasons we have poverty in our world of abundance
There is no excuse or valid reason for poverty, malnutrition, homelessness, unemployment, etc. anywhere in the world today.
Poverty is not due to a lack of resources or because most people are not lazy.
Accumulated knowledge and advances in productivity, science, technology, automation, computers, communications, education, training, health care, transportation, the internet and psychology makes it possible to eliminate poverty and inequities and have a permanently peaceful, prosperous, just world.
In their outstanding 1970's essay, The Problem of the Twentieth Century , Willard and Marguerite Beecher clearly show that we are living in and have poverty in an age of abundance
Natural resources abound, machines necessary to convert them into goods exist, and men are trained to operate these machines. Furthermore, we can manufacture as many machines as we desire, just as we can enrich the soil to produce abundant food and train people everywhere to do likewise, The whole world now has the capability to support itself free from want and almost free from disease.
As proof of this Age of Abundance, according to Forbes.com, in 2017 the world's 2,000 leading companies/ corporations had $169 trillion in assets. In 2015 they had total annual sales of $38 trillion, a little over half of the world's gross domestic product; and, a total employment of only 87 million, about 1.3% of the world’s population. Many of these companies also contracted for work in “sweatshops” in developing countries that paid as little as two dollars a day.
Nevertheless, many people today are still cold, hungry, and sick. ... In the past, when men starved, they did so because it was impossible for them to produce enough to eat. The Twentieth Century was the first time however, to see men cold, hungry, and idle in the midst of plenty.
The Beechers explained why:
In the early days of the Industrial Revolution, a single man or a few partners owned the means of production. They ran the factories and also handled the financial arrangements of their enterprise. In the sharp competition that developed, it became necessary for them to delegate the running of the factory to "experts" while they turned their entire attention to financial management. The ready surpluses piled up by the machine caused sharp fluctuations in prices that had to be watched. Thus, what we call the Profit System came into existence and it became the job of the businessman [what the Beechers called the owners and financial managers], to watch only the net profit of his efforts. If production grew too fast, he had to stop production or slow it to the pace necessary to maximize net gains for himself.
As machines became more efficient, each could do the work of many men, but the businessman never paid the workers wages an amount equivalent to their increased production and were and still are unable to buy the products which they themselves produce.
The businessman has persisted thanks to a myth that still surrounds him — the superstition that he created the proliferation of goods that now surrounds us — and the businessman frequently believes this himself, although the facts do not bear him out, in fact:
• The engineer and the scientist made possible the technology for production, while working people used these techniques to manufacture the goods.
• The businessman merely engineered the exploitation of their efforts for his personal profit.
• The businessman himself does not serve any genuine purpose in the current era.
The price system under which Beecher Businessmen exploit their workers by not paying them enough to buy the products which they themselves produce and our antiquated notions about property combine to prevent us from living in a genuine age of Abundance. This is arguably the primary cause of poverty in the world as well as the exponentially growing wealth divide.
Obviously, not all businessmen do this, but most of them do.
If the businessman paid employees enough to buy the goods that they produced, he would obviously not be able to pay himself millions, would have less profit and could not acquire more and more assets.
Henry Ford had it right. He halved the hours in a work week and doubled the salary of his employees so that they would have the money to "buy the cars that they were producing".He was attacked by Wall Street Journal editors who said that the salaries he paid his workers were criminal
The Beechers concluded their essay with the following predictions:
Common necessity will force us to make and distribute goods whether or not businessmen make profits. Failing to earn money in his apparently dominant situation, he will turn over the problems of production to engineers and the task of distribution to anyone who will handle it. Most likely, this will be some government agency. ... Profits most likely, will then disappear.
It is not unthinkable that worse depressions may come. Businessmen certainly are unable to unravel the chaos of the present date.
Probably, the forthcoming economic breakdown will be handled on a worldwide rather than on a national basis. Only one thing is certain: the resulting system will have small resemblance to what exists now. The Battle of Production has been won, and the Battle of Distribution is in the making. It will begin with the abdication of the businessman and it will end only when methods have been found to distribute Abundance.
Over thirty-six years have passed since the Beechers’ essay was published. The “Beecher Businessmen” still do not serve any genuine purpose, still exploit the efforts of engineers, scientists and workers and still are the custodian of the rites and practices of the price/profit system, [they and their agents still] sit in high government circles and have not abdicated
Beecher Businessmen own/control and are the CEO's of most of the large corporations, banks, financial institutions, rating agencies and the media, are making money with money, charging exorbitant interest rates as high as 35%, compounded daily, on the money that they are willing to lend and foreclose on homes, small farms and businesses.
They caused the current worst recession since the great depression and are making it even worse with austerity programs. They are attempting to enact austerity programs in the U.S. and to reduce and privatize social security and Medicare.
The businessmen force their employees to make campaign contributions and have markedly increased their own campaign contributions, negative campaign advertisements, job promises, honorariums, gifts [all bribes] to legislators, public officials and judges who in turn have:
Enacted hundreds of unjust, injurious laws and unjust, injurious court rulings which allow the businessmen
• To charge any interest rate they like, conjure up and trade worthless derivatives, hide their immense wealth overseas, outsource jobs and pay very little or no taxes or tariffs.
• Cut public workforces, reduced public workers’ wages, not provided government jobs programs and reduced unemployment benefits so the businessmen would have a large unemployed workforce desperate to work for any salary.
• Deregulated their industries, allow them to pollute, use robo-signings and foreclose on homes.
• Not prosecuted them for obvious crimes
• Appointed then and their agents to positions in the government that are supposed to regulate their industries
• Provided them with subsidies and bailouts
• Cut Corporation taxes
These businessmen are also attacking unions, slandering government workers and the poor to try to make them believe that they are the problem.
They ARE destroying the "American dream".
According to Richard D. Wolff, Professor Emeritus University of Massachusetts in Amherst, in his article "Deepening Economic Divisions:
• "Over the last 30 years, most US workers have gotten poorer when you sum up flat real wages, reduced benefits (pensions, medical insurance, etc.), reduced public services, and raised tax burdens. US workers sent more family members to do more hours of paid labor and they borrowed huge amounts [from the "businessmen"], exhausting themselves, stressing family life, and taking on unsustainable levels of debt until the global crisis hit in 2007.
• Now, the US working class buying power could no longer grow: rising unemployment kept wages flat, while no more hours of work or borrowing was possible. Reckoning time had arrived. U. S. capitalism built on expanding mass consumption lost its foundation and failed miserably.
• The businessmen, however, have gotten much richer since the 1970s, as every measure of US income and wealth inequality attests. The richest 10-15% -- those cashing in on employers' good fortune by not raising wages -- helped bring crisis by speculating wildly and unsuccessfully in all sorts of new financial instruments (asset-backed securities, credit default swaps, etc.). The richest also contributed to the crisis by using their money for lobbyist, campaign contributions and rendering government regulation and oversight inadequate to anticipate or moderate the crisis or even to react properly once it hit."
This plan provides applicable law and evidence that shows most of these unjust laws and ruling are null, void and/or voidable and that therefore the Glass-Steagall Act and other regulations and laws are still in effect.
In his July 2009 report to Congress, Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General over the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), reported that “Since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007 through June 30 2009, the Federal Reserve, FDIC and various U. S. Government agencies have provided or committed $23.7 trillion of Federal Reserve Notes to financial institutions. This number has apparently increased to over $37 trillion, almost twice the total annual gross domestic product of the U.S..
Most of these funds have gone to selective, insolvent banks and other financial institutions under the guise of getting them to increase lending. Lending has not increased. Most banks, are charging exorbitant interest rates on the money that they are willing to lend. Meanwhile, foreclosures on homes, unemployment, poverty, hunger, the price of food are increasing and the wealth divide between the rich and poor/middle class continues to markedly increase.
Charles Ferguson, Director of the Oscar winning documentary “Inside Job” in his new book Predator Nation, describes the ingrained criminality of the financial sector:
It is no exaggeration to say that since the 1980s, much of the American (and global) financial sector has become criminalized, creating an industry culture that tolerates or even encourages systematic fraud. The behavior that caused the mortgage bubble and financial crisis was a natural outcome and continuation of this pattern, rather than some kind of economic accident.
These crimes and exploiting their workers has paid off for the businessmen. According to Forbes.com, in 2016, the world's 2,000 leading companies/corporations had net assets of $165 trillion, which had increased by $100 trillion since 2003. The Forbes 2000, included about 543 U.S. corporations/companies with a total of over $38 trillion dollars of net assets including several trillion in cash.
These companies are not investing or hiring, and are contributing to poverty and inequities. It is a myth to believe that they will invest their riches in more jobs.
With the help of the Supreme Court in Citizen’s United, corporations can and will buy almost any election that they like.
American household wealth, property and assets, totaled more than $58 trillion in 2010 concentrated in top 10% of the population. In 1992, the top tenth of the population controlled 20 times the wealth controlled by the bottom half. By 2010, it was 65 times. Our graduated income-tax system redistributes a small amount of money every year but does little to slow the polarization of wealth.
At the same time many of the engineers, scientists, farmers and workers responsible for advances in technology and productivity that made the Age of Abundance possible are going deeper into debt. In the richest country in the world, at least the one with the most millionaires and billionaires, we have many children being born homeless and going hungry thanks to immoral and unethical businessmen and public servants.
As the assets, land, resources, energy sources, factories of the wealthy rapidly grow, the assets of the poor and middle class decline and inequality increases.
Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in their book The Spirit Level: Why Great Equality Makes Societies Stronger, show that as inequality increases, essentially all social ills, including crimes, suicides, drug abuse, child abuse, violence, divorce, bad health and even the stress on the wealthy, increases dramatically.
Permanently end poverty and wealth and income inequities we must refine and implement the Massive Global Movement and Universal Strategic Plan for a Peaceful, Prosperous, Just World for example:
• Educate the people to the fact that it is the Beecher Businessmen, described by the Beechers and many of our public servants who are behind the increasing unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcies, homelessness, war and poverty.
• Enact a progressive property tax on both wealthy corporations and individuals Simplify and Reform Tax Codes, Enact Very Progressive Property/Assets Taxes on Corporations and Individuals and Eliminate Income, Sales, Estate, Gift and Other Taxes will both provide funds for the work in the common agenda and markedly decrease inequities something income taxes will not do.
• We must replace and/or humanely and privately prosecute the “Beecher Businessmen" and our public servants who are breaking the law.
We will have the worldwide economic breakdown and depression predicted by the Beechers unless drastic steps are taken.
Permanently end poverty and wealth and income inequities we must refine and implement the Strategic Plan for a Peaceful, Prosperous, Just World.
The time is ripe. Let’s work together to force the businessmen to abdicate, implement methods to distribute Abundance and eliminate poverty once and for all.
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