Moving to an Ownership-based Economy

Source: STASH.

Some people — Luddites, usually — lament the effects automation will have on our economy. Their fear is that robotics and AI will replace human jobs, robbing people of income.

My counter argument to these worriers is that wages and salaries are not the only sources of income. They never have been. Ownership of the means of production is also a long-established way to have income without employment.

Historically, of course, it has never been easy for poor people with little money to obtain ownership of productive enterprises.

The web site at the link interests me because it represents a creative solution to the puzzle of enabling poor people to become owners of the means of production. It may not be the best solution imaginable, but I suspect it is an early indicator of a major change from an employment-based to an ownership based economy.

16 thoughts on “Moving to an Ownership-based Economy

  1. Another service along the same lines is Acorn. It integrates very nicely with Paypal.

    But neither of these investing vehicles can do anything for someone who does not have a job. And no money leftover at the end of the month. It is time to start organizing Universal Basic Income to replace the dog’s breakfast of subsidies, handouts and “stimulus payments” that about half the population already relies on.

    “Conservatives,” don’t worry. Capitalism can continue even if people are not desperate. In fact, it can thrive.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a good goal but it won’t work.

    If you seized every share of stock owned by Americans, and evenly divided them among US adults, in 10 years they would be back in pretty much the same hands in which they started.

    Those shares given to those who do not currently invest would be sold to support immediate consumption, and those who do invest would be buying them at a premium price as the market was flooded by the non-investors hurried sales.

    You can’t redistribute wealth long term among people who do not understand wealth.


    1. Point of order – If vast numbers of people were unloading those stocks then the price would go down and those buying them would enjoy bargain prices, not “premium prices.” That is Economics 101. You must know that, so maybe you were using “premium” in an odd way?

      You are shooting down Mr. Roberts thoughts with a straw man. He was most certainly not suggesting an immediate redistribution of stocks. More like the ready availability of simpler investment mechanisms and educating people on how to use them and on the rewards of investing.


      1. You are correct that I misused premium. The point is that the stocks would be cheap for the original owners to repurchase.

        Simply giving people ownership without first changing how they look at investing is pointless.


    2. Essentially then, according to my understanding of what you wrote, the end result of capitalism is inevitably wealth in the hands of a few techno skilled folks who understand the intricacies of industrial power in a modern world. Couple that with the invariable result of boom and devastating economic and social bust. Wall Street is a casino with very intricate rules and rare skills that few grasp. And that is how wealth is redistributed from production to banks or investors.

      So understanding wealth, as you say, is more key than actual innovation?

      This is why free market capitalism, like any civilized tool, can be an agent for good as well as bad. It has to be amenable to functioning in a social construct that encourages healthy, well educated workforce’s as well as creativity.

      The balance is the key.

      Liked by 2 people

          1. Start in schools? Adding personal finance classes to include understanding of investing, savings, the dangers of “free” credit, among other tools, are all topics that could be useful in bringing the next generations up to snuff on proper management of personal finances.


          2. I really wish I had the answer.

            Education is part of it, but the incentives have to be there too.

            Right now, we provide incentives to spend and punish thrift.


          3. Agreed. Incentives are absolutely required. But without the education piece, then incentives tend to turn into the handouts you are complaining about.


        1. Incentives to spend?
          Like an empty belly?

          You seem to think that at some point in their lives the poor decided to become spendthrifts and CHOSE a life of consumption when they could have grown wealthy by shrewd investing. While there undoubted are such people, they are a small portion of those who are desperate now.


          1. My grandfather sold men’s shoes on commission. He was poor on a scale we would have a hard time imagining, His whole yard was a garden because he needed to grow and can as much of his own food as possible.

            But he owned stock in the local bank.

            You have the option of taking your change at the bank in bank stamps. which you could paste in a book and when the book was full, trade it for a share in the bank.

            There was no real safety net other than family when he was young and people saved for emergencies. Now people expect to be bailed out in bad times and thus they do not save.

            The prospect of an empty belly, or having to beg for your dinner, is a distasteful incentive, but for those who live in the moment, it is the only one that works.


          2. My ancestors were just as poor as yours. Probably poorer. But we have both been blessed with ancestors with the wit, will and good luck to find a way to a more prosperous life and to pass the blessings of liberty on to their Posterity. A very large percentage of the poor today, have had no such head start. Some people can overcome such a poor start in life. Vast numbers simply cannot.

            At the very least we need to do a lot more to help the children of the poor get a truly equal opportunity in life. We can afford it and, really, we cannot afford not to. The recent rise of political violence is the predicted result of growing economic inequality. It is very destructive as we have already seen.

            BTW, your willingness to let starvation be the whip hand that forces people to beg or do the bidding of the owners for a pittance is a good example of why Libertarian philosophy is anathema to most modern people living with us here in the 21st century.


    3. RE: “You can’t redistribute wealth long term among people who do not understand wealth.”

      That would be the Pareto Principle in operation.

      If you define wealth comparatively, you will always find an 80/20 split wherein most of the people are poor. But if you assume there is some kind of baseline for human well being, then it is conceivable for the conditions of poverty to improve over time in relation to that baseline.

      It is in the latter context where new forms of income generation can operate.


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