Written by: Jarl Jensen
In a country where the left and the right can’t agree on anything, there is one point most of us can agree on: The United States has never been more divided than it is now.
The attack on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 gruesomely showed how deep our divisions have gotten.
Both Republicans and Democrats have taken partisanship to a new level in Congress, resulting in a government that doesn’t work for the people as well as the Founding Fathers originally designed it. It’s strange that two intelligent groups elected by the people to serve the people’s interests can disagree on seemingly everything.
But when polarization is viewed through the larger lens, it is not logic that separates our thoughts, but rather an inability to clearly determine what the best answer is. There are no perfect answers, only shades of gray. However, we are all human, so we value life, liberty, and our freedom to pursue happiness equally. This means our disagreements are often superficial, and it’s possible in many cases that fundamentally we agree on what we want.
We should all believe that: The Constitution is our best chance for a decent life. The Constitution protects our fundamental right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, now and forever. The Constitution makes a decent life possible by upholding these inalienable rights.
To unite the left and right, a vision for a predictable future that improves our ability to achieve the basic rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is desperately needed. A changed economic system that puts people first and aligns with our constitutional rights would unite America and eventually the world.
The philosophy behind fixing a broken economy
We live in a world of extremes today, but the following example has been going on for a long time: a person finding himself or herself homeless in a back alley of a restaurant that serves steak dinners for $150 to hundreds of patrons every day – all of whom care nothing about the poor person just a few feet away.
We should all believe that: If nature can provide for all the animals, then humanity can also provide for all humans. In the same way, if robots, automation and artificial intelligence are taking people’s jobs, then no person should go without their inalienable right to essential liberty.
In the United States of America, you can’t do anything you need to do unless you have access to money, yet not everyone’s ability to borrow money or earn money is equal. My big solution isn’t socialism. It’s not basic income. It’s not an attempt to save capitalism. It’s not even particularly similar to any of those things when you get to the bottom of it.
But it is an attempt to save all of us from the doom and gloom that we are heading toward. My solution begins with a new way to think about money and how money should work in a functional economy and society.
Here’s how new this idea is: neither the anti-socialist nor the anti-capitalist camps are espousing anything like it currently. The idea is pro-capitalism in the sense that it believes that private, for-profit ownership of production is humanity’s best chance. Are you listening, fiscal conservatives? Because there’s this: Ayn Rand was right; we need to defend the producers.
But don’t worry, lefties – she’s only right as long as there is a healthy dose of competition between those producers, including competing for employees. And the Bernie Sanders faction will be pleased that my solution is very much about social justice and guaranteed liberty, and it puts people first, even while eliminating social safety nets.
We should all believe that: Saving the world should be profitable. A mechanism that makes it profitable to clean up our environment is an inalienable business right. Any business that competes to save the planet and humanity must be allowed to make a profit. It’s an inalienable right because saving humanity is unassailably good for everyone.
My idea seeks consensus, not division. And the best way to get consensus is to destroy the arguments of both parties and unite them in a singular pursuit, which in a nutshell is to replace the way we currently think about and use money (which forces people into a life of dependence on debt and government safety nets) with a new and better way to think about it – one that promotes a more natural system that allows for dignity, liberty, and growth.
We should all believe that: It is unconstitutional for debt to be necessary for liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness. Debt, whether it’s government, corporate or personal, indentures people to a lifetime of work. I believe that governments, corporations, and people have the inalienable right to exist without debt and that right has been usurped by the banking system.
We have the tools to fix it. Here are three that form part of the foundation of my big solution:
Direct deposits for all working Americans. One of the key words in the Declaration of Independence is liberty. Liberty is, by definition, the ability to have what you need to survive. So for our economy to be a functional ecosystem for humanity, the economy must provide this very essential liberty. The simplest, most easily appreciated component of my solution is that it provides universal access to that very essential liberty in the form of the money a person needs to survive. The first and best tool at our disposal is the money that a new and better version of the Federal Reserve would deposit directly into the bank accounts of every single American of working age.
Now, don’t get caught up on these deposits being free, because they’re not. When the Federal Reserve puts a direct deposit into your account, it isn’t really free because that direct deposit is just information. No one has worked for it at this point. In essence, direct deposits are future work. Direct deposits create a safety net for everyone. Where before every working American had the threat of losing their job hanging over their heads, this now frees them up to know that if they lose their job they will always have access to that baseline of income they need to make their ends meet.
High-interest savings. Today, any money you put in the bank immediately gets repurposed. It doesn’t sit in your account; the bank uses it to invest, to loan out to other people or entities, and to create more debt. Depositing money in one of today’s savings accounts is like parking your car in a parking lot and the attendant drives it across the street to Hertz to be rented out to other people.
But if, alongside these new direct deposits, we created new high-interest bank accounts that are accessible to everyone (in fact, these are the accounts where all the direct deposits are made), then this keeps some of the money out of circulation. If leaving your direct deposits in a high-interest savings account is possible, then many, many people would choose to save the money and collect the interest. Where does the money come from to pay these higher interest rates? Directly from the Fed once again, and once again the benefits outweigh the downside. Further, these accounts would be different because the money that goes in does not get repurposed; it effectively stays put. In this way, the high interest rates on the accounts help increase the value of the money that winds up in circulation.
As a huge added bonus, this system makes planning for retirement a whole lot easier. If you know you always have access to those direct deposits and if you decide to save the funds in this high-interest-rate account, then you find yourself much more comfortable in retirement than you ever would have been otherwise.
Blue sky markets. This is money for businesses that pursue the common good. This takes big problems out of the government’s hands and puts them in the hands of entrepreneurs. Blue sky markets issue money directly to fund commodity exchanges that effectively solve these big problems. They create money for the purpose of fixing what is broken and making a more sustainable, stable, and compelling future.
One example of implementing this tool is in addressing climate change. Businesses would bid on the exchange to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Money that is not debt-based, taken directly from the Federal Reserve, would pay the lowest bidder to remove the CO2. Competition for profits would compel entrepreneurs to figure out how to do it efficiently and effectively. The amount of money used to buy CO2 in the exchange could slowly increase if prices are too high and quickly increase as prices come down. This kind of mechanism means global warming becomes solvable.
How does this happen? Through the creation of special commodities exchanges, where the buyer of the removal of pollutants is money from the general ledger of money at the Federal Reserve. Imagine all that becomes possible in such a scenario. Now there is actual money and incentive to remove plastics from the oceans and nature, take acid out of the oceans, save forests and plant trees.
Imagine a future where savings accounts yield a handsome return, where the environment is no longer cast aside, and where decisions are made for the sustainability of our well-being as a people. And all that would be embodied in a country united in its goals and how to reach them, and no longer divided.
Jarl Jensen is the ForbesBooks author of The Big Solution: Deactivating The Ticking Time Bomb Of Today’s Economy. He’s the founder and president of Inventagon, a company creating simpler research and development solutions for organizations across the globe. Jensen holds patents for medical technologies that have reached sales of over $1 billion. He founded EuroMed, a company he sold in 2016, and has written five books about the economy and its relationship with society.