McAvoy Layne
Pine Nuts

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April 13, 2013
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View from our parents’ basement

“So how does global free-market capitalism look to you?” I asked a 26-year-old graduate of a reputable college. “Well, from my parents’ basement, it looks pretty imposing to tell you the truth.”

“Oh, cheer up, son, help is on the way.” I felt compelled to say that, with no evidence whatsoever to back me up. Now I am obligated to march forth, like Don Quixote, and tilt at windmills in an attempt to exonerate myself from being a liar.

First off, I shall take a look what the world has already tried, and then attempt to come up with an economic manifesto to allow everybody a fair shot at success, or at least a job that pays a living wage. As an aside, we continue to claim there are too few jobs when there are plenty of jobs but too many people.

Communism played itself out on the world stage as a magnanimous theory that didn’t work out in the real world, the problem being it takes as much brains to keep money as it does to make it. Under communism all the money ends up in the hands of the bartenders. Socialism yields an indolent society. Unregulated free-market capitalism hasn’t had time to run its course, but early indications are that, given time, a disproportionate amount of capital will wind up in the hands of venture capitalists and hedge fund managers.

So where’s the help that I promised that young man living in his parents’ basement going to come from? If you cannot hear my fingers drumming on the table it is because you are not in the room.

Alright, I’ve got it. Call it, “Unequivocal Transparency.” We’ll tap into the inherent goodwill of the super-wealthy to invest in developing job opportunities in the private sector. The amount of money donated by an individual to NGOs qualified to initiate and fill jobs will be published in Forbes Magazine against the total amount of wealth of that individual as a percentage. Then the great equalizer “psychology” will begin to move mountains and the super-wealthy will compete with their peers in creating jobs.

Philanthropists like Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet have already set the bar pretty high, while many others in the billionaires’ club have gone AWOL. According to this month’s Atlantic magazine, the wealthiest Americans give 1.3 percent of their income to charity while the poorest give 3.2 percent.

When you take money by demand, that is to say by taxation, the taxed get their backs up, they feel taxed as the expression is. But when you give the well-off a chance to demonstrate just how munificent they can be in creation of jobs for those who desperately want to work, well I believe the carrot will out-perform the stick. Mature American freedom ultimately allows us all to pursue our social obligations.

The act of giving is a more powerful addiction than nicotine or alcohol, and significantly more gratifying. A shot of Jack with a beer chaser might make one feel all is right with the world, but a contribution to an NGO that will generate jobs makes you feel like you have helped to make the world a better place, and that’s the best feeling of all.

What shall we call this movement? How ‘bout, “Working Hard for a Living Wage.”

There it is, Son, “Working Hard for a Living Wage.” Run with it.

McAvoy is a 30-year Tahoe resident. Learn more at ghostoftwain.org.

“According to this month’s Atlantic magazine, the wealthiest Americans give 1.3 percent of their income to charity while the poorest give 3.2 percent.”


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Apr 13, 2013 12:20AM Published Apr 14, 2013 03:59PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.