Policy Shop: Challenge Inequality by Changing Who Owns Capital

New post at Policy Shop. Excerpt:

Although things seem quite gloomy on first glance, they are not nearly as hopeless on a second look. While it is true that pressuring capital owners to give up more of the national income has obvious limits, there are other ways to go about this. Most notably, we can change who owns the capital. If the last half-century of American capitalism has shown us anything, it is that it is possible to almost entirely detach owning capital from actually managing it. Every publicly-traded company is a testament to the fact that entities can passively own shares of a company with which they have basically no relationship, and collect handsome amounts of capital income for doing so.

Governments have already stuck their heads into this game, with government pension funds like CalPERS leading the way. Just as private individuals can own capital and soak up all that sweet capital income, so too can government entities. In the case of the Alaska Permanent Fund, government has shown that it is able not only to soak up capital income, but also to spread it around. From its capital income earnings, Alaska sends out a check to each of its citizens every year, a check socialists have long referred to as a social dividend.

Read the rest at Policy Shop.