My studies have taught me that there are three conditions to be met for the structure of an economy to be fully just: freedom (for people to choose how and to what extent to participate in the economy), the existence of a “democratically distributed income” (DDI), and the absence of ‘wage slavery’ [i.e. paying people to be used — employed — as machines (or draft animals) for the monetary gain of the employer]. In the history of civilization, only the first of those conditions has ever been met. A fully just economy would realize all three of them. [“Mutual Respect,” here in Medium]
I take the first of those conditions of justice to require no explanation. The derivation of the second condition is related in “Equality Is All We Need” (here in Medium), with its further implications outlined in “Same Economy, Way Better Outcomes for Society” also in Medium. That leaves us with the third of those conditions of justice for the economy to address here.
The structure and macro-functioning of a fully just economy would be that of an economy with a DDI as in “Same Economy… .” The only further changes would be the microeconomic forms that compensation in the economy could take.
That is to say, to achieve a fully just economy, take an economy with a DDI as described in “Same Economy…” and extend that income to encompass everyone employed in any business or government. That way, no part of anyone’s income (monetary remuneration) would be arbitrarily derived from the labor of any other person. That would be the end of exploitation.
So all of those people, from the most menial of positions to the CEO or the Head of State, would be paid the democratically distributed income (DDI). To be absolutely clear, no one would get any money, in the form of wages or salary or allowances or bonuses, from the revenue of the entity of which one was an employee. (
In short, there would be an all but impermeable barrier between the revenue of any business (or government) and all people. Three exceptions would exist: where appropriate, businesses could buy raw food from farmers/ranchers and could pay out commissions and royalties.
There could be no bonuses involving stocks, either. That is too close to simply privately printing money for purposes of compensation. (I am reminded of an episode of The Simpson’s, back in the days of the ‘.com bubble’, in which Bart somehow got hired by a ‘start-up’ and was informed on his first day that he would receive no pay — but they had rolls of stocks hanging on the walls like toilet paper, to which he could help himself.)
Different positions in the economy would, however, provide different packages of benefits to whoever was working in that position. Those benefits could take myriad forms. The only limitation on them is that they would have to be ‘in kind’, not in the form of monetary allowances. So for instance a position could come with a particular apartment or house provided for the use of whoever was filling that position, but a ‘housing allowance’ would not be permitted. Benefits involving health care, education, transportation, clothing, entertainment, etc. would all be subject to the same restriction. As long as benefits are only in-kind, they cannot be used to accumulate wealth, which is why differences in benefits are not exploitative.
It can be noted that remuneration for employment in private enterprises does by its nature have an internal logic that remuneration for employment in government lacks. As is the case at present, remuneration for positions in government in the form of benefits would reflect as much as possible similar positions in the private sector.
There would still be no limit on how much a person could potentially make in income. For instance, as noted royalties on copyrights and patents and commissions would still exist as at present.
For that matter, any business with a democratic process for determining the remuneration of everyone employed in the enterprise would meet the condition of justice for remuneration (no exploitation), even with varying incomes as well as benefits coming out of the revenue of the enterprise (though bonuses would still be banned). That would effectively make those entities massive partnerships as far as compensation was concerned. Presumably, there would still be a core of executives who would make all other decisions for the enterprise.
That would be tricky, though. A truly democratic process of that kind is difficult to imagine.
In addition, singularly self-employed people — neither the employer of any other person nor the employee of any entity — could continue to make whatever the market would allow for sales of the product or service they provided. That would also apply to ‘full’ partnerships, in which everyone employed in a concern has a say in all decisions related to it.
Proprietorships in their present form, in which the profits of the business are the income of its owner, would be banned for obvious reasons. However, they could still exist with the owner of the business receiving two full portions of the DDI: one for being the owner as an end in itself (the effort involved in starting it up), one for the labor involved in running the business as a going concern. To prevent exploitation, the benefits a proprietor could pay oneself could be limited in value to the highest-value package of benefits any (other) employee(s) received.
Finally, the incomes of people working in private non-profits, such as foundations and churches, would not be limited. The issue of legitimacy regarding such entities, in the absence of outright fraud, would be moot because any such entity would be limited to donations from individuals for their money — no money from any business or government — and no one employed in any such entity would be allowed to receive the DDI as pay.
Corruption, in the form of kickbacks, etc., would be a real temptation in this economic structure. People in the upper echelons of businesses, large or small, tend to be people who are motivated by money — both as a source of ‘social power’ (i.e. the ability to effect choices) and as a means of demonstrating their ‘successfulness’. Guarding against such corruption would be a particular concern for society.
For those who haven’t done their reading, “Same Economy…” describes how establishing a DDI would make the existing economy fully self-regulating (with built-in safeguards against inflation) while providing the means to eliminate unemployment (at no cost to anyone), poverty (without having to redistribute anything), taxes (of all kinds), and public debt (at all levels of government) and increasing sustainability (even without additional regulations or any changes in behavior) — with no limit on income or wealth. A fully just economy would go beyond that to make the structure of the economy completely just — without changing anything written to this point in this paragraph. Sustainability would be all but assured.