This week’s JZS Newsletter features:
1) Zuckerberg’s Most Powerful Idea Yet, From Forbes
2) Zogby’s Latest Weekly Report Card, From the Washington Examiner
1) Zuckerberg’s Most Powerful Idea Yet
From Forbes, By John Zogby
Very few of us get to redefine humanity. Mark Zuckerberg has already done it in a huge way with Facebook – and at such a young age. But even fewer come back with an encore that can be even more momentous. Zuckerberg’s return to Harvard this past week was powerful and captivating because of his vision to remake our world again. It did not sound like simply a set of lofty ideals or a cri du Coeur, but rather more like a practical man looking to implement another great achievement. In his speech he said,
Every generation expands its definition of equality. Previous generations fought for the vote and civil rights. They had the New Deal and Great Society. Now it’s our time to define a new social contract for our generation.
We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things. We’re going to change jobs many times, so we need affordable child care to get to work and health care that aren’t tied to one company.
We’re all going to make mistakes, so we need a society that focuses less on locking us up or stigmatizing us. And as technology keeps changing, we need to focus more on continuous education throughout our lives.
He went on to challenge Harvard’s Class of 2017 and all those listening to work toward ending a serious lack of income equality. His big idea is to assure every citizen – American and global – a basic guaranteed income so that their basic needs are met and they can have the opportunity to pursue their own dreams without worrying about losing everything.
To some this will sound like more taxation, more government interference, more entitlement for losers, and more of a disincentive to work. But in actuality the idea
is brilliant because it is simple, does not have to involve government and taxation, and requires a real change in our culture and expectations for our work – something both Zuckerberg and I already see among the growing globally conscious and generous cohort of Millennials. It is also something that transcends paralyzing ideologies – political parties where good ideas go to die.
This can be both libertarian and communitarian. Ralph Nader who is also one of those few game changers has spoken so eloquently about two big ideas that can serve this idea well.
Nader talks about New York State, which has had a stock transaction tax since the early 20th century – except that this “tax” is automatically collected and reimbursed within nanoseconds. In that state alone, home of Wall Street, a simple tax of 1% would yield tens of billions in revenue each year. In one major city alone, it means that there is plenty of money available to not seriously interfere with the lives of the rich and famous. What about London, Paris, Shanghai, Rome, Rio de Janeiro and so on?
Nader’s one novel is about “how billionaires can change the world” and in it he describes not a United States government that forces additional taxes and regulations on the richest but involved rather a “club” of billionaires who voluntarily organize to promote a fairer economic system to level the playing field.
Here is what I propose on the basis of the ideas of an unlikely pair – Zuckerberg and Nader.
Let’s tip our hats first to the libertarians. Let’s not make it a tax, but voluntary giving of a mere 1% off of their trading transactions to a monitored fund designed to earn a foundation-sustaining rate. Incentive? A transformation culture, not new regulations, that reward givers. Here is where names like Bezos, Zuckerberg, Gates, Slim, Buffet, Brin, Musk, Soros, Bloomberg and many more come in; it becomes a club for those already there, an aspiration for those who want to get there, and the values for which students are trained.
A lot more children will “learn to fish” if they don’t have to make a life or death decision to invest in a pole. For the purists who say a guaranteed income is a disincentive, try not knowing where your next meal is coming from in a world where gluttony and greed are advertised without stop and where for once there is sufficient wealth and technological capacity to feed people, free their spirits, and create unprecedented levels of individual and community growth.
For the communitarians, we are not talking about a forced redistribution of wealth but a common sense act of generosity, a genuine extension of the basic commitment to support growth and an individual legacy of doing good things. When asset management, stock brokerage, and hedge fund firms look to hire our “best and brightest”, a cultural change from the top down should require that resumes include both plans and achievements in promoting entrepreneurism and job growth. What good does it do to obtain short term profits to promote firms to destroy jobs without at least being able to show that profits can be made by real economic growth? Why not offer certificates and points for those young hires who invest, move others to invest, and volunteer for a world that uses at least some of those profits to foster expanded small business, income guarantees, and new jobs? This is what the new world should look like.
Let the billionaires administrate such a fund. A small foundation with the newest technology, governed by a board of billionaires, with a sounding board of entrepreneurs who have plenty of experience is sufficient – not a huge bureaucracy staffed by remote professionals.
Like Bill Gates, another Harvard dropout, Mark Zuckerberg is all grown up and ready to show that being a billionaire is a club that should be reserved for big social ideas and equally big actions, not just new technologies. Anyone have a better idea?
2) Zogby’s Weekly Report Card
From the Washington Examiner, By John Zogby
Trump tour de force: ‘No apologies, didn’t bow to anyone’
President Trump traveled to the Middle East and Europe this week and his trip was a success by one important standard: he was able to change the conversation and main headlines away from the Russia investigation and talk of impeachment.
The trip was not without controversy: he sidled up to an authoritarian regime in Saudi Arabia, publicly disagreed with the Pope, got dissed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Teresa May, and chastised the leaders of NATO countries for being deadbeats. But he is the president, he mingled with the world elite (even pushed one aside), and he changed the topic.
Meanwhile back at home, he proposed a budget that is dead on arrival (and anyone who backs it is politically dead on arrival) and his latest version of Obamacare repeal is repelling – 23 million people would lose coverage, Medicaid would be slashed, and the deficit is barely touched. It is a bill that puts a smile on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s face and gives Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cramps – at least one which is a worthy achievement. He has to come home to face the music, but this week was okay.