WHY OUR MIDDLE CLASS NEEDS DIVIDENDS
EVERY AMERICAN KNOWS that our middle class is in decline. But in a globalized, increasingly automated economy, what can we do about this? In the past, good-paying jobs were the bedrock of America’s middle class. But we must face the fact that jobs alone won’t sustain a large middle class in the future—there just aren’t, and won’t be, enough good-paying jobs to do that. That means we need broadly shared streams of non-labor income.
Where might such non-labor income come from? One possibility is higher taxes. But there’s another and better source: wealth we own together. Consider the Alaska Permanent Fund, which uses revenue from the state’s oil resources to pay dividends to every Alaskan.
A similar fund based on several co-owned assets could be established nationwide. Dividends from co-owned wealth make political as well as economic sense. They’re not welfare but rather legitimate property income. They rest on conservative as well as liberal principles and can unite our country rather than divide it.