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Is an old political dream coming true at last?

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London – Sixty-two years ago, the Californian financial sage Louis Kelso, in his major work, "The Capitalist Manifesto," correctly demolished the labor theory of value and argued that since productivity came increasingly from capital assets and investment (tangible and intangible), labor should have a proper share of the returns. Millions of wage earners would thereby be turned into owners in a fairer and less divisive pattern of socialized capitalism. This should be achieved, among a variety of ways, through much expanded employee-share ownership and similar schemes.

For more than half a century nothing much happened. In the United Kingdom in the 1980s, the idea came and went that privatization of state industries could be combined with substantial share distribution to wage earners on a massive scale, ending class war and employer-employee antagonism. In fact, this Thatcher-era dream went further — that class divisions and inequalities would melt away as wealth ownership widened, bringing dignity and security for almost all.

Proponents were fond of referring to Japan, which was seen at the time to be one of the most equal major economies, with modest top pay, good health statistics and admirably high and widespread personal savings. (Less attention was paid to the lack of gender equality and to overworked and exhausted businessmen.)

But in the West it was only a dream and it soon faded. Instead, wages stagnated, divisions widened, safe jobs for life shrank and a new so-called precariat —........

© The Japan Times