WATCH: Scott Carter on Economic Democracy (with transcript)
Dr. Scott Carter was one of the speakers at the “Tax Bill Blowback Rally” in Oklahoma City on Saturday December 9. His remarks were recorded to video by the Green Country chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, on whose behalf he spoke. He is also an associate professor of economics at the University of Tulsa. Carter was kind enough to provide Oklahoma Activist with the transcription of the speech (below the video), which many who heard it felt was a simple and clear explainer and rousing call to action for economic justice. The event was organized by Indivisible Oklahoma, and cosponsored by dozens of organizations across the state.
Remarks before the Tax Bill Blowback Rally, December 9, 2017
Scott Carter, Associate Professor of Economics
The University of Tulsa
Hello, thank you very much for this rally…thank you very much for being here. My name is Scott Carter from the University of Tulsa; I teach economics. Let me tell you right now, don’t trust any economist, I’m telling you – they are lying to you!! Don’t trust them, or at least question them for sure and I mean that, and then find out what they are doing. What we have with economic theory unfortunately is ideology in the guise of science. It is really important I think that regular working people understand that, and understand that when these economists talk about “trickle down” that’s not true, okay. That is something that is very untrue in fact – it is going to be trickle-up poverty not trickle down anything.
These people are not investing it in our society, they are not investing it in our people, they are investing it in themselves, they are investing it in their own greedy selves, and that is a huge problem, and it is about time that people said “ENOUGH OF THIS” and challenge the economic experts and tell them “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”. We know that is not correct. There are many different ways to understand the economy that are beyond the stock market – damnit! Trump got up there and said that the stock market gets rid of the debt. He’s an idiot, he does not know what he is talking about. That’s a huge problem, okay. We have the most incompetent people in power and in charge, and that is absolutely untenable.
So with that I would read a few prepared remarks, okay…right on…
I am with the Democratic Socialists of America, Green Country DSA. We are organizing here. One of the things I want to say is that we are American, and we are Socialists. Socialism was an American tradition before there was a Soviet Union in this very State. And that is something we have to know and we have to say – we are not in the pockets of the Russians, it’s the other people that are in the pocket of the Russians. We are patriotic Americans who are Socialists and we encourage people to understand that.
Any principle of taxation – and here I come with a little bit of my professor hat so bear with me – any principle of taxation must first take into account the source of the revenue that is to be assessed by the tax.
In modern capitalistic social formations this revenue takes the form of three distinct streams of income:
(i) Stream of rental revenue that accrues to the owner of land and the owners of natural resources;
(ii) Stream of profit revenue that accrue to the owners of capital – and let me just stop right here and say, “capital” ain’t a “thing”. Capital is a social relation that allows for an extraction of value from other peoples’ work. That is what we know – that is in fact correct.
(iii) And the last stream of revenue is a stream of revenue that accrues to the owner of labor
Each of these streams of revenue, although being magnitudes of money, are in fact distinct economic categories that abide by different mechanisms of distribution. And also we see that unregulated markets – so-called “free markets” – inevitably lead to the skewed distribution of income and wealth. THAT’S HOW MARKETS WORK! We need to understand that, we need to have regulation; it has to occur. There has to be some sanity to these greedy people who are in control of our resources. They’re OUR resources, they’re not theirs.
The taxation policy of each of the revenue types should accord to different principles. This is the underlying principle of progressive taxation policy based especially upon the socialistic economic categories that the source of all wealth comes from the laboring class that produces it, not from the capitalist and rentier class that accrue it. Further, that the source of profit is the unpaid labor of these laboring and working classes – that profit does not come as manna from heaven to the anointed and the powerful. Rather these are the fairy tales and miracles that the scholars here spoke about. Don’t believe these people, they’re lying to you.
Progressive taxation is the idea that people pay more tax at the higher income brackets. The idea here is to not allow for wealth to amass at the top tiers of the income distribution. It’s like – its unregulated, the money – it will go to the richest if it’s not regulated. We have to stop them from raping us and pillaging us and starving us anymore. There’s no science to this guys, they’re lying to you and you should know that, okay.
As Democratic Socialists we hold that there is no middle, upper, or lower class. There is only the owning class and the working class. Those of us who make our living and provide for our families through our labor share a struggle, and those who own the land and own the so-called capital are bleeding us dry.
It is not about how much people make but how they make it. Your hard work and toil is taxed more than people sitting on their money to make it grow. People who become billionaires don’t do so through hard work and toil. Rather they sit back and accrue a revenue stream based solely on their private property ownership of an asset. It goes to their bank accounts because of an ownership relation, not a so-called productivity relation of this class. That is very important, and that is what is going to happen with this increased skewed distribution of income and wealth.
If we want to create a fair and inclusive society, we must confront capital directly, and the power of capital directly; especially those that use the justification of science to perpetuate these lies.
That doesn’t mean targeting enterprises or businesses. We want to be very clear about that. It means taking on the bloated ticks that are sucking the wealth, not just out of our pockets and our government, but out of our enterprises as well. There is nothing wrong with private enterprise as such. There is nothing wrong with the yeomen farmer or the yeomen producer as such. That ain’t the capitalists, man! They are not the ones that are sustainable.
This most recent bill is one more massive redistribution of wealth from the working class to the owning class. Everything is at stake, and these are our demands, and I will wrap it up here.
We have four demands, DSA, Green Country DSA has four demands:
1. Shift the tax burden from millionaires and billionaires to them, not on the payrolls.
2. Tax the exploitation of our state’s natural resources and give the dividends to the people, like the State of Alaska.
3. Impose a federal Robin Hood tax on the financial sector.
4. Build a national social wealth fund towards a democratic economy too.
And on that I will just leave with two things. One comes from Woody Guthrie who is our champion: THIS LAND IS OUR LAND! Number one, and number two, working people of Oklahoma and America, why not let us unite!
Photo: Emily Eldredge and Scott Carter staff a table for Green Country DSA in Tulsa near the Woody Guthrie Center.
Photo credit: Courtesy Scott Carter and Green Country DSA.