Capital Credit: A New Right of Citizenship
Most people live from paycheck to paycheck . . . or from
hand to mouth. The answer to how citizens without adequate
savings can acquire an income-producing property stake lies
in the intelligent use of credit-specifically, productive
Credit is a social creation. It can only exist in a society
organized to protect contracts and property rights. A central
premise of the Real or Just Third Way is that productive or
capital credit is a "common good." Equal access
to this good is a fundamental human right and the social key
for enabling have-nots to become haves.
One powerful ownership-expanding technique in the U.S. is
known as the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). The ESOP
provides widespread and systematic access to capital credit
to each employee in a participating company. An "empowerment
ESOP" can be designed so that employees gain both a voice
in corporate governance and a source of financing which does
not reduce their paychecks or savings.
Traditional sources of capital funding treat loans to ESOPs
the same as other corporate loans. An ESOP loan is based on
the company's credit, with repayment expected wholly out
of future profits of the company.
Beyond the ESOP are other credit-diffusing tools which would
open up ownership and profit sharing opportunities for consumers
of public utilities, residents of new or redeveloped communities,
teachers and other public servants, farm families, homemakers,
the disabled, professionals, frustrated entrepreneurs, and
Transforming the Corporation through
Under the expanded capital ownership paradigm espoused under
the Just Third Way, the business corporation (whether a small
local business or a giant multinational) can become a vehicle
for transforming the world into a more free and just marketplace.
This Global Justice Movement web site places a very high focus
on helping corporate managers to see that they can do their
job more effectively by incorporating economic justice in
the way they do business.
Through ESOPs and similar means for empowering corporate workers
and customers, more people could legitimately acquire ownership
of the growth of capital without taking from those who own
existing assets. These new owners would be able to get
income from capital as a supplement to their wage incomes.
Under "Justice-Based Management," employees would
supplement their fixed wages or salaries with monthly and
annual bonuses, stock and dividends--all generated out of
profits. Each employee could automatically earn and accumulate
property while working in a participatory corporate culture,
thus gaining a direct, personal interest in the success and
profitability of his or her employer company.
International, National and Regional
Life-enhancing actions at the personal, family, enterprise
or community level--no matter how well-intentioned--can easily
be suppressed or nullified by a hostile or unjust external
environment at the national or global level.
Moving from the microeconomic to the macro-economic level,
proponents of the Just Third Way have developed strategies
for reshaping basic social institutions, such as tax and monetary
systems, which have become barriers to human development.
The Just Third Way is based on four interdependent pillars
of economic justice:
- Expanded capital ownership
- Limited economic power of government
- Restoration of free and open markets for determining just
prices, just wages and just profits
- Restoration of private property in the means of production
Social technologies and laws designed to advance the four-pillar
approach would encourage the broad diffusion of future capital
ownership opportunities--the missing link in all other strategies
for transforming the economies of the world. Economic and
political power would begin to be decentralized into the hands
of each member of society.
Social Justice, Not Utopia
We recognize that the world's complex economic and social
problems cannot be solved in a single stroke. There is no
Our concept of social justice, as developed and refined by
such social justice proponents as the late Rev. William Ferree,
addresses the structuring of institutions (laws, systems,
social organizations, etc.) and how they enhance or degrade
the sovereignty and dignity of the individuals affected by
By targeting institutions in society which are defective
and unjust, social justice identifies the structural cause
of the problem, not just the symptoms of the problem.
Through democratic processes and by combining their individual
strengths, concerned individuals can act in positive ways
to bring about seemingly impossible changes in the social
Act of Social Justice - A Call to
Our Global Justice Movement web site defines the "act
of social justice" as the moral virtue or good habit
exercised when a person acts with others in an organized way
to perfect the social order or any part of it within their
Transforming bad laws and unjust institutions is impossible
when each person acts in isolation or only for his own welfare.
But together, organizing around common moral principles and
a shared vision, people can convert social structures of exploitation
and alienation into structures of justice.
America was born through acts of social justice. This is how
racial barriers in the U.S. were lifted in the 1960s. And
this is how communism was toppled in Eastern Europe and the
former Soviet Union in the 1990s.
Implicit in any act of social justice is a recognition that
improving the social order or an institution is a never-ending
task. This is because human beings and human creations (including
laws and institutions) are inherently imperfect. Hence, while
we can never expect to achieve perfection, we have a moral
responsibility to pursue justice.
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