On the concept of nationality

Image: Lara Mantoanelli


If we want not only a less unfair country, but a less unfair world, we can imagine: what would life be like in different parts of the planet if there were no borders between countries?

One of the most pertinent criticisms of the socialist or communist production model concerns the necessary centralization of economic decisions and economic planning that loses the advantage of decentralized production that the capitalist market allows. This would be an advantage of capitalism since production depends on the desires of individuals and these desires are spread throughout society in the form of information. The decentralization of capitalism ends up combining with the decentralization of information regarding the needs and desires of consumers. However, as some countries like Sweden and Norway, and in another institutional structure also China, have shown that a centralization in the productive sector of the economy does not require a centralization in the service sector. While in Norway, for example, more than 70% of companies in the productive sector are formed by public capital, in the services sector, there is no public capital. That is, while in industry and the energy sector there is a strong presence of the State, in restaurants, shops, bakeries capital is solely private. As the capital that really produces wealth comes from the productive sector and not from the services and commerce sector, which only consumes the income generated in production, it can be said that the centralization by the government in the productive economy does work very well.

Even if we leave aside the issue of planning the productive sector of the economy and focus on the distribution of wealth, we find other relevant points. For example, the Nordic countries have high rates of so-called economic freedom while also having very high tax burdens. This occurs, of course, because the process of wealth production and distribution of wealth are relatively independent. A high tax burden that allows income distribution in no way prevents freedom to do business, import, export goods or hire and fire employees. Especially because taxes are production costs that make up prices and only reduce competitiveness in foreign trade, a fact annulled in the case of state-owned companies that pay taxes to the same government to which they financially belong, annulling the problem of international competitiveness.

Objectively and materially, taxes are production costs that are passed on by companies to consumers, regardless of bureaucratically elaborated accounting mechanisms by the public or private sector. Thus, with the exception of exports, any tax on companies is paid by the consumer, that is, by society, and not by the entrepreneur. Ultimately, the price is made up of production costs (of which the tax is part) plus the profit margin. The profit margin depends almost exclusively on industry competition, the more competition the lower the profit margin. Competition varies with the demand for the product (things that people consume more have more people selling), initial investment required (sectors that require high investments are more oligopolistic or even monopolized) and technical knowledge (many people know how to cook but few people know how to program an electronic panel of an airplane). Therefore, taxes on companies are just a transfer of wealth from consumers of the product to users of public services provided by the State.

It turns out that taxes, whether direct (on income and property) or indirect (on companies) are ways not only of transferring income so that it is possible to reduce the social inequalities naturally caused by capitalism, but also to reduce the injustice created by capitalism. The capitalist system is based on capital and labor to generate profit. In other words, people do not receive an amount of socially produced wealth according to their contribution to society, that is, according to the contribution of their work, be it physical or intellectual. As capital, which is formed by property titles written on paper and guaranteed by the police and military force, generates income without the counterpart of labor, the owner of the means of production necessarily receives wealth generated by someone else's labor. Of course, it is not so simple to calculate an ideal remuneration for each job of each individual, but even if we use the metric of the capitalist market itself, will the amount of wealth accumulated by Bezos or Zuckerberg be equivalent to the jobs they do for society by managing your companies and having new ideas? Isn't there someone on the planet as skilled, creative and dedicated as Bezos who does a job equal to or better than his for a few thousand times less than I earn in return? The answer is obvious since there are no superhumans walking around with abilities a thousand times more efficient than others. This wealth that Bezos and Zuckerberg receive that comes to me times their actual contributions to society (being quite uncritical and generous with both) is coming out of other people's wages, as only work generates wealth in society (one commodity does not produce another commodity , only physical and intellectual human work produces riches beyond those existing in nature as known since Adam Smith).

Therefore, regardless of the preference for a production of wealth that is more or less planned by the State, more or less directed or regulated by the State, the discussion on taxes and income distribution is a totally different topic, it is about a choice for part of society prefers a fairer society (with more mitigating factors for inequality generated by labor exploitation) or a more unfair one (where the accumulation of capital from other people's work is free).

If we want not only a less unfair country but a less unfair world, we can imagine: what would life be like in different parts of the planet if there were no borders between countries? With a global citizenship with rights to free movement between countries regardless of nationality (and consequently race or ethnicity), the world would be different. Of course, for this kind of thing to happen, everyone would have to be entitled to a certain amount of free international travel, that is, there would have to be a universal right to transportation and free movement. And this, of course, would only be possible if it were funded by progressive global taxes according to each country's per capita income. This idea, although at first seem absurd, is perhaps one of the only ways to reduce inequality between countries, as mass protests and large-scale civil disobedience at the border of rich countries is a viable way to exercise power. by citizens of exploited countries to demand the end of barriers to immigration or the sending of financial resources to poor countries to reduce global inequality and end the need for immigration as a way to seek a better material life.

In this type of world, income inequalities would be brutally reduced, as people moving around the world would make wages close to each other. That is, the different per capita incomes of countries would be gradually transformed into a unique per capita income on the planet, since only borders and restricted nationalities allow high wages in rich countries and low wages in poor countries. The immediate consequence of this type of radical change would be the concentration of people in a few cities on the planet, leading to an enormous problem of overpopulation in small and rich territories. The solution to this, therefore, would be for these regions to offer land, credit and basic income to encourage the departure of excess people in a few rich cities on the planet, to other regions previously left aside. In addition to stimulating the installation of industries, commerce and services in previously impoverished regions of the globe, in order to more rationally distribute the entire population across the territories available for human occupation.

It is evident that this type of global policy is a long way from being put into practice, and the reason is simple: the inequality of wealth between countries is due to the military power to impose borders and restrict the entry of people into such territories. The concept of nationality, therefore, is a new form of division of races in humanity, an old idea that remains in the world today, causing inequality and making places abandoned by the planet more violent and miserable. The so-called “liberal society” in the media is restricted to certain people, generally of specific nationalities and known skin color.

*Bruno Machado is an engineer.


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