PROJECT M
 

Bonfire of the vanities

War, terrorism, growing inequality, political corruption, popular discontent – how can we be living through a New Renaissance? If you think that, then you don’t know much about the first Renaissance

James Tulloch
© Getty images

Bonfire of the vanities

War, terrorism, growing inequality, political corruption, popular discontent – how can we be living through a New Renaissance? If you think that, then you don’t know much about the first Renaissance

James Tulloch

Ian Goldin’s manifesto for a positive New Renaissance

  • Liberalize migration: “migration is the reason civilizations advance,” says Goldin. “We need them to pay the tax, to do the work, to push us in our wheelchair  and to improve the dynamism of our societies. They are a key part of the innovation machine.” Migration also benefits poor countries through knowledge and skills transfers and remittances.
  • Tax progressively: shifting the tax burden upwards galvanizes society by giving the poor more cash and incentivizing the rich to reinvest productively rather than hoarding. Tax land, inheritance and carbon more heavily and close tax loopholes – Apple should pay its EU tax bill. Goldin laments that “nobody is politically brave enough to change fiscal policy” and as a result states have resorted to monetary measures which is disastrous for long-term savings and pensions.
  • Strengthen social safety nets: support those left behind, shift away from universal towards means-tested welfare, and assist the world’s poor by restructuring unsustainable debt and increasing aid to fund education and better health – “we should not let the terrible but thankfully increasingly isolated cases of corruption and waste destroy our faith in giving. Aid is a major boon, the generalizations regarding dead aid or aid being a curse is profoundly misguided,” says Goldin.
  • Liberalize trade: protectionism inhibits innovation, distorts trade and perpetuates inequality. Eliminate rich world agricultural subsidies to enable poor farmers to compete and to encourage sustainable farming. Remove fossil fuel subsidies to free up funds to diversify and decentralize critical energy infrastructure and incentivize clean alternatives. But banning some trade, such as in ivory and conflict diamonds is also necessary.
  • Increase publicly funded research: just as the Medicis and the Church were patrons of Renaissance genius, wealthy countries must spend much more tax revenues on today’s geniuses working in boundary-pushing R&D and wealthy individuals should contribute more.

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