Hey Chris, very thoughtful response, I think there’s a lot of truth in what you say, though I may not agree entirely.
For one thing, I didn’t actually mention consumerism, though I’m assuming that where you were getting that is from my discussion of rapid growth as an economic given in the way things work today, which I believe may not be necessary. In that sense, I’m not really arguing that people shouldn’t consume things, but simply that the doctrine or dogma that all companies must grow rapidly is motivated by capitalist owners trying to maximize their profits, and isn’t actually necessary.
Certainly the wealth inequality is problematic, as you say, however I would strongly disagree with your quote about this being due to varying “abilities” of different people. It’s not really a central point, but while wealth accumulation is “natural” (emergent, inevitable if not artificially altered), this is not solely because some people have more “practical ability” or intelligence, but is simply a fact of capital. Capital accumulates capital, by nature, and thus while proper management of that capital can make or break whether a particular body of capital or “estate” continues growing, it is inherent in the nature of the thing. It’s not just because the person managing it is smarter or more able.
Thus, if capital accumulation is a natural force, as it is and has always been, even since the times of kings and emperors accumulating property through trade and conquest, then the only logical thing to do if we value the common well-being of all humans is to harness that natural force, much like a windmill or solar panel, and redirect it’s accumulations to various efforts towards the common good, such as free higher education, food stamps, medicare for all, etc. On that I think we more or less agree. I also think the idea to shift taxes from earned income to capital or unearned income is also wise.
Ultimately, I think this whole discussion has largely ignored the central tenet of my piece, however, which is that the capitalist structure is not necessary. We can simply make a rule that beyond a certain point in their growth, companies have to provide increasing amounts of ownership to their employees and/or customers, until if they reach a certain scale they have to be almost entirely owned by their employees. This would actually solve many of the problems we have.
Lastly, I think the significance of automation, or at least it’s rapid onset, may be a bit overplayed. In the long-run, yes, we need to account for it, but I think that there are still plenty of occupations in life which will not be automated anytime soon, and the advancement of technology itself even leads to the invention of new professions that cannot be automated, such as Youtube celebrities. I think that what people do for a living will simply shift to less and less mechanical professions, which is another way of saying people will be meat robots for capitalists less and less, and that is a good thing.