Authors Upendra Chivukula and Veny W. Musum will host a conversation about their book, The 3rd Way, with a presentation and question and answer session beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the Bridgewater branch of the Somerset County Library on Saturday, September 17th.
The library is located at 1 Vogt Dr. in Bridgewater.
The event is sponsored in conjunction with Keiona Miller’s Public Discourse and Ideas in Action series. Miller is a councilwoman in North Plainfield.
Below is reprinted an interview from earlier this year with former Assemblyman Chivukula by PolitickerNJ reporter Alyana Alfaro.
Upendra Chivukula thinks that there needs to be a new system in place to increase the fairness of the economy, make capitalism more inclusive, potentially increase tax revenue and reduce partisan “finger-pointing.” To spread that message, the former Democratic Assemblyman co-wrote The 3rd Way with Republican Veny Musum.
In the book, Musum and Chivukula discuss how socialism, while fair, has many drawbacks and “doesn’t work.” Capitalism, they argue, works, but isn’t fair. Thus, the third way is born, a new method to make capitalism more inclusive for all and an alternative way to look at the economy and spur the American Dream.
“When you look at a capitalistic society, you have a concentrated capitalism,” said Chivukula who now works as the Commissioner of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. “Right now, the wealth is concentrated among the top one percent or .1 percent of people. The rest of the people have very limited wealth. If you look at the capital aspect of it, 50 percent of Americans own zero capital, stocks and bonds and things like that. So the third way is basically making capitalism fair. How do you move it from concentrated capitalism? That means you have to make more capitalists in a capitalistic society. We talk a lot about creating broad-based ownership and employee ownership.”
According to Chivukula, Congress needs to pass significant tax relief to incentivize companies to adopt employee stock ownership plans (ESOP), a model in which the standard business would allow employees the opportunity to invest in their places of work and become partial owners, thus building capital.
“I think employees will work harder and smarter,” said Chivukula of what would happen if his economic plan were enacted. “It is going to make the company much stronger and create more dedication. We need to create more ways to design the economy and come up with more ideas.”
The authors argue that making such changes would expand the number of taxpayers while, simultaneously, reducing the rate of taxes.
According to Chivukula, The 3rd Way is several years in the making. The former assemblyman said that he and Musum put over three years into the research and development of the book. Chivukula said that he and Musum built their concept off of the work of Louis Kelso, a political economist who first pioneered the concept of ESOP.
“He had this idea about 50 years ago, he was trying to advance the topic of implied ownership,” Chivukula said. “Veny Musum approached me with this great idea and we decided to advance it.”
As a former Democratic lawmaker, Chivukula said that the issue of income inequality has long been important to him. He said that he decided to move forward with The 3rd Way when he saw that both sides of the political aisle were offering what he saw as ineffective solutions to the problem.
“I think that there is tremendous finger pointing, one party blaming the other party,” Chivukula said. “But, we need solutions. The Republicans keep saying to cut the taxes and the Democrats are pushing increasing the minimum wage. But no one is talking about capital.”
Chivukula said the he and Musum felt the message of bipartisan solutions was a critical one when writing the book. He said that his 12 years in Trenton taught him the importance of “reaching across the aisle.”
“No one has a lobby on ideas,” Chivukula said. “We want to send the message that Democracy is of the people, by the people, for the people and all these partisan differences and the bickering needs to stop.”
Though Chivukula is a former Demcoratic lawmaker and a former CD12 congressional candidate, he decided to not weigh in on which candidate—former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders—he is supporting in the 2016 presidential race. He did say that he hopes whoever eventually gets the nomination in both parties can strive to create real solutions and try to discourage the culture of fear where he says he believes the rhetoric is heading, particularly on the Republican side.
“I will not endorse any candidates. I will just wait, watch and promote the dialogue,” he said.
The 3rd Way is self-published and can be purchased on Amazon.