With massive unemployment touching off riots and international strikes in Europe, the failures of unregulated predatory capitalism have become obvious. Those who benefit from an economic system that is on the verge of collapse have no answers because they refuse to consider the possibility that the system that has worked so well for them can be fundamentally flawed. Even those leaders in government who are earnestly looking for ways to create wider prosperity do not question the basic assumptions of a system that will inevitably self-destruct. The time for reforming the system is over. Given the realities of demographics, it must be completely restructured.
A just economy that takes into account shifting demographics as nations become developed will have to find new ways to assure that everyone who is capable of working has an opportunity to do so. In a democracy, we can choose to do this. We can also choose to ensure that everyone's basic needs are met. Given the many essential functions of a society, those that are less desirable should pay more than a living wage, and jobs that produce nothing of use should pay less. If all the parasite class of financiers care about is accumulating wealth, let them spend their days playing computerized games in the stock market and running up their scores in electronic bank accounts, but isolate them from the real economy.
The solution to the austerity "crisis" in the US is not to tear at the social safety net, but to invest in it. Funding Social Security indefinitely is a simple matter of making the rich pay into the fund on every dollar they make, just as those who work for a living do. Then the retirement age can be lowered to 55, rather than raised. This will free up jobs that younger people can take, assured that they too will have a retirement fund when it is their time to enjoy the fruits of a life's labor while they still have time to.
If wealth were fairly distributed, no one need work more than 20 hours per week to meet all the needs of society. The rest of the time could be devoted to self-fulfillment for those who choose to use it that way. Volunteering to help those who need it, studying and teaching, creating art, nourishing the spirit, spending time with family and friends; all these enrich society as well as the individual. Love and work are the only two things that give life real meaning. Those who choose to waste their lives on hedonistic pursuits or meaningless work can do so, but they are to be pitied.