Corbynomics and Keltonomics
May 22, 2018 4:44 AM   Subscribe

The great transformation: Labour's proposals to democratise the economy - "This analysis mirrors Polanyi's of the Soviet Union. A centralised system of economic management, he said, took power away from ordinary people. Labour therefore proposes a different sort of public ownership. Local authorities, trade unions and workers, all of whom are seen as more responsive than expert panels to local needs, would play a greater role in the management of services. Councils would help run regionally owned utilities, for instance. '[N]ational state ownership of the grid and infrastructure of electricity and gas sectors could be combined with local, regional and community ownership', the report says." [ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF OWNERSHIP]
There is plenty of radical thinking about monetary policy going on in leftist circles. Followers of Bernie Sanders, a socialist senator who challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, have leapt on “modern monetary theory”. MMTers believe that because currency is a creature of the state, governments enjoy more financial freedom than they recognise. They can spend without first collecting taxes and borrow without fear of default...

Another part of “democratisation” involves promoting worker control over private businesses. Worker-owned and -managed companies are rare in Britain. Less than 1% of workers are members of co-operatives. Most people do not understand what a co-op is or how to set one up—though they like the look of John Lewis, the retailer owned by its workers, which is often cited by politicians trying to build support for co-ops. (Even David Cameron, a former Conservative prime minister, praised the chain.)

Labour goes further. It has promised to give workers a “right to own”, allowing them the first chance to buy their company if it is sold. The party has also said it will make it easier for co-ops to acquire finance, lack of which is one of the main things that holds them back. Co-ops cannot list on stockmarkets, since they are owned by their workers. And banks are loth to lend to what is an uncommon form of business, with difficult-to-understand ownership structures. Labour’s proposed “national investment bank”, a new lender that could capitalise itself by issuing £20bn of government bonds a year, may be used to funnel money their way.
Stephanie Kelton Has The Biggest Idea In Washington - "In one of her most important academic papers, published in 2000, Kelton maintains that government doesn't actually finance its activity by levying taxes or issuing bonds. Instead, it creates money by spending it into existence... This means, among other things, that the government can always pay for whatever it wants ― housing, health care, tanks, whatever. But it doesn't mean governments can just spend infinite amounts without any consequences, she emphasized. Eventually inflation becomes an issue when the amount of money in circulation gets ahead of the productive capacity of the workforce."

also btw...
  • Everyone Can Have Their Own Job Guarantee - "My main criticism of the idea is that the kinds of jobs that are appropriate for the program are not very good jobs and that advocates consistently claim that they will be able to do jobs that they can't actually do."
  • Work Is Our Religion And It's Failing Us - "It is only with the coming of the Industrial Revolution that work as we now understand it emerged, defined by specific modern characteristics such as being hired and paid, resulting in clear, and now fundamental, divisions of work and life. Not only is this work a recent accident of history, it is flimsy and fragile. Our belief in the everlasting creation of new work to sustain eternal full-time, full employment is one of history's all-time, fantastic utopian dreams."
  • World After Capital: Getting Past Capital (Attention) - "With digital technology we can now exit the job loop and redirect attention to finding other sources of purpose. Instead though we are using digital technology to aggregate attention primarily for resale (advertising) and for entertainment. We do not identify this as a fundamental problem of the largest platforms, focusing instead on areas such as privacy and moderation of speech. That's because we continue to see the world through the lens of capital scarcity instead of attention scarcity."
  • Losing and Gaining Public Goods - "To build a tangible, inclusive, meaningful, and durable community, we must begin with public goods... Public goods, in other words, are not so much about 'free stuff' as they are about the 'stuff that makes us free.' "
posted by kliuless (6 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I very much agree that we should promote a greater diversity of ownership models, with more co-ops and other forms of management. The last couple of decades have seen everything turned into a conventional corporate business with shareholders, which no-one (surely) can argue is the single perfect universal form of governance.
Not sure, though, that giving utilities to local authorities is better than old-fashioned national bodies, some of which worked fine before privatisation if my memory doesn’t deceive me.
posted by Segundus at 8:12 AM on May 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Not sure, though, that giving utilities to local authorities is better than old-fashioned national bodies, some of which worked fine before privatisation if my memory doesn’t deceive me.

I think that if you need a large chunk of infrastructure doing broadly the same thing (for example, rail networks, power networks, water\gas\fuel distribution) then a publicly owned central body is the way to go. But I also think that localising decisions so far as possible is a good thing too.
I'd love to see localised smart power grids dealing with solar power or heat distribution etc which then tie into the main backbone grid.

Likewise, the plans for a national Education service are broadly fine but I think the role of LEA's should be maintained as part of those. A problem with the Free School or Academy models (and kinda the point of them too) was to take power away from the Local Education Authority and send it back to central government.
Decision making ought be as devolved as is practical is what I'm saying.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:20 AM on May 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yes, please. I am so excited that these ideas are getting more attention and discussion, especially in mainstream political parties! This is what we need, what the future needs, what the generations arriving and yet to arrive need.
posted by overglow at 10:31 AM on May 22, 2018

More and larger-scaled worker co-ops: yes! The point that they're disadvantaged by banks and stock markets is important, because that seems easy to change.

Tiny data point: the first company I worked for is now worker-owned. Not only does it work well for them, it let them weather the 2008 recession— because they saved on the CEO's salary.

And, more local control, also yes. E.g. I wouldn't want decisions about my city's subway to be decided in the national capital.
posted by zompist at 11:45 AM on May 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Chris Dillow blog: "Corbyn: The Heir to Blair".
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:16 AM on May 25, 2018

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