Originally published in the New York Times on July 23, 2015.
THE great 20th-century conservative economist Joseph Schumpeter thought the left had overlooked a major selling point in pressing the case for public — i.e., government — control over productive capital. “One of the most significant titles to superiority,” he suggested, was that public ownership produced profits, which means not having to depend on taxes to raise money.
The bulk of the left never took up Schumpeter’s argument. But in an oddly fitting twist, these days the mantra of public control in exchange for lower taxes has been embraced by a surprising quarter of the American political leadership: conservatives.
The most well-known case is Alaska. The Alaska Permanent Fund, established by a Republican governor in 1976, combines not one, but two socialist principles: public ownership and the provision of a basic income for all residents. The fund collects and invests proceeds from the extraction of oil and minerals in the state. Dividends are paid out annually to all state residents. Read More
Originally posted in Internet Archive on June 13, 2015.
Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report
Produced by Ken Nash and Mimi Rosenberg
Getting Serious About the Next Economic System
Gar Alperovitz, author, What Then Must We Do? and The Next
American Revolution: Beyond Corporate Capitalism and State
Socialism Read More
Originally published in Classism Exposed on May 18, 2015.
I often open my lectures by explaining that the current distribution of wealth in the United States—with the richest 400 people owning more of the country than the poorest 180 million combined—is, essentially, a medieval arrangement, with a vast underclass and a tiny elite. After one talk, a medieval historian approached me to offer a correction—today’s distribution of wealth is, in fact, far more unequal than anything seen in the Middle Ages. Nevertheless, the fact remains that we are living in profoundly unequal times, and without addressing this fundamental imbalance in who owns our economy, we are going to be stuck with a politics that answers to the rich, rather than the needs of the poor or even the (shrinking) middle class.
Such a transformation is obviously not going to be quick or easy: it is the work of at least a generation or two. But there are thousands of small (and even some medium-sized) projects across the country that understand the necessity of this transformation, and are working to democratize wealth in the here and now by building cooperative and community owned economic institutions. It’s my belief that such work lays important groundwork—building skills, ideas, experience and creating shared values—for the larger scale transformations we’ll ultimately need to really address the problem. But even at a small scale, we can see clearly how ownership translates into power. Read More