We are told that Capitalism, at its core, is a crisis-driven economic system. Crises are at the heart of its innovation, transformation of the economy, and are the reason creative destruction is the defining point raised by proponents of this economy-first, anti-social system. However, any reader of history knows that it is only through the leverage and investment of the state that capitalism can find the path around the economic crises it creates. Capital needs to be held-up and protected or -- like most short-sighted adventures -- it runs aground. The alternative is not to hold capitalism up, but to replace it and the response to COVID-19 shows a way forward.
Decades of neoliberal political narratives have attempted to convince us that the only reason for public ownership is to subsidize private capital growth. Neoliberal economics are focused on the transfer of wealth from the public to private capital through commodification of public assets and services. The result has been a society tilted in favour of profit generation through public subsidies of infrastructure and services over human need.
Since the early 1980s, central banks and governments of top capitalist countries have been attempting to save their beloved system. Responding to the collapsing profit rate was their ultimate goal and drove economic and social policy for 40 years. To save our economy and solve the social, health, and environmental crises we now face we must reverse course.
The cheerleaders of neoliberal policy are rising like zombies after the current collection of economic, health, climate, and political crises seemed to bury them for a while. It is not going to be enough for the left to defend the current economic wreck, we must advocate to build something better just to keep what we have. Socialists have the social and economic policy programs to deal directly with these challenges we face. It is time to dust them off and fight for them with abandon.
When it comes to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), I tend to take a rather less aggressive position than some from the classical (Marxian/Marxist) tradition. There are some holes in the theory and its view of the economy is irksome, but others have debated these to their fullest extent (a debate that is at least 100 years old). And, in the end of the day, arguing over the degree to which a theory is wrong is not very interesting. Anwar Shaikh does a very good job of putting the limits to MMT's ideas. Basically, there is a limit to MMT and the question is: what then?
Working people have been dealing with changes in the application of technology in their workplaces since the beginning of capitalism. The recent interest in the subject has largely been driven by the tech industry's promises of automated production and job-destroying robots, which will still somehow deliver a type of techno-Utopia. It is time for workers to take back the discussion and drive an agenda for the future based on clear analysis and the broader community's interests. In this full-length article, we revisit some of the issues and concepts around automation and its affects on workers.
The fight against privatization is framed by liberals and the right-wing as a clear and unsubstantiated ideological position of the left. And, no matter how much research is presented exposing how privatization of state services and programs costs more and has no positive (but, in many cases negative) impacts on quality of services, the dominant narrative is privatization works. But, at this point, believing that privatization leads to increased efficiency and lower costs is akin to the denial of climate change and thinking vaccines cause Autism. Decades of real life examples, economic analysis, and trial and error policy show that there are so many ways that do not work when it comes to privatization. So, why do people still believe this nonsense?
There has been a recent uptick in discussions around the failure of the private sector to provide quality services. From airlines to infrastructure, from safe jobs to retirement, from the transition to a low-carbon environment to agrochemical companies poisoning the ground, from the cost of rent to the price of housing. People in the US are starting to realize that the private sector in a deregulated market is not able to stop greed from doing harm to many things we enjoy.
In a clear victory for rhetoric over substance in the age of post-truth, the Ontario Liberal government has announced that it will run a pilot project to test the so called 'universal basic income” idea. However, from the policy documents that have been released, it is quite obvious the Liberals intend to implement a more regressive version of this deeply flawed policy program. The Liberal-supporting media is tying itself in knots in attempts to support the program. First, a plea decrying Ontario's 'meagre and rule-bound social assistance program' that the provincial government has purposefully manipulated in order to limit access to supports. Then, without a sense of irony, the media say that cash to buy private services is the only way to fix the problems previous Liberal and Conservative governments created through privatization and austerity.
In theory, debt generated by asset recycling is paid back through private sector partners finding efficiencies or increased government revenue driven economic growth. While this may work in the private sector, it does not work for governments. In practice, asset recycling is similar to other privatization schemes – such as public-private partnerships – that cost governments and citizens more money than traditional public debt-financed investment.