Monday, 12 September 2011

Economic Drivel 3: An Alternative to the Market

To be honest i lied, this isn't exactly an alternative, its more of a way of neutering the evils of the market, or going part way to do so. It is also a partial continuity of my previous post as i feel that just discussing what the state should do as an incomplete part to how we can rebuild a powerful left wing economic ideal. It is not also grounded economics, while i do not think it would destroy our ability to develop a grow, i do not think it is something an economist would say is a smart move, but i do think that on a social scale this would be the better course for us to take.

So last time i said basic monopolies should be handled by the state, but that is a medium sized area compared to the big picture, what about all those other services and industries out there? Am i suggesting we let a bunch of corporations run them? Fuck no, the corporation is a nasty piece of work as it is by its nature psychopathic, it has to be, if it did not, it would not function as a business model. It's like the Xenomorph from alien, the perfect predator, almost admirable for its single minded operating procedure. This is the problem, it will attempt to overcome any boundaries in its way, regulations, democracy you name it. Its not that its made up of bad people, its just these people cannot act with conscience when running the business. I would advocate then, the complete abolition of corporations in this country from operating, they can still import their goods, we can still invest in them, but all domestic business must be operated through co-operatives. Maybe not all the shares need be owned by employees of this company, maybe a safe dominant share will do so we can still have a stock market to allow private investment to flow. But no longer will there be any law demanding these industries seek the greatest profit, rather the workers can seek how much of the market they want, what they want to make and so on to their own moral convictions.

We have already democratized government, why the hell not democratize industry. I mean it makes a lot more sense when you think about it, humans desire a sense of agency, community and autonomy, all those are given if we give workers direct control over their work place. Many people used to say that Democracy was a weak and ineffective form of government, but for all the short comings we have had the last 100 years have been determined by democratic countries as the main power houses across the argument list, economically, militarily, socially and ideologically. This is also way more unexpected than business, after all in representative democracy a citizen is supposed to have knowledge of events he or she may be far removed from whereas how a persons workplace operates is something everyone is directly involved in. Maybe a direct kind of democracy might unfold on the office floor, maybe it will be more of an elected board, or just referendums on key issues while a board still do most of the work. But it will be the key necessity to putting empathy in business, and that is what we need more than anything right now.

Although some co-ops naturally choose to take this route anyway, i would still say that a real need after this would be to equalize wages within each work place. This would ensure that there would still be a jobs market and that basic mechanical industries won't go totally ineffective on us, while at the same time making a direct link between the productivity of a company and an individuals pay packet. It would also naturally deal with any major issues in pay discrepancies that currently haunt the corporate world. Think of how many issues this would solve? No more class rivalry on this front, no more gender differences in pay (at least industry by industry), and yet at the same time we could keep all that fancy investment cycle stuff that allows for investment beyond the low slow arm of government.

Businesses below a certain size of course should be allowed to go private, perhaps anything under the size of 200 people since that is the size a person can actively keep up with everyone within that group. Its the optimum size and beyond this a head of the company could become distant and natural connections to the workforce that occurs in small business ventures would be removed. Even though of course 200 is more of a medium sized business but oh well, I don't know anything that wouldn't be arbitrary under this number. But i digress. My point is that much as there is no point in creating a democratic system between a shop owner and his three clerks who may well be his kids and/or other relatives, the connection between the owner and the workers are so minimal i doubt there is much point in creating an official democratic structure around it.

I genuinely believe that this system would not only be a far more moral economic structure to follow, but it may well be more efficient in the delivery of services. The key to making this an actuality is also in place. The UK owns dominant shares in Barclays and other banks. We could use this position like the Dutch did post 1948 to channel the funds into buying up the shares of various business' while issuing an ultimatum to various companies to sell off their shares now or be liquidated later when your business is no longer wanted. We won't need them after anyway and this will make the whole process move a lot faster. Pumping all that money into the system may also cause enough force to help kick start a recovery as shares pass to employees, i am sure that the perceived sense of wealth increase (shares) backed with job security could do wonders for the economy.

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