17 augustus 2005

Another world is possible (The Flemish Beerdrinker)

Is Nozick’s nightwatchman state impossible to achieve? It probably isn’t. But to get from here to there we have to reform capitalism aswell. Spreading the wealth (not just income) by spreading the ownership of assets would be the basis of this reform. And we have to say goodbey to the protestant work ethic where full employment is considered as the ultimate goal of the capitalist system. What do we have now? We have a capitalism locked into a degenerate spiral. It needs growth because less growth means more unemployment. If there is no private welfare than less employment increases public welfare. More public welfare means more taxes, more government and more inefficiency. All this leads to even less growth and thus the circle starts all over again. This vicious circle can be broken if many citizens are permitted to obtain a living income without employment. And this is possible by spreading assets so that citizens not only get an income from labour but an income from capital aswell. What we get then is unemployment without welfare, which is the same as leisure with a basic income. Personal fulfilment will be sought in either work or leisure. The consequence of this reform would be a reduced role of the government. Private welfare would replace public welfare. Central governments no longer would need to collect taxes to finance welfare and social security. The nightwatchman state has arrived. Maybe even less.

Much more here. From the introduction:

The new approach for democratising the wealth of nations is based on four novel ways in which people may acquire wealth. All four methods have a number of common features and they all reduce, in various ways, the manifold inequities and inefficiencies of conventional capitalism. The four capitalistic innovations in the way that people can own and control things are:1. Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP). The logic of business cash-flow financing is used to allow directors, managers and other employees to acquire part-ownership in the growth of their enterprise.2. Ownership Transfer Corporation (OTC). Corporate employees can be remunerated with part-ownership of the enterprise, according to their contribution to new values.3. Land Bank (community-owned land or town co-operative). New wealth created in land values of the community can be shared by all residents in the region, according to their contribution to its creation.4. Producer-Consumer Co-operative (PCC). Wealth created from the ownership of depletable natural resources can be pooled and so shared with the wealth created by regenerative consumer enterprises.The novel methods for distributing new wealth create a capitalistic alternative for achieving some of the more idealistic objectives of Karl Marx.(a) The introduction of change into society on a continuous basis but without revolution.(b) The democratising of industry but avoiding the transitory phase of State ownership. (c) The withering away of the State but by natural attrition, not anarchy.

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