Last month, editors at The Nation magazine published 13 mini-essays on the subject of how to make capitalism “less destructive and domineering, [and] more focused on what people really need for fulfilling lives” written by lefty thinkers in business, activism and politics.
The proposals—which include a drastic restriction of the concept of limited liability and the placement of a public watchdog in the boardroom of every major U.S. corporation—are all aimed at hammering private enterprise into a machine that serves the public interest, as those politicians and lawmakers who granted the United States’ first corporate charters intended. The most urgent suggestion may come from L. Randall Wray, professor of economics at the University of Missouri, who proposes the creation of a federal program that would provide a job for every unemployed person through a “government-provided ‘employer of last resort’ program.”
Click through to the article and scroll down to see the full list of essays, plus a vigorous rebuttal by Villanova University humanities professor and avowed socialist Eugene McCarraher. —ARK
William Greider at The Nation:
The Nation asked a playful question and got back serious answers. Imagine you have the ability to reinvent American capitalism: Where would you start? What would you change to make it less destructive and domineering, more focused on what people really need for fulfilling lives?
... At some point, it will become obvious that our economy will not truly recover until American capitalism is refashioned, stripped of its self-aggrandizing excesses and made to serve the interests of society rather than the other way around. As our commentators observe, this will require deep structural change, not simply new policies. Their essential approach is to reach into the guts of corporate capitalism and fix the wiring. That means changing both rules and operating values. It involves democratizing reforms that will compel business and finance to share decision-making and distribute rewards more fairly.
This vision can be called “inclusive capitalism,” as one essay suggests, or a genuine fulfillment of “democratic capitalism,” as another author proposes. Whatever it’s called, the essence is a fundamental redistribution of power and money. Obviously, this will require a stronger government (though not necessarily a bigger one) that stops subsidizing the maldistribution of wealth and income through its tax code and spending programs. Government has to recover some of the economic levers it purposely abandoned in the era of deregulation, a move that encouraged the obscene inequalities.