Sunday, March 22, 2009

Interim Measures

I've been predicting that the value of money will eventually go to zero and that all the nations of the world will ultimately have to implement some type of planned economy more or less along socialist lines, and in close cooperation with one another. Why? Because with the monetary system gone there will no longer be a "private sector," and consequently all major institutions will have to be nationalized, there will be no other option. For some of us, like myself, this would be a very positive outcome indeed, almost a kind of Utopia -- if it could be made to actually work.

However, as my friend Maju reminds us in a recent comment:
Well, don't know. I could go for longer but what I really feel is that there is no push yet, nor a project to replace the moribund Capitalism (with a handful of very tentative neo-commy exceptions, mostly in Latin America). And that it won't be as easy as to just see the system collapse and then the new ideal society flourish automatically.

It will need a huge effort and a most creative reinvention of nearly all.
He is absolutely right. We can't afford to simply wait for the monetary system to collapse, especially because there are very powerful forces now being marshaled to prevent that from happening. Even after the collapse there could be a long period of chaos, where almost anything can happen. Maju fears the rise of fascism once again, and that is certainly a possibility.

What is needed now, therefore, are interim measures that could ease the transition from a private to a public sector economy. In my most positive, hopeful moments I believe the political climate is such that the proper interim measures will be taken as a matter of course, at least in the USA, as the need for them becomes increasingly clear. We do live in a democracy, liberal democrats are in control of congress and we have a potentially very powerful president, known for his humanity, in Barack Obama. In my more pessimistic moments, however, I fear we might have to fight for such measures, not through violent means, hopefully, but via the resurgence of various citizens interest groups, community organizers, labor unions, charities, even religious groups.

What interim measures am I thinking of?

1. First and foremost, we must find a way to get people back into their homes. The easiest way to do that would be by nationalizing the banks completely. That way, the delinquent mortgages would be owned by the government. The government could then set up a mortgage resolution system by which people could either renegotiate their mortgages at a rate they can afford, or give the house to the government outright in return for an affordable rental lease. Those who have already lost their homes could be assigned houses already standing empty. The government would hire carpenters, plumbers, etc. to restore the houses, which would also put many construction workers back to work.

2. Second of all, we could extend the food stamp system, which is already computerized (using cards very similar to credit cards) to many more people and many other commodities, such as clothing, shoes, inexpensive toys, even heating fuel and gasoline, as well as necessary services, such as a plumber, electrician, etc. These could be called "Resource Cards." Anyone without a job or earning less than the amount needed to maintain a reasonably adequate life style would be entitled to such cards. Since the food stamp system is already in place, such a program should not require a large increase in the federal bureaucracy. Though even if it did, that would be a good thing since we need to create more jobs anyhow. Anyone using a Resource Card who is offered a job commensurate with his or her training and skills would have to take that job or lose their card. Such a system would make our current unemployment insurance system unnecessary, so that would be discontinued.

3. The government would need to initiate a massive job creation program -- and to make it maximally efficient, there should be no middlemen, as there are now. In other words, the government itself should create specific entities that would perform needed services and hire the people to perform them, without benefit of the "private sector," aka the oligarchs. This would be very similar to the Works Project program initiated by Roosevelt in the 30's, and should include writers, which would mean I could be included as well if need be. :-)

4. The Medicaid system offering free health care to very low income people, should be extended to the same people eligible for Resource Cards.

What have I left out? Any other suggestions? Anyone see problems with such a plan?
Please comment.

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