Apr 2, 2013

Communism, welfare state – what's the next big idea? | George Monbiot

Communism, welfare state – what's the next big idea? | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian:
This is also found here: The Spark of Hope

This is a thought provoking question about governance. Democracy is not working well. Communism does not work. Welfare state does not work. What is next?

"A century and more ago the idea was communism. Even in the form in which Marx and Engels presented it, its problems are evident

Seventy years ago, in the UK, the transformative idea was freedom from want and fear through the creation of a social security system and a National Health Service. It swept a Labour government to power which was able, despite far tougher economic circumstances than today's, to create a fair society from a smashed, divided nation.

Last week I ran a small online poll, asking people to nominate inspiring, transfiguring ideas. The two mentioned most often were land value taxation and a basic income. As it happens, both are championed by the Green party. On this and other measures, its policies are by a long way more progressive than Labour's."

Land value taxation is an early idea about how to tax common wealth. The basic idea is that land appreciates in value because of society and not just because of the owner. Therefore, the value created by society should be taxed and given to society. The difficulty is determining how much is that value created by society.

Basic income is the idea of giving every citizen/resident a level of income, without any condition. Funding for the income is not specified. Usually, basic income is pegged at "survival" rates.

Both ideas can be merged into the citizen-ownership income. Citizen-ownership income derives its funding from wealth that is generated from common properties (commons). These include far more than just land. It includes oil, minerals, communication frequencies, and any other properties that are not privately owned. The level of citizen-ownership income solely depends on the common wealth generated. It can be much higher than "survival" rates. The best role model for a citizen-ownership democracy is Alaska and its Alaska Permanent Fund.
"These ideas require courage: the courage to confront the government, the opposition, the plutocrats, the media, the suspicions of a wary electorate. But without proposals on this scale, progressive politics is dead. They strike that precious spark, so seldom kindled in this age of triangulation and timidity – the spark of hope."

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