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In the discussion thread: Economic Planning and Computers. [View all]

Response to joshcryer (Reply #18)

Thu Jul 19, 2012, 06:09 PM

19. Not individuals alone, but organized & working through democratic governments,labor unions,co-ops.

The US Postal Service is a good example of a centrally planned system under democratic control. Approximately speaking. We elect representatives and they determine the fate and governance of the postal service. The USPS has been under attack lately but that's because we have a right-wing government. But the principle of accountability and democracy is there. Further, the postal workers have a voice in the workings of the operation, since they are organized in a union. I don't know of anyone who suggests each locality should run its own postal service. Some people might suggest privitizing, but most people would not want that.

I think The National Health Service in the UK is an example of a centrally planned system for distributing health related goods and services. By most accounts I've heard it works pretty good. The people of the UK control it in a democratic way via their elected government. It is under democratic control. Approximately.

There are really two different questions.
1) Local planning vs. centralized planning
2) Government planning vs. for-profit corporate planning vs. non-government co-operative model.

We don't have to choose necessarily. For each of these we can ask what is the correct balance between the different models. Which goods and services are best distributed via a for-profit system, which are best handled by government, and which best handled by co-ops. Or some mixture of the above.

Similarly, what is the correct balance between local planning vs. centralized planning.

The topic was computers for planning so I was just pointing out that our economic system is already thoroughly computerized. In many ways it is also pretty centralized, as owing to the monopoly tendency of capitalism. For example only, Walmart corporate bureaucrats in Bentonville Ark. decide what kind of bread and meat and corn-syrup gets sold across the nation. They also set the price. They don't completely control everything. But their decisions exert enormous influence over the lives of the American people. Especially the people who work for that company. And not only in the US. The decisions of the corporate bureaucrats about where to purchase goods also have a huge impact on the lives of people in the communities where the production in located. Like in China or whatever. I'm just using Walmart as an easy example.

Multinational corporations (Like Walmart for example) make these big society-impacting planning decisions. And yet the people have no say over the decisions and the corporations are mostly unaccountable. That's not fair because people should have a say over decisions roughly in proportion to how much they are affected by those decisions. On top of that a lot of money gets siphoned off the top to support the lifestyles of the 1%, such as the Walton family, just as an example. Wasteful and unfair.

And so while not supporting a centrally planned system for everything, I recognize that much of our economy is already controlled by multinational corporations and planning decisions are made centrally by corporate bureaucrats and top ranking corporate people. Further, some things, although clearly not everything, really do call for a centralized system.

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How to bring it under democratic control or workers' control?

Walmart workers (for example) should be allowed to form labor unions so they can begin to exert some worker control over the decisions of the corporation. Also people who work in Chinese factories should be able to organize labor unions so they can exert some influence there. Governments should support workers organizing unions and should oppose anti-union efforts.

Government should regulate corporations more according to what people want, instead of what benefits corporate profits. For example if there is a poll where 72% of people in a region want gas drilling to stop until it is proven safe, but the drilling continues, that's not as democratic as it should be.

People should establish alternative systems of production and distribution whenever as possible, using co-operative models, or just even supporting locally owned small businesses. Everybody loves a locally grown apple instead of one from another continent. Energy co-ops and food co-ops hopefully will grow. Employee owned factories and other workplaces. Maybe an employee-managed big box warehouse for general goods?? Why not.

Governments can also establish "public option" choices for goods and services, such as we almost had with health care.

And finally for some public goods the government can just operate it directly. Such as with the postal service or the NHS, the power grid, cops, highways, schools, etc. Maybe some banking.

Clearly government itself could be more democratic, such as by finding a way to limit the influence of wealth over government, maybe such as by House Joint Resolution 100 ?

These are the ways of bringing our economy under democratic control, possibly, I don't know really. Mostly I'm just restating stuff I've read online that "seemed cool".


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white_wolf Jul 2012 OP
physioex Jul 2012 #1
limpyhobbler Jul 2012 #4
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physioex Jul 2012 #3
limpyhobbler Jul 2012 #5
joshcryer Jul 2012 #18
LineLineLineNew Reply Not individuals alone, but organized & working through democratic governments,labor unions,co-ops.
limpyhobbler Jul 2012 #19
socialist_n_TN Jul 2012 #6
dfgrbac Jul 2012 #7
Starry Messenger Jul 2012 #8
white_wolf Jul 2012 #9
Starry Messenger Jul 2012 #10
BOG PERSON Jul 2012 #11
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joshcryer Jul 2012 #17
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