Archive for the ‘Economic Planning’ Category

A Marshall Plan for Greece Makes Sense for Germany

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, European Politics, Financial Crisis, Full Employment, Globalization, Industrial Policy, Inequality, Liberalism, Political Ideology, Political Parties, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Public Works, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes, Trade, Welfare State on May 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm

 

by David Attewell

In 1949, Germany lay in utter ruin. World War II had devastated its people and laid waste to much of the rest of Europe. The temptation among the victors was to rain down punishment on the Germans in repayment for the catastrophic violence their militarism had brought upon the continent and the rest of the world.

Instead, the Allies heeded the lessons of Versailles, and abstained from demanding excessive reparations; the U.S infused West Germany with billions of dollars in grants and low-interest loans to rebuild its industrial economy. The Marshall Plan launched a new day for the FRG and the prosperity that followed set the conditions for a democratic, prosperous Germany with a European future.

Europe would do well today to remember these lessons as they look to the ‘Greek problem’.

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Labor Market Policy – Tackling the Pyramid

In Budget Politics, California, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Education Reform, European Politics, Financial Crisis, Full Employment, Health Care Reform, Higher Education, Housing, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes, Unions, Welfare State, Youth Policy on March 21, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Introduction:

It’s somewhat out of vogue to talk about the quality of jobs and the shape of the labor market at a time when unemployment is so high and the obvious issue is the number of jobs being created. This wasn’t the case prior to the recession, although rather specious reasons were given to justify the rapidly increasing inequality of wages as the outcome of superior education or productivity. What can’t be denied is that even before the recession, we were sliding into a highly unequal labor market in which many low-paid, insecure workers (50% of American workers made less than $26,000 or 230% of poverty in 2010) serve a small number of ever-richer elites.

This trend has only continued since the recession, and it’s a problem that has to be solved if we are to either fully recover or protect ourselves from the next recession.

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“Green” as Aesthetic, Ethic, or a Program

In California, Climate Change, Culture, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Environment, Globalization, Industrial Policy, Inequality, Liberalism, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Taxes, Trade on March 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Introduction:

The internal tension within politics is the fact that politics is carried out in a language of ideological values, and values don’t really lend themselves to empirical analysis, while policy is carried out largely in a language of social science which must be. Difficulty and deception comes where the two languages either overlap or fail to find common ground. Hence the bizarre situation in which values of “fairness” and “progressiveness” were used to both attack and defend the same policies in the U.K.

However, there’s no reason why we can’t interrogate our values as closely we do our policies – to prevent values labels from turning into veils used to mislead and obfuscate. This is especially true for the label “green” where “green”-ness is used as a signifier of goodness and a way to shut down consideration of other values.

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A Wagner Act for Public Sector Unions

In Budget Politics, California, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Education Reform, History and Politics, Industrial Policy, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, New York, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Unions, Wisconsin on March 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Introduction:

The sad reality of the recent spate of right-to-work laws, collective bargaining bans, anti-picketing laws, and other state level anti-union legislation is that, despite our victories in Ohio and the recalls in Wisconsin, the labor movement will never begin to make progress as long as we are fighting a piecemeal defense of an industry (the public sector) that is only 37% organized and reliant on state politics for its very existence.

In short, what we need is a Wagner Act for the public sector.

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New Urbanism and Industrial Policy – Toeing the Triple Line

In Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Environment, Full Employment, History and Politics, Housing, Industrial Policy, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Mass Transit, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Public Works, Regulation, Social Democracy, Urbanism on February 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Introduction:

In the past, I’ve written about the way in which new urbanism needs to do a better job attending to issues of class. However, I want to avoid the accusation that new urbanism is classist in the same way that others have made the argument about race. The reality is that the kind of transformations that new urbanism envisions are a lot easier to do with resources, and those are easier to find in a city that’s expanding, and given the history of post-war urban development that tends to be a particular kind of city.

If we want to revive cities, and not just help cities already on the upswing, if we want to bring New Urbanism to the Detroits, Baltimores, and New Havens and not just the Seattles, Portlands, and Denvers, New Urbanists need to bring industrial policy into their worldview.

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Reining in the Bond Markets – Public Policy in a Context of Ideological Capture

In Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, European Politics, Financial Crisis, Globalization, Industrial Policy, Inequality, Political Ideology, Political Parties, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Taxes on February 14, 2012 at 11:15 am

Introduction:

In my last piece, I discussed the irrational nature of how the bond markets have reacted to the financial crisis and the recession that followed, simultaneously demanding austerity and then reacting to the recessionary crises their demands have created by demanding government intervention to provide growth (as long as it doesn’t result in inflation, higher taxes, or more borrowing).

As the Greek Parliament passes the kind of austerity that makes Andrew Mellon look like a bleeding-heart and Athens burns, we see European politicians demand further austerity at the same time that everyone realizes it’s not going to work. So how do we construct a new conventional wisdom amidst the tyranny of the old, and then how do we transform understanding into action?

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Reining In the Bond Markets – And Knowing Is Half the Battle…

In Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, European Politics, Financial Crisis, Globalization, History and Politics, Liberalism, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy on February 11, 2012 at 12:37 am

 

Introduction:

If the slow-motion meltdown of the Euro has taught us anything in the last few months, it’s that the idea of the bond market is the most powerful force in international political economy at the moment. The idea of the bond market has so obsessed European leaders even to the point where they seem willing to throw their economy (and possibly the world’s) back into a recession for the sake of interest rates and Greek bondholders. Americans can hardly gloat; the idea of the bond market has pervaded calls for austerity in the U.S for the past three years, despite the fact that a first-ever downgrading of U.S Treasuries lead to lower, not higher interest rates on government debt.

So, how do we break our political system of the fear of the bond market bogeyman?

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Beyond the American Jobs Act – Labor Demand Policy

In Economic Planning, Economics, European Politics, Full Employment, Industrial Policy, Inequality, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Wisconsin on September 30, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Introduction:

One of the oddest flaws in American public policy is our persistent belief that unemployment and poverty can be dealt with in the main by improving the “employ-ability” of potential workers – in other words, by improving the quality of labor supply.

In the 1960s and 1970s, “manpower development” and “work training” were seen as the solution to moving the poor into a labor market that would surely sweep them up. When Reagan dismantled the War on Poverty and CETA, he left in place training programs as an acceptably bootstrapping policy sufficient to deal with the 1981-1983 recession. Clinton leaned especially hard on training and education as his solution to all problems – the early 90s recession, displacement from NAFTA, welfare reform, and rising inequality. While Obama has gone a step beyond mere job training with the public works of the stimulus bill, his more recent comments about “winning the future” show the persistent strength of supply-oriented labor market policy.

What a shame that it doesn’t work.

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Living in the Age of Magical Austerity Thinking

In Economic Planning, Economics, Financial Crisis, Full Employment, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Public Policy on August 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Introduction:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address diagnosed the essential weirdness of recessions: “our distress comes from no failure of substance,” he noted. “Plenty is at our doorstop, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.” The reason for this? “Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed…they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition.”

This last factor, that in the grip of a massive decline in production, employment, and consumption, the world’s leaders decided to maintain the gold standard and free exchange of currency by balancing budgets, cutting spending, and raising taxes and then to do it over and over again, despite the failure of that policy to show any positive result, is to my mind an absolutely critical one. For all that the critiques of John Maynard Keynes and other dissident economists were eloquent and correct, the reality was that they had been making their arguments for over a decade to no avail.

Today, we seem to be stuck in a similar pattern, where the conventional wisdom on economic policy fails to produce results, but retrenches even more strongly despite this.

Why is this?

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De-commodifying Housing

In Economic Planning, Economics, Financial Crisis, History and Politics, Housing, Liberalism, New Deal, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy on August 18, 2011 at 12:31 am

Introduction:

If the Great Recession has one common thread that links the U.S, much of the E.U (Ireland, Spain, the U.K), and the rest of the world, it’s our common mistake of treating housing as a speculative commodity whose purpose is to create profits for investors, rather than structures that serve a basic human need for shelter and sanctuary. Even those nations which avoided a housing bubble themselves (like France or Germany) got themselves involved through their banking industries, who lent and speculated into the housing bubbles.

If we want to get out of our current economic stagnation and avoid future housing bubbles, the logical place to start is to de-commodify housing.

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