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Social Policy as Social Infrastructure

Social Policy as Social Infrastructure
by Joachim Hirsch, 2003


Work and income must be uncoupled. In Germany, thanks to higher productivity and info-technology, 30% more was produced from 1970-2010 with 30% fewer workers. The state should represent the public and yet special or private interests are int he driver’s seat with deregulation, privatization, and liberalized markets.

Demonizing China will not resuscitate the Rust Belt. Social policy, reducing working hours, sharing work, and state investment are crucial. The Internet, Touchscreen, and the GPS system happened because of state investment and state risk-taking.

Cutting everything but the military (Marc’s note on July 17)

Cutting everything but the military is a sign of arrogance and know-it-all-ism, a contempt for democracy, separation of powers, checks, and balances and the will of the people. The country falls apart from the inside, from its inner contradictions, greed, selfishness and short-term fixation.

Trump represents the running-amok phase, the pathological narcissist encourages the replacement of the constitutional state with the security state. Only owners of capital seem to have enforceable rights. Hope comes from critical and independent media, from outside the box of sycophant corporate representatives and corrupt hypocrites (e.g. Gingrich, Ryan, McConnell).

The attack on the poor, disabled, migrants, seniors, children and students is combined with contempt and demonizing of compromise, concessions, negotiations, and countermeasures. Disdain for history, self-criticism, the social contract, foreign leaders, sharing, the UN and modern challenges are signs of the Hitlerian nightmare of scapegoating, idolizing the soldier, double standards, and one-dimensional corporate or profit worship. Are we headed to the 11th century?

(on July 17)

A broad social discussion and system alternatives are vital. In the states, money is somehow conflated with wisdom. Politicians and football promote cars while the cities become gridlock! The center cannot hold when special and private interests drown out the public interest of community centers and generalized security.

more at www.truth-out.org, www.commondreams.org, www.onthecommons.org, www.grin.com, www.therealnews.com and www.citizen.org

Posted in Political Theory, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution, Reducing Working Hours | Leave a comment

The (Temporary) End of Globalization

The (Temporary) End of Globalization
by Fabian Fritzsche, June 28, 2018


Protectionist measures could lead to losses of prosperity and increase the pressure to introduce more measures. Before the 2008 crisis, world trade grew more than 6% per year (now 2%).

Why should European consumers be punished? Why should US consumers pay more for imports from the EU? The US economy depends on imports from Europe. These questions aren’t even discussed in the current trade war.

(from July 17)

From Helsinki, Trump’s every word was “Hillary’s emails.” What fixation! Every question becomes a question about Hillary’s emails! After two minutes, the Twitterer sounds like his mouth is full of popcorn or casino misanthropy. Russians can live ten years longer and aren’t suffering from the kleptomaniac privatizer Boris Yeltsin courtesy of the US!
Russians survive by selling energy to Germany.

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Interview with Social Philosopher Friedhelm Hengsbach

Interview with Social Philosopher Friedhelm Hengsbach, 2014


The financial markets have uncoupled from the real economy since the middle of the 1970s. Politicians listen and react to every sound from the financial sector. The state allows itself to be extorted by the different lobby groups. Who paid for the bank bailout? The general public or the state made itself poor, guaranteed capital and took over part of the toxic assets.

Liberation theology taught us the cry of the poor who are oppressed, exploited and marginalized should be our perspective and standpoint. Not judging oneself is Pharisaic hypocrisy. They speak about things without doing them. See, judge and act is another method than what is customary in the church.

Posted in Financial Market Capitalism, Political Theory, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution | 1 Comment

Housing as Infrastructure


Housing as a human right is sometimes superseded by the right of speculation. Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (a Federal program), non-profit or cooperative housing, and SROs (single residency occupancy) are three solutions to the housing crisis.

Strategies like public subsidies for building social housing are known from earlier housing emergencies. The Vienna example shows government housing policy can go different ways and strong external pressure is necessary.

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Happy Canada Day! the 151st

Happy Canada Day! The US could learn so much from O Canada – a country without Wall Street and the Pentagon!

US imports have exceeded exports 2 to 1 since 2000. Every year the US has imported $500-$600 billion more than it exported. If the US never has a positive cooperative word and appreciation for the hard work of others, the US has become soulless and pathologically enslaved by the winner takes-all-mythology. Riches can make us warm-hearted or narrow-minded. Are we headed backward to the 11th century?

Due Process by Lewis Lapham in Lapham’s Quarterly “Rule of Law” 2018


The doctrine of enlightened selfishness rebranded as neoliberalism has remained in power in Washington for the past thirty years. The separation of values treasured by a capitalist economy from those cherished by a democratic society has resulted in the accumulation of more laws limiting the freedom of persons, fewer laws restraining the license of property, the letting fall into disrepair of nearly all the infrastructure (roads, schools, rivers) that provides the citizenry with the ways and means of its common enterprise…

Our elected representatives in Washington don’t know how to do or make law, can’t write it or read it, don’t know what it looks like until it shows up at a picnic wearing a hat or a dress paid for by JPMorgan Chase, Monsanto, Anheuser-Busch InBev, or Boeing. Few members of the House and the Senate read the paperwork they sign into law, much of it composed by lobbyists in whose interest the wording is procured. The honorable ladies and gentlemen on both sides of the aisle spend virtually no time in the building. They don’t debate; they deliver favors to patrons, clients, and friends, route insults to enemies real and imagined, attend photo opportunities to promote their money and vote-getting smiles.

It is better to live unknown to the law.
—Irish proverb,

The work of government meanwhile gets left to what the lawyer and legal thinker Philip K. Howard defines as the rule of nobody…
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Amazon, the Elephant in the Bookshop

Amazon, the Elephant in the Bookshop
by Attac Germany and the Alternative Economic Policy study group in Bremen, Germany, 2018 and 2010


Amazon is one of many examples of a gigantic problem. International corporations shirk from contributing their just share to financing the community. Complicated corporate structures enable exploiting loopholes and differences in the law. They are supported by hosts of advisers and lawyers who have created a “tax avoidance industry.”

The Alternative Economic Policy study group urges abandoning strategies of redistribution from bottom to top. Everyone must be included in economic growth. Work pay must increase, working hours reduced and the social state developed and not dismantled.

For financing, taxes must increase tremendously. In the past, the cause of the much deplored state indebtedness was excessively low taxes. Therefore, the top tax rate and corporation taxes must be raised. In addition, a one-time wealth tax must be levied with an immediate reintroduction of the property tax. A public investment program of at least 120 billion euros could be financed along with additional state indebtedness. The Alternative Economic Policy study group admonishes again a democratization of the economy. The 40 million dependent employees in Germany must finally have equal rights to capital in the economy.

Posted in Alternative Economics, Financial Market Capitalism, Neoliberalism, Political Theory | Leave a comment

More Public Investments are Sensible and Necessary

More Public Investments are Sensible and Necessary
by Philipp Heimberger, September 2016


The state often takes risks when private parties are timid. Low-interest rates create possibilities for expansive budgetary policy. Public investment in the infrastructure and education could benefit future generations by helping raise long-term prosperity and well-being. The one-sided narrowing of budgetary possibilities is excessive and counter-productive.

Related Links

Beigewum, “Zero deficit myth,” Austria, 2000
Mariana Mazzucato, “The Entrepreneurial State,” 2018,

The state isn’t a business or a housewife but can incur debts to help present and future generations. As the leftist think tank Beigewum in Austria explains, the state enjoys a form of “eternal life.” Trump says he’s “in-the-moment” and doesn’t care about history, theory, principles, research or debate. Our challenge is to create robust job-creating schemes, affordable housing, and environment-friendly policies. Imagining that the market will automatically create jobs or affordable housing is illusory, wishful or magic thinking. That China’s investments fell 92% in the first five months of 2018 should make us pause and skeptical about the “deal-maker.”

The future needs public investments in the infrastructure and education. “The swan that floats and doesn’t sink represents the intransitory in the transitory” (Martin Heidegger). “The old gives way tot he new as the snow gives way to the spring” (Rainer Rilke). “The ultimate is the goal of the penultimate” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer). “History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of men” (Blue Oyster Cult, 1977)

Here’s a link to “Atlas of Work” from the DGB/ Hans Bockler foundation, first English edition May 2018, 64 pp – Happy reading and happy research!


more at www.onthecommons.org, www.freembtranslations.net, www.openculture.com, and www.grin.com

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The Beam in the White House and Fatal Triumph

The Beam in the White House and Fatal Triumph
by Horst Schaefer and George Rammer, June 2018


Iran is the “greatest supporter of terror,” declared president Donald Trump. With that, he justified his peace-endangering cancellation of the nuclear agreement with Iran. Reducing foreign policy to scapegoating is Hitlerian. Hitler said the world was laughing at Germany and the Jews were responsible for all distresses and contradictions.

The causes of wars must be sought and fought where the state and the economy team up to enforce capitalist interests.

Related Link

Ralph Nader, Land of the Lawless, 2018 in Lapham’s Quarterly “Rule of Law”, 2018


Lawlessness is an overwhelming fact of American life, though little attention is paid to this many-unsplendored phenomenon. How many times have we been told that our country is under the rule of law and that nobody is above it? Yet the country’s legal life is defined instead by major zones of lawlessness created, in one aspect, by noncompliance and lack of enforcement and, in another, by raw power, which can be political, economic, or armed. These multiplying zones have pushed the rule of law into little more than a torrent of dysfunctional myths…

Lawlessness in its many exercised forms of raw power is itself the norm. What it has wrought is the institutionalization of criminality—with overworld and underworld often blurring together—producing inequality of wealth and income, planting the seeds of political seizures by dictatorial, plutocratic, and oligarchic forces.

What can be done? We start with the lawyers, who are not only invested with the monopolistic right to be attorneys for clients but should also be obliged, as officers of the court subject to their code of professional ethics, to be the sentinels for the administration of justice. Some are heroically assuming this august obligation to the people. But far too few of the 1.3 million lawyers in America see the rule of law for the myth it is; too few see the rule of power for the lawlessness it creates. More of them must assume the higher significance of their calling, to respond to the silent cries for justice—which nearly two centuries ago Senator Daniel Webster called “the great interest of man on Earth” and “the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together.”

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Alternative Federal Budget (Canada), 156 pp

Alternative Federal Budget – Feb 2018, 156 pp
from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

For more than two decades, the Alternative Federal Budget has provided a blueprint for sustainable and equitable growth in Canada. When successive federal governments advocated austerity, we demanded new stimulative investment in social and economic infrastructure. When they said the private sector should deliver public goods, we recognized that some priorities — like expanded health care, housing, and child care — could only be properly addressed by the government. Where governments of all stripes have spent billions subsidizing fossil fuel production and export, the Alternative Budget pointed out it would be far more productive, and more beneficial in the long term, to fund a just transition to a zero-carbon future.

Where the mainstream media obsessed about the deficit, we urged governments to focus on the more important debt-to-GDP ratio and the multiplier effect that public investment would have on the economy…

From Housing Market to Human Right – A View from Metro Vancouver, Marc Lee, May 2018


In other countries, public or non-market housing has long been part of the solution. Across OECD countries, Canada’s social housing rate of 4% is much less than comparable
advanced countries like the Netherlands (34%), Austria (26%), Denmark (22%), France (19%) or the UK (18%).
In Singapore, some 82% of residents live in 900,000 apartments built by the city state’s Housing Development Board. IIn the city of Vienna, Austria, almost half of the total housing stock is social housing, and the city acts as a developer.

Canada can also look to its own history of building dedicated affordable housing in the postwar years. The federal government was central in putting funds on the table for provincial partnerships, often with a 2/3 federal, 1/3 provincial split. Another key player was non-profit community groups, such as church groups and cooperatives, who came together to apply for funds, incorporating land and other equity from fundraising as part of their applications.

Consequently, between the early 1970s and the early 1990s, BC used to bring on stream approximately 2,000 units of new social or coop housing each year. This legacy of social and cooperative housing is more than 50,000 units in Metro Vancouver. Planned federal commitments in the NHS to build dedicated new affordable housing are limited. While efforts to preserve existing social housing through renewal of their operating agreements is notable and most welcome, a dedicated multi-decade pipeline of new affordable housing construction is needed. The headline commitment of 100,000 units sounds large, but it is nationwide, over a period of ten years, and assumes provincial contributions.

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Authoritarian Capitalism and Digital Demagogue

Authoritarian Capitalism and Digital Demagogue
by Christian Fuchs


Trump is not an individual phenomenon but one of many structural manifestations of the sudden change of neoliberalism into authoritarian capitalism.

The media’s profit-mongering intensifies the visibility of rightwing ideology. Enlightenment has a negative dialectic under conditions of capital.

Authoritarian capitalism represents a crisis of the Left. Socialist humanism is the only remedy against rightwing demagogue.

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