Since 1979, the Bremen study group on Alternative Economic Policy has presented memoranda that would move Germany and the world into future-friendly economics. Reducing working hours, ecologically sustainable production, employment-intensive investment, fair progressive taxation, expanding the public sector and shriveling the financial sector have been important themes.
MEMORANDA ON ALTERNATIVE ECONOMIC POLICY
Memorandum 2008 (2)
Poverty Returns with Misguided Policy by Franz Segbers
The state should represent the public interest and yet private or special interests are in the driver’s seat with privatization, deregulation and liberalized markets.
Trump’s proposed 2018 budget is a sledgehammer with cuts to EPA, Meals-on-Wheels, school lunches, WIC food assistance, PBS, Legal Services Corp and more. The state should not be the “errand boy” for the banks (Bill Moyers). Majority rule must be balanced by minority protection for the state to be legitimate (Lani Guinier). Indifference is love’s enemy. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Video: How to Know if Your Country is Headed for Despotism
The ABCs of Meaningless Economic Phrases by Rudolf Hickel and Heinz J. Bontrup
The most common myths start from the tax state that burdens the economy, the housework ordered by the state (save,save,save) to the Schwabian housewife prescribing the austerity creed. Politics must tend to very need of capital as a scared doe and therefore lower taxes. The term reform has been twisted around completely and is used to reduce the social responsibility of the state….
Since 1979 the study group Alternative Economic Policy at the University of Bremen has presented memorandums under the leadership of Jorg Huffschmid (Cf. www.memo.uni-bremen.de).
Alternative economics emphasizes reducing working hours and investing in the infrastructure. Education spending must be increased to ensure quality of life. Future necessities and the right to work must not be hallucinated away as precarious work becomes more widespread.
According to the neoliberal myth higher profits lead to greater investments and more jobs. In truth, higher profits entice to speculation on foreign currencies, food and raw materials and to buying back company shares.
Social-economic regulation opposes supply-side trickle-down economics with its social cuts and tax relief for the super-rich. The Asian crisis, the Mexican crisis, the Argentinean crisis and the Russian crisis strike back at “Forever Number one.” The Washington consensus exposed as a fraud by the latest financial crisis is based on deregulation, privatization, opening markets and attacking unions.
Instead of expanding education and creating community centers with a multiplier effect, trillions are squandered on wars of choice and bailouts to speculators who stylize themselves as “investors” and “system-relevant.”
The crisis is also a chance to abandon the destruction of nature and the hegemony of financial markets and financial products. The “quiet coop” of Wall Street and the banks could be countered with new models replacing the models of corporate business, rapacious business model and the short-sighted privatization model. The state has a social nature and cannot only be a security and power state or a trough for “achievers” and the super-rich and an “activating – punishing” state for the unemployed.
Thirty years of supply side, trickle-down economics favored the capital side and speculation and grieved the labor side. The role of the state, reversing inequality and creating meaningful jobs became taboo subjects with the self-healing market. All problems were stylized as interferences with the market. Private vices were said to produce the public good. All life was reduced, commodified or instrumentalized to economic productivity.
Herbert Marcuse (“One Dimensional Man”), Erich Fromm (“Escape from Freedom”) and John Kenneth Galbraith (“The Affluent Society”) could be our mentors as we redefine the economy, the state and future-friendly sustainability. The “Gross Happiness Index” could replace the “Gross Domestic Product.” Progress could be redefined as living simply so others can simply live. Maximization of knowledge could replace maximization of profit. The community centers in Vancouver B.C. could be seen as an advance in social evolution with multiplier effects reinvigorating public spirit. Ignorance could be fought, not immigrants. Corporations could be made taxable again since schools, roads and police protection do not arise out of the blue. Dishwashers do not become millionaires. The state has a vital role to protect people from unemployment, old age poverty and abuse of power.
The social state, solidarity, justice and sharing, open doors while neoliberal deregulation and privatization lead to exploding inequality, generalized insecurity and disappearance of public spirit.
To read the memoranda of the Study Group Alternative Economic Policy, click on
MEMORANDUM 2008: SHORT VERSION
Redistributing Income, Work and Power: Alternatives to Serving the Upper Class
MEMORANDUM 2008 – CRISIS UNDERRATED
Without increasing internal demand, the upswing based on replacement-investments and exports cannot continue. Without reduced working hours, adequate jobs will not be created in a world of reduced work volumes, rationalization and information technology.
SEVEN LOOSE PIECES OF THE WORLD JIGSAW PUZZLE – Subcomandante Marcos 1997
VIDEO: MIGUEL D’ESCOTO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2009-2010, interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, April 26, 2010
ATTAC AUSTRIA CATALOGUE ON DEMOCRATIZING THE FINANCIAL MARKETS
“THE QUIET COUP” BY SIMON JOHNSON
Both Germany and the US seem locked into unsustainable models, jobless growth, stagnant wages for 20 or 40 years, exploding inequality and “post-democratic” governments that care for bankers and speculators, not those whom they should represent. The myths of the Schwabian housewife and “trickle down economics” (cf. John Kenneth Galbraith’s horse-sparrow theory, the horse must be fed so the sparrow can live) still carry the day for the decision-making elites.
The Alternative Economic Policy study group has been publishing memorandums for 20 years urging a radical change of course: from quantitative growth and environment destruction to qualitative growth, expansion of the public sector, shriveling of the financial sector, reducing working hours, infrastructure investment and higher taxation of the super-rich. What are the motors, models and myths that must be overcome and corrected? Can we sit on our hands and imagine college graduates can just drive cabs? Is speculation the same as investment? Is plutocracy the same as democracy? Are long-term necessities eclipsed by short-term practical constraints?