News Release

Confronting the “Taboo of Public Ownership”


GAR ALPEROVITZ, via John Duda, jduda at
THOMAS HANNA, tmhanna at
Alperovitz, author of America Beyond Capitalism and co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, and his co-author Thomas Hanna, have written an article published today in The Nation, “Beyond Corporate Capitalism: Not So Wild a Dream,” which states: “It’s time to put the taboo subject of public ownership back on the progressive agenda: It is the only way to solve some of the most serious problems facing the nation. … Take the financial sector where the current recession was hatched. Today, five giants control more than a third of all the deposits … all were deeply involved in creating the meltdown that cost taxpayers billions in bailouts and the overall economy trillions. Numerous economists, left and right, agree that their unbridled operations will inevitably lead to another crisis. JPMorgan Chase’s recent speculative loss of at least $2 billion should be fair warning. …

“If some of the most important corporations have a massively disruptive and costly impact on the economy in general and the environment in particular — and if regulation and anti-trust laws in many areas are likely to be subverted by these corporations — a public takeover is the only logical answer. …

The article highlights existing, successful examples of public ownership in America today: “public ownership … is not the radical departure most imagine it to be. Two of the most cost-effective health providers in the United States — Medicare and the Veterans Administration — are run by the U.S. government. So, too, the largest pension manager in the country is a public entity: the Social Security Administration.”

In an election year likely to be dominated by discussions of corporations and the economy, Alperovitz and Hanna lay out a clear mandate for progressives: “At a time when progressives are being called ‘socialists’ no matter what, there is little to lose and much to gain by clearly making the case for a new longer term direction that confronts — and ultimately overcomes — the centrality of corporate power.”

Alperovitz is a professor of political economy at the University of Maryland and a founder of the Democracy Collaborative. Hanna is a researcher at the Democracy Collaborative.