parallel policy review

Introduction

 

By Tim Stacey

 

The Christian Socialism is rooted in the belief that policy is built on a relational basis; getting people of different backgrounds in a room together, to find and work towards a common good. With this in mind, the CSM Parallel Policy Review was put together as an experiment in democratising the policy making process. We used methods inspired by community development to get our members thinking about what the good life consists of, and what theoretical and material obstacles stand in the way of our collectively achieving the good life.

 

Having contacted members and invited them to the Labour Party offices, we started off with blue-sky thinking. Members were split into groups of four, and were handed an A3 sheet, which had been split into four sections, as set out below:

 

 

 

Members spent fifteen minutes on each section: first working out what THE GOOD LIFE consisted of; then discussing the WORLD AS IT IS, seeking to understand what political, social and economic problems stood in the way of our collectively achieving the good life; then discussing THE WORLD AS IT COULD BE; and finally, working out what OBSTACLES stood between the WORLD AS IT IS and the WORLD AS IT COULD BE. Below is what they came up with:

 

 

 

The next step was to send selected members away to work on each of these projects. At the next meeting, we would critically assess the work done, and then send members away for another draft. Drafts were then approved by the CSM Officers. Final drafts are enclosed within. At this stage, each paper should be considered as a discussion piece and as the opinion of the author alone. They vary in approach and style, reflecting our desire to give everybody a chance. Having been considered by CSM members, we are opening them up to Labour members and the wider public. Drafts will also be sent to Your Britain. The next step is to put the papers to review by the CSM Executive, at which stage those approved will be taken forward as CSM Policy.

 

So why read these now? As the reader will discover on even a quick review, the work represents careful, considered and well researched discussion of some of the most important topics of today. As a collection, it acts as an exemplar of the talent and dedication of our members. They therefore highlight to all organisations, the importance of involving their members in policy decisions, not simply morally speaking, but as a matter of effectively using their full potential.

 

Malcolm Tory explains why a Christian Socialist perspective confounds means testing, which should be replaced with universal credit. He gives his backing especially to the controversial idea of a citizens’ income.

 

Steve Bonnick’s piece on housing takes an interesting approach, not putting forward a Christian perspective overtly, but instead putting forward what he regards as social problems. He creates an important link between housing an employment: there are houses where there are no jobs, and there are jobs where there are no houses.

Starting with the Christian principle of non-coercion, Paul Scivier discusses monopolies. He suggests that whether state or corporate, monopolies can be unresponsive. But he also discusses monopolies of power within organisations, and like others pushes for mutualisation.

 

Cornelius Harding is similarly interested in mutualisation. Following CSM Director Andy Flannagan, Harding revisits the Jubilee Laws of the Old Testament. He links the Jubilee Laws to contemporary notions of human capital, and he uses their combined wisdom to suggest a change in tax law to encourage employee ownership.

 

Anna Towsend reflects on a Christian approach to immigration, stressing a number of principles and offering a number of pathways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Jubilee to Employee-Ownership

 

By Cornelius Harding

 

Capitalism is shaped by the rules and licences set by the state. Through these rules, regulations, and licences private companies are protected and allowed to develop within a market environment. Or in other words no state - no market, the so called ‘free’ market is dependent on the state. So to an extent the unfairness of the current free market can be blamed on those who do nothing to change its parameters i.e. the government.

 

If Labour is serious about creating responsible capitalism it has to change the parameters of the market itself. The first thing the Labour party should address is how human capital is rewarded within the market. Economists know there are two types of capital put into a business - financial and human. Financial capital comes in the form of investment by owners or loans from banks, whereas Human capital comes from the joint efforts put in by the workforce. Human capital can be increased in various ways from the growth of the workforce, to improving productivity through changing working patterns, to training the workforce to improve skill set. Ultimately the human capital is owned and generated by the efforts of the workforce alone, whereas financial capital is owned by the owners of the business or the responsibility in the case of debt finance is shared between them and the state (publicly limited companies). The owners of financial capital are financially rewarded according to their ownership share of the company in terms of profit dividends but human capital receives no reward, no share of the pie, even though it is vital for the profitability and success of the company. This is the issue which needs to be dealt with.

 

To make sure human capital is properly recognised Labour may wish to give the ‘workforce’ shares in the company itself. There are essentially two ways of doing this: 1 is to give individual workers shares in the company they work for, and the second is to give ‘the workforce(present day only)’ a share in the company. Giving individual workers shares could be done based on wage level, length of time at the company etc. but is ultimately an arbitrary decision as someone can invest much more into a company in terms of profit value and be paid much less, be there far less time etc., also as soon as they leave the company they would become financial capital owners rather than human capital owners. In order to give a sustainable way of ensuring human capital is recognised, the workforce as a whole (only present) would own shares in the company with votes cast in decision making for the company according to proportions of the ballot of the workforce who agreed/disagreed etc.

 

In order to understand the biblical reasons why human capital is to be rewarded, I think it is useful to look at both Engels and Deuteronomy, to get an understanding of how biblical principles apply today.

 

Engels:

The slave is sold once and for all; the proletarian must sell himself daily and hourly.

 

The individual slave, property of one master, is assured an existence, however miserable it may be, because of the master’s interest. The individual proletarian, property as it were of the entire bourgeois class which buys his labor only when someone has need of it, has no secure existence. This existence is assured only to the class as a whole.

 

The slave is outside competition; the proletarian is in it and experiences all its vagaries

 

Deuteronomy 15:12-15

New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Freeing servants

12 If any of your people – Hebrew men or women – sell themselves to you and serve you for six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. 13 And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. 14 Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing-floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.

18 Do not consider it a hardship to set your servant free, because their service to you these six years has been worth twice as much as that of a hired hand. And the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.

(People would “sell themselves” to repay debt - this was limited to 7 years)

In the modern day the “proletariat” (waged workers with low or no capital) are dependent on wages in order to survive, in the same way as slaves were dependent on there masters, and indeed as Engels suggests whereas slave owners were given responsibility to sustain and care for there slaves, a proletarian must sell himself daily and is in and “experiences all its vagaries” of competition.

When we look as Christians at Deuteronomy 15:12-15,18 we can get bogged down in a discussion about slavery in the old testament without focusing on the principles given. The first being that to be made dependent on another as is the case in slavery is not what God had intended. Indeed to rule a slave cruelly is an affront to God as God acted to free the Israelites from slavery (dependency) in setting them free from Egypt, instead slaves should be treated like hired hands (i.e. with respect) Leviticus 25:39-43, and to allow people to fall into such poverty was wrong in and of itself Leviticus 25:35-37 “ “‘If anyone from your country becomes too poor to support himself, help him to live among you as you would a stranger or foreigner. Do not charge him any interest on money you loan to him, but respect your God; let the poor live among you. Don’t lend him money for interest, and don’t try to make a profit from the food he buys.’”

Principle number 1: Poverty means dependency - dependency becomes slavery (through debt). Dependency and slavery are not what God desires

The next thing we should identify is that no one is to be held in a dependent or enslaved situation for an extended period of time, the Jubilee laws stated that debt was to be wiped out every 7 years (or every Jubilee). So the next thing we learn is that God wants to set those free who are enslaved.

Principle number 2: God is a God of freedom, he wants to free us from that which binds us, including that which financially binds us.

What we finally learn is that God wants to give everyone freedom not only from debt but to prosper and so after 7 years they are not only set free but they are to be given liberally from the flock, the threshing-floor and the winepress. These three things would make up the fruits of Labour with the wealth of a man often dependent on the size of his flock. So by giving up some of his flock the slave was being given, an income and some wealth to sustain him - his stake in society was being re-established and his dependency on others was being wiped out. This is the same principal that farm animals are given away in the developing world today.

Principle 3: God wants to give everyone a stake, and self-respecting, place in society

And underpinning it all is that it shouldn’t be considered a hardship to give up some of the wealth and income of the Debt owner but they should be pleased in fulfilling what the Lord has required of them.

If we apply this to understandings of Human Capital - workers are not meant to be treated dishonourably as simply tools to be used but to be respected and rewarded with wealth and income for what they do to sustain them in the future. Whether or not a simple share in the company for workers goes far enough in giving them the freedom (through joint say in the companies decisions) and rewards (through dividends) goes far enough is questionable. But the current situation of dependency and the current treatment of workers through the eyes of a slave owner who sees his slaves simply as possessions to be used, there worth no more than that given to them by the outcome of the work there master (company) gives them is unacceptable to the Lord.

This relates to the tax system because the rewarding of workers through shares would replace corporation and business tax (profit taxes) and then the financial rewards of employees and owners would be taxed in the same way through a Unitary Income Tax so capital gains (off of financial capital and human capital) would be counted alongside income and taxed as one lump sum.

Please read the Unitary Income Tax document.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Means Testing or Citizens’ Income?

By Malcolm Torry

For Jesus, no-one was outside the invitation to participate in the Kingdom of God, and he modeled that invitation in his own ministry and in his teaching. In the parable of the vineyard owner (Matthew 20:1-16) he promised an equal reward for all, and he invited his disciples to freely give because they had freely received (Matthew 10:8).

The Labour Party has throughout its history exhibited two consistent themes: that everyone shares a fundamental human equality, and that the worker should receive his or her just reward. Both of these themes echo the Christian Scriptures; and the Party has given expression to these two themes in such universal provision as the NHS, and in such attempts to achieve a just reward for labour as the National Minimum Wage.

This suggests that the Labour Party’s tax and benefits policy should treat everyone the same, should contain universal provisions, and should ensure that workers should benefit financially from their labour.

So what’s wrong with means-testing?

Means-testing divides society in two: 1. those subject to demeaning intrusion by officials (who need to know who they’re living with, how much their spouse earns, etc), and 2. those not subject to such stigmatising intrusion. This is no way to express our fundamental human equality. Means-tested benefits are withdrawn as earnings rise, meaning that many households receive only 15p for every extra £1 of earnings, and for some households this is as low as 5p (that is, they suffer marginal deduction rates of 85% or 95%). This is no way to provide a fair reward for work, especially when we consider that the most wealthy in our society recently achieved a reduction in their highest Income Tax rate from 50% to 45%. Universal provisions such as Child Benefit are cheap to administer, they contribute to social cohesion, and it is no problem that the wealthy receive it because they’re paying far more in tax than they receive in Child Benefit. Means-testing is as far from universal provision as it’s possible to get.

The problems that people on means-tested benefits face are regularly discussed in Members of Parliaments’ surgeries, so they know the problems. So why isn’t there more open debate about both the problems and about possible solutions? Is it because benefits look a bit complicated and Shadow Ministers and MPs don’t want to reveal their ignorance?

An attempt to solve the problem

‘Universal Credit’ is an attempt to solve the problem of high marginal deduction rates, but it will be complex to administer, it will still be withdrawn at 65% (meaning that households receiving it will receive 35p or less for every additional £1 they earn), and it will still require demeaning intrusion in relation to personal relationships and other personal circumstances.

Obstacles

Obstacles to finding and enacting a solution are our apparent psychological need to deprive the poor of as much money as possible, and the short-termism of our political process. Major reform of our tax and benefits system would require more than a single parliament, so major reform is never attempted.

A solution

The Labour Party has a solution to the problem which would be electorally popular: a benefits system modelled on the National Health Service. The NHS is free at the point of use, it contributes to social equality and social cohesion, and nobody will ever find themselves impoverished by having to pay for healthcare. Trumpeting these colossal advantages of a universal health service is the first part of the solution to the problem of means-testing.

The second part would be to increase the value of the universal Child Benefit. For many families with children, Child Benefit is the only secure income. Earnings and means-tested benefits are both unpredictable, but Child Benefit is not. Increasing Child Benefit and reducing means-tested benefits would reduce marginal deduction rates and would thus improve employment incentives. And it would be electorally popular.

The third part would be to establish a Citizen’s Pension. Steve Webb, Minister of State for Pensions, understands that our state pension system, with its complex contributory and means-tested elements, discourages people from saving for their old age because other retirement income reduces state pension provision. The Minister has proposed a nonwithdrawable Single Tier State Pension: but payment will still depend on contribution conditions being met, and any shortfall will still be met by a means-tested addition. A true Citizen’s Pension – adequate, universal, unconditional and nonwithdrawable – would encourage people to save for their old age (because the state pension would no longer be reduced by the level of other retirement income) and it would be electorally popular.

Once an increased Child Benefit and a Citizen’s Pension were embedded, the next stages would be an unconditional and nonwithdrawable income for young people to support them through education and training, and an unconditional and nonwithdrawable income for older workers to ease them out of the labour market and into their Citizen’s Pension, paid for by reducing tax allowances and other benefits. And finally the gap could be filled for working age adults. The result would be a Citizen’s Income – an unconditional and nonwithdrawable income for every citizen, paid for by reducing tax allowances and contributory and means-tested benefits. The outcome would be substantially increased employment incentives, individual freedom, and social cohesion.

Will there be objections to the idea of Citizen’s Income? Yes: the following:

A Citizen’s Income would be too expensive. That surely depends on the particular scheme. A Citizen’s Income paid for by reducing tax allowances and means-tested and contributory benefits could be established without additional public expenditure.

We should not pay people to do nothing. But we are doing that already, and the way we do it is discouraging people from increasing their earned income.

Rich people do not need it. They pay more in tax than they would receive in Citizen’s Income, and the low administrative costs of universal benefits mean that it is more efficient to give everyone a Citizen’s Income than not to do so.

A Citizen’s Income would discourage people from seeking employment. Precisely the opposite. Someone on means-tested benefits faces two barriers to seeking employment, or increasing the number of hours for which they are employed: 1. the withdrawal of benefits means that they might receive only 15p, or in some cases 5p, for every extra £1 that they earn (and, when Universal Credit is implemented, they might receive only 35p for every extra £1 of earnings); 2. the uncertainty of not knowing a) whether they will spend several weeks without benefits while benefits are recalculated, and b) how much benefit they will receive.

A Citizen’s Income would never be withdrawn, so anyone taking a job, or increasing their number of hours of employment, would keep all of their additional earnings apart from the tax paid on it; and their Citizen’s Income would be entirely secure.

It is today’s system that discourages people from seeking employment. A Citizen’s Income would provide a greater employment incentive than people experience today; and it would reduce the chaos that households experience when someone’s labour market status changes. This means that with a Citizen’s Income people are more, not less, likely to seek employment.

 

As the Labour Party’s Social Justice Commission suggested in 1994, the Labour Party ought to consider a Citizen’s Income as a serious policy option. We now live in the kind of social and economic context that the Commission believed would make such consideration essential.  Not only that, but the policy changes required to reach a Citizen’s Income are entirely feasible and would be as electorally popular as the National Health Service.

It really is time that we started talking about the problems associated with our largely means-tested benefits system; it is time to look at alternative policy options; and it is time to look seriously at a Citizen’s Income, and at the steps needed to establish one.

 

A book is now available to enable anyone interested in the Citizen’s Income route to benefits reform to study the arguments:

Money for Everyone: Why we need a Citizen’s Income, by Malcolm Torry. It is on sale at a launch discount from the Policy Press at www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447311256

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What might a Christian Socialist approach to immigration policy look like?

 

By Anna Townsend

 

Migration on a global scale is a reality at the start of the 21st Century.  Yet though the phenomena is global it affects local communities and individuals enormously.

 

The concepts and ideals of Nations (Deuteronomy 2:1-5, 8-9, Acts 17:26), Borders (Numbers 34:1-12) and Home or a place to belong to (Numbers 33:53-54,Deuteronomy 3:12-20, 12:1) are each designed by God and are all important to Him.  Migration is also intended to be planned and timely (Jeremiah 8:7).  God promises to bless people when they are in the place intended for them (Judges 18:10).  Migration is therefore not wrong, but if our policies and practices demean people to the status of roaming migrants in search of work at any cost, that is wrong.  Migration needs to be managed and planned so that the benefits to all involved are optimised and the costs and risks minimised.

 

In an ideal world the push factors of immigration would be eliminated, poverty in developing and middle income countries would not create economic migrants. Persecution and violence would not drive people to seek asylum.  Migration would be a choice rather than escape.  It therefore needs to tie in with development policy.  Furthermore, immigrants should be able to bring their entire dependent family with them in cases where they are forced to migrate; they should no longer be driven to make tough choices between safety and family because of poverty and violence.

 

Immigrants with skills that the UK needs should be welcomed and valued.  Hospitality rather than just respect from a distance.  It is bIblical, to welcome the stranger (Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:34, Job 29:16, 31:32).  This needs to outwork in housing policy as too often landlords exploit migrant workers.  Similarly medical care and access to the NHS should be foundational.

 

Diaspora communities ought to be supported to help development in their home countries particularly now that remittances exceed Aid flows.  The World Bank is currently pursuing diaspora as agents of development. For futher information see KNOMAD http://www.knomad.org/ which is a World Bank initiative that aims to: generate and synthesize knowledge on migration issues for countries, and provide technical assistance and capacity building to sending and receiving countries for the implementation of pilot projects, evaluation of migration policies, and data collection.

 

On a more practical level integration services, such as English lessons, need to be provided to all freely or at minimal cost (evidence shows that lessons are valued more highly if paid for) and accessibly (i.e. near to where migrant communites are located)

 

Government needs to acknowledge that community integration is difficult and takes time. Most people are prone to homophilly, i.e. they are friends with people like themselves. Strong support including funding and grants, together with expertise from universities, should be offered to initiatives that show success at integrating communities.  The church is leading the way with regards to integration and the Church of England has developed principles for working with migrant communities http://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/home-and-community-affairs/community-urban-affairs/asylum-and-immigration.aspx.  These are: Christians believe that all people are created equal in dignity, made in the image of God, as Christians, we fully accept our obligations as citizens of the countries in which we live…[but] do not attribute absolute value to the rights and privileges of nationality and citizenship, Christians affirm that people moving from one part of the world to another contribute their gifts and valuable qualities…to the country where they come to live, and Christian belief in a personal God states good relationships as the foundation  of community cohesion.

 

Additionally government must recognize that parts of the UK feel very crowded and therefore there is a requirement to carefully manage migration.  The Home office needs to be properly funded and resourced not only so it does a good job and backlogs are reduced, but also so Labour is able to prove it can be trusted on immigration.  Dealing with immigration and asylum cases in a timely manner is part of welcoming a person to this country and demonstrating they are valued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Housing

 

By Steve Bonnick

 

There is a very serious problem with UK housing, more particularly house building:

 

  1. The UK has a rising population
  2. Far too few new homes are being built
  3. There is a mismatch of housing and jobs. There are empty houses but in places with no jobs. Where the economy is more buoyant there are not enough houses.
  4. Some housing is in very poor condition and overcrowded.
  5. The mismatch between supply and demand is causing house price rises in some places and falls elsewhere. Thus in some regions buying a house is becoming increasingly difficult, whilst elsewhere many face negative equity.

 

Present and recent governments have been fixated on house ownership and building private houses. (Admittedly home ownership did fall 2001 - 2011 from 69% to 64%.)

 

36% of homes are currently rented and this was split equally in 2011 between private and social renting. (18% each). The trend for private renting is increasing and social renting falling, from a high in 1981 of 31% to the current 18%.

 

Over the last decade the average new house starts pa are

2004 - 2008 225k

2008 - 2012 128k

 

Of these, private house starts are 196k and 96k respectively. Thus there are only about 30k housing association / local authority house starts pa. Renting a home at an affordable price with long-term tenure is becoming an impossible dream for many.

 

I suggest three lines of attack to the problem. Admittedly though the housing crisis is very hard to dent let alone completely solve.

 

  1. Encourage more jobs out of the SE of England. A huge issue in itself.
  2. Central government financial inducements to local authorities in areas of real housing shortage to build themselves or encourage via housing associations public sector house building. (I am not enough of an expert on the mechanics for this). An increase in house building would be a boost to the economy and particularly employment. It therefore should also be tied to apprenticeships for young people as well.
  3. Clamp down on overcrowding / illegal private renting (ie sheds with beds). One idea that appears to work is to force all landlords to pay a registration fee. The local authority should then use this fee to fund the employment of inspectors.

 

How could more house building be funded?

 

  1. A tax on empty properties
  2. All public sector house sale receipts to be ring fenced back into house building
  3. A specific mansion tax to be earmarked and ring fenced for public sector house building

 

Questions

 

  1. Even if the decline of public renting was reversed this year by an increase in public house building, the positive benefits would take a long time to come through. In the short term how should the few public house projects on fair rents be allocated?
  2. Where in the country precisely should house building be encouraged?
  3. What should be done if it was discovered that there was a housing shortage in area xxxx but the local residents of that community were voting against more housing? (How do you balance national and local democracy?)
  4. How do you prevent a situation whereby those in council / socially rented housing have won the gold medal and those in private renting are in an inferior position? Does public sector housing prevent geographic mobility?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monopolies – State or Corporate?

 

By Paul Scivier

 

As Christians on the Left, our first loyalty should be to the One in whom we believe and follow, who never coerced anyone into accepting Him. That is the principle which should guide our thinking about society and our relations with others.

 

As it says in the Acts of the Apostles-  “At the time of Pentecost, all those trusting in Jesus stayed together and had everything in common. In fact they sold their property and possessions and distributed the proceeds to all who were in need.”

 

This was 2000 years before the probable founder of mutualism, Joseph-Pierre Proudhon, famously said his (misquoted) phrase that “property is theft” (actually he said “It is theft when it is related to a landowner or capitalist whose ownership is derived from conquest or exploitation”).

 

Our Faith is based on our free will in accepting and following our Liberator Jesus, and our Churches are free voluntary associations, which people choose to join.

 

In Trades Unions, members freely join and associate together. As we call for a mutual society, both the Labour Party itself and affiliate Trade Unions should also look at their structures to ensure they are not mirror images of either state industries or private corporations. That means ensuring members decide on policy by individual ballot and where its funds are allocated (as UNISON unlike many other union does with both its Political Fund and its Affiliated Fund).

 

Whilst we have collective roots and are collective organisations, we should not forget that collectives are made up of individuals, and too often in the past “block” voting has allowed the pretense that members agreed a policy when in reality they hadn’t.

 

The Co-operative Party has, since its formation in 1917 championed the free voluntary association of individuals collectively combining to work together for the common good, not private profit. The Labour 2010 manifesto included 24 Co-operative Party policies, including the re-mutualizing of Northern Rock, and plans to convert English Heritage, British Waterways and the BBC into co-operatively owned mutuals. They also called for mutually run rail franchises, housing and football clubs. Whilst they have called for co-operative owned schools, there is no reason why we could not support the idea of faith based co-operative schools. Perhaps there is some common ground that could be pursued together.

 

Whilst appearing to be different, the rise of the centralized state and the centralized corporation has created a system in which the two are organizationally connected.

 

The state actually allows capitalism to exist, through the privileges, licenses, franchises and tax breaks corporations get, resulting often in monopoly power. Major corporations influence, lobby and buy their way into deciding government policy. As a result, the so-called free market could not exist without the state.

 

Perhaps its time for a new (yet old) approach - not to nationalize or privatize, but mutualize!

 

Does this mean there is no role for the state? No, the State has a role to enable the mutualizing of society - and by this we do not mean the so-called mutualizing the conservatives are promoting - which is privatization by another name. No, mutuals are by definition meant to be co-operative enterprises.

 

Labour should encourage a diversity of models, ranging from employee owned co-operatives, partnerships, family businesses and self managed owner/operators leading to a mutualist society. In time perhaps existing corporations cold be converted to mutuals?

 

Mutualism could lead to an anti-capitalist freed market, with power decentralized, and a true fair trade system, in its widest sense. To ensure the majority do not become a tyranny, minority interests would be protected by the enabling state.

 

As disputes can occur, even in democratic organisations, trades unions, and other advocacy groups would still be a vital part of the employment process.

 

Currently many small businesses have been financially crippled by the greed of the banking system.

 

As Christians we should be mindful of our scripture in regard to its teaching about interest on loans. For example, Nehemiah 5 v 10/11  “ we must stop charging interest”; Psalm 15 v5 “ one who doesn’t lend money with gain in mind...will live together with the Lord”; also Ezekiel 18 v 8 “ he who worships the Lord... doesn’t charge those poor people, who borrow from him,  interest or keep the profit”.

 

We should support the idea of eliminating interest on credit through a bank of exchange, possibly a Peoples Free Credit Mutual Bank, that would loan finance to small enterprises, at no, or minimal cost, (just to cover administration).

 

Are some monopolies natural monopolies? Clearly when it comes to Water, Electricity, Gas and Cable services, only one provider can supply the infrastructure to the home or business. However, we have multiple providers of the service through that infrastructure.

 

Some will recall the old gas and electricity boards and how the public often viewed them, as being non-responsive. However, we have all experienced the recent privatized providers, whom have varied, complicated tariffs, and prices continue to climb.

 

Could mutually owned, ethically sourced utilities, provide a choice, without being reliant on the profit motive, and could that model be replicated elsewhere?

 

As we look at an ideal, we recognise the reality of where we are, and the many obstacles in the way to the ideal. However there are real opportunities for greater mutualism in our governance, infrastructures and supply chains. Big companies do exist and will continue to exist in the foreseeable future, therefore tax and tax transparency is vital so that companies like “Google” (whose motto is “do no evil”...but pay no tax in the UK) really work for the common good. The state does have a role here, but regulating bodies also need to be as transparent and accountable as the organisations they regulate.

 

We can remain as we are and continue to privatise our public services. We could re- nationalize key industry like the railways. Or we could determine another way that isn”t reliant on shareholders( who aren”t balloted when their funds go to political parties!), and isn’t reliant on the state and civil servants( who are not directly accountable)), or we could go back to our roots as a labour movement, and seek to empower ourselves, by living as our Creator designed, that is to work in mutual harmony, co-operatively, reaching consensus on decisions and certainly not charging interest on loans.

 

It’s our choice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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