What is the appropriate plan for the 99 percent?
Salon and the Roosevelt Institute are cosponsoring what they call the 99 Percent Plan, a series that begins with K. Sabeel Rahman’s overview and continues with Mike Konczal’s essay on the “privatization trap.”
I couldn’t agree more with Rahman, when he writes that
For too long progressives have been content to work within an economic discourse largely set by conservative principles, hostile to state action while idolizing free markets and corporate power. Indeed, the last time a sitting Democratic president launched a reelection campaign with his State of the Union address, it was Bill Clinton, who declared proudly that “the era of big government is over.”
And Konczal’s critique of privatization has many good points but then he ends up in the same spot as so many progressives, by defending the state:
We need new arguments for the government, with all its strengths and weaknesses, to be allowed to do its jobs knowing that it won’t always be perfect. The alternative is government by cronyism, delegated marketplace winners exploiting what works about markets with none of the normal checks we expect on a functioning democracy. There are no doubt weaknesses in the current functions of government, but for those who resist privatization, that is a call to political reform rather than one of abandoning the public arena altogether.
If we follow Konczal, we end up—once again—rehearsing the private-state dichotomy of existing political discourse. What about broadening the terms of debate by considering forms of economy and society that exceed both private and state-regulated forms of capitalism?
That would be the beginning of a real plan for the 99 percent.