[OPE-L] transition measures

From: clyder@GN.APC.ORG
Date: Mon Dec 04 2006 - 13:32:26 EST

I am on the working group who are drawing up the economic section of the
manifesto for the new Solidarity Party
In the coming Scottish elections. The party is very new, having formed last
month. I had to draft these proposals very hurriedly
And would welcome commentary / feedback from political ecnonomists on OPE as to

Top level aims of Solidarity in the economic sphere: ending exploitation ,
democratising the economy, controling carbon emissions.
1. Ending exploitation

Exploitation currently comes in two main forms, exploitation in work, and
exploitation through usury.
1.1 Exploitation at work.
 Workers in scotland create on average £19.50 of added value for each hour that
they work. They are paid on average only £11.70 per hour and 50% of workers are
paid less than £9.30 an hour. This means that their employers are stealing
£7.80 an hour from the average worker, and half the workers in the country are
being robbed of more than £10 an hour.

This exploitation is by far the most serious and lies at the heart of the
division of society into rich and poor. It can only be eliminated by paying
workers the full value that they create.

 In the long term this requires, as Marx taught, the replacement of money by a
system of labour tokens so that workers are explicity paid in hours not £s.
Goods would then be priced in terms of the hours needed to make them,
eliminating exploitation. However this, which Marx saw as the first stage of
socialism requires 3 essential preconditions:
 a) A new system of accounting to work out the labour contents of goods. This is
eminently practical with modern computerisation, I have done experiments with an
up to date computer at the University of Glasgow which indicate that labour
value of all types goods in the country could be worked out in about 2
 b) That production be directly social not private, that is to say the
socialisation of the means of production in the economy as a whole under a
system of democratic planning.
 c) The replacement of the existing banking system with one that keeps
individual labour accounts.

It is clear that the process of setting these three preconditions up would take
a few years - perhaps up to 5 years. So that whilst steps a,b,c are being put
into effect we need short term measures to abolish exploitation. I suggest the
following immediate measures.

1.1.1 Labour be recognised in Scots Law as the source of added value.
1.1.2 Any employee or group of employees to be able to apply to the Small Claims
or Sheriff Court to recieve redress for any shortfall that has occured between
the value they added to their employers business and what they were actually

The two measures could be included in an Employee's Rights Act. It might also be
necessary to prohibit the indirect ownership of firms by other firms or trusts
in order that there is a clear agent against whom exploited employees can take

The demand to end exploitation and pay workers the value they add is simple, and
to the economic benefit of the vast majority. 85% of the population can see they
would be better of on £19.50 an hour than on their current pay.

1.2 Exploitation by Debt
The banks were once temples to thrift. They channeled the savings of the
Scottish people into productive and useful investment. All that has changed.
Now the banks discourage thrift. They go all out to get us into debt.
The rich have discovered that lending us money at 20% interest on credit cards
is much more profitable than actually investing in industry.
Down through the ages, religion and philosophy taught that usury, the blind
pursuit of money was the root of all social evil.
Now usury, called ‘credit’, is respectable. But a change of name does not change
the sordid reality of debt.
First the capitalist robs us of half the wealth we create, then he lends us back
the very money that we created for him.
Millions barely survive because their wages are eaten by criminal interest.
Whole African nations sink into abject starvation whilst Edinburgh and London
banks collect billions. Debt is a treadmill from which your only escape is the
The two measures required to eliminate debt exploitation are quite obvious.
There has to be
i)  a cancellation of all existing debts and
ii)  a prohibition of lending money at interest.
The cancellation of debt has historically been a key demand of revolutionary
movements, from the democratic revolutions in ancient Greece down to the
program of the Social Democratic Federation ( the first Marxist influenced
political party in Britain). It tended to be forgotten in the latter part of
the 20th century, but it is more relevant than ever because personal
indebtedness has reached such high levels.

1.2.1 The appropriate political form would be referendum on the abolition of all

The existing banking system would be thrown into instability by this. Abolishing
debts would abolish the debts that banks held to individuals as well, so the
measure could either be combined with the shift to labour tokens or one would
have to say that the banks would still be liable for personal credit balances
up to some modest figure - say a months wages which could be met by the
reserves of the banks. The measures in section 2 would have relevance to this.
Because of the impact of the cancellation of debt on the liquidity of pension
funds it would be politically essential to enact a very substantial rise in the
state pension prior to the cancellation of debt.

2. Democratising the Economy
The long term aim is to bring the economy as a whole under the deliberate
democratic control of the citizens, and to bring individual workplaces under
the democratic control of those who work in them, insofar as this does not
conflict with the general social interest.
The two main forms of democratic control would be
a) Major strategic institutions like banking, energy, water, land telecoms,
rail, airports and ports would be put under not for profit companies a majority
of whose boards would be drawn from the general population of citizens of
working age, and having a minority representation of employees of the
individual not for profit company. A reasonable split might be 70% citizen
representatives and 30% employee representatives.
b) An act would be passed allowing the employees of any private company to have
a ballot turing their company into a co-managed enterprise with a 70% employee
representation, and a 30% representation by the former owners.
It is clear that these measures to democratise the economy would greatly
facilitate the long term goal of ending exploitation.
Shareholders in the firms converted to not-for-profit companies would be given
bonds in return for shares.
A subsequent referendum vote on the cancellation of debt would of course make
these bonds worthless.

If the national economy is to be democratised it will be necessary to establish
some form of electronic voting, perhaps using telephones, to allow the citizens
to have a say on national economic issues like the level of taxation, the level
of health or education expenditure, the level of investment in the railways

3. Controlling carbon emissions
It is clearly necessary to restructure the economy towards a low -carbon one.
This will entail, over time, substatnial changes in the way people live their
lives. In particular the use of car transport will probably have to eventually
be phased out, with an associated move towards less suburban and more urban
lifestyles. Right wing parties currently propose carbon taxes as means to
achieve this end. However these are regressive in income terms.
In the long run, in the context of a democratic planned economy, goals for
carbon emissions would be one of the overriding concerns when drawing up
national economic plans. As discussed in section !, the infrastructure
necessary to allow rational socialist planning will take some time to put
together. This creates the need for some shorter term measure to regulate
carbon emissions.
Broadly speaking economics knows of only two mechanisms to regulate consumption:

a) market pricing where goods in short supply go to those who can pay most,
b) rationing, where all consumers are guaranteed an equal access to the good in
short supply
In times of national emergency like war, governments have resorted to rationing
because it is fairer. We propose that the same applies to carbon emission
regulation. The government should set a declining national target for carbon
emissions. This should then be divided equally among the adult population each
of whom should be given an equal carbon weekly ration. These would be used when
purchasing petrol, gas, or electricity. This would be a fair system.
Those who did not use cars would be able to sell on some of  their carbon ration
to businesses who did use motor vehicles. Once can envisage that Tesco would buy
ration tokens from customers without cars in order to fuel their delivery
lorries for instance. Carbon rationing would thus be progressive in its income
Carbon rationing in addition to havein progressive income effects gives certain
control over the level of carbon emissions. WIth carbon taxes, there is
uncertainty about the level of tax required to reduce carbon emissions. WIth
rationing, you know precisely the amount of carbon that will be emitted.

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