Re: [OPE-L] Participatory and democratic production

From: Alejandro Agafonow (alejandro_agafonow@YAHOO.ES)
Date: Wed May 23 2007 - 06:52:02 EDT

I’m going to summarise Jerry Levy’s Democratic Planning as follows:
(1) Consumers, enterprises, direct producers. Scientists, etc. make proposals about the kind and quantities of goods, using online sites.
(2) Public and people make their comments on the proposed goods.
(3) People proceed to vote according to their personal preferences, being able to make just one vote by each proposal.
(4) Votes are tabulated and the winner alternatives constitute the set of goods enterprises are going to produce.
When people confront cost in labour time they have to put in production, to be able to consume a good, they may be willing to reconsider their first vote and change their mind. Here Cockshott’s statement has sense: “There has to be some mechanism by which those who make decisions to expend social resources know that they will have to contribute towards the work done to meet that expenditure.” (On 05/20/2007).
Between steps (3) and (4), has to be a step (3’) where Planning Authority calculate ex-ante the cost of the total goods’ set, informing people the labour tokens they have to pay to be allowed to consume certain goods. Then, people may have a second ballot to let them change their minds. Having the results of the second ballot, Planning Authority proceeds to recalculate the cost of the total goods’ set and submit again the results to consumers. In some point the changing minds would be small and here would be a good time to go ahead with step 4.
It approximately simulates the trial and error procedure of a market economy with the difference that final step: starting production process, would be delayed until the subjective marginal costs were the appropriate according to a majority of consumers. Its feasibility depends of the time needed to reach that point. What happen if the volatility of preferences is high? That we will never reach step 4.
This procedure would consider the scarcity issue Jerry is underestimating. But finally, I think with Paul that it would be very cumbersome.
Best regards,
Alejandro Agafonow

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