That Vision Thing

The need for a new dynamic sector to generate an economic recovery is a perfect opportunity to promote high-speed rail and alternative energy research (and in far greater quantities than the Obama administration is proposing). Our banking system is being rescued with public money. Why shouldn’t the public get something in return for that, like publicly or cooperatively owned financial institutions that could provide customers with low-cost services and communities with economic development funds? And with the housing market not likely to recover for at least several years, why not experiment with different models of ownership? For example, instead of foreclosing on houses, why not turn them into limited-equity co-ops, which take the speculative motive out of that essential of life? These things won’t happen spontaneously; they need state action, prodded by organized and thoughtful activism. The public isn’t with us yet, but we’re a long way from the days when The Market seemed like a fresh idea.

A Post-Capitalist Future is Possible, Reimagining Socialism: A Nation Forum; Doug Henwood

Doug Henwood has a good sense of the timidity of the Obama administration. I think he’s right, too, the the problems is a lack of comprehensive vision on the left. It’s the same frustrations I have with academia. We should do more than create open source textbooks; we need to challenge the education industry.

It may be that too many people feel they have too much invested in the current system. I think, though, that any comprehensive vision of a post-capitalist system should begin with the work-week. That should be the strategic focus. We need a step by step plan to go from 40 to 35 to 30 hours.

I think that freedom from capitalism, to the extent it is possible, begins with a shortened work week and longer vacations. The goal ought to be the creation of a post-capitalist culture; literally, we need people who have better things to do. As long as we all running on the rat-wheel, we can hardly think, much less act.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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