I was recently challenged as to which writers threw light on our current economic situation and what ideas I had to change things. My reply:
James Tobin on a Tobin tax to curb the finance sector. In the US ending differential treatment of interest and other income so no advantage in playing share price games. Both would make capitalism less quarter by quarter. End paying CEOs in stock options. End CEOs sitting on each other’s compensation committees. Employee representatives on corporate boards and comp committees as in Germany. Lean Manufacturing a la Toyota which gives workers direct input to work processes. A variety of world examples of corporations like Mondragon, John Lewis and others wholly owned by employees.
And probably Marx to help understand automation impact. 🙂 J K Galbraith “The New Industrial State” is old but still the best guide to why the left fails at the structural level. I read it in 1970 and its why I went to work in business..to understand what the left didn’t grasp.
And my favorite person writing about it all recently: Brett Scott “The Heretics Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money”. He is an environmentalist who instead of rabbiting on about what he didn’t understand went to work for a Hedge Fund and wrote a book for activists to understand the beast. He has some fun ideas.
Ha Joon Chang is the best modern economist who teaches at Cambridge all the varieties of economics not just the current orthodoxy. “Economics a User’s Guide” is his best summary though “23 Things You Don’t Know about Capitalism” is fun too. I have corresponded with him. Richard Wilkinson “The Spirit Level” is the best guide to inequality’s effects and I have corresponded with him.
Thomas Piketty “Capital in the 20th century” is about wealth inequality and inspired the diagram below. He suggests we have from history four options: war, revolution, civilizational collapse or reform of the tax system. Walther Schneidel “The Great Leveller: Violence and the History of Inequality” more pessimistically suggests by looking at 10,000 years of human history that inequality inexorably increases until war destroys the unequal society. Bit dark for these dark times….
PS I haven’t met a single leftist in the US who has read a single work of Marx or any economics books, like the ones listed above btw. Here leftists have no theory, have no economics and have no knowledge of how stuff is made aka labour. At least my UK unions had some theory, some economics and really did know how stuff was made having experienced first hand building cars at 90 an hour: I tried it: it’s hard…