Thursday, August 22, 2002

Max wrote an interesting article about populism that I hadn't linked to before, but think is worth reading. Oddly, however, he includes a series of four populist economic principles:

1 Tight labor markets, through activist fiscal/monetary policy ("democratic money") and a shorter work week (cf. the Sandwichman);

2 Easy entry to entrepreneurship, through fair and easy credit (democratic money again), and through vigorous policing of predatory corporate behavior of all types;

3 An ample social insurance system, that among other things makes the choices among employment and self-employment more appealing (through public provision of health care, among other things).

4 Labor rights -- the counterpart to anti-predation activities with regard to corporations v. small business...
... that I don't think of as really "populist" at all, but just the sort of thing that people on the center-left would be logically advocating as a matter of course. #2 and #3 would be excellent ways of turning the right's self-serving obsession with entrepreneurs back on itself, making it a useful Democratic tactical tool. It would probably stand the test of economic analysis too- while it would probably raise the ire of market fundamentalists, I don't see anything here that would offend, say, pre-NYT Krugman. Any of the four can be taken too far, of course, but the absence of them usually leads to problems as well, and there's a difference between the kind of procedural problems that can be fixed with some fine tuning and those that are intrinsic to the very concept.

(Heck, if you think about it, these sorts of proposals really amount to fine-tuning the markets' effects on society themselves.)

Anyway, this is only one part of what is overall an interesting article on populism (although I still don't quite agree with Max's fairly narrow definition of the term- anti-elitism ain't just a political economic phenomenon.) Interesting stuff, and yet more proof that Max's is one of the more important left blogs out there.

No comments:

Post a Comment