Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Adrian Kuzminski — Understanding Populism

American populists are largely reactive and somewhat confused. They don’t know what hit them. And they don’t know their own, often forgotten, history. Nineteenth-century American populists were not socialists, but small-scale capitalists. They were farmers, artisans, and professionals. Private enterprise was central to their values, and they wanted to preserve it for ordinary citizens like themselves. The ideal was to own your own business, not to work for a corporation. Populists fought to keep private enterprise widely distributed among many small, independent producers, as it still was in their day, and to resist the emergence of dominating monopolies which threatened their economic security....

To remedy this sad state of affairs, the populists demanded the conversion of key infrastructural sectors into public utilities repurposed to facilitate rather than exploit small producers. Railroads, they argued, should be run on a regulated, non-profit basis to ensure low-cost access to markets by their customers. Similarly, banks should be run on a non-profit basis as to ensure low-cost credit to borrowers. Populists also called for the federal government to directly issue currency to pay for its expenses (instead of borrowing to do so).
The basic idea was to turn enterprises with too much monopoly power into accountable public utilities, but otherwise to allow the free market to run its course. The aim was to save free enterprise. If many independent producers have to use the same infrastructure (like railroads or the internet), or rely on a common provider of essential products or services (like energy companies or banks), those businesses, populists said, ought to be transformed into public utilities under public control....
Understanding Populism
Adrian Kuzminski


Unknown said...

Andrew Anderson said...

Similarly, banks should be run on a non-profit basis as to ensure low-cost credit to borrowers.

"Credit" is a relic of the Gold Standard when fiat was too expensive (or too scarce for other reasons such as failure of the monetary sovereign to spend or distribute enough new fiat to prevent price deflation apart from credit creation by the banks) for the entire private sector to use so, roughly speaking, the banks were to use fiat and the non-bank private sector were to use bank deposits.

So the need for "bank credit" indicates a more fundamental problem - insufficient fiat for the entire population to use instead of bank deposits and/or the inability of citizens to use fiat in safe, convenient, risk-free form via accounts at the Central Bank or Treasury itself.

Thus "credit" creation, non-profit or no, to the extent that the use of fiat itself is disadvantaged, is a major part of the problem, not the solution.

Then what about loans?
1) Equal fiat distributions to all citizens should lower interest rates as desired.
2) Banks could then serve as intermediaries between lenders and borrowers and also, as 100% private institutions with 100% voluntary depositors, create as many new deposits ("credit") as they dare.