March 31, 2009
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We are dealing with a serious, structural crisis—but until now our responses have been overwhelmingly directed at reform of our system. We want to increase taxes on the wealthy, put limits on corporate bonuses, tighten regulations on the finance sector, expand the reach of our health care system, rebuild our infrastructure, support unionization. All important aims (which continue to be resisted by powerful interests), but all pursued as separate initiatives that bring us only marginally closer to confronting our longer term structural challenges.
What about reconceptualizing work, including reducing work hours and developing new forms of workplace democracy?
What about creating new forms of community governance that are capable of incorporating publicly or cooperatively owned enterprises in planning processes designed to ensure production aimed at meeting community needs?
What about creating new forms of planned trade and investment with other countries that encourage solidaristic rather than competitive relationships?
No easy answers – but there are countries struggling with these very same questions, even if imperfectly, and it is well worth our time to study and learn from their efforts. One is Venezuela. Venezuelanalysis.com is one of the best sources for information.
The mainstream media tends to paint the Venezuelan economy as a disaster. But the data tell a different story. To learn more about economic trends check out Luigino Bracci, “The Minimum Wage in Venezuela Will Double That in the Rest of South America,” and Mark Weisbrot, Rebecca Ray and Luis Sandoval, “The Chavez Administration at 10 Years: The Economy and Social Indicators.”
To learn how the Venezuelan government is dealing with the global crisis you might want to read James Suggest, “President Chavez and Venezuela’s Socialist Elected Officials Meet to Discuss Political Strategy,” and a PSUV document, “Crack in the Accumulation of World Capitalism.”