Sunday, 27 July 2008

(float) ((int) egalitarianism)

So I've been reading Recasting Egalitarianism, one of the Real Utopias Project books, over the last few days. It's pretty interesting, although I buy the central premise - redestribution of assets rather than income as an egalitarian exercise that can be done without compromising economic efficiency - rather less than the premise of Redesigning Distribution, though the premise of that is the notion of a basic income scheme being A Good Thing.

Anyway, in a nutshell the authors are effectively proposing proper incentive alignment under the cover of egalitarianism. For example: tenants have no stake in the value of the properties they rent, and thus they will depreciate that asset faster than if they were the owners themselves. Another example: workers who work for the man have no incentive to maximise their own productivity because they will ultimately not be the big winners. In both of these cases, realigning incentives (by creating housing cooperatives and worker cooperatives) is not only redistributive but also has the power to actually increase productivity.

So, my question to you, dear lone reader, is how does one get from our current position to a position where housing cooperatives replace landlords? Is this viable? Is it even desirable? I feel another post coming on... later!

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