Radical economics, rethought, an episode from Financial Times on Spotify

Some readers might be interested in this podcast with FT writer Martin Sandbu and Cardiff Garcia. They discuss economic ideas that would have been considered unthinkably radical a few years ago, but which are now generating serious discussion. Well worth a listen!



By Aidan Regan

I'm an Assistant Professor at the School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin (UCD), and Director of the Dublin European Research Institute (DEI). My research is primarily focused on comparative and international political economy.

7 replies on “Radical economics, rethought, an episode from Financial Times on Spotify”

Leave a comment: – I would if’n I could actually listen to the piece. But I do not have an idiotPhone – just a ‘Jurassic Park’ era apparatus. I can allow it to fall on hard surfaces or dunk it in water. I’ve even cracked the outer perspex ‘window’. And it still functioned. However, if’n it were an iDiot machine – I’d be enjoying the ‘Sound of Silence’.

You could use a laptop or other computing device to listen to it rather than engage in a rant about “idiot devices” as you call them.

Thanks. Laptop no go. rAnything else?

Actually so-called smart devices do have significant cognitive, memory-retention and psychological issues for persistant users. They are not benign. They are addictive.

The reference in the podcast to Tom Paine and his proposals to finance a UBI using a land tax chimed with some recent observations by an anonymous commenter on another blog which I paraphrase here:

“Models of market capitalism in a mixed economy require continuous correction to prevent rent-seeking displacing production: otherwise it isn’t capitalism, it’s feudalism.

The core assumption of a successful market is that every trade results in an equitable distribution of value between participants: the capture of a rent, being the expropriation of value created by others, is antithetical to that. Further, rent extraction is a transaction with no incentive directing the participants towards the creation of value. Indeed it is doubly damaging because the incentive is to direct resources up to the value of the rent to secure its capture.

Those who are concerned about gross inequalities in wealth and income and see merit in a UBI are correct to point out that income and wealth concentration are damaging – and, indeed, they are correlated with a shift to rent-seeking – but the issue isn’t just inequality: it is that the economy, and the transactions that comprise it, are inequitable.

If wealth taxes work at all, they can only do so indirectly: they act on the accumulated proceeds, after the fact. The attraction of a wealth tax – and, especially, a land tax – is that it is conceptually simple and easier to administer than almost any other tax.”

The prevalence of rent-seeking and rent extraction in the advanced economies – and the resentments they are fuelling – highlights a drift to a form of feudalism with a modern veneer. Anyone who disputes this drift to feudalism needs to contemplate how the proposal of even a modest land tax would be greeted. Rent-seeking and rent extraction are probably more pervasive and endemic in Ireland than in most other advanced economies. The inevitable resentments these activites arouse are diffused and dampened by a redistribution of some of these rents that is on a larger scale than is the case in other advanced economies. This means that there is a relatively high “basic income” for those who aren’t economically active (i.e., “officially”). Crime and the grey and black economy provide supplementary income – and the play out of further apects of feudalism.

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