Widespread price controls are notoriously difficult to police and can be easily swamped by a black market leaving the shelves of usual outlets empty.
But controls could be used on basics which affect everything else and which can be policed easily, such as energy, rents and public transport.
In my view, this would necessitate the public ownership of infrastructure, land and rentable property as there would be a direct conflict between attempting to maximise price under private ownership and controlling prices in the national interest. I know others disagree on this – I await their views!
Deflation is the general decrease in prices and the consequent growth in the value of a currency. Dominant economic thinking is that deflation is not good for the economy. I would contest that. It certainly stops the gradual transfer of wealth from wealth creators to the share-holders. But it does seem to have many contradictory effects.
It benefits those on fixed incomes and inelastic wages and salaries. Deflation also strengthens a currency in relation to other currencies which makes imports cheaper.
However, it also benefits landlords to the detriment of tenants. Also it benefits lenders to the detriment of borrowers as the real value of the debt grows.
Thus deflation is a mixed bag. To adopt a deflationary strategy would be quite a massive change in direction. But given that the current continuously inflationary policy is beginning to burn down the economy, we need to examine other options including deflationary policies and the necessary appropriate safeguards. This needs another discussion paper.
Clearly the present government will not implement the policies above. These policies are directly opposed to the dogma of neo-liberalism to which the Establishment is wedded. They are prepared to throw money around but mainly to their financial friends to the tune of billions of pounds.
Liberal and Anarchist so-called revolutionaries will denounce the proposals as upholding the capitalist system which they claim to hate. They will forever sit on the sidelines throwing abuse; an irrelevance.
But genuine Democratic Socialists and Social Democrats have a duty to put forward viable strategies, some of which will bring changes in our social and economic system. By having alternative strategies it is possible to fight for policies which can bring about change even if the whole strategy is not implemented at once. It is about changing the public political/economic perceptions and the balance of forces.
This cannot be done in an instant and will take long and continuous pressure until it is understood “there is no alternative” to quote phrase. It will also need political change, a government prepared to follow the logic of investing out of inflation rather than one wedded to defunct neo-liberalism.
The job of the National Economics Forum is to add its modest weight to that struggle for clarity and change. By doing so diligently and inclusively and reaching out to others, it can become such a force for change.