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The well-being of Europe’s citizens depends less on individual consumption and more on their social consumption of essential goods and services – from water and retail banking to schools and care homes – in what we call the foundational economy. Individual consumption depends on market income, while foundational consumption depends on social infrastructure and delivery systems of networks and branches, which are neither created nor renewed automatically, even as incomes increase. This historically created foundational economy has been wrecked in the last generation by privatisation, outsourcing, franchising and the widespread penetration of opportunistic and predatory business models. The distinctive, primary role of public policy should therefore be to secure the supply of basic services for all citizens (not a quantum of economic growth and jobs). Reconstructing the foundational has to start with a vision of citizenship that identifies foundational entitlements as the conditions for dignified human development, and likewise has to depend on treating the business enterprises central to the foundational economy as juridical persons with claims to entitlements but also with responsibilities and duties. If the aim is citizen well-being and flourishing for the many not the few, then European politics at regional, national and EU level needs to be refocused on foundational consumption and securing universal minimum access and quality. If/when government is unresponsive, the impetus for change has to come from engaging citizens locally and regionally in actions which break with the top down politics of ‘vote for us and we will do this for you’.

The infrastructure of everyday life

The well-being of Europe’s citizens depends less on individual consumption and more on their social consumption of essential goods and services – from water and retail banking to schools and care homes – in what we call the foundational economy. Individual consumption depends on market income, while foundational consumption depends on social infrastructure and delivery systems of networks and branches, which are neither created nor renewed automatically, even as incomes increase. This historically created foundational economy has been wrecked in the last generation by privatisation, outsourcing, franchising and the widespread penetration of opportunistic and predatory business models. The distinctive, primary role of public policy should therefore be to secure the supply of basic services for all citizens (not a quantum of economic growth and jobs). Reconstructing the foundational has to start with a vision of citizenship that identifies foundational entitlements as the conditions for dignified human development, and likewise has to depend on treating the business enterprises central to the foundational economy as juridical persons with claims to entitlements but also with responsibilities and duties. If the aim is citizen well-being and flourishing for the many not the few, then European politics at regional, national and EU level needs to be refocused on foundational consumption and securing universal minimum access and quality. If/when government is unresponsive, the impetus for change has to come from engaging citizens locally and regionally in actions which break with the top down politics of ‘vote for us and we will do this for you’.

The Foundation Economy Collective

technical policy for ‘steering the economy’ without recognising the broader context of Keynes’ thinking, especially in The End of Laissez Faire (1926), about the role of intermediary institutions which are outside 88 Foundational economy of the state and the market but play important roles in promoting social objectives. The aim of this chapter is to re-establish the connection between technical policy and political philosophy which has (despite spirited challenges) since been ossified by the tripartite academic division of labour between economics, politics and

in Foundational economy
The Foundation Economy Collective

numbers since privatisation owes more to GDP growth and London house prices than rail company marketing; capital investment in the privatised system was effectively state financed, and the resulting debt of more than £40 billion now sits on the government’s balance sheet. But it is also necessary to produce a broader narrative, which goes beyond refuting trade claims which are half-truths and de-contextualised misinformation. This narrative should present an analysis of the wrecking of the foundational economy: specifically, how and why things go wrong after

in Foundational economy
The Foundation Economy Collective

and unmetered household electricity connection: the official estimate is that 13% of all electricity 10 Foundational economy generated in Brazil is ‘stolen’ and it is as high as 30% in Amazonas state.5 The organisation of effective, universal providential services like health and education is as much of a challenge for many poor and middle-income countries. South Africa spends more than 5% of GDP on education (which is more than the EU average) but 27% of children cannot read after attending school for six years.6 The problems here are as much about organisation

in Foundational economy
Abstract only
Foundational matters
The Foundation Economy Collective

1 Introduction: foundational matters To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing. (Raymond Williams, Resources of Hope, 1989, p. 118) This book aims to change established ways of thinking about economy, society and politics. It argues that the well-being of Europe’s citizens depends less on individual consumption and more on their social consumption of essential goods and services – from water and retail banking, to schools and care homes – in what we call the foundational economy. Individual consumption depends on market

in Foundational economy
The Foundation Economy Collective

-solving as analytic and sequential. As the opening quotation shows, Rittel and Webber wrote from what might be termed an end of history position on Renewing the foundational 117 what we call the foundational economy: they assumed that all the infrastructure had been built and the material problems of urban life had been solved. Hence the assertion that in the 1970s planners and policymakers would be moving on to tackle trickier problems in different domains. This triumphalism was premature. We now have a degraded foundational economy occupied by extractive predators

in Foundational economy

technical policy and political philosophy which has (despite spirited challenges) since been ossified by the tripartite academic division of labour between economics, politics and sociology. Against this we would echo Boltanski and Thévenot's ( 2006 ) argument that in modern society there are multiple orders of worth and principles of evaluation: in other words, we should avoid simple, one-dimensional measures of value. The foundational economy is then the domain which spans technics, history, economy and moral philosophy in an untidy relation of

in Foundational Economy

which are half-truths and de-contextualised misinformation. This narrative should present an analysis of the wrecking of the foundational economy: specifically, how and why things go wrong after privatisation, corporatisation, outsourcing and other forms of ‘restructuring’. These actions collectively represent a financial re-engineering of the foundational, which inserts new claims and priorities, while also reorganising and undermining these social and material infrastructures. For this purpose, we turn to ‘follow-the-money’ analysis. In popular usage, ‘follow the

in Foundational Economy

. Recognising multiplicity: the idea of the foundational economy Knowing all this, our problem was how to reframe the economy and bring into focus those large parts which are invisible or only semi-visible in official economic policy. As our background was in empirically resourceful and conceptually minimalist research, we did not turn to theorised political economy but to the economic and social history of Fernand Braudel. In the 1970s, Braudel had faced a similar problem about how to challenge historians who wanted to rewrite the economic history of the

in Foundational Economy