Our common wealth

The return of public ownership in the United States

Public ownership is far more widespread and popular in the United States than is commonly understood. Despite decades of ideological hostility, public ownership not only persists in such well-known large-scale forms as Amtrak and the Tennessee Valley Authority, but is expanding at the local level and in important sectors. Based on years of research, this book is the most comprehensive overview and up-to-date analysis of the scope and scale of U.S. public ownership, uncovering its prevalence at all levels from local municipalities on up. Drawing upon additional examples from the UK and elsewhere, it debunks frequent misconceptions about its relative efficiency and performance vis-à-vis the private sector. It also reviews how public ownership is treated in the emerging field of alternative systemic design. In a world plagued by inequality, instability, and ecological limits, this book argues that public ownership offers powerful, flexible solutions and should be restored to its rightful place on the full menu of public policy options. It ends with a vision of deploying new forms of democratized public ownership broadly, across multiple sectors, as a key ingredient of any next system beyond corporate capitalism. This book is a valuable, extensively researched resource that sets out the past record and future possibilities of public ownership at a time when ever more people are searching for answers. It situates public ownership squarely within existing, real-world experience, suggesting why, after decades of privatization, it is making a comeback—including in the radical agenda of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in Britain.

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