Thomas M. Hanna joined The Democracy Collaborative in 2010 as a research assistant to Gar Alperovitz and became Research Director in 2015. He received his M.A. and B.A. degrees in History from Virginia Commonwealth University. Thomas’ areas of expertise include public ownership, privatization, local government, democratic ownership, and banking, among others. He is the author of Our Common Wealth: The Return of Public Ownership in the United States (Manchester University Press, 2018), co-editor the e-book Scaling Up the Cooperative Movement, and has published articles in popular and academic journals including The New York Times, The Nation, Truthout, Yes! Magazine, Alternet, OpenDemocr
Public ownership is more widespread and popular in the United States than is commonly understood. This book is the most comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of the scope and scale of U.S. public ownership, debunking frequent misconceptions about the alleged inefficiency and underperformance of public ownership and arguing that it offers powerful, flexible solutions to current problems of inequality, instability, and unsustainability- explaining why after decades of privatization it is making a comeback, including in the agenda of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party in Britain. Hanna offers 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.
Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz and Research Director Thomas Hanna shed light on current examples across the United States of public ownership, basic income demands, and the broader movement for government-controlled production.
Hey, look it over—public ownership is the most effective way to fix America’s economy.
It’s time to put the taboo subject of public ownership back on the progressive agenda. It is the only way to solve some of the most serious problems facing the nation. We contend that it is possible not only to talk about this once forbidden subject but to begin to build a serious politics that can do what needs to be done in key sectors.
Proposals for public ownership will of course be attacked as “socialism,” but conservatives call any progressive program—to say nothing of the modest economic policies of the Obama administration—“socialist.” However, many Americans are increasingly skeptical about the claims made for the corporate-dominated “free” enterprise system by its propagandists. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that a majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of corporations—a significant shift from only twelve years ago, when nearly three-quarters held a favorable view. At the same time, two recent Rasmussen surveys found Americans under 30—the people who will build the next politics—almost equally divided as to whether capitalism or socialism is preferable. Another Pew survey found that 18- to 29-year-olds have a favorable reaction to the term “socialism” by a margin of 49 to 43 percent.
Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz and Senior Researcher Thomas Hanna discuss the challenge of sustaining and building participatory decision-making structures and organizations within a corporate capitalist system. They note the recent bankruptcy filing of Fagor Electrodomésticos Group, the principle company of the Mondragon Corporation, as an impetus to confront the institutional incompatibilities between the free market and cooperative forms.
“I’m a free market guy. But I’m not gonna let this economy crater in order to preserve the free market system” – George W. Bush, December 17, 2008
At the heart of the present debate on how to address the continuing political stalemate and economic decay in America are some fundamental misconceptions about the nature and operation of the current system. Many Americans—and not just avowed conservatives—have been led to believe that it is possible to have a “free market” economy, and that the quest to reach it will generate greater prosperity and better social outcomes. Both beliefs are false.
Britain is an extreme oddity regarding privatisation: nowhere else in the advanced world is there such a willingness to sell everything that isn’t nailed down. Time and again the British public is ripped off and sold out by its leaders.
Democracy Collaborative senior fellows Marjorie Kelly and Joe Guinan and senior researcher Thomas Hanna each contribute chapters to a new free e-book, Democratic Wealth: Building a Citizens' Economy. The authors discuss economic institutions, alternative economic system designs, and forms of democratic ownership. This open Democracy and Politics in Spires series, hosted by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, advances the conversation on visioning an economic system that serves the common good.
- In These Times
North Dakota’s radical history carries valuable lessons for today’s public banking movement.
- Apple Podcasts
Nationalize This! discusses public ownership, democratic control, and the successes and failures of nationalization projects. Thomas M. Hanna, the author of "The Crisis Next Time," features in this episode on the recent history of bank nationalization efforts following the 2008 financial crisis.
North Dakota's relative strength through the financial crisis serves as a testimony to the benefits of a public banking system, as home to the first and only public bank in the country.
- Millenium Alliance for Humanity and Biosphere
Thomas Hanna speaks on the differences between systems of private and public ownership as well as what a transition to the latter would look like in the United States.
- New Internationalist
Dowson analyzes the shortcomings of a universal basic income (UBI) and examines how provision of universal basic services (UBS) would fill those gaps. Thomas Hanna explains the situation in the U.S:
‘We have a quite robust movement to have a public broadband system,’ says Thomas Hanna, research director at The Democracy Collaborative in Washington DC. In fact, dozens of US cities already provide public broadband (and electricity) but, in the face of heavy lobbying, are banned from providing this at less than cost price.