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.
Environmental justice has always been a struggle against colonization and capital. The Green New Deal can be a part of this struggle, but only if it offers an eco-socialist vision as big as the Global South. [...] Because the economic and environmental future of the entire Global South is determined by a fossil fuel industry largely headquartered in the U.S., we must treat this report like a hitlist to build eco-socialism on the international scale that true eco-socialism requires. Only nationalizing U.S. energy production can do that—and do it fast, by “us[ing] public ownership to plan the sector for obsolescence,” as Johanna Bozuwa and Thomas M. Hanna from Democracy Collaborative write.
The Labour Party announced that in the next election, it will fight for Universal Basic Services, making public services free at the point of use and universally accessible. It’s a landmark in the fight to curb the influence of the market over our lives.
Instead of panic-driven handouts to corporations and temporary quasi-nationalizations, a plan should be in place for cleanly and transparently taking failing financial corporations into genuine public ownership. Ultimately repurposing them, and shifting their activities away from financialization, speculation, and extraction and towards supporting healthy, prosperous, and equitable local economies as well as a sustainable planet.
- Dead Pundits Society
Thomas Hanna joins Dead Pundits Society to discuss the past, present, and promise of public ownership in the United States.
- Al Jazeera
Critics of public ownership say such schemes are not only confiscatory but inefficient, arguing there is little incentive in state-owned enterprises to contain costs, weed out corruption or terminate less-productive workers. One notable example of a publicly-owned enterprise that has managed to avoid such pitfalls can be found in North Dakota. [...] The facility "demonstrates that public ownership is a viable option beyond traditional sectors such as water, energy, and transportation," political economist Thomas Hanna told Al Jazeera.