A New Public Utility
Imagine an online platform packed with functionality to maximize your opportunities and earnings. It would seamlessly sell hours you wanted to work across your entire range of skills (van driving, gardening, and childcare for example); monetize possessions you wished to sell or rent (a bike not needed this afternoon, a family wheelchair, or a wallpapering toolkit perhaps); and facilitate lending of, say, $50 not needed until Monday.
Imagine this platform gives you localized, detailed, data about demand, supply, and pricing across thousands of sectors like this. It uses those insights to incentivize investment in your upskilling, and can trigger supportive interventions if you are struggling economically. Operating at huge scale with ultra-low charges, the interconnected markets it offers are transparently run, decentralized, and fair.
Compare this imagined service to the work platforms available today; siloed, run by global companies, each controlled by unknowable algorithms. Markets they run are skewed to maximize operators' profits, many are financially unstable, market data is secreted. They typically charge 30% of your earnings.
How does the imaginary option became real? Your government needs to be the instigator.
Initiation, not Regulation
Our daily life is dependent on facilities started by politicians. Take roads. In the 1890's there were uncoordinated toll roads laid by individual landowners for the rich; muddy horse tracks for everyone else. The idea of "government roads" with enforced rules, standardized junctions, consistent surfacing, and unified signage was opposed. But they spawned multiple transport innovations, allowing anyone to reliably travel for work, family, or education.
Money, electricity, railways, telephones, water supply, and air traffic control are other inventions first launched by start-ups, before public policy shaped a gamechanging vision. Each drove economic growth, efficiency, and societal progress around the world.
We aren't forced to use these utilities. If you don't like the one-size-fits-all voltage from your nation's public electricity grid, buy a home generator. But, for most of us, the version initiated by government is fine.
Platform technologies are potent. Access to genuinely empowering markets is vital to realizing your economic potential in a computerized economy. It should be a basic right, in the way public agencies ensure we have home power, communications, dependable travel options, or drinkable water.
If widely adopted, platforms for economic activity operated as a genuine public utility would surface new resources, from regular people, then match them to buyers with extraordinary efficiency. That makes any economy more inclusive, green, and supportive.
This "People’s Capitalism" is a policy possibility comparable to Universal Basic Income, Federal Jobs Guarantees, or Green New Deals. But it costs taxpayers nothing. The new platforms should be initiated through an official concession, like state or national lotteries.
The People’s Capitalism initiative sits in our MM4A (Modern Markets for All) non-profit. MM4A emerged from British government programs to shape more supportive labor platforms. We now work with public agencies in the US who have also launched our technologies.
Our speciality is the staggering possibilities for advanced market platforms initiated at scale by governments for public good. People’s Capitalism is the big picture end of that vision. It is waiting for a first political leader to, again, show the world how transformative some technologies can be when fully combined with facilities unique to government.
Equitable infrastructure for capitalism requires a public policy we call "Modern Markets for All". Read more