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“Give them the Amtrak treatment”: Growing calls for widespread nationalization

Juliana Broad

Juliana Broad

Independent writer and researcher. more

Democratic Ownership Democracy & Governance

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the United States, calls for nationalization of various industries—from the airlines and Big Pharma to the energy grid, hospitals, and entire supply chains—have erupted from even the unlikeliest proponents.

We’ve been tracking how, in just the last few weeks, elected officials, organizers, activists, and policymakers have brought the potential of broad public ownership to combat the unfolding social, economic, and ecological crises into the center of the conversation.

ONLINE ROUNDTABLE ON NATIONALIZATION

On 3/26, we held an online discussion about nationalization with Thomas Hanna, Kate Aronoff, Isaiah Poole, Alexander Sammon, and Robert Hockett. You can watch a recording of the discussion here.

Thursday, February 27

  • Reuters reports that President Trump is considering invoking the Defense Production Act. (Reuters)

Monday, March 2

  • Weeks before oil prices bottomed-out, journalist Kate Aronoff discusses the work of The Democracy Collaborative’s Thomas Hanna on nationalization, and how a public take-over of the oil and gas industry could help avoid looming financial and environmental disaster. (New Republic)

Wednesday, March 4

  • Experts debate nationalizing the drug industry in the esteemed British Medical Journal. (BMJ)

Monday, March 9

  • Highlighting how the 2008 bailout benefited the wealthy while socializing financial risk, economics professors Christian Parenti and Dante Dallavalle demand policy interventions which will generate socially-equitable outcomes for the expected industry bail-outs. (Jacobin)

Wednesday, March 11

  • Author, economist, and Democracy Collaborative Fellow Ellen Brown proposes a bank buy-out, rather than bailout. (Common Dreams)

Thursday, March 12

  • Journalist David Dayen calls for nationalization to increase capacity for medical equipment. (Twitter)

Saturday, March 14

  • After the first COVID-19-related death in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio suggests that the need for medical supplies is “a case for nationalization” of critical industries. (MSNBC)
  • Author Mike Davis advocates for the social ownership of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. (Jacobin)

Sunday, March 15

  • Citing the benefit of railroad nationalizations during WWI preparedness, a city councilor from Newton, MA, suggests nationalization of critical infrastructure and supply chains. (Twitter)

Monday, March 16

  • The Democracy Collaborative’s Thomas Hanna and Carla Skandier demand that the expected government bailouts are an opportunity for long-term, democratic public control of industries, and should be leveraged to transition to a fair, green economy. (openDemocracy)
  • Economist Mark Paul suggests a government take-over of the fossil fuel industry, saying nationalization of the failing industry “is getting cheaper every day.” (Twitter)
  • On MSNBC, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio calls for the nationalization of the medical supply chain, “as you would in a war.” (MSNBC)

Tuesday, March 17

  • Journalist Kate Aronoff calls for the nationalization of the oil and gas industry, citing the work of The Democracy Collaborative’s Carla Skandier. (New Republic)
  • Virginia state delegate Lee Carter calls for nationalization, not bailouts. (Twitter)
  • Former New York Attorney General candidate Zephyr Teachout calls for the nationalization of “vital industries.” (Twitter)

Wednesday, March 18

  • President Trump announces he will invoke the Defense Production Act, the Korean War-era law that allows the federal government to take over industries to produce needed equipment to fight the pandemic. (New York Times)
  • Larry Kudlow, senior economic advisor to the White House, says the federal government may ask for an equity stake in companies that get government aid. (Bloomberg)
  • In response to the airline industry’s request for a $50 billion government bailout, American Prospect staff writer Alexander Sammon calls for the nationalization of the industry. (American Prospect)
  • Virginia state representative Lee Carter advocates for nationalizing the airline industry (“they need to be given the Amtrak treatment”). (Twitter)
  • Representative Earl Blumenauer asserts that the government should take equity in companies that are bailed out. (House)

Friday, March 20

  • Twenty senators sign-on to a letter to President Trump demanding a full deployment of the DPA. (Sherrod Brown)
  • A DSA member advocates for nationalization to prevent pandemic profiteering. (Jacobin)

Saturday, March 21

Sunday, March 22

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo calls on President Trump for a federal take-over of the medical equipment supply chain. (Twitter)
  • Governor Cuomo’s call is echoed by New York City Council Speaker Cory Johnson. (Twitter)
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren urges Trump to use DPA. (Twitter)
  • Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut calls for the nationalization of critical medical supply chains, and announces that he and Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii are drafting legislation. (Twitter)
  • Nationalization of the medical supply chain is favorably reviewed in Quartz. (Quartz)
  • Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez urges Trump to use the DPA to start production of critical medical equipment. (CNN)

Monday, March 23

  • Climate action group Food & Water Action demands the nationalization of the fossil fuel industry. (Common Dreams)
  • Governor Cuomo doubles down on his calls for the mobilization of the Defense Production Act: “Yes, it is an assertion of government power on private sector companies. Yes — but so what. This is an emergency.” (Queens Courier)
  • Senators Chris Murphy and Brian Schatz co-sponsor the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act, which would require President Trump to use the Defense Production Act to produce emergency medical supplies. (Westfair; promo video)
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden urges Trump to use his powers under the DPA. (Hill)
  • Senator Ted Cruz urges Trump’s use of the DPA. (Houston Chronicle)
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand urges the nationalization of the medical supply chain. (Twitter)
  • Policy analyst Matt Bruenig suggests that equity and fair voting rights be a condition of any industry bailouts. (People’s Policy Project)
  • After the investor-owned utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) pleads guilty to manslaughter, People for Bernie demands nationalization of the energy grid. (Twitter)

Tuesday, March 24

  • The Trump administration is expected to use the Defense Production Act to procure 60,000 coronavirus test kits. (Meanwhile, South Korea is producing 100,000 test kits per day.) (Wall Street Journal)
  • Governor Cuomo demands that the DPA be used to produce life-saving ventilators. (Twitter)
  • People’s Action senior strategist Shawn Sebastian calls for the nationalization of the internet. (Twitter)
  • Representative Ilhan Omar suggests making all private hospitals public for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. (Twitter)

Wednesday, March 25

  • Another call for nationalizing the airlines (in the U.K.) appears in Jacobin. (Jacobin)
  • The West Hawaii Today editorial board writes in favor of nationalizing medical equipment production and distribution. (West Hawaii Today) (Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz has come out as a leading proponent of nationalization.) 
  • Mother Jones reporter Tom Philpott suggests nationalizing the fossil fuel industry. (Twitter)
  • Representatives Tim Ryan and Elissa Slotkin introduce the House version of the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act, which proposes that the federal government take over the medical supply chain. (Press Release)
  • Physicians at Yale New Haven Hospital write in support of the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act. (Hartford Courant)
  • Polling by Data for Progress finds that a plurality of voters support nationalizing bailed-out airline companies. (Data for Progress)
  • On a conference call organized by Senator Amy Klobuchar, “sentiment was unanimous that the medical equipment supply chain needs to be nationalized immediately.” (Twitter)
  • MSNBC host Rachel Maddow makes the case for nationalizing the medical supply chain on her show: “The need to nationalize the medical equipment supply chain, to put the power of the federal government to make the supply chain of this stuff better […] to have the states stop competing against each other and driving these bidding wars…this is not an abstract concept anymore. Why isn’t this happening.” (MSNBC)

Thursday, March 26

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the federal government will take equity stakes in airlines in exchange for bailouts. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Aviation Week makes the case for nationalizing Boeing. (Aviation Week)
  • hHouse ttps://twitter.com/SpeakerPelosi/status/1243202605364494342?s=20House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi urges President Trump to use the DPA to “mass produce and coordinate distribution” of critical medical supplies. (Twitter)
  • Researcher and food courier Jack Campbell proposes nationalizing food delivery apps. (Jacobin)
  • The Center for American Progress suggests that the U.S. mimic nations which have been successful in combating the novel coronavirus by implementing the “nationalization and direct government requisitioning” of the U.S. healthcare sector. (Center for American Progress)

Friday, March 27

  • Fast Company runs an article featuring The Democracy Collaborative’s Carla Santos Skandier on how a government buyout of the oil and gas industry would not only be cheap, but could fuel a just transition away from fossil fuels. (Fast Company)
  • Writer Paris Marx argues for nationalizing Amazon and integrating the company with the U.S. Postal Service. (In These Times)
  • MSNBC talk show host Rachel Maddow reiterates her call for the nationalization of medical supply chains. (Twitter)

Saturday, March 28

  • Cornell law and finance professor Robert Hockett—one of the panelists on The Democracy Collaborative’s roundtable on nationalization—argues that the federal government must take equity stakes in the companies it bails out. (Financial Times)
  • Workers at the telecommunications company Spectrum have been on strike for three years, and have added a new demand: public ownership of the company. (Truthout)
  • Journalist Peter Goodman favorably reviews the nationalization of payrolls in Denmark, calling it “The Nordic Way to Economic Rescue.” (New York Times)
  • University of Cumbria professor Jem Bendell suggests that governments should nationalize oil and gas companies. (Bloomberg Green)

Sunday, March 29

  • The New York Times highlights the “perils of outsourcing projects with critical public-health implications” to private companies, noting how their profit-maximization motive “is not always consistent with the government’s goal of preparing for a future crisis.” (New York Times)

Monday, March 30

  • Climate strategist Justin Guay makes the case for a buyout, not a bailout, of the fossil fuel industry. (Medium)
  • Marissa D. Barrera—health policy advisor to Bernie Sanders—suggests nationalizing “everything.” (Twitter)
  • Rachel Maddow continues to call for nationalizing the medical supply chain. (Twitter)

Tuesday, March 31

  • Finance podcast Alpha Trader produces an episode about nationalizing financial markets. (Apple Podcasts)
Juliana Broad

Juliana Broad

Independent writer and researcher. more

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