Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The market economy lie

The bigger the lie, the greater the likelihood that it will be believed. -- Adolf Hitler

The increasing level of government intervention in our market economies is really rattling my cage. No country has ever had within its border an economy in which all markets were absolutely free, the term is typically not used in an absolute sense. So why bullshit about it?

As an entrenched Keynesian I am a firm believer in up front government intervention, although unlike the neo-conservatives I prefer a model with some sort of social equity. No free ride, no widespread welfare allocation, simply social equity.

I am talking about the sort of thinking behind J K Galbraith’s remarkably successful Marshall Plan, the rebuilding of a war devastated Europe. The basis of that economic plan was to empower the people to rebuild their own society.

Theoretically market economics sound fine, but it loses any credibility one a government steps in to tweak the system. It is ‘set and forget’ as far as governments are concerned. But once their corporate buddies run into problems the market look to government to bail them, which is intervention in my book.

The point is market economics is more political or ideological than economic. At least be open an honest about regulation, even if it is in favour of the corporate world rather than the wider community.

Conservative apologists, not the self serving corporates who we can expect to defend there patch but those misguided souls who think it is in their interest, need to look at a few realities.

The basics of economics are not simple or inclusive, but it is not rocket science. Global economics has tended to create certain similarities around the world. Most capital markets are facing various levels of crises at the moment, but they aren’t necessarily the same crises.

Australia, for example, is facing a recession driven by a rapidly growing economy. The US, on the other hand, is suffering from a severe downturn. With sound management neither will hit the wall particularly.

The US is protected by its weight of foreign debt, among other things. China for example would be seriously hurt by a US crash and resulting defaults. Australia actually benefits from adjustments to the US economy at nearly every turn these days.

The truth, as they say, is out there. Look beyond the basic editorial comments at the reality. Intervention is a fact of life, and you can forget the lies to the alternative, regardless of the economic model. But if we are going to have intervention, make it equitable.

An additional thought

The new Australian PM, Kevin Rudd, has reintroduced a seemingly minor change, but one with a potentially powerful economic message. Under the former conservatives it was simply Australia, now we have returned to the older version, the Commonwealth of Australia.

Just words? If it is that basic then why change. The term commonwealth is charged with powerful meaning, socially and economically. Why is it so pregnant with meaning? I’ll do the bulk of my readers a favour and refer to Websters, though the word goes back well before that etymological absurdity.

It actually derives from an old Scottish word – commonweal. As far back as the 1500’s Bishop John Knox has defined Scotland as a Commonwealth – ‘rule for the good of the people’.

Wha for Scotland's King and Law

Freedom's sword will strongly draw,

Freeman stand, and freeman fa',

Let him follow me!

I don’t see any radical changes on the horizon, and like many I’m thankful. It was the conservatives who were intent on radical change, and the dispossession of the broader rights of the people. It was the so called conservatives who were attempting to make radical changes to recreate a feudal society.

I find it difficult to understand how US society could be duped at all by this neo-conservative push. Everything about commonwealth resonates through the creation of the United States of America. Repudiating dominance of titled masters echoed the passion of the historic Scots.

The common good, the good of all citizens! It is not communism, or socialism, or bleeding heart liberal. It is about the democratic rights of every man, woman and child to have the opportunity to forge their own life without big corporations and governments trampling them from the outset.


D.K. Raed said...

Perhaps I can shed light on the "duped US society" you mention in the last part of this post, Cartledge. Neocons have been successful by couching their disasterous agenda in the flag, religion, family values, and national security. They pretend to be capitalists because that is what Americans think their country is all about (the opposite of communists, our old cold war bogeymen). But neocons are definitely not free trade or free market supporters, because they do not factor in the TRUE costs of their economic policies. True costs would reveal the fantastic amount of corporate welfare that socialism-hating americans would find repugnant. The avg american has no idea that the game has been rigged so that true economic costs are being borne by individual taxpayers who are being slowly starved of all social programs, not the corporate beneficiaries. But I do think they are beginning to notice that they themselves are becoming poorer each year while big biz continues to reap enormous profits. At least, I hope so.

Gone are the days when an economist like Galbraith could tutor a president on liberal ecomonic principles. Galbraith counseled JFK that tax cuts would prevent big accomplishments like civil equality. He spoke truth to power in asking just what is America's great prosperity to be used for -- or so I seem to remember from my sleep-deprived days in Econ 101.

Today we have Bush consulting Supply-Side Jesus, embracing deficit-spending, not for social good, but for corporate enrichment of his neocon cronies. Meanwhile, the whole world becomes poorer.

Cartledge said...

It is difficult watching the masses simply accepting or even noisily repeating the lies.
I expect we'll be exposing the lies of the other sides before long, but hopefully because they are simply not going far enough.