Saturday, 4 July 2009

Unemployment is a free market failure

As unemployment rises inexorably towards three million in the UK the government has no answer. That is hardly surprising because this government is so intent in worshiping at the altar of the market that it believes that governments can't and shouldn't' do anything - that is the job of the market. So we can't expect much from this government except the harassment and impoverishment of the unemployed and those on welfare as I described in this post on the government's latest so-called 'welfare' reform.

The unemployed are the ones who are paying the most for the banker's recession. By being shut out of paid work they will suffer hardship, low esteem and health problems, often brought on by malnutrition. Malnutrition is estimated to affect three million people in the UK and cost £7.3 billion. Yet another cost dumped onto society by capitalists.

Capitalism has always lead to unemployment. In fact there was no unemployment before capitalism. It is a feature of the capitalist economic system described by Marx over a century ago:-

" is capitalistic accumulation itself that constantly produces, and produces in the direct ratio of its own energy and extent, a relatively redundant population of labourers, i.e. a population of greater extent than suffices for the average needs of the self-expansion of capital, and therefore a surplus population" [Marx: Capital].

Further to being an intrinsic feature of a capitalist economy unemployment is actually useful to capitalists. It creates the 'reserve army of labour' which is so beneficial to capitalists because it helps to lower wages and reduces militancy amongst workers, helping to keep them in line. No wonder capitalist governments like New Labour have very little intention of doing anything about unemployment.

Any economic system which cannot provide full employment is a failure. It needs to be replaced by an economic system that can provide full employment. Even in a capitalist society where the free market is failing governments must step in to do what the market cannot and create jobs for those without work. That is the hallmark of a civilised society. Its a pity that doesn't apply in the UK.


Anonymous said...

Before capitalism there was feudalism - let's not go back to that, eh?

I am not saying this current crisis was unavoidable - or that its excusable -but I have to face the reality that I haveno means to own any means of production, as am on £20k a year. No saving! But my job is in the firing line and redundancies loom.

In the short term, what can we do, I wonder? As my only option seems to be to move the public sector, which seems more cosseted than my print firm. But is even that safem, with the public debt mounting after baling out banks and now the rail companies?! My union is fighting to save jobs but if the boss gets no money in, then we're all out on our ears...

What can I do?!


Howard Thorp said...

No need to go back - we can go forward with socialism. That is the best way to safeguard the interests of working people.

There is only one thing to do - organise! We need a progressive party of the left which will defend the rights of trade unionists and working people. That is why I joined the GP. It has policies which are progressive.

In the long term the only answer is to create an economic alternative to capitalism which is what I have been addressing in recent posts.

Anonymous said...

The "free" market cannot be free if you are not free to do without it.

There used to be a time, when industrial capitalism was developed, that you could leave the city, head west in the rough land to fish, hunt, gather and cultivate a piece of unclaimed land that belonged to nobody.

Now, everything belongs to someone. In order to survive, you have to please somebody.

If you are not popular, are not tall, don't look good, are not sexy, don't have status then you will be treated like a second class undesireable human being.

You don't have the freedom to abandon the system which abandoned you and go on your own way. You have to be somebody's whore.