Sunday, 16 January 2011

"Free" market corporate domination means mass unemployment - forever

Ever had the feeling you've been conned? Well, you have been, because I've no doubt you've been told that the "free" market will make us all better off, because that is what we are told by politicians and economists on a daily basis. The truth is the opposite, the "free" market will make us all poorer, and that is what is happening in the UK today. But this isn't just happening in the UK, it's happening all over the world.

The most instructive place to find out what is really going on is the USA. This is where the "free" market ideology known as neoliberalism started, at the Chicago School in the mid 1970s. Since the late 1970s incomes for working people in the USA haven't risen in real terms but incomes for the rich (i.e. capitalists) have boomed. The result of this is increasing inequality and increasing poverty. Through globalisation, which is a form of corporate economic imperialism, neoliberalism has spread worldwide.

The principal outcomes of the neoliberal project, which uses methods such as privatisation, deregulation, outsourcing, downsizing and shareholder value, have been squeezing the living standards of the working and middle classes, creating ever greater inequality, rising poverty and rising unemployment.

Wherever you look, in Europe for example, you'll find mass unemployment, even in that much vaunted economic powerhouse, Germany. And unemployment is rising inexorably in the West - 10% (the real figure is nearer 20%) in the USA, 20% in Spain, 6.7% in Germany, 9.8% in France, 8.7% in Italy. The average for the EU is a staggering 9.6%. Moreover, unemployment in these countries mainly affects the young. There are over 1 million unemployed people under 25 in the UK.

I can remember a time, not that long ago, when full employment was an aim for governments in the West. This is no longer the case. Such is the "free" market corporate domination of our democratic systems that the modern assumption by politicians is that job creation is purely a task of the "free" market - governments shouldn't be doing anything about it. If the market can't create enough jobs - that's just tough, apparently. We are told that all will be better in the future. But there is no guarantee of this. In fact, if we continue down this road, things are inevitably going to getting worse. Remember the Banana Republics? - countries dominated by Western corporations with corrupt politicians, wealthy elites, and the mass of the population living in poverty. That is where we are heading. Perhaps the UK will become the world's first turnip republic.

In an interesting Guardian article, the macroeconomist Dean Baker reports how American economists - the very people who dominate economic policy globally - accept unemployment without a second thought. Not only that but they seem to think that it is a good thing that you and I should become poorer. This quote is very illuminating:

"The fact that the overwhelming majority of economists in policy positions failed to see the signs of this disaster coming, and supported the policies that brought it on, did not seem to be a major concern for most of the economists at the convention. Instead, they seemed more intent on finding ways in which they could get ordinary workers to accept lower pay and reduced public benefits in the years ahead. This would lead to better outcomes in their models."

How can this be possible? How can it be that one of the goals of economists is to make you and me poorer? The answer is that this isn't economics; it's right-wing political ideology masquerading as economics. Economics as a discipline has become completely subsumed to the ruling capitalist ideology.

How do we get out of this mess? We have to ditch the “free” market rules all ideology for a start. We need to have governments, which are free from corporate domination and are prepared to intervene in the economy and actively create meaningful jobs. We need a vibrant public sector providing services such as health and education without the profit motive. Most of all, we need political parties and politicians who recognise the need for positive change and can bring these measures into effect. Currently the Green Party is the only party in the UK that has these policies. Come and join us if you want to see real change happen.

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