Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Socialism for the rich; capitalism for the poor

"Behold the hypocrisy. The free marketeers have spent the past two decades preaching against the evils of state intervention, the dead hand of government, the need to roll back the frontiers, and so on. Yet what happens when these buccaneers of unfettered capitalism run into trouble? They go running to the nanny state they so deplore, sob into her lap and beg for help."

You can read the rest of Jonathan Freedland’s piece on the double standards which underpin modern turbo-capitalism here. And if you agree that not a penny of taxpayers money should be given to privately owned companies without the taxpayer gaining equity in that company, then this is the campaign for you.

ps it's nice to see that the term 'turbo-capitalism', which I have longed used to describe today's profit obsessed, socially damaging Anglo-Saxon model is being used by more and more people.


Anonymous said...

Frredland's article is good at denunciation but short on remedy. Until we restucture the world financial architecture to realign it with the creation of actual goods and services (rather than asset inflation and money trading on money) and to restore public accountability to the financial system, we can only expect more of the same. Come back John Maynard Keynes - we need you!

Neil Clark said...

jolies-couleurs: I could not agree more. And I think moving back to a truly mixed economy, one in which there is a combination of private and public ownership, is also essential.

Anonymous said...

Neil, you often use the phrase 'turbo-capitalism'. What exactly do you mean by this? What distinguishes it from ordinary capitalism, or to which sector of the market do you refer? I must admit, I'm nonplussed ...

Neil Clark said...

By turbo capitalism I am referring to the particularly rapacious and aggressive anglo-saxon model in which there are very few areas of human activity which are ruled out of bounds to capital. The 'market' becomes the god, with the needs of capital coming before the needs of people, communities and society. Everything must be privatised: 'market forces' must permeate every aspect of our lives. Turbo-capitalism must be contrasted with European Rhineland mixed economy capitalism, in which there ARE areas where capital is forbidden to go. Profit maximisation is the be all and end all in turbo capitalism: the creation of actual goods and services comes second to profits.
And turbo captialism only cares about the short term: private equity and hedge funds- who create little of long term value- are key players in the system.
Britain urgently needs to ditch turbo-capitalism and adopt a mixed economy model in which the needs of people come before the needs of capital. But the sad thing is that Europe is under increasing pressure to 'reform' its much more successful 'Rhineland' model and adopt turbo-capitalism. In other words, let private equity buy family owned firms, let in the hedge funds, allow supermarkets to open on Sundays, privatise the railways and utilities and let private individuals build up massive credit card bills.

Anonymous said...

It is worth pointing out that "turbo capitalism" was coined by Edward Luttwak in his 1999 book. Broadly, "Turbo-capitalism is private enterprise liberated from government regulation, unchecked by effective trade unions, unfettered by concerns for employees or communities, and unhindered by taxation or investment restrictions."
Luttwak is willing to trade a few tenths of a percent of economic growth for a more humane society. We have to persuade people that is a good and attainable deal.