5 12 2011

The world has gone mad: an economic rant.

(I may be a bit more regular in this- no promises)
The ‘markets’ have got to go. I am sicking of hearing about them and how they become so easily upset. I don’t recall voting for these ‘markets’ (or the shareholders that create them) to become my government, but a world-government they seem to have become. It’s enough to make a conspiracy theorist burst forth with angry happiness. After a decade of privatising their wealth they have now socialised their debt amongst the poorest, and in Greece and Italy even democracy has bowed down to them. As Meatloaf once cried “Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii want my money back!” Life may not be a lemon, but it would appear our economic setup is. To make the situation even more juicy and delicious we have a ‘proper’ government, indeed a series of ‘proper’ governments around the world, who are like idiots with a flame. They see that pretty flickering austerity measure and can’t help but touch it over and over. “Ouch…it’s pretty…ouch…it’s pretty…” goes the cycle and unemployment rises, the economy collapses further and their only reaction is to burn all our fingers once again. Why? Because the metaphysical guff that is economic ‘science’ tells them that they must, and they don’t have the dingly-danglies to change course. After all, politicians can do many things. They can get caught lying; they can get caught having affairs and embezzling cash. They can go to jail, wreck the economy and lead us into badly if at all justified wars, but they can’t say “sorry, I got it wrong.” That would be professional suicide.

One thing that really puzzles me is this. They tell us that if we tax banks in any way whatever, they will move off our shores. Now call me daft, but isn’t that a good thing? These institutions have cost us hundreds of billions of pounds and brought the economy to its knees, but we just have to keep them? It’s like having a tenant who not only doesn’t pay rent, but burns your house to the ground and then tells you: “put my rent up to cover the rebuild and I’ll move out.” Good riddance, I say. Let’s move our economy back to making things, creating things and away from making money from making money. Let’s find new financial tenets.

The next point which pops into my mind (and yes, I am writing as I think) is: when did money become the be all and end all of life? When did being “rich” become synonymous with being “happy and successful”? It seems our worldview is all mixed up, especially those right-wingers who seem to think that the order of priority should be wealth (or property) – people (if we must) – and the planet (perhaps, maybe, actually, sod that, it’s too expensive). Sorry, but this is 100% back to front. Sadly, our economic morals seem to come from Mandeville more than they do from Hume and Smith, and we are stuck in an early modern cultural mind-set that equates property with power. I dream of a new economic model. One thinks first about the planet first, then about people’s happiness in this one life we have, and finally about wealth. If you first look after the planet (without which there will be no people), then keep people happy, and finally make plenty of money through taking risks, grasping opportunities, and working hard, then all power to you; I’m no socialist. How this becomes possible, I have no idea.

The markets need to stop ruling the world. We need to stop a group who believe we are all as self-interested and fiscally rational as they are. We need to, somehow, work out how on earth we can change this model so that the invisible hand stops strangling us, without descending into a world where market over-dominance is replaced by governmental over-dominance as all too happens with socialism. I don’t have any answers, but how about first our governments grow a pair and ask those responsible for the problem to pay for it, and stop bowing to financial blackmail? That, at least, would be a start.




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