On the Road to Human Progress
Can it be achieved? Yes! However, there has to be a clear recognition and understanding of the forces opposed to any proposed change. They will not go gently into that goodnight, to paraphrase Dylan Thomas. The road to human progress takes strong legs and a stout heart. There has to be a clear-sighted commitment to an agreed agenda.
One challenge will be to overcome the persistent onslaught of propaganda, marketed by specialist teams whose role it is to manipulate our thinking. An inundation from sections of the media will stir the emotions of many and leave others perplexed. This can only be overcome by a consistent voice hammering the same points in innovative ways. Think Banksy!
History supports the idea of a successful economy for the majority. The period 1945 – 1973 is considered the Golden Age of capitalism as economist Ha-Joon Chang points out,
“The Golden Age shows that capitalism’s potential can be maximized when it is properly regulated and stimulated by appropriate government actions”. Economics: The User’s Guide (p87)
A supportive view is expounded by the economist Dani Rodrik, The Globalization Paradox (p22)
“Every well-functioning market economy blends state and market, laissez-faire and intervention”.
And in an earlier point:
“Markets are most developed and most effective in generating wealth when they are backed by solid governmental institutions”. (p16)
Government therefore plays a crucial role in the economic well-being of a nation but have to be aware, as Ha-Joon Chang maintains:
“The economy is much bigger than the market. We will not be able to build a good economy – or a good society – unless we look at the vast expanse beyond the market”. (p456)
It is unfortunate but at present we are tied to the austerity programme of the neo-classical economists. To them the market is the great breadwinner and should be allowed to bluster its way ahead. Of course, the market keeps stumbling and falling over and it’s the ordinary Joe that has to pay the cost of getting it back on its feet.
The neo-classical economist do not allow for the ‘cartel’ or the monopolies that develop. They cannot add to their equation the underhandedness of some players who corrupt the market in the name of profit. Nor can they equate the ruthlessness or heartlessness that the system throws up. Their only response is that the market will right itself eventually.
Millions are still waiting for the market to improve since its man-made catastrophe in 2008. The lifting and the shoring up of the market have come from government using the taxes of the people. And still we find further illegal double-dealing such as Libor in the banking sector and the Volkswagen emissions scandal.
The market could not have righted itself without the direct intervention of government. Government saved the day! The ordinary Joe paid with their taxes. They paid with their livelihoods; many losing their jobs. The great crash came like a tsunami through the everyday lives of millions of ordinary people. Their wages slashed, their working conditions trashed in an effort to save the market!
Lives ruined and small businesses destroyed. Then they have the audacity to expect all hands to the pump!
Unregulated the market fed the greed of the few. The thoughtless scramble for the quick buck, the maximization of the bottom-line, the end of year bonus, and the ultimate ME factor. The market has had its day, government must take control and regulate.
However, no government can withstand the buccaneer capitalists on its own. That is why the idea of the EU is a good one, pity it has become a burden. The EU needs to be remodelled. The bureaucracy has become a self-serving yoke dragging the whole of Europe into the deep. The bureaucracy needs to be democratized with a flag that reads transparency.
The people have to have trust in the leadership of the EU. The peoples trust may have been shattered by the failure to tackle Volkswagen over the car emissions. When money talks – democracy walks. Politicians should resign over their failure! Transparency, accountability generates trust; politicians must earn it!
In writing about the crash of 2008, Susanne McGee Chasing Goldman Sachs warns in a tagline:
HOW THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE MELTED WALL STREET DOWN … AND WHY THEY’LL TAKE US TO THE BRINK AGAIN.