Freaked out by free market
I never went to a B-school nor have I read Stiglitz’s Globalization and Its Discontents. But when I look around my life, I see that free-market capitalism has failed to keep me and many of us going.
This may raise the suspicion that I am an undying stooge of socialism, but I am not. I really wouldn’t care about the colour of the horse, as long as it wins the race for me. Socialism or capitalism, I will be fine with whatever works. But I’m afraid, free enterprise hasn’t.
Private enterprises have become an expensive liability for taxpayers. The recession did not so much stem from fiscal indiscipline as from greed.
That’s where religion and morality come into the picture. That’s where some of socialism’s values come in too. That’s why President Obama signed into law a landmark Bill that completely overhauls the financial markets, putting in place such wide-ranging regulations as would have been unthinkable during the late President Reagan’s time.
That’s why Islam, in principle, forbids an interest-based monetary system. In Prophet Mohammed’s Arabia, it was common to enslave a person who defaulted on interest and principal payments on loans taken. ‘Can’t pay your loan back, be a slave’, that’s how it went.
Interest-charging and paying have evolved into a sophisticated, standard practice of modern monetary systems, without which the economy would simply not move. That is no reason for the private sector to lose sight of responsibility — for clients, society, its country and the world at large.
De-regulations have led to such violent boom-bust cycles that free-market does not anymore have the capacity to create the kind of employment required.
The per cent of labour force without jobs is now 9.7% in the US. Among the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, a grouping of mostly developed nations, Spain had the highest unemployment rate in April at 19.7%, while the Slovak Republic’s was 14.1%. In UK, for the same period, it was 7.9%.
As Europe waddles in Greece’s fiscal disaster and US bails out of the slowdown, pressure is building on countries like India to hasten efforts to plug their fiscal deficits. We should borrow less so that global recovery speeds up. So, I just suffered a fuel price hike, as if over 16% of food inflation wasn’t enough.
Nobel-winning economist and demographer Simon Kuznets has demonstrated that inequalities often sharpen in emerging economies, but narrows down as development progresses. Man, I don’t have that kind of patience.
If we follow the pension models in vogue, I will never get to enjoy the tranquility a person’s last years should bring. Germany raised its retirement age from 65 to 67, while Britain will increase it to 66 by 2016. France has raised it to 62, applicable by 2018.
I don’t want to be a dead man walking around my office. Maybe, I’d want to tell my grandchildren stories. If only free enterprise allows me, that is.