Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Competition and Greed

The free market is a favored instrument of capitalism, not the thing itself. Capitalism is a process of material accumulation, an engine of growth and a regime of governance devoted to keeping that engine running. In a capitalist society accumulation takes place primarily through the actions of private enterprises, underwritten by laws and customs that make accumulation the primary goal of society.
A successful capitalist regime creates a surplus in the form of profit, created by workers, but appropriated by owners. Some of that surplus is paid in the form of taxes. Taxes in turn expended by the government to further the activities of private enterprise in the form of improvements to infrastructure, subsidies to troubled but valued enterprises, bailouts for failing titans, and funding for armies and police to protect their property.
So capitalism creates a surplus that enriches the coffers of those who accumulate wealth, while providing enough of a living to those who produce the wealth to make them think they participate in the process.
In this process the investment banks are not producers of surplus. The instruments of financial speculation function as gigantic casinos, enriching some and impoverishing others, causing damage to the general welfare.
The agents of capitalism, and the investment culture can not be entrusted with regulating themselves. The accumulators must be regulated by democratically elected and constituted governments, central or local, or even within workplaces. The overriding impulse must be the improvement of quality of life, not just accumulation of wealth. Radical change is essential. Only a complete and ordered reconstruction of the country’s economic system will bring justice and equality.


Mary said...

Ah, but the accumulators of wealth have no interest in justice or equality. In fact justice and equality run counter to their "bottom line," and so will never be tolerated. Cries of "Socialism!" ring across the land from the lips of the accumulators as their proposed regulators try to make changes. And the little guy suffers...

Anonymous said...

I saw on the news today that the automakers have come up with restructuring plans to revitalize the auto industry. They talk about cutting jobs, eliminating the UAW and reducing pensions. But I don't hear anything about selling corporate jets, or eliminating golden parachutes for these fools who ran their businesses into ruin. The rich will keep their wealth and they'll let the workers eat cake.