[FoRK] Economic serfdom blah blah blah

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Mon May 24 09:06:33 PDT 2010

Frankly I'm sick of hearing from people who apparently have *no idea* about *any* of the mechanisms involved in any of the interlocking failures we've been seeing over the last couple of years.  But like assholes, everybody has an answer.  Or at least thinks they do;  but usually the answer's just a convenient and self-serving whetstone for whatever ideological axe they have to grind.  To wit, Ken's piece from whatever dodgy corner of the Interweb he dug this dreck up from:

" Unregulated finance, the ideology of unfettered free markets, and state capture by corporate interests are what ended up undermining democracy both in North America and in Europe."

Yay, now we know the answer!!!   (Um, somebody remind me, what was the question?)


The problem here isn't "unregulated finance" per se --- for one thing, that has NEVER existed --- and we can see just in the last couple of weeks the ugly unintended consequences of well-meaning and otherwise-good regulation *when applied inconsistently.*  It's not some airy-fairy "ideology of unfettered free markets" (whatever that might be, if anything, besides a conveniently nebulous and abstract whipping boy for those pouty folks who favor economic authoritarianism.)  "State capture by corporate interests" is also a convenient populist whipping boy of somewhat greater but still minimal substance;  to be sure, there's too much corporate influence in public life and elsewhere --- indeed that was a key part of my OWN battle cry throughout the Bush years --- but none of this does dick-all to capture the subtlety and complexity of the issues at hand.  It doesn't address the parts of the problem *CREATED BY* governmental and regulatory influences, it doesn't address the moral hazards on which ALL of the various interlocking failures rest, and it totally begs the question of previous, egregious historical fails related to centralization of and other meddling in free economies.


Give us something useful.

Even the conclusion, heralded by Christopher, is far from "benign."  It's actually without semantic content or reasoned support and argument whatsoever.  Pollyanna in the extreme.

I want a freakin' pony, too.

Ken says:

"if we had politicians and financiers with any competence..."

It seems to me that at least part of the problem is in some few practitioners of both with high competence --- though their competence is in self-servitude rather than in presumed general, public, fiduciary, etc. responsibilities.  Perhaps a part of the problem is systemic, i.e. that it is *so easy* for folks who are supposed to be responsible to others to instead manipulate the system for their own purposes and interests?

Economic serfdom indeed.  That much I agree with.  But the present circumstances are not a repudiation of Hayek et. al. but rather a very overt demonstration of the false dichotomies involved;  *either* Hayek *or* Keynes-leaning-towards-Marx.  Bullshit.  Our problems are largely in the impedance mismatches and compromises between these extremes in our systems in practice.

As for democracy, as per the "conclusion," democracy itself is unthreatened by anything except its own nature.  


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