Saturday, June 29, 2019

Down with Capitalism

You have to wonder what world these people are living in. Which people am I talking about? Well, the radical left in Great Britain. Happily, the Guardian has given us a glimpse into the way British leftists have been thinking. Evidently, the American left, led by notable imbeciles like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez does not know how to think. So, if we want to examine the mind of the left, we turn to Andy Beckett in the Guardian.

To Beckett’s eyes, today's problems are all about capitalism’s cruelties:

For almost half a century, something vital has been missing from leftwing politics in western countries. Since the 70s, the left has changed how many people think about prejudice, personal identity and freedom. It has exposed capitalism’s cruelties. It has sometimes won elections, and sometimes governed effectively afterwards. But it has not been able to change fundamentally how wealth and work function in society – or even provide a compelling vision of how that might be done. The left, in short, has not had an economic policy.

Does Beckett utter the least word about the record of socialist economies? Not a one. Does he have anything to say about the tens of millions of people who starved to death under socialism? No, sir, he does not. Does he try to explain why nations around the world, beginning with China, have been turning to capitalism after their failed experiments with socialism? No, ma'am, he does not. 

He emphasizes capitalism’s cruelties, without saying a word about the fundamental dysfunction built into economies that fulfill his wet dream of worker control, of environmentally friendliness, of greater government regulation. It’s nice to say that workers should have a say in the running of companies-- it is not an alien notion-- but what does Beckett think of the Venezuelan oil industry, taken over by the government, no longer being run by American oil executives. The result: a nation with boundless oil reserves cannot produce enough petroleum to feed its people. 

He makes no mention of the many companies that offer their workers stock and stock options.

This to say that the denizens of the left are burdened by their own conspicuous moral failing. They refuse to accept the verdict of history. They refuse to accept that their policies, put into practice, produce either starvation and desolation or stagnation. They are still fighting the good fight against capitalism, but they refuse to acknowledge that the free enterprise system fed the people of China, while socialism starved them. I realize that that is a bit stark for their minds, dazed and confused by their lofty ideals, incapable of recognizing that their gods failed, but such is the truth.

And after all, Great Britain did not turn to Margaret Thatcher because its earlier forays into socialism were working so well. They turned to Thatcher because Labour policies were failing. Today, they are dying to bring Labour back into power, but have nothing to say about the simple fact that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party is infested with anti-Semitism. And that it supports Islamist terrorism. Do they really believe that Hamas and Hezbollah are models for good economic policy?

Beyond that, the new leftist thinkers ought to understand that capitalism in the West, certainly not in America, is currently overregulated. Eight years of Obama saw stagnant economic growth, because, in large part, of crippling regulations. And let’s not forget that the American capitalist economy is currently hobbled by an excess of bureaucratic regulators, lawyers, environmentalists, and diversity activists. The problems with capitalism were created in some considerable part by the effort to reign in capitalism.

And let’s not forget that the current system is running on debt, on an excess of borrowed money. And let’s not forget that the new tech economy is so complicated that allowing armies of the unemployed to make decisions about tech innovation will surely damage its competitiveness in the world.

Anyway, Beckett conveniently blames all of today’s economic woes on capitalism. He does not, for example, blame any of it on the Brussels bureaucrats who are running the European union.

And yet, in recent years, that system has started to fail. Rather than sustainable and widely shared prosperity, it has produced wage stagnation, ever more workers in poverty, ever more inequality, banking crises, the convulsions of populism and the impending climate catastrophe. 

Really… in the United States unemployment rates are lower than they have ever been. Jobs are going begging because there are not enough qualified workers to do them. By the laws of supply and demand, more jobs with fewer applicants produces wage growth, not wage stagnation. Banking crises are produced when government spend beyond their means. As for climate catastrophe-- the new Guardian working-- the left trots this out as a reason to repeal the Industrial Revolution and return us all to the state of nature. And yet, serious climate scientists, like Richard Lindzen, formerly of MIT, do not believe that the climate apocalypse is looming on the horizon. Imbeciles like AOC do, but what does that tell us?

Remember when activist politician AOC got involved in the Amazon proposal to open a giant hub in Queens? How did that one work out for the people of Queens?

I am not saying that government has no place in the mix. I am certainly not saying that we do not need an industrial policy. But we need an industrial policy that will enhance economic growth, not one that will sacrifice wealth creation to the goddess of Nature.

The new leftists envision a world where workers decide, and where the general population decides… just as they do in Venezuela. 

To show how it can work, Beckett trots out the example of Cleveland, OH. He does not mention the many American cities that are and have always been run by leftist politicians. He has nothing to say about the horror of living in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore et al. In large part they are disaster areas, divided between the rich and rest. Such is the result of leftist policy, dictated by the people.

So, he trots out Cleveland:

In Cleveland, the Democracy Collaborative helped set up a solar power company, an industrial laundry, and a city-centre hydroponic farm growing lettuces and basil. All three enterprises were owned by their employees, and some of their profits went to a holding company tasked with establishing more cooperatives in the city. All three enterprises have succeeded, so far. The goal of the project was summed up in blunt, almost populist terms by one of the Democracy Collaborative’s co-founders, Ted Howard, in 2017: “Stop the leakage of money out of our community.” Yet “community wealth building” also has a more subtle purpose: it is a concrete demonstration that economic decisions can be based on more than neoliberalism’s narrow criteria.

There you have it… leftists set up a solar power company, an industrial laundry and a farm growing lettuce and basil. We have no problem with these companies. I suspect that an industrial laundry does not clean up industry, but still clean clothes are a good thing.

But, do you think that this is the model for a thriving and functioning economy, one that is going to compete on the world stage? Is that America’s future, being a world leader in hydroponic farming while the rest of the world innovates in technology? Is it the most economical way to produce basil? What does not market have to say about downtown Cleveland basil? Does it sell? Can it sustain itself economically? After all, we know that renewable energy plants cannot sustain themselves without extensive subsidies... and that West Germany, having shut down all of its dirty energy plants, like nuclear, is now burning more and more coal.


David Foster said...

"The goal of the project was summed up in blunt, almost populist terms by one of the Democracy Collaborative’s co-founders, Ted Howard, in 2017: “Stop the leakage of money out of our community.”"

So why is it bad for Donald Trump to want to keep money and jobs in the United States, but for these people to want to keep money and jobs in their 'community'?

Anyhow, I didn't think we were supposed to use the term 'community' to refer to people in a common geographical area anymore...the new rule is that it applies to racial/ethnic/gender groups/

trigger warning said...

Capitalism and capitalists will always be necessary. Socialists require, at minimum, a capitalist remnant to scapegoat for their failures.

I note for the record that the Democracy Collaborative in Cleveland is funded, as reported on their website, by tax shelters for large capitalist fortunes like the Kellogg and Kresge Foundations.

UbuMaccabee said...

People love their suffering, and imaginary suffering is the greatest love of all.

Anonymous said...

Most successful Capitalists today are actually Socialists, former and crypto. They enjoy spreading wealth according to their own desires, just as any good Socialist. They are one unit,

Sam L. said...

He wrote it for The Grauniad, and did a right bang-up Grauniadian "story".

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

When you look at how Washington, D.C. works today, it’s amazing that capitalism and free enterprise exist at all in America. All the central planning, subsidy, tax credits and other associated graft infects every part of our economy, retarding any understanding of true supply and demand. Most assume it’s all bought-and-paid-for with campaign money, but what’s more compelling is how media, academic, NGO, bureaucracy, non-profit, think tank and activist groups all conspire to control government resources and authority against the interests of free enterprise. The university has fully catechized the next three generations in the primacy of ethno-bureaucratic socialism, where our vaunted “institutions” are ruled by those who share a uniform ideology they received in college. Their academic credentialing was tied to their ability to parrot and evangelize this monolithic thinking, and justifies their right to all this power and privilege. It has little connection to what they contribute to our nation in any measure of creativity, productivity, efficiency, or other standard of true wealth creation. This post-Cold War reordering of wealth and power will be our downfall. As the Japanese say, the fish rots from the head.