Blog Archives

Why is action to make the financial system fairer and less unstable being ‘stalled’?

Gill Westcott points out that many question whether our current economic system, with its increasing inequality and instability, ecological destructiveness and promotion of superficial materialist values, can really be redirected towards a just and sustainable society:

“We have companies shifting profits abroad to avoid taxes, private banks controlling the money supply but not bonuses, trade rules that sink, or keep, many countries in poverty and speculation that causes asset booms and raises the price of food for the poor.

“As the Occupy encampment continues outside St Paul’s Cathedral, some slate the protesters for offering no alternatives to the current system. But, as someone remarked, there are endless alternatives being proposed, most of them compatible with capitalism, and they are not being implemented.

“The protesters aim to promote more far-reaching debate and question the apparent stalling of action to make the financial system fairer and less unstable.”

Regular readers will know the answer to that question, but not the solution to the problem, short of marching en masse on Westminster, as a friend suggested today.

 Extract from her article in The Friend, online – hard copy out on 17th February.

The 99% – incoherent left-wingers?

John Kay, currently visiting professor at the London School of Economics, writes in the Financial Times, “The protestors incoherence results from a political void – Europe’s political left lacks any convincing narrative in the post-socialist world.”

The right – on the other hand – tells a coherent story in which greed is the dominant human motivation, government an incubus on the spirit of free enterprise . . .

This rhetoric views doctors and teachers as parasites, not producers, and has provided cover for an unhealthy expansion of the influence of established large corporations.

John Kay calls this merely a failure of public relations

He insists that greed is a human motivation, but not a dominant one.

The title of his article is: “Capitalism need not be about greed and gambling” – but for some years that is exactly what it has been.

His advice – not remarkable for coherence – is that the “something nicer” which should replace capitalism is a more nuanced – and more accurate – account of capitalism itself.

The message of the economists in the Observer noted below, is far more helpful.

Alternative futures: an economic system based on real democracy, with co-operation at its heart

Edgar Parnell, former Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation, has worked in more than forty countries with businesses, charities, NGOs and government institutions at local, national, regional and international level. His alternative is posted here.

Street protest: anger and a dull ache of frustration at power being dispensed in corridors rather than streets

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian recently:

Power over policy has been removed from parties in parliament and at the grassroots, from trade unions, from the professions, from local government, from intellectuals, even from the formal civil service. These conduits have been replaced by thinktanks and lobbyists working in private collusion with ministerial staffs. When David Cameron in opposition said that lobbyists were “the next big scandal waiting to happen,” he was right. But that was before he came to power . . .

And this has brought chaos to health, education and planning reform . . .

The elimination of intermediate government and its replacement with interest-group lobbying has brought chaos to health, education and planning reform. It has polluted defence cuts, housing finance and energy policy.

Power over policy is now in the hands of thinktanks and lobbyists working in private collusion with ministerial staffs

Against these developments, street protest is an understandable cry of public anger. But it is no insurrection and can put no army in the field. St Paul’s and Zuccotti Park are not Tahrir Square, whatever the claims of their occupants.

Their protest is more a dull ache of frustration at power being dispensed in corridors rather than streets, at power that is ever further from their grasp.