Austerity isn’t working. And we need to have a rethink of how the free market operates. It isn’t just socialists who are saying this. Economist Thomas Piketty said capitalism is reverting to the Downton Abbey world of a century ago. Instead of the trickle down of wealth to the poor, more and more we are seeing an evaporation up to the rich.
There’s been huge attacks on democracy across the world over the past few years. One of the worst, the Transatlantic Trade and investment Partnership (TTIP), being negotiated in secret at the moment has the potential to affect people all over North America and Europe. This may allow companies to sue governments if their laws damage profits.
“It’s time to move on from talk about the banks.” It isn’t and we can’t because nothing happened to the people who fucked up the country. They rode the state up the arse for €64bn and still control Ireland. Their counterparts in other countries still control Europe and the world.
There was just a major scandal involving HSBC where they encouraged tax dodging on a massive scale. And the other day a senior executive said they’re certain do something similar again. This is the bank who three years ago was caught, and let away with, money laundering for Mexican drug cartels and Saudi banks linked to terrorist groups.
Will any of them go to jail? Will anyone be charged from our banking inquiry? I don’t think I need to answer that.
But there seems to be a reluctance to go against things in Ireland. If you express any sort of a left wing opinion you’re seen as a beret-wearing, red flag waving Marxist and obviously nuts. So you’d better just trust that neoliberal capitalism is the way to go.
But it doesn’t have to be a choice between the arctic and the desert. Any religion, ideology or political system is bad when it is taken to its extreme. And the extreme free market is no different. There are things which shouldn’t be private. Healthcare is one. Third level education is as well. And so is water. If these things exist only to make money then they are not serving society.
The free market isn’t evil, it is indifferent and that can be just as bad. If it can make money in a free society, great. If it can’t, it’ll make society unfree. What matters is the bottom line. For years democratic societies meant for good profits so everything was fine. Now that they don’t, democracy becomes a problem. They look at China and see them making lots of money while treating their people like shit and see human rights in Europe as only an obstacle to profit.
It can be hard to have an opinion on economics because it’s complicated. Complicated by its nature and deliberately made complicated by some people as well. We all can’t go out and get economic degrees. The banks want you to cower and say, ‘I don’t want to look like a fool so I’d better just shut my mouth.’ But the problem is these things affect us all so severely we have to try get our heads around it a little.