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Comment is free: A crisis of conscience
In an impressive new book, The Social Conscience, Michel Glautier asks a simple question: can a caring society exist in a market economy? His analysis suggests a market economy and a caring society are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but that recent and continuing changes to the configuration of the market economy are putting the achievement of a caring society beyond reach.
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Whereas since the industrial revolution the social conscience had evolved to counter the tendency of free markets to concentrate wealth in the hands of the few, of late, Glautier argues, we have forgotten that the economy must be subject to certain checks and balances if it is to provide a reasonably equitable distribution of wealth. The fundamentals of economics haven't changed, yet in the face of clear evidence of a growing gap between rich and poor, and no hope of an escape from poverty for millions of people worldwide, we have far too willingly accepted the argument that the economy is best left to market forces.
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There was a time when the financial markets existed mainly to service the needs of the real economy. Today the real economy is a sideshow. Why invest in the production of goods and services which offer a modest return over a long period, when you can place bets on minor fluctuations in prices for all manner of financial devices invented for the sole purpose of quickly generating higher than average returns?
What? 'Caring' 'society', how quaint!
Yes, cynicism is spot on for our economic/political system. The latter seems to have become swallowed by the former, where the wise politician know to ask "what wills the market", rather than "how should we live together".
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sun Aug 26th, 2007 at 10:55:30 AM EST

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