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There is no alternative to Thatcherism

by Jerome a Paris Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 08:42:49 AM EST

Coming on the same day as Martin Wolf's lament in the FT (weak governments augur ill) that France, Germany and Italy are unreformed, unreforming, and ungoverned, the article below from the Guardian (Italy's knife-edge election results are a symptom of this age of stalemate), also an opinion piece, by Jonathan Freedland, really annoyed me - "here they go again, piling on the big continental countries and calling them hopeless". But as I prepared for another deconstruction, I found some interesting bits in it which are worth pondering.


As in Germany and France, Italian voters were denied a clear alternative to the rightwing agenda of Silvio Berlusconi

The more pressing trend is the paralysis that seems to be gripping continental Europe's three biggest nations. In Germany, France and Italy the political class (spurred on by business) has become convinced that a specific remedy is urgently required to treat their ailing economies. They must, the elites long ago concluded, submit themselves to radical restructuring, deregulating their industries, liberalising their labour markets. There are a variety of names for the medicine - Thatcherism, Blairism, neoliberalism, the Anglo-Saxon model - but the masters in Paris, Berlin and Rome are in no doubt that it must be administered if these three arthritic European lions are not to be mauled to death in the globalised jungle by India and China.

This may be annoying to read, but it is FUNDAMENTALLY TRUE. But what is true is NOT that the countries need Thatcherism, but that the elites spurred by business are universally convinced that they need it.

That's the situation we find ourselves in, and there's no reason for us to hide that fact - we are a minority amongst / against the elites / the chattering classes in arguing that the remedy is not "radical restructuring" (lay offs), "deregulating" (less oversight over business) and "liberalising labor markets" (paying workers less and breaking unions).

The good news is: facts are on our side - and so is the population.

The trouble is, citizens of the European troika refuse to submit to the treatment. Either they fail to endorse it at the polls, as they did in Germany by converting Angela Merkel's initial lead into the narrowest of victories over Gerhard Schröder. Or they take to the streets, as they just have in France, forcing Dominique de Villepin to drop his relatively modest plan to make France's under-26s more sackable and therefore more attractive to employers. Either way, they will not allow their leaders to impose the Thatcherite reforms the leaders say are essential.

The case for layoffs, less pay, less rights, less protection has not been made as such (and one wonders why...)

But, confusingly, these voters do not rally to a clear left alternative either - partly because of the failure of progressives around the world to articulate one. They know what they're against, but they are yet to gather round a programme they're for. The result is a stagnant stalemate, repeatedly reflected at the ballot box.

Again, while it is annoying to read this, it brings to our attentiion an important point: the case for progressive policies is not heard. And I am careful to say "not heard" and not "not made". Indeed, that distinction is crucial, and it is what we need to work on: not to make our case, but to get it across.

Yet the electorate was not presented with a clear course of action. On the one hand, the neoliberal case was not argued directly. The arch free-marketeer Berlusconi promised an increase in the state pension and greater social protection, not less. Meanwhile, it was the social democrat Prodi who called for a cut in the amount employers pay towards the social security of their workers. Each was trying to wear the clothes of the other. That's partly because both men had large coalitions to hold together. But it was also because the Italian right did not dare offer an unvarnished Thatcherite programme, fearing the electorate would reject it. So the parties hedged their bets - and the voters did, too.

But if the right failed to offer a clear programme, so did the left. It did not have a distinct vision of its own, one that might counter the neoliberal ideology of privatisations and liberalisations. That's hardly Italy's fault: the left worldwide, its confidence wrecked since 1989, lacks a coherent view of political economy, a proposed system it might put to voters. "Too often the alternative to neoliberalism is just conservatism, like those French students who want to keep the world the way it was," says Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform.

That paragraph makes it obvious why our task is difficult. what matters is not actual content of policies, but the labels that are attached to them. (And the obvious complicity of journalists and columnists in propagating these labels and focusing an them to the detriment of facts)

  • anybody that talks about "liberalisation", the "Lisbon agenda" (in Europe) and is vaguely pro-American, is promoted to the lofty title of "freemarketeer" and "liberaliser", and thus a good guy. Calling Berlusconi a liberaliser is so absurd on its face that it's hard not to laugh, but there it is;

  • any feeble economic results under the watch of a "liberaliser" are blamed on the fact that he had to tone down its policies in the face of an hostile, "conservative" electorate. Thus the - systematic - economic failures of the right in power are blamed on not enough "reform", and not on the misguided policies they push, their wasteful use of the budget and their utter corruption;

  • politicians of the left are either demonised as dinosaurs ("communists", "conservatives", "reactionaries" - all come from the hard left these days) and thus ignored, or lionised as "third way reformers", trying to insert reasonable sense into their otherwise misguided leftist policies. They are the only ones given airtime, and thus grows the idea that everybody on the right and the left agrees that "reforms" are necessary; policies coming from the left are thus either described as "reform", or not even debated as they come from crazies;

  • presented with a choice of diluted liberalism cloaked in populism or the most rightist form of social democracy dressed up as the "sane left" - two essentially identical policy proposals (well, not exactly, in one case you get power hungry crooks, in the other case, mostly competent opportunists), it's no wonder that the electorate gets disgusted at the lack of alternatives and has trouble distinguishing them when the alternatives don't exist - or votes for the noisiest alternatives when they do (Jean-Marie Le Pen and the unreconstructed Trotskysts in France).

What we need is not so much for the left to have a programme, because in most countries, it actually does, but for that programme to be heard and promoted.

So the question is - how do you pierce that wall of common wisdom shared by politicians and pundits alike - that conviction that everybody has that "reforms" are needed?

I am not sure, but I have two suggestions:

  • First, we have to repeat everywhere we can, in all forms, that the economy fares better under governments of the left: it grows more, it is less unequal, it creates more jobs - and the stock market even does better. we have very strong statistics for the USA (Clinton vs Bushes), France (Jospin vs right wing Prime Ministers under Chirac), Italy (Prodi vs Berlusconi). Let's push the relevant statistics forward, and the corresponding policies;

  • Second, we have to underline the fact that the supposed superior growth of the "Anglo" countries comes from very traditional tools of the left: State spending - with the twist that the money is borrowed instead of coming from taxes: i.e. our kids pay instead of today's rich;

  • Third, we have to repeat as much as we can the translation of the terms used:

    "radical restructuring" = lay offs
    "deregulating"=less oversight over business
    "liberalising labor markets" = paying workers less and breaking unions

    (there was a longer translation in the Stockholm network thread, could it be posted as a comment here again?)

  • Fourth, we must speak explicitly against the conventional wisdom and affirm forcefully that all these things that are being demonised: unions, minimum wages, workers' rights, taxation, regulation of business are precisely what made our economies prosperous, and that that the health of an economy cannot be measured by the profits of its corporations - and that the health of a country cannot be measured on economic criteria only.

  • Fifth, and most important, we HAVE to hold journalists accountable when they thoughtlessly repeat the common wisdom interpretation of events or policies. They ARE COMPLICIT.

How's that for a programme?

And here's a slogan: "There is an alternative to Thatcherism. Something that actually works. For all of us. The left. Building on its history and track record"

Display:
Is Thatcherism really even popular in Britain?  My understanding was that she left a strong impression on Britons, as far as economics is concerned.  (That's, at least, the sense I get from reading comments at the BBC and other sources.)  But my understanding was that her government also engineered some insane policies that turned into massive scandals.  Isn't this what happened on pension reform?  (I seem to remember the Bushies getting smashed for bringing up Britain's experience during the Social Security debate last year.)

Also, the chattering classes shoot themselves in the foot when they talk up Blair as some kind of champion of liberalization.  All Blair has done is replace nationalization with regulation, taxation and debt -- this, despite apparently being the posterboy in Europe for "liberalization".  I don't see anything remotely liberal about Blair and Brown, at this point.  They lecture the Continentals on markets, but hasn't public spending in Britain reached about 47% of GDP?  (And, unlike the evil Continentals, they don't even attempt to pay for it.)  These two are going to leave one hell of a mess for future governments if they remain on this course.

So, am I missing something?  Why is Blairism synonymous with liberalization?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 09:00:06 AM EST
Jonathan Freedland is an anti-Bliarite leftie, some even say looney-left (he surely deserves criticism for some things he wrote on other issues), so even what you may see as him repeating the received wisdom is more sarcastically meant.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 09:04:12 AM EST
He is a leftie? He is doing a good job at hiding it. On my first reading of this article, I thought it was a typical pro-Thatcherism "refom is indispensable" piece. and even on second reading, he reinforces a number of prejudices that come staight form the Blair playbook, even as he makes some of the points I outlined above.

We have a lot of work.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 09:21:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do definitely sense the sarcasm in his tone. He is bemoaning the lack of a well-formulated leftist alternative, and the neoliberalism of the Continentals' elites even on the centre-left, not celebrating it in triumph.

It is possibly some nuances I can catch from having read British leftists, while you are pre-conditioned by all the anti-French stuff. He is doing what Colman does but in a more subtle way. A true peddler of the Bliarite line wouldn't emphasize the elites' reformism, it would emphasize their backwardism and cowardice; and wouldn't flat-out state that it is the populace not willing to go along with the 'reforms' - they would use flovery language or blame various 'interest groups' and unions.

The one prejudice reinforced I see comes as a quote from someone else, that BS linking the fallback to conservativism with anti-CPU French students.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:09:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have never got the impression Freedland was loony left. He's not a Blairite, that's for sure.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:00:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean you don't think he's to your left?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:04:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo says he's more subtle than you, anyway!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:21:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have never claimed to be subtle.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:24:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm practising restraint on that. Give me a 4.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:43:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No problem. Want a big hammer as well? I have spares.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:45:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, he is not far or even really hard left, what I meant is supceptibility to some easy conspiracy theories. (If I recall correctly, for example, he argued the naive version of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine as just an elaborate CIA operation.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:38:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, I could partially be mixing up him with some other Guardian commenter. After checking I find Freedland is also one of those half in, half out pundits criticised for fallbacks on Labour, Israel/Palestine and Iraq (like, calling for a vote for Labour despite Bliar to keep out Tories, I should have remembered that sillyness). And so on. He is pretty much (traditional, not 'New Labour') centre-left, I only recalled his attacks on Bliar as right-winger and the Iraq War.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 11:03:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is what I said, hehehe! ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 11:41:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent opinion piece. I could send this out to those people at that new economic group in Washington (oh drat, what was the name of that group again?)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 09:05:11 AM EST
Which one?  It's Washington.  There's a "new economic group" on every corner.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 09:10:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you thinking of the progressive Economic Policy Institute (Jeff Faux)?

http://www.epinet.org/

by andrethegiant on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 09:56:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...another website worth to dig into. Thanks for sharing. Perhaps we're not so alone as we sometimes think we are...


Who founded EPI?
EPI was founded by a group of economic policy experts that includes Jeff Faux, EPI's first president; economist Barry Bluestone of Northeastern University; Robert Kuttner, columnist for Business Week and Newsweek and editor of The American Prospect; Ray Marshall, former U.S. secretary of labor and professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas-Austin; Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor and professor at Brandeis University; and economist Lester Thurow of the MIT Sloan School of Management.

No names that I know, anyone else?

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:09:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kuttner and Reich came up in this diary, in which Drew J Jones joined Krugman in attacking Reich's positions, while TGeraghty joined Kuttner in defending him.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:27:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Among the EPI economists is Max Sawicky of the excellent blog MaxSpeak, You Listen!, (see Sandwichman's comment below).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 11:38:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...the one you found yourself not so long ago? The Hamilton Project, perhaps?

I have them bookmarked, didn't explore them yet.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:04:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes Nomad, thank you...that's it...though the one you mentioned is worth looking into too.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:59:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Spain it already works. We know the alterntive and it is heard.

I am wondering what is going on in France , germany and GB at the street and local level. Is it impossible to make the case for a fair left leaning economy: Balanced budget, redistribution, fare taxes? I hope it is not lost adn some people int he elite ralize that this is the way to make more people richer.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 09:27:44 AM EST
Is it impossible to make the case for a fair left leaning economy: Balanced budget, redistribution, fare taxes?

Unfortunately in the UK many think that Blair is doing that.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 09:33:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is true. He has not moved the country toward a better regulation of the business and that the tax is still unfair (better than it was). On the other hand the investment in education and health care has increased a lot (almost to average  european levels?) and have generated a lot of good government jobs that are improving the economy and the wrecked social structure left over By Ms T.

It is unfortuante that he is not making the case for better regulation in some areas, but given GB and the general consensus before him, my problems with TB are more in the international arena than on social policy.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 09:57:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand the investment in education and health care has increased a lot (almost to average  european levels?) and have generated a lot of good government jobs that are improving the economy and the wrecked social structure left over By Ms T.

It is unfortuante that he is not making the case for better regulation in some areas, but given GB and the general consensus before him, my problems with TB are more in the international arena than on social policy.

I think you share the very same illusion Helen talked about. No, his increased budgets for healthcare and educaton are no sign of a better policy, they are the sign of a fucked-up policy (part throw money on the problem and hope it will go away, part increased spending necessitated by silly policy decisions). Meanwhile, Bliar is wrecking education with various standards-ruinging schemes, and commanded creeping privatisation in both education and healthcare (both of which have increased costs).

That he created a lot of government jobs didn't improve the economy, it helped people to gloss over the fact that he damaged it. The UK under Bliar turned a no-long-term-investment/credit-binge/trade deficit country like GWB's USA, where the private economy barely creates jobs.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:17:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yea, what he said....

It's interesting to read the Guardian, particulary centre-left writers such as Polly Toynbee and Jackie Ashley, who continually make excuses for Bliar's trumpeted policies on the grounds that "he's doing a lot of good quietly".

But he's not. He is merely creating the illusion of reform and leaving chaos in his wake.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 11:02:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We could discuss the so called reform proposals he is making, which ones make sense , which ones do not make sense and which ones we would disagree. But this was not my point.

My point is funding to direct social policies has increased dramatically. I just had to check the huge amount of jobs funded by the government on social services in Bristol. It was incredible. And the funding on social services is now close to European levels and with no stupid rivatization reforms demanded.

The budgets on education and health care have increased dramatically. If it was well-spent or not it is another issue but all polls showed that an improvement was detected.

Regarding his futrue policies I happen to thing that they are wrong-headed on most counts but at least the frame is not:less taxes, less government...maybe he is doing it in disguise but I do not think so.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 02:25:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hamish McRae, writing in today's Independent, seems to believe that globablization will leave Europe in the dust unless they come to heel. His article seems reminiscent of the FT article (same briefing perhaps ?).

To which I would argue that peak oil and global warming are going to impact the anglo-saxon market-fuedalism long before mainland europe has to wise up and join any lemming bandwagon. After all, it won't matter how cheaply the chinese can make stuff if there's no cheap energy to move it to where people can buy it.

But these are financial journos after all: who get vertigo if they try to think beyond next quarter's profit forecast and their upcoming share dividend.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 09:31:32 AM EST
Here's my comment from the Stockholm thread as requested :


we promote and raise awareness of policies which create the social and economic conditions for a free society

Since they need to "promote" these policies, it follows that they do not consider society, currently, to be free.

Here's what these freedom fighters propose:

# Reforming European welfare states and creating a more flexible labour market = bring labour costs down
# Updating European pension systems to empower individuals = privatise pensions
# Ensuring more consumer-driven healthcare, through reform of European health systems and markets = privatise healthcare
# Encouraging an informed debate on intellectual property rights as an incentive to innovate and develop new knowledge in the future, whilst ensuring wide public access to such products in the present = you will pay through the nose for software/CDs/DVDs/seeds/drugs or go to jail
# Reforming European energy markets to ensure the most beneficial balance between economic growth and environmental quality = privatise energy to burn coal and gas
# Emphasising the benefits of globalisation, trade and competition and creating an understanding of free market ideas and institutions = Pangloss was right

Free at last, free at last...

ThatBritGuy exercised his right to disagree :

I think that version is possibly a little too nuanced.

The executive summary:

We own everything. We own everyone. We own you. Once we in a while we'll clean out your cage and throw in some fresh straw. But only if we like you.

Otherwise we don't care if you starve or die. Because what happens to you is not our problem.

Anyone who thinks this is extreme should watch what happens to the middle class in the US over the next few years.


by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 09:56:56 AM EST
From a letter from Marianne Moore to William Carlos Williams, June 22, 1935:

"Every time I see a newspaper that mentions Hitler or Abyssinia I wonder why I do not walk up and down the street like a sandwich-man wearing as broadside your 'Item,' for good though certain other things are this says it all."

The operative phrase here is I wonder why I do not. That indicates that she feels such an action might be effectual -- if not in changing the course of the world at least in expressing her disatisfaction with it -- but that she nevertheless feels reticent about exposing herself and making herself vulnerable.

I recommend to anyone interested in overcoming the impasse that they try it sometime. Make your own sandwichboard with the most succinct slogan you can compose on an issue you feel passionate about. Then go out and walk it up and down the anonymous street. Not in a demo where you are with people who presumably agree with you. Engage the people who talk to you about your message. Resolve to learn from the ones who disagree with you.

Of course, walking up and down the street like a sandwich-man puts you in the category of...

assorted crazies with sandwich boards

...proclaiming the end of the world. But in this case it would be simply proclaiming the end of a world in which there is no alternative.

Sandwichman
by Sandwichman on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 10:58:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello Sandwichman. What was Williams's "item"?

I see you're part of the bunch at MaxSpeak. Good blog.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 11:33:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi afew, thanks for enjoying MaxSpeak. I actually don't agree with Moore's statement that Williams's poem Item "says it all," but here it is:

ITEM - William Carlos Williams

This, with a face
like a mashed blood orange
that suddenly

would get eyes
and look up and scream
War! War!

clutching her
thick, ragged coat
A piece of hat

broken shoes
War! War!
stumbling for dread

at the young men
who with their gun-butts
shove her

sprawling--
a note
at the foot of the page

Sandwichman

by Sandwichman on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 01:20:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, it might not really say it all, but it would stir up reactions. Possibly unpleasant ones. More so seventy years ago than now? I'm not sure.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 01:34:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeez, ThatBritGuy had it just about right. I could actually hear Dick Cheney say in my head as I read it {shudders}

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 11:05:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Freedman's article is fairly important, Jérôme. It fields Wolf's assertion (which we will of course hear elsewhere) that the (now) three EU biggies are stuck in  a reactionary stance which is endangering the euro, the EU, the solar system, Wolf's digestion, you name it. Freedman puts it in the right light: you have to admit that these Europeans are to a significant extent not convinced they need (Thatcherian /Blairite /neolib /marketista you choose) "reforms" to avoid disaster. All that's missing is a broad and engaging alternative proposition.

Which we must work on providing. The five points you suggest are right, but I can't help feeling we're back on ground we've already trodden -- the need for a new overall frame, a fresh narrative. I don't know what it will be, but it will come through. Step by step, I think we're inching closer to it, and this diary was one of the steps on the way.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 11:15:39 AM EST
This is absolutely horrible. We are having the same exact problem in the States with the Democratic party's complete inability to outline a bold agenda and draw a distinct line between the GOP and themselves. What are these people so damn afraid of?

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 12:14:09 PM EST
There are two things:

  • one is the reticence of some on the left to fight the prevailing wisdom;
  • the other is the refusal of the media to give air to the alternatives that do exist on the left (and not necessarily the loony left) by labelling it as loony and ignoring it.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 12:44:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now crossposted on dKos with an appeal to support ET

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/4/12/134011/904

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 01:49:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The more pressing trend is the paralysis that seems to be gripping continental Europe's three biggest nations. In Germany, France and Italy the political class (spurred on by business) has become convinced that a specific remedy is urgently required to treat their ailing economies.

yes, that 'specific remedy' is to break the hammerlock of the energy and utility companies through public outrage at the sheer folly of burning up precious capital with fossil fuel technology.

the blood, sweat and tears of centuries of hard work is going up in CO2, trapping us in a suffocation of our own ignorant making.

we come from and return to the earth, it's the in-between phase where we lose the plot.

the anglo-american business model is heartless and soul-less, as has proved its polar opposite of totalitarian top-down statism.

accountability, transparency, public civic education, ecological respect, quality of life, time to muse and share without a time-is-money clock ticking in the background.

break the money-as-god fetish on the wheel of reasonable compassion, a stable economy will be the result.

we need to learn from history, and constantly strive for the 'middle way' of balance....no more marie antoinettes, no more lenins.

prodi's wistful affirmation of 'felicita' moved me mightily; this cannot be bought with cold hard cash, but is the fruit of people living together with respect, harmony and consideration of all members of society.

thatcherism is the equivalent of eating the seed corn, buring the antique furniture...sure the belly feels full and the limbs warm, but at what cost to the future generations?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 03:15:48 PM EST
Jerome, this is one of the best pieces you have written (a couple of energy related articles share the spot) and you are writing darn well anyway.

This was concise and on the spot.

I attended a talk by the Dr. Papantoniou, the Greek ex-minister of economics (from the socialist party PASOK) and his point was essentially the same as the elites: the Anglo model is working better. I pointed to him the US economy being propped by the recycling of the petro- and sino- dollar but did not have any countering for the British -- thanks for providing those in your previous diary. When I see him again, I will have a better structured response :-)


Orthodoxy is not a religion.

by BalkanIdentity (balkanid _ at _ google.com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 03:37:15 PM EST
I would have fervently applauded the PASOK guy's claim that Greece has got to learn a lot from the English economic model and pointed out that Greece is, indeed, the only EU Member State that has consistently proved to be incapable to produce cars (or any other quality goods), which, of course, puts it in line with the English experience of the last 40 years. I would have thanked him for his forthright, open and radical political analyses and formulated the hypothesis that Greece is probably further down the road of necessary economic change than the UK itself, because contrary to the UK which once had a broad manufacturing base, Greece has never produced anything of consequence - neither in the past, nor now.

Greece: One Point

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 04:56:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
of neo-liberalism. Basically, I kind of go a long with a sort of neo-liberalism-lite half-heartedly or as a pragmaatic compromise about what seems possible.

Still, I do think there are significant problems with the current economic model, esp. as it relates to the developing world.

This said, one of the reason for my willingness to back policies and politicians that I only half or half-heartedly support is because I don't see what the alternative is. I see a lot of talk about an "alternative," but I would like to see, CONCRETELY, what this alternative would be. And crackpot altermondialisation is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a series of concrete, implementable micro and macro economic policies that can promise prosperity and meaningful democratic participation FOR ALL. There are some very smart people here. So rather than complaining about the status quo, show me the alternative.

by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 05:53:45 PM EST
We're getting there; a number of ideas have been floated in ealrier threads. Will you also help ?

Recognising unions, worker protections and eqaulity as good things is not a defensive/negative message, it's a positive message on its own.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 13th, 2006 at 02:56:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me ask you guys this: what is wrong with the economic model similar to that of Nordic countries with more "flexibility" in the labor market but a very comprehensive social protection at the same time. Can we maybe discuss this alternative?

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 07:02:10 PM EST
...it was attempted once, but it didn't float so well. But I'm all for it.
by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Apr 13th, 2006 at 04:26:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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