Courtesy of Mark E Jeftovic @ The Dollar Vigilante
Ghandi was once asked, “What do you think about Western Civilization?” to which he famously replied “I think it’s a good idea.” He may as well have been talking about free market capitalism.
Capital in the 21st Century has hit the world like a new teen idol sensation. Everybody is drinking the Kool-Aid and it’s being held up as the most important book ever written on the subject of how runaway capitalism leads to wealth inequality. Paul Krugman of course, loves it. As does every head of state and political hack in the (formerly) free world. A text-book sized brick that can be condensed down to a couple bullet points:
- that unchecked capitalism leads to increasing wealth inequality, and
- this can be fixed through government management, most notably more taxes and higher minimum wages.
What’s not to love?
There are many other refutations of Capital circulating, most of which address the numerous factual errors and flawed research methodologies in the book, and countering the income equality assertions with observations around how the standard of living generally increases across the board during periods of free(er) market capitalism (such as England during the industrial revolution under the classical gold standard or wider Europe during the High Middle Ages).
The age we live in today is not an example of this. I submit that the modern run of standard of living increases, say from end of WWII to present is not an example of “free markets given room to run”, but rather a crack-up boom fuelled by credit expansion (cheap money) and cheap energy. This era is now drawing to a close, as the cost of energy inexorably rises and the global debt super-cycle finally hits a wall. After decades of government targeted inflation, after the better part of a decade of ZIRP, after increased regulations in every aspect of our lives, after civil liberties being for the most part abolished (after all, the government is allowed to assassinate any one of us and we are all under continuous pervasive surveillance) what is difficult to fathom is that political economists can still make hay in the world by blaming its problems on capitalism gone wild and runaway free markets. Put simply, true capitalism requires free markets, free markets require a free society and we do not live in a free society. Continue reading