Tag Archives: capitalism

Reforming capitalism: The need for popular ownership

In the wake of coronavirus, how should Liberal Democrats think about and approach capitalism?

For those on the left this pandemic is confirmation that capitalism has failed; without significant state assistance it lacks, we are told, the resilience to manage in times of crisis. As a result, socialists declare that the market must be restrained, tempered, and tamed. Crucially, however, it is the state which is to be charged with achieving this. We must, we are told, have more taxation and greater regulation as well as greater state spending.

In contrast, for those on the right this episode has confirmed that we need more, not less, of the Chicago school thinking that has dominated so much economic thought since the days of Thatcher and Reagan: we require, we are told, less taxation and fewer regulations.

Contrary to the above, Liberal Democrats should draw on our rich intellectual heritage and demand a new, reformed, and radical form of capitalism. The hallmark of such a vision should be one in which capital is much more widely owned than is currently the case and in which as many people as possible own capital.

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

Independent View: Cable should revisit Mill’s Principles of Political Economy

John Stuart MillCable should revisit Mill’s Principles of Political Economy

With new analysis this week showing as many as 50,000 women lose their jobs each year while taking time off to have a baby, insecurity appears to be the new normal for British workers.

From mothers losing out whilst on maternity leave, to the rocketing growth of zero hour contracts on which as many as 1m people are now employed, millions of people face instability at work. These bad employment practices combined with the on-going squeeze on wages means that over half of people say they struggle to keep up with bills. As conference approaches, Vince Cable would do well to consider these issues as matters of pressing importance.

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged | 11 Comments

Opinion: Atlas Wussed

Capitalism is in crisis, or so the enthusiastic chaps of the Occupy movement would have us believe. I find doing so somewhat difficult, as I work in central London, and am positively surrounded by capitalists with flashy cars, sharp suits and a taste for champagne. If this is a crisis, it’s difficult to see how it differs from Capitalism Triumphant.

However, the truth is that the classic right-wing Atlas Shrugged mode of capitalism is in crisis. The Government has cut corporation tax, is cutting back regulation and has just lowered the 50p income tax rate. This is the …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 35 Comments

Opinion: “Capitalism is a great success story.” Really, Nick?

On Monday, Nick Clegg gave a speech on responsible capitalism. This was his first real foray into the debate since it has erupted as a major talking point, even though we as a party have been arguing the need to reform capitalism before it was cool.

Before criticising capitalism, he praised it by saying this:

Capitalism may be today’s political punchbag, but let’s take a long view: it’s one of history’s great success stories. No other human innovation has driven progress  and raised living standards so consistently. Markets catalyse ideas, invention and experimentation. When they work well, they are meritocratic and

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 35 Comments

Vince Cable speech to conference

Speaking at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference today, Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable said:

I have come to account to you, Conference, for the work I have been carrying out in the Coalition Government.

I have managed to infuriate the bank bosses; acquire a fatwa from the revolutionary guards of the trades union movement; frighten the Daily Telegraph with a progressive graduate payment; and upset very rich people who are trying to dodge British taxes. I must be doing something right.

But I am told that I look miserable. I’m sorry, conference, this is my happy face. ‘Aren’t you having fun?’ …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Opinion: Are we really going to learn anything at all from this mess?

The problems – however astonishing and severe – are symptoms of the financial sector alone.”
Financial Times leader, 28.12.08

At the moment I would hazard a guess that we are about one-fifth of the way through the current crisis of Zeitgeist. I read last week, on one of the more respectable financial websites, that, with so many companies financially weak, 2009 would see ‘a bonanza for mergers and acquisitions’. For the nth time, a member of the Cabinet parroted that “global problems require global solutions”. Two UK banks seemed unwilling to take the hit for £32 billion worth of losses in 2008: Alistair Darling thought they should absorb them from ample existing capitalisation, but the bankers failed to see why they couldn’t have more taxpayers’ money instead.

The day before, I listened to six property experts on BBC Radio 4 debating how to get the housing market moving again by loosening credit. Later on BBC News I heard Gordon Brown reaffirming his desire that nobody should be repossessed as a result of “overstretched” borrowing.

Everything you’ve read in inverted commas so far in this Opinion piece is about as wrong as wrong could be.

Our problems did not emanate from some oddly No-mates organic thing called ‘the financial sector alone’. They came from bankers forcing debt onto people who had in turn decided to suspend disbelief. And they, in turn, are the products of a dumbed-down Western culture fixated by material well-being, targets, the Office, bling and GDP.

But, apart from the more gullible suckers, long before there was any sub-prime debt (surely the euphemism of the Millennium) most articulate western consumers had accepted that dealing with any commercial manufacturing or service-providing concern of any size involves ignoring all the lies, noting the lack of ethics, and being prepared to threaten in order to get even minimal satisfaction or after-sales service.

Enormous global combines without a clear culture have exacerbated the problem by basing their business models solely on production output and the whims of remote shareholders. In that context, ethics are for wimps – and if the only answer to large-scale failure is yet more M&A activity to satiate even greedier shareholders, then I have news for us all: it can only make things worse. The bigger an organisation gets, the more remote the customer becomes.

Global problems most emphatically do not require global solutions: we’ve tried that to the current tune of $8.5 trillion, and it’s made no impact at all. What we need is to question the whole validity of globalism in an environmentally threatened world, and reject the Friedman/Levitt drivel that started all this nonsense in the first place.

We do not need to bail out any more bankers: we need to remain calm and tell the banks ‘no more bailouts until you start lending to sound young businesses’.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 10 Comments
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