Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Four legs good, two legs better

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-11-20

The push for a return to governance and central planning in response to the crisis from the pro-free-market community, after decades of taking the position that central planning always fails (or at least is not as efficient as free-markets), reminds me of the sheep in that latter parts "Animal Farm" who bleat "Four legs good, two legs better".

The VoxEU post "Finance, market, globalisation: a plot against mankind?" by Salvatore Rossi presents a good argument that free-market fundamentalist theology, not the use of free-market insights as part of policy development, is the problem, and that states can be considered the villians too because they abrogated a duty of states: to ensure governance.

After differentiating between logical and theological attitudes of free-marketeers, and arguing that free markets are neither good nor bad (like technology, it depends how it is used), Rossi makes the point against states:

The laissez-faire fundamentalists may be seen paradoxically as State interventionists, in that they wanted the government, allying with vested interests, to purposely deprive the competitive market of the air it breathes, namely rules and supervision. If this view is correct, by a twist of language we can call it a State failure: a failure by inaction, not excessive action, due to the refusal to see, to counter or to correct an evident series of market failures.

Yes, politicians are also the villians of the piece, or at least the sidekicks of the blackhats, duped by the smooth-sounding self-serving words of the free-market fundamentalists.

The change in the lobbying of free-marketeers to holding out their hands after telling nation states "hands off" for so long suggests that self-serving motives were, are, and will always be, the main determinant of the content of the lobbying.

In other words, the arguments of trans-nationals and free-market supports for particular policies should never be trusted completely, and their promises of good outcomes should be treated, as the poet Catullus advised (of another group he saw as perfidious and self-serving), as "written on the wind and rushing water" ("in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua").

It’s also time to grant more time to the advocacy of the non-free-marketeers, the latte-sipping socialists, as such advocacy is rarely directly self-interested (except for the hope of being able to live in a better world).

In a future post, I’ll be dealing with a possible counterintutive result of increased business advocacy for better conditions: universal enfranchisement in a world government.


One Response to “Four legs good, two legs better”

  1. […] Your faves?The LEaglet has landedPaid paternal leave might fix gender wage inequityeSecurity ReviewFour legs good, two legs betterGeek and green present wishlistAG inquiries: eSecurity, 2008 Fed Criminal Justice Reform […]

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