Posted: Apr 13, 2020 6:07 am
by gobshite
OlivierK wrote:
gobshite wrote:This is probably a fair point, except it leaves us with the notion that capitalism is good at generating wealth, except when it isn't and then it's the government's fault.

I'll note that I didn't say that. I think it's a decent wealth-creation mechanism when done well, and like anything it can be done well, and done badly. I certainly don't blame government for failures of corporations to be profitable, including in cases where reasonable regulations to safeguard environmental or social capital render a business non-viable.

gobshite wrote:In any case, I'm going to retreat to my rephrasing of your initial point: capitalism is good at stealing wealth from the developing world and future generations. When viewed this way, it's fairly questionable whether capitalism is actually generating much wealth at all. It's expropriating it.

Well, yes. Just as capitalism is good at privatising (or stealing, if you prefer) the common wealth when environmental or social regulations are looser than they should be. So the business of government should very much be constructing a regulatory environment where corporations can only make a profit by actually creating value rather than expropriating capital (social, environmental, or financial) from those that current systems fail to adequately defend. I'm confident that in general, it's still possible to make a profit while operating ethically.

I hope (perhaps naively) that there will be a greater recognition and acceptance of the role of government in our society after this virus thing settles down. I'd say we need to create a disaster fund that can help in situations like this, but when money is this cheap to borrow perhaps borrowing and then using surpluses (fairly non-existent lately) to pay back those loans is a better way to go. Piling up debt does feel pretty uncomfortable, though. We really need to get back to surpluses (raising taxes is going to be the only way we will do this while keeping society primed to deal with future disasters). In Australia, at least, we have been running structural deficits too long. The neoliberal approach of cutting taxes in the hope of increasing revenue has proved to be pretty hollow in the last decade+ I'd say. So to answer the OP's question of What Next? - i'd say we need to move to a stronger role for government, and perhaps re-nationalisation of some critical parts of the economy. Basically a strong Scandi social democracy.