Monday, 29 September 2008

Witty bits from what I learned in the UK (7) [Vorbe de duh din ce am învăţat eu în UK]

Q: Of course, I was by no means a leftist before I came to the UK to study at the SEI as a Chevening Fellow, but now I’ve got even more liberal views on the economy, which were enhanced by the answer to the next question: What good are doing to the people those politicians who fear taking measures that would make thousands of workers jobless?

A: Absolutely none. Most ‘humane considerations’ of the leftists, which keep economically unviable (and often state-owned) companies alive, just not to let people out on the streets (or the pubs :-) are only meant to preserve their electoral chances. They hardly any economic justification.

On the long term, each electoral bribery like this (offering state contracts to a doomed company, just not to lose a certain constituency) backfires, as the younger one is fired, the sooner that person can requalify. When a factory is not closed down at the right time, it will, nevertheless, be forced out of the market by future competition.

Basically, there’s no good choice in choosing not to close down a factory expectedly, thus letting the heartless rules of the free market close it unexpectedly. Of course that I’m in favour of all the necessary social protection measures + workforce reconversion policies...

However, as long as a certain company (or even an entire industry) is on the way to bankruptcy, what can there be achieved by just delaying its fall?!

[For all the episodes of this series, and all the posts on this blog go to/Pentru toate episoadele din această serie şi toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]


Gregor said...

Dear Bogdan

I would like to give an alternative view from an award winning British blogger:

'On the economy, both parties enthusiastically endorse the globalist neoliberal model, which is mistakenly described as “free market” but which in fact requires massive state support. Britain's privatised railways, for instance, receive four times more in taxpayers' subsidy than they did when they were publicly owned; it was for that very reason that the genuinely free-market Conservative transport minister Nicholas Ridley opposed privatisation in the 1980s.

The Conservative's Private Finance Initiative scheme, whereby the government pays private companies to build new hospitals and schools and then leases them from those companies under lengthy contracts, has been extended under Labour, even though once again, the taxpayer ends up paying far more in the long run.'

This is why I generally view the 'neo-liberal' view with distrust. Perhaps, given that you are from a former communist country, you see the devil in the guise of central government. Here, I think our own society has been corrupted by free market capitalism. Of course there is no ideal alternative, and all political systems are corrupt and imperfect, the further they are from God.

Still, just offering a social democrat alternative view on privatisation.

MunteanUK said...

Thanks for the interesting view!

Indeed, one could look also towards the state-owned enterprises in France, and witness quite a few counterexamples from what we saw in Eastern Europe.

Instead of poor services and a waste of the takpayer's money, the French state companies are, as they say, real 'national champions' and we saw an interesting paradox in Romania. Many public utilities were privatised, but bought by state-owned Greek, French, Italian and German companies :)

And guess what? Every now and then, the services provided to customers are at least equally poor (if not even worse!) than the services once offered by Romanian state firms.

However, in general, the state companies in Romania were embezzeled and probably deliberately mismanaged, so that their value would decrease, and bough at a cheaper rate by their current owners.

I'm rather a 'liberal' than an 'etatist' in economical matters, yet none of these approaches should be considered 'bad' or 'good' in themselves. Economical policies are just tools, and their success depends on the way they are put into practice.

Unfortunately, as long as the global humanist society dreams only of 'prosperity, welfare, a terrestrial paradise' (here, in this passing world), I don't think any current political leaders can do anything good.

We know too well, as the Lord told us, that nothing good can be done without Him, and as long as He is absent from the minds and hearts of most 'leaders' of today, I don't think there's much good we could expect from them.

Gregor said...

Dear Bogdan

I take your point, but I would say that the term 'liberal' like 'free market' is loaded in favour of the viewpoint, as many corporations are heavily subsidised by the central government.

Because I live in a society which views capitalism as the guardian of our freedoms, yet which has the most intrusive government in the developed world, I feel very disenchanted with this viewpoint.

By contrast Greece and France have good civil liberties as well as a strong government interaction in the state. In France at least this is called 'dirigisme', which probably sums up my viewpoint best. This phrase (meaning mixed economy) wis synonymous with President DeGaulle and I think that the French were very lucky to have DeGaulle as their national leader. He was a devout man who encouraged free enterprise at the same time as he strengthened the state and brought patriotism to the French people.

By contrast I think that the Britons have a bizarre idealisation of Winston Churchill, an atheist, philistine and intellectual slob, who was thought to have partially inspired 'Big Brother' in 1984.

Whilst he was admirable in some ways, he was also paternalistic and full of moral relativity and largely responsible for statist post-war troubles in Britain.

Anyway, just offering my view again... though I would agree with you, only through Christ can anyone achieve anything.

MunteanUK said...

Dear friend,

It's always good to find 'amending vies' to what I post on my blog. In essence, there's not that much we diagree on :)

What brings us together in spirit - our Lord Jesus Christ - is more important than political perspectives, which are inherently limited, biased, incomplete, possibly wrong... Anyone of us may be proven wrong by the chain of events, but it's so good to keep up the faith that, on the long term, in what we cherish most and expect most, we can't be wrong.

And I'm not saying 'we can't' as if we were clever or 'virtuous' - but because salvation is a gift from God! If we really really want it, if we really try to love Him, He will not let us down!

Our own 'wisdom', our theories, our efforts, our body strength and mental clarity, our most dear ones - everything & everyone can fail us. YET ONLY THE LORD WILL NEVER LEAVE THOSE WHO CALL HIM!

From another perspective:
1. What's your view on the current 'world financial crisis'?
2. Bailing out banks isn't a form of (re)nationalisation? How do the Brits perceive this?
3. Don't Bush and Paulson want 'dicatorial powers', as long they are asking for $700 bln that they could basically dispose of with little Congress oversight?
4. What do you thing about the Irish solution, of guaranteeing all bank deposits for the next 2 years?

Gregor said...

Dear Bogdan

Unfortunately I know very little about the banking side of economics. However, when New Labour came into power they sold off the gold reserves, because gold, being a material asset, was regarded as irrelevant to the free market. Subsequently we have a volatile economy.

I don't agree in principle with the nationalisation of banks, especially considering how the money has been spent (I seem to remember hearing that the director of Northern Rock was given a redundancy payment of £200,000 courtesy of the tax payer). However, I do not know enough about the entire thing to say what would be best. As for Bush's bailout plan, I disagreed with it in principle, yet I do not know; maybe it was the only way of saving the national economy.

However, I feel that Britain would not have such an intense financial crisis were it not that we have had an inflated economy due to the housing bubble. Because there is a minimum wage in Britain, this has meant that there is large unemployment, because most businesses cannot afford to take on staff, due to the value of the pound.

Yet my own view is that GDP is not in itself of great importance. Britain has one of the world's highest GDPs yet it is a third world country in many areas. Whilst I saw some poor areas of Greece (which has a far lower per capita GDP) there was nothing like the hopelessness of British housing estates.

MunteanUK said...

Dear Gregor,

Not that I'd be 'liberal' or not, but this whole bailout plan is a hoax. 'They' caused the problems, and 'they' are paying for solving them (really?! - or just hide them, till they errupt more violently during a worse 'crisis'?) with the taxpayer's money. Who 'they' are... just figure it out!

As for the situation in the UK, I see it's really bad...

"RBS predicts that the economy will have contracted by 0.3% during the third quarter and a further 0.3% in the final three months of this year. It also predicts that 700,000 people will lose their jobs between now and the end of next year, taking the number of those out of work up to 2.4m." []

But you're packing your things for Greece, aren't you? :) Apart from the warmer climate, maybe Greece is not an ideal place to be, but what matters most is the fact that you could probably have a fuller spiritual life there, and this is matters more after all.

Only don't forget that salvation is 'attainable' anywhere for those who want this gift from God. Be it a remote place in Scotland or a fully established Orthodox community in Greece - both places have their good and bad parts, opportunities and temptations...

Unfortunately, what counts for most our contemporaries are assets, consumption, careers, ambitions, success, and so forth.

May the Lord help you find - in Greece or elsewhere - what is best for your salvation! Therefore, I am not wishing you 'prosperity' in this tough economical times, but all the Lord's precious gifts for your soul, for you salvation, and the salvation of those you love!

[I'm getting offtopic :) - this blog post was about the economy, but I just can't help thinking that the Lord surely has a more effective 'bailout plan' with each of us! In fact, He reedemed our sins, and He's offering us the greatest deal we could ever sign! No bank deposit, no investment fund, no government promise - nothing is more of a sure guarantee than the one He offers to our souls: Heaven!!!]