Counting the Cost: has capitalism gone bankrupt?

by Jerome Roos on February 27, 2012

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With a worldwide financial crisis and an outraged 99 percent taking to the streets, Al Jazeera asks whether the free market is free enough.

Al Jazeera introduces the following documentary:

The world is a largely capitalistic economy – one that even communist China is embracing. But with a worldwide financial crisis, towering government debt and the public outrage of the 99 per cent, perhaps the free market is not free enough.

The world’s largest economy, the US, has a $15.2tn debt. According to Tea Partiers, that is because government spending and central bank meddling has distorted the market. Occupy campaigners, however, argue that capitalism brings excessive wealth to the few.

To even the most fiscally unlearned, the disparity is obvious.

The Economic Policy Institute has found that 1 per cent of US households control 42.7 per cent of the country’s assets.

And with wealth, comes influence – 24.3 per cent of all political donations in the 2010 election cycle were made by 0.01 per cent of Americans.

Sadly, the developing world gets left behind as well. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, the richest 20 per cent of the world’s population control 82.8 per cent of its income, while the poorest 20 per cent control just 1 per cent.

Capitalism is often celebrated as the panacea for the world’s financial problems, but in this episode, Counting the Cost looks at how the system is open to abuse, corruption and could benefit from taking a page out of the experiences of emerging economies.

Kamahl Santamaria speaks to Mark Weisbrot from the Centre for Economic and Policy Research; Bryan Caplan, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute in Fairfax; and Loretta Napoleoni, the author of Maonimcs: Why Chinese Communists Make Better Capitalists Than We Do.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Andrew Stergiou February 27, 2012 at 11:36

Capitalism exists with competition and with a lack of competition, as it consolidates it acquires an advantage that it often does not want to give up, as products get cheaper to produce, ironically the profits are maximized in artificially maintaining high prices where those consumers can often more as in the west, japan and the US. Why should sneakers produced in cheap labor countries be artificially be sold at prices without relevancy to the countries it is produced? For every concession made to western workers is vindictively recouped in return (for it is difficult if not impossible for individual consumers to access the world markets as do large corporations. The few last basic products which can not be outsourced to to be housing tenancy and rent as most has been allowed to enter the alleged “free markets” of capitalism. Capitalism where the issue in not profits but the power to produce and of control, labor has given itself altruistically often but also requires a sense of regional or nation being for it is in the often restricted markets of labor confined to the countries they exist.

Al Jazeera with all that can be said in its presenting a different and critical view the question which would remain in class struggle, solidarity and perspectives I would find them hard pressed to address; and, where such statements are made in the opportunity being left to isolated individuals (such as myself) while the mass movements of the west continue to exhibit the manipulations of the police states they exist diffusing anger and opposition rather than consolidating it.

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