IF anyone had doubts that the so-called Free Enterprise System is in a free-fall crisis that’s simply not free-for-all, just look at how the UN Secretary-General is condemning massive profit-making by the world’s major oil companies in the middle of the current world food and fuel crisis, how the world’s major currencies are tumbling over each other, how the economies of the G-7 (the world’s richest countries) are grinding and grounding under unprecedented and unparalleled pressures – and how central bank chiefs are inventing words to not admit that inflation rates are bordering on recession in major nations heading into elections.
The UK and US face their worst recession since 1992 and 2008, respectively, the Bank of England yesterday issuing its bleakest projections for 13 per cent inflation due to high fuel and food prices and the US reporting surprising job creation numbers, while housing prices in New York reached $5,000 monthly for the first time – and the White House had to declare Monkeypox a public health emergency in New York and New Jersey.
The IMF has also predicted the UK will experience its slowest growth among G-7 nations (the world’s richest), while Europe’s strongest economy, Germany, has been forced to seek private sector help to buy oil on the international market to make-up for less-than-expected Russian supplies ahead of a bad winter with little or no heat.
The crises are causing changes so fast that ex-Fed chiefs in the USA are also now going over each other to admit and explain why they “got it wrong on inflation” while in office.
The Free Enterprise system was heralded in its heyday with movies like ‘The Firm’ (starring Michael Douglas, whose gospel was “Greed is Good!”) and more recently by IT startups like Facebook that grew into juggernaut global corporate giants beyond the reach of governments and regulators, always settling where the nest is best for paying the less taxes possible.
Bill Gates and his earlier Microsoft and Apple ilk been boosted lately by the likes of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos competing for the rotating title of ‘World’s Richest Man’, the Musk and Bezos their money fights to flights into outer space, each with companies aiming at opening space to millionaire tourists.
The COVID crisis only added to their respective billions as the world’s richest found and exploited smart ways to stretch money and grow wealth – and outbid each other with super yachts and personalised jet planes while spending hundreds of millions to prevent workers from forming or joining trade unions.
In the 22nd Year of the 21st Century, workers in countries where these goliath businesses operate, everything is done to prevent workers from becoming unionised, even though it’s an established and protected right fought and paid for with the lives, blood and sweat of workers of the world as far back as the late 19th Century.
The socialist system was always decried, even though its best features were quietly adopted and adapted in and by the major capitalist governments because of how they directly benefit masses of people, like medical care and housing, education and implementation of social programmes that improve lives in communities.
The Cold War that followed World War II offered stiff competition and clear examples of the differences (positive and negative) between Socialism and Capitalism as the world’s two driving economic systems, but after the fall of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1991, capitalism has roamed free and wild worldwide as the dominant economic model.
But for some time now – over a decade – telltale signs of capitalism’s imbedded crisis started to emerge as economists on both sides started pouring watering holes into the use of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to measure economic success.
The dominant system’s failures started to show up in different ways, all driven by the ultimate objective of every enterprise being to make maximum profits for as long as possible, without blinking an eye or giving a hoot about anyone or anything else.
The combined effects of accumulated and accelerated international crises have led to unforeseen and unprecedented national economic, social and political crisis for countries that never dreamed of declining so fast, as in Sri Lanka, with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) flashing early warning signals that at least another dozen countries worldwide will fall along the same route.
The Free Enterprise system encourages greed and exploitation of opportunities as positive characteristics of the true modern entrepreneur, but is also structured to grind even the most successful to the ground if and when they fall out-of-grace or favour with those who control the multifarious systems globally.
Over five months after Ukraine, economic sanctions against Russia have not yielded the desired or expected effect, with the ruble outperforming all other competing international currencies since the Ukraine war started, Moscow earning at least one billion US dollars per day from European nations tied to Russian oil and gas.
Russia, which has also been a Free-Market capitalist economy since 2001, seems to have better understood the workings of the capitalist economy than its Chinese counterparts, even with Beijing holding America’s biggest international debt in its back-pocket.
And the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) last month quietly established a new gold and natural resources-backed international currency to compete with the US dollar on the global capital market.
Capitalism has reigned free and unbridled in the last three decades while insatiable greed and opulence have increased alongside increasing poverty and hunger worldwide, giving rise to the bitter finding that the world’s richest one percent is countless times richer than all the rest.
Food, energy and house rent prices are at their highest and more British people have to rely on soup kitchens and donations, while BP (British Petroleum) registered over US $8 billion profits in the second quarter of 2022 and over $14 million in the first half of the year.