More on Friedman…

Ok, I didn’t explain what I hate about this quote, ” In an essay titled “Is Capitalism Humane?” Friedman said that “a set of social institutions that stresses individual responsibility, that treats the individual … as responsible for and to himself, will lead to a higher and more desirable moral climate.” “

The huge issue is the fallacy of ‘individual responsibility’. The assumption that all-powerful personal autonomy is a healthy way to live. It also assumes that (as most people with some kind of heart would agree, even if they like Friedman) there are a handful of people who will struggle, and so we need systems in place to help them, because they are disabled, or mentally ill, or whatever, but everyone else can just get into a scrap for the top of the heap.

It’s bollocks. Indefensible bollocks. Because if it was true, rich people would be happier. It’s as simple as that. And they aren’t. Not even close. In fact, the opposite is often true. I know of people earning $2 million a year, who talk about what they want to do ‘when they get rich’. How fucked is that? I also know people with nothing who give what they have to help others, and are rewarded richly for it.

So, a system that promotes the rights of those at the top, who already have more than they’ll ever need, over those at the bottom who aren’t just devoid of luxury, but can’t get basic food, medical care, education etc. is clearly screwed. I’m baffled how anyone could think otherwise.

So, to suggest that the ‘moral’ aim of economic systems is to facilitate the right to acquire any level of person fortune, to encourage people to strive for that because of some screwed up ‘trickledown’ concept, is mendacious.

It seems clear from the failure of most Communist government experiments that that isn’t the answer. I very much doubt that Soviet Russia scored too highly on a contendedness/happiness/shalom rating. I think there’s genuinely a ‘third way’, it’s just a shame that the third way we’ve been presented with post-Clinton is just the same old shit with a few crumbs being thrown to the poor.

Politics as if people mattered. What a lovely thought.

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