Thursday, 3 September 2009

Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics Have Much to Answer For...


Thankfully, Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning University of Chicago economist, is dead after living to the grand old age of 94 and while it's true that only the good die young; Milton Friedman never had a moment of self-doubt in his life and people without self-doubt always go straight to the burning torments of Hades.

Friedman's uber-free-market monetarism has left the world with a neo-conservative hangover. Since the collapse of the economy of Argentina, whose government had followed the Consensus's prescriptions to the letter, Latin America has rebelled by electing every leftist in sight, while in Iraq the hubris of a new US imperialism has failed to conquer a country they actually helped weaken with a decade and a half of sanctions and airspace control, instead stoking radical Islamic anti-westernism from California through Europe to Indonesia.

The University of Chicago (that did beget the Chicago School of Economics) has of course developed some great thinkers but Friedmen is one of it's major intellectual embarrassments and how he became a figure of power and reverence in America is a question for an expert on the mass psychology of fascism.

Regular readers will know that I don't believe in Hades but I do believe Milton Friedman is being tortured there by demons and so infectious is his lack of self-doubt that, even in death, he makes me certain he's being tortured in a Hades I don't even believe in. Now, that's one evil economist!

I'll explain why...

As we've seen in the recent financial collapse brought on, in part, by Milton's ideas that have created the paradox of public funding holding together the very free market structures the evil old bastard was such a fan of, there is money to be made in moving companies and their debt around. Definitely not in making and selling products. What kind of schmuck manufactures or does stuff?

The big money is in the investing and buying and selling of ethereal debts and assets, never paying the debts, never delivering the fruit of the assets, paying yourself handsomely, and to top it off, not paying taxes, since most of the tax cuts that the white Christian gay-bashing underclass patriots in the red states were so happy to have, benefited no one...well, no one but the very, very rich.

And it is all Milton Friedman's fault. How? Is he magically forcing the financial world to suck the resources out of the real world with its funnel cloud of insanity? From the land of the dead, from his torture grief-pit he is doing this?

Yes. Yes he is.

Milton Friedman dignified a simplistic vision of economics, a vision so simplistic it could not but appeal to the likes of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, who were both very simple people at heart. Thus began the popularisation of the terms of extreme capitalism and the private ownership fetish. Thus in the early 1980s William F. Buckley could host a farcical debate on, "Resolved, Government Is The Problem, Not The Solution" at the start of which he declared, "We are not anarchists. We simply believe that the government more often stands in the way of progress than aids it." He and what would become the neo-conservatives wanted just enough government to protect corporations from the rabble, and none to protect the rabble from the corporations. And again, Milton Friedman and his "Chicago School" surrealists gave an intellectual imprimatur to these semantic antics.

Government (whether of, by, for, or against the people) has always favored the very wealthy and their endeavors, adventures and investments. But since Milton harnessed Reagan and Thatcher, and vice versa, the very wealthy have faced dwindling popular resistance. They and their media lackeys in the hate industry proudly display their resentment of any control over the economy that doesn't originate with or profit them. Allowing high financial interests to dictate how clean the air should be, who should own the water, how much a corporation should compensate someone it injures, how much assistance a government should offer its poor, how much it should spend on teachers and doctors, whether workers can organise into unions, what kind of science can be done...the list goes on.

Putting all these decisions into the hands of the people with the most money is now second-nature to the voting public of the USA. And, yes, it's Milton Friedman's fault. So I'm glad he's dead. Not as glad as I will be when Margaret Thatcher dies...

4 comments:

  1. Firstly, there is no hell. I am sure Milt died peacefully and is now worm food. Good for him.

    Stop whinging and quit the capitalist system, I tell ya. You are the reason it works, remember? If you participate, then you can't complain. Drop out, give me your money and everything will be fine.

    Also, for someone who actually advertised product for "The Idiot Tax"TM - the National Lottery - I find these posts sick-making and just a tad two-faced. He who allows his image to be used to sell stuff complains about the darker machinations of the capitalist system? How so?

    The ethical actor? Now there's a concept to think about...

    The lottery is a good example of a capitalist product aimed at those who can't afford it and is designed to keep the poor in their place. It is the most vulnerable who get drawn into it, it is the poorest who hang onto the dream that they can gamble their way out of poverty and it is people like you, who are probably quite comfortable thank-you-very-much, who help perpetuate this cancer.

    I have customers who come into my shop in the winter complaining how cold it is and how they don't have enough money for their electricity keys, but they've just spunked £20 on lottery scratchcards, etc.

    Now did you manage to buy your flat/house/cave/dwelling outright? If so, bravo you are indeed a very rich boy and I salute you for saving your pennies in such an industrious manner. If not, I would be so bold as to presume you got a mortgage or loan of some kind. Now without Milt's little gamble, you wouldn't have that foothold on the greasy rung of the property ladder.

    In ye olde days, mortgages were very difficult to come by and it was only by the freeing up of the banking system (and the selling of debt) that allows the common people to try and own their homes. This was another heinous crime perpetrated by Thatcher The Milk SnatcherTM. I can't complain, because I was/am part of the system.

    But like the lottery it is a tool to keep us in our place, to make us a slave to money and scared of our bosses, because we need the monthly wage to pay "the man". Like the lottery, mortgages keep you at your level and unless you are really fucking smart, it is hard to break free of that cycle.

    Abroad, especially in France, it is almost unhead of to buy your own home. Everyone rents and is happy with it, and renting gives you certain securities and certain freedoms that owning a home doesn't. It gives you rights and it gives you the ability to be mobile, if you wish. Having a mortgage keeps you rooted in one place for a period of time and you are at the mercy of the bank, who we now all know aren't fit to..er...run a bank.

    Ever since the first men traded with each other, the capitalist system existed. Like religion, it has been used to enslave us all - but we don't necessarily realise it.

    Unfortunately, everyone has their price and until every man, woman and child can be free of money, there will always be the system. Communism failed, socialism failed, while the money machine marches on. Of course, we could all move to Cuba, and I'd love that. (The best fuck I've ever had was from a Cuban lady who needed some money to pay her phone bill. Aye-carumba!)

    I'm not agreeing with the system. I think it sucks and is designed to keep the rich at the top and the poor at the bottom. I just don't think it is something we can disassemble or replace with anything better. The only solution is to live with a set of financial ethics and don't whinge too much. Avoid paying taxes, keep your money in your shoe and don't buy foreign products, etc. :-)

    Remember, those who were victims of the property crash were adults of sound mind, the majority of whom were thinking that owning property was going to profit them. Milt and the like were only playing on that greed, the basest of emotions that runs through most of us like the letters in a stick of seaside rock. It's Pavlov's Dog on a global scale, dude.

    Over and out...

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  2. I've said this in the other post, it is not capitalism per se but this particular brand of it that is the problem and I think I've made it pretty clear in this post.

    We do not have to exist under the Fieldman form of capitalism, we didn't use to, it is a new brand that is particularly destructive.

    I do wish you'd read the posts correctly sometimes before you go off on one.

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  3. I am with Daniel on this one.I took th eliberty to link this post from my blog. Hope you don't mind.

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