Monday, August 30, 2010

For an an alternative perspective on economic policy: read Billy blog

Bill Mitchell's blog Billy Blog-alternative economic thinking is an excellent site to read about the myths and propaganda promulgated by mainstream economists, economic commentators in the media and most politicains and political commentators. 

As a non-economist interested in economic matters I greatly appreciate Billy blog's sustained critique of neoliberal and neo conservative market economics.

Reading one of his latest posts about the standard myths that dominate most neoliberal economic thinking I found this:
"The overwhelming sentiment of the business community and the conservative nature of our political system (and its participants) leads to a largely anti-government swell of opinion which is continually reinforced by the media – the “debt-deficit hysterics”. The neo-liberal expression of this over the last three decades has overwhelmingly imposed massive political restrictions on the ability of the government to use its fiscal policy powers under a fiat monetary system to ensure we have full employment.

We now accept very high unemployment and underemployment rates as a more or less permanent feature of our economic lives because of the political constraints imposed on government"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The harm that markets cause: event in Fremantle

Great to see this event The Global Economy and Human Wellbeing  being run by Rob Lambert* at the Edmund Rice Centre for Social Justice in Fremantle this Saturday 4 September, 2010 between 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM.

The event is designed to provide people with a deeper understanding of what global free markets are doing to persons, families and societies;  the nature of corporate restructuring of work, and its social and psychological impacts for families and communities; - basic analytic techniques of ‘political economy’ necessary for understanding these changes; - the values underlying these changes, and how they might be ethically assessed; and - how to envisage (imagine) alternative models of work, and the process of realising such change.

 *Winthrop Professor Rob Lambert is based at the University of Western Australia’s Business School, where he specialises in labour studies. He is co-author of the award-winning book, Grounding Globalization: Labour in the Age of Insecurity (Oxford, Blackwell, 2008),a critique of the free market economy that identifies destructive impacts for the environment, society, families and persons. Rob is the founder and coordinator of the Southern Initiative on Globalization and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR), founded some 20 years ago. This movement brings together democratic trade unions across 15 countries and four continents in the global south. Rob has a background as a South African activist, and was National Secretary of the South African Young Christian Workers and then advisor to the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference before coming to Perth.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why we need more public investment in public services and public infrastructure

Interesting to read a recent US study that found that the most effective options for creating jobs and building a prosperous regional and state economy is for governments to spend and invest more in public services and public infrastructure.

Disputing the idea promulgated by pro-business and pro-market politicians and advocates that funding public services and economic development are competing interests the study found that:
" The tax cuts and business subsidies approach to economic development will do little to create jobs in the short run and is not the most effective to generating growth over the long term".
The study found that investing public funds in public services, such as education and health and in public assets and public infrastructure is the best approach for state and local development, and raises gross state product, expands productive capacity, increases employment and raises personal income.

The study found that providing incentives to corporations and business such as tax breaks, public subsidies, employment subsidies and other forms of business incentives are not effective and are often counterproductive because they deplete resources that could be spent on education and investments in public services and public infrastructure. 

Strategies that shift resources and assets from the public sector to the private sector- privatization, marketization and corporatization- reduce costs and increase corporate and business profits but are not effective in terms of state and local development and building a prosperous state and regional economy.

The study concludes:
Instead of trying to lure firms with deals and lower corporate taxes, an approach to economic development that builds the skills of the current and future workforce, improves the physical infrastructure of regions, and makes communities more attractive places for families and firms represents a more effective use of a state’s scarce resources.