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Free Market System at a Crossroads?

China’s economy is barreling ahead. Europe’s in crisis. The U.S. in a muddle. Across the world, free markets are being challenged.

A Chinese worker checks solar-powered products at a factory in Baoding, north China's Hebei province, in 2009. (AP)

When the Cold War ended, Washington trumpeted that the free market system had won.

Twenty years later – now – that looks far from certain. The new challenger is not Communism but “state capitalism” –China-style, Russia-style – where authoritarian political powers steer the ship, call the economic tune.

Right now, say my guests today, state capitalism is giving the free market world a drubbing. Europe’s a mess. The U.S. is in a muddle.

The free market economy heyday may be over, with big consequences, they say.

This Hour, On Point: The deadly-serious horse race. Free markets versus state capitalism.

Guests:

Anthony Kuhn, Beijing corresopndent for NPR.

Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, a political research and consulting firm. His latest book is “The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations?” You can read an excerpt. He writes “The Call” blog at ForeignPolicy.com.

Clyde Prestowitz, founder and President of the Economic Strategy Institute. His new book is “The Betrayal of American Prosperity: Free Market Delusions, America’s Decline, and How We Must Compete in the Post-Dollar Era.” You can read an excerpt.

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  • Michael

    ““The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations?””

    Well Corporations will do what they learned during the railroad and big oil days

    Step 1. Bribe oops i mean Lobby a congressman/women and/or Senators, have them create a mindset that corporate is always good and government bad

    Step 2. Conveniently give aids and people to help such to write bills that favor the Corporation

    Step 3. Reduce oversight or regulations as much as possible

    Step 4. Find smaller communities in states that will forego taxes on the Company in hopes of bring jobs.

    Step 5. Use up as much as the resources as possible, of course bribe oops again i mean lobby local politicians saying it’s in there best interest or find someone more willing to do your bidding to run against them.

    Step 6. Go back to Lobbying the Congress and Senate, for more tax breaks to keep said Company there.

    Step 7. Send more aids and people to write bills for the said congress/senate

    Step 8. place loop holes and ways to outsource jobs to counties with minimum to no labor laws.

    Step 9. go back to the local community for bigger tax breaks

    Step 10. Once the tax cuts are all set for off-shoring move your company overseas and destroy the communities you had you business there.

    Extra- while the above steps are in place you will need to not only bribe i mean lobby not only people in government but you want to place some of yours as well or offer big salaries from people who are in it, Don’t forget to fluid the media with P.R spokesman’s and people to make your case. So may see that your only looking out for yourself and screwing the rest of the folks don’t worry just use the term socialist, or taxes are to high and this can normally get them off your back. Or you may have to spend some money getting them unelected or drowning out there concerns in the media with one of your own.

  • Brian

    What is happening right now to our economy has absolutely nothing to do with the mythic “Free Market”. This is good old fashioned blatant fraud and corruption… but on an unseen, pretty much biblical scale.

    This fraud was massive and pervasive. Let’s ask who has been held accountable for this? No one, of course. Because our elected officials are as guilty as the ostensible perpetrators.

    We have to hold those who raped this economy accountable. I’m talking people, not corporations.

  • Kyle

    The idea behind the free market is that consumers with ALL information can make the right choice and drive the market in the right direction. These days, however, people are more interested in turning a blind eye for lower prices than being a responsible consumer.

  • cory

    Brian,

    Haven’t you heard? Corporations ARE people (at least according to the John Roberts led Supreme Court).

  • EIO Boston

    We have eptied out our governments in the west. An enemy could not have done it better. We started listening to people who told us that organised government is evil. this led ethical, honest and patriotic individuals to leave government. in their place we have elected folks placed there by the same people in business who wanted to create the “slave” conditions that existed before the new deal.

    They have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. The are still preaching- small government, government is evil, while willing to spend $100 million dollars of their own or corporate money to get elected into this “evil” government.

    This is sad, that they can still fool us and get their way

  • cory

    An Analogy…

    Free market capitalism is a magnificent stallion. It is robust and powerful. If untethered, it will trample the townsfolk under its hooves as it gallops back and forth through the village.

    Government regulation and control are the tack and harness, which turn this powerful beast into a tool which can pull carts, plow fields, and be productive for the people.

    The village must maintain a careful balance. Do not overburden the stallion and render it lame, yet it must be carefully worked to benefit the villagers.

    Whaddaya think, yo?

  • Mr. Trees

    Tom,

    Right now, America is out for a pound of flesh. Be it from an Afghan terrorist, a Wall Street speculator, or a “Big Government” stooge. We are all ready to place blame on anyone but ourselves for our current economic state, equating to an uninspiring marketplace. When everyone lays the blame for their own mistakes at the feet of others, no one should be surprised when the economy falters due to a claim of no confidence by the consumers. If America can relearn personal responsibility (financially, environmentally, socially) we will all see a vibrant market place that actually have costs and profits reflective of actual value …

    … but good luck with that.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Michael, in Step 5 you say: “Use up as much as the resources as possible,” and I’m wondering. Is this buy up the competition or drive them to bankruptcy, meaning “resource” as potential customers? Or are corporations signing accords/agreements with, say, China, that they will not do business with you friendly mom-and-pop buyer of Chinese bamboo or whatever? Only Google-size entities.
    After all, it’s so much easier to deal with a corporation. Everyone at the top knows how they operate, and crucially they mostly CAN AFFORD to tell you the legislator what they need to stay profitable. AND all the stockholders (voters over 65 for instance) are invested in their staying profitable.
    Corporations are easier to deal with than say 85 million start-up, upstart, or legacy family businesses. Their rate of failure would make the hair of Rahm Emanuel stand on end. But actually, before the days of corporations, just about everyone was in a private venture, self-employed. Has anyone read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books? I came, I saw, I worked for myself. I worked for my neighbors. I worked for my community. Um. Then I worked to pay taxes. Then I found myself exploited, so I joined a union, which became a sort of mini-corporation.

  • Janet

    I think the failure of our education system to teach the idea of free-markets vs central planning markets is the true story.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Agreed per me, Janet. Corporations are more or less DOING central planning, to a quick glance. I mean, are you doing it for us? Via your elected representatives? Are you offering up free market solutions versus the Free Choices of the market makers, the market manipulators with monetary resources to short-sell even entire countries, let alone the small or mid-size competitor?
    No? Education seems part of the problem, but I haven’t been there for a long time. We were taught conformity, repetition. We’d make good robots. We were outsourced. So the idea someone with a voice like yours offered was PARENTS should be responsible for their children’s education. Home-schooling, ho! But can a parent teach the new skills for the new world? Nope. I hire college students to teach me the new skills, not vice versa.

  • jeffe

    Free Market System. Free for the large corporations to get rich, while the rest of us are free to ware out our shoes looking for work.

    Look at the Health Care bill, it’s really a huge give away for the insurance companies and the pharmaceuticals.
    The mandate will force everyone to buy insurance with no controls on the costs. Here in Massachusetts companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield are looking to raise premiums by as much as they can get away with, they want 25% or more if they can get it. The Free Market is not really so free, it’s about large corporate interest and how they can maximize the control of profits. Just ask any Mexican corn farmer about NAFTA, if you can find any.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogpsot AKILEZ

    Michael you always have something DOPEY to say.

    Are you actually sure your ideas will work. If you are so smart why are you here on NPR all the time?
    Smart people are always working they don’t have to blah blah on writing to prove about their DOPEY IDEAS get a grip of yourself and stop so being such a useless arrogant person. You probably talk too much in real life.

    One thing you can do to help the world is actually DO SOMETHING just don’t put it all in Writing.

    In a sense move your ass man!!! go out there do it

    It is a FREE MARKET. May the best product win. too Bad China has the cheapest labor in the world because of the 2 billion chinese population. That’s why they get paid cheap. Do the Macro Economics and understand the graph.

    If the World stop buying Sells phones EVERY MONTH we can save the world from destruction.

    but who will listen?

  • http://www.hbr.org Julia K

    Is there a shared sense among the guests that over time there will be increasing convergence on one model of capitalism? (whatever it is)

  • cory

    Geri,

    Your spelling of illiterate is ironic, to say the least.

  • Bret Frank

    Cynical, arrogant, dishonest, and corrupt people who have no desire to solve the problems facing ordinary citizens are the problem. They exist in business, politics, government, science, academia, journalism and in every other arena. They crave power and wealth at the expense of others. They are not leaders or statesmen. They are slaves to the polls. They are the slime and scum of the earth.

    All legislation is written by lobbyists. The politicians generate nothing. They are lazy and not very bright.

    Always remember that the four corners of deceit in the universe of lies are science, academia, government, and the media.

    Here is a little excerpt of an article that shows what goes on behind the scenes in the public relations field, a profession populated by liars, bums, thieves, cheats, and frauds:

    Brand crisis

    In 2005, filmmaker Rachel Boynton produced an award-winning documentary, “Our Brand is Crisis,” a title reminiscent of Rahm Emanuel’s often repeated admonition, “Let no crisis go to waste.”

    Boynton got extensive inside access to film the consulting efforts of GCS advisers Greenberg, Rosner and Carville in Bolivia, recording their focus group sessions as well as consulting sessions with Sánchez de Lozada during his 2002 campaign.

    “Our Brand is Crisis” has received widespread critical acclaim for the cynical view exposed of public relations packaging of political candidates by consultancy firms such as Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and their GCS affiliate.

    The documentary “opens a window onto a troubling trend: the export of high-tech, American political consultants to countries around the world,” wrote film critic Jason Silvermanin for Wired.com. “Making the most of what seems like unlimited access to Goni and his advisors, director Rachel Boynton paints a portrait of a cold-blooded political campaign that’s more responsive to polling data than to the real needs of citizens.”

    Matt Stoller at My Direct Democracy, MYDD.com, wrote, “What is remarkable about the film is the behind-the-scenes look at how these guys operate. The firm is the Greenberg Carville Shrum group, and their cynicism and arrogance is laid bare as they use modern American marketing tools to play God in a country about which they clearly know nothing.”

    In one of the film’s more memorable moments, Carville advises on camera, “A campaign is like intercourse – you never know when it’s going to peak.”

    GCS principals continue to provide advice to the Obama administration.

    A video clip of a March 31 Christian Science Monitor breakfast meeting shows Carville and Greenberg spelling out how President Obama can “repackage” his economic plan to improve poll ratings.

  • steve m

    Corporations are themselves little versions of governments, the kind that dictate to employees and consumers alike.

  • TBrandstad

    If we abandon the free market more than we already have, we will become the next great socialist progressive state where the government has control of 70% of the economy. Remember that because of this 70% of every decision you have to make will be made by the federal government. If you don’t want what the government wants you to have, too bad! Wait a minute, now that the healthcare bill has passed, we are now THERE!

  • Jim

    Hu is the president of China.

  • Sally Strange

    Can you PLEASE take a moment to define what makes a market “free” and what assumptions underlie that definition? Otherwise we’ll all be talking at cross-purposes.

  • jeffe

    Tom made a false statement in his opening remarks.
    He said that there were protests in Europe when they were in Greece and not all over Europe. That’s a good example of bad journalism at it’s worse. Shame on you Tom.

    Europe’s market is still one of the largest in the world.
    Some countries, such as Sweden are doing very well.
    So is Germany despite all the financial turmoil.

    The US is one of the largest markets in the world. In terms of sheer size we have a lot power. However our system is falling apart. Health Care is one of the reason we are losing our competitive edge. We also do not have a good work and life balance.

    The Swedes have an interesting model, imagine men in this country taking 10 months off from work to help raise the child.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/world/europe/10iht-sweden.html?ref=world

  • Peter

    The idea that we have been in a Adam Smith free market is rediculous. The system envisioned by Smith assumed thousands of individual competitors which do not exist in the most important sectors such as banking and finance, power distribution, etc. It also assumes nutral government wich in teh US is a nother myth.

    There needs to be a balance between those areas that can be best done by the State such as healthcare, energy, defence, etc., as apposed to most other economice activities.

  • Brett

    “Free market capitalism is a magnificent stallion. It is robust and powerful. If untethered, it will trample the townsfolk under its hooves as it gallops back and forth through the village.

    Government regulation and control are the tack and harness, which turn this powerful beast into a tool which can pull carts, plow fields, and be productive for the people.

    The village must maintain a careful balance. Do not overburden the stallion and render it lame, yet it must be carefully worked to benefit the villagers.” -cory

    Works for me!

  • TBrandstad

    Tom,

    You are mistaken when you say the free market has failed. The free market has not failed, rather it has succeeded! The free market by definition must allow the success or failure of businesses by the merits of its business practices. What has failed in the US and Europe is socialism. The State should not prevent failure or by doing so they will also prevent success. It is not the role of government to pick winners and looser but rather to keep a fair playing field and prevent businesses from getting to big to fail by either letting them go bankrupt or limiting their size while business is going well.

  • Kelly in Boston

    State Capitalism isn’t all that new, folks — look at Beacon Hill in MA. It’s a deeply flawed system, but it’s one that has clear tenacity and a steam roller-like component that quashes nearly any manifestation of a ‘level playing field’.

  • http://ptwood2@verizon.net Peter

    America’s so-called “free market” is a myth, given the enormous state subsidies showered on agriculture, carbon-based and nuclear energy, the military-industrial complex, and so forth.

    How would China have achieved its current success had not western investors, ever watchful for cheap labor, not initiated the charge to dump American workers in favor of Chinese? “Globalization” is just Washington-speak for corporate dominance over labor.

  • George H

    Free Market?? What free market? We have been heading away from that for decades, and I can’t imagine how anyone thinks we don’t have more regulations than we used to and more government than ever?? It isn’t the failure of free markets, it is the over-reaching of world governments – and crony capitalism – that has produced this. You do not have bail-outs, and artificial interest rates within a free-market. People don’t even understand the definition of free-market, of course this is the best proof that the free-market was the correct way to go, and that we have been off track for far too long. Heck, it takes over a year to get federal clearance to redo a downtown sidewalk – EPA, historical significance, and so on – then it costs about 5x the cost for a private sidewalk. That is not sustainable, and it becomes worse as you get into healthcare and other areas.

    As our government gets into areas of risk, which are better left to private enterprise, we put at risk the few things that the government is actually supposed to do (such as tracking down murderers, and thieves). When the government is involved in the market, it becomes less sustainable, and eventually, all that risk will catch up.

    The only people who saw this recent crash coming were libertarian Austrian economists – they predicted the year it would happen, and how it would happen, and were laughed at by socialist leaning economists. So, if the only people who know what’s going on are libertarian leaning free-market folks, then you can’t very well say its dead with a straight face – unless you’re just looking to sell books with a ridiculous title. We are going to go through all this, and in the end we will find out that we should have stuck with the free market, lets just hope we don’t have to get back to the inquisitions, and global wars to do so.

  • Jason S

    Socialism is the cancer of America and will lead to the erosion of the middle class, international clout, and innovation.

    We need to get off the track we are on to Socialism!

  • JP

    In this world of limited everything, it’s all about the long-term perspective, not about the moronic, greedy perspective of “all that matters is next quarter’s profits.”

    They are so much smarter than us in this regard, they will absolutely crush us in the long run.

    The failure of capitalism is that it is a race to scarcity for everything… it is also a system based on crisis. No problem is ever properly addressed until it reaches a crisis level. This stupidity has led us to use up 85% of the world’s easily recoverable resources in a mere 150 years of human existence… absolutely moronic in its lack of foresight and concern for the continued welfare of mankind.

    China will crush us… let’s hope they prove to be better wards of this planet than we were… they have a long way to go, but at least they’re already planning for it.

  • http://omniumpartners.com Webb Nichols

    As soon as wages throughout the world reach parity true free market capitalism will be the best alternative.

  • TBrandstad

    It is funny that China is racing towards the free market while the US and Europe are racing towards socialism. Europe has about a 30 year head start on the US but is there really any question why china is improving? CAPITALISM!

  • CCulver

    I respectfully disagree with everything that Mr. Branstad is saying.

  • Dania

    Where has all this economic growth gone in the US? Where are those profits?
    The bridges are collapsing, road are not maintained not to mentioned new not being build, electricity is off every time there is a bit of wind or rain, no fast rail, etc, etc
    On the other hand the personal debt has increased, households are under water, where is all this money that supposedly was made in the US?????

  • David

    You can take your “freedom” and shove it. I want a job.

  • http://none Les Wetmore

    Why do we need perpetual growth again? The future economy is based on sustainibility, not growth. You are all crazy to think differently. If we ran a model of an economic system with peretual growth where we were all on a boat, would it work? No! The earth is a boat, a big one, but a boat none the less. Resouse are finite.

  • Annie

    @David — amen, amen, AMEN!

  • JP

    Dania,
    It’s in the hands of one percent of the population… take a look at their enclaves and private compounds… no lack of wealthy infrastructure there. You won’t find anything crumbling in the areas THEY frequent, and their playground is worldwide.

  • Jim Bob Backer

    China has all of our manufacturing and now research because no one in the United States is willing to pay a little more for things to be done here. This includes corporations and we the people. We the people are just as culpable as the corporations. We are willing to sacrifice our well being to China in exchange for cheap goods. Our creature comforts will bury us all.

  • James Smith

    Any company that gets government subsidies are not working in a free market, and have nothing to do with a free market. Those companies which receive government aid, show us what happens when we lean more toward socialism or crony capitalism. For instance, in a free market, banks would not be able to lend 40X as much money as they actually have. In a heavily government regulated (or crony capitalist system) banks can loan 40X their actual holdings.

    China has been moving toward capitalism, and we have been moving toward socialism!! That is very very obvious.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’ve got to buy these books. Aren’t taxes derived from big successful corporations, and retirement stability based on their monthly payouts to shareholders? So the government and anyone not working depend on private capital? Because only if the rich are getting richer can the government survive (meet its budget)?
    Oh, the Republicans were wrong about that.
    Still…

  • http://none Les Wetmore

    Bransted is crazy. You can’t even say soicialism in the US without raise a mob. Look at Sarah Palin.

  • Jim Bob Backer

    The free market enslaves all but the wealthiest.

  • http://none Les Wetmore

    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who think they are free.

  • Jason S

    China is the worlds copy machine and I know it first hand as a design engineer that has worked with Chinese companies for almost a decade now. They are incapable of innovating for the most part but if I send them a sample of what I wan’t, they can copy it overnight. Even the smallest change from the sample that I sent could take weeks.

    The majority of R&D and innovation still takes place in the US!

  • http://none Les Wetmore

    New polocies please. The currant ones are not working.

  • JP

    James Smith,

    You’re confusing Socialism with American style corporate welfare.

    … these are two very different things.

    Corporate welfare, the evil you describe, is what Republicans have long been cheering.

  • SL

    Why don’t you get an opposing view point? Get someone that has the idea that capitalism when done right can work. There is a reason why the US has been the leader for so many years. Yes, there are ups and downs, but we always come out of it stronger.

  • Brian Reilly

    I’ve always been under the impression that we are shipping manufacturing overseas because of access to lower wages. If the Chinese increase wages, wouldn’t we pull out of China? Can someone please explain what accounts for the ‘cheaper’ product if wages are only a sliver of total cost? Thank you,

  • Ellen Dibble

    So I think Karl Marx said the People should own the means of production (We the People, the voters), and it seems we have to decide what the government should manage, and to what extent. To my mind, a lot of waste is in the management of health insurance, and owning some of the hospitals might be a start.
    Marx was supposedly a communist.

  • Ben

    I think it’s very dangerous to attribute China’s economic success to its authoritarian government. China’s success and our malaise today are structural consequences or our own addiction to consumption, not of our political freedom and their lack thereof. It is fundamentally unsustainable for us to be a nation that consumes without producing while simultaneously remaining the wealthiest nation on the planet.

  • TBrandstad

    Les Wetmore,

    Would you say a country that has gone from having government in charge of 35% of the economy to 70% in less than 10 years is moving towards the free market or towards socialism?

    Wake UP!

  • Sally Strange

    Les is right. Ecology shows us that any natural system that attempts constant growth eventually ends in a crash. If it’s a population, the crash can be followed either by recovery and evolution or extinction. Capitalism attempts constant growth and is constantly punctuated by crashes. Instead of trying to avoid the crashes, we would do well to build the expectation of periodic contractions into our economic planning.

  • jeffe

    Socialism is the cancer of America and will lead to the erosion of the middle class, international clout, and innovation.

    We need to get off the track we are on to Socialism!

    Glad to see there is a comic here.

  • http://yahoo John Thomas

    I am an architect, and I worked on a design team in Shanghai in 2000. I lived their for 8 months. I noticed that it took 10 chinese architects to do what one US architect could do in a day. Also, their cultural formalities prevented junior architects to offer solutions to their boss. In an American firm, junior staff members are encouraged to offer better solutions. I have a hard time understanding how their system can prevail.

  • MILTON JONES

    Brazilian orange juice is excludeded from the American
    “free market.” The free market is a toxic myth.

  • Lou

    There’s no such thing as a “Free Market”. It’s all just a rigged system where the goverment picks winners (Goldman-Sachs) and losers (Lehman Bros.).

  • TBrandstad

    Ellen Dibble, thanks for telling us your favorite philosopher. Do you also agree with Carl Marx?

  • http://rossfalzone.com ross falzone

    The notion of a free market is a fraud
    I have a standing offer to anyone who can discribe a market free of regulation, payola or any of the ways makets are inflenced. I have not paid out yet. So what we are facing is an evolution of effectivness.
    How much regulation is enough. In the U.S the 70′s we over regulated the eightys under regulated.
    The real test is weather the people of the U.S.
    can reconcile our ideologies and find the balance of
    regulation

  • David Stenson

    Why don’t they get some economists on NPR that haven’t already been proven wrong. Not one economist they talk to even saw the crash coming, and if anything should have been obvious to any economist, it would have been that. It’s like hiring a weather guy who was a mile from a tornado and was telling us the weather is fine. They have people like Paul Krugman, or Robert Reich, who really don’t know what they are talking about, and have recently been proven to be as wrong as possible.

    We should look back at all the economists who weren’t being very vocal about warning us about our recession, and send them to a job flipping burgers so they can begin working toward another career path.

  • http://none Les Wetmore

    TBrandstad,
    Where do you draw the line between government and privite bussiness in this country?

  • http://none Les Wetmore

    If we were socialist we who take care of our sick, not the people that profit from them.

  • New Republican

    The NEW Republican, and younger Republicans are very much more libertarian than the older ones. Crony capitalism, government handouts and regulation aimed at helping big business, and other such things, are not supported by the younger side of the Republican party. In other words, the future of the Republican Party will be different than its very recent big government past.

  • http://OnPoint Judy, Vermont

    When Free Trade and NAFTA came in in the 90s, I said, “There go our jobs”. Of course: corporations, CEOs, and stockholders make huge profits at the expense of Americans and our jobs, and millions of dollars paid to corporation lobbyists make it extremely risky for Congress to try to overturn them. The only exception that I know of is our Sen. Bernie Sanders who has spoken out about it for a long time now. It’s a tragedy, in my opinion, and will only get worse. It’s happening today!

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com AKILEZ

    The word Socialism Again. Oh please.

    The fact is Walmart is the biggest contributor of employment for the Chinese people. China is best place to copy invention and innovations in a cheapest way.

    Inventions and Innovations are born in America the Chinese only copied inventions and innovations in a cheapest and the most productive way.

    Japanese copied American Invention and Innovation but They Made it Better not cheaper is the other way around and the Japanese products are not cheap to buy.

    Especially Kobe Beef. “wink”

  • AKILEZ

    Les Wetmore – Yes we did profit from sick people.

    It is less care and more profit the Motto of health insurance companies but after the Universal Health Care was passed. I heard Health Insurance Companies are losing profit because of the bill.

    We will see next year when all working class will be changing their insurance policies let us see if the premium went up or down because of the health care bill.

  • TBrandstad

    $170 billion in new debt per month does not equal free market…. it equals socialism!

    We are not spending that money on national defense, protecting our borders, and infrastructure, we are spending it on taking over companies and running them into the ground!

  • TBrandstad

    The Dutch government offered to lend us ships & equipment to encircle the deep sea horizon oil rig on day 5 after the oil spill and BP and the US government refused the help.

    The emails showing this were leaked to the press today!

  • Amy Nicholls

    I found this program absolutely riveting. The concepts that were being debated are the same fundamental issues we used to discuss in International Relations 101. That is not to say they are simple–they are not simple at all–they are in fact the basics of any discussion about government/state systems, global or national. What constitutes power now? What is the economic role of the state vs the private sector? And so forth. Your guests were attempting to show us how the fundamental questions about these issues have changed, using capitalism and state controlled capitalism as examples, because the last fifty years have left old capitalist, socialist, communist, economic paradigms in the dust. None of us will live to see the ultimate outcomes of the changes we are living through but it is riveting to listen to a discussion about it. Thak you for a great program.

  • http://none Les Wetmore

    You are to crazy. I’m done with this.

  • les Wetmore

    Amy,
    Right on.

  • Wendy Trutnau

    Two further points for discussion: Quality of life and Consumer Capitalism
    Western European socialism based on a relatively ‘free market’ system leads, in my opinion, to a higher quality of life for more people than the present North American ‘free market’ based on profit at all costs. As a Canadian who has lived in Germany for over 40 years, but who spends 5 months of her retirement each year in her hometown in Ontario, I feel that the North American consumer should have a stronger voice in the market. We need more Tom Ashbrooks and more On Points in order to reach and educate the average consumer. In Germany the advantage is a larger concentration of people in a smaller area than the USA or Canada. (Over 80 million people in the size of the province of Ontario.) These citizens can be quickly mobilized via the internet to get out on the streets and show the government what they are thinking. Recently I stood in a human chain of over 100,000 to protest against the German government giving in to a strong nuclear power lobby. Citizens have won court cases against gas companies charging too high rates for home energy. A wind park in the North Sea opened the day the rig in the Gulf of M. sank. Such wind parks are the result of strong environmentalist groups like the Green Party who sit in parliament. I miss them here in Canada. Here’s hoping they’ll get stronger in the US. Go for it, Guys!

  • jeffe

    When Free Trade and NAFTA came in in the 90s, I said, “There go our jobs”. Of course: corporations, CEOs, and stockholders make huge profits at the expense of Americans and our jobs, and millions of dollars paid to corporation lobbyists make it extremely risky for Congress to try to overturn them. The only exception that I know of is our Sen. Bernie Sanders who has spoken out about it for a long time now. It’s a tragedy, in my opinion, and will only get worse. It’s happening today!

    Judy in Waitsfield, Vermont

    Sen. Bernie Sanders is one of the greatest, I have been following his career since he was the mayor of Burlington.

    How true Judy, NAFTA put millions of small Mexican farmers out of work when it let our subsidized corn to dumped on their market. I saw an interview with Bill Clinton recently in which he now thinks that NAFTA is a failure and he wished he never implemented it and that he was wrong. At least he had the guts to admit his short comings. However we can trace the current deterioration of Mexico to the implementation of NAFTA.
    Mexico’s collapse, which is what is happening now, is going to be one of the major problems for this country in the next 5 to 10 years.

    One thing that was not brought up is how much investment the Chinese are putting into Africa, they are investing big time in parts of Western Africa.

  • CCulver

    T Brandstad, You aren’t actually THE T Brandstad are you? Because if you are, this re-election is going to be a cake walk.

  • jeffe

    Wendy Trutnau you are completly right about that.
    Of course you would have all those on the right crying Socialism! That’s kind of a huge problem. I just read an article about maternity leave in Sweden for men, up to ten months. One of the men interviewed goes out hunting with his baby on his back with his dogs. Talk about an image.

    One other interesting note, since the Swedes started to give men more time off to be with their kids more the rate of divorce went down considerably. The family unit seems to grow more bonds when it is a shared proposition.

    I posted the link before, but here it is again.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/world/europe/10iht-sweden.html?ref=world

  • AKILEZ

    NAFTA is always a failure Bill Clinton as no choice but to signed the bill for the Mexican government.

    It is called DIPLOMACY in a text book case.

    It is a simple barter exchange and trade industry policies. But We know it will never work for the regular employees but probably for the CEO and for the company.

  • Todd

    Yup! George H @ 10:31 hits the nail square!

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’ve got to read more carefully later, but TBrandstadt at 11:15, “$170 billion in new debt per month does not equal free market…. it equals socialism!” And you say it does not pay for national defense or infrastructure.
    I think the new debt per month pays interest on the national debt but very substantially pays for arguably unnecessary wars — as well as huge amounts for “entitlements,” i.e., social security and Medicare, which I suppose is what you mean by Socialism.
    I suppose it is big corporations like Halliburton and the suppliers of oil to those oil-guzzling tanks and drones that profit handsomely from wars. Why else bother to develop such costly technologies, from satellites to the internet way back when?
    Is it socialist to say it’s time to retrench and pay off debts and let the rest of the world decide what wars to fight and how to fight them, and then help out? Is it time to stop being the global bully? Not much choice, actually. But to pay off the national obligations, we have to act a little less like money-grubbing capitalists and a little more like careful planners. We have to enable grass-roots growth a bit more, and think less about, oh, we’ll pay off the competition and support them on the dole, which is cheaper than trying to give them a fair shake at competiting with us. Let’s create a class of the helpless, and then the class of the manipulators. Call that socialism. Call that capitalism.
    Umm….. Who pays the taxes? The people in between, those who can’t bribe their way for the tax breaks, those who can’t be treated as humans to be humanely stored. The taxpayers are the fodder for this new world. Is that socialism? Is that capitalism? I hear a New Order pointed to. At last.

  • Ellen Dibble

    In terms of Marx saying ownership of the resources should be by the people, I’d point out that regulation is a kind of ownership. The only part missing is the profits. If profits go to the stock market, then you’ve got capitalism. If there are no profits, then you end up someplace else. If government does more than regulate — extends its national ownership rights beyond that — there you’ve got a lot of citizens with noplace to invest. No ability to direct the economy except at the ballot box, and we know how useful THAT is.

  • Janet

    It would have been interesting if they had talked about some of the ideas that Ayn Rand discussed years ago. Especially the seperation of government from the economy, and more “Laissez-Faire” type of system.

  • ThresherK

    I found it bemusing that a caller from the US said “I’m a capitalist”. As opposed to all the other people who are calling themselves a communist or statist these days?

    This need to preemptively state one’s “free market” credentials threads right back to the know-nothings who got the mainstream media (and NPR, too) to actually consider whether Obama’s interest in Reagan-era marginal income and capital gains tax rates, and government agencies which, y’know, actually goverened, was something akin to Communism.

    (Standard disclaimer: In and out of radioshot.)

    (Other standard disclaimer: Paul Krugman. William Grieder. Brad DeLong.)

  • Trond

    Free market is not “dead,” but US free market needs to embrace regulation – be it government or industry self-regulation through associations. At some level, you need macro oversight. China and Russia have leaped toward open markets, but retained the macro control. Ultimately, they still have too much regulation for longterm effectiveness of open markets. The US needs to regain control of capitalism, which will, as historically, still be free and inventive. Just not run amuck with ultra rich bankers expecting the average tax payer to bail them out on their bad decisions.

  • Trond

    I work with SMBs to either start or expand their international markets. #1 issue these companies face in getting started is the lack of real government assistance. US Department of Commerce focuses on big corporations and provides the left over crumbs to the small- and medium-size companies. Also, affording the needed skill set. As US employees have rushed to specialized, fewer staffers are equipped to wear all the hats one has to in a SMB to successfully enter foreign markets. End result, 3/4 of SMBs that could export, don’t do so. Of 1/4 that does export, a further 3/4 of that group do not export to their top markets. For example, competing in France with 5 major competitors, as opposed to Brazil with one native competitor.

  • XWU

    1. It is funny how the topic say Russia but none of the discussion involves it. If we recognize this, we know that we should be talking about *China* but not the *state run system*.

    2. Students in China study more hours than the students in US. People work more hours than the people in US. If the systems are on equal scale, obviously who work harder win. It is dangerous to overlook this and blame it simply on the system.

  • joshua

    Its not state capitalism–call it what it is–totalitarian and fascist. America is a corporate-aristocracy evolving into fascism–the marriage will be complete when the all-powerful military state is indistinguishable from the corporate-aristocracy. We are nearly there with these bail-outs and government failure to hold corporations accountable to anything.

  • joshua

    to XWU–Chinese work longer hours but NOT harder, and not smarter–in my experience there is a whole lot of avoidance of work going on, incompetence, un-thinking, passing responsibility, no accountability, ignorance, lack of empathy and just plain incompetence in China. A lot of that has to do with the system. A lot of it has to do with 5000 years of the same same same–no real social progress, or academic progress. Plagiarism and memorizing exams and exchanging little red bags for good jobs and good school grades is not progress, or self-reliance or anything related to quality,

  • Ellen Dibble

    Trond, I think NPR and OnPoint might do well to present some programs on SMB’s, the difficulties of shifting from local to national and beyond. I am wondering if there is a lobby (other than the Chamber of Commerce, which there was indeed a show about on OnPoint, not very flatteringly, maybe a year back) for those without the size and clout. I know where I live there is a group with I believe government funding to help small businesses, but I believe they are mostly to help people get loans. Ditto other organizations. I notice that cities and towns are pooling their resources in order not to have to “wear all the hats” of the various expertises needed to meet all regulations and to land all possible dollars. Young businesses also need to wear all hats, as well as compete and so on.
    Organizing the economy to foster various size enterprises would be a start on something, but of course Big Business would lobby hard against it. Right now certain professions can get away with small size units, relying on their associations, but how well does this work? Say for ballisticians (one I’ve been noticing lately) or other skill sets that depend heavily on experience over education?

  • Wes

    There is no such thing as a “free market.” True free markets can only exist in theory. In the real world all markets follow rules and laws created by real people. What is called free market today is a system skewed to favor the largest and most powerful businesses. They are the ones who create the rules, in keeping with the maxim “Them that’s got the gold makes the rules.” In today’s world the biggest businesses are transnational, with no allegiance to any nation.

    BP is an example of such a business. The only moral precept of BP is the bottom line, maximizing profits to the shareholders in the short-term, meaning that it is an amoral institution, only focusing on financial profit and nothing else. The bigger the risks it takes, the greater the profit. Unfortunately, the risks it takes endanger our environment, our natural resources, and our economy.

    All businesses, especially the largest transnational corporations, need to be regulated to make them accountable to the public good. Businesses which are “too big to fail” should be broken up into smaller, more manageable, less dangerous businesses.

  • joshua

    Focibly removing large numbers of people from thier homes and land daily is not progress, as is happening in CHina everyday to build un-safe buildings, real estate and hotels for the rich. As the environment gets totally destroyed. Is that progress? While young people in china commit suicide at alarming rates–all covered up–is that progress? Or children attacked by butcher knives–this is a society in self-destruct mode. Too many people, not sustainable, and a huge lack of empathy among the people, or a sense of community. nationalism is not community–its warped misplaced pride that leads to crime and terror. Is this progress?

    There was an experiment with rats in a cage to see the effects on the population as it grew. They let the rats breed and multiply and watched them retreat into isolated corners avoiding each other, going crazy and then vicariously killing each other.

    I think we are seeing the early stages of the population bomb in China.

  • joshua

    that should read viciously. i dont know how they could kill each other vicariously.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Joshua, would that be nuclear fission or fusion? I believe the population in China is imploding by design and force, not exploding. Well, to a degree. With one-child families, there is a big tilt toward “trying” to have boy children in China, and I believe the disaster envisioned is not enough females to sort of tame the males in time-honored way of getting them to “settle down” versus sort of adolescent rampaging everlastingly. There will be a huge overspill of aging Chinese to be cared for by this next cohort of only-children.
    In any case, the United States will be at a demographic deficit in a few decades, not due to central planning, but due to smaller family sizes and longer lifespan.

  • AKILEZ

    Joshua your absolutely wrong after 5000 years China emerged as the Dragon Of Asia so powerful that America keep borrowing money from this Communist Country and WE OWE THEM BIG TIME. Our children’s children will be paying off our debts to the Chinese people.

    Without China Ipad and Iphone are impossible to manufacture with the demand of these products.

    Before you say something did you ever live in China especially Beijing or Hong Kong.

    Incompetence is totally wrong. Because America is democratic doesn’t mean America is better than China.
    We have more crimes in America than China. We have more child abduction than China etc etc.

    Asian cultures is totally different from caucasian culture I know because I am 1/2 Asian and born in Southeast Asia. After the cuktural revolution and the creation of a renegade Country Taiwan it became more competent and powerful than China’s Asian neighbors.

    They can go to the moon and built a hotel on the moon that’s how Chinese think.

    See their innovation like the 3 Gorges Dam, The fastest train on earth is in China and America doesn’t even one

    Remember When Cellular Phones were UNKNOWN IN America.
    Asian Nations were already stepping in the 21st Century
    while America was battling gay rights,Women’s rights etc etc.

    We should thank China for being what she is A Communist/Capitalist. Invading the WORLD of commerce and manufacturing

  • ThresherK

    People work more hours than the people in US. If the systems are on equal scale, obviously who work harder win. It is dangerous to overlook this

    Uh, how many more uncompensated hours of productivity-increasing goodness, either scrubbed off “magically” by Walmart-style dictum, or “exempt” for non-hourly workers who are reclassified as “management” do regular Americans have to put in before they’ll get some of it back? Because the last economic expansion basically did squat for Americans who weren’t already at least upper middle class.

    How many more Americans have to put in 60-80 hours a week at two or three different no-benefits jobs before we win?

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think America got dumbed down by Henry Ford’s discovery of assembly-line production. Once upon a time, you earned what you learned. Every farm boy and farm girl was in training from day one. Summers off from school was just a nod to the fact that there was learning to be done on the home front — and work.
    So a hundred-plus years after training everyone to launch ourselves and then pretty much let our education rot — have you used your trigonometry lately? Or your physics? — now we think we should “be hired” — complete “with benefits.” Somebody should figure out how to provide for us. After all, that’s the way it was. Did you work at a lathe or a weaving machine? Now that work is done much more cheaply overseas. Did you answer phones and type? Now one person types on behalf of everyone and you download it from the net, and the phones are answered automatically or from afar. The costs we pay for this arrangement are the costs of shipping, the bonus costs of the elites who design this setup.
    What exactly should education be doing? Educating us to be employees, now learn this, now do that? Or educating us to find our own way in a fracturing milieu? How so? I don’t think the Chinese have the whole answer either. But the “workforce” hasn’t capitalized on the amount of college education we have lavished on that class of students, in my opinion. Education hasn’t meshed with demand — or need — at this point.

  • Michael

    to Ellen of the step 5.
    In regards to resources. Human, Raw, Tech, Social, Yes the logically sense would be to bankrupt your competitions or lower prices enough to close out that % of the market. Than once there gone slowly raise prices, as well as

    The thinking behind this is, is that all will be cheap and easy to exploit since the town, city would and are willing to give up what is needed to get the company there.

    In response to AKILEZ, I highly doubt you taken mirco or marco economics. I’m sure you meant to add labor, safety cost in the U.S. and others countries compare to China might be a factor in the cost. If I reall India has a large populations and seems to be paying far more to its people wages than china.

    “DOPEY IDEAS” is thinking that because china has 2 billion people therefore it’s cheap to make products and to think that china is making the best quality product is pretty asinine.

    Can you link those Marco graphs or did you learn this when you were 12?

    “Smart people are always working they don’t have to blah blah on writing”

    Awe like talking on radio shows, if I used your logic than NPR should not have any SMART people on since they are always working  or Newspapers since smart people don’t have time to write in them as well.

    Akilez I see the light thank you,

    Ellen in regards to google I think they somewhat have the upper-hand on the Chinese government since they help restrict access to the web for china, compare to other major U.S. companies who seem not to care about the government taking control as long as the bottom line is good. Didn’t we have a large amount of sucideds in some factories that supply U.S. goods. Those U.S. companies didn’t feel the need to make things better in regards to working conditions there until there were shamed into it. yet still are doing the same

  • Michael

    “the logical”

  • AKILEZ

    In order to control an increasing rise on population is to control the 2 Billion people by FORCE.

    Do you think majority of Chinese follow the Communist laws, I don’t think So.

    Baby girls are still born in China but boys are preferred by the Communist government to control population growth.

    Never blame another country because our government moved our jobs to China.
    The Chinese is not forcing Americans at gun point to move American manufacturing to China. It was the US government and American companies decision to move majority of manufacturing to China or Mexico

    Don’t blame the Chinese for making 50 cents an hour because the Job competition in China is fierce.
    (Quit your job now and 2 billion people will be after your job).

    Americans should be ahead in the 21st Century but Japanese and German students are advancing in Science and Math.
    Probably the US government intentionally moved those jobs overseas to make us a better educated Americans

    A leap frogging forward in Science and Math.

    My fellow Americans we are in the 21st Century those manufacturing jobs are for people who are just starting with their lives. We’ve been there done that.

  • Michael

    Ellen what do you think of the success of a business in regards to its politics? % of political influences? or Media access?

    Be nice to see stats on the top companies in any field and the % of political clout and media access it has.

  • AKILEZ

    India is not a manufacturing country.
    Indian people are good in Economics,Math,Cobol programming,Customer service the 800 number,Economics and field of Finance.

    China is a country of Manufacturing. Since Chinese are good on making things or products.

    Michael if you know social studies carefully you will know why India doesn’t usually make GAP Jeans compared to China. Politics in Business is always with us you don’t have to go china to learn the politics of business it is right across you cubicle your co-workers are business politics.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Michael, there are lots of questions about the fairness of this system, whether success of any enterprise or of education and so on. I don’t think media access makes much difference since I never buy anything I see promoted on TV, thinking about the added costs. I pay attention to Consumer Reports. I assume other Americans are at least as smart as I am. I noticed AIG promoting head over heels right before they almost crashed and burned. I noticed BP promoting head over heels before their Bad Planning began to make more of a mark than the promotion. I tend to think that access to lobbyists (and thus to legislators) is what makes the big difference.
    I am recalling the legislature, right after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, passed humongous monies for American small businesses to establish a foothold in Iraq and (somehow?) assist in Iraqi “freedom” and “democracy.” Even my tiny business was solicited: Many millions of taxpayer dollars on offer; bring your skills and products to Iraq.
    I called. It seems that the bill that passed required that NOT ONLY big business enjoy the fruits of that bill. Halliburton was not allowed to be the only one. I could go over there and distribute toothpaste; whatever. I was interested in the education piece. Oh, good, bring them copies of the Diary of Ann Frank and distribute that. And the introductory piece was to fly to Iraq on a special flight and go to a conference.
    Somehow along the way, only fairly large businesses had qualified to be part of the deal, and so it was recommended that I become an accessory business to one of the qualified businesses. Sign up with Halliburton or one like it. But please sign up now, because the bill requires that a certain percent of the money go to businesses under a certain size.
    So in that case, the legislature — our representatives — were trying EXCESSIVELY to include the businesses without lobbyists. What did they get? Someone at NPR can go and figure that out. It didn’t augur well, if they were primarily marketing free money and junkets, without regard to benefit to Iraq (or our own economy).
    I have had a new regard for “corruption” in various guises ever since that time. That was under Bush Two.

  • AKILEZ

    Oh Michael I forgot to tell you because you so Naive about India the workers there get paid more because a lot of them Are College graduate compared to Chinese workers.

    Just like the Filipino laborers they get paid a lot than the Chinese counterpart because majority of workers that work for manufacturing in the Philippines are also College graduate

    Did you know the majority of nurses in America are Filipinos,India and Koreans? That’s why America moved those hard labor jobs to China to make USA to be a the leader in Science and Math

  • Ellen Dibble

    Akilez, I think the preference in China for boy children is traditional, not government-led. I think the girls traditionally become part of the family of the man they marry. Parents expect to be cared for by the son when he grows, but the daughter would be caring for the parents of her spouse.
    Chinese people, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. But I believe I’ve heard that discussions of adoptions out of China that the girls are the ones put out, not the boys, and I believe I’ve heard that from Chinese people in this country. I believe the Chinese government is more worried about an imbalance. Men create more children than women do, in a sense, since a woman requires 9 months to produce one child. And if she is only allowed one child, well that’s that.

  • AKILEZ

    Ellen after living in this country for 3 decades I notice that American political topics are controlled by the media.

    The topic of China didn’t even exist in 10 years ago. When Americans didn’t pay attention to the Dragon of Asia while that country was building its Economy.

    Only now I noticed that Americans are now seeing the true effect of Globalization and Free Market.

    As far as I know baby girls are more or should I say aborted to minimize population explotion.

    Boys don’t get pregnant so population explotion is reduce and it creates economic stability in China lesser people lesser economic problems.

  • Michael

    lol

    “Did you know the majority of nurses in America are Filipinos,India and Koreans? That’s why America moved those hard labor jobs to China to make USA to be a the leader in Science and Math”

    Did you know that americans nurses are not outsourced to china since, american nurses are needed in ah america.

    “That’s why America moved those hard labor jobs to China to make USA to be a the leader in Science and Math”

    last i check the U.S is having problems with both.

    Ellen,
    so wouldn’t they be trying to use small business like yourself to validate those companies making such profit or money? and only if they got enough business like yourself could it be valid thing to do.

  • Michael

    Ellen,

    even a jusifications of taking taxpayers money and giving it to private business who supported the war or wanted a market where the government pays.

    was there tax break for companies that committed to such a deal while in iraq?

  • AKILEZ

    Michael are you high?

    “Did you know that americans nurses are not outsourced to china since, american nurses are needed in ah america” You so funny… Did wrote Nurses are out source in China I wrote HARD LABOR like manufacturing are out source in China. my god my 6 year old daughter is smarter than you.

    “last i check the U.S is having problems with both”
    you really have no common sense – They out source hard labor jobs to China to CONVINCE Americans students to concentrate more on Science and Math to be educated on those subjects (like you)in order to avoid working on Factories for the rest of their lives even at Mcdonald’s

  • Ellen Dibble

    Michael, I didn’t inquire into the tax ramifications of being a contractor or subcontractor in Iraq. Shortly after those offers, there began to be bombings all over Iraq, even in places like Mosul (I think it was), and the whole endeavor began to look like the mess it turned into, not a friendly intertwining of resources and know-how at all.
    Akilez, how could we manage without your perspective — or that of Michael.

  • Michael

    you really have no common sense – They out source hard labor jobs to China to CONVINCE Americans students to concentrate more on Science and Math to be educated on those subjects (like you)in order to avoid working on Factories for the rest of their lives even at Mcdonald’s

    So who are they btw? And your saying they moved hard work labor jobs to china which were majority white male for majority Nursing jobs for ,India and Koreans and Filipinos majority women?

    Anyone does this make any sense?

    Really that makes no sense, so a Company decided to outsource Factories jobs so other citizens could go to collage is what you said with no regard to the bottom-line, nothing to do with lack of labor laws in those countries, law of environmental laws.

    I;m sure your 6year daughter understand your reasoning cause you surely think like one

  • Steve V

    I would suggest the world has entered a time in which we simply are in no way prepared to respond. Our growing population, resources unable to keep up with demand, climate changes, etc, etc. Some say “look at history”. It doesn’t appear to me history has prepared us for this, we just don’t know how respond to changes that are taking place faster than our ability to understand them. We appear to be reacting to everything, we are not proactive, and are always “behind the curve”. And if someone has an answer to a certain problem would we realize it in time? Is this the worlds future?

  • Paul

    You want to limit Chinese suzerainty and expand American economic might?

    Fair Tax.!

  • loninappleton

    I admit it: I didn’t listen to this show nor read the remarks. Here’s why. Steven Hill has effectively demonstrated to me that the misconception of “Europe is a mess” is a trope of the mass media including NPR.

    http://www.europespromise.org/

    Hill has summarized many of these things in a recent article in the Nation from which I followed up with the book.

    Monolithic “state capitalism” is not an alternative for the US. Co-determination in the workplace, strengthening manufacture and limiting corporate power is the place to start.

    Boycott, divestment, and sanctioning at the polls such as blue dog Democrats for not following the popular will are short term solutions to getting to the larger goal of a fair and just society.

  • Janet

    The old expression “Capitalism works for those that work, and Socialism works for those that don’t work.” appears to be coming true in Spain and Greece.

  • david

    A Prediction:
    BP will belly up towards bankruptcy under the load of liabilities at the joyous applause of America’s left. In order to survive they will seek someone to buy them.
    Enter China, who does not give a rat’s rump for America, just the money we keep throwing at them.
    China needs oil, money buys oil, so China will have all the oil they need due to America’s desire to become like Europe and the Failed Green movement in Spain.

    Big oil deposits have been found in deep waters in South America. American oil companies, who are no longer welcome here, move their operations to South America, along with those jobs.
    Think it strange, they are talking about it.

    Wow!!! Big Oil is gone, JOBS are gone!!!!
    China is happy, America’s left is happy, America is now like the rest of the failed European nations.
    “Joe Blow average” is being told by the Govt. that he is happy, even though he is paying $8 A GAL. FOR GAS, and food has doubled.
    Yet!! he has enough solar panels and wind mills in his yard, paid for by the taxpayers, to power his flat screen TV, made in China!

  • peter nelson

    Cynical, arrogant, dishonest, and corrupt people who have no desire to solve the problems facing ordinary citizens are the problem.

    Several people here have mentioned dishonesty and corruption.

    I know I sound like a broken record on this, but crack a book. By every established metric China has worse corruption that the US. So does Russia. Check out Transparency international as a good starting point: http://www.transparency.org/

  • peter nelson

    Tom made a false statement in his opening remarks.
    He said that there were protests in Europe when they were in Greece

    Yesterday there were big public employee strikes in Spain, and last year in France. All of them are over the same basic issue – people’s pay and standard of living is based on the assumption of a degree of prosperity that is no longer realistic or sustainable in western countries.

    I think we can excuse Tom for getting a little ahead of himself – before the year is out the protests all across Europe will be massive. Germany will feel the effects of its bailing out the PIGS and yhe UK will feel the huge budget cuts of the new coalition government.

    The only reason we don’t have protests in the US with our huge unemployment rates, and rich-getting-richer-while-poor-get-poorer society is that US culture with its strong reliance on religious fatalism doesn’t have a history of that sort of thing. Our free enterprise philosophy teaches us that if we’re poor it’s “our” fault for not having enough gumption.

  • peter nelson

    It is not the role of government to pick winners and looser but rather to keep a fair playing field and prevent businesses from getting to big to fail by either letting them go bankrupt or limiting their size while business is going well

    Does China do this? No. China picks winners and losers. Also, keep in mind that when you have a 10% GDP growth rate you can AFFORD to let huge companies fail because everyone who gets laid-off can easily find a new job.

    The challenge here for the conservatives is to explain why an economy based on principles that are anathema to them are beating the #$@*! out of us economically.

  • peter nelson

    America’s so-called “free market” is a myth, given the enormous state subsidies showered on agriculture, carbon-based and nuclear energy, the military-industrial complex, and so forth.

    This is true, and the conservatives don’t want to admit this. Just try finding a conservative senator who’s willing to give up farm subsidies, for example, or the huge amount of DoD expenditures we devote to keeping friendly oil-supplying nations from being overthrown,

    BUT, compared to China, we really do have a much freer market and free market advocates need to explain this situation without ducking that fact. If it’s true, as they say, that government’s can’t get it right then how do they explain how China (or Sweden for that matter), where the government has a bigger role in the economy, is outperforming us?

  • Sasha

    NOT TRUE about China not offering us to develop something (regarding Obama’s offer to help develop a plane) – Chinese offered California their expertise (which the U.S. has none) in building high-speed trains in the state. It was on the news, Schwarzenegger has been touting China, they promised to employ local workers, etc.

  • stephen

    2nite’s question reframed? not 19th century nationalist competition but an issue of global environment and human rights.

  • peter nelson

    Amy Nicholls writes: The concepts that were being debated are the same fundamental issues we used to discuss in International Relations 101. That is not to say they are simple–they are not simple at all–they are in fact the basics of any discussion about government/state systems, global or national. What constitutes power now? What is the economic role of the state vs the private sector? And so forth.

    There is an excellent, totally free, lecture series – podcasts and downloadable MP3′s – by the LSE – London School of Economics.

    http://www.lse.ac.uk/resources/podcasts/publicLecturesAndEvents.htm

    The LSE is one of the most prestigious schools of economics and social sciences in the world and their lecture series is a Who’s Who of prominent thinkers on a wide variety of subjects and with a wide variety of viewpoints. Each lecture is about 2 hours, with the last half hour being devoted to Q&A from the audience who are mostly LSE graduate students. It’s a much higher-level that OnPoint, but nothing a reasonably broadly-educated NPR listener can’t handle.

    The role of China and the issue of competing economic and political systems has been a frequent topic in recent lectures. I wish more people who participate in this forum would download those talks – it would raise the overall level of the discussion here.

  • peter nelson

    The majority of R&D and innovation still takes place in the US!

    You obviously don’t read the cutting-edge peer-reviewed science journals. Read Science or Nature and you will see lots and lots of basic research, from which all future innovation flows, done in China. More every day.

    Also, I worked for years for a major western medical and scientific products company, and LOTS of our R&D staff were from India and China, because we could not fill key positions domestically. US students can’t be bothered to learn calculus or biochemistry.

  • jollyD

    Where will China, and India for that matter, get their water? how will they grow enough food for their exploding population? What if temperatures continue to rise and draughts expand the desertification of their land?
    Will Capitalism, of any sort, find solutions to these problems?
    or will the wealthy and powerful continue to ‘have’ at the expense of the have nots?
    Won’t this lead to revolts? and or repression?
    Can it happen here?

  • peter nelson

    Ben says: China’s success and our malaise today are structural consequences or our own addiction to consumption, not of our political freedom and their lack thereof. It is fundamentally unsustainable for us to be a nation that consumes without producing while simultaneously remaining the wealthiest nation on the planet.

    I’m sure you’re right that it’s way more complex than central control -vs- free markets. BUT WRT production -vs- consumption, how can we be producers when they can produce almost everything cheaper and
    more efficiently?

    What exactly are you proposing?

  • peter nelson

    Where will China, and India for that matter, get their water? how will they grow enough food for their exploding population?

    China is doing a better job than we are controlling population growth. WRT food, China has truly vast capital reserves, so they are busily buying up huge agricultural and other natural resources (oil, coal, lumber, etc) all over the world. I don’t think they’re going to have a problem in that department. India, I’m not so sure of.

  • Pam Murtaugh

    What *is* “freedom” when 70% of the US GDP is consumer spending??? No one is free to stop working *or* spending. Everyone is in competition with everyone else, *and* everyone is on their own — no safety nets. We’ve not only lost freedom, we’ve lost the strength that a democracy used to bring us.

  • twenty-niner

    I think Thomas Friedman got it right here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/opinion/09friedman.html?ref=thomaslfriedman

    Americans are still some of the best hackers in the world, and any number of these garages could give birth to the next big startup:

    http://hackaday.com/

  • FriendsofIndia

    India is the world’s only super power. Pray for India, beg our 5-rupee meal middle classes, bow to our super powers. Jai Hind!

  • gregorylent

    great comments here, people are ahead of the pundits …

    individualism is a disease, the collective evolves, and economic systems change …

    luckily .. this change is for survival

  • joshua

    Akilez writes: “Joshua your absolutely wrong after 5000 years China emerged as the Dragon Of Asia so powerful that America keep borrowing money from this Communist Country and WE OWE THEM BIG TIME. Our children’s children will be paying off our debts to the Chinese people.

    Without China Ipad and Iphone are impossible to manufacture with the demand of these products.

    Before you say something did you ever live in China especially Beijing or Hong Kong.

    Incompetence is totally wrong. Because America is democratic doesn’t mean America is better than China.
    We have more crimes in America than China. We have more child abduction than China etc etc.

    Asian cultures is totally different from caucasian culture I know because I am 1/2 Asian and born in Southeast Asia. After the cuktural revolution and the creation of a renegade Country Taiwan it became more competent and powerful than China’s Asian neighbors.

    They can go to the moon and built a hotel on the moon that’s how Chinese think.

    See their innovation like the 3 Gorges Dam, The fastest train on earth is in China and America doesn’t even one

    Remember When Cellular Phones were UNKNOWN IN America.
    Asian Nations were already stepping in the 21st Century
    while America was battling gay rights,Women’s rights etc etc.

    We should thank China for being what she is A Communist/Capitalist. Invading the WORLD of commerce and manufacturing”

    Akilez–i live in CHina now. I have lived here 4 years and travelled extensively. I teach many subjects and have know thousands of Chinese. You dont really understand. Al that technology you mantioned–thats Eupopean and American technology. The train is german technology. The 3-gorges damn is german technology. Eupoeans and American are here guiding them every step of the wya. They do nothing without our designs and guidance. Tahts why they let Internationals come here to exploit slave labor–to copy and stela technology. But they cant even do that right–they feel they can skip steps in the process they dont feel necessary. Try working on a construction project here whether house, office, building, bridge whatever–incompetence bounds. They think they ignore things, get away with things. Corruption is rampant.

    MOst kids–MOST–almost all feel it is perfectly okay to copy, cheat and plagiarize in school. Plagiarism is tradition here even at the highest levels of academia. Education is based on rote examinations–so many examinations it would make your head boffle–and even the examinations are innacurate, ibas, and riddled with mistakes. The students will tell you they dont have to come to class or study or read anything because they’ve all ready passed the initial entrance examination and thats all that matters–everything after that is a rubber stamp. My evaluations mean nothing. The administration alters the grades. No one is allowed to fail. White teachers are here for entertainment. They try to avoid hiring SOuth Asians, or blacks–they want a white vase to entertain and exploit. I live with the lack of empathy around me everyday. I ve seen people dying in the streets due to hit and runs which occur daily and nobody does anything–they stand and goggle at bodies twitching in the hot sun on the pavement alone dying. They say its not their business. Pick-ocketing and theft is traditional and rampant yet the police do nothing, the police are involved. Police stand idly by and watch as insane bereaved family members invade schools chain teachers in theri officers, beat teachers and burn fires in lobbies and entrance ways-while the police watch doing nothing, afraid, cowardly.

    The pollution is soooo bad cancer is spreading like common cold. I have sever headaches, sore throat, tearing burninfg eyes and nasuea in the cities so i avoid it. You cant swim in the water ways unless you want to drink and bathe in toxic chemicals or catch some shit-borne disease.

    Most products are indeed manufactured in china–under slave labor–and it destroying the worlds ecosystems–it is not sustainable. MOst of their success is directly related to our commercial involvement there. We should not be there–it is not sustainable and Americans are lose jobs everyday that go to China to pollute and exploit slaves. China welcomes it. So do we really owe them? i didnt ask the American fascist government to Bail out the banks or create death panels (health insurance) or outsource all our manufacturing and white collar jobs. i didnt vote for that. I dont owe them and neither do the American people–the corporations need to pay out of pocket and people need to go to jail.

    China would be a much lovelier place if the West got out and we all started to live a in sustainable ways. I dont own an Ipod or a cell phone. It is unhealthy to me, ot you, and the environment. It irradiates your brain, an it relies on slave labor and petrochemicals–oil. I hate this new E-market–phone ringing everywhere disturbing the peace, building towers that pulse cancer and brain tumors. China’s growth is deadly to the world. A billion consumers with consumption increasing exponentially. The earth cannot sustain it. America and Europe may have cause a lot of problems in the world-we do–but the Chinese way–the totalitarianism, fascist –piggy way is a lot worse–Ask the Philippines, ask Africa. Chinese people litter the streets, their homes, the waterways–nothing is sacred–very very piggy, Its disgusting, and that’s what will spread around the world if not contained. hey have no respect or community–dont tell me they do-trashed heaped in the streets is not community. That is a lack of empathy toward neighbors or sense of pride. natural areas (preservations) littered without any care in the world–people pay to see natural areas and pay to pollute–tossing their junk in mountain streams and lakes, etc–they simply don not care. And they live in it. The have no social services, nor does the government condone it–but the people dont know how to organize this way and they dont see a need. They say its not my business. They have no humanities courses at university–its all business, language and propaganda and plagiarized science–no innovation. Why do you think men of minds here are desperately trying to leave? Even classical Chinese writers say these things. It doesn’t change anything. i see people argue in the streets over the stupidest things–very stubborn, very selfish, nobody ever backs down, apologizes, or forgives–squabbles go for hours screaming about something petty, while crowds of onlookers gather to watch. All of the technology–even green technology, even water treatment is European and American under Western guidance. The they try to repeat it and cant do it write–but they dont innovate–they do the same thing over and over again. The Bird’s nest in Beijing (designed and monitored by a European architect) is being replicated all over China. Where is the innovation? There is no design here that is not stolen fro the west or built by westerners. China is a an export platform. Essentially, it is a manufacturing base of the west. But the donot have the long tradition of critical thought or imagination–its not part of the culture. that is a fact. What we have done is created a Frankenstein monster–stumbling awkward with its new power–an abomination. What is wrong with subsistence farming, organic farming–it is very possible and very necessary. Monsanto and Dupont and the Gates Foundation is lying. We donot need conventional farming or GM crops to feed the world. What we need is to end our voracious need for nonsense and de-scale the economy.

  • joshua

    To ellen dribble:
    “Demographics” nonsense-you are repeating racist CIA propaganda. Are you saying you want Americans to have more babies and biger families to compete with china and India–? its ridiculous. For waht slave labor? so we can manufacture more nonsense and pollute our world so that water and air and soil everywhere is contaminated and undrinkable? So we can consume more resources? Why would you want to do that? Just for free-market capitalism–for competition?

    Opening up China was a collossal mistake. The third world needs to remain third world-they wouldnt have the problems they do if we didnt exploit them and pollute thier natural lands. We dont need ipods and cellphones and tv’s. and anxiey and cancer and serial killers–we need to get back to nature–and we need less people. A billion rooftop gardens, and hobbit holes sounds like paradise to me-why should i rely on artificial food stuffed with chemicals and cancer making corporate criminals rich and powerful. Insane! Limited technology, decentralized government, renewable energy, and emphasis on education, humanity and health is what this needs, not ipod. Imagine, billions of dollars and billions of people invested in each other! the system China has now, mimicking us, is suicide and monstrous!

  • joshua

    this is nonsense–Americanization, globalization was never about making common people rich and nations democratic–we have always always encourages fascism clinet stes of America to enforce our capitalism to make the elite rich–it all depends on lower wages and slaves.

  • joshua

    Brin the only way to hold people or corporations accountable is through enforceable regulation. We’ve never seen that in America thus we third-world poverty, high-crime rates, disenfranchiesed citizins, and indocrination making American some of the most ignorant people on earth. ignorance leads to stupidy, racism, injustice, lynching, Jim Crow, unfair justice system, etc, etc…therefore reasonable, practical, ethical, environmental regulations are paramount.

    China a “state capitalist” country–meaning totalitarian fascist regime of thugs raping the country is not regulated in way ethical or environemntal, or egalitarian–it is designed to do one thing–make a certain group families very rich and powerful, to make China very powerful, espcially militarily.

    All this rhetoric about “Wining” is what got us her e in the first place. China doesnt co-operate–it wants to win, be the best, the strongest, the world power, as does America. War and bloated militaries are evil.

    We need to change our entire lifestyle and way of thinking. We need to start downsizing and working together in a green, humanitarian socialist confederation with local economies. But green regulation has to be federal and strong. All economies and local environments effect each other. We need a constitutional convention in America and globally. Corporations are not people and they have NO rights. They are fascist by nature. We need cooperatives–this will distribute the wealth and build rock-hard stability.

  • Phil

    For many Americans it is axiomatic that a society based on democracy and capitalism MUST come out ahead. We have allowed both institutions to degenerate to the point of becoming disfunctional.

    Capitalism assumes that informed, intelligent people acting out of enlightened self-interest will act in ways that benefit the public good. That hasnt been true for a long time. One thing that would help restore it would be to allow failure. As someone said, “the consequence of protecting men from their folly is to fill the world with fools” People should be protected from poverty and disease; they dont have to be sustained in extravagent wealth.

    Democracy has one huge disadvantage, in that politicians become more concerned with staying in power than with making long term decisions that may be unpoular. China does not have that problem. Democracy can still work if the electorate takes seriously the responsibility to be informed and rational, and if governments give high priority to helping its citizens fulfil their role. We have politicians who seek to manipulate opinion, and so democracy in name only.

    The worst danger is the complacent belief that our institutions will somehow ensure success, without doing the work that would keep them in shape. In fact, we have the institutions that we deserve, and little time left in which to put them right.

  • peter nelson

    Twentyniner says: I think Thomas Friedman got it right here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/opinion/09friedman.html?ref=thomaslfriedman

    (… article advocating more startups, suggesting a cabinet-level support of startups and innovation and an automatic green card for foreign students graduating from US colleges. )

    Perfectly reasonable ideas that will fail because the first one smacks of the government “picking winners and losers” which we know isn’t possible because if it was China would have a 10% GDP growth rate (what a silly idea that is!) and the second one smacks of foreigners getting “our” jobs.

  • peter nelson

    One thing that would help restore it would be to allow failure. As someone said, “the consequence of protecting men from their folly is to fill the world with fools” People should be protected from poverty and disease; they dont have to be sustained in extravagent wealth.

    This is a popular mantra but no one ever examines it in in detail. It’s a feel-good emotional response to events of recent years but I dare anyone who advocates it to back it up with hard economic data and research.

    The vast body of economic data and research in 2008/2009 clearly indicated that if we did not prop up the banks and auto companies, things would have become much worse than they were.

    Framing it as “protecting men from their folly” is a disingenuous fallacy, because the people the government was trying to protect were the workers and other companies that depended on them, not the fools who ran the banks and auto companies.

    And that effort largely succeeded – millions more people would have lost their jobs if the major banks failed, and hundreds if not thousands of other companies supplying the auto industry would have closed if GM and Chrysler went out of business.

    The reality that people don’t want to face is that we live in a highly-interconnected economy. One man’s folly can brings down hundreds or thousands of others who do not engage in folly.

  • peter nelson

    Democracy can still work if the electorate takes seriously the responsibility to be informed and rational, and if governments give high priority to helping its citizens fulfil their role. We have politicians who seek to manipulate opinion, and so democracy in name only.

    OK, but let’s be realistic. Look at the typical comments here in the OpPoint forums – few people back anything up with data or research, there is scant evidence of even basic knowledge of history, economics, science, or alternative policies in other countries. Were you here during the healthcare debates? People posted the most ridiculous nonsense about what was or wasn’t possible without having the slightest clue what was already being done in other countries! Ditto with economic, tax, and other policies.

    And yet this is an NPR audience!! Supposedly this is a relatively elite bunch WRT education and worldly background.

    As I’ve pointed out in the past, the whole concept of western democracy is based on a set of core assumptions by Enlightenment philosophers about human rationality and people’s willingness to use their rationality. The choices we make in the voting booth or marketplace are at the tail end of a long series of choices we make about how well informed to be, where to seek information, how much effort to put into it, etc.

    It’s interesting to note that the same Enlightenment assumptions about rationality undergirded the “rational utility maximizer” assumption long used by economists and which recent research in Behavioral Economics is proving to be wrong. The assumptions for democracy are chilling.

  • http://aglazkov.wordpress.com Alex G.

    Being a proponent of the free market, I found a few interesting arguments.

    Nevertheless, I wanted to point out a few issues.

    1. Western markets are saturated, there is not much growth here. Once countries with state capitalism reach that level of development, they will also start choking.

    2. State capitalism is not a stable system as its success depends on wisdom of the government and quality of its decisions. That is, its mistakes will be very costly. I spend first 25 years (3/4 of my life) in Ukraine and watching closely what is happening in the former Soviet Union countries. Russia is reaching what it can get from state capitalism. Government is running out of ideas, but the population is afraid to offer new initiatives. Corruption is suppressing not only foreign companies (see adventures of IKEA in xUSSR), but also domestic companies.

    3. In many countries state capitalism often is fed by sources like oil, gas, etc. Its success depends on commodity markets.

    4. China mostly gains from demand of cheap labor from the West. It will diminish as more and more jobs get automated.

    5. State capitalism countries are only attractive because they have a large consumer base.

    6. Western countries are not very well positioned to do well in the state capitalism environment.

  • http://OnPoint/FreeMarketSystem... Judy, Vermont

    Fascinating, tho’ some are quite long. I’ve only followed this one because of my intense dislike of Free Trade and NAFTA, since early ’90s, the major cause of our job losses — and the fear of Congress and Administration to counter large corporations which profit at our workers’ expense. Levi jeans fall apart now (thank goodness I kept some from 70s), Nike sneakers probably cost the same as before yet cost nearly nothing to make,… So who’s profiting? Not our
    workers, for sure.

    I’d love to see a national movement to get out of these disasters (doesn’t anyone wonder why Greece and other European countries are also suffering?). As I’ve mentioned before, it’s fear of highly-paid lobbyists that silence members of Congress (except for our Bernie Sanders — I don’t care what some want to call him, he cares about jobs, knows major reason for loss).

    It’s tragic that more people can’t (or don’t) put 2 & 2 together. The shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line: we have a straight line here!

  • Laesa

    We don’t have a free market economy. We have corporate welfare.

    Interest is the way that corporate capitalism robs employees from the full benefits of their labor, upwardly redristributing wealth to those that already had spare wealth to invest. The more wealth one acquires, the more this lever works to one’s advantage, exponentially.

    We need DEMOCRATIC communism. Planning from the grassroots up by communities, in consultation with other communities and in consideration of shared national interests. Think globally and nationally but act locally.

    Neither Russia nor China have ever been communist in the sense envisioned by Marx, their so called “people’s” revolutions were taken over by authoritarian dictators and their party bureaucracies. This is essentially what happened in Mexico after their revolution too.

    Whereas the “people’s” revolution in the United States became more and more controlled by concentrated wealth in business, particularly as corporations were legally granted the rights previously granted to individuals.

    What corporate welfare capitalism and state capitalism have in common is populist rhetoric covering up corruption!

  • peter nelson

    Alex says: Western markets are saturated, there is not much growth here. Once countries with state capitalism reach that level of development, they will also start choking.

    Define “saturated”. Since a lot of the Chinese wealth is based on exports to the west they seem to be doing very well off of our saturated market. And the growth potential in their own economy is HUGE – they have a LONG way to go before they have our GDP/capita, so they can grow off of that for a generation or two. And then there’s the whole rest of the world! So WRT market demand-saturation they have no big roadblocks anytime soon.

    China mostly gains from demand of cheap labor from the West. It will diminish as more and more jobs get automated.

    This is a HUGE factor that no one talks about. One of the reasons why employment growth in the US has lagged GDP growth is that workers are becoming more productive (7.4% productivity growth rate in Q209 according to BLS). Automation will make it possible to shift lots of production back to the US (and save shipping costs and energy, improve JIT supply chain, eliminate costs and inefficiencies due to political, corruption, language and other factors). It won’t help US workers because it won’t create many jobs. But China sees the hanzi on the wall and is rapidly trying to move their labor force into higher-skill work. In the US productivity improvements mean that millions of current unemployed will probably never get jobs again no matter how much the economy improves.

  • Phil

    Peter,

    Thank you for your response. I said that “One thing that would help restore it (capitalism) would be to allow failure. As someone said, “the consequence of protecting men from their folly is to fill the world with fools” People should be protected from poverty and disease; they dont have to be sustained in extravagent wealth.”

    and you replied
    “This is a popular mantra but no one ever examines it in detail. It’s a feel-good emotional response to events of recent years but I dare anyone who advocates it to back it up with hard economic data and research.

    The vast body of economic data and research in 2008/2009 clearly indicated that if we did not prop up the banks and auto companies, things would have become much worse than they were.”

    I dont deny this, but it actually worries me that things did get not worse than they did. As markets seem to recover we resume the comfortable belief that things are all right really. In the long term, we might be better off if we had been really forced to a radical analysis of the system. In practice, finding a balance between protecting the general public (workers if you like) and letting the fools go hang themselves is incredibly difficult. I think it is what Obama is trying to do, but I would have liked to see more fools twisting in the wind.

    I agree totally with you that since the Enlightenment we have supposed people to be more rational than they are, and also overestimated how effective rationality would be anyway. Getting rationality to work is a tough business, because not enough of us seem to be very good at it, and we havnt been giving it enough attention.
    At some point democracy may have to be abandoned as a failed experiment, which would be a great shame.

  • peter nelson

    Fascinating, tho’ some are quite long. I’ve only followed this one because of my intense dislike of Free Trade and NAFTA, since early ’90s, the major cause of our job losses

    Can you cite any hard evidence for this claim?

    I can cite LOTS of evidence to the contrary. The data is very clear:

    1. Most US job losses are due to productivity growth over the last few decades. Due to technology and process improvements (e.g., better supply chain management) it simply does not take as many people to get the same work done as in the past. This process will accelerate.

    2. Cheap foreign labor CREATES US jobs. For example, if iPads were built in the US they would cost $$thousands so they would have very few sales. Thus the entire aftermarket for downloadable apps, cloud apps, accessories, and other stuff that depend on it would disappear. Ditto with cell phones and lots of other things. These are high-skill, high-paying jobs.

    And then there’s all the sales jobs cheap Chinese labor produces – you might complain that cheap shirts and basketball shoes make Walmart jobs, but Walmart is one of the biggest employers in the US and many people who work there aren’t qualified for higher-level jobs.

    So be careful what you wish for, and also get your facts straight.

  • peter nelson

    Phil writes: The vast body of economic data and research in 2008/2009 clearly indicated that if we did not prop up the banks and auto companies, things would have become much worse than they were.”

    I dont deny this, but it actually worries me that things did get not worse than they did. As markets seem to recover we resume the comfortable belief that things are all right really. In the long term, we might be better off if we had been really forced to a radical analysis of the system

    What you are essentially wishing for is more human suffering. You must either have a secure job or the option of moving back in with your parents.

    I’m not accusing you of being a right-wing-wacko, but that kind of thinking is common with them because they feel that only an apocalyptic breakdown of society will have the necessary “cleansing” effect.

    Many people were quoted as saying that we wasted a good crisis because we didn’t address the structural problems. While I agree, I see no evidence that the US body politic has the ability to respond effectively, so if 5 or 10 million more people lost their jobs or ended up homeless I see no evidence that it would have turned out better. We would have probably just become more polarized and extremist. Just because things are bad doesn’t mean they can’t be worse.

    Some countries do have the ability to turn crisis into opportunity. Here’s a great talk by Anders Borg, the Swedish Finance Minister on their response to their crisis of 1990: http://www2.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/events/2010/20100114t1800vOT.aspx

    After hearing this I was envious about how their political parties, labor unions, and other special interests were able to reach consensus on gigantic changes to their whole system. The result was that they got through the current crisis in much better shape than most other countries.

  • peter nelson

    We need DEMOCRATIC communism. Planning from the grassroots up by communities, in consultation with other communities and in consideration of shared national interests. Think globally and nationally but act locally.

    OK, fine, I’m an engineer – I believe in making a working prototype to demonstrate proof-of-concept before going into full production.

    So as I always tell my libertarian friends (believe it or not I do have some) first prove that your idea works by implementing it on small scale – a small country, state or province.

    No one has ever created “DEMOCRATIC communism”, so as far as I’m concerned it’s a purely theoretical concept. For example it has been theorized that stable, superheavy elements might exist with atomic numbers of 162 or 184. It’s like you’re talking about building a house out of that stuff when so far no one has ever discovered it.

  • WaitingOut

    It is totally unfair that the chinese are competing. The only way fair to us is if they tie one hand to one foot, while we have both hands and feet free. This is why we are a free country and the chinese are not free.

  • peter nelson

    Another great LSE lecture. The title “When China Rules the World” is deliberately provocative but the lecture is serious and excellent.

    http://www2.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/events/2010/20100113t1830vOT.aspx

  • Janet Ferguson

    What ever happened to Hedrick Smith?

  • peter nelson

    What ever happened to Hedrick Smith?

    Who’s Hedrick Smith and how does he (?) fit into this topic?

  • jeffe

    Peter NAFTA has been a disaster for Mexican farmers.
    It allowed the US to dump cheap corn onto their market and put scores of small farmers out of work. The net result is a lot of them crossed the bored to look for work in the US.

    http://www.organicconsumers.org/chiapas/nafta040504.cfm

    http://www.citizen.org/trade/article_redirect.cfm?ID=11330

    http://prospectjournal.ucsd.edu/index.php/2010/04/nafta-and-u-s-corn-subsidies-explaining-the-displacement-of-mexicos-corn-farmers/

  • Phil

    Peter,

    It’s embarassing, but sometimes I find myself in agreement with the right wing wackos. I like to think that my reasoning is subtler than theirs, but I’m not completely sure. But like Mamma said, it has to get worse before it gets better. You seem pretty unconvinced yourself that there is a gradualist solution.

  • http://www.pathtoasia.com zack

    Another laughable On Point show promoting more government intervention into the market. Tom, your show is quickly becoming a farce. Maybe you should have Jack Beaty on again to further demonize business owners that “exploit” workers.

    I don’t know where to begin refuting the false premises presented by this show.

    1. We have never had free markets in the US. The corporate institution itself is a government intervention into the free market. Some big corporations (and favored constituencies) are politically connected and receive undo benefits over the rest of society. What we really have here is crony capitalism, growing more unjust year by year.

    2. You assume that the government knows best, that a politician has a legitimate right to arbitrarily decide what is in the “national interest” – for example, that China will build its own airplanes. Why should this decision trump individual property rights, forcing citizens to invest in some national goal that is of questionable benefit? It’s another version of building a bridge to nowhere – a malinvestment that expropriates wealth from more productive uses in order to fund the government’s silly schemes. Obama is on the right track when he proposes privatizing NASA.

    My company http://www.pathtoasia.com helps Americans move to Asia. Visit our site and receive a free consultation and trial membership.

  • peter nelson

    You assume that the government knows best, that a politician has a legitimate right to arbitrarily decide what is in the “national interest” – for example, that China will build its own airplanes. Why should this decision trump individual property rights, forcing citizens to invest in some national goal that is of questionable benefit? It’s another version of building a bridge to nowhere – a malinvestment that expropriates wealth from more productive uses in order to fund the government’s silly schemes

    The answer to your “why” question is 10% GDP growth. No other country in world history has raised so many millions of people into the middle classes as China in the last few decades. Most Chinese appear to be pretty happy with how things are going.

    Some posters here, such as Zack, above, and Laesa (“democratic communism”) seem much more devoted to their favorite philosophical musings than to actual empirical data.

    The empirical reality is that state capitalism is working very well in some countries. It’s manifested in different ways – China is not the same as Singapore is not the same as industrial policy in Germany and Sweden. But all of those places have government planning, coordination, and intervention more than we do and they all have economies which work better than ours.

    So people who don’t like our system or the Chinese one have an obligation to point to hard empirical evidence of a better one in our modern 21st century world. Don’t waste our time proposing hypothetical systems like laissez-faire capitalism or “democratic communism” – this is like proposing that we solve the energy crisis by powering cars with magic fairy dust.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    David says, “You can take your “freedom” and shove it. I want a job.”

    Without freedom life is not worth living. Without freedom, a job is mere slavery.

    I don’t want a “job”–I want to work at my hobbies and work for the common good in a proportion of about 70/30, which, if we ALL chipped in on such a system, would support the whole world.

    China’s model terrifies me–it proves that capitalism and freedom don’t need each other. Give me socialism over that model any day.

    –Joshua Hendrickson

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“Rich Hill,” a new documentary on growing up poor, now, in rural America. The dreams and the desperation.

 
Sep 16, 2014
Jasmin Torres helps classmate Brianna Rameles with a worksheet at the Diloreto Magnet School in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012. (AP/Charles Krupa)

More parents are “red-shirting” their children in kindergarten—holding them back for a year, hoping they’ll have an edge. Does it work? We look.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Talking Through The Issue Of Corporal Punishment For Kids
Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

On Point dove into the debate over corporal punishment on Wednesday — as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson faces charges in Texas after he allegedly hit his four-year-old son with a switch.

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Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

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Beverly Gooden on #WhyIStayed
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

Beverly Gooden — who originated the #WhyIStayed hashtag that has taken off across Twitter — joined us today for our discussion on domestic violence.

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