I am reading the very disturbing book The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, which is a scathing indictment of Milton Friedman’s Free Market theories. I compare the economic implications with my own economic recommendations as outlined in my writings (A Total World Makeover, 2016).
The fundamental problem of economics (as in politics, as clearly understood by Thomas Jefferson) is that, regardless of the economic or political system, the longer the game goes on, the more the wealth and power become concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. This isn’t any new revelation – Jesus Christ put it quite succinctly: “To those who have, more shall be given; from them who have not, it shall be taken away even the little that they have.”
As long as this universal truth be clearly understood, there is no difficulty understanding political or economic evolutions, nor is it difficult to see what needs to be done to ameliorate the unfortunate consequences of that truth.
Milton Friedman’s religiously fundamentalist belief in the sanctity of free markets is not hard to understand, as long as you are prepared to accept a ruthless and unreconstructed Darwinist approach to civilization and life itself. Free markets, without any pesky regulation or controls, will certainly stimulate surging market economies. This “surging market economy,” however, is only enjoyed by 20%, or 10%, or 1% of the total population; the remainder of the population (the “little people”) is of no consequence or interest to the market leaders and winners.
Where this theory breaks down, of course, is with the same limits encountered by any other invasive pestilence – its very success is its undoing: when the host is destroyed, the growth feeding on it will also die.
My own economic suggestions seem to me to follow just the right line – allowing an unfettered free market in order to enjoy the efficiencies inherent in the free market, but tempered with extensive support for the other 80%, 90%, or 99% of the population. Thus, I have called for the implementation of Free Farms providing free housing, food, education, and health care for the indigent, along with a complete program of support for everyone else – free inner city trains and buses, subsidized food stores and health care, etc.
Of course, the excesses of the free market would also be directly limited with my proposed Resource Depletion Tax, whose levels would be adjusted as necessary to promote market modifications. For example, facing the potentially catastrophic consequences of Climate Change, we would rapidly ratchet up a carbon tax that would make coal fired power plants totally unprofitable, and gasoline a very expensive fuel for automobiles. Air travel would likewise be so expensive that only the wealthiest persons would use it, and then only for the most essential transportation needs (importing Maine lobster, for example . . . ). The tax for cutting down a tree would be so high that forest products would become prohibitively expensive, forcing the development of alternative products. Wind, solar, and geothermal power would very quickly replace 20th Century reliance on fossil fuels.
But with all of this support for the poorer members of society, the wealthy class could be free to develop whatever products and services they could manage to sell to each other or anyone else, on a free market basis, without excessive business taxation or other interference in their activities (beyond the resource depletion tax).
None of this will happen automatically, nor does it make any sense to hire a fox to guard the hen house (e.g., Donald Trump) – every garden needs a Gardener to maintain the healthiest balance of life in the garden or the world, and our suggestion of setting up an independent institution (e.g., The Seminary of The Church of the Living Tree,) to produce a source of regulatory authority still sounds good to me. It seems to me that the holders of wealth and power in the world ought to welcome such an independent authority, recognizing that without it there would be no restraint to prevent the destruction of the host – in this case, our dear Mother Earth.
The Evanescent Press