Home > Uncategorized > Will the IMF become irrelevant before it changes?

Will the IMF become irrelevant before it changes?

from Mark Weisbrot

The neoliberal reforms it has imposed on countries around the world have been disastrous.

The UK’s vote in June to leave the European Union, combined with an extraordinary backlash against trade agreements as manifested in the US presidential election, has set off an unprecedented public debate about globalization and even some of the neoliberal principles that it embodies in its current form. It is therefore of great relevance to look at what is happening to one of the most powerful promoters of neoliberal globalization in the world economy: the International Monetary Fund.

An article in the June issue of the IMF’s quarterly magazine, Finance and Development, raised a lot of eyebrows in Washington policy circles. “Neoliberalism: Oversold?” was the title, and the authors presented some evidence in the affirmative, for at least some important neoliberal policies. To most of us, it was like an op-ed from Donald Trump titled “Insulting Your Opponents: Oversold?”

Neoliberalism refers to a set of policies that the IMF has been promoting all over the world for decades. These include tighter fiscal and monetary policies (sometimes even when the economy is weak or in recession); an indiscriminate opening up of countries to international trade and capital flows; the abandonment of state-led industrial and development policies; privatization of public enterprises; and various forms of deregulation, including financial.

It’s not exactly a household word in the United States, but in South America in the 21st century, for example, most of the winning presidential campaigns were against it. There were some solid reasons for their opposition: During the last two decades of the 20th century, when neoliberal reforms were being implemented, income per person in Latin America barely grew. Whereas in the previous two decades — when governments did most of the things that neoliberalism was designed to reverse — income per person nearly doubled.

If we look at the world as a whole during the decades of neoliberal reform (1980–2000), there was also a sharp slowdown in economic growth in the vast majority of low- and middle-income countries, as well as a decline in progress on such indicators as life expectancy and infant mortality. So yes, neoliberalism appears to be worse than oversold.

As a result, the IMF — the most powerful institution promoting neoliberal policies — lost most of its influence in the world during the 21st century. This may seem surprising at first, since the IMF more than tripled its resources, from $250 billion before the Great Recession to $750 billion by 2009, and has even more today. But the majority of its lending — with policy conditions that have once again proven disastrous — is in Europe. And in Europe it is a subordinate partner, with the major decisions regarding its loans and conditions made by the more powerful European governments. The real power that it has had over economic policy has been in developing countries, with the middle-income countries having mostly escaped.

Much of this exodus by middle-income countries took place after the disastrous, IMF-supervised mishandling of the Asian financial crisis of 1997–99. The fund took harsh criticism from prominent economists for the first time, and also from its own Internal Evaluation Office. As in the eurozone since the Great Recession, the fund saw the crisis in Asia as an opportunity to implement more neoliberal reforms, despite the fact that the region’s financial deregulation was a major cause of the crisis. After the Asian crisis, the affected countries (e.g., Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, and Taiwan) and many other middle-income countries decided to accumulate enough international reserves so that they would never have to borrow from the IMF again. One side effect of this response has been years of sizable trade deficits in the United States, with associated job losses.

It’s nice to see that a few IMF economists finally recognize some of the failures of neoliberalism. In recent years there has been some other research at the Fund that acknowledged major mistakes — for example, underestimating the negative impact of austerity in Europe; and challenging some prior IMF orthodoxy, such as opposition to capital controls and overly rigid central bank policies. And on July 28, the IMF’s Internal Evaluation Office released a report on some of its surveillance and intervention in the eurozone crisis. It noted that the IMF “did not foresee the magnitude of the risks” that the crisis would bring, was overly optimistic about growth forecasts in Greece and Portugal, and failed to provide a realistic view of Greece’s debt sustainability. But the report’s criticisms vastly understated the long-term damage that the IMF and its troika partners (the European Central Bank and the European Commission) inflicted on Europe during the crisis years.

Despite the changes in the IMF’s research department, the fund’s policies have been resistant to change. Out of 41 countries that received IMF loans during the world recession of 2009, 31 carried fiscal or monetary policy conditions (or both) that would be expected to slow the economy when it was weak or already in recession.

But why would we expect an organization run by the finance ministries of rich countries to prioritize the interests of the less fortunate nations of the world? Or to help them get through a balance-of-payments crisis without trying to reshape their economies as the rich countries would like to see them? Do we expect the US Chamber of Commerce to fight for the rights of unions and workers in the United States?

In general, countries do better when they have sovereign control over their most important economic policies. This is a lesson that Americans learned not long after independence, and something that most of the Eurozone is painfully relearning today.

The IMF’s loss of influence over the economic policies of middle-income countries was one of the most important changes in the international financial system in decades. It is likely that this contributed to the growth rebound of developing countries in the first decade of the 21st century. And one of the biggest boosts to this rebound — which has slowed in recent years — came from China. Ironically, this was the country that most avoided the neoliberal reforms of the prior decades, achieved the fastest economic growth in world history, and became the world’s largest economy.

The most recent reform of IMF voting shares was very slight and did nothing to diminish the control of the United States and its rich-country allies. On the other hand, the low- and middle-income countries haven’t used much of the voice and vote that they do have within the fund. This is in sharp contrast to the World Trade Organization, where developing countries have formed blocs to defend their interests against the rich countries. They have successfully blocked policies that would harm them regarding agriculture, financial deregulation, and policy space generally. They have also won victories over the pharmaceutical companies, expanding access to essential medicines.

So there is room for significant “harm reduction” at the IMF — if enough governments are willing to make the effort. But reform that would give the majority of the world a proportionate voice in this institution is still a dream. Until then, more countries voting with their feet by avoiding any lending agreements with the Fund will remain the most important path to IMF policy reform.

See article on original site

  1. September 1, 2016 at 6:43 am

    An article in today’s Huffington Post titled, “Why Are China and India Growing So Fast? State Investment.” reaches stark and very anti-neoliberalism conclusions. China and India “… demonstrate a common pattern of development different from that of the slowly growing West. Rapidly growing state investment plays a significant role in China and India’s economic expansion, while private investment is either growing very slowly or declining. In contrast, the slowly growing Western economies rely on private investment with no rapid growth of state investment.” The differences have practical impacts, very clear ones, but are also crucial for a “… global economic trend in economic theory and analysis. According to the dogmas of ‘neo-liberalism’ and the ‘Washington Consensus,’ private investment is supposed to be ‘good’ while state investment is supposed to be ‘bad.” The facts show the exact opposite trend is occurring.” As I’ve said before here and elsewhere China and India have learned the “rules” of neoliberalism as well as how to bend and change them to obliterate the stupid Americans and British. And just to show how really stupid the gurus of neoliberalism are they have no idea what happening to them. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john_ross-/china-india-growth_b_11655472.html)

    Right now this is the only difference between the latest scheme from the West to control the “non-rich” nations and at the same time for Western elites to maintain control at home, neoliberalism and those that came before it. Which include colonialism, mercantilism, drug smuggling, international development, the cold war, and globalization. All eventually failed, but left in their wake death, destruction, slavery, intense poverty, civil wars, and genocide as great as anything perpetrated by Genghis Khan or the Nazis. I wonder what the collapse of neoliberalism will look like?

    • September 6, 2016 at 5:47 am

      Neoliberalism is just one form of capitalism. And capitalism has been around for about 500 years. Capitalism succeeded in changing the world because it changed two things in the world. First, it allowed the creation of great wealth that could, in theory at least make every member of society better off. Second, again in theory capitalism could aid and strengthen the spread of democracy. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on which group in society you’re a part of capitalism has fulfilled these potentials only partially and sporadically. Partly due to the capture of capitalism by liberalism. And partly due to democracy’s failure to hold capitalism accountable. So capitalism has been failing for a long time. I look at neoliberalism as the last, desperate attempt to save it. It’s like a cocky boxer who despite many past losses struggles one final time for victory. In American movies the gallant boxer wins. But not in real life. Only a propaganda coup’ like nothing the world has ever seen can save neoliberalism. Now the big question – what will replace neoliberalism? Something has to since we have so many and such large problems to resolve.

  2. robert locke
    September 1, 2016 at 6:57 am

    Too much economic determinism here, Ken. From where I stand in East Central Europe, the problems are political not economic, or ideological, nationalism, which has plagued Europe for the past three centuries. Continental Europeans have never been in love with neoliberalism and are not now.

    • September 1, 2016 at 7:25 am

      Europeans may not be in love with neoliberalism but the British and American elites are. And their use of it extends well beyond economics. So far neither the French nor the Germans have done much to oppose this new “world strategy.” Russia has opposed it but I’m not certain if that will continue.

      • robert locke
        September 1, 2016 at 10:38 am

        “So far neither the French nor the Germans have done much to oppose this new “world strategy.””

        I keep looking for evidence the French and Germans are doing so. Perhaps the Apple tax case is an example of pushback. I also think the savings banks in German, which finance the bulk of mortgages and small business loans, are an example of an important banking sector that, unlike the big commercial banks, deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, avoided investor capitalism coming out of London and New York. But you are right, there isn’t a lot of push back to be found. This results no doubt from the lack of a government in the European Union that could effectively face down neoliberalism. Europe is a week reed upon which to place the burden of anti-neoliberalism.

      • September 1, 2016 at 11:26 am

        Bob, I must agree. I wish Germany in particular would do more to opposed the neoliberal agenda. Like credit unions in the US German savings banks are a force in opposition. Unfortunately, both have a long list of enemies, even without opposing neoliberal bankers, politicians, and economists. They’re simply not strong enough to fight them all. I’m convinced neoliberalism’s end will come from the other direction, actually two other directions. From the non-major economies in the world especially in Asia and South America, and from the “underclass” (Trump’s people many of them). Right now both are avoiding contact with neoliberal supporters as much as possible. If current events are any guide soon both will have enough politicians in place to begin changes to laws and policies, which will curb or even end neoliberal banking, finance, employment, and debt policies. But some of these changes may be worse than the disease, since they are also likely to bring rampant nativism, protectionism, higher import tariffs, an increase racist divisions in almost all policy areas, and in the long run fewer jobs and lower pay.

      • robert locke
        September 1, 2016 at 12:52 pm

        Ken, I think, as weak as it is, that the only hope for stemming neoliberalism must come from Europe. It won’t come from the US or the UK where politics is firmly in the hands of neo-liberalism. Thrump is a sham and his supporters impotent fools It won’t come from South America or from Asia, or Russia, which are run by despotic regimes. For Europe to succeed the neoliberals running the Commisssiion have to be thrown out and replaced by anti-austerity governors. The neoliberals will resist this will all their might.

      • September 1, 2016 at 9:09 pm

        Though neoliberal, the American & British elites are more in love with extreme neoliberalism for thee, not for me. The US & UK show much more anti-neoliberalism (Corbyn, Brexit, Sanders, Trump), and there is much more hope for opposing it there than on the continent – and they know that. The Eurozone is Europe straitjacketing itself with an extremely destructive form on neoliberalism, worse than anything in the UK & US.

        Bu the deeper problem is is how deeply ingrained neoliberalism is in people’s view of the world, whether putatively right or left: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” The poorer countries, the third world have gotten quite enough neoliberalism and are rightly a primary place to expect significant resistance.

        For the neoliberal mind control is probably worse and more universal now in Europe than anywhere else in the world. Look at Greece – they had basically won against the Eurocrats, who had shot their wad, and had nothing left to threaten Greece with. Greece got the best deal that was reasonable to expect – a negotiated Grexit. But universal neoliberal thought control is so complete in Europe that Tsipras could then madly snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory, and not be committed to an insane asylum!

      • September 2, 2016 at 2:20 am

        Bob, hope your hopes about Europe are correct. Don’t see any signs thus far that they are, however.

      • September 2, 2016 at 3:13 am

        Calgacus, in the words of George Orwell, “We do not merely destroy our enemies; we change them.” Or better we destroy our enemies by changing them. As I’ve said elsewhere while I detest everything about neoliberalism, I submit one must admire the work of the supporters of neoliberalism over the last 70 years of making antis into supporters, particularly supporters who are unaware they are supporters. Even supposedly smart people and intellectuals such as Thomas Friedman, Paul Krugman, and Barack Obama who say they oppose neoliberalism speak words of praise and support for it almost daily. So Merleau-Ponty was correct, “We know not through our intellect but through our experience.” And experience both public and private is largely controlled today and for the last 30 years by neoliberalism’s dictates. As noted the poorer and third world nations have generally had enough suffering from neoliberalism policies and have opted out of it. And the Millennials, in the US and Europe have generally built their own set of experiences outside of neoliberal control. They in particular may hold the key to helping the world move beyond neoliberalism. Time will tell.

      • robert locke
        September 2, 2016 at 9:06 am

        “Though neoliberal, the American & British elites are more in love with extreme neoliberalism for thee, not for me. The US & UK show much more anti-neoliberalism (Corbyn, Brexit, Sanders, Trump), and there is much more hope for opposing it there than on the continent”

        Calgacus, let me explain more why I think you are wrong in this appraisal. Corbyn and Sander are old men with ideologies rooted in the past. Socialism in the form of nationalization and government programs had its time and failed. Neither of these men are electable and for good reason, people live in a globalized world of private enterprise and accept it. What we need is something to offset the distributive effects of neoliberalism. That something, I believe, is a stakeholders concept of firm governance and society, because the problem is not just a firm’s or economic community’s survival, but a fair distribution of the rewards of enterprise, and you’ll never get that from Corbyn and Sanders because they embrace the proprietary conception of the firm.

        As long as a director-primacy preaching shareholder interests govern it does not matter how prosperous the firm becomes, its profits will go to those at the top. And Corbyn and Sanders say nothing useful about that; accordingly you can expect nothing out of the old men in anglo-saxonia.

        On the European continent the stakeholder view of the firm is more firmly rooted, and through it the possibility, with workers participation to get not only a fairer distribution of the rewards of enterprise but greater competitivity in a global economy. Neoliberals invading the continent have done everything to push forward their ideas of director-stockholder primacy; it’s a battle that only has a chance of being won in Europe. You undermine that battle with your comments.

      • September 6, 2016 at 2:50 am

        Corbyn and Sander are old men with ideologies rooted in the past. Socialism in the form of nationalization and government programs had its time and failed.
        No, it didn’t. New Deal liberalism / socialism of the postwar era only failed in serving the 1% over the 99%. By any other measure- economic or life expectancy/quality growth, scientific and technological progress, it was more successful than the subsequent neoliberal era. The idea that is truly rooted in the past – as in passe, unfashionable, not supported by the younger generation – is that Corbyn / Sanders socialism is “rooted in the past”.

        Neither of these men are electable and for good reason, people live in a globalized world of private enterprise and accept it. Both are quite electable, who knows, Corbyn could win. All the polls I saw had Sanders being the most electable candidate – beating Clinton, Trump or whoever. He just couldn’t win the nomination. What does living in a globalized world of private enterprise have to do with it? A sanely run society – a New Deal / Labour welfare state – with true full employment above all – has nothing to fear from “globalization”. Unfortunately many – most – even here who think they oppose neoliberalism embrace nonsensical – really nonexistent – “arguments” that international trade and finance and globalization have some mystical power over social democracy. The word “competitiveness” usually indicates this confusion.

        Corbyn and Sanders because they embrace the proprietary conception of the firm. If anything, they would both surely not embrace “the proprietary conception”. But you really think that they have practical views on it one way or the other?! :-). Sure, stakeholderism is a good idea – but just “reforming” private enterprise doesn’t change enough. The left needs to remember what neoliberals never forgot. Neoliberal oligarchical capitalism can survive anything – as long as people stop looking at, thinking about, the biggest, most important firm – the state, the society, the nation as a whole. For then the neoliberal “directors” have a free hand to crush the “stakeholders” (citizens, voters) – and they always do. For this old-fashioned “Socialism in the form of nationalization and government programs” is the “stakeholder concept” of governing society. They’re the same thing, so it makes little sense to call it passe in one sentence and “the solution” a few lines later.

        I don’t have a crystal ball. Another way to look at Greece was that it came sooooo close. For want of a screw (to keep one man, Tsipras’s, head screwed on straight), the battle was lost.
        But there is no reason to dismiss what Ken Zimmerman points out too – the major opposition to neoliberalism among millenials, the poorer nations, the third world – AND the Corbyn /Sanders/ Trump / Brexit forces in the US & UK. So it seems very parochial to suggest that Europe is the only place such battles could be won. For Europe’s adoption of the Euro, a Death Star designed to destroy socialism & enrich director-stockholder-proprietors-manager & ensure their primacy through brutality toward citizens-workers-stakeholders does not bode well. So I think that if battles will be won in Europe, it will not be because of neoliberal weakness / firm roots of “the stakeholder view” there. But rather they will we won because of the great strength of European neoliberalism, built on success in “making antis into supporters, particularly supporters who are unaware they are supporters” – which will lead to hubris and self-destruction.

    • robert locke
      September 6, 2016 at 9:56 am

      “Sure, stakeholderism is a good idea – but just “reforming” private enterprise doesn’t change enough”

      Where did you get the idea that stakeholderism is just about reforming private enterprise. It is even more about public enterprise, wherein stakeholder voices are unheard, haven’t you ever heard about governance in state enterprises on both sides of the iron curtain. Your faith in socialism does not echo the sentiments of the people I know where I live (on the German-Polish border, married to a Polish woman who until 1990 lived under communism). Criticism of neoliberalism is loud and angry, but there is not much desire to bring back the old Communist regime. The desire is for something else, and it is our job to think about something else and not just say how wonderful life has been under socialism. Why do you think Thatcherism replaced Labour, The people voted Labour out. I lived through the strikes in Britain, the poor public services, where, once, when I had an appointment in Manchester for a meeting important to me, I discovered that the scheduled train had been cancelled because the locomotive driver had not shown up to drive the train. I missed the meeting. As a passenger, I’m a stakeholder in British rail, but I had no voice in seeing that the governance of the corporation serve the public. I just had to suffer the consequences.

      • September 7, 2016 at 6:07 am

        Bob, I think you over simplify a bit. Looking at US history it’s clear that neither the “founding fathers” nor most ordinary citizens of the new nation were not “free-market” capitalists preaching laissez-faire sermons about “eat or be eaten,” “survival of the fittest,” “close the border,” or “government is the problem.” Just the opposite in fact. From early on the US has been the home of socialists, social democrats, communists, and several other varieties of radicalism. Capitalism was not a majority or even near majority economic belief, and those who did adhere to it were demeaned and criticized as un-American from the outset. Americans hated capitalism (or whatever name you give it) long before Karl Marx, or Fidel Castro, or Nelson Mandela. This does not mean the US is today a socialist nation. But it does mean that socialist notions of cooperation, community development, government that helps and serves all Americans, responsibilities and duties to the community and the nation, and the right to a decent life with sufficient food, shelter, and work. That these ideals have been denigrated and submerged by relentless and well-funded propaganda from American’s new and growing business and industrial elites does not change the fact that they resonate in the hearts and minds of most Americans. Socialism as established in Europe or even as proposed by Debs may be gone. They were creatures of their times. But socialist goals and values are as much a part of the US as representative democracy and griping about the government. We just need to bring these back to the top. People forget. We need to remind them what the US is all about. And it’s not laissez-faire capitalism or free-markets.

      • robert locke
        September 7, 2016 at 5:52 pm

        I know the history, too, and I am a product of it. The problem is, how do we get back to where you claim Americans once were.

        When I was a college student, we all read Vernon Parrington’s Main Currents in American Thought, 1927 Pulitzer Prize in History, which is an extended assault on the Gilded Age and the Greed of capitalism. That was superseded by Alfred D. Chandler’s Pulitzer Prize Winning 1977 book the Visible Hand, in praise of managerialism and the managerial class. Chandler superseded Parrington in the minds of Americans who admire CEOs and praise Trump because he is a billionaire businessman.

        These values are not shared in continental Europe, where professors not businessmen are mostly admired for their knowledge and morality and are always referred to and included in discussions about public policy. The idea that businessmen could be trusted to run our affairs is not acceptable because they are a self-interest group and because of that cannot be trusted with looking after the general welfare. You’ll get a lot further with Continental Europeans in building a stakeholder society than with Americans.

      • September 8, 2016 at 6:50 am

        I’m not a big believer in US exceptionalism with a capital “E.” But I do believe the US is exceptional in one way. It has had more counter-cultural, experimental, communal, socialist, etc. groups and household styles than any other country in the world. As a new nation it was (is) open to just about any sort of change in lifestyles. And the experimental life styles expanded as the country expanded westward. My point is that experiments away from or in opposition to mercantile, financial, and capitalist ways of life have a long history in the US. No one should be surprised if they make a come back. Especially as many parts of life seem to crumble and many people, already feeling abandoned begin to look for something or someone to blame, and some hero to rescue them.

      • September 11, 2016 at 5:34 am

        Your faith in socialism does not echo the sentiments of the people I know where I live. I was using “socialism” in a very wide sense, as in “New Deal liberalism / socialism of the postwar era “.

        My claim was that this delivered, everywhere in the “first” world, (and in some places even the communism in the “second” world) clearly better results by practically any measure than the subsequent era. So overall, “governance in state enterprises” was manifestly superior back then. Whatever improvements in ordinary people’s lives have come from a (slower but ever onward) march of science and technology, somewhat inhibited by deteriorating social technology / governance.

        Sure, many people voted for Thatcher – but she benefited from a foolishly divided opposition that often could have defeated her if it just got its act together. My claim is that if people back then, practically anywhere – the UK, France, the USA etc, had crystal balls and could see how crappy the results of their votes would be- they would have voted to stay with the proven superior alternative “socialism”. And that is how the younger generation seems to be thinking now.

      • September 11, 2016 at 7:59 pm

        Calgacus, but people don’t have crystal balls, don’t know the future, and often feel powerless to control their lives. I don’t know Thatcher as well I know Reagan so I’ll use Reagan as my example. After WWII was a dangerous time. Nuclear weapons poised, Russian spies, colonial revolts, etc. But it was also time of great hope and potential prosperity. Eisenhower, like FDR before him wanted to give people hope and a sense that if they worked hard and trusted their leaders, problems could be solved. And problems were solved. And the top tax (for the rich folks) was 91% (closer to 70% effective). Kennedy, Johnson, and even Nixon followed the same path. But this all changed with Reagan. He preached division, fear, and distrust of government. He opposed social security and most other forms of government assistance to the poor and vulnerable. Government for him was the problem, not the solution. And these policies, like those of Thatcher made the country poorer overall, increased racial and class divisions, and made it impossible for the US to adapt to the new socio-political world that began emerging in the 1970s. Thatcher wanted to restore the British Empire. Clearly impossible in the 1980s. But a call that resonated with segments of the British population. She went to war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands to show it was possible. The war failed but she used it to denigrate and destroy critics of her policies. Reagan went to war in Grenada (the smallest nation in the Western Hemisphere) to drive out the Cubans (less than 1000 Cuban troops were stationed in Grenada). The war failed but the invasion was a political success. Even many Democrats liked seeing the US flag flying over Grenada. In our age nationalism, imperialism, and fear are powerful forces. Thatcher and Reagan harnessed them. As is Donald Trump. Against this the socialism of Bernie Sanders might stand a chance. But not the “business as usual” politics of Hillary Clinton. Even if she wins the election, the populist revolution she’ll face will make governance impossible. Years of obstruction, government shutdowns, and outright political and religious violence lay ahead. Ideologues like Thatcher, Reagan, and those they inspire never give up the ship, since they don’t recognize they’re even on a ship. Trump is just the latest opportunist to use the ship to their advantage.

  3. September 1, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    “If current events are any guide soon both will have enough politicians in place to begin changes to laws and policies, which will curb or even end neoliberal banking, finance, employment, and debt policies”.

    What’s the good of changing politicians if “we” haven’t agreed on alternatives for “them” to implement? Remember Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and see dmf’s video in response to Lucas.

    “But some of these changes may be worse than the disease, since they are also likely to bring rampant nativism, protectionism, higher import tariffs, an increase racist divisions in almost all policy areas, and in the long run fewer jobs and lower pay.”

    Worse for whom and what?

    > Buying local and penalising unnecessary imports to minimise environmentally disruptive transport;

    > encouraging local production with freedom of technical information, and protection of local production and infant industries from speculative empire-builders;

    > defending the United Nations concept and the land, culture and inhabitants one knows and understands against racist foreign imperialists and unpatriotic fly-by-night traders;

    > timesharing fewer, largely automated jobs, mass-producing resources for local personalisation, with doing freely more of the jobs that need doing – like caring for ourselves and others, our homes and local facilities, and using the latter to do our own things – more than offsets lower pay or credit limit with lower cost-based prices, lowering need for money.

    When the disease is killing the planet we all live on, I can’t see that any of the above being worse. It might mean expecting more of those, currently busy acquiring or free-riding on unearned income, to do their share of local voluntary work and/or national service in mass production. These don’t include those of today’s pensioners who worked the current timeshare (from ages – say -16 to 60), many of whom are still volunteering anyway.

    • September 2, 2016 at 3:41 am

      davetaylor1, offering alternatives was included as part of my conclusions about putting new politicians in place. I think the two need to evolve together. Worse for whom and what is a good question. In response.
      1. Humans have been “trading” for at least 12,000 years. Why would they stop now? Trade smarter and with fewer negative environmental impacts are good goals.
      2. Encouraging local industries is one way to trade smarter. But local industries today simply are not capable of providing all the needs, wants, desires of citizens.
      3. In the struggle between natives and “racist foreign imperialists and unpatriotic fly-by-night traders” two things are necessary. First, control the invaders and second work out some ways for the natives to interact positively with people who are neither natives nor invaders.
      4. Expanding work and jobs beyond the 19th century model of employment, work, and pay is a good idea and has been for quite some time. Now how does it get done? Especially in the face of strong opposition from the many spokespersons for the beautiful neoliberal world.

      • September 2, 2016 at 7:22 am

        Ken, at 2. we are conversing with little environmental impact, and even in a south-central Britain being suffocated with industrial traffic and commuters, I saw the need for [more individuals] timesharing [more rationally located] mass production [and rail distribution] of resources: and as I’ve joked previously, killing two birds with one stone by having a night away from the wife!

        At 4, I don’t see it getting done until we have honest banking.

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