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16 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Out of touch, 1 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Strange Non-Death of Neo-Liberalism (Paperback)
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Only a professor of economics could believe that the enormous power of international corporations could be tamed by the corporate responsibility movement and government regulation. As Prof Crouch himself admits, large corporations are able to influence government policy to the point where they can effectively prevent competition. To think that the corporate responsibility movement will induce them to open markets is sheer fantasy.

What Prof Crouch barely mentions is that most of our workforce is either self-employed or work for small to medium businesses. Although this sector is highly productive--it has to be to survive at all--it does not account for its fair share of national income. With the monopoly powers of big government and big capital working together, those of us who are self-employed or run small businesses just get the scraps from the table.

A typical example of how this works is that cartels are always in favour of government regulation to achieve social aims. The cost of compliance is the same for a sole trader as for a huge multi-national. For the latter, the cost of compliance is so small that it wouldn't even show up in their accounts. For the sole trader, it's goodbye to years of effort building up an honest business.

Prof Crouch believes that the dominance of multi-national corporations is inevitable, and that it's just a matter of managing their activities to achieve social justice and environmental protection. Be that as it may, it will be interesting to see how long they survive the economic dislocation caused by their hubris during the fat years of New Labour, when they spent what was left of our ancestor's legacy, and mortgaged the future of our children.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Apr 2012 12:16:46 BDT
T. Burkard's defence of the heroic and put-upon small businessman is touching; and his laying of the ills of the world at the feet of New Labour betrays a certain ideological bias. But he's right about one thing: Colin Crouch's faith in reponsible corporate governance is naive at the very least. Crouch's book does a good job of exposing the moral emptiness and socially destructive effects of neo-liberalism but fails to envisage any coherent political alternative to the vicious, morally and environmentally corrosive capitalism that rests on it. T. Burkard's fantasy of a deregulated utopia for small-time entrepreneurs is no answer to this problem either. After all, aggressive deregulation has been a central plank of the neoliberal agenda, and has been instrumental in driving down the wages and security of the vast majority of employees and small-time entrepreneurs alike. And the majority of small and medium enterprises exist only by virtue of the subcontracting of work by large corporations, many of which themselves depend on government and public money for contracts. Crouch's book is, then, limited by the same inability or unwillingness to look beyond the dominant model of capitalism as is T. Burkard's criticism of it.
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T. Burkard
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Location: Norwich, England

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