Erik Reinert, Professor of Technology, Governance and Development Strategies at Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia, has written a most remarkable book. He has shown that the free trade creed - the free movement of capital, deregulation and privatisation - doesn't work. As Keynes wrote, "the worse the situation, the less laissez-faire works."
The American economist Paul Samuelson won a Nobel Prize for `proving' that under free trade prices paid to capital and labour tend to be the same across the world. But in the real world, free trade has led, not to the levelling up of world wages and the end of poverty, but to growing inequality and poverty. Half the world lives on less than $2 a day. In many countries, real wages peaked 30 years ago.
Reinert proves that the mode of production determines social forms, and that the technology and mass production of industry are the key to economic growth, not capital, property rights and the rule of law. Industry also has good economic, social and political effects. As he writes, "Creating and protecting industry is creating and protecting democracy."
But how can countries build industry? They need to protect their infant industries and to subsidise their industries.
Countries need to have an industrial policy that provides work for their educated people. Otherwise Western countries, outsourcing their education costs, will take them away - education for migration.
For example, 82% of Jamaica's doctors practise abroad and 70% of university-educated Guyanans work abroad. Their remittances fund consumption and dependence, not investment and industry.
It is better to have an inefficient industry than no industry at all. Reinert points out that the Soviet countries were better off before the 1990s counter-revolutions which deindustrialised and then depopulated them. In 1991-95 Mongolia pastoralised, cutting 90% of its production; wages fell, but the finance, insurance and real estate sector grew.
The old empires all banned manufacturing industry in their colonies. Now the World Bank and the IMF ban industrial policy. They lie to third world countries -open up to imports of goods and capital, be competitive, make your labour markets flexible and you'll grow. The European Central Bank tells EU members the same story.
Welfare colonialism, with $2.3 trillions in aid since 1950, has failed. The Millennium Development Goals will fail too. Aid is a means of control, not of growth, keeping the third world dependent. Palliative economics, which is supposed to ease poverty's symptoms while ignoring its causes, does neither.
Of course, the true market faithful believe that the economics are right, but then the question arises, why are the poor still poor? If the theory is right, there must be something wrong with the people. So some say that it must be race - Keynes was, shamefully, a vice-president of the English Eugenics Society.
Reinert writes, "a major financial crisis is increasingly likely." But the true market faithful are still in power and are making the workers of the world pay for their failed system. How much longer will we allow this?
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