Free mar­ket has a lot to an­swer for

Irish Independent - - Letters & Editorial Comment -

I com­mend An­thony Woods for his let­ter (Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent, Oc­to­ber 12), but would like to broaden his the­sis in a global con­text.

The in­creas­ing con­cen­tra­tion of wealth in the hands of the very few, and con­se­quent im­pov­er­ish­ment of the many, I be­lieve is one of the ma­jor is­sues of our time. In my opin­ion it started in the Thatcher/Rea­gan era, where the state with­drew from many func­tions with a view to per­mit­ting the loath­some ‘free mar­ket’ to de­ter­mine op­ti­mum out­comes. In­deed, the cur­rent hous­ing cri­sis arose be­cause our govern­ment de­volved its so­cial hous­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to the same free mar­ket.

The free mar­ket was epit­o­mised by the WTO and other free trade ar­range­ments; poorer reg­u­la­tory stan­dards; looser mone­tary pol­icy; ex­pan­sion of money sup­ply; pri­vati­sa­tion; volatile and some­times reck­less fi­nan­cial mar­kets; and ag­gres­sive tax avoid­ance strate­gies. The re­sults man­i­fest in enor­mous na­tional debt; om­nipo­tent multi­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions; dis­en­fran­chised ci­ti­zens; an im­po­tent po­lit­i­cal class; rad­i­cal na­tion­al­ism; de­val­ued labour rights; skewed wealth dis­tri­bu­tion; the rise of despotic char­la­tans as lead­ers; and a de­spair­ing youth.

In fair­ness to the EU, it has been slower to em­brace that dystopian uni­verse of the free mar­ket as read­ily as other ju­ris­dic­tions and still cham­pi­ons that so­cial demo­cratic model upon which it was first founded. Sure, it

makes mis­takes, en­dears it­self to no one and, in Ire­land’s case, has shown it is pre­pared to be no­body’s friend, but on bal­ance it still ad­heres to its so­cial demo­cratic prin­ci­ples. The free mar­ket ver­sus so­cial demo­cratic par­a­digms is the ex­is­ten­tial is­sue of our time. Time for a re­think maybe? Frank Buck­ley Tul­lam­ore, Co Of­faly

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