Free market has a lot to answer for
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