Matthew Stein and The Failure of the Free Market

Posted on Monday, October 27th, 2008 at 12:53 pm by admin

Matthew Stein, author of When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency, just published this article to The Huffington Post about the failure we’re witnessing of the free markets and trickle-down economics.

Here’s an excerpt:

Unregulated greed will result in the demise of our planet just as surely as it is causing the collapse of our economy.

There has been a morbid fascination lately in watching the “greed bubble” collapse, taking with it what is left of the equity in many American’s homes at the same time as their retirement investments evaporate before their eyes. If allowed continued free reign, the same unregulated greed that resulted in the Great Depression also led to today’s financial crisis and will just as surely take down the environmental systems of our planet.

What is the “free market” anyways? It is the basic philosophy that the laws of “supply and demand” will automatically regulate the pricing, manufacture and supply of goods and services. “The Free Market” essentially puts our planet’s environmental resources up for sale to the quickest bidder who can consume and process those resources with maximum efficiency and speed to capitalize on available profits before the next guy gets to them first. Do we really want to continue putting our planet up for a once-in-a lifetime “fire sale”?

Free market corporate decision makers are responsible to their stockholders for maximizing the profitability of their corporations. In today’s global market, unless a corporation is operating in a highly profitable niche market, this usually means mass producing products where labor is cheapest (essentially slave labor), environmental controls are at a minimum, and with little concern or regard for the future sustainability of the world. Spending extra money in any of these areas would cut into profits and may impair that corporate entity’s ability to compete with other corporations that are already operating without ethical concerns for the welfare of their workers, pollution of the environment, consumption of nonrenewable resources, and so on. Society often applauds and rewards the corporate warrior whose dedication to the “bottom line” dictates the cold-hearted decision to replace older workers nearing the top of their pay scale with younger associates who are willing to work longer hours for half the pay of their more seasoned counterparts, or lay off thousands of American workers as they close local manufacturing facilities while opening similar plants in offshore locations.

 Read the full article here.

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