Beware Market Extremism

Adnan Al-Daini

The Legacy Of Milton Friedman: Thatcher’s policies caused
widespread chaos in Britain. Moment of defeat. After 51 weeks
out, miners' lodge members meet at Easington Miners' Welfare
Hall to discuss the end of the strike.
(Photo: Keith Pattison)

Market fundamentalism is to be given free reign; never mind that it was the erroneous notion “the market knows best” that brought us the economic depression engulfing western societies.  Austerity programmes and cuts are causing distress, hardship and misery to the majority of people in the west.  This same blind belief in markets is also blighting the lives of billions more worldwide.  Those who are the true believers in the divinity of the market want less regulation; health and safety regulations at work - forget it; this is red tape devised by bleeding heart liberals and misguided leftists. Employment protection laws, fairness at work; oh no, this is stifling business and enterprise, and should be abandoned. 

The Conservative government of Great Britain, with the connivance of the Liberal Democrats, is busy slowly dismantling the institutions that are working for the common good and serving the people.  The National Health Service, if the health and social care bill is to become law, will be salami-sliced into a disjointed health service where private providers and businessmen compete for a slice of the resources, with profits pumped up from the poor and middle classes to the super rich, to the detriment of the service for the many. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, asserts that the bill will be implemented in spite of opposition by almost all the medical professionals.  The “we know best” arrogance of politicians is breathtaking.

Now the police are to be subjected to similar treatment, with plans to contract out many of their functions to private security providers.  Additionally, the government plans to replace each police authority - that currently comprises elected councillors and independent professional members - by one elected commissioner. It is always easier to bamboozle, cajole and arm-twist one person than a group of people. 

Education is another opportunity for exploitation by the market fundamentalists, with reported discussions taking place between Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, and Rupert Murdoch before the hacking scandal, and corruption within the News of the World and the Sun newspapers hit the news.  Obviously these discussions have stopped, but the principle of bringing the market into education is alive and kicking to be pushed when the time is right. 

All of these changes are to be instituted using the seductive argument of choice and efficiency.  What this means, of course, is choice for the rich and the well-connected.  They will receive a superior provision at the expense of the vast majority, who will see their treatment if they are ill, the education of their children, the service from their local police force, deteriorate. 

The cuts enacted in the “welfare reform bill” will see many families becoming homeless, with many having to make a choice between heating and eating.  Alcoholism, drug use and smoking will be on the increase. The aimlessness of the unemployed will manifest itself in depression, antisocial behaviour and illness, which will impact negatively on the whole of society. 

Shapeshifting: Thatcher becoming Cameron.

Margaret Thatcher laid the foundations for this attack on public services with the privatization of water, gas, electricity, the railways and the sale of council housing, thus opening the market for private landlords to enrich themselves from taxpayers, and vast profits to go to giant energy companies, once again pumping money up from the poor and middle classes to the super rich.  She presided on the deregulation of the financial markets with the “Big Bang”, unleashing the destructive greed of the “moneymen” that is now blighting the lives of millions. 

The Labour party under Blair had no principles except to be in power; they reversed none of the privatizations, and on the contrary they introduced private providers into the NHS (not to the scale envisaged by the current health and social care bill) and education. Their Private Finance Initiative (PFI), used to build schools and hospitals by the private sector at deferred highly inflated prices, will have to be paid for by our children and grandchildren, transferring more wealth from the poor and middle classes to the super rich, thus increasing the obscene income inequality between the 1% ers and the rest. 

Meanwhile ordinary citizens are conditioned by mainstream media, with some notable exceptions, to blame the disabled, immigrants, and the unemployed, by the highlighting of individual cases of fraud amongst the vulnerable and the poor. The super rich swindling vast sums from the exchequer by tax evasion, tax avoidance, “creative accounting” etc., are not subjected to the same vitriol.

“I warn you that you will have pain–when healing and relief depend upon payment. I warn you that you will have ignorance–when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right. I warn you that you will have poverty–when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a government that won’t pay in an economy that can’t pay. I warn you that you will be cold–when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don’t notice and the poor can’t afford. I warn you that you must not expect work–when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don’t earn, they don’t spend. When they don’t spend, work dies. I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light. I warn you that you will be quiet–when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient.”

So said Neil Kinnock the leader of the British Labour party on 7 June 1983, warning electors of what might happen if Margaret Thatcher was elected.  This government is now completing and entrenching what Margaret Thatcher started, so be warned.

Dr Adnan Al-Daini took early retirement in 2005 as a principal lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at a British University. His PhD in Mechanical Engineering is from Birmingham University, UK. He has published numerous applied scientific research papers covering heat transfer, fluid flow and energy utilization in many industrial applications. He is a British citizen born in Iraq. Since retirement he has devoted his time and energy to building bridges and understanding between minority communities, particularly the Muslim community and the wider community in the South West of England. He was Chair of Devon Racial Equality Council between 2007/8. Adnan is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post.

Photo 1: The Guardian
Photo 2: © Unknown


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