<$BlogRSDURL$>

2005-01-26

I don't follow pessimists 

Here is the essence of what I find at fault with that economic program [DE] of the Viennese Green party I mentioned earlier. This is not based on the thorough analysis of the document I had planned, but maybe on a clarification of my uneasiness with it.

The analysis of the economic system in that paper seems to be roughly this: The market and the private sector are not flawed in principle, in some cases they produce good results. Yet, the world is suffering from widespread market failure and as a result the markets should not be trusted. The alternative is to shift responsibility from the private sector to the state. Yet, one needs to be sceptical about the state as well, because its activities are plagued by frequent state failures [Staatsversagen]. There is a third way, the non-profit sector, which seems to hold some promise. However, this third sector suffers from deficits of democratic accountability and intransparence, and therefore it also needs to be controlled carefully to avoid abuse.

All in all, the economic system is pretty horrible, each of the three sectors needs to be treated with suspicion, Green policies are required to keep all these evil forces and tendencies in check. It's a grim picture brought to you by us, the hardened forces of opposition.

Then, later in the document, there is a long chapter on the importance of life-long learning, of engaging the groups of the population who don't easily enrol in training programs [Bildungsferne], and so on. To engage them after all, the concept seems to be one of social workers moving into the neighbourhoods and actively approaching the individuals [aufsuchende Arbeit, p.50]. Recent readers of this blog will know that these are issues that are important to me. But I wonder: How will this big initiative for a learning society be motivated if the overall picture is as grim as the Green analysis suggests? "Come on friend, we know we have no chance, neither business, nor the state, nor the NGOs offer viable options, but you personally should still do everything you can to get educated in order to confront the forces of evil"?

Wouldn't it be slightly more motivating to hear something like: "You personally can make it. Take the initiative, help yourself with this training, and there is a world of opportunity opening up for you. In the meantime, Green policies will make sure that there are even more economic opportunities for someone like you in six months time".

The key point of this is that in order to be credible as a campaigner for change, you must convince me that you personally believe in a good future. In turn, if the future will be good, don't tell me that the present is horrible (when it obviously isn't*), because if it was it would be hard for me to believe that you can show me a way to the good future that is simple and riskless enough that I would enjoy walking it together with you.

And finally, since there is no alternative way of creating large numbers of jobs in sight, this means that the Greens must learn to love the markets and the private sector.

--
*a point made by Bjoern Staerk about liberal reforms that would have to operate cautiously and from within Norway's social democracy.

PS: Some passages are outright annoying, especially in the chapter 'Deconstruction and rejection of the neo-liberal economic paradigm'. The chapter title says a lot. May the author of the following paragraph (p.7) remain anonymous.
The neo-liberal claim that a high salary level and low competitiveness lead to slow growth and unemployment is wrong and can easily be falsified empirically. ... It turns out that the Austrian balance of payments is in balance inspite of the high salary level. The absurdity of the neo-liberal argument becomes even clearer when one considers that Germany achieves a higher export surplus than Austria, but nevertheless grows more slowly and has a higher unemployment rate than Austria.

Die neoliberale These, dass hohes Lohnniveau und geringe Wettbewerbsfähigkeit Wachstumsschwäche und Arbeitslosigkeit herbeiführen, ist falsch und empirisch leicht zu widerlegen. ... Es zeigt sich, dass die österreichische Leistungsbilanz trotz des hohen Lohnniveaus ausgeglichen ist. Die Absurdität der neoliberalen Argumentation wird noch klarer sichtbar, wenn man bedenkt, dass Deutschland trotz höherer Löhne höhere Exportüberschüsse erzielt als Österreich, aber dennoch langsamer wächst und eine höhere Arbeitslosenrate als Österreich hat.


0 comments:
Post a Comment

Back to Main Page
This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?