Konec thatcherizma in reforma kapitalizma

Branko Milanovic v zadnjem komentarju pravi, da nepričakovana inauguracija nove “železne lady”, Therese May, v V. Britaniji simbolično napoveduje konec thatcherizma oziroma konec kapitalizma, kot smo ga poznali zadnjih 35 let po zaslugi Thatcherjeve. Theresa May je v govoru pred imenovanjem napovedala, da kapitalizem potrebuje strukturne spremembe, kot so ponovna uvedba predstavnikov zaposlenih in potrošnikov v nadzornih svetih, omejitev menedžerskih nagrad, zmanjšanje negotovosti glede služb za mlade in večjo socialna mobilnost.

Morda gre samo za piar, Mayeva je vendarle konzervativka in utegne slediti trdi liniji svojih toryjevskih predhodnikov. Toda dejstvo je, da kapitalizem sam nujno potrebuje strukturne spremembe, kajti očitno je, da samoregulativni mehanizmi ne delujejo in da prepustitev razvoja zasebnim interesom ne vodi v stabilno in vzdržno družbeno ravnovesje. 

Milanovic predvideva “prestrukturiranje” kapitalizma na treh področjih. Prvič, redistribucija lastništva fizičnega in človeškega kapitala (prek davčnega sistema in bolj dostopnega izobraževalnega sistema). Drugič, ponovna uvedba tradicionalnih vladnih razvojnih politik (investicije v infrastrukturo na vseh področjih) namesto mehkih politik (deregulacija, znižanje administrativnih ovir itd.) in čakanja, da bo trg poskrbel za razvoj. In tretjič, sprememba imigracijskih politik, kjer Milanovic predlaga drastično spremembo od sistema državljanstva k sistemu začasnega bivanja oziroma natančneje – prehod k nemškemu “Gastarbeiter sistemu“. To pomeni, da bi Evropa privabljala tujce na začasno delo, nakar bi se ob upokojitvi “gastarbajterji” vrnili nazaj domov.

Hm, Milanovicevi predlogi so na mestu, vendar se zdita prvi in zadnji dokaj utopična. Prvič, težko je verjeti, da bi se kapitalistične elite na Zahodu, ki si kupujejo vsakokratno oblast, dovolile inštalirati tak davčni sistem, ki bi jih počasi  “osvobodil lastništva” nad kapitalom. In težko bo revnejše, četudi bodo po čudežu prišli do kapitala, prepričati, da ostanejo njegovi trajni lastniki. Eksperimenti s privatizacijo v nekdanjih socialističnih državah so – ne glede na model privatizacije in spodbude za držanje delnic – vsi po vrsti postopno privedli v koncentracijo lastnistva kapitala.

In drugič,  Milanovic ima sicer prav, da bi “gastarbajterski model” lahko preprečil tenzije, ki so nastale ob neuspešnih preteklih asimilacijskih politikah kulturno in religiozno zelo različnih skupin posameznikov (predvsem v Franciji in Švedski). Toda bojim se, da sta tako zadnja globoka ekonomska kriza kot velik migracijski šok ter teroristični napadi privedli do zelo nizke tolerance do “neevropskih priseljencv ” širom Evrope, zaradi česar bodo uvedene ostre kontrole na zunanjih mejah EU in se bo EU dejansko spremenila najprej v enotno trdnjavo, nato pa razbila v posamične nacionalne trdnjavice. Naj je to prav ali ne, toda sentimenti med evropskim prebivalstvom trenutno močno kažejo v to smer in ti negativni sentimenti bodo rezultirali v ustrezno izbranih nacionalnih predstavnikih ljudstva.

The first area is economic policy of the advanced countries. The key disagreement there is between those who believe that the current economic dissatisfaction and the populist backlash are the product of the 2007-08 crisis and those who call for more fundamental changes. The first group believes that the problems will vanish once Western economies go back to growing at 2-3 percent per year and reduce unemployment (as the US has already done). I think they minimize what has happened in the meantime and lack any ideas how to address the structural weaknesses of capitalism. This is where Theresa May steps in by arguing for structural changes (the structure is meant here as the way capitalism works).

I have argued in my “Global Inequality” that taxation of current income seems to have reached the maximum that the rich countries’ electorates can tolerate. Therefore, reduction of inequality, “empowerment of ordinary people” and widening of opportunities have to be accomplished through a change in the distribution of both financial and human assets. This implies deconcentration of capital ownership (which in all rich countries attains almost unfathomable Gini levels of 0.85-0.9) and much fairer access to high-quality levels of education (and thus to high pay) to those born in poorer families.

The second area where I see the need for major changes is in development. It has always been the case that the development economics (including development economics as applied by major international organization) has moved together with economic ideology waves in rich countries. In full ideological lock-step with neo-liberalism, the past several decades in development were dominated by efforts to “improve the economic framework” (make regulation lighter, allow faster registration of enterprises, reduce government red tape etc.)

While many of these policies made sense they had two significant shortcomings: they exaggerated (again fully in agreement with similar policies pursued in advanced economies) the ability of the free market to spontaneously produce desirable outcomes, and they shifted the role of international agencies toward the “soft” areas, from gender and sexual-orientation equality to “transparency”, to the detriment of actual investments in roads, infrastructure, telecommunication, electricity generation. Indeed, the “framework goods” are important, but they are not all that matters. Moreover, this emphasis led to millions of hours of (wasted) work and thousands of papers that just repeated nostrums, creating NGOs they preyed on foreign and their citizens’ money to pay themselves hefty fees under the pretense of doing the work of development. Such lop-sided emphasis has made organizations like the World Bank consistently less important players in the area of development. The more robust Chinese approach, reflected in its policy in Africa, and now in the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has given, one would hope, a good jolt to the old development institutions to move back to the harder areas of development, and not solely on organizing conferences with “stakeholders”.

The third change that is coming regards immigration policies. […] Major adjustments in European countries to accept more of non-European migrants are already taking place. Even if Angela Merkel cannot go back to what was already done and expel the migrants Germany accepted last year, it is clear that no such wave will be willingly accepted In Europe any time soon. (It does not guarantee that another such wave may not materialize though—but it will not be welcomed.)

But creating a fortress Europe is difficult and runs counter the economic interests of an aging Europe that needs fresh labor from Africa and Asia. This is why I have argued in “Global inequality” for a change in the approach to citizenship which is currently seen as an almost inevitable end-point for any individual who makes it to a EU country (or the United States and Canada). Instead of that, different levels of residency, including temporary jobs (that were originally the idea behind the German Gastarbeiter system) with the obligation to return to the country of origin, should become generalized. Citizenship rights should be divorced from the right to work in a country.

Vir: Branko Milanovic

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