Resolution or postscript? | all news

After gluttony, drink and profusion, it’s time for resolutions. This is probably not the case for everyone, but for most.

Welcome to this new year. Meanwhile, the New Year’s hangover should be over and the fitness subscription should pay for itself in the coming days, at least for a brief moment. But the usual routine should return soon. We are just temporarily back to “the way every year”. After gluttony, drunkenness and profusion, it’s time for resolutions. This is probably not the case for everyone, but for most. Too bad there aren’t any reliable statistics on blood alcohol levels and calorie intake during the holidays and New Year’s Eve, but I’m pretty sure there’s no other seven-day period in the year where we go overboard. And once that period is over, it’s time for the yearly resolution to cut down on alcohol, stop bingeing, quit smoking, exercise more, and whatnot. But, as we know, by the end of January at the latest, 95% of resolutions have already fallen by the wayside.

I have nothing against resolutions, they are honorable, but only if they are respected. In that sense, the millions of unfulfilled resolutions are a formidable indicator of the state of civilization in mature and tired market economies and the state of their policies. Resolutions usually come last and are worth next to nothing. The term resolution, therefore, is not really appropriate, because resolutions only come into play when everything is more or less out of control, and their effect is at best reminiscent of a postscript. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little at the beginning of the year, but basically it’s the sad truth. Would you like some examples? After the Fukushima accident, many governments decided to (immediately) phase out nuclear energy. Current situation? This is just a postponement! World Cup in Qatar: widespread astonishment and outrage, and yet we were all glued to our televisions or (worse) all the way there to watch the games live. And then we were thrilled with how neatly an allegedly rogue state organized such a celebration.

Those who decide to end certain habits need above all two things: determination and perseverance – qualities that seem increasingly rare in our society. The coronavirus has clearly demonstrated this to us. We had to do or not do things because we couldn’t (or didn’t have the right to) do otherwise, but didn’t it take very little time to fall back into old habits? Or the famous scarcity? Do you take shorter showers than you did before the supposed shortage, and does the lid actually stay on the pot consistently? We are told that human beings are slaves to their habits, but how do we actually change those habits? My assumption: only with money or bans or when the shortage or scarcity is real and not just presumed.

It is no different in economics. Even if the former neoliberals, but long ago ex-liberals fetishists of competition, still want us to believe that the market can solve everything in the best way if it has free rein, the veneer of the theoretical model of optimal allocation of resources as I learned during my studies collapsed long ago, because the theory absolutely does not stand the test of practice. In the optional subject “environmental economics”, for example, I learned that encouraging the reduction of CO2 emissions was the best way to master the issue of pollution. In the early 1980s, emissions trading, which at the time existed only in California, was the perfect example of a market economy solution to air pollution. Meanwhile, emissions rights are being traded around the world and what about air quality? Worse than ever, as we know! Then something went wrong. And how many environmental goals have the powers that be of this world agreed to without action being followed? I would have to double check this point, but past climate summits have always been a show and a way to clear conscience, nothing more like resolutions. Meanwhile, the supposed free competition resulted in an extreme concentration of economic power, starting with the technology sector, but not only. If free market forces unfolded like they do in the textbooks, we would never have come to this. And isn’t it precisely the beneficiaries of these exaggerated forces, the powerful global corporations, who sway national politicians by saying that lasting changes take time and that drastic measures would end up harming health? of your companies and your employees? Up until now, this argument has made it possible to postpone or make any changes impossible. This is not what the courage to initiate change looks like.

A courageous resolution for the economy in 2023 would be to let the market express itself fully and when this is not possible, we intervene forcefully and not in a homeopathic way. This would mean eliminating all barriers to entry that suffocate the so-called competition in the bud, dismantling the large groups or oligopolies that dominate the market, granting subsidies to promising start-ups and not “too big to fail”, increasing taxes and taxes on fossil fuels until they become unaffordable, placing quotas on resources that are already scarce, if necessary with bans, imputation of negative externalities according to the principle of causality, that is, those who pollute pay, those who cheat are liquidated and those who cheat are arrested and does not benefit from concordata. In addition, in-work poverty is eliminated, so that even the long-term unemployed are encouraged to return to work. Added to this is equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender, etc. That sounds very socialist, you might say, but it’s not. It’s just the logical consequence of a market failure cultivated over decades and as a postscript: goodbye to capitalism as we know it.

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