13 January 2010

What is government for?

In contrast with the past, what is good for America's global corporations is no longer necessarily good for the American people. The disposable worker, 'Business Week', 7 January
Exactly. Big corporations are like big government: concerned almost solely with self-perpetuation. It's unreasonable to expect them to be altruistic, under the current legislative arrangements, but it is reasonable to expect governments to change those arrangements so as to favour ordinary people. Instead, most governments and political parties, most of the time, still believe that corporate goals are identical with those of wider society. Or, if they don't believe it, they behave as if they do. Often, their funding depends on maintaining that fiction.

At best, government has confused ends and means. It should concentrate not on bailing out failed businesses, or supporting inefficient sectors, but on the wellbeing of its citizens. What do we see instead? Massive transfers not only to bankers, but to large industrial and agribusiness corporations that would otherwise go under. Government instead of facilitating the creative destruction of failed business models, is resisting it. Big corporations are the winners (in the short run). So is government, which enlarges its role in the economy. But ordinary people are losing out.

We need, urgently, to realign government with the interests of natural persons, as against corporations. Social Policy Bonds could refocus government on ordinary people's wellbeing, not on the presumed ways of reaching them. If that means that certain businesses or sectors go to the wall, then so be it. Government should be about protecting disadvantaged people, not subsidising inefficient corporations.

No comments: