‘Free’ isn’t beneficial in the world of today | PostIndependent.com

‘Free’ isn’t beneficial in the world of today

Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
What do we really want?

Most of us are at least somewhat aware that free international trade exerts a downward pressure on wages. But we are much less aware of the dangers inherent in the free movement of capital across international borders.

The corpocracy has successfully used its capture of our government to press for the elimination of all restrictions on capital inflows and outflows between countries. In fact, the corporate powers have used international trade negotiations as much, if not more, to push for free capital flows as to push for free trade.

Now free movement of capital probably sounds like a good idea to most of us, because we have a knee-jerk positive reaction to anything with the word “free” in it.

But the fact is that unregulated and unrestricted international capital movement has a tremendously negative effect on our welfare. It even undermines the welfare of the whole planet. And it has the effect of actually destroying national sovereignty.

The reason is that it causes what economists call “the race to the bottom.”

With investors free to move their money willy nilly, every country has to compete hard for capital. It has to offer corporations as friendly a business environment as they can find anywhere else. In fact, in order to attract more investment, they have to offer a more friendly environment than can be found elsewhere.

And what do these corporate managers consider to be a friendly environment? Well, they are in their very nature interested only in their profits. And unfortunately, these days corporate managers are only interested in near-term profits. They care almost nothing about the long-term welfare of the world, the planet, or even their own corporations.

So they consider a business-friendly environment to consist of the lowest wages in the world, along with the fewest regulations as to the health and safety of workers, or the welfare of the environment.

National governments end up virtually powerless in the face of the need to attract capital that can move freely across international borders. They actually dare not enact laws to protect and promote the welfare of their own people, much less that of the planet. Because such laws would not be seen by corporate managers as friendly to business.

Ultimately this can only result in a horrible world: a world of enormous class differences and a totally destroyed environment, a world where the wealthy live behind gates and armed guards while the masses toil ceaselessly in Dickensian conditions.

Until the masses revolt and blood runs in the streets, and/or until the planet bites back with environmental catastrophes that destroy us all, this is where we are headed today.

We must regain control of the corpocracy and regain our national sovereignty.

In the first place, corporations are the creations of state and national governments. In a democracy, that means they are the creations of the people, our creations. They are chartered by our governments and granted privileges, such as limited liability, in order to efficiently achieve what would be difficult for smaller, partnership-type businesses.

We created them to promote our own welfare, in other words. But like Frankenstein’s monster, they are always seeking to escape our control so they can look out for their own short-term interests exclusively.

What can be done? Well there are no quick fixes. Only violent revolt would be really quick, and history shows us that violent revolts often lead to dire consequences diametrically opposed to the intentions of the original instigators.

Without that, a long and complex process will be necessary, a process of educating and waking up the public to getting big money out of politics and taking our government back from the corpocracy.

Then we need to throw out all the “free” international trade agreements favoring no one but the corpocracy. And we must begin from scratch devising a system of regulations to keep corporations in their place. And we need to learn to devise measures that promote the welfare of all people and the planet.

We need to realize that “free” is not always good. Think of free crime, free cancer, free traffic and free greed.

– “What Do We Really Want?” appears on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Mary Boland is a retired teacher and journalist, a proud grandmother, and a longtime resident of Carbondale. Follow her on twitter@grannyboland.

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