Monday, May 18, 2009

Challenging Commoditization and Monopolization

I recently responded to an article by Max J Pucher entitled, “The End of Capitalism," and I wanted to share that response here in order to introduce my views about how economic reform must subordinate to political reform in order to resolve our society’s economic woes:

I have to agree that “capitalism” is not what I see operating the new economy. In fact, governments long ago rallied in support of two opposing themes that are rank with proximity to the economic crisis. These two contradictory themes are monopolization and commoditization. Everyone knows what a monopoly is, and it is evident that enterprise-scale monopolies such as government and healthcare are thriving in the new economy. The second theme of the new economy has been the rampage of commoditization through major industries, whereby goods and services become undifferentiated resulting in loss of pricing flexibility. Lower prices is good news for consumers, but often results in lower wages for workers. Two industries that have been ravaged by commoditization are financial services and automobile production. That these industries would become the leading scapegoats of the expanding economic crisis is of little surprise.

The global economic system has become a corrupt choice of supporting either “big government” or “big business,” making the real losers the people and society. This polarization of the political economy is untenable. Society’s only hope is that the electorate reframe the debate from “economic” to “political” reform, whereby we the people accept that elitism (which advocates extreme commoditization of industries) and populism (with its relentless and expanding commitment to government sponsored monopolies, including national security and healthcare) should now yield to pluralism, and devote instead the energies and resources of government toward the broader needs of a more active and relevant citizenry, albeit at the expense of “enterprise” scale designs. Indeed, it may be time to relook the notions of republicanism and federalism as the political systems upon which to ground capitalist society. We, the people, have much work ahead of us in order to reinvent our world into pluralism in our time. Let’s hope it’s not too late.

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