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Debates Forum

  1. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    09 Aug '10 14:01
    I think it was Canadian historian/philosopher John Ralston Saul who pointed out that many of "capitalism's" staunchest advocates are actually salaried jobsworths and/or corporate bureaucrats working for economic entities that very carefully insulate themselves from market forces and risk/repsonsibility and employ virtually nobody who could be credibly described as a "capitalist".

    Noam Chomsky was perhaps referring to these self-same vociferous advocates/salaried employees and officials when he talked about corporatism's "commisars".

    I am a believer in capitalist market mechanisms regulated by social democracy. For this I have on occasion been teased - bafflingly - when advocates of the kind of "economic freedom" mentioned on the other (8th in the world) thread had run out of arguments, of being some kind of desk bound drone bludging off an employer and bludging off the the state. (At least this is what I understood to be the nature of the intended insult).

    But here I am thinking that this is all upside down. Without giving away too much personal information, I want to describe what kind of economic actor I am - and invite others to offer a boiled down precis of their own economic activity too - so we can take a look at who walks the walk and not just talks the talk, as they say.

    Perhaps we can cobble together some kind of score system - rather like that right-left thing that has been done a couple of times here - except we challenge the pie in the sky "economic freedom" thing and look instead at "economic autonomy" thing.

    For example, I am freelance and self employed. I am paid for my time and for my outputs (which are all services/tertiary sector). I issue invoices. I haven't drawn a salary from an employer for about a decade. I am basically an entrepreneur and most certainly not an employee.

    I don't employ people as such but I do outsource some things and I pay for that out of money that would otherwise go into my pocket. I occasionally lose money because of this kind of thing. Insurance, including health insurance, is completely my own responsibility. I pay my taxes. I am unconcerned if other tax payers use more government services than I do.

    I choose who I do work for. I charge what I like. I make as much or as little money as I want to/am able to and what I do get is all the result of my education, talent and hard work.

    I could hardly be more different from the "salaryman" who cashes the monthly cheque, faces little risk or insecurity (as I do) and who nevertheless trumpets the virtues of "capitalism" almost as if the remote belief in it somehow disguises the lack of real "capitalism" in their own lives.

    Surely I am enjoying something that can be called "economic freedom". Surely I am walking the "capitalist" walk more than many of the advocates who talk the talk? And yet I live in a brand new flawed democracy with a big government and authoritarian tendencies just under the skin.

    Some people at RHP bellyache - in a way that sometimes strikes me as sad and lacking in imagination, almost - about their "lack of economic freedom" but I am curious as to whether they are "entrepreneurs" of any kind whatsoever or whether they are just dogsbodies or jobsworths or commisars a million psychological miles away from being players in the "capitalist system" they are at pains to pontificate about.

    Who else here can provide a thumbnail sketch of their own status and activity as an economic player and put it in the context of whether or not they enjoy "autonomy" and whether or not they walk the walk in terms of actually exercising their freedom, and if not, why not?

    Sorry. A bit rambling. But the question is: who is willing to compare notes on their own economic activity, notes on the "economic freedoms" that they DO actually enjoy and to what degree their economic activity comes without a 'safety net'?

    [I am totally at peace with the fact that this thread might end up as a flower wasted on the desert air].
  2. 09 Aug '10 14:14
    I am a scientist, and science, particularly my particular field (physics), depends heavily on public funding.

    However, scientists tend to be hired on short-term contracts, and the focus is heavily on getting results (i.e. getting papers published), perhaps much more so than in most "free market" jobs (e.g. middle management in a corporation or government institute). So in that sense, the world of science is quite "capitalist", and rightly so.
  3. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    09 Aug '10 14:19
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    I am a scientist, and science, particularly my particular field (physics), depends heavily on public funding.

    However, scientists tend to be hired on short-term contracts, and the focus is heavily on getting results (i.e. getting papers published), perhaps much more so than in most "free market" jobs (e.g. middle management in a corporation or govern ...[text shortened]... nt institute). So in that sense, the world of science is quite "capitalist", and rightly so.
    What constraints are there on your autonomy and freedom as an economic player in your field?
  4. 09 Aug '10 14:46
    Originally posted by FMF
    What constraints are there on your autonomy and freedom as an economic player in your field?
    The main constraint is probably a geographic one, since there isn't exactly a scientific institute in every town.
  5. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    Poor Filipov :,(
    09 Aug '10 16:54
    When I'm working I'm generally somebody's employee, though I do private work as well. Public sector work is where the noobs and idealists go. Private sector is where the money is for experienced people.