jeudi 27 octobre 2011

"Answer Yes Or No: Is Capitalism Decent?"

Sorry, but that is not ONE question but several!

- Is private productive property decent?
- Is private enterprise renewing productive property decent?
- Is financing such decent?
- Is financing it as it is financed right now decent?
- Are financers decent enough to follow their own rules?

That is at least five questions, and I say yes to the first three and no to the latter two. And believe me, there are more parameters still.

One of them is "big business". And one cry about protesters being hypocrites at least twice on caricatures did point out how much of their outfit was produced by big business or what is supposed to be such. One foto had the added text "down with evil corporations" and added arrows pointing to protesters' being clad and equipped by big business. Only, the real banners and sign posts of the protesters were not seen, and one that was had nothing to do with even ending big business. It was a question about banks, bailouts and old age pensions. It is not Nike that gets bail outs, it is banks. It is not Kodak or Nokia that gets bailouts, it is banks. It is not United Colours of Benetton that gets bailouts, it is banks. The point is that if tax payers can bail out banks which the state did not promise to do, they can also bail out failing payments to old age pensions in so far as the state did give a kind of promise to keep old age pensions up for ever or for foreseeable future - a kind of promise, not a vow sworn as an oath on the gospel on the altar of either St Paul's or the Vatican, but still a kind of promise.

The answer that can be given and should be given is that with failing procreation rates the population cannot go on with payments for old age pensions and old age homes foreever, that people should start living as families again, and that reasonable and endurable security for your old age, unless you are exceptionally rich, does not spell p-e-n-s-i-o-n-s but c-h-i-l-d-r-e-n and g-r-a-n-d-c-h-i-l-d-r-e-n. And the answer that could be given back is: fine, but then we might also consider keeping our money (as in coins and bills) in our locked cupboards or possibly in small cooperative village banks with one large safe box. That is how Swiss banks started, and they are not in the need of bailouts.

I am now looking at another caricature, this time the precaution has been made to draw the signposts of the protesters, since it is a drawing, not a photograph. The sign-post says: "End capitalism now or something". The big businesses used by protesters very visibly are apple, Starbucks - and Quechua tents (none of which is being bailed out by any state as far as we know, yet). It is also about Poppy Day, and about St Pauls. It is on p. 6 of Daily Star, printed in Belgium this night or morning to be publicly available on today's date of Thursday 27 of October.

Now, let us take the caricaturist's challenge: what would people wanting to end capitalism want to do with apple and Starbucks and Quechua?

Actually, the question is not bad. But maybe there is an answer that is not bad either. First of all, before giving mine, as is evident from my above stand for old family values, I am not against the protesters in their collective particular ire against banks, but I am not for all of their individual political ideals as many of them are for abortion. So, my answer does not represent nor claim to represent them. But Chesterton would have agreed and I do agree that big corporations are usually rather a bigger evil than big books, despite the unhappy poet Catullus. He liked private enterprise to be small enterprise. He found the problem with private enterprise as extant in his day too few and buig enterprisers, and generally I do agree.

And though I am not very often in Quechua tents, I have been there and my next sleeping bag might be Quechua too (my present one is French army, which is also a big corporation, but not a private one: it is excellent and I will stick to it as long as I can), I do enjoy a big latte from Starbucks, I do use computers, which usually are not made by small local engineers.

Apple then: there are computers and there are internet connexions and networks of such. Both are not the same. When it comes to the networks, it is nearly necessary - if they shall work (which is not one basic necessity of mankind, but which looks as an asset, though not a necessary such) - that they should be a big enterprise, just like the post office or the telephone company. apple the computer is another matter, if it were not for pretty modern patent rights they could very well be produced by local ingeneers having open access to the plan of electric connexions and to the making of each that make up the system. If this happened, Apple would be slowing down its profits as smaller ideally local producers entered the market. But even as it is, computers and internet are so connected that the absence of local producers of computers is as incidental to the big business of connecting them as is the absence of local stamp makers and envelope folders to the post office.

Now, Starbucks is quite another matter. It actually is in a way small business, just like McDonald restaurants. Each McDonald restaurant and each Starbucks café has its owner who takes most of the profits, but he is contracted to buy his fares from their network of big producers, not unlike pubs that are or formerly were tied to one big beer brewing industry. Let us say Cambridge has a tied pub, let us call it with exaggerated flattery Bird and Baby (after a famous place in Oxford) and Bird and Baby in Cambridge has an owner and this owner has a contract with Guiness that allows him to serve all beers that come from Guiness breweries but none other, in that case the Cambridge Bird and Baby (not to be confused with its Oxford counterpart of course!) is also allowed to use the banners and the cartons you put the glasses on from Guiness. I think that system, as far as beer breweries are concerned, has become outlawed:* any pub serving Guiness should also be able to serve Kilkenny or Pelfort and so on. ny contract by which a pub owner restricts his serving rights to one of these breweries is outlawed, I think. Possibly to the detriment of pub and brewery couples: a pub owner possibly cannot even make a contract with his brother who is a local brewer to serve only his brother's beer.

Now, with McDonald and Starbucks, each place has its little owner, but each little owner is in a relation to the corned beefs of McDonald Beef and the potato chips of McDonald Potatoes as formerly a pub owner could be in relation to Guiness. Similarily with Starbucks cafés, whose owners are by contract bound to serve the coffees guaranteed equitable commerce through the commercial networks known as the Starbucks brand.

In order to know why young poor people buy food from McDonalds and coffee from Starbucks, we must consider that the final product may not be superior in quality but rather inferior in price to a totally locally made product. And the reason is that a Starbucks café owner or a McDonald restaurant owner did not have to get a loan in a bank, pay mortgages for years, if he gets the loan at all, if the bank thinks it worthwhile to help him set up a café or restaurant, and the further reason for this is because McDonalds and Starbucks have given the owners of their places a credit on better terms and with the owner showing less initiative. McDonalds and Starbucks decide where they want to open a restaurant, the future owner applies to it as for a job, and he starts out as working for pay, as an executive chief. But he ends up an owner who only ows 1% to the central concern and also the duty of buying only from producers having a contract with them. A café owner or a restaurant owner cannot compete with that, as long as his setting up of his business is financed by a bank. If he had started out with an inherited fortune, as a younger son cut off from main business, and therefore obliged to start a new one, he might have had a chance. Or as a business owner who sold his business in one place and moved into another. But in order for that to happen, inheritance duty would have to be lower. Or not even to exist at all.

Well, then there are tents as in front of St Paul's.

First off, I do not know why the protesters took St Paul's rather than some stock market. After all, a Church is not a stock market. If you hate capitalism, I do not know why you would agress a Church. Maybe some of these protesters are too misled by too many Communist nincompoops. It is not the Church that charges interest, it is not the Church that gets bailouts (on top of that, unlike Greece, without getting under a guardianship), it is the banks and the stockmarkets. Now, the stockmarket of London is not in St Paul's Cathedral.

But the tents are so often made by Quechua. Now, getting a tentmaking going is more troublesome due to big business, in fact partly due to the overwhelming position of Quechua in wildlife and adventure equipment shops. But frankly, St Paul as such was a tentmaker as well as an Apostle. I do not consider either myself or the protesters in front of St Paul's as anywhere near being fit for Apostolic duties, but some of them might be decent tentmakers. They just do not know it yet. And now, with all these people meeting in all these protests there are chances for tentmakers to start a business at least without the problem about who shall know there are tents out there to buy.

Similarily, some of these guys might do well to make a collection about opening a café where milk coffee is served in pint glasses. Even if there is no take away, that with a carrot cake is half the charm with Starbucks. Some places they might have serving rights enough to serve milk tea with whiskey (the original Irish drink that on Shannon airport and for tourist service inspired Irish Coffee). You might even have a place where you could refill your thermos for a set payment (you show how much goes into the thermos, otherwise it would be unfair to those having small thermos bottles).

And when the collection has been made, all who contribute are partners, active or passive, and after some time the ones who show themselves as active partners buy out the passive ones. No debt to any bank in sight, no mortgages to pay. A fair cooperative. Or you might even land up with a single active partner, an individual owner in the end.

It is easier to smash a shop than to open one ...
... but if you want a future, it is more useful to open a shop than to smash one.

Obviously though, it is also better to open the shop (or buy the house or the garden or the field or the vineyard or whatever) without endebting yourself to a bank. That after all is the main truth that is involved in this protests. Here is another possibility, my offer, do check it out:

Be my Unwin or Hooper, if you like!

It is obviously also valid for anyone not protesting, especially not protesting in front of any Church, St Paul's or other. It is far better to protest against blasphemous plays as is done in Paris by Catholics in front of Théâtre de la Ville than to protest in front of any Church building.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bibl. Georges Pompidou

*I have not strictly checked. Chesterton attacked the system and most or even all pubs I have seen have been serving beer from very different breweries. I have never seen a Guiness only or Kilkenny only or Pelfort only pub. That is why assume that this system has become outlawed as far as pubs are concerned. Very obviously it is not illegal (or its illegality is circumvented) in McDonald's line or McDonalds would not exist, and I assume Starbucks has a similar take on economy as McDonalds.

1 commentaire:

  1. Obviously it was Chesterton who liked as much enterprise as possible to be private and small and as little as possible big whether state owned or private. Catullus is the one who wanted books to be small. Possibly because he lived before the Christians had invented the Codex book. I mean, even the Iliad is hardly as big as any major part of the Bible (Torah with Joshuah and Judges, Four Gospels with Acts, Prophets or Pauline Letters ... maybe the Iliad is about as much as the Pauline letters, after all).