Big Rob wrote:
In the words of a former leader and still respected elder statesman of their coalition partners, "We've seen the price of unchecked free market capitalism and it's not worth paying."
If it was all free market. It is not in capitalism's interest to have a 'free market'. So we have an 'unholy' alliance between politics and the corporate world.
Personally I don't think a free market in its strictest form can ever exist. Not that I would advocate an old Labour style Clause IV theory to running the country, but I believe that governments should have a constructive hand in how the economy is run where they govern and prevent any one person, group or interest from becoming too big to undermine others. What too many right-wingers fail to understand is that while too much governmental power is harmful, so is too little. Governments at least in a functioning democracy are accountable in a way businesses are not. Take away an authority's powers and you create a vacuum which quickly get taken up by a select few whom will do everything in their path to remain in their place and crush any pretender below them, with no transparency available to bring them into account. Russia post-Soviet Union is a good recent example in that many people were so hungry that they sold the shares they were given in former state businesses for a fraction of the price to others willing to buy it off them for hard money, which gave rise to the Oligarchs.
Milton Friedman once gave Hong Kong as to him the best example of laissez-faire capitalism in the world without pointing out (a) unemployment does exists and at times is higher than some social-democratic European countries, (b) that they have an equivalent of JSA there, (c) that while income taxes are low, much of the revenue Hong Kong gets (to this day) comes from rather high land-value taxes, and (d) there are still monopolistic or cartel practices in certain areas of business there. This is not to mention that Hong Kong itself isn't that big and that most of the best examples of laissez-faire are constrained to quite small areas or populations. I wonder what he would think of the likes of Somalia these days? Sure there's a fair bit of businesses freedom there but you'd want to have you own Uzi armed guards alongside you in many parts of Mogadishu.