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Monday, 10 June 2019 15:32

"Blessed are the Market-Makers?"

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     “We are the  ̶m̶u̶s̶i̶c̶ market-makers,
     And we are the dreamers of dreams,
     Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
     And sitting by desolate streams.
     World-losers and world-forsakers,
     Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
                                                                    Yet we are the movers and shakers,
                                                                    Of the world forever, it seems.”


― A Social Credit twist on the first stanza of Arthur O'Shaughnessy’s famous poem, “Ode”

     The making of markets in its broadest sense, i.e., the facilitation of existing trade, as well as the opening, invention, and conquering of new markets, is often presented as one of the prime advantages and chief features of ‘capitalism’: people with money invest in schemes to make more money by commercializing an ever-greater portion of our lives, as markets expand and offer to do more and more things for us that we were once able to do for ourselves, or didn’t even ‘know’ that we ‘needed’.[1]This results in more, and sometimes even better, and sometimes even cheaper goods and services for the consumer, and thus we all derive some benefit. And indeed it so: the breadth and depth of what is on offer in the market of the typical Western industrialized country, and of more and more non-Western countries to boot, is astonishing and would dizzy the heads of our ancestors to no end. One feels hard-pressed to object to all of this ‘market-magic’, even if one does not personally care much for many of the particular goods and services that the market puts on offer. I submit, however, that, as with many things in life, there is a dark side to market-making. Whether, and to what extent, the ‘shadow’ of the market-making phenomenon in its present form or manifestation exceeds its genuine wonders I’ll leave it for the reader to decide.

     Contrary to my own assessment of the situation, it is often argued by those ‘on the right’ of the conventional economic spectrum, that market-making in its various forms is always and inextricably a wonderful thing: a sign of ‘innovation’ and ‘hard work’, which offers the promise of an ever-more glittering array of consumer products. To that end, the market must be left ‘free’ – at least free of the sort of government interventions which do not benefit the interests of the capitalist classes – in order that the inherent goodness of market-making may be displayed in all of its untarnished splendour. But is it always the case that ‘market-making’ is beyond all criticism? Is it even mainly so? When we examine the economy through a Social Credit lens, i.e., its diagnosis and remedial proposals, a rather different picture comes into focus.

     What Social Credit contributes, in the first place, is knowledge of a chronic and underlying disequilibrium from which the modern, industrialized economy suffers. That disequilibrium can be summarized as follows: given any particular production programme, the existing economic order does not automaticallyprovide sufficient income to buy back in full (at remunerative prices) whatever has been produced. Since, in general, people are also expected to work for their incomes under the existing economic regime, one of the main ways of supplementing the flow of consumer purchasing power is to continually initiate new production, especially capital production and/or production for export. This will distribute additional incomes and profits while not, in the same period of time at any rate, adding to the flow of consumer goods with an additional set of costs and prices attached. From this financial and completely artificial pair of necessities (the necessity of filling the gap in each economic period on the one hand, and the necessity for everyone to earn an income by working for it), there comes the stringent economic imperative for continuous economic growth. The economy must expand at an exponentially increasing rate just to sell in full today what it produced yesterday. And hence, it is this need for cancerous growth which is largely responsible for the theory, the practice, and the adulation of ‘market-making’.

     The classical example in Social Credit literature of the perversion of market-making which occurs under ‘disequilibrium’ economics, i.e., under a non-self-liquidating accounting system operating in conjunction with the monopoly which private financiers levy over credit, is that of planned obsolescence.

     It is commonplace for products to be designed or to be constructed in such a way that they will need to be replaced in an unnecessarily short period of time. Things are not built to last as long as they could be, because companies that do that are cheating themselves of a future market and are thus preparing themselves for decreased sales and smaller profits at best and large-scale downsizing at worst. This is true of things like car production, as well as of computers, including software. But there are plenty of mundane examples, like toilet handles that easily break or clothes that start to fade and wear out after only a few washes and a couple of months’ wear. Planned obsolescence in these and all of its countless other manifestations create markets in future economic periods and it thus ensures that the mighty wheels of production-distribution-consumption will continue apace, even though there is no inherent physical necessity for this economic activity and, very often, no real or independent consumer demand for it either. Consumers are forced by circumstance to engage in the game, because producers, seeking their own survival in a dysfunctional and chronically anaemic financial environment, will not deliver to consumers what the consumers would really prefer: products that last and that are effective. It is a strange irony that under ‘capitalism’ as we know it, the consumer really isn’t king and does not fully determine the policy of production. Policy is determined by financial exigencies and by financial interests and motives before all else.

     Social Crediters have likewise pointed out all of the market activity that is created or expanded simply by insisting on a policy of full employment not just for men, but also for women. When both husbands and wives, or mothers and fathers, are expected to have jobs or need to have jobs just in order to make ends meet, there arises either an entirely new or increased demand for commercial daycare centres (a demand that is artificial in the sense that it would probably not arise at all if, instead of a policy of full employment, we had a policy of the minimum employment necessary), for cars and public transport, for convenience meals, for work clothes, for stress-busting activities and vacations, and for electricity, fuel, furnishings, and machinery, to light, heat, and cool, and equip their places of work and so forth.

     But the creation and exaggeration of markets does not end there. Another type of degenerate ‘market-making’ is the creation of entirely new goods and services which are marketed, usually with some degree of falsity involved, as the answers or solutions to real problems that people have … problems which have often been caused or at least exacerbated, directly or indirectly, by the same dysfunctional financial regime under which we live. It would be impossible to detail in full with all the many ways in which such ‘needs’ are created through the brainwashing of advertising, institutionalized vested interests, and/or social pressures, so I will just focus on a few examples to conclusively illustrate the point.

     Take, for instance, the health industry (or rather, the sickness industry, since it is in relation to sickness that people are making money offering treatments and cures). There is obviously no long-term financial interest in actually curing illnesses and that is true both for conventional and alternative health practitioners. Indeed, under the existing system, any intention of treating people effectively with the least amount of trouble to everyone – as noble, as altruistic, and as proper as that might be – could definitely be suicidal in economic terms. At the very least, it is ‘less than optimal’ as a business plan.

     Instead, the need for an income and for profits under the weight of the chronic price-income gap results in the proliferation of many different health protocols that have more to do with eking out a niche, i.e., creating a new market as an end itself, than with any connection to objective truth or serving the individual and common good. Thus, in the world of diets, we are confronted with veganism (both raw and cooked), vegetarian diets, low fat diets, paleo diets, ketogenic diets, primal diets, and so on and so forth, with their accompanying gurus, literature, and cookbooks, all claiming to represent the best or the optimal diet for human health. This makes it unnecessarily difficult for anyone who is searching for the objective truth in this area of inquiry to find it. Other people’s need for money corrodes the general capacity for cognition by incentivizing a multiplicity of views and approaches. Whether any of these actually work or not is lost in someone else’s more vital need to make a buck. And yet, this artificially induced multiplicity and variety is seen as a sign of ‘capitalism’s’ vitality, rather than as an indication of its corrupting influence on human motives and of the social environment in which humans must seek for truth.

     Another example adjacent to the realm of health concerns can be found in the world of fitness and body-building. Once again, a large number of gurus have emerged, each with his own recommendations, recommendations that often contradict or are at least partially incompatible with the recommendations of others. This variety, which is often experienced as a form of cognitive dissonance on the part of the consumer, is a structural necessity of the marketing, for, if you want to sell effectively, you must be selling something that is different from what everyone else is offering, something that constitutes a unique approach or that represents a twist on something more common. The objective efficacy or appropriateness of the advice is a secondary consideration entirely. The upshot of all this is that much – but thankfully not all –  of the information we are exposed via advertisement and hype to is ‘much ado about nothing’ or worse, i.e., is positively harmful. The confused and conscientious consumer is left to wade through the information pollution and cognitive dissonance in the hope that he might stumble on the correct and reliable advice that will yield satisfactory results. And that doesn’t generally occur until he has spent (and wasted) a fair bit of money in the process … voilà: the whole point of the exercise.

     For these and similar reasons (like the problems mentioned earlier in connection with planned obsolescence), it is often not fully appreciated that, under the existing financial regime, it is not only the worker who is often caught on an unending treadmill that runs ever faster, but that the same individual, in his role as consumer, often finds himself on a consumption treadmill that is seen – once we come to understand the violence that is done to him – to operate on the same principles.

     We might also mention yet another distinct category of perverted ‘market-making’, namely, the creation of artificial needs that do not correspond in any way to legitimate requirements, concerns, or interests, but are attempts to sell some ‘value’ that has been engineered in people’s consciousness as a purely frivolous and ephemeral phenomena. In this category we might include various fads like chia pets, cabbage patch dolls, beanie babies, and tickle-me-Elmos, as well as various forms of ‘chic’ and brand name clothing, shoes, etc. Even if the product does answer to some legitimate need, say a need to protect one’s feet, or the need for children’s toys, we are talking about specific instances where one is paying more, in some cases much more, on account of a brand name and the desire to satisfy certain social pressures and expectations, than for any objective utility that the product offers, as evidenced by comparisons with generic or less hyped brands that are cheaper and just as good. In this way, advertising and the mass media can combine to ‘meme’ a market into existence, a market that would never have arisen had the mass of the people been left to their own devices.

     So what’s to be done about these and similar distortions of economic activity? Well, by eliminating the artificial financial pressures under which the economy presently labours via the dividend and the discount proposals, Social Credit would eliminate the need for cancerous economic growth and, with it, the main incentives for all of the perverse forms of market-making that we have considered. We might legitimately expect to live in a saner and more satisfactory world as a direct consequence. And that’s what Social Credit is offering as a free gift to any country and people who are ready for a radical rethinking of our financial infrastructure.

 

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[1]It is important always to emphasize that we do not live in true or pure capitalist economies in the West, but in mixed economies that tend to incorporate some of the worst feature of both capitalism and socialism. Nevertheless, in speaking of ‘capitalism’ within the present context I am referring to the capitalist wing or dimension of our economic systems. Such ‘capitalism’ ought not to be confused with ‘free enterprise’ either.

Last modified on Tuesday, 11 June 2019 08:32

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