Social cost of unfettered capitalism (letter)by Suryan R. ChandrasegaranNews Weekly
, April 29, 2006
I read with surprise Mr Greg Byrne's recent letter, "Capitalism raises living standards" (News Weekly
, March 18, 2006).
First, I would encourage Greg Byrne to start reading more widely, especially any major Australian newspaper. He would discover a range of examples of market failure.
Just to pick one example, Macquarie Bank's CEO is being paid $31 million a year (or almost 100 times John Howard's pay as Prime Minister, and approximately 620 times the pay of the average Australian worker).
Second, Greg Byrne's letter also alludes to another failure of free market capitalism: the increasing gap between the shrinking number of "haves" and the growing class of "have-nots".
Like Peter Westmore, I do not have a swimming pool or plasma screen TV. I shall shortly lose my broadband internet access. Most of Australia's population do not - and will probably never be able to - possess all of those three things in their lifetime without going into unsustainable debt.
Most young Australians find the current housing prices (set by the free market) form an impenetrable barrier preventing them from becoming home-owners.
The above examples are not aberrations or accidents - they are results of the normal functioning of an unfettered free market system, which emphasises principles which are generally immoral: survival of the fittest, abuse of market power to increase profit, greed as the supreme virtue, taking advantage of the weak (whether it be unskilled workers, single-income families or minority shareholders) to maximise personal profits, besides many others.
When every Australian owns a swimming pool and plasma TV and has broadband internet access, I believe Greg Byrne's comments might have some validity.
Until then, I would encourage all News Weekly
readers to work towards building a fairer economic system which benefits all Australians rather than just a select few.Suryan R. Chandrasegaran,
B.Ec., LLB., M.Tax,