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A capital mistake

I never went to a B-school nor have I read Stiglitz’s Globalization and Its Discontents. But when I look around, I see that free-market capitalism has failed to keep me going. Zia Haq writes.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2010 22:46 IST
Zia Haq

I never went to a B-school nor have I read Stiglitz’s Globalization and Its Discontents. But when I look around, I see that free-market capitalism has failed to keep me going.

This may raise the suspicion that I am socialism’s undying stooge or a raving lefty, but I really don’t care: socialism or capitalism, I will be fine with whatever works. But I’m afraid, free enterprise hasn’t. Private enterprises have become an expensive liability for taxpayers. De-regulations have led to such violent boom-bust cycles that free-market does not anymore have the capacity to create the kind of employment required.

The percentage of the labour force without jobs is now 9.7 in the US. Among the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, Spain had the highest unemployment rate in April at 19.7 per cent, while the Slovak Republic’s was 14.1 per cent. As Europe wallows in Greece’s fiscal disaster and US tries to stem the slowdown, pressure is building on countries like India to hasten efforts to plug their fiscal deficits. We should borrow less so that global recovery speeds up. So, I just suffered a fuel price hike, as if over 16 per cent of food inflation wasn’t enough. Economist Simon Kuznets has demonstrated that inequalities often sharpen in emerging economies, but narrow down as development progresses. Man, I don’t have that kind of patience.

If we follow the pension models in vogue, I will never get to enjoy the tranquility a person’s last years should bring. Germany raised its retirement age from 65 to 67, while Britain will increase it to 66 by 2016. France has raised it to 62, applicable by 2018.

I don’t want to work till I drop or be a dead man walking around my office. Maybe, I’d want to tell my grandchildren stories. If only free enterprise allows me, that is.