Prosperity for all?

Prosperity for all?

by Thomas Kaiser

In his book “Vom Grossen Krieg zur permanenten Krise”1 (From the Great War to the permanent crisis) Marc Chesney, Professor of Quantitative Finance at the University of Zurich, explains that globalization has not led to the results promised to us by the apostles of the “free market” and foretold by spirited augurs of economy. The fairy tale of prosperity for all has proven to be what it actually is. The beneficiaries of this neo-liberal financial and economic policy are very few multinational financial institutions and internationally active industrial groups, which have amassed billions. According to the Agency Bloomberg’s ranking, Chesney continues, “the 300 richest billionaires in the world were able to multiply their wealth by 524 billion dollars in the year 2013. [...] They are the symptom of the financial world’s insatiable voracity and of the logic enforced by this sector.” (p. 44) These people who reap such exorbitant profits – which are certainly not acquired by arduous drudgery – and who drive their assets to dizzying heights may have been given by globalization that which they themselves once promised to the world. But how are the other billions of people on this planet faring? In the EU alone, the horrendous figure of over 30 million long-term unemployed persons presents quite a contrast to the numbers above, as Jean Ziegler explains in his latest book, “Ändere die Welt!“2 (Change the world!). In view of the recent political developments throughout the world and also in our own country, we cannot avoid the impression that the myth of “prosperity for all” has long ceased to be believed in many segments of the population and that the international financial and industrial groups are already aware of this fact. But instead of acknowledging their mistakes and initiating the proper corrections of their economic theories, which all stem from the 1950s, financial jugglers and their theoreticians are forever coming up with new instruments which enable them to further increase their assets, to further exploit the world and to continue manipulating everyone around them. International treaties such as TiSA and TTIP, which to date have been discussed far too little in public, are new tones on the old keyboard. It is still the US-based and US-owned, internationally active corporations, which determine economic policy first and foremost, as long as we allow them to do so, and which try to secure their sinecure, even if their base of operations, namely the US empire, has been crumbling increasingly for several years now. Thus the contracts that are being negotiated at present are merely an attempt to secure more pieces from the world’s financial and economic cake. Political scientist and historian Jochen Scholz, who worked for years for the German Federal Ministry of Defense and for NATO, writes in his essay, “Worum geht es – Die Ukraine-Krise und die geo-politische Konstante aus dem eurasischen Kontinent”3 (What is it all about – the Ukraine Crisis and the geo-political constant on the Eurasian Continent): “Even the currently negotiated Free Trade Agreement between the EU and the USA (TTIP) is primarily being used ... to tie Germany and the EU more closely to the US, to prevent the common economic area from Lisbon to Vladivostok, and to exploit the EU for the United States’ international interests.” (p. 103) The fact that the Swiss government has so far adopted little critical distance from this imposition – actually Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann is giving thought to how Switzerland, “could get on the bandwagon” here – and operates an economic policy, which leads one to the assumption that it might have been cooked up right there in this circle of power’s kitchens – calls for greater vigilance by the population and by their elected representatives in Parliament.
The fact that particularly sensitive areas such as the public service, which is unique in Switzerland (see the interviews with National Councillors Badran and Büchel in this issue), are also to be surrendered to bound- and borderless trade, must arouse our resistance, as must the actions of the Federal Council in the area of their agricultural policy. As to the worship of the God of Free Trade, in 2007, Mathias Binswanger, Professor of Economics, pointed out the consequenses in his book, “Globalisierung und Landwirtschaft – Mehr Wohlstand durch weniger Freihandel”4 (Globalization and agriculture – more wealth by means of less free trade). He also demonstrated that it will not strengthen our national agriculture – the middle class will not the benefit but the multinational corporations, as is usually the case, where the so-called free trade reigns. He wrote this before the great and financial and economic crisis, going on to this day – which Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard by misunderstanding reality already believed to have been overcome in 2009 – became really obvious. The effects of the opening of agricultural markets can be seen first and foremost in developing countries, but also in our country: a displacement of small-scale, locally-based agriculture and an increasing takeover of smaller farms by agricultural giants. It is a blessing that more and more personalities of Swiss politics are becoming aware of this aberration and are determined to counter this ominous development on the political level.    •

1    Marc Chesney: Vom Grossen Krieg zur permanenten Krise, 2014, ISBN 978-3-03909-171-3
2    Jean Ziegler: Ändere die Welt!, 2014, ISBN 978-3-570-10256-5
3    Ronald Thoden, Sabine Schiffer (ed.): Ukraine im Visier, 2014, ISBN 978-3-9816963-0-1
4    Mathias Binswanger: Globalisierung und Landwirtschaft. Mehr Wohlstand durch weniger Freihandel, 2009, ISBN 978-3-85452-583-7.

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