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Is there a link between privatisation/ free market capitalism & social collapse?

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    (Original post by MTR_10)
    Interesting points and confirms what I had suspected.

    May I ask a few questions about living in Switzerland?

    - What is the accessibility to housing like? Does everyone have access to a decent standard of housing including the minimum wage workers? Or is it just as bad as it is here with the vast majority of young people unable to afford mortgages and rent?
    - There is an ever growing division between the rich and poor in the UK. Not just in terms of capital and income but in terms of lifestyle and life choices. For example, a street cleaner (from state school) would not eat in the same restaurants as a banker (privately educated) or even live in the same borough. What I am basically asking is if there is such a thing as the Swiss bourgousie and how out of line is their behaviour with the 'working class'?
    - How does the Swiss government regulate the banking industry and why can't the UK do the same to ensure a higher standard of living (in terms of social well being rather than income) and how does redistribution of wealth happen (through state intervention?) and why doesn't the UK do the same? We don't hear much about Swiss bankers threatening to up and leave everytime their income is questioned. Why is this?
    - Are public services (transport, health, roads, water etc) privatised in Switzerland?

    Sorry for all of the questions but this is very interesting.
    Hi MTR, don't worry about the questions I have a penchant for writing long posts anyway it seems!

    - as far as I know, housing is pretty much available to all. It doesn't matter what kind of background you have, even if you have been unemployed most of your life. There aren't really council estates. I'm not sure what kind of housing the government supplies. I suspect most people just get their rent paid for them by the government if they are unemployed. The grand majority of people in Switzerland rent. Very few people buy houses because mortgages take a very long time to pay off (like a lifetime, I'm not kidding! it's just the way the banks work there, you aren't allowed to pay off early). A lot of people live in apartments, especially poorer people in the cities, but they are really nice, well kept and safe. The standard of housing for poor people in England is much lower. The sort of houses I've lived since I've been a student in the UK just don't exist in Switzerland, people would be outraged and landlords would not get away with it.

    - nope there isn't really a class system in Switzerland at all. Some people are richer than others, but they tend to mix a lot more. My mum (who is quite poor) is good friends with a millionaire, and they do a lot of the same things, they shop in the same supermarkets, etc. People who haven't gone to uni, blue collar workers, poorer people - they are not looked down on by richer people. Being a plumber in Switzerland is a very respected profession and people usually take pride in their work, whatever level they work at.

    - the banking industry is very differently regulated. For a start the banks are allowed 'banking secrecy' - basically people can have anonymous savings accounts, which means a lot of foreign rich people have bank accounts and other kinds of investment in Switzerland. This brings a lot of money into the country. Personally, I think this is where Switzerland gets a lot of it's wealth from, and imho it's a bit immoral since a lot of money laundering goes on. This is all changing now though, and pressure is being put on the banks to change their policies. Apart from the secrecy though I think the banks are more carefully regulated, and they are more cautious with their investment - long term, low risk investment is popular in Switzerland, and I think this is why they didn't suffer much in the credit crunch. I think the big reason that bankers and rich people don't 'threaten to up and leave' Switzerland is because their incomes aren't questioned, and because of the high standard of living, and also because Switzerland has some of the lowest tax rates for the rich in the world. My old boss was very rich and he was Irish. He moved to Switzerland for the investment opportunities and the tax breaks. While I don't like the idea of tax breaks for the rich, it does seem to bring a lot of wealth into Switzerland. (I know, this isn't left-wing at all, so it's opposing my original post).

    - Finally, most public services are run by the government. Public transport is AWESOME there. All the public services are. The swimming pools are lush too.

    Phew. OK. End of post. You would think I like Switzerland a lot more than the UK, but I don't really. There are great things about the UK too.

    Edit: to answer about the redistribution of wealth, well there isn't anyone who really 'does' it, things have just developed that way because of the equal opportunities that come with socialism, like decent education for all. But I think the higher level of regulation in the job market helps. Like the government has policies like a high minimum wage, which varies depending on which job you do.
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    (Original post by meow444)
    Hi MTR, don't worry about the questions I have a penchant for writing long posts anyway it seems!

    - as far as I know, housing is pretty much available to all. It doesn't matter what kind of background you have, even if you have been unemployed most of your life. There aren't really council estates. I'm not sure what kind of housing the government supplies. I suspect most people just get their rent paid for them by the government if they are unemployed. The grand majority of people in Switzerland rent. Very few people buy houses because mortgages take a very long time to pay off (like a lifetime, I'm not kidding! it's just the way the banks work there, you aren't allowed to pay off early). A lot of people live in apartments, especially poorer people in the cities, but they are really nice, well kept and safe. The standard of housing for poor people in England is much lower. The sort of houses I've lived since I've been a student in the UK just don't exist in Switzerland, people would be outraged and landlords would not get away with it.

    - nope there isn't really a class system in Switzerland at all. Some people are richer than others, but they tend to mix a lot more. My mum (who is quite poor) is good friends with a millionaire, and they do a lot of the same things, they shop in the same supermarkets, etc. People who haven't gone to uni, blue collar workers, poorer people - they are not looked down on by richer people. Being a plumber in Switzerland is a very respected profession and people usually take pride in their work, whatever level they work at.

    - the banking industry is very differently regulated. For a start the banks are allowed 'banking secrecy' - basically people can have anonymous savings accounts, which means a lot of foreign rich people have bank accounts and other kinds of investment in Switzerland. This brings a lot of money into the country. Personally, I think this is where Switzerland gets a lot of it's wealth from, and imho it's a bit immoral since a lot of money laundering goes on. This is all changing now though, and pressure is being put on the banks to change their policies. Apart from the secrecy though I think the banks are more carefully regulated, and they are more cautious with their investment - long term, low risk investment is popular in Switzerland, and I think this is why they didn't suffer much in the credit crunch. I think the big reason that bankers and rich people don't 'threaten to up and leave' Switzerland is because their incomes aren't questioned, and because of the high standard of living, and also because Switzerland has some of the lowest tax rates for the rich in the world. My old boss was very rich and he was Irish. He moved to Switzerland for the investment opportunities and the tax breaks. While I don't like the idea of tax breaks for the rich, it does seem to bring a lot of wealth into Switzerland. (I know, this isn't left-wing at all, so it's opposing my original post).

    - Finally, most public services are run by the government. Public transport is AWESOME there. All the public services are. The swimming pools are lush too.

    Phew. OK. End of post. You would think I like Switzerland a lot more than the UK, but I don't really. There are great things about the UK too.

    Edit: to answer about the redistribution of wealth, well there isn't anyone who really 'does' it, things have just developed that way because of the equal opportunities that come with socialism, like decent education for all. But I think the higher level of regulation in the job market helps. Like the government has policies like a high minimum wage, which varies depending on which job you do.
    You will actually find the free market poster boy Friedman supported these kinds of things and recognised that they worked ...

    In small homogeneous populations.

    We aren't.

    It's also interesting to point out that you're country has one of the freest, largest capitalist economies on the earth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index_of_Economic_Freedom

    there is pretty much nothing socialistic about it aside from a few social safety nets, which aren't even socialist.

    If I had to give a list of the best places to live, for quality of life (which of course trumps wages and buying power anyday) I would choose 4 of those countries in the Top 5.

    The freer the markets, the freer the people.
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    (Original post by prog2djent)
    You will actually find the free market poster boy Friedman supported these kinds of things and recognised that they worked ...

    In small homogeneous populations.

    We aren't.

    It's also interesting to point out that you're country has one of the freest, largest capitalist economies on the earth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index_of_Economic_Freedom

    there is pretty much nothing socialistic about it aside from a few social safety nets, which aren't even socialist.

    If I had to give a list of the best places to live, for quality of life (which of course trumps wages and buying power anyday) I would choose 4 of those countries in the Top 5.

    The freer the markets, the freer the people.
    Mmm yes I know Switzerland is basically a capitalist state. But it does have a lot more socialist/left-wing policies than the UK, I think this is often overlooked about Switzerland because it is seen as having a free-market economy. In reality though there are a lot more government regulations in place that control certain markets than in, say, the UK. And there is a lot less privitisation. Wiki isn't exactly the best place to inform yourself about these things.

    Switzerland isn't *that* tiny. What about Scandinavia? Those states aren't particularly small. Anyway maybe smaller states are the way forward. Maybe they would result in a higher standard of living?

    I think the idea that the freer the markets, the freer the people is a bit idealistic. What about the censure of the press in the UK and the US? And these countries are hardly prime examples of democracy. Most people in the UK are not happy with the people who are in power, and didn't vote for them to be there, and a lot of people disagree with their policies. Plus, as some people have pointed out in this thread, those countries have some serious issues stemming from inequality. Despite 'the American Dream' there is little social mobility in the US.

    Also, to bring the post back to the point of the thread, which is free market capitalism + social collapse, I think countries like the US are suffering from that the most.
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    (Original post by MTR_10)
    As they are not participants in the market, their sole concern is to protect the country against change which would affect them (most of the over 60s have it sorted - nice house, savings, pensions, holidays etc). This was my second point in the opening post. The conservative party seem to have two conflicting ideologies which deceives the public to win mass votes bringing them into power.

    I am referring more to people who either supported the free market ideology or the younger generation who have been raised in a culture where the free market dominates.
    What is the reason that those over 60 have it sorted? The majority of their working lives has been accompanied by a market orientated economy.
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    (Original post by chefdave)
    Thatcherism had it's fair share of problems but I don't agree that the free market is responsible for today's economic and social decline. We're in trouble because the New Labour government under the stewardship of Gordon Brown went on one of the most excessive spending sprees in history, public debt trebled, private debt trebled, house prices trebled, and all the time Brown was fooling himself (and us) because of the constant positive GDP stats.

    We've desperately lost our way but it's just too simplistic to blame it on a Premier who left office 2 decades ago.
    You cannot blame our countries problems on the former Labour government when the world is in an economic crisis, not just our country.
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    (Original post by karateworm)
    . Scandinavia has it sussed.
    Yuck, 65-70% top rate of tax? Extortionate food and alcohol prices? No thanks. I'd rather take my chances in the US.
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    The myth that capitalism serves individual interests and collectivism the 'common good' is one of the most pernicious around. The pursuit of self interest is a fundamental characteristic of the human being - Mises' aphorism that every human action is directed to the removal of some felt uneasiness comes to mind. In a society characterised by private ownership of the means of production, production is for the market, in other words directed to the satisfaction of other peoples' needs, as well as one's own. Interests across society are harmonised.

    The more statism/socialism/violent action becomes the prevalent mode of interaction, the greater the extent to which production is removed from the profit-loss test and placed in the hands of bureaucrats with no reliable meter for economic calculation. These people are similarly directed towards satisfaction of private interests, but they don't have to tabulate the needs of other people when acting to the same extent (because they are in command of a steady stream of taxed income).

    I can't remember who observed that, despite the cliche, the USSR was a markedly more 'selfish' society than the Western ones at the time, because in the former one could only satisfy needs by accumulating political power, whereas in the latter one became more aware of the needs of others, because production was aimed to the satisfaction of other peoples' needs.
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    (Original post by Aust1n)
    You cannot blame our countries problems on the former Labour government when the world is in an economic crisis, not just our country.
    I'm not blaming New Labour for the global downturn but they were responsible for putting the UK on the brink of a crisis by running up vast government debts and presiding over a threefold increase in personal indebtedness. The fact that all countries came tumbling down at roughly similar times is neither here nor there, they were all pursuing reckless fiscal policies it's just that some, i.e the UK, U.S, Greece and Ireland etc were more reckless than others. Trying to diminish the blame by highlighting the collective nature of the Credit Crunch is an all too obvious ploy to get New Labour off the hook. Some people may want to believe it, but that doesn't mean it's true.

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Updated: April 18, 2012
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