Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Forbes billions list

But strangely not even Forbes magazine makes much of an effort to distinguish how the billions are made.
The great truth of capitalism is that it took off only once the European Enlightenment created the great institutions that kept it honest
- the rule of law, a free press, accountability mechanisms, ways of forcing monopolists to give up their ill-gotten gains, creating competitive markets and elections.
Before that there was tax-farming and the buying and selling of monopolies – rather as in China today.
The Enlightenment offered the means, however imperfect, to challenge all that.
The great mistake of the free-market revolution was to argue that all that was needed to make capitalism work was free, lightly regulated and flexible markets – and that institutions imposing ethics, transparency, accountability got in the way.
We now know better.
Britain's representation in the Forbes list is particularly depressing.
Our members include a bunch of property developers, tax-avoiding retail magnates, the Duke of Westminster, a hedge fund manager and Richard Branson.
Branson is probably the closest we have to a billionaire productive entrepreneur, but his companies are hardly at the forefront of technological innovation or employment generation.
He glamorises – but does little to grow the economy.
We do not have one genuinely productive entrepreneur on the list.
In many respects this forms the heart of the British crisis.
Our political class bought the proposition that whatever the source of wealth economic progress would follow, celebrating the Mayfair hedge fund manager more than the genuine innovator.
Watch the British government now fight on behalf of hedge funds against EU regulation.
Only at the eleventh hour, with some of Lord Mandelson's speeches and initiatives, together with David Cameron commissioning a useful report from the entrepreneur James Dyson, Ingenious Britain, is there any sign of change.
But it is a deathbed conversion.
The electorate, angry and bewildered, want a conversation about creating wealth and jobs, rewarding those that do rather than those that speculate and rig markets.
Instead they are offered platitudes and bromides.

An article that can be read anywhere in the world today as it touches upon our great malaise

A global malaise that accepts that money is God

That where money comes from is no issue

How it is made is of no concern


It is of concern

Any planet that cannot understand that undisguised greed is intolerable is in trouble

Greed can only function when money is worshiped above all else

Where money trumps all else

Where money buys all

Where ethics and morals are buried under the greed for money

Greed is out of control on planet earth today

We cannot address our problems when power rests solely with the greedy

With narrowly focused industry pressure groups

Corporate power is rapidly overtaking other pressure groups in the political process

Corporate needs are not the same as those of society at large

Bankers imperatives as we have so recently seen are not ours

Craven politicians are unable or unwilling to stem the tide of interest group demands

Be they of arms manufacturers or cereal makers

Time to look beyond the dizzy figures of personal wealth accumulation and ask just where did it come from?

And just what are you collecting all this money for?

Is it just an addiction?

Or do you like Bill Gates have an answer as to what you are doing this for?

Time we asked some questions about where it all came from

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