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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 October 2017

Capitalism and human progress

Tory leader and Prime Minister Theresa May, photo Policy Exchange/Creative Commons

Tory leader and Prime Minister Theresa May, photo Policy Exchange/Creative Commons   (Click to enlarge)

Simon Carter

How appropriate that Theresa May's speech insisting our interests were best served by free market capitalism - "the greatest agent of collective human progress ever created" - came in the same week as budget airline Ryanair cancelled over 700,000 passenger flights and bankrupt Monarch Airlines left 110,000 holidaymakers without a flight back home, along with 860,000 cancelled future bookings (see article below).

Undaunted, the prime minister continued her defence of capitalism, adding: "We should never forget that raising the living standards, and protecting the jobs, of ordinary working people is the central aim of all economic policy."

Unfortunately for May the capitalist International Monetary Fund (IMF) has produced a report pointing to slowing productivity growth, income inequality and low wage growth for putting the brakes on the UK economy - the product of neoliberal economic policy embraced by the Tories.

The report's author, Tao Zhang, says income inequality is weighing down overall global consumption, reducing it by about 3.5% over the last 15 years. "This represents an important headwind to aggregate demand," says Zhang. And whereas real wages in the UK have fallen over 10% on average since the financial crisis, the richest 1,000 individuals have doubled their wealth since 2010.

Of course, May has lauded the UK's headline unemployment figure - the lowest in 42 years. So how come poor wage growth?

According to the IMF, the capitalist 'gig economy' - with its precarious jobs, zero-hour contracts and lousy employment rights - has allowed companies to peg back pay.

So, capitalism is not so much the agent of collective human progress, but rather collective human misery.

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