FREE ENTERPRISE IS DOOMED?
By Erick San Juan
There are enough reasons for us to look at a doomsday scenario for the Ronald Reagan style free enterprise, which is prevailing in several economies worldwide. In fact, we are making bold predictions that soon – perhaps in a few months, if not just weeks – many vital industries in country-participants to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will start restoring the laws that opened up markets and deregulated certain vital industries in a bid to give full meaning to democracy.
Certainly, when this forecast becomes a reality, the seemingly unceasing global financial meltdown is all to blame. It is bound to trigger moves here and there, which are aimed at achieving significant successes in re-imposing protectionist and regulatory standards seen to insulate people from a similar malady in the future.
At this point, there is absolutely nothing that could stop people from talking about the implosion of America’s most storied investment banks and losing to thin air some $3 trillion dollars worth of daily stock-market wealth, plus a $700 billion tab that the US public have to shoulder. But more than just the dollars it could cost, what appears to hurt the United States more are the intangible impact the financial crisis is delivering to the Americans’ vision of capitalism.
To the average American, it is undeniable that ideas rank among their most important exports. To them, a certain vision of capitalism, that advocates low tariff and less government participation in business activities as an engine of economic growth. This doctrine, which is aptly branded as Reaganism, reversed a centuries-old trend towards larger government. As a result, deregulation became the order of the day – not just in the continental US, but the world over as well.
In a bid to promote a more prosperous and an open international order, the US promoted itself worldwide as an exponent of liberal democracy. By Reagan’s theory, the US was able to create an impression among all nations in the world that its power does no rest upon its war tanks and dollars, but in the kind of self-government that it has. In fact, this enticed many a country to imitate the kind of government and practices being done in the US.
Not surprisingly though, many small countries lead by the Philippines blindly emulated the US example. In fact, the sad part remains that in exchange of a few favors, its leaders tolerated so much of the abuses perpetuated by the US and its nationals.
But just how serious has the influence of the US been eroded since the turn of the millennium is a tall order. While the US and the world enjoys unprecedented period of economic growth, they conveniently ignored the inroads by European socialists and the Latin American populists, who persisted in discrediting US capitalism as one that was cavalier. Hence, that engine of growth started to deteriorate and is threatening to drag down the rest of the world.
True enough in the Philippines, because its own Oil Deregulation Law is billed as the principal culprit for its currently exorbitant cost of living. Notwithstanding the high cost of its anti-terror campaign, the government got ironically pushed into a situation where it has to adopt a policy to subsidize the cost of living by its poor, in spite of the reality that it could no longer afford the cost.
Suddenly, the promotion of democracy became a principal weapon for fighting terrorism. But this came as an afterthought when the Bush administration failed to proved that President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, who he had deposed and eventually executed, was not keeping any weapon of mass destruction (WMD).
For sure, while the popularity of the US nose dives, those of China and Russia are very much afloat and more attractive – especially among the Asians. At this point, the choice left for the US seems way beyond the bailout or the presidential campaign. Whether Obama or McCain makes it to the White House is less significant than restoring the good name of the US.
For the Filipinos, it is time that we teach our leaders the shortest way out of the puppetry by their masters in the United States. Otherwise, the shortest way to prosperity is for the Philippine government to declare war - which we can never sustain - against the US. This will enable the world’s policeman to seize total control over us. US protectorate could be the ultimate solution! He he he.