Dogma has had its day

The forthcoming Oslo conference of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) is to discuss ways of dealing with unemployment arising from the 2007-8 credit crunch. As noted elsewhere on this site, the question is one of emphasis between, on the one hand, repaying the public indebtedness which was rashly incurred as a result of private greed, and on the other hand, the protection and regeneration of employment, particularly for the most vulnerable.

Theoretical economists, with all their sophisticated mathematical models, should be able to offer a definitive answer as to how that balance should be most effectively struck. But they have offered nothing. Governments are therefore flying by the seat of their pants in deciding between tackling unemployment and belt tightening.

The fear is that governments will fall back on prior allegiances to economic dogma, either of the right or the left. Free market dogma may have had its day, as noted in many of the postings on this site. But that does not mean we must go back to reliance on collective bargaining with over powerful trade unions. They have also had their day. The fact that the IMF and ILO are getting together in Oslo is an encouraging sign that old left-right dichotomies may be a thing of the past. A more technical approach to co-operative corporate governance, could eliminate exploitation, limit the extent of inequality, and provide a sustainable future for all.

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